(Muscoot River - Mahopac Falls - Carmel - Putnam County)

The outlet of Lake Mahopac, combined with that of Kirk Lake, furnishes a water power unequaled in the county. It was used at a very early date and here were doubtless located "Kirkham's Mills" mentioned in the laying out of roads in 1745. These were probably a small affair and were soon replaced by a much larger and more durable building which lasted more than a century.

This mill, which is remembered by the present generation, was built in 1756. It was built with massive timbers and covered with cedar and from the color which it was painted it was known to all the country round as "Red Mills".

"After Mary Philipse married Roger Morris they built a manor house near the outlet of the two lakes, Mahopac and Kirk. The site is near that of the Old Red Mills. The log house has been gone for many years as such. But over it and around it a new house was built. This composite structure stood here until recently, when a fire came one night and reduced the old historic building to ruins..."  1906

On Erskine's military map they are put down as "Robinson's Mills." Although they were located on Lot 5 of Philipse Patent owned by Roger Morris, yet in the deed given by the commissioners of forfeitures they are mentioned as having "become forfeited by the attainder of Roger Morris and Beverly Robinson"; from which it is probable they were built by these men in partnership and it must have been a very expensive building in its day. Like all the rest of the property of Roger Morris these mills with the land around them were confiscated. On the 16th of May, 1781, Samuel Dodge, John Hathorn and Daniel Graham, commissioners of forfeiture, sold to William Smith "All that certain tract or parcel of land called the Mill Farms, containing 188 acres more or less. Together with all and singular the advantages and privileges heretobefore derived to the mills on the farm by the water issuing out of the two ponds with their outlets and several streams thereof and including the large island in the large pond called Hustins Pond". The price was $2.750. The deed to John Le Clare conveys to him 89 acres, "excepting the waters with their courses as they run from the great pond through this farm for the use of William Smith's saw and grist mills".

Another still larger tract was also sold to William Smith lying between Mahopac and Kirk Lakes. The mills and the lands adjoining were sold by William Smith to Robert Johnston, about 1799.

In the "Country and Poughkeepsie Advertiser", January 9th, 1788, appeared the following advertisement: "William M. Smith No 7 Old Slip, New York, has for sale exceeding cheap, his Capital Mills, now let at $200 per year, with several farms near the same, in Fredericksburg Precinct".

It seems that the original deed to William Smith had been destroyed by fire and on the 28th of March, 1800, the Legislature passed an act for the "Relief of Robert Johnston", by which the abstract on record in the clerk's office of Dutchess county should be held as legal evidence of the existence of the deed. Judge Robert Johnston remained in possession of the mills till the time of his death, when they descended to his son, William H. Johnston, who died in 1823, leaving a will by which he authorized his executors, Ward B. Howard, Abraham Smith and Theodorus Van Wyck to sell his real estate. In accordance with this they conveyed to Cornelius J. Tompkins, May 1st, 1829, one hundred and twenty-two acres of land "together with all the water privileges of the great and little ponds as heretofore belonged to Robert Johnston, deceased". January 1st, 1835, Cornelius Tompkins sold the same to John Haff and Ira Dean for $12.000. October 4th, 1837, they were sold by John Haff and his assignees to Amzi L. Dean and Isaac Lounsbury. Lounsbury bought the share of Amzi Dean in 1840 and he sold the mills to Amzi Slawson March 31st, 1855.

March 1861
March 1861
May 1861
May 1861

Amzi Slawson kept the mill property till October 1st, 1858, when he sold it to Seeley Slawson and he conveyed it to William and Charles Theill April 28th, 1862.

William Theill sold his share to Charles Theill August 30, 1864 and he conveyed it to George Juengst of New York February 1, 1865. He purchased it for the manufacturing firm of Thomas J. McArthur and others to whom he gave a deed January 2, 1866.

T. J. McArthur and his associates organized the Empire Sewing Machine Company and the premises were sold to this company May 1, 1866. It was intended by this company to establish a large manufactory at this place, an intention which was frustrated by subsequent events and the entire premises and water rights were sold to the Mahopac Manufacturing CompanyJanuary 10th, 1869. This company had already established a large manufactory on the Muscoot River, in Westchester County.

In September, 1870, the Board of Water Commissioners of the city of New York took possession of the water privileges and from that time the occupation of the famous "Red Mills", like Othello's, was "gone".

