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Town History

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  • In 1788, Livingston Manor was organized as Clermont. Six other towns in Columbia County were also formed at this time.
  • In 1858 Germantown received the northern tip of Clermont – the part that had been a piece of the original inheritance of Robert of Clermont, but had been physically a separate part from the main body of the Lower Manor.
  • Clermont, built in 1730, is the oldest of the great estates of the Mid-Hudson Valley. Clermont was the home to seven generations of the notable Livingston family of New York, who resided on the estate between 1730 and 1962.
  • Clermont was originally an estate of 13,000 acres separated from the MANOR OF LIVINGSTON in 1728. The Livingstons of Clermont later acquired over 500,000 acres of land in the Catskill Mountains and over 100,000 acres in Dutchess County.
  • Clermont marked the northernmost penetration by British troops up the Hudson River during the American Revolution. The British burned Clermont, as they did the City of Kingston, in October of 1777. (Chancellor Livingston donated some of his Catskill Mountain land to the People of the City of Kingston to help finance the rebuilding of the city)
  • The children and grandchildren of Judge Robert and Margaret Beekman Livingston of Clermont built a series of grand riverfront mansions on the family’s Dutchess County lands after the Revolution. Those include “Montgomery Place” and “Mills Mansion”, now operated as historic house museums.
  • Clermont was the port of registry of Fulton and Livingston’s steamboat, which they called the “North River”, but which is known today as the “Clermont.” The ruins of the dock still exist at the historic site.
  • Clermont was a working farm, as well as a country retreat for the Livingston family, well into the twentieth century.
  • Clermont was the home of Montgomery Livingston (1816-1855), a member of the Hudson River School of painting and a member of the National Academy of Design.
  • The Town of Clermont is named after the Livingstons’ Clermont estate; they were once virtually one and the same.

by Anne Poleschner, Former Town Historian

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Directly south of the hamlet of Clermont is the community called Nevis. It has been surmised that the name was bestowed by the Livingstons after the Caribbean Island of that name, one of the Leeward Islands in the British West Indies, possibly because of their sugar plantation interests there. The island is also the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. In 1871, Nevis contained a schoolhouse, store, wagon shop, dwellings and a post office.

In the southeastern section of the town, where the Roeliff Jansen sweeps northward after touching down on the Dutchess County line, was the now lost settlement called Pleasant Vale or Pleasantvale. It was the site of an early grist mill that was known as the “straw mill” because its roof was thatched with straw. Owned by the Livingstons, it was run by others who eventually added a sawmill, and then fulling and carding mills. A new grist mill was built there in 1848, but in 1869 a flood washed everything away. The flood also changed the course of the stream, making any future manufacturing there impossible.

The Towns of Gallatin and Livingston also claim part of this community. In 1873, the Rhinebeck and Connecticut Railroad ran its tracks into the small extension of the Town of Clermont. The depot there was called Elleslee, for a brief time.

Centered on the boundary with Germantown, a location was given the name of Viewmont. It is the site of the cemetery and parsonage of the Lutheran Church, but the church, earlier known as the East Camp church, is over the boundary in the Town of Germantown.

By Margaret Schram

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Since 1730 the farms in Clermont have been its very life, simple, and for subsistence. Wheat was the principal crop in the 1700’s. In due time fruit trees were planted, and so were vegetables. Dairy cows provided milk, cheese and butter. Sheep produced wool. Hay was mowed with a scythe and grain with a cradle.

About 40 years ago there were 57 members in the local Chapter of Dairymen, but many were sold to developers and some have gone out of business. Now there is one dairy farmer left — “Pete” Howard Kilmer. Orchards comprise most active farms now, although a number of landowners rent their farmland for hay, corn, and silage.

Traditional orchard fruit trees grew large. They were planted in areas 40×40 ft. with 27 trees to an acre. It took about 10-12 years for these trees to bear fruit. Because of their size, pruning, picking and spraying were expensive.

Enter the new type tree, dwarf and semi-dwarf. They are planted on areas 8×18 ft., which is 302 per acre. The quality and color of these apples appeal to the public. Locally produced apples are Jersey Macs, Empires, Spartons, Jonamacs, Paulareds, Tydeman Reds, and Marshall Macs, and are shipped throughout the US, Canada, Europe, South America, and even Iceland.

by Anne Poleschner, Former Town Historian