Rare book of Dutchess property maps restored

Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall has unveiled a new addition to Dutchess County records with the restoration and digitalizing of a rare book of early maps of properties in Rhinebeck and Red Hook. 

A Field Book of a Number of Maps of Farms in the Town of Rhinebeck the Property of the Honourable John Armstrong was filed in the County Clerk’s Office on December 26, 1842, as Field Book 89 and is now available for public inspection.

The 48 maps included cover parcels ranging from small farms to a lot map of the modern Village of Red Hook, dating back to 1795. “Prior to 1812, the modern Town of Red Hook was part of the Town of Rhinebeck, hence the title of the book, even though most of the maps included seem to cover Red Hook,” said County Historian William Tatum III. “It is impossible to overstate the importance of this field book for understanding the evolution of Red Hook’s landscape.”

Though the properties covered initially belonged to Armstrong, the notations accompanying each plat detail the subsequent owner, frequently accompanied by information on adjoining parcels. 

In addition to the lot map of the village, the field book contains extensive information and a detailed map of the parcels surrounding Schuyler’s Vly. Taken from the Dutch word for “marshy meadow,” Schuyler’s Vly was a major landmark during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

In showing the book to Mid-Hudson News, Kendall pointed out some of the book’s highlights. “The index includes the names of Armstrong’s tenants, how much acreage they were renting, and how much rent was paid. “Some individuals paid their rent in bushels of grain and game, while others paid a combination of goods and money,” said Kendall.

The maps do not appear for all of the tenants listed in the index, increasing the list’s importance as an indicator of Armstrong’s far-flung holdings. 

Kendall also noted that the book’s records will be available online. The county’s planning department has been working on a digital overlay of the historic maps to lay over the current maps to show changes in the layout of the area. In some instances, the new roads appear in close proximity to the original travel paths.