How Saugerties streets got their names, part II

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Few streets of the early village were planned north of Main St. because there was a focus on Livingston lands south of Main St. All the streets there follow a grid of lots laid out in a survey made in 1827 by John Kiersted after the Chancellor’s heir, Robert L. Livingston, sold his land in the village area to Henry Barclay. Barclay then subdivided the part of this purchase from the Chancellor’s Burhans estate settlement land and returned about a hundred lots from this back to Livingston. These lots are what is called the Barclay and Livingston allotment lots and extend from the library all the way to the Esopus at the bottom of the hill.

That long lost original Kiersted survey was discovered by Kit Evers in 2011 and he gave permission for it to be scanned by the county archives and put up on the Saugerties Public Library’s collection page. It is very revealing in the various notes made on it in pencil, in color and in script between its origin date of 1827 and the last dated “update” in the 1850s. Streets are named and subsequently renamed; compass variants are marked; ownerships and their changes are noted in lots; and a color coding is added to conform to divisions of ownership in the will of Robert L. Livingston among his children after his death in 1843. This, and a published series of maps for the auction of the estate of Henry Barclay made in 1852 that is in the library’s collection, are among the foundational documents of the early village.

The streets of the 1827 Livingston and Barclay division start at the bottom of Partition with the road to the upper dock that today is known simply as Dock St. The main thoroughfare is Washington Ave., named Washington St. in this survey. Dock St. has Washington meeting it even though a cliff separates them. No street actually can be continued down this slope into the Esopus ravine but all do “on paper.” One of the streets on the 1827 grid running parallel to Washington was called Dock St. and newspaper accounts from the end of the 19th century have it in use to go straight down to the water but it must have been a steep path indeed.


That Dock St. of the 1827 plan is today’s Cedar St. It takes that name from Cedar Hill which is a mole-hill-sized rise on the otherwise dead level farmland of Main St. that Peter Cantine built his house on in the late 1870s. It’s Dock St. reference is still valid, though, because it continues to wind around St. Mary’s and then to Lighthouse Dr. and down to what were long the bluestone docks, following a track that was one of the earliest to be laid out as a village government planned street, in 1832. This diversion takes it to the lower docks as opposed to the upper docks where the village grid layout leads it, straight down to where today’s sewage treatment plant is.

Montgomery St., next up the hill from today’s Dock St., runs across the Persen farm lots that are outside of the allotment to cross Partition and continue on past Washington on paper but, again, because it strikes the ravine that the old Dock St. course also drops into, is not there.

Montgomery St. is named after the hero of the Revolution. He was the husband of the Chancellor’s older sister. Montgomery is “Barclay St.” on the survey map; crossed out with Montgomery replacing it. Next up the hill is Clermont St. The original map has this as “Centre St.” but that is another change with the name Center St. moved to a north-south street replacing “Catherine St.” as its name. Catherine was Henry Barclay’s wife’s name.

This Center St. today is only one block long. It probably never made it north to Main St. since this land was part of the Kiersted farm and it is where John Kiersted Jr. built his new house. This was the house later moved when the Main Street School was built. The reason it didn’t break the block in the other direction is not known. It is likely that, like Division St.’s continuation toward Partition St., a house was simply built in the middle of it.

Clermont St. is the first to hit a level course and cross Washington but the Center St. course doesn’t reach it. Where that would have happened Clermont begins to wrap to dodge the next drop off and then blends into the original Dock St. and continues up to Main St. That course is relatively recent within the past 60 years.

Clermont St. is probably named after the ancestral estate left to Robert L. Livingston’s wife Margaret Maria. It could also be for the groundbreaking steamboat of Livingston and Fulton that originated steam navigation on the Hudson River, but likely not, since the loss of the monopoly in the recent past may have been a sore point.

Cedar St. (Dock St. on the survey) intersects what was Church St. on the original grid. On the 1827 survey this marked Henry Barclay’s donation of land for the “roman chapel” that stands there today as the earliest Catholic church and cemetery in the region. So Post begins at Partition and becomes Church St. as it passes Washington and Center to meet at St. Mary’s Church with Clermont and Cedar streets to continue then on to Lighthouse Dr.

Post St. and Russell St. cross the Post farm’s division. The Barclay and Livingston division extends down these streets a bit past Washington Ave.  Both Post St. and Russell St. have narrower widths so when Post continues as Church St. it broadens on the original map and still shows that today. Russell St. also does this as it reaches Washington Ave.

A building on Russell St. has the name “F. L. Russell” painted on its side, but F. L. was of a completely different Russell clan from Connecticut and only arrived in Saugerties in the late 1920s. The Russell St. name is for Jeremiah Russell, one of the earliest merchants in the earliest beginnings of the village. At the time of this survey he was the principle private banker to the growth spurt it was experiencing. The lots along Russell St. are his division of land he bought from the Post farm and those along Post St. are lots created by the Posts.

In later deeds sometimes Post St. is called Mechanics St. and sometimes there is a mention of a William St. The Mechanics St. is a nod to the industry that employed its residents and William St. was more an ally that blocked Russell St. from meeting Washington Ave.; something of a spite street.  It ran parallel to Washington separating the larger lots of the Barclay and Livingston allotments from the narrower streets and lots of the Post farm divisions. It was never built but the old brick school house still standing on Post St. right where it widened into the allotment’s Church St. faces down this William St. to mark where it was supposed to be.

On that same grid was an East St. It was also never made and the lots along it are mostly found on land later mined for clay to make the bricks of the early buildings. East St. is a logical name for the easternmost side of the 1827 division map. Today the actual easternmost street in the village is Mynderse St., the right turn on the tee where Main St. goes left onto Malden Ave. There is a sign there that directs visitors to the lighthouse via Lighthouse Dr. that Mynderse St. runs into. One of the original purchasers of land from the Meales and Hayes patent was John Persen and this street is named for his son-in-law Myndert Mynderse. This street was a common farm lane that led to drives down to the river. One of these now serves Anchorage Farm. In early times it led to the Livingston ferry that crossed the Hudson to Clermont. All the products from the leaseholds of the Hardenburgh patent reached the warehouses on that side of the river from this ferry. All the land from Mynderse St. east to the river was farmland until Freleigh Hill was made into the Latham Circle development in the 1960’s. Latham Circle is named for a wealthy merchant from New York who built a summer home there around 1914.

Read the other installments in this series.