Save Wiccopee History

 

 

Save Wiccopee Organization exists to protect our quality of life, protect the environment and natural resources, to promote historic preservation, save our community character, and to provide news and information about issues that impact residents in Wiccopee and East Fishkill.

History of Wiccopee – 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

Wiccopee has a rich history from it's time as a fertile area for Native Americans to it's growth and settlement during the Colonial era. Derived from what native American Indians called this land, Wiccopee is an area of rolling hills, fields, wetlands, mountains, great views, and streams. Later settled in the late 1700's, a hamlet grew up along the road from Fishkill Landing to Danbury. This hamlet was the center of surrounding farms. In the same houses that still exist much as they were, some over 200 years old, were cobblers, blacksmiths, a general store, post office, parsonage, school house, and other local small businesses where the shop owners also lived. Wiccopee is now a quaint residential Historic Hamlet.

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

SachemDanielNimhamWiccopee born Sachem Daniel Nimham brought to life by Sculptor Michael Keropian, Copyright © Michael Keropian Sculpture LLC, used with permission. Click photo to view more info.

"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)

"Most historians suggest Daniel Nimham was born in the Fishkill Creek Region near the Town of Wiccopee New York. It is very possible Daniel learned to speak English from his continental neighbors and may have taken part in the French- Indian War. He was made sachem of the Wappinger People around 1760 following two Nimham sachems before him. Land grabbers had taken tribal ancestral lands in eastern New York during the French-Indian War and relocated many of the native people (the woman and children) to Stockbridge, Mass. while the men were fighting the war. Daniel took the matter to court to reclaim the stolen lands back for his people, and even traveled to England in 1766 to plead his case before King George. Unfortunately his case was dropped when he returned back in the colonies and he soon after volunteered to fight for the continental side during the American Revolution, more than likely assuming that if they fought well in the revolution a new American government would see fit to give back some of their lands. Daniel's son Abraham (1745 - 1778) became the captain of a company of Indian scouts serving with the Continental Army, a confederacy of Mohicans, Wappingers, Munsee and other local tribes. It is noted that Daniel "faithfully served in the army as a soldier at Cambridge...In 1775 ". Daniel, Abraham and a large group of the Stockbridge Warriors died at the Battle of Kingsbridge in the Bronx, NY on August 31, 1778". – this paragraph from Michael Keropian Sculpture website, used with permission.

Excerpts 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

WiccopeeChurchWiccopee Community Church

Built circa 1825 Greek Revival has original pews and wainscoting.

"The great Sachem and his tribe then occupied the valleys and the primitive forests stood in all their grandeur and from Fort Hill then might have been witnessed the Indian sporting in the valley hunting in the forest and fishing in the Wiccapee the great Sachem at the head of his tribe teaching them the art of war and the amusement of the chase The howl of the wolf and the scream of the panther might then have saluted the ear."

"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."

Wiccopee – An Historic District

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.

Wiccopee House

East Fishkill Historic Structures Inventory – Wiccopee Hamlet

Wiccopee Historic Structures Map

As you can see, this map from East Fishkill's Historic Structures Inventory, shows just how much of Historic Wiccopee Hamlet, and how contiguous and the density of historic homes, is comprised of unique valuable historic structures, existing today, much as they did in the 1800's!

Letter to the to the Editor Poughkeepsie Journal, January – 8, 2014 from Virginia A. Buechele

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

IsaacHawksWagonShopFormer Isaac Hawks Wagon Shop - Historic Wiccopee Hamlet, NY

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”.

WiccopeeOneRoomSchoolhouseWiccopee one-room schoolhouse on West Hook Road

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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Information believed accurate, not warranted.

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