HVVA NEWSLETTER, November 2005
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HVVA Newsletters


Friday, September 23 I met with Maggie Mac Dowell and Jim Decker at a stone house on Main Street in Hurley to examine and document it. Known as the Bevier House, it is for sale, ($469,900.00), and advertised as the Hyman Roosa House. The Roosa and Elmendorf families were its original builders. The Bevier family did not come to the house until the 19 th century. The real estate agent, Mary Collins opened the house for us. We were joined later by Dave Baker, the Town of Hurley Historian who has done extensive research of the town records and of probable dates the houses in the village were constructed. We registered the house:

The Hyman Rossa House Hurley, Ulster County, NY undated photograph courtesy of Dave Baker

The Hyman Rossa, Elmendorf, Bevier Stone House, with additions and alterations Main Street, Old Village of Hurley, Ulster County, NY (NY/Uls/Hur/015)


Dave Baker believes there were no stone houses built in Hurley before 1685. He dates the two main sections of the Bevier Stone House after 1711 and circa 1730. There was a wood house on the site before that.

The direction of the beams in the original room of the house do not conform with its present roof line and indicate an early roof rotation, a familiar alteration when an early house was expand. In this case a long stone addition was made in about 1730 creating a two-room center hall house with side entrances and the roof line parallel to the road. A thin partition wall resting on beam 9 separates the center hall on the main floor above from the new room on the right. (*)

The original one-room house had a gable entrance facing the road with a jambless fireplace on the back wall, a typical "urban" plan for many early Dutch houses. This was deduced from the direction of the beams and the survival of an 8-foot long stone corbel in the back wall of the cellar, a projecting shelf of stones about 4-feet from the floor that the brick trimmer-arch was built up from, (see section B. bellow beam 5.). Beam 1., like beam 12. in the addition, was the hearth-beam against which the trimmer arch rested. The hearth beam was typically joined with two trimmer-beams set in the wall flanking the masonry hearth-support.

When the roof of the house was rotated the fireplace was relocated to what would become the end wall of the new center-hall house. The hearth beam 1. was removed and replaced with beams 5. and 6. A header-beam spanning beams 2., 3. and 6. was added to support the new brick trimmer-arch. Beam 5. like beams 7. and 13., is set close to the wall unlike the wall-beams 4. and 16. that are set into the masonry. These beams set close to the wall indicate an existing wall and are often clues to an add-on room.

The Dutch fireplace hearth support in the cellar of the addition of The Rossa House is a rare and well preserved example. Often they were removed or altered when English jambed fireplaces replaced the Dutch jambless type. This alteration can be seen in the relocated hearth support in the original foundation where the trimmer arch was later buried in a pilaster of stone. The English jambed fireplace needed more masonry to support not only the hearth but the jambs or sides of the fireplace.

The light brick trimmer-arch in the addition is a classic type of Dutch construction. The three pockets just above the corbel were left in the brick work when the wooden form was removed. This temporary form supported the arch as it was being built. The jambless fireplace above it survived until 1926 so that the hearth support was never altered. In 1926 the owner removed the brick smoke hood, put a door and a window in the back wall of the Dutch fireplace and built a cement porch off that end with cobblestone pillars. The house would be better off without it.

There is more to learn about the development of the Rossa House and hopefully the new owners will take an interest in it and respect what has survived. Through his research, tracing the ownership and genealogy of the Old Hurley stone houses, the wills and court cases, Dave Baker is uncovering the personalities and workings of this early rural village that begin to make it come alive again.

The Rossa house was built first by Hyman Rossa and purchased by Luykes Elmendorph who's son, Coenraet, wrote a long and complex will in 1749 dividing his extensive and widespread land holdings among his ten children and one relative. It was expedited in 1788 after his or his wife's death. (*)

If his beloved wife, Blandina, survived him, she would remain in full possession of the estate, but if she would re-marry, she would receive only 15-pounds a year and the estate would be divided equally among the eleven inheritors.

                  Section B                     Section A


          Section A                                Section C

Section A. and Section B. of the left-end of the house show the jambless fireplace with brick smoke hood as it was relocated when the roof was rotated. The hearth support in the cellar shows it as it was altered for the later jambed fireplace.

