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History of Wiccopee


Wiccopee Community Church
Built circa 1825 Greek Revival has original pews and wainscotting.


Wiccopee one-room schoolhouse on West Hook Road.

Early History

Wiccopee is a name derived from the Indians that used to inhabit this area, it is so named for an Indian clan living near Shenandoah. Originally known as Wiccopee, then the hamlet was called Johnsville - until confusion with some many other Johns-something named post offices caused too many errors in the mail delivery... it went back to using the Indian name Wiccopee.

Here are some of the derivations of the spelling of the Indian word "Wiccopee": Wickapee - Weekepe - Weakepey - Wiccopee - Wikapy - Wicope
 


Excerpt From: The Highland King Nimhammaw and the Native Indian Proprietors of Land in Dutchess County, NY: 1712-1765
by J. Michael Smith

"Identified in Catharyna (Rombout) Brett’s written complaint to British Indian agent (Northern Dept.) Sir William Johnson about claims to her lands made the previous year by a "Capt. Nimham" (Daniel Nimham fl.1745-1778). Brett alleged that "Old Nimham" had died about 12 years ago. He was permitted to live on land set aside for him near the Town of Fishkill. He had two sons, the eldest known by the nickname "One Shake" Nimham II, fl.1745-1762. Brett also claimed that the reserved lands of Old Nimham (at Wickapee / Weekepe / Weakepey / Wiccopee / Wikapy) were sold after he died to Capt. Swartwout for 20 pounds by One Shake and "Seven or Eight more Indians," after they received her permission "to Sell ye Emprovement" (Papers of Sir William Johnson, 10: 493-495)."

A fascinating reading of Native peoples of the Hudson Valley can be found at the Hudson River Valley Institute website by clicking here (will open in new browser window).
 


Excerpt From: LOCAL TALES & HISTORICAL SKETCHES,
by HENRY D. B. BAILEY. (born and raised in Wiccopee)

FISHKILL LANDING:
JOHN W. SPAIGHT PUBLISHER
FISHKILL STANDARD OFFICE
1874

"The first settler of the village of Johnsville, the ancient name of which was Wiccopee, was Johannas Swartwout. He having no money, leased the farm of Madam Brett for three fat fowls a year, the farm being covered with a dense forest. He soon cleared a small spot and erected a log house near an excellent spring of water, and in the year 1750 he set out an apple orchard; many of the apple trees still exist, one taken down some twelve years ago was twelve feet around at its base, and fifty feet high. After Madam Brett’s death this farm by heirship came in possession of Rombout Brett, a grandson of hers, who located on it in the year 1770. He sold six acres off to a blacksmith, whose name was William Cushman. The deed was given in October, 1783. He was the first mechanic in Johnsville. The American army encamped near Fishkill Village in the time of the Revolution, and their barracks then standing were given to the inhabitants. Cushman, with the help of his neighbors, went to the barracks with teams, and hauled up the timber for his house and blacksmith shop, and built them that year. The house did not front the street as it does now, but fronted the south, and the roof was very steep and only one story. The house was painted Spanish brown. A small portion of it is still standing, the other was taken down in 1814 and rebuilt by the father of the writer. In 1807 the father of the writer purchased this house and lot of Thomas Youngs, for $1500, and the writer, who was born there in December, 1813, sold the premises to Jeremiah Conklin in 1866. Rombout Brett sold this farm to Peter Monfort in the year 1787, who came from Long Island and settled on Fishkill Plains, He gave the farm to his son Adrian, who came there in the spring of 1787, and lived there till his death, which took place in the year 1849, at the advanced age of ninety-four years. The farm is now owned by Floyd Quick."
 


More Coming soon...

if you'd like to submit any writings, information, and/or old photos or drawings of the Wiccopee area, please contact us.


Letter from Malcolm Mills, Director East Fishkill Historical Society, to the Editors of the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Southern Dutchess News:

Wiccopee - An Historic District?

The Town of East Fishkill is situated on land within Madam Catharyna Brett's third share of 84,000 acres, known as the 1685 Rombout Patent. The town originally consisted of several rural communities with names like Gayhead, Hopewell, Adriance, Stormville and Johnsville. This latter hamlet, now known as Wiccopee, is the only one relatively unchanged from when it was a thriving community in the mid-1800's.
Before being straightened, Route 52 curved around Fishkill Hook Road, which is lined with old homes, the Wiccopee store and continued past the village green dominated by the fine 1825 Methodist Episcopal Church. Maybe this is the last unspoiled corner of our town. Nineteen properties including the church and "red" barn are listed in the town's Survey of Historic
Structures. More than a century ago, these buildings were homes, stores, a shoemaker's shop and Mr. Hawks' wagon shop, probably where Gene's cycle business is today. The hamlet had its own schoolhouse and Post Office as early as 1832.
This may be the last opportunity for Johnsville's residents, assuming they are interested in retaining the charming character of their community, to seek recognition of their hamlet as East Fishkill's first historic district.
Such designation could enhance property values and encourage homeowners to make restorations in a traditional style, thereby preserving the general appearance of this hamlet as it was in the late 19th.Century. It may attract visitors and remind future generations how our town looked before residential and commercial development changed its character forever.
 


