Crispell Family Association
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In 1660, a young man named Antoine Crispell - along with his wife, Maria Blanchard, and her father - set sail on The Gilded Otter. They were Huguenots escaping religious persecution in France. The young couple had recently married in Mannheim, Germany, and left for America from there. Upon their arrival in what was then New Amsterdam, they headed up the Hudson River to the areas now known as Hurley and Kingston, NY. There, they made their new home.
It is documented that Antoine's wife and infant daughter were captured by Native Americans in 1663. Some historians speculate that it was during the search for the captives that a nearby area was first identified as desirable farmland.
Antoine and his family had been settled for nearly 16 years, with their now-teenaged daughter and four other children, when another group of Huguenots arrived from Europe and settled in the rich farmland south of Hurley/Kingston. A few years later, "the oldest street in America with its original stone houses" got its start in a place called New Paltz.
In Hurley and Kingston today, you will find stone houses that predate those in New Paltz. Two in Hurley were originally Crispell houses. Other familiar Huguenot and Dutch names are there, too, including Bevier, DuBois, and Elting. These first homes were small because taxes were high. But life was good, and food and wine were plentiful. These early settlers traveled by boat to Albany to sell grain and to buy clothing and various household items.
Antoine - and, later, his sons and daughters - did quite well-farming, milling, and acquiring land. One property that Antoine bought, lived in, and later willed to daughter Jannetje, is now a charming restaurant and tavern in Kingston. The Hoffman House is so called because Jannetje married Nicholas Hoffman. The couple raised nine children in the house, including a daughter who married into another early immigrant family. This accounts for the Crispell connection with the Roosevelts.
Antoine and Maria are buried beneath the Old Dutch Church in Kingston. Plaques in the church and adjoining cemetery provide details. Many other early-generation Huguenots are interred in Hurley in the Burial Grounds just off Hurley Street near their homes and property.
The Crispell Memorial French Church
During the 1960s, Reuben Crispell, a prominent New York attorney, and Kenneth Hasbrouck, then president of the Huguenot Historical Society, engaged in a correspondence revealing their mutual interest in forming a Crispell Family Association. The first project for this organization would be to build a replica of the original stone church that had been an important part of Huguenot life in New Paltz during the 18th century - done in memory of Antoine Crispell and his descendants, by his descendants.
Antoine Crispell, one of the original New Paltz patentees and member of the original Duzine ("Dozen") government, never moved from Kingston/Hurley. Reconstructing the church seemed an appropriate way to pay tribute to Antoine's importance in the community and lend presence to the Crispell name on Huguenot Street.
The replica was completed in 1972, and the Crispell Family Association held its first meeting there. It was consecrated in 1973 and now serves as a nondenominational chapel for special services, baptisms and weddings.