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Preserve America Community:
Beekman, New York

Beekman, New York, (population 14,000) has its origins in 1697, when Henry Beekman obtained a land grant from the British Crown known as the “Beekman Patent.” The first European settlers arrived around 1710. Milling was one of the earliest industries in the town, and the hamlet of Poughquag was home to saw, grist, and fulling (a step in woolen cloth making) mills during the 19th century.

Poughquag produced Beekman’s own Revolutionary War hero, Col. James Vanderburgh of the Beekman Militia, a confidant of George Washington. An important colonial highway ran through Beekman during the Revolutionary War, providing a reliable artery for transporting men and supplies from New England to the Hudson River.

The town of Beekman, formed in 1788, was one of the early towns recognized by the newly independent state of New York. Parts of Beekman’s original land holdings were broken off to form other towns, and by 1827, Beekman established its current boundaries.

The town experienced an industrial boom in the latter half of the 19th century when iron ore beds were discovered. The mining industry brought the railroad and a second influx of immigrants, mostly from Ireland. Although Beekman has been primarily rural and agricultural in nature, farms have given way to residential developments.

More than 165 houses exist in the town of Beekman today that were built before 1899, many during the 1700s. The Roosevelt-Dalton Farm Clubhouse, built 200 years ago, was located on the “Colonial Highway” that ran through Beekman. In 1949, Franklin Delano Roosevelt purchased the house and 750 acres of land, and for more than 35 years the manor played host to sitting presidents, foreign leaders, ambassadors, and representatives from both houses of Congress. Roosevelt’s office has been restored to its original state, and public tours are offered of the office and gardens.

The annual Community Day, which dates back to the 1890s, focuses on a historical theme and includes house tours, re-enactments, and traditional crafts demonstrations. 

For more information

Town of Beekman: www.townofbeekman.com

Beekman history: www.beekmanhistory.com

Posted March 16, 2009

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