January 8, 2004

Supervisor & Town Board
Town of East Fishkill
330 Route 376
Hopewell Junction, NY 12533

Dear Supervisor and Town Board Members,

It was with great interest that I read in today's Poughkeepsie Journal, a Letter to the Editor by Malcolm Mills of Hopewell Junction putting forth the concept of forming a Historical District for the Wiccopee/Johnsville Hamlet.
I write to you in support of this concept and urge you to actively pursue this concept and the possibilities of it becoming reality.

As a local historian and genealogist, I have done in depth research on the Homestead and Wagon Shop of Isaac Hawks.  Isaac Hawks and I share a common ancestor in Jotham Hawks, Revolutionary War Patriot.  The land of the man who was the well-known Wagon Maker of Wiccopee at the time of his death in 1907 was divided in half to make way for Automobile Travel. It would seem to me that Isaac Hawks died never dreaming that in a few short years, the path he walked from his House to his wagon shop would be paved over for what is now known as Rte. 52; that automobiles would be crossing his property rather than horse-drawn wagons.  I wonder what he would think today with the IBM, East Fishkill Facility just a short distance East of his Homestead & Wagon Shop.

History should not stand in the way of progress but neither should History suffer a demise because of progress.  With the number of historical properties in the Hamlet, it appears to me that a
Wiccopee/Johnsville Hamlet Historical District would well serve the present Town and generations to come.  Was this not the area of the Town that Lyndon Corbin Hickman was a native of and lived his entire life in? Lyndon C. Hickman served the Town as Supervisor for 16 years, from 1951 to 1967, and during that time achieved a position of prominence on the board of supervisors which, until 1968 was the county's legislative and executive body.  Prior to his election as supervisor, he was East Fishkill's Superintendent of Highways, also an elective post.  In total, he built a record of 34 years of service to his home town and county.  He served for 55 years as a member of the Wiccopee Grange, was a life member of the Hopewell Hose Company, and was long associated with Wiccopee Community Methodist Church, Kiwanis Club of Hopewell Junction, as well as the New York State and East Fishkill Historical Societies.

I can think of no better way to honor this lifelong Wiccopee Resident and Public Servant than to form the Town's First Historic District in his home hamlet.  From January 16, 1976 local newspaper article written following Mr. Hickman's death on January 12, 1976, I quote: "Lyndon C. Hickman represented the type of old-time solid citizens who are responsible, in large part, for the position of leadership which the county enjoys in many areas."

I urge you to consider creating a Historical District in the area of the
Wiccopee/Johnsville Hamlet and thank you in advance for your time and consideration of same. If Isaac and Lyndon were with us today, I truly believe they would urge the designation of Wiccopee/Johnsville as the Town's first Historical District.

Sincerely,
Virginia A. Buechele
emails: ginnyflies@usa.net
cc: Town of East Fishkill
     Planning Board


Wiccopee hamlet historic designation now

To the editor: printed Southern Dutchess News - June 8th, 2005

It has been over a year since the East Fishkill Town Board met to discuss a detailed and thoughtful proposal from Malcolm Mills (Director of East Fishkill’s Historical Society) to make Wiccopee Hamlet, East Fishkill’s first historic district. That was on May 13, 2004.

Malcolm suggested this historic designation would improve the recog­nition of the area, encourage homeowners to improve their properties and hopefully help preserve what is clearly the most notable area in East Fishkill that has remained largely unchanged from the mid-18OOs. Some houses dated to more than 200 years ago.

This historic hamlet has remained pretty much unchanged from the time it housed blacksmith shops, a parsonage, a post office, shoemaker, a wagon maker and other early American livelihoods and housed the hamlet’s populace. It has not been torn down, cinder-blocked over, neon light glowed.., it remains a quaint residential hamlet with unique homes, many of which are characterized by hand-hewn beams, wide-board floors, plaster walls, hand-cut nails, handmade glass, and other unique colonial building traits. It re­tains the name given by the first inhabitants, American Indians, who called the area “Wiccopee”.

I look at the Town of Poughkeepsie’s quick and decisive action to save two historic structures over the past year - the Abraham Fort house, and the old Kimlin Cider Mill. I applaud their clear thinking and common sense to save what little of our area’s history and historic structures are left, from the tidal wave of development that is sweeping over the area. I hope, too, that the East Fishkill town would see that it is the town’s uniqueness, open space and charm, which makes it “A great Place to Live”.

I ask that East Fishkill act decisively and quickly to protect its history and historic structures. Please write to the E.F. Town Board - implore them to act as boldly as the Town of Poughkeepsie in protecting our history. East Fishkill Town Hall, 330 Route 376, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533

You can view more on historic Wiccopee at www.wiccopee.org/history.htm.

Tim Leed
Save Wiccopee

 

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