..."Just as this company was about to send machinery and begin operations, the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of New York took possession of all water privileges of the two lakes and these premises were taken by the city and thus the manufacturing company was put out of business"...  

For several years the city paid an annual rent for the privilege of drawing water from the lakes but under the act of 1879 for enlarging the powers of the commissioners the premises were taken for the use of the city and on June 14, 1881, Hubert O. Thompson, chief of the Department of Public Works, offered for sale at auction the "superstructure wood work and machinery of the Red Mills" and they were purchased by Lewis Baker for $227.

The buildings were torn down and the ponderous beams and timber with the cedar covering, sold in small parcels and the place that had known it for a century and a quarter knew it no more forever. The site of this building was on the north side of the road and on the east side of the outlet of the two lakes. Kirk Lake, which is the "little pond" mentioned in the deed to William Smith, is 591 feet above the sea and covers 101 acres. From Lake Mahopac to the Red Mills there is a fall of 126 feet and from the water flowing over the dam at the mill the locality gained the name of Mahopac Falls. The removal of the dam when the old mill was destroyed has rendered this name no longer significant. In addition to the grist mill, which did a large business for the early times, there were also saw mills and a fulling mill. It is said that the first carding mill in the country was brought here by an Englishman named Ellinworth about 1800. He first set it up in Peekskill where it remained two years and he then brought it up to the Red Mills. Previous to the Revolution it is stated that Col. Roger Morris had a log mansion near the mill, to which he and his wife, as lord and lady of the manor, came, during the summer months, to visit their highland estate and their tenants. The residence of Mrs. Augustus Odell, a short distance west of the old mill site, encloses a portion of the original log house thus occupied by the former owners of all this section of country. The story that Major Andre stopped at this house while being taken to the Robinson House after his capture has no foundation in fact.


William S. Pelletreau, A.M. 

History of Putnam County (1886)


July 30, 1870 Putnam County Courier
July 30, 1870 Putnam County Courier


Lake Mahopac

The history and tradition that cluster

around Mahopac are interesting. Attractive to the Indian and white man ahke,

it has been the theater of many thrilling

scenes in modern as well as olden times.

It was once the pride of Dutchess

County, but since the division, authorized by the Legislature at Albany, Putnam County has boasted of her charms.

In early times it was simply known as " Big Pond,"

but when the Hughson family became prominent, owning

the whole north side of the lake, it took the name of

"Hughson Pond." When Erskine's military map was

published it was named "Mahopac Pond." "Ma-hopac" is an Indian word meaning "Great Lake." "Big

Pond" seemed to be the most popular name and was

used for many years.

The lake was originally bought by Adolph Philipse

from the. Indians. Later this purchase was attacked, but

the Philipse title was declared valid, and Lake Mahopac

with her surrounding country was known as Philipse

Patent. Here is where the story of the gallant Washington

comes in- He met Mary Philipse in New York City.

She invited him to her country estate, which consisted of

about 40,000 acres, and included Lake Mahopac and her

settings. The young Southern gentleman fell in love

with the country and the lady. By marrying one he

could get the other. It would have been a lucky stroke

for Father George. Just about that time the tea was

dumped overboard in Boston Harbor and soon after

Warren fell at Bunker Hill. The young lady was loyal  to the throne beyond the sea, while the young man

refused to pay homage to any king save only the King of

kings, and so they parted; each went their way: Washington to fight for the Declaration of Independence and

Mary Philipse to marry Col. Roger Morris, who had

fought side by side with Washington at Braddock's

defeat and afterward was in the battle on the Plains of

Abraham when the two brave generals, Wolfe and Montcalm, fell.

After the Revolutionary War all the land belonging to

the Tories, Roger Morris and his wife, was sold by the

Commissioners of Forfeiture.

Previous to 1834 the lake was scarcely known to the

outside world. In that year Stephen Monk came from

Connecticut, bought an acre of land adjoining the lake

and erected the first boarding house and hotel at Lake

Mahopac. This afterward became the site of the

famous Gregory House. The father of the boarding

house and hotel business at this watering place was

called "Old Bolivar." He was an interesting old character. He never became rich. He did not understand

the fancy prices and long list of extras, but a good, jolly, old

soul was he. I have talked with some old inhabitants

who knew him well. He was one of the leading local

citizens, liberal and generous, a great lover of music and

children. He died when fifty-six years old, leaving a wife

and seven children. He was laid to rest in the Crane

burying ground.

