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Autumn 2018 Issue of The Hudson River Valley Review – OUT NOW!


Vol. 35, No.1, Autumn 2018

The Hudson River in the Revolution: America’s Key to Victory
James Kirby Martin

Thomas Cole’s Knickerbocker and Catskill Identity, 1825–1838: A Reconsideration of Cole’s “Englishness” and “Conservatism” through a Brief Portrait of the Artist who Chose Cedar Grove, Matthew DeLaMater

Personal Reflection
The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
James M. Johnson

Notes and Documents
The Maid of the Highlands: Joan of Arc Reflected in West Point Iconography
John Pendergast

Regional History Forum
Answering the Call: The Rhinebeck Fire Company and the FASNY Museum
Elijah Bender

Plus: Book Reviews and New & Noteworthy Titles Received

We are a “journal of regional studies,” so we should be familiar with the concept of “place”—in our case, the Hudson River Valley. But sometimes even we are surprised about how great an influence this region has had, both on the surrounding world and on its own residents. This issue highlights the interplay between “our place” and people from colonial times to the present.

It also answers some intriguing questions. For example, who developed the British strategy during the American Revolution, and how was that strategy implemented by field officers and affected by the “field” itself? Or how has a legendary commander profoundly impacted the U.S. Military Academy despite never setting foot on its grounds?

While both sides in the Revolution coveted the Hudson River Valley, at times it stood in their way, as when the French and American armies marched from Rhode Island to Yorktown. Their epic journey contributed immensely to America’s independence, so why did it take an equally epic effort to have the federal government establish the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route? Some fifty years after the Revolution, one British citizen relied on the New World to forge his own independence from the Old. Today, a scholarly debate rages as to how British or American Thomas Cole may have been. Our author maintains that the artist’s small-town life in Catskill is the key to understanding his identity. Community and identity also are essential to the history of the Rhinebeck Fire Department, which has maintained a reputation for selfless service and strong fraternal ties since its founding in 1834.

We hope this issue will inspire you to think about how we continue to inform and to be formed by the places we call home.

You can preview the issue and read the Regional History Forum, Book Reviews, and New and Noteworthy Books online at:

The Hudson River Valley Review is available at select booksellers and museum gift-shops throughout the region for $15.00 each. Subscriptions are available through the website at:, or by calling 845-575-3052. A one-year subscription (two issues) is $20.00, save even more by subscribing for two years at $35.00.

The Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College is the center for the study and promotion of the Hudson River Valley, providing information about the region’s history, culture, economy, and environment, and educational resources to teachers, students, and others through, public programming, and The Hudson River Valley Review. This biannual journal covers all aspects of regional history. All articles in The Hudson River Valley Review undergo peer analysis.

The Hudson Valley Cowboys and Skinners: Separating Truth from Myth

The Hudson River Valley was home to many notable events throughout the Revolutionary War, such as the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the Battle of White Plains, and the Saratoga campaign. While these important historical milestones are well studied, there are other pieces of history in this area that have fallen victim to error and speculation. A perfect example is found in the study of the Cowboys and the Skinners, vigilante-like bands of militia with questionable loyalty who raided Westchester County. These guerilla forces harassed the local citizens and stole from both loyalists and patriots indiscriminately. While it was well known that the Cowboys were British marauders, it was largely believed for years that the Skinners were American marauders, but as a close analysis of history shows, this was a misconception that would not go away.


cortlandt skinner

Brigadier General Cortlandt Skinner

Following the fall of 1776, after the British had successfully routed the American forces from New York City, the Hudson Valley was largely divided between north and south for much of the war. In the south were the British, operating out of New York City and maintaining posts at Kingsbridge, Morrisania, and Westchester.[1] In the north were the Americans, operating from Peekskill and maintaining posts from the Croton River across to the Long Island Sound.[2] The land in the middle of these two sides, covering most of Westchester County, was called “The Neutral Ground.” It was given this name because neither the British nor the Americans regularly controlled the area, causing it to become a sort of buffer zone between the two opposing forces. This Neutral Ground would be subjected to raids by both the Cowboys and Skinners, as they took produce from farmers and robbed travelers, all in an attempt to help their side’s cause. Both used guerilla warfare tactics to achieve their lawless ends.

