Continued from March 23, 2012
After leaving Fishkill, New York, the Stuarts and their driver headed north again. Stuart found that the hilly road to Poughkeepsie reminded him of his home country. With some differences. "Many of the passes are narrow, and remind a traveller of defiles of the same kind in the Highlands of Scotland. The mountains of Scotland are far more magnificent, for there is no elevation here above 1500 or 1600 feet in height; but there is no such river in the Highlands of Scotland as the Hudson."
They halted their journey in Poughkeepsie at the end of the morning, eating at Swift's Hotel, "as handsomely furnished as any country hotel I have seen anywhere. A piano-forte is in the parlour." By this time the village had a population of close to 7,000 people. There were three weekly newspapers in town, but in order to save on the cost of delivery all three came out on Wednesdays. Which kept carrier John Cornish busy just once a week. It would be a while before the publishers would catch on to the fact that they could collectively sell more papers each week if they didn't all three carry the same news. Cornish and his successors would do better financially as well. The Stuarts were probably unaware of all this; they moved on right after their midday meal.
As they passed Hyde Park on their way towards Rhinebeck, Stuart apparently knew that his recent acquaintance, Dr. David Hosack, was not just then in residence, for he mentions no effort to accept Hosack's offer of hospitality. He does comment on the site's beauty and mentions, "views, ending with the Catskill mountains in the distance, that can hardly be surpassed." He notes that, "A great number of workmen are at present employed by him in extensive improvements upon the grounds, and the enlargement of his mansion-house." A later tourist named Harriet Martineau, who traveled through the state in the mid-1830s, comments on the Hosack mansion. "Dr. Hosack's good taste led him to leave it alone, and to spend his pains on the gardens and conservatory behind." Martineau, by the way, seems to be a soul-mate of James Stuart, also very interested in Auburn Prison.
With September giving way to October (Stuart doesn't give exact dates) the nights were quite bit cooler, especially here in the upper elevations, and the air was cold as they arrived at Jacob's Hotel at Rhinebeck, in time for dinner. Reading that in Stuart's published journal and being a curious person (put your own interpretation on THAT), I started poking around in some old Rhinebeck histories to see if I could find who this Jacob was. I didn't find anything which, of course, proves nothing. However. If you know Rhinebeck at all, you're familiar with the Beekman Arms. In 1766, Arent Traphagen moved his father's inn from the fringes of Ryn Beck to the main intersection, several miles uphill from the river. The southwest corner. At the time of the Revolution it was run by a man with the rather rhythmic name of Everadus Bogardus and called the Bogardus Inn. In the early 1800s it was run by a couple with the last name of Jacques. Today it's still in operation as the Beekman Arms and claims to be the oldest, continually operating tavern in the United States. Fans of the Wayside Inn of Massachusetts strenuously believe otherwise, and bar bets over that question will never be settled to everyone's satisfaction. What I'm wondering is this. When Stuart sat down to publish his travels four years after his stay here, did he perhaps rely on an only-human memory, and Scot-icize (or his equivalent of Anglicize) the name Jacques into Jacob? We may never know.
© 2012 David Minor / Eagles Byte