WELCOME TO THE TOWN OF KINGSTON TOWN HISTORIAN

Under state law, every county and municipality in New York is required to have an appointed historian to document, preserve, interpret, and share the history of their communities. We are proud to have over 350 years of history to share.

The quarries of a by-gone era are silent. The once thriving population of Irish immigrants are no more, though some of their descendants visit periodically to reminisce. There are a few quarry houses remaining in the Stony Hollow area. The one room schoolhouse is no more, however, the old school bell and pictures of the many children who once roamed the hills of Sawkill and Stony Hollow remain. St. Ann’s Church is still a historic reminder of the resilience of an impoverished people. Taverns, boarding houses, general stores, small farms, and other businesses that once flourished are gone and others have taken their place as the Town of Kingston looks to a bright future.

CONTACT

Heather Heddleson
Town Historian

845-336-8853 ext.120

EMAIL HEATHER

HOURS
By Appointment

OTHER PAGES

Bluestone Industry

Schools in the Town

Sawkill Fire Co.

Sweet Meadows

Saint Ann's Church

Siemsen Tribute

Legends & Folktales

TOWN OF KINGSTON’S HISTORY

During the 1600’s Holland discovered the Hudson and claimed land on both sides of the river.  They established trading posts to trade goods with the Native Americans. In 1614 a trading post was built at the mouth of the Rondout Creek.

In 1652 a group of settlers were given permission to buy land from the Native Americans on the lands of the Esopus – also known as Sepe or Sopus. The settlers came to live on the rich farm lands along the banks of the Esopus near the present City of Kingston. In 1661 the land became known as Wiltwyck and a charter bestowed on the settlement. In 1664 the Dutch surrendered to the British and the name was changed to Kingston. In 1673 Kingston was retaken by the Dutch and the name was changed to Swannenburg.  Finally, in 1674 the land was retaken by the British once again and the name permanently changed to Kingston.

Founding of the Town of Kingston

A land grant was given to the people in common, then residing about Kingston, a piece of land “extending from the Hudson River near Little Esopus Creek, to and along the bounds of Hurley to the mountains, thence along the mountains to the County of Albany, now Green County, along the county line of the Hudson and south along the Hudson to the place of the beginning”. The grant was approved May 17, 1688. This is the date the Town of Kingston was founded.  Twelve trustees were elected and given the power to sell land or plots to the Freeholders or Commoners.

The Establishment of the Town of Kingston

The Town of Kingston was largely a farming community that engaged in some commercial trade along the Hudson River.  One of the first purchases in the present Town of Kingston was made on January 1, 1695.  William Legg bought 100 acres of land lying on both sides of the Sawkill Creek from the trustees for 50 “schipples” (an old Dutch term meaning a unit of dry measure equal to ¾ of a bushel) of wheat.  The deed permitted the building of a sawmill and required the payment of “a half bushel of good winter wheat yearly to ye trustees and their successors forever”. This mill was located near the Powder Mill Bridge. The house and mill were destroyed by fire in the 1880’s.  The Legg family lived there for 88 years. Their mill was reported to have ground wheat for the Continental Army.

Kingston became the first capital of New York in 1777. In October of that same year Kingston was burned by the British. In 1788 the State legislature passed a law establishing more than 100 towns and villages.  Earlier, the legislature decided towns, not counties would be polling places. The Town of Kingston was one of those towns established that March 7, 1788.

In 1804 there began a series of annexations from the Town of Kingston.

Annexations

1804 - “Uptown” Kingston was incorporated.  This was the first land lost by the Town

1811 – Part of the Town of Saugerties was formed from the Town of Kingston

1811 – The Town of Esopus was formed by taking part of the Town of Kingston

1818 – Part of the area taken by Esopus was given back to the Town

1849 – The Village of Rondout was formed

1872 – The Villages of Rondout, the Kingston communities of Ponckokie and Twaalfskill became part of the City of Kingston.

1879 – The Town of Ulster was formed from the Town of Kingston by the County Board of Supervisors.

1883 – Zena was added to Woodstock.  This was the final land lost to the town.