John Whitbeck Hasbrouck Papers (1830-1902)

Finding Aid Completed by Eric Roth, May 14, 2004
Volume: 1 folder
Acquisition: Unknown. These papers may share provenance with the John Edward Hasbrouck Papers (1839-1931). [i]
Access: Unrestricted.
Copyright: Request for permission to publish materials from these records should be discussed with the Archivist and Director of the Huguenot Historical Society.

Biographical Note

John Whitbeck Hasbrouck, newspaper editor and Whig Party politician and activist, was born at Woodstock, NY on November 20, 1821. [1] He was the ninth of a family of ten children born to Richard Montgomery Hasbrouck (1776-1860) and Maria Johnson (1782-1853). On July 27, 1856 John married women's rights activist Dr. Lydia Sayer (1827-1910), [2] daughter of Benjamin Sayer and Rebecca Forshee. Together they had three children: Daisy (b. 1857), Sayer (b. 1860), and Burt (b. 1862). The family removed to Kingston, NY ca. 1834, where John graduated from the Kingston Academy, presumably in 1839. [3] Over the next several he years worked as a clerk and bookkeeper at the Ulster County Bank and other local businesses, wrote for the Kingston Journal and other local newspapers, and became a founding member of both the Young Men's Christian Association (also called Lyceum) and the Kingston Literary Association. He also spent one year working at an unidentified "wholesale crockery house" in New York City.

In spring 1846 Hasbrouck moved to Bloomingburgh, Sullivan County, where he operated the Sullivan Whig newspaper until 1851. [4] While at Bloomingburgh, he held the public offices of school superintendent and postmaster. In 1850 he ran for State Assembly but was narrowly defeated by his Democratic Party opponent. Within the correspondence of this collection, Hasbrouck and his associates are often referred to as "Henry Clay Whigs."

In fall 1851, Hasbrouck relocated to Middletown, Orange County, NY, where he founded the Whig Press newspaper (renamed Orange County Press in 1866 and Middletown Times in 1906) and published several other newspapers, pamphlets and directories. Hasbrouck sold the newspaper in 1868 and went into retirement until his death in 1906. However, while in retirement he did briefly publish a reform paper in 1881 entitled the Liberal Sentinel.

Collection Description

The collection is comprised primarily of correspondence to John Whittaker Hasbrouck relating to New York State politics and the management of newspapers in Bloomingburgh, Sullivan County and Middletown, Orange County, New York. The main strength of the collection is threefold: 1) it provides documentation of the political network of Whig Party affiliates within the Hudson Valley and their activities, 2) it provides documentation of the close connection between newspaper management and party politics during the mid-nineteenth century, and 3) it provides information about the early activities of two social clubs for men in the Hudson Valley: the Young Men's Christian Association of Kingston and the Goshen Club. However, it must be noted that the collection is not comprehensive: financial records, subscription lists, advertisements, and the newspapers themselves are largely absent. [5]

For the duration of his career as a newspaper editor from 1845-1867 Hasbrouck maintained a correspondence with numerous elected officials, Whig Party activists, and other newspaper editors throughout the Hudson Valley and elsewhere. [6] As a result, the correspondence is peppered with brief but frequent references to political issues being discussed at the state and national levels. In addition to frequent political discussions of a general nature (which often include references to Henry Clay and the Whig Party), some of the specific topics mentioned include the New York & Erie Railroad (1847), landlord-tenant relations (1845), the indictment of James Reynolds (1849), a case of slander against a politician for having an Irish-born father (1852), prohibition (1855), and the elections of W.H. Seward to U.S. Senate (1855) and "Long John" to the position of mayor of Chicago (1861).

Two other topics also mentioned frequently in the correspondence include the practical business of newspaper management (such as the sale of property and equipment, soliciting article submissions, salary rates, employment opportunities, pamphlet deliveries, etc.), and solicitations of speakers for the Kingston Young Men's Association meetings (1840-1844). Other letters concern family matters during the 1830s and 1840s such as John's sister teaching a school in Shandaken, family visits, an unidentified divorce, and a visit to a circus in Washington D.C. in 1830. Other letters of note in the collection include an 1845 letter written by E. Whitaker discussing his successful attempts to perform "animal magnetism" (hypnotism) and clairvoyance, and a 1902 letter with three accompanying prints relating to old sawmills in Woodstock, NY during the early nineteenth century.

In addition to the correspondence, the collection also contains newspaper clippings, invitations, and other papers. The newspaper clippings primarily concern local history, but there is also an obituary of John W. Hasbrouck from 1906 and an undated editorial on church discipline.

Other items of interest include an 1845 paper entitled "A Week in Shandaken," invitations to Port Jervis Light Guard anniversary ball (1852) and an unidentified party (undated), incorporation papers of the Goshen Club (undated), an account with the Middletown Homeopathic Insurance Asylum (1872), legal papers concerning the construction of a new street in Middletown, NY (1872, 1883); deeds, title, receipts, and other papers of John W. and his family to land in Los Angeles, CA (1888-1894); an undated hand-drawn diagram of the Sharpe Cemetery; and a notice by J. W. and L. S. printed on linen, forbidding pollution or injuring trees on unspecified property; an undated subscription booklet of the Sullivan Whig, and several pages of an undated narrative written by Hasbrouck reminiscing about his career as a newspaper editor.

The physical condition of the papers is generally fair, with the papers showing damage from yellowing, fading, staining, and tearing. Some items show considerable fraying around the edges. The handwriting also varies considerably, but is generally legible throughout. The 1845 paper entitled "A Week in Shandaken" the ink is extremely faded, rendering the document barely legible.

Other collections held by the Huguenot Historical Society relating to regional political matters during the early and mid-nineteenth century include the Joseph Osterhoudt Papers (1806-1884) , the Lucas Elmendorf Papers (1746-1845), and the Mary Bruyn Forsyth Letters (1826-1847). Also of interest is the Early American Newspaper Collection (1783-1835).


[i] A genealogical scrapbook kept by John Whitbeck Hasbrouck can be found in the John Edward Hasbrouck Papers (1839-1931).

[1] Hasbrouck, Kenneth E. The Hasbrouck Family in America with European Background, Third Edition, published by the Hasbrouck Family Association, Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, NY, 1986. Unless otherwise noted, all genealogical information is also taken from this source.

[2] Ruttenber, E.M., and Clark, L. H. History of Orange County, New York, with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men, 2 vols. Philadelphia , Everts & Peck, 1881, Republished in 1980 at Interlaken, NY, by Heart of the Lakes Publishing, pp. 196-198.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Obituary, Middletown Mercury, August 7, 1906. Middletown, NY.

[5] Various newspapers published by John W. Hasbrouck can be found on microfilim at the various locations: Cornell University Libraries, Ithaca, NY; Newburgh Free Library, Newburgh, NY; Thrall Library, Middletown, NY; the New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY; the New York State Library, Albany, NY; and the State University of New York Libraries at Buffalo, Binghamton, NY.

[6] Notable correspondents include Wm. B. Wright, John W. Allen, E. Whitaker of Saugerties, NY (1849), S. Hosack Mix of Schoharie (1849), T. Kipack (?) of Washington D. C. (1849), Gad Wales of Monticello, NY, B. Dales of Philadelphia and M.O. Wilder of Washington D. C. (all 1850), J. H. Norton of Port Jervix (1851), John Waller, Jr. of Troy, NY, John S. Brown of Goshen, NY, and William Quimby and John S. Taylor of New York, and (all 1852), E. S. Wheeler, a Civil War soldier writing from Louisiana (undated).