Saugerties history can be found in almost all the street names of the village. In this series of articles, the history of all the street names in the village of Saugerties will be discussed.
First installment: The village core around Main St.
Main St., for Saugerties, is a level stretch on a long road where travelers deviated from following the Hudson River to dodge the deep gorge of the Esopus Creek. This jog followed the north fence line of the Mynderse farm of colonial days and was known to early surveys as the road to Mynderse Mill.
Malden Ave. of today follows the extension of Main St.’s easterly direction north to meet deep water docks on the river where the Hudson’s channel has always brushed our shore. Then Main St. continued west as the old Mynderse Mill Rd. down to the Esopus Bend and a ferry. That old road bed today is Oakledge Blvd., which has that name because the late 19th-century estate of George Washburn that occupied this side of the village was called Oakledge. The estate’s original entry drive is now Washburn Ter.
This west direction of Main St. continued on to connect Saugerties commercial river access south to Kingston. Until the early 20th century, it followed a course that passed through the Kingston Commons “Plantesie Berg” lots and on to the old Kings Hwy. by the Christian Myer stone house in Churchland.
This travel pattern is recorded on the earliest of road maps of New York. It explains the origins of a commercial center at Main St. Today, although the Esopus has been bridged in the village for going on two centuries, the zigzagging of traffic through the “main” core of streets around Main St. is still there to remind us of the past.
The slowdown of traffic along this stretch attracted taverns and merchant establishments to set up business long before Saugerties was its own town. It is said that signatures for the Articles of Confederation were gathered at the Post Tavern that was located on the north side of Main St.
The earliest evidence of a plan to settle a village here appears in a survey from 1825 where the names of First St. and Second St. come from, and still remain to the present day. These indicate where the first prototype village arrangement was planned. This survey is the earliest record of a division into residential village lots with the first church in this village plan built on one of these lots in 1829 facing south down First St. This was the “brick church” on Livingston St., a street named for the most influential family in the early development of the village.
Today’s Ulster Ave. was known as Turnpike St. on the earliest maps. It was the terminus of the 1828 Saugerties and Woodstock Tpke. That road was built over the original course of the “road to Livingston’s sawmill” as it was marked on the 1765 map by the surveyor general of the colony of New York. In colonial times the Saugerties part of Kingston was all that separated the Livingston lands that encompassed all of Columbia County on the east side of the Hudson river from their million-acre Hardenburgh Patent lands of the Catskills.
The fourth-generation Livingston, Robert R. Livingston, chancellor of New York and ambassador to France who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase and was holder of the steam boat monopoly with Robert Fulton, began to buy the farms of the village area in the late 1700s. It was his ownership of so much land that allowed a village to be created in such a short period of time, between the first few lots we see drafted in 1825 and the village incorporation in 1831 with a population of nearly 2,000 souls.
The name Market St. indicates the purpose of the early village. In the area at the corner of Main and Market called Market Square throughout the 19th century there was an early building said to be owned by James Livingston. He was a cousin of the chancellor who profited from the British in Boston during the Revolution and may have made this early investment in Saugerties in the 1780s. This location is associated with Robert L. Livingston in the town’s 1811 records of road districts. Many merchants occupied his building when first setting up business in Saugerties. Asa Bigelow was there in 1807 before developing Malden and Jeremiah Russell moved there from West Camp in 1814. The Russell Block, built in 1874, was there into the 1960s. What remains now is a parking lot and a convenience store. This was the original center of town with the Mynderse Tavern opposite it hosting the town meetings and later village meetings, when it was under the management of James Woodruff.
The first business block was laid out in a survey of 1828 with its commercial lots still represented in the widths of all the buildings on the south side of Main St. today. Jane St., named for Jane Schoonmaker, granddaughter of Myndert Mynderse and wife of the subdivider, marks the southern bounds of this block. James St. between Main and Jane forms its west bounds.
James St. is named for the operator of the tavern on this short street’s corner with Main, James Woodruff. He was Jane’s son-in-law. That tavern was built by Myndert Mynderse in the early 1780s and operated by Garrit Mynderse in the early 1800s when this whole side of Main St. was the Mynderse middle farm. A large barn at the farm’s corner with Main St., where the small columned building that was the town offices still stands, was a landmark on many of the original lot and street surveys of the village.
These Dutch family names are a sampling of those that were here when the village area was all farms. An indicator of the progression of this original land ownership is found in the name of Division St. which is today the entry to the library parking lot. This runs the north line of the first patent, or land grant from the colonial government and the King of England, in Saugerties— the 1686 Meales and Hayes patent. By 1796 it was the line forming the separation between Kiersted land on the north of it and the Burhans claim Livingston settled for the Burhans heirs in funding its purchase for John Brink. When streets were named south of it 140 years after the patent, in 1827, this name was a nice nod to history at the village’s beginnings. When the last of the Mynderse lands were sold to Robert R. Livingston in 1803, the deed contained a statement that it represented the last remaining right in the original Meales and Hayes patent of this family of original settlers.
Partition St. is a descriptive name with a similar meaning. It runs the dividing line between land the Post family had from marrying into the Mynderse family and the rest of the Mynderse farm to the west. This was up on the level land at the top of the hill. Continuing down the hill its line marks the partition between the Persen farm to the west and the lands of Livingston’s earliest purchase from John Brink of the Burhans estate settlement of 1796. That line continues on down to the creek and falls. In early surveys it is called the road to Persen’s Mill.