The Cowboys were a British light horse battalion under the command of Colonel James De Lancey. Their name came from American soldiers and farmers, as they often rounded up cattle for the British in their raids.[3] They were stationed near King’s Bridge in Westchester, mostly operating in this area until the end of the war.[4] The Skinners, on the other hand, were thought to be an American unit. The name is thought to have come from the practice of “skinning” farmers of their food and goods.[5] Stephen Jenkins wrote, “whence they came, or where they were recruited history does not state.”[6] The difficulty in analysis of the Skinners is that the validity of the claims about their origins are unreliable. The Cowboys have a clearer presence in Revolutionary War history, but what about the Skinners?

The most famous role that the Skinners played in Revolutionary War history is in the capture of Major John Andre on September 22, 1780. The credit of his capture goes to John Paulding, Isaac Van Wart, and David Williams, on the road to Tarrytown.[7] These militiamen were called Skinners by several writers, including Robert McConnell Hatch in Major John Andre: A Gallant in Spy’s Clothing.[8] Drawing a connection to the Skinners in the capture of Major Andre would make sense, as they were considered American marauders and this was a circumstance that happened by chance. However, Hatch’s assertion in far from definitive, and the Skinners may have not been affiliated with the capture at all.

Colton's map of Westchester County 1867

Green- American controlled Peekskill Blue- American zones of operation (from left to right: Croton river, Pine’s Bridge, and Armonk) Red- British zones of operation (Kingsbridge, Morrisania, and Westchester)

One source that offers a short and simple clarification of the Skinners comes from the Revolutionary War itself. Doctor James Thacher kept a journal of his time in the war and one entry makes specific reference to these raiders.

Those of the inhabitants of the neutral ground who were tories, have joined their friends in New York, and the whigs have retired into the interior of our country. Some of each side have taken up arms, and become the most cruel and deadly foes. There are-within the British lines-banditti consisting of lawless villains, who devote themselves to the most cruel pillage and robbery among the defenceless inhabitants between the lines, many of whom they carry off to New York, after plundering their houses and farms. These shameless marauders have received the names of Cow-boys and Skinners.[9]

Thacher states that both the Cowboys and Skinners were from the British side. He calls them bandits, which may be true for some, if not all, of these men. Yet this entry demonstrates the wild and unregulated nature of these raiding parties. According to Lincoln Diamant, the Skinners were given their name because they were raised by Brigadier General Cortlandt Skinner.[10] Therefore, the Skinners could not have been responsible for the capture of Major Andre, unless they had switched sides for profit or recognition. While the Skinners were in fact American loyalist volunteers from New Jersey, they did not affiliate themselves with the Patriot cause. But where did this myth of origin as patriots come from and why has it been so persistent?

De Lancey’s Cowboy painting by Charles M. Lefferts Uniforms of the American, British, French, and German Armies in the War of the American Revolution 1775–1783.

“De Lancey’s Cowboy” painting by Charles M. Lefferts, appearing in “Uniforms of the American, British, French, and German Armies in the War of the American Revolution 1775–1783.”

The answer is found in The Spy, a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Cooper was born in New Jersey six years after the end of the Revolutionary War and was eager to write a book about it.[11] He attributed the term Skinners to American vigilantes to create authentic villains in his novel.  No great attention or detail is given to them, but the damage had been done. Decades later, Washington Irving, the famous Hudson Valley writer, wanted to give new life to the myth. Following Cooper’s lead, he reinforced the Skinners as American marauders in his work, A Chronicle of Wolfert’s Roose.[12] Irving lent enough credibility to the myth for it to last into the 20th century. For the past 200 years, many historians have fallen victim to this alluring misconception of Skinners as marauding patriots without making a thorough investigation into the source of this information. This is how the myth endured: passed down through the years in worthy historical texts, slipping past all but the keenest observer. There is likely more ambiguity to the Cowboys and Skinners than we know now, but we can separate truth from fiction in regard to the identity of the Skinners. They were another militia of the British and not affiliated with the Continental Army.

By Gerard Foley

[1] Jenkins, Stephen. The Cowboys, the Skinners, and the Neutral Ground 1910.

[2] Ibid

[3] Diamant, Lincoln. Skinners: Patriot “Friends” or Loyalist Foes? 1987.

