Chrystie House in Beacon, NY, originally was the main house of the country home complex for the prominent New York merchant Abraham DePeyster Jr.(1696-1767). As the son of the famous mayor of New York City and governor of New York Abraham DePeyster* (1657-1728), Abraham DePeyster Jr. inherited the shipping business empire and succeeded his father as the life term provincial treasury of New York. In 1738 Abraham DePeyster Jr. used his 12-year-old son Jacobus’ name to purchase 100 acres of land, including two-third of today’s Denning’s Point from his aunt Catheryna Rombout Brett (1687-1764), known as Madam Brett. Inherited 1/3 of the 85,000 acres lands of Rombout Patent from her father, Francis Rombout, Madam Brett and her husband Roger Brett moved to Fish Kill, today’s Beacon, in 1709 and started the developments in the region. The farmhouse they built near Fishkill Creek is today’s Madam Brett homestead historic site. Roger died when Catheryna was 31; she moved on with her sons and became the legendary businesswoman and developer. She built a large gristmill next to the lowest waterfall near the creek’s mouth; processed the grains brought from Newburgh and Fish Kill. She built a Dutch Colonial-style house near the mill for her stepsister Maria Van Baal, an investor for the mill. Maria was married to Isaac DePeyster*, Abraham DePeyster Jr.’s uncle. In 1743 when the Colden charter established the ferry trade among New Winsor, Newburgh, and Fish Kill, Abraham DePeyster Jr. bought another 200 acres of riverfront property from Madam Brett, including the mill and the house nearby, and established the hamlet of DePeyster’s Point. Sometime before 1756, he built the country home complex near the Lower Landing where the Wiltse/Brett family operated the ferry. Jacobus DePeyster was forced into bankruptcy in 1768 due to his father’s death, leaving many uncollected taxes and large debts, he sold the Madam Brett mill and the house nearby to Henry Schenck, who in 1763 married Hannah Brett, a granddaughter of Madam Brett, and bought around 300 acres from Hannah Brett’s brother Theodoras Brett. Because the DePeyster family became loyalists during the American Revolution, the Continental Army took over the hamlet, used it as a military supply depot. Henry Schenck became a major in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, he served as the Assistant Commissary General of the Continental Army stationed in DePeyster’s Point, in charge of wheat, flour, and bread supply.
Between April and June 1781, after a falling out with George Washington, Alexander Hamilton took a leave as the chief Aide-de-camp from New Windsor headquarters and lived in DePeyster’s Point. Many historical facts indicate that Alexander Hamilton* and his newly wedded wife, Elizabeth Schuyler*, stayed in the DePeyster house, wrote letters that served as the basis for the Federalist Papers. In this period, Elizabeth’s father, army General Philip Schuyler*, as an influential figure in Continental Congress, secured a future job in the Congress for Hamilton and helped Hamilton win the commission of field command, the job Hamilton had urged George Washington to assign. Philip Schuyler was a nephew of Abraham DePeyster Jr.; he and Elizabeth were familiar with the site. As a 1778 military map made for Governor George Clinton has shown, the DePeyster House was a landmark used by the army leaders. During the winter of 1779-1780, Philip Schuyler’s sister Geertruy Schuyler had arranged Elizabeth Schuyler’s stay with her so Hamilton and Elizabeth could court each other and be engaged. Geertruy Schuyler was the wife of Dr. John Cochran, the Physician & Surgeon General of the Medical Department of the Continental Army. The Schuyler-Hamilton engagement happened when she and her husband stayed in Jabeze Campfield’s house in Morris Town, New Jersey, when General Washington’s Headquarters was a quarter-mile away. The DePeyster House bears a lot of resemblances to 1760 Jabeze Campfield House; it was the “ideal home” for Elizabeth and Hamilton to continue their honeymoon, to work, to entertain high-level guests. It was the only reason why this high-profile couple went to DePeyster’s Point.
After the war, the New York State sold 2/3 of the DePeyster property, including the House, to Gulian Verplanck*, the grandson of one of the three original Rombout Patent holders in Dutchess County. The state sold the other 100 acres to John Peter DeWindt, the wealthy merchant who married John Adams’ granddaughter and later became Andrew Jackson Downing’s father-in-law. Verplanck was a Hamilton ally; he co-founded the Tontine Association, a precursor of the New York Stock Exchange, and was the first president of the Bank of New York. In 1820 his son-in-law William Allen sold 99 acres of property, including the previous DePeyster house, to another Founding Father, William Few*, and Few’s yet-to-be son-in-law Albert Chrystie. William Allen was the grandson of the high profile Loyalist William Allen, the chief justice of Province of Pennsylvania, the mayor of Philadelphia, and the founder of Allen Town.
