Early Native American Burial Ground Discoveries
The Anti-Rent Rebellion of 1765
Throughout the Colonial Era, the land east of the Hudson River was managed as a feudal system, in which large tracts of land were sold to wealthy aristocrats who then exacted rent from the peasants who worked the land. After the French-Indian War, disputes arose concerning the land in Dutchess County, and in 1765 the Wappinger Sachem Daniel Nimham brought suit in English Chancery court to recover land that Dutch landowner Arthur Philipse had appropriated from the Wappingers while they were away fighting in the French-Indian War. After Nimham's suit was rejected, Philipse's heirs began ejecting tenants from the land between Conneticut and the Hudson, and tenants, led by a farmer William Prendergast, opted to reinstate the dispossessed tenants, by force if necessary.
Prendergast's army grew to 1,700 armed farmers before the army was brought into disperse the insurrection and arrest its leaders. In 1766 Prendergast was convicted of treason, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The tireless campaigning of his wife Mehitabel Wing ultimately secured Prendergast a pardon from George III.
The Pawling anti-rent rebellion would be only one of several such revolts against the feudal property leases held by New York landowners into the nineteenth century..
George Washington Comes to Pawling
One First Day morning, in the mellow October days of that year, the worshipping stillness of the Friendsâ€™ Meeting was broken by the tramp of horses and the jangling of spurs, as a band of soldiers rode up, dismounted and entered the building. They remained quiet and reverent, till the handshaking of the elders closed the meeting, then the commanding officer rose, and in the name of the Continental Congress took possession of the building for a hospital for the troops and as such it was used all that winter.
Margaret B. Monahan
During the Revolutionary War, George Washington decided he needed a location from which he could easily move his troops to New England or to the Hudson Valley as needed. Accordingly, he he chose Pawling, and during the fall of 1778 the Colonial Army was camped out in Pawlingâ€”Washington in town at John Kane's house, and his troops up on Quaker Hill, in a location that they christened Purgatory Hill. Among other buildings the Army acquired for its uses was the Oblong Meeting House, which they used as a hospital.
The Quakers, being pacifists (many were additionally sympathetic to the British cause), kept themselves separate from the occupying army. But while most of the Quakers ignored the Colonial Army as best they could, one Mrs. Tabor, known to be a skilled cheesemaker, stated that she'd offer a cheese to the first general officer to visit the neighborhood. According to the story handed down in Quaker Hill, a representative of George Washington soon arrived at her door, requesting the promised cheese, which Mrs. Tabor graciously offered to the general.
As Reverend Warren Wilson would later write, â€œBoth the soldier and the Quaker laid their bones in the dust of the Hill. Both had faith in liberty and equality. The history of Quaker Hill in the eighteenth century is the story of these two schools of idealists, who ignored each other, but were moved by the same passion, obeyed the same spirit.â€
First Quaker Abolitionist Resolution
Establishment of the Railroad
Quaker Conferences, 1899-1908
Quaker Hill resident Margaret Monahan first conceived of some kind of historical and religious conference as early as 1893, an idea she brought to the Reverend Warren Wilson and Albert Akin. It was Akin who suggested that the first conference be held in 1899, on the eve of a the new century; Akin provided the funding, while Wilson reached out to clergy and other potential members of an executive and advisory committee. Miss Monahan, in turn, agreed to serve as â€œhostess.â€ Topics of the wide-ranging conferences included Quaker Hill history, theology, literature and culture, and included speakers from places such as Yale University and the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, as well as prison and education reformers, agricultural experts, and labor organizers.
After Albert's death in 1903, relatives continued to provide the $1,000 annual expense for a few years, but as Wilson had moved away and Akin family finances became strained, the conferences were discontinued after 1908.
In 1933, the Quaker Hill Historical Society would pay tribute to Monahan, noting â€œher white dress and her broad white hat in a well-appointed equipage with perfectly groomed horses,â€ a woman who â€œwas for many years a notable figure in the area.â€
Thomas Dewey’s Run for President
Thomas E. Dewey moved to Pawling in 1938, at the urging of his friend Lowell Thomas. Having already distinguished himself as New Yorkâ€™s District Attorney, Dewey sought and lost the Republican nomination for president in 1940 but went on to be elected New York's Governor in 1942. In 1944 he won the Republican presidential nomination and challenged Franklin Delano Rooseveltâ€”the only time in the United States history that the two major party candidates both hailed from the same county (FDR's home, Hyde Park, was also in Dutchess County), and the only time until 2016 when both candidates claimed New York as their home state.
Never before in this history of Pawling has this township had the honor and distinction of having one of its citizens chosen as Candidate for President of the United States of America,â€ the Town of Pawling Republican Committee proclaimed in local advertisements during the run-up to the election. â€œWe sincerely ask every man and woman voter of the town of Pawling to attend the Polls on Election Day and support our Home Town Candidate for President of the United States, Gov. Thomas E. Dewey.â€ Ultimately, Dewey lost to FDR (as he would again in four years against Harry S Truman), though he did win Dutchess County.
He continued to live in Pawling on Dapplemere Farm, a 485-acre working dairy farm after his retirement from politics.
The Query from the Oblong
The first legislative action in the colonies towards the abolition of slavery began on Quaker Hill, when in 1767 the Community of Friends in the Oblong sent a query to the congregation in Flushing which ran:
It is not consistant with Christianity to buy and Sell our Fellowmen for Slaves during their Lives, & their Posterities after them, then whether it is consistant with a Christian spirit to keep those in Slavery that we have already in possession by Purchase, Gift, or any otherways.
While the Flushing congregation initially deferred in providing a direct response, â€œThe Query from the Oblong,â€ as it became known, set off a dialogue among the Quaker community that led to the first abolition of slave-holding in 1775, when the congregation stated that â€œall in profession with us who hold Negroes ought to restore to them their natural right to liberty as soon as they arrive at a suitable age for freedom.
By 1783 all those held in bondage on Quaker Hill had been emancipated, making the Oblong the first place in the United States to abolish slavery. (Subsequent Quaker meeting minutes, though, reflect that one or two members of the congregation were excommunicated from the community for slaveholding.)