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Jenkins, Neutral Grounds

[7] Cray, Robert. Major John Andre and the Three Captors: Class Dynamics and Revolutionary Memory Wars in the Early Republic, 1780-1831. 1997.

[8] Diamant, Skinners

[9] Thacher, James. A military journal during the American revolutionary war, 1775 to 1783

[10] Diamant, Skinners

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid

Meet the Intern: Gerard Foley

GerardFoleyHello. My name is Gerard Foley. I was born in Huntington, Long Island, in the state of New York. In 2015 I graduated from Walt Whitman High School. My discovery of Marist College happened when my older brother was touring campuses while I was in middle school. Though it did not become the choice for him, it immediately became the choice for me. The beautiful campus and particularly the view of the river left me enthralled. Jokingly, I declared to my family that I would go here when I was old enough. All these years later and I am now a senior studying English. My love of reading and writing placed me in this major, but I also have an interest in history. That is why I am interning at the Hudson River Valley Institute during my last year at Marist. I hope to gain some practical research experience and learn more about the area that has been my home these past four years.

Aside from my studies at Marist, I keep myself busy with hobbies and fun activities. I love to play games of all kinds: video games, card games, board games, you name it. Growing up with brothers has instilled in me a sense of joy and competition in gaming. I particularly appreciate most Nintendo games, like the infamous Mario Party and Mario Kart. Whether it’s the roll of the dice or the handling of a controller, I always have a good time. Of course I enjoy reading in my spare time, from epic fantasies like The Lord of The Rings to modern classics like 1984. I write when I can, and always kick myself to do so more often. I also enjoy the outdoors. Taking walks around campus helps me to relieve stress and experience nature. The nature of my major and other hobbies causes me to be inside quite often, but I am outside when I can be.

Upon graduating from Marist College, I hope to go into the publishing or editing field. My childhood dream is to become an author, and I hope to achieve this by keeping at my writing and making connections with the right people. I am still unsure if graduate school is my next step, but I will see where my final year takes me. There are still so many opportunities available to me, and it would truly be a waste not to take a chance and miss out on them. In the future, I hope to be able to contribute to my community in a meaningful way. I can start now by doing my best at the Hudson River Valley Institute.

Meet the Intern: Owen Smith

IMG_20171019_002149_703 (1)Hey there, my name is Owen Smith I am a senior, a history/ education major, and an intern at the Hudson River Valley Institute. I come from a small village on Long Island called Greenlawn. Not many people have heard of this place mainly because Greenlawn is surrounded by larger and better known towns. In addition to coming from a small town, I graduated from a very small high school from one of the smallest school districts on the island. I decided to come to Marist because I appreciated that small school feel, with small class sizes. The thought of being a student in a class of a hundred at the bigger universities always scared the daylights out of me. So, once I heard that Marist had small classes and an excellent history department, I knew it was the place for me.

From a young age, I always found myself in the outdoors. I was always hiking, camping, or fishing with my dad. Later on in life I became a Boy Scout and continued to spend my time in the outdoors even after I received the rank of Eagle Scout before my 18th birthday. I also began hunting with my dad when I became old enough. Some of the best memories I have are of my friends and I telling jokes in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere before the opening day of deer season. I played basketball all through my middle school and high school. I was pretty good at both offense and defense, but defense was something I was really good at because of my size and weight. Another thing about me is that I have always been fascinated with history. Something about how people lived and seeing how society has changed over the years is really interesting to study.  I also am really fascinated with war. My mom told me stories about how in second grade I would ask the teacher when we will learn about World War 2 and she told me not until much later.  Whether it be technology, tactics, or political policies passed during time of war, I think all of it is so interesting. One of the most exciting moments of my life was taking a nine-hour tour of the Normandy beaches in France during the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Seeing all the beaches and old battlefields seen in war movies and television shows really put everything into perspective, and to be in the same place where such historical events happened was really powerful. History is something I have always loved and that is why I hope to teach history at my old high school.

My plans for the future is to become a history teacher either in a high school or a middle school somewhere on Long Island. I hope to get a master’s degree in school administration so that one day I will become a vice principle, principle, or maybe even a superintendent. Although I love history, I have always taken an interest in how schools function and I hope to one day take part in that process. I also feel that there are problems with schools and if I was to become someone high enough in the ranks, maybe I would make an effort to fix those problems.

