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HVVA NEWSLETTER, June 2003, part two


FROM THE JOURNAL

The following report is by Jim Decker

In 1751 Isaac Hasbrouck bought a six-acre site for the church and a stone parsonage was erected. "According to tradition, the workmen were forced to construct a log stockade around the site to protect themselves from hostile Indians while the work proceeded" (**). The parsonage was first erected and completed in 1751. The work on the church was started soon after. The congregation chose five men to head the building committee; Jacobus Bruyn, Gerritt Decker, Abraham Terwilliger, Isaac Hasbrouck, and. Hendrick VanWeyen. The church was completed by December of 1755.

 

 

 

The original front was on the south side of the building. There was a round topped door on this side with an arched topped window above. Above the door there were five stones carved with the initials of the five building committee members. Between 1794-1797 the church went through some modifications to meet the needs of a growing congregation. The doorway was filled in and four doors installed on the left side of the building; two down and two up; the two upper doors leading to an upper gallery. Two of the five carved stones remain on the building. Our group noted the original pintails for the front double door still remain. We then proceeded to go up to the gallery to have a look. We found a date stone between the gallery doors of 1742. Is this stone mark real? The stone is pecked and few members had seen this type of mason's mark before.

In the gallery, we found cornice moldings up against the bead board ceiling to be from the 1755 period. The gallery has its original 1790's paneling. When church was updated in 1833, new ornament of the time was applied over the original paneling. More exploration of the roof structure will be documented at another time. We walked around the Parsonage and carriage barn. HVVA was asked to tour the parsonage at another time.

We next visited the Decker/Bienstock farm. We looked first at the Dutch barn, the earliest example known with an inscribed date. In studying the marks on the columns, the second bent column and the third bent column are carved with the initials "SS" and the date "1750". (see HVVA vol. 5, no. 5). Curiously. above one of the carved inscriptions it is also written in ink;"SS 1750". Jim Decker while studying Shawangunk church records, found that the only SS in the 1750's to be that of a Samson Sammon. No one else from that time had the initials of SS. Was Samson Sammons a barn builder of the area?

There is another carved initial HB. This appears twice also. This mark was carved while the column was lying on its side. This is probably a Hasbrouck, but who? There were other ink marks on the columns. An "RS" appears on one of the anchor beam braces. Could this be another Sammons? Along another brace in ink it is marked "This barn built 1750" and appears in the same hand as the "SS" ink mark. One other brace is also marked but indecipherable. The Decker barn is in constant use and is in an excellent state of preservation.

The group toured the Johannes Decker house, first built on the property between 1720-1726. The house went through three major changes during the 18th century. See an article in Antiques magazine April 1998 for a history of the Decker house and its keepers. There were a number of questions and discussions by the group. Windows were first discussed; in the first addition of the house the front window appears to have been enlarged. The window opening was probably enlarged at the time of the 3rd addition to keep the openings uniform across the facade of the building. What might confirm this is that the 12 over 12 sash muntins are identical to the size of the muntins in the side lights next to the door in the 3rd addition [ca.1787]. These muntins appear to be transitional. In the dinning room of the 3rd addition, the window sash appear as if they were changed at an even later time; clearly federal in style.

We then looked at the original one-room portion of the house. The original staircase to the loft was in the right front corner confirmed by the floor change in the loft above. The group discussed the cornice over the doorways. Going into the first addition, the cornice is made of oak. Was this over a window placed in this wall? Over the door leading to the hall; the cornice is made ,of pine and appears larger than the doorjamb and is not centered. Could this be from the original doorway or from over a casement window? There is evidence of cornice work over window openings in the Dumond house in Hurley, N.Y.

In the loft of the original house, we examined a wonderfully preserved roof. When the second addition was made it encapsulated the original riven oak shingle lath with its shingles. These singles were made of 36" pine, hand split with clipped corners and face nailed. The exposure is 12-14 inches. The collar ties in this loft have an unusual joinery; the lapped dovetail is pinned with two oak pins placed at an angle on the edge of the dovetail.

We next inspect evidence of the jambless fireplaces that were in the house. The basement hearth supports were good places to start. Under the original house [1st phase], the hearth support was stone piers with timber laid across and masonry above. It was from the time when the wonderful Georgian jambed fireplace and overmantel were installed. Between the stone piers there was evidence of corbelled stone to support the original angled cradle or brick arched hearth support for the jambless fireplace.

In the first addition, there is evidence of a jambless fireplace on the first floor. We found empty trimmer mortises, approximately nine and a half feet apart. This hood beam is proud in front of a middle eighteenth century fireplace complete with bake oven. Under this fireplace is a massive firebase with no evidence of jambless supports. While in the basement of the house, we found a beam with trimmer mortises in an unusual spot. More study of the basement might conclude where this timber was from. More study of the Decker farm might yield answers to some of the changes made here over time. The Decker farm is in good hands and is preserved for generations to come.

Our tour took us from the Decker farm to a place across the Shawangunk kill to the Parker farm. There is an early stone house with barns. The barn is primarily an English barn with a small 3- bay Dutch frame incorporated in it. Close by is the site of the second Esopus war. In 1663, the Esopus Indians had built a village and stockade near here, known as the New Fort, where they had held their captives after the Kingston and Hurley raids and it was here that Captain Cregier and his men put an end to the Second Esopus War that allowed for the eventual settlement of the area. His army of 200 included 35 volunteers from Kingston and 41 Indians from Long Island. They destroyed the fort. The sachem Papequanaehen, 14 warriors, four women and 3 children were killed. The Dutch lost three men and had 6 wounded. 23 white women and children were rescued and 13 Indian prisoners were taken. (***).

From the Parker home, we ventured through the Dwaarkill area and drove by the Garritt Decker stone house (see H. Reynolds plate 66). This would be a house to document at a later date. We went south into Orange County to see a late Federal house and summer kitchen. The house is getting a ground up restoration. More study of this house is to be done after the bones are exposed. We concluded the day at 6:30pm at the Johannes Jansen Dutch barn and Corncrib (****).

Jim Decker, Town of Shawangunk, Ulster Co., NY

(*) John and Marian Stevens, Alvin Sheffer, Jim Decker, Mike Barberi, Paul Spencer, Maggy MacDowell, Wanda Roosa, Bob Eurich, Dennis Tierney and Peter Sinclair.
(**) information from the writing of Rev. Albert Elswick, 1976
(***) Early History of Kingston. Mark Fried, 1975
(****) see HVVA vol. 5 no. A.

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