Sections A. and C. of the right-end show the jambless fireplace hood that was removed in 1926 and the surviving hearth support in the cellar

Plans of the Cellar Showing Beams and Stone Walls The Hyman Roosa House, Hurley , Ulster County, NY (NY/Uls/Hur/016)

(above) Conjectured plan of the original cellar, stone foundation and beam arrangement for a one-room, perhaps earlier wood frame house with a gable end entrance

(below) The present foundation showing conjectured alterations and enlargements.

     Original Houuse, Crica 1711








Present House with Additions and Alterations  

To his eldest son, Jacobus Elmendorph, he left his "...fowling piece Sword and belt and my

Cane." and "...five morgans of Land on the north side of the Esopus Creek..."The sword and belt are certainly Coenraet's way of passing on his rank in the community and his leadership of the militia, an experienced militia that had resisted and not disarmed to Captain Daniel Broadhead and his British troops after the surrender of the Dutch on Manhattan to the English

Later in 1847 during the Down Rent War, The Hurley Militia would be forced to muster by the Kingston Militia. Hurley had lost a lot of its fighting spirit over these 183-years. Farming their broad fields of rich soil in the Esopus Valley and pursuing lucrative enterprises, the Hurley Greens did not feel much like marching up in the hills for putting down the rebellion of angry tenant farmers in The Town of Woodstock, a mob disguised as Indians, resisting their Dutchess County landlord, Lord Livingston, and his foreclosure for non payment of rent. After their humiliation in the dark fields of confrontation with the hooded Indians, the Hurley Greens returned home, disbanded and attempted to destroy all records of the event.

Memory is hard to erase In Hurley, even if it is often bent with age, but in 1913 Dr. Nash, an outsider and self-appointed village historian was, through an inside informant, able to re­create the Woodstock battle and list the names of the cowardly participants, and this was published soon after by Mr. Meyer Brink of Saugerties in his journal of Ulster County history and genealogy and retold by the late Alf Evers. The article was not signed by the cautious doctor, but his papers and photographs are kept at the NYS Historical Society on Manhattan and are available, if you can afford them.

The present Hurley historian, appointed by the town, Dave Baker, shared with me his knowledge of the cluster of small stone houses and the inter-related families of this old Dutch village that he is studying. He says that he knows the informant's name. "Try and forget it," I told him.

Returning to Coenraet Elmendorf and his 1749 will, he gives his son Luykes, "...all my Coopers tools and Utensils." and to his son Wilhelmus all his "weaving tuels and Utensils." and to his son Jonathan all his "...Shoemakers tools with Leather and all utensils."

There are no mentions of slaves in the will. They are often listed in wills by first name along with the household utensils. Coenraet Elmendorf was a man of means. He was probably not a cooper who made barrels nor a shoemaker or weaver. Owning the tools and utensils of these trades implies they were businesses that used slaves or indentured labor.

(*) Ulster County, NY, Wills, Volume 1 & 2 , translated by Gustave Anjou, 1906, published by Palatine Transcripts, Rhinebeck, NY, 1980; Volume 1, page 146.

(**) Since the house is not on a north-south axes it is easier to indicate left and right, back and front, when facing the house from the road.

Sunday, September 11 In order to continue the Red Hook Survey, I returned to the Elmendorf house (NY/Dut/RH/18), reported on in the last newsletter, with Craig and Patsy Vogel and met with the owner Amy Dubin. Patsy has since discovered that the house was not built for the Elmendorf family but Pitcher, a Palatine German family and so we have re-registered the site Pitcher/Dubin (NY/Dut/RH/018)

A number of people with knowledge of Hudson Valley Dutch architecture have examined the building over the past two years and have uncovered some of the evidence that holds clues to its original form and changes. From a quick examination, the two-room center-hall house we see today is the result of a late 18 th century addition and reconfiguration of the original mid 18 th century Dutch house. It may have begun with a two-room plan, a Dutch jambless fireplace at one end and an English jambed at the other. This use of the two types of fireplaces in the same house is not unknown. Because of the less durable material, 18 th century Dutch wood frame houses are fewer in number today than examples built of stone. This example has grooved posts and mud and straw infill walls, typical for wood frame houses in the Mid Hudson and perhaps a Palatine German contribution.

Amy Dubin is just beginning the restoration of the Elmendorf house. Michael Kelley will be directing the work and HVVA and The Red Hook Survey, hope to follow its progress. The roof is secure. The next step will be to remove modern additions from the interior. There is an obvious build up of soil around the house and this will eventually be taken down to an earlier level.

HVVA Newsletter, November 2005 Part Two

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