War Monuments in Poughkeepsie

HDD_04F copy

The names and legacies of soldiers throughout U.S. history continue to live on through the many war memorials located throughout the United States. These memorials are constructed and dedicated to specific wars, battles, and the veterans that fought in them. Some memorials serve the specific purpose of immortalizing the men and women who lost their lives fighting to defend our country. These monuments serve as vehicles to never forget the contributions that these lost lives made to the country. The town of Poughkeepsie maintains the two such war monuments: the Soldiers Memorial Fountain honoring fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War, and the World War I memorial, which is dedicated to those killed in the First World War.

The Soldiers Memorial Fountain is an impeccably crafted cast iron fountain dedicated to Union soldiers killed during the Civil War. The monument was constructed shortly after the Civil War in July of 1870. There are actually three nearly identical fountains to the one in Poughkeepsie. The fountains were purchased from James, Beebe & Co., an Ironworks firm located in New York City. The design of the fountain is believed to be a combined emulation of various French artists, primarily Jean-Pierre-Victor Andre, from the mid-19th century. One is located in Savannah, Georgia, one in Madison, Indiana, and the fourth in Cusco, Peru.[1]

When I arrived at the fountain, I first noticed accumulated rust and damage endured by the monument, as it has not been restored since 1999. This degradation was quickly outshone by the captivating figures featured on the fountain. It is topped by a woman and the base is circled by four mermen wielding horned instruments. The woman topping the fountain seems  to represent Minerva, the Greek Goddess of wisdom, medicine, commerce, and war strategy. Minerva is commonly associated with victory, and tactical thought when depicted in mediums of art. The woman is revealing one breast, which is a common symbol for liberty among French artists. The mermen surrounding the bottom are likely complementing pieces to Minerva, and to further cement the symbolism of the piece. Furthermore, their horned instruments pointed up into the air can symbolize heaven, and the hope that all of those lost in the Civil War went to heaven. Because of the history surrounding the imitation of the design and French symbolism, it can be inferred that this statue stands for victory, liberty, and possibly religious faith as well.


CivWar_MonumentThe mermen along the base of the fountain

The second war monument located in Poughkeepsie is the World War I memorial, located across from the post office. Erected in 1937 by the citizens of the city of Poughkeepsie, the monument serves to honor residents who lost their lives during World War I. Unlike the intricate cast iron design of the Soldiers Memorial Fountain, the World War I memorial is a stone slab that lists the rank and full name of the 63 Poughkeepsie residents that didn’t make it back home. I was immediately drawn to the fact that the monument itself looks like a tombstone. The gray coloring and tombstone style shape are visual reinforcements that remind the viewer that the names listed sacrificed their lives for a cause bigger than them. Even with this grim design choice, I still found the monument beautiful due to its simplicity, and found these somber design choices to be especially powerful in getting me to think deeper about these soldiers, the lives they gave up, and what they provided for future generations of Americans.


The World War 1 Monument in Poughkeepsie

The construction of monuments is crucial to the preservation of American history, and serve as excellent vehicles to honor the loss of life that war creates. While these fallen heroes may be physically removed from this planet, their names, stories, and contributions to society live on through the monuments we build.

– Sean Hayden, Marist ’18

[1] Monuments. Accessed March 9, 2018. City of Savannah.

Dutchess County’s Forgotten Slain: The Germond Family Homicide

February 17, 2018

It was the day after Thanksgiving 1930, when the Borden Company of Dutchess County New York, sent one of its workers out to check on a local dairy farmer who supplied them with milk, after not receiving their typical shipments.[1] The employee, a man by the name of Millard Coons, arrived at the dairy farm around nine in the morning, to find the farm and it’s animals unattended.[2] What he found next would shock the entire state of New York. All four members of the Germond family were found stabbed to death on their New York dairy farm, with investigators putting the time of death on the eve of Thanksgiving.[3] Husted Germond and his young son, Raymond, were found first, stabbed to death in the family’s wagon shed, the bodies laying in a pool of their own blood. Mabel and Bernice Germond, Husted’s wife and daughter were found next in the family’s kitchen. Both of them were also viciously stabbed to death, with 17 year-old Bernice’s body being found under the kitchen table as if she had tried to crawl away.[4]


(Image of neighbors and reporters at the scene of the murder. Provided by the Dutchess County Historical Society.)