Huldah Gregory bought the Mahopac Hotel that S.

Monk had started together with one acre of land.

Another piece of land joining this and a part cf the

old Peter Mabie farm was previously bought by her from

the administrators of the Daniel Baldwin estate. Both

pieces of property were conveyed by her to her son,  

Dr. Lewis H. Gregory, January 26, 1853. This was the

beginning of the famous old Gregory House, which in its

day was equaled by few and excelled by none of its kind

anywhere, and did much to make Lake Mahopac so well

known. From the time that these two estates were consolidated and the Gregory House formally opened until it

was burned to the ground, Dr. Gregory was identified

with the progress and development of the hotel business

at Lake Mahopac. While Mr. Monk was the father of

the industry, it was Dr. Gregory who gave it character

and dignity and elevated it to the high grade which his

successors so wisely maintain to-day.

The Gregory House in fashion and splendor rivaled

anything that can be found at Newport or Saratoga. It

was burned to the ground October 2, 1878.

The "Mansion House," built from an old dwelling

house, was burned January 18, 1857. It stood opposite

the Mahopac Hotel.

In 1853 Reuben C. Baldwin built the famous "Baldwin

House" and ran it successfully for ten years. In 1869

it burned and was not rebuilt. The carriage house and

barn are still standing and presumably some one is living

there, for on the outside of the back door over the casement are these words—B-A-R.

Jn 1858, John W. Carpenter came to Mahopac and

built what is known as the Carpenter House. This is a

good summer house and has some fine trees about it.

It is now run by Walter Carpenter.

The old Lake House stood where the Catholic church

now stands. It was bought by the Cole family and bore

theirname until recently, when it was burned to the ground.

Previous to 1849 ^^e natural highway to the lake was

from Peekskill. After the Harlem Railroad was built to

Croton Falls it was from that point. By a special act of  

legislature commissioners were appointed to straighten

and improve the highway that ran between Croton Falls

and Lake Mahopac. Over this highway great coaches

from the different hotels at the lake traveled to meet the

Harlem trains. These coaches were drawn by four, six,

eight and even ten horses. Back over the hills and

through the dales they raced. Some of the old inhabitants

tell of the spectacular scene often witnessed when the

Gregory House coach, drawn by ten white horses, endeavored to pass the Baldwin House coach, drawn by

eight black horses. As they reached the far end of that

level stretch just beyond the site of the new town the

real race began. It was the home stretch and the natives

came for rriiles every evening to see it. Side by side they

raced for half a mile, the black team and the white; first

one and then the other ahead, much to the delight of the

passengers. Perhaps Lew Wallace took one of these

flighty rides and thus caught his inspiration for the

chariot race in " Ben-Hur."

In the spring of 1871 a movement was set on foot to

extend the New York City and Northern Railroad to

Carmel. This was brought about by the influential

members of the Lake Mahopac Improvement Company.

The directors of the Harlem Road, at that time a competitive company (and we all wish it were now), hurriedly

called a meeting and planned to build a road from Golden's

Bridge to Lake Mahopac. Articles of incorporation were

speedily executed and the work of construction began at

once. The first train run from New York to Mahopac

was on July 4, 1871. A great celebration was held;

Mahopac was in all of her glory.

The formation of the land companies of Mahopac,

their wild speculations, brief life and death are treated

of elsewhere.  

At the north end of the lake are two old homesteads. Around them some fine old trees are clustering.

About them there is an air of quiet dignity and reserve.

Their beautiful green lawns reach all the way down to

the waters of the lake. One, "Graymanse," is owned by

Mr. Dewitt Smith, of New York City; the other, "Longmead," is owned by Mrs. Nathan K. Averill, also of New

York City. Both of these estates are a part of the old

farm of RobertjHughson, who bought it directly from the

Commissioners of Forfeiture. Up to a comparatively

recent date this old Hughson farm retained the simplicity

of other days. It was sold by the heirs of Hughson to

Stephen Dingee. Benjamin Ballard bought it from

Dingee. Selah Ballard bought it from his brother's heirs

and sold it to Lewis R. Griffin, and he sold 24 acres

of the original tract to William Tilden, who erected a

magnificent stone mansion, the most handsome structure

of its day, not only at Lake Mahopac, but in all Putnam

County. In December, 1900, Mr. Smith bought this

property and at once began very extensive improvements

on it. He has spent more than ^100,000 in this work.

