In the fall of 1777, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Marquis de Lafayette stood on Col. Derrick Brinckerhoff’s porch, watching thousands of British and Hessian prisoners march along the Fishkill road below. It was not the only time Washington enjoyed the hospitality of the Brinckerhoff family.
Brinckerhoff’s comfortable hilltop mansion was two miles from a major military encampment and supply depot established by General Israel Putnam under Washington’s command. The encampment housed thousands of soldiers, and the depot supplied them with cannons, cannonballs, muskets, uniforms, shoes, and blankets.
Fishkill was considered “The Crossroads of the Colonies.”
Photo by Steve Lynch
“Material goods and soldiers being transported by ship from New York City to Albany on the Hudson River passed by Fishkill Landing — now the City of Beacon,” said Steve Lynch, president of the Fishkill Historical Society. “Likewise, goods and troops traveling north-south on the Albany Post Road between Albany and New York City came straight through Fishkill along today’s Route 9. And, anyone traveling between Boston, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia came directly through Fishkill, traveling in an east-west direction.”
Brinckerhoff, a colonel in the Dutchess County Militia, also welcomed Gov. George Clinton, Gen. Alexander McDougall, and John Adams, who praised his generosity.
“While traveling between Boston and Philadelphia, Adams wrote a letter from this house to his wife, Abigail, on Jan. 17, 1777, saying he was obligated to the hospitality of ‘a private gentleman Col. Brinckerhoff,’” said Willa Skinner, retired Town of Fishkill historian.
The family also nursed the Marquis De Lafayette back to health during a long illness in 1778. In gratitude, the Marquis sent a gift to Brinckerhoff’s descendants.
“He had this French bureau delivered to the Brinckerhoff family in 1824 as a personal thank you, acknowledging the fact that their ancestors put their own lives in jeopardy while he was very sick in 1778 and saved his life,” said Lynch.
Photo courtesy of Fishkill Historical Society
The bureau (pictured above) can be seen at the Fishkill Historical Society, open from June to October.
The Brinckerhoff family lived in the 1718 home for almost 300 years. After a recent sale and renovation, the 10,000-square-foot historic home — on the road now known as Route 52 — re-opened as the Brinckerhoff Inn Bed and Breakfast. Guests can stay in the room where the Marquis recovered, check their clothes in the mirror where Washington once appraised his uniform, and sit by the fireside that warmed Hamilton. They can breakfast in the room where Washington learned of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal. From room to room, the home reveals how the hospitality of the Brinckerhoff family may very well have helped win the War of Independence.