Reprinted in full by permission from Anthony P. Musso
October 25, 2016
A number of municipalities throughout the Hudson Valley are named after military leaders, early pioneers and/or a person who had a dramatic role in its founding. The Town of Clinton is named after New York’s first governor, George Clinton, while Lafayette, a hamlet in Milan was named in honor of French Gen. Marquis de Lafayette, who visited the area in 1824.
In 1741, Jacobus Stoutenburgh became the first Colonial settler to set down roots in today’s Town of Hyde Park. Born in New York City in June 1696, Stoutenburgh married Margaret Teller in 1717 and the couple raised eight children.
Upon settling in Dutchess County, Stoutenburgh built a Dutch manor house on what is now West Market Street, at its intersection with Park Place. He subsequently created a carriage path 50 feet west of the King’s Highway (today’s Route 9) that provided him with access to his homestead.
Shortly after his house was built, Stoutenburgh erected a dock and boat landing along the Hudson River, west of his house. The settlement quickly became known as Stoutenburgh or Stoutenburgh’s Landing.
Jacobus died in 1772 and in accordance with his will, dated 1768, a 1-acre parcel of land was designated to become a private family burial ground for him and his heirs. It sits at the north end of today’s Doty Avenue, off West Market Street.
“The entrance to the family cemetery was originally on the northwest corner, but Frederick Vanderbilt objected to people walking through his estate to access it,” said Marguerite Spratt, whose husband was president of the Stoutenburgh-Teller Family Association for four decades.
“In 1937, the entrance was moved to the south side and Gilbert Stoutenburgh started the family association primarily to ensure that the cemetery grounds would be cared for,” she said.
William Stoutenburgh, Jacobus’s son, built an existing stone house along Violet Avenue (Route 9G), just south of East Market Street. South and across the road from William’s house is part of a larger tract of land that was owned by John S. Stoutenburgh; it was transformed in 1865 to become Union Cemetery. When it opened, John Albert Stoutenburgh was an original deed owner and Susan Caroline Stoutenburgh was the first person interred there.
So, how did a settlement originally known as Stoutenburgh become Hyde Park?
Sometime after Jacobus Stoutenburgh’s arrival, Dr. John Bard, a physician from New York City moved north and established a country estate along today’s Route 9 just north of St. James Episcopal Church. He named it “Hyde Park” in tribute to Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, the governor of the Colony of New York during the early 18th century.
In 1804, a local entrepreneur opened a tavern in the community and arbitrarily took the name of Bard’s estate, christening his establishment the Hyde Park Inn. He then applied for a post office to be located in his building. That was not uncommon, as a number of taverns during that era included post offices, barber shops, general stores and other operations.
The post office department approved the request and with no knowledge of the community’s history it simply assigned it the same name as the tavern. Thus, what had been known as Stoutenburgh was changed to Hyde Park, New York; the town officially adopted the name in 1821.
In 1976, a plaque was affixed to the exterior wall of Hyde Park Town Hall, acknowledging the municipality’s original name.
“The area was known as Stoutenburgh for over a half a century,” said Lanaii Kline, president of the family association. “When the Stoutenburgh-Teller Family Association was founded, one of its missions was to preserve the history of the Stoutenburgh and Teller families in America.
“The plaque at town hall serves as a permanent reminder of the origins of this place and commemorates the founding family.”
Jacobus Stoutenburgh’s then-deteriorated house was demolished in 1870 to extend West Market Street west to the river; a stone marker identifies its former location.