He built the most substantial and artistic boat-house at

the lake, laid out a beautiful Italian garden, with a well

in its center. Flowers, trees, riprap wall, beautiful lawns

and winding walks make one think of those old Roman

estates on the shores of Southern Italy.

The old Griffin farm was bought by Isabel Saportas,

July I, 1863. She built a home for herself on it along the

shore, which she occupied for some time. This house is

situated just west of the outlet that flows from Wixsom's

Pond and now joins the property of Mr. Dewitt Smith.

Some time later Mr. Peter B. Sweeney, of New York City,

bought this place and paid ^^47,000 for it. The handsome

trees that grace its lawns, the big broad walks that reach  

from the house to shore, the unique fence that encloses

it, the grading and many other similar improvements

were done by Mr. Sweeney. The landscape artist who

planned this work was General Viele, who laid out Central

Park, New York City. The site of the old homestead

is one of the finest at the lake. Both sides of the group

of islands can be seen from its lawns. The old Griffin

family graveyard is just across the road to the north of


Another historic site is the "Kaufman Place" at the

other end of the lake and just south of the Carpenter  

House. This is situated on the old Drake farm, and in

Itself was originally a tract of 99 acres. At one time it was

sold by Henry S. Baldwin to Samuel Kaufman, who

spent more than ^150,000 in improvements. Later Mr.

Lowerre, of Yonkers, N. Y., bought the property and

has spent much time and money in beautifying the place.

It possesses an air of dignity and character as it stands

up among tall, stately trees, and adds much to the charm

and beauty round about that portion of the lake shore.

Over the railroad is what is recently known as the

Card property. Mr. Lowerre has bought this fine site and

purposes to erect a villa of summer cottages thereon. It

is truly a magnificent view from the lifted heights of this

villa site, whether it is to the north over the lake and

islands, or to the west, east and south over the rolling

sylvan stretches. Many people sojourn this way looking

for summer homes; finding none, they go elsewhere.

When this plan is realized it will in part supply this demand. There are some large trees and shady groves

gracing the sloping sides of this site as well as other

natural beauties which, when properly used by the landscape artist, will beautify and adorn the proposed little

summer villa.

To the southwest of this site and overlooking the lake

is what is known as the Mt. Hope Cottage. The owner

of this place, F. C. Bivens, lives here. It is of historic

interest. Originally it was a part of the Peter Mabie

farm, and then came into the hands of Mr. Baldwin.

When he sold his property to Mr. Kaufman he reserved

30 acres on the very crown of the hills and built this

present house, expending more than ;^20,ooo in its erection. The old gentleman lived here many years. Later

this property came into the hands of Mrs. F. C. Bivens, the

only surviving member of the old Baldwin family at Lake  

Mahopac. There is a curious spring up here throwing

up about loo gallons of pure water per hour. It has done

this for forty years. And still another curio found up

here is a gold, feldspar and quartz mine. It is called the

Crow Hill Mine, and was discovered by Mr. F. C. Bivens

in 1902, who opened the mine and worked it to some

extent, shipping the feldspar to Trenton, N. J., and the

quartz to Still River, Conn., leaving the elusive gold

hidden away in her earthen pots that some adventurous

spirit might sojourn here and buy the whole hillside in

order to get the goose with the golden egg. Ricketts &

Banks, chemist assayers, have given certificates of analysis

for these minerals that have been mined. Gold has been

found in large quantities on the Pacific Coast, but Crow  

Hill Mine stands alone along the Atlantic shore as

possessing the precious jewel. There are many fine

places at Lake Mahopac, and some not so fine. It is

impossible to mention all of them. Miss Hoguet, an old

resident of the lake, has a fine cottage setting upon the

crest of some half civilized rocks along the shore. The

Senior homestead is one of the oldest places around the

lake as well as one of the highest. There is a very pretty

little reach of shore line with some homelike cottages

among the trees on the south end of the lake, called

"Virginia Row," because the people who live here all

came from that fine old Southern State that gave us our

Presidents in the early history of the Nation. The Deusenbury cottage is one of the fine homes "just beyond the

turn in the road." At the other end of the lake there are

some old estates, among which is the Welspiel estate,

that came from the Reuben D. Baldwin property. It has

a beautiful water front 750 feet in length and contains

about 13 acres. Some fine trees and rocks make this

property very desirable for those who love rustic things.

