In the early part of that year (1783) there came to this quiet spot a party of visitors, four in number, sober undemonstrative Quaker men from the southeastern part of New England. Their arrival seemed but a commonplace occurrence, and none could at that time have thought it a matter of very great moment, yet it proved to be of more importance in the annals of dull old Claverack Landing than all the previous events of its history during the one hundred and twenty years which had elapsed since the time of its purchase from the Mohicans by the pioneer Van Hoesen.
The circumstances and motives which had brought these visitors to the landing were as follows: About thirty persons, principally Quakers, residents of Providence and Newport, in Rhode Island, and of Nantucket and Edgartown, in Massachusetts (all of whom were or had been engaged in commercial pursuits, the whale fishery or other branch of marine navigation, and all possessors of considerable pecuniary means, while several were persons of large wealth), having suffered very severely in their business by reason of the ravages of British cruisers during the war, had, about the commencement of that year, formed themselves into an association having for its object the establishment of a commercial settlement or town at some safer and more sheltered location, and the removal thither of themselves, their families, and their business; and in pursuance of this project they had appointed a committee from their number to make a tour of exploration to select a proper and eligible site for the proposed settlement.This band of "about thirty persons," which notably, according to Ellis, included one woman, Deborah Jenkins, came to call themselves the "Proprietors." They were the founders of our fair city, and on Thursday night, they will be the subject of a presentation by Carl Gifford Whitbeck: The Proprietors and Their Lasting Influence on the City of Hudson.
Whitbeck, who is a partner in the law firm Rapport Meyers and a former city attorney, has deep ancestral roots in Hudson and Columbia County. His presentation is part of the Local History Speaker Series sponsored by the History Room at the Hudson Area Library. The event takes place in the Community Room at the library, 51 North Fifth Street, on Thursday, January 26, at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
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