Not long after Coons had found the bodies, the once quiet dairy farm was crawling with investigators looking for any sign of the perpetrator’s identity. The Dutchess County Sheriffs, and New York State Police both went to work attempting to compile any evidence from a crime scene that while gruesome, shed little light on whoever could have done something so heinous to a family who reportedly had no enemies.[5] Though one extremely valuable piece of evidence was found at the scene, a butcher knife that did not belong to the family, and had been used to slaughter them. Investigators were unable to find any trace of fingerprints on the knife, and though they were able to track down who sold the knife, the individual was not able to recall who he had sold it to.[6]

This was not the only important piece of evidence found however, as the empty wallet of Husted Germond was found abandoned, one mile from the crime scene.[7] It was also discovered that Mr. Germond had cashed a $150 check the same day of the murder, leading investigators to believe that the family’s murder was linked to robbery.[8] This still did not bring law enforcement any closer to solving the Germond Murders, and did not explain why the killings had been so vicious if it was simply a robbery. From there, investigators chased several leads, trying to find an illusive “mysterious stranger”, who had been reportedly seen walking around the Germond’s property.[9] After chasing several leads and finding nothing, the then Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to have the New York State Attorney General take over the investigation.[10] This decision was seen as political grandstanding by the local county officials, and the investigation of the Attorney General went nowhere, as petty politics seemed to trump a murder investigation.

It was not until 1933, long after the Germond family had been put to rest, that a suspect was finally charged for the murder.[11] It would just so happen that the individual charged with the murders lived right next to the Germond residence, and had a history of assault. The suspect was a man by the name of Arthur Curry, who had gone over to the Germond farm the day of the murder in order to pick up some money that Mr. Germond owed him.[12] He came back supposedly empty handed at 6:30pm.[13] To investigators, it seemed suspicious that a man with a history of losing his temper and getting violent, would come to the Germond farm looking for money on the day of the murder, and having Mr. Germond’s wallet found empty a mile from the crime scene. It seems perfectly reasonable that Curry was examined as a possible suspect of the murders, though there was not nearly enough evidence to push for an indictment. The evidence proved so sparse in fact, that the court dropped the charges, sighting little non-circumstantial evidence.[14]

No other serious suspects were found, and eventually the nation, New York, and the people of Dutchess County forgot about the gruesome killings. Though, in November of 1961, an article was published in the Poughkeepsie Journal, detailing how a local man and friend of Mr. Germond, thought that the homicides might have had something to do with the illegal stills located throughout the county.[15] Millard Coons had told the Poughkeepsie Journal, he and a group of acquaintances had heard Mr. Germond complaining of the stills in the area and the group had suggested that he go to the Internal Revenue Service about the issue. Mr. Coons told the journal that Mr. Germond said that he might, and that the conversation the group had over the issue could have easily gotten out.[16] Then a few nights later, Mr. Coons reported that he and a friend were working in his barn when a stranger entered.[17]

“It was getting dusk and I was in the barn with a friend when a stranger appeared. He seemed taken back when he saw the two of us and when I asked him what he wanted, he mumbled something about wanting to look at some new cows. Then he left in a hurry.”[18]

Coons told the journal, then adding “Maybe I was supposed to have gotten it”. It is also strange that a man who was heavily suspected of being connected to the stills in the area then left the county shortly after the murders, according to Mr. Coons the man left for Connecticut. Stranger still, was that in 1960, a Connecticut woman accused her former lover of frequently speaking of the Germond murders. The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department investigated, but claimed it was simply “a women’s scorn”, as the man she was accusing had left her for someone else.[19] In the article, Mr. Coons points out that it is rather odd that a woman from another state would accuse someone of a murder that happened thirty years ago, but the Sheriff’s office pursued it no further.[20]

Regardless of any speculation over the true motive, and suspect of this vicious killing, the Germond case remains unsolved, and now largely forgotten by the people of the Hudson River Valley. One of the reasons for this mystery still persisting may be due to the state of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department during the 1930s. The current Dutchess County Sheriff has said before that in the past major crime scenes were often treated as a “potluck”.[21] At the time there was no special team to collect evidence in a situation like the Germond murders, unlike in the departments current state.[22] There is even photographic evidence of curious neighbors parking their cars on the Germond property shortly after the murder, possibly destroying vital evidence. Whatever the case may be, it is certain that the Germond murders remain unsolved, and that it we may never know who slaughtered an entire family on the eve of Thanksgiving 1930.