As a Revolutionary War leader in the South, Few became one of Georgia’s first senators, and one of the representatives attended the Constitutional Convention and signed the US Constitution. In 1799, he relocated to New York, served as US Commissioner of loans under Presidents Jefferson and Madison. He was the founding director of Manhattan Bank and the second president of City Bank. An autodidact, he nonetheless established the first state-chartered university in Georgia. Between 1820 and 1828, the year he died, he helped two young doctors establish New York Eye Infirmary as the founding president.
Albert Chrystie* was a son of Revolutionary War legend Major James Chrystie*, a secret messenger for General Washington who played an essential role in the Benedict Arnold incident. James Chrystie had four sons, two of them had distinguished military careers. In early 1813 President Madison pointed his eldest son Thomas Chrystie* the Assistant Adjutant General, and his third son John Chrystie* the Inspector General. John Chrystie died of an infected illness in June 1813 in Niagara and became the namesake for the Chrystie Street in New York City. Major James Chrystie’s second son James Chrystie II was a well-known clergyman who married William Few’s sister-in-law Adde Nicholson. The Chrystie brothers were very close to Willian Few and saw him as a mentor. Albert the youngest was a major in the New York militia; he was a banker, lawyer in Manhattan and inherited his father’s china, glassware, and earthenware business. He shared his passion for farming with William Few; in 1820, William Few used his name in purchasing the 99 acres property in Fishkill Landing and made him a farmer. In 1822 after he finished renovating the houses and took control of the farms, he married William Few’s famous daughter Frances Few*. William Few was doing the same thing his father-in-law James Nicholson had done to him. James Nicholson was the Commodore in chief in 1776, a strong critic of Hamilton’s policies, and was appointed the Commissioner of Federal Loans by Thomas Jefferson; he died in 1804, William Few succeeded his office. In 1800, after William Few relocated to New York, James Nicholson bought a large property with farms and a big mansion in Manhattan and deeded it to William Few. Both William Few and James Chrystie II and their families were very close to another in-law of theirs, Albert Gallatin* and his family. Albert Gallatin was another US Founding Father, longest-serving Secretary of Treasury under Jefferson and Madison, and the founder of New York University.
The whole family of William Few used the Fish Kill property until Few died in 1828. Albert and Frances Chrystie established another country seat in Hastings-on-Hudson; they subdivided the Fish Kill property and sold 50 acres and the house complex to Dr. James Sykes Rumsey in 1833. Dr. Rumsey was a French-trained physician and New York lawyer Robert Gill’s stepson. Robert Gill was a well-known horticulturist and the real estate attorney who handled the massive Gulian Verplanck estate divisions in Dutchess County.
After Civil War, the land grabbers who followed the scorched earth capitalism targeted the beautiful riverfront of Fishkill Landing and changed it forever. In 1867 the Boston, Hartford & Erie Railway Company used Eminent Domain Laws to co-own many properties, including Dr. Rumsey’s; in 1872, the bankrupted company sold all the properties to the company’s board director Homer Ramsdell*. After the plan to create a transportation hub on his lands failed, Ramsdell started Denning’s Point Brick Work in 1881 and turned the waterfront into one of the largest clay excavation sites in the region.
In 1927, David Strickland, the president of DPBW, contacted Dr. C.J. Slocum*, the 365-acres Craig House Sanitarium founder, to find a way to save the Chrystie House before its planned demolition. Eventually, the House was relocated into Wodenethe Garden and became the private residence of Dr. Slocum. In 1954, impacted by the CDC’s mental drugs policies, Craig House needed to downsize; Dr. Johnathan Slocum, son of C.J. Slocum, sold the Wodenethe mansion and 20 acres to a developer who burned the mansion to the ground and used the 20 acres of Wodenethe garden to build a 20 houses development. The Chrystie House, the southern gatehouse, and five acres remained the Slocum family’s home. In 1970, local doctor Jack Supple purchased the property. Dr. Supple wanted to subdivide the gatehouse as a gift to his mother; by complying with the R-140 zoning requirement, he created a one-acre lot that licensed the right of way/easement on the existing driveway to Chrystie House. Dr. Supple sold the property in 1985; the successor Carter family sold another acre before they sold the House in 1994. In 2007, New York-based artist, scholar Yuan Lee purchased the dilapidated property and started a complete restoration.