When everything has been said, the history of Lake

Mahopac, from the time when the Indian used to push

his log-hollowed canoe out on its waters until now, when

the steam and motor launches churn its waters, is interesting and charming to the extreme. Big real estate

movements, wild dreams, the ebb and flow of its popularity as a summer place all go to make the place worthy

of mention along the side of other famous resorts. The

personnel of the men who have journeyed here, lived here

and then gone elsewhere adds to the interest. Always

romantic and sentimental, yet there are substantial possibilities at the place which if rightly used and developed

would make Lake Mahopac known everywhere as a

fashionable watering place second to none in all the land.  

After Mary Philipse married Roger Morris they built a manor house near the outlet of the two lakes, Mahopac and Kirk. The site is near that of the Old Red Mills. The log house has been gone for many years as such. But over it and around it a new house was built. This composite structure stood here until recently, when a fire came one night and reduced the old historic building to ruins.

The oldest inhabitants roundabout here say that the

prisoner, Major Andre, and his guard stopped here one

night when they were returning to West Point after Andre

had been taken at Tarrytown. The history of Putnam

County denies this fact—on what authority it does not

state. The following are the historical data and one can

draw his own conclusions:

Major Andre had been taken from North Castle to

lower Salem. While at the latter place the party received

orders from Washington to take the prisoner to West

Point. There were two roads which led from lower Salem

to West Point. One was known as the "North Road,"

the other as the "South Road." Washington sent special

orders "not to take the South Road," because the British

were pushing rapidly up the river in their efforts to

recapture Andre, "but to take the North Road." This

North Road passes directly by Lake Mahopac and the old

Roger Morris Manor House, and it was the only house

of its kind along that road for miles. The journey from

lower Salem to West Point is two days. This house was

on the way, and since there is a strong tradition about  

here to the effect that Andre and his party did stay here

over night, and since the history of Putnam County states

that he did not not stop here without showing any evidence

or argument, the writer beheves that the historical data

is of such a character and of sufficient strength to corroborate the tradition. Therefore, these old ruins among the

trees at Mahopac Falls are interesting because over the

spot where they now lie this young and unfortunate

British officer passed one of the nights shortly before he

was sent into eternity.  


Old Red Mills

The site of this mill is at Mahopac Falls where the outlets of Lake Mahopac and

Kirk Lake join. This is doubtless the

same site where " Kirkham Mills" were

located, mentioned when the roads were

laid out in 1745.

Red Mills were built in 1756, about fourteen years after

John Crane built his house at the north end of the lake.

The timbers used in the structure were cedar, and because

of the red and pink colors of this wood they became

known as Red Mills.

They were built jointly by Roger Morris and Beverly

Robinson on that part of the Philip's patent known as

lot 5.

They were sold in 1781 by the Commissioners of

Forfeiture to William Smith. The deed given to Mr.

Smith included the right of the water courses from Kirk

Lake and Lake Mahopac. In the County journal and

Poughkeepsie Advertiser, January 9, 1788, appeared this

notice: "William M. Smith, No. 7 Old Slip, New York,

has for sale exceeding cheap his Capital Mills now let at

^200 per year with several farms near the same in

Fredericksburg Precinct." About ten years later the

property was bought by Robert Johnson, who left it to

his son, William H. Johnson. Subsequently it changed

hands many times and finally was bought, January 2,

1866, by Thomas

J. McArthur for the "Empire Sewing

Machine Company." The plans of this company were

not realized and they sold the mills to the Mahopac

Manufacturing Company, January 10, 1869. Just as this  

company was about to send machinery and begin operations, the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of

New York took possession of all water privileges of the

two lakes, and these premises were taken by the city, and

thus the manufacturing company was put out of business.

On June 14, 1881, H. O. Thompson, chief of the Department of Public Works of New York City, offered for sale

at public auction the "superstructure, woodwork and

machinery of the Red Mills," and they were bought by

Lewis Baker for ^27. They were at once torn down,

the great beams and timbers were sawed and hewn and

sold in small pieces as souvenirs to those who remembered

the old Red Mills and loved them because they had

ground the corn and done the work for the sons and

daughters of these parts for three generations.  

Lake Mahopac

Nature Studies and Historic Sketches

Rev. Ulysses Grant Warren