– Shane Murphy, Marist ’18



[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[4] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[5] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[8] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[11] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[14] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Brant, Abbott. “Sheriff’s office celebrates 300 years of history, changes.” The Poughkeepsie Journal. April 26, 2017. Accessed February 14, 2018.

[22] Ibid.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] “Death on a Dairy Farm: This Murder Case from 1930 Is Still Unsolved.” Modern Farmer. January 11, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Thomsen , Herbert J. “Pine Plains Man Links County Still To Germond Dairy Farm Deaths.” Poughkeepsie Journal/ , November 22, 1961. Accessed February 5, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Ibid.

[1] Brant, Abbott. “Sheriff’s office celebrates 300 years of history, changes.” The Poughkeepsie Journal. April 26, 2017. Accessed February 14, 2018.

[1] Ibid.

The Jonah Sherman Collection at the Marist College Archives

Jonah Sherman was a local businessman, native to Poughkeepsie, NY who operated the Sherman Furniture Corporation for many years. This company originally began as a family-owned appliance business and later evolved into a furniture retailer. A July 14, 1985 article of the Poughkeepsie Journal referred to Sherman as “an encyclopedia of business trivia, a man who inherited a family appliance store in the 1950’s and diversified to become a leading New York businessman and civic force.” Jonah Sherman served Marist College as a trustee for more the 25 years and several terms as an officer of the board. In 1993, Jonah and his wife Joan were established the Marist College Center for Lifetime Study, a program for senior citizens that has been subsequently adopted by other collegiate institutions. He served on many boards and civic organizations in the Poughkeepsie area and was instrumental as a board member of the Astor Home in Rhinebeck.


joan and jonah sherman


In 2007, Sherman donated a collection of material related to Poughkeepsie’s commercial and civic history to the college archives. Of particular note are documents related to local businesses and banking institutions. Much of the material is related to Luckey, Platt, and Company which began in Poughkeepsie in 1867 and operated continuously until closing in 1981. Documents include deeds, mortgages, contracts, insurance policies and claims, pamphlets, brochures, and architectural plans. Some of the more interesting documents relate to plans, specs, and proposals for the construction of the 1923 Classical Revival building by Poughkeepsie architect, Percival Lloyd. The “Luckey Platt Building” still stands at the corner of Main and Academy Streets in the city of Poughkeepsie. Scrapbooks related to Luckey, Platt, and Co., ranging from the early- to mid-twentieth century are excellent and succinct resources for historians studying Poughkeepsie businesses.


Banking history is documented well in Sherman’s collection. Two banks are featured prominently: the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank and the Merchants Bank of Poughkeepsie. Other banks include the Farmers and Manufacturers Bank and Fallkill National Bank. Typical documents in each of these folders include copies of articles of association, incomplete volumes of mortgage indexes, letters and correspondence, historical biographical material, and documents showing mergers with other banks. It is interesting to examine the various federal regulatory documentation, beginning in the 1930s and documented in the collection through the 1960’s.


Another box contained extensive material related to Marist College, Vassar College, Eastman Business College, and other academic institutions in Poughkeepsie. Records for Eastman Business College include financial statements, antique autograph books, and other administrative records. The collection on Vassar included pamphlets and historical material tailored to the general public.


The Sherman Collection is impressive in its volume of ephemeral material from local businesses and industry. These items include advertising material, postcard collection, and an impressive photograph cache of the business district.


Other noteworthy items in the collection include documents related to the Hackett and Williams law firm of Poughkeepsie. Henry T. Hackett, a partner in the firm, served as counsel to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on local matters and drafted his will. Hackett’s family settled in Hyde Park in 1852 from Ireland and rose to prominence as local attorneys. Henry was a 1909 graduate of Harvard University School of Law. The Roosevelt Presidential Library holds further material related to Henry Hackett and his dealings with President Roosevelt.


The Sherman Collection at the Marist College Archives is a comprehensive window into Poughkeepsie history of the 19th and 20th centuries and is an outstanding resource to someone researching industry in the region.


– Elijah Bender, Marist ’18