Kent History

Kent Lakes, NY sits high on the Hudson Highlands 60 miles north of New York City in Putnam County. Westchester lies to our south, Dutchess to our north, Connecticut to the east and the Hudson River forms our western border. We're a small county, yet we're amongst the fastest growing and our per capita wealth surpasses NY's other counties.

Our hamlets consist of Ludingtonville, Kent Cliffs, Lake Carmel, Gipsy Trail and many smaller communities totaling about 15,000 people. We are home to a number of quite beautiful lakes (hence our name) which were once the domain of summer visitors but now have become year-round communities. Sagamore Lake, Lake Tibet, China Lake (so named for a case of china an angry housewife threw in it to spite her drunken husband), Palmer Lake and White Pond are just a few of our many lakes. All our lakes are powerboat free which increases our quality of life and enables more residents to enjoy their beauty.

Kent Lakes is also home to several NY City Reservoirs, among them Boyd's Corners and West Branch, with the former being the east of Hudson terminus of the Catskill/Delaware system and a vastly important link in what may be the world's most important engineering feat - the NYC water supply.

Kent Lakes is home to two State Parks - Wonder Lake in the east and Fahnestock in the west. In addition, the Town of Kent maintains several parks, one of about 100 acres on Farmer's Mills Road, another on the edge of the Lake Carmel community and a third park on Horse Pound Road, courtesy of the NYC DEP. Putnam County has a county park, a fireman's training school and 4H fairgrounds on Gipsy Trail Road within our town.

There are 4 NYS DEC Multiple Use Areas in Kent (Pudding Street, California Hill, Big Buck and White Pond) and the Mount Nimham State Forest occupies more than 1000 acres in the heart of this beautiful place. At the top of Mount Nimham is NY state's tallest remaining fire tower (90') which is currently undergoing restoration. Views from its cabin encompass 75 miles in all directions - from the Empire State Building in the south, the Catskills to the northwest and the Berkshires in the northeast.

 Kent History
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Ressique Street - Copyright 2001 Jeff Green


On March 24, 1772 Fredericksburgh Precinct was created as a way of deliniating and managing the lands of the Phillipse Patent. Our section was named after Frederick Phillipse.

This area was officialy organized as Frederickstown on March 7, 1788.

On March 17, 1795 Fredericks, Carmel, Southeast, and Franklin (Patterson) each became their own towns out of the original area called Frederickstown.

On April 15, 1817 the name of our town was changed to Kent in honor of a prominent local family.

 

Colonial History

This area was once part of the Phillipse Patent granted in 1679 and local deeds still claim mineral rights for that family.

The area where the Town of Kent now sits was once home to the Wappinger Indians before Europeans came to these shores. Daniel Nimham, (1724-1778) was the last chief of the Wappingers and was the most prominent Native American of his time in the Hudson Valley. The Wappingers were descended from ancestors who had been forced to part with their best lands during the preceding century, and who roamed the hills and valleys of Putnam and Dutchess Counties.

Chief Nimham learned to speak English and used his multicultural skills to defend his people’s rights in the courts of London and New York. When betrayed by the British Crown, he joined the rebel army and found common cause with colonists struggling to free themselves from royal authority.

Daniel Nimham and scores of his fellow Wappinger fought for the American cause during the Revolution. They served with George Washington at Valley Forge and later with General Marquis de Lafayette's troops. Unfortunately, all hope for fairer treatment under the Americans, ended in August of 1778 when Daniel Nimham and 50 of his fellow Wappinger were killed by Loyalist and British Dragoons in a battle on Cortlandt Ridge in the Bronx. A monument to his sacrifice marks the spot and the field of battle remains intact.

It is said that once each year during his life Daniel Nimham would stand on the very Mountain given his name, and claim the mountains and valleys we see today as the land of his people.


White Pond - Copyright 2001 Jeff Green
White Pond at Farmer's Mills
The American Revolution

This town, which at one time also contained Patterson, Carmel and Southeast was called Frederickstown Precinct and was formed on March 24, 1772. The first settlement, however, was made about 1750, by Zachariah Merritt. Other early family names were Boyd, Wixon, Farrington, Burton, Carter, Barrett and Ludington and they can still be found today. And, until 1812 was part of Dutchess County.

The present day intersection of I84 and Ludingtonville Road was the home of Col. Henry Ludington and his daughter Sybil, who rode 40 miles one dark night to call up her father's militia during our fight for Independence. Where Paul Revere was captured and failed at his mission (a little known historical fact), Sybil, then just 16 years old, succeeded. In honor of this brave woman and her father we now know that location as Ludingtonville and a statue of her stands on the shores of Lake Gleneida across from our County Courthouse.

Sixteen year old Sybil Ludington was a typical girl in 1777. While putting her younger brothers and sisters to bed on the night of April 26, 1777, word reached her house that the British, under General William Tyron, were burning the town of Danbury, Connecticut, 25 miles away and destroying major stockpiles of the patriot militias that were stored there.

Sybil convinced her father to let her summon her father's militia. She rode her horse Star on 40 miles of country roads in the dark. Her course took her down through Carmel, on to Mahopac, and around to Kent Cliffs, to Hortontown, through Farmers Mills to Stormville and then back home again.

In 1763 Frederickburgh (in present day Southeast) gave us another American hero, James Kent. Kent, a Jurist, was admitted to the bar in 1785 and practiced law at Poughkeepsie, NY, from 1785 to 1793. During this period he was twice elected to represent Dutchess Co. in the state assembly. [Note, until 1812 we were part of Dutchess County] In 1793 Kent was appointed one of two masters in chancery in New York City, and in the same year he became the first professor of law at Columbia College (now Columbia University). He is also the author of one of the most important books on American jurisprudence, Commentaries on American Law (1826-30).


Post Revolution
Kent Historical Society - Copyright 2001 Jeff Green
Farmer's Mills School House

Sitting at an important junction on the Phillipstown Pike was the village of Farmer's Mills. Water was used from White Pond as a source of energy to make this hamlet one of the most important inland towns in the region. It was a central point for processing and milling the abundant grain from farms in the area and as far away as Litchfield, Connecticut. Grains gathered from farmers to our west were processed, ground and packaged for shipment through Cold Spring. It was not until the railroad came to Brewster (along with the creation of the Boyd's Corners Reservoir) that Farmer's Mills fell into decline. All that is left of this town today is the sluice from White Pond, a one room schoolhouse, some cemeteries and old foundations one might find while hiking in our woods.

Other sources of Historical Information

 

[With Special thanks to Richard Muscarella]



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Monday, December 4, 2006