- Kingston -- Kingston of the long ago began its life as a walled village, Wiltwyck, in peril and hardship. After receiving its second charter, in 1667, local government was in the hands of twelve trustees, five of whom formed the court. This continued till 1816. Many of the trustees' records are in the county clerk's office, Kingston, and should be read by students of local government.
After the distressed days of the Indian wars, old Sopus, as Kingston was often called, sent roots deep into the ground and increased in wealth and importance. It was on the through route from Boston to Philadelphia as well as the main stopping place for New York to Albany travelers, and entertained many important visitors at its taverns and private houses.
Its inhabitants kept many slaves, and though they did not live in the lavish style of the aristocratic Southerners, there was great pride of family and a sufficiency of all that makes life comfortable in the stone houses that were, and are, so much roomier than they appear. There were four meals a day: breakfast, early dinner, tea and supper. Social tea drinkings were frequent, and the young people often arranged evening dances, at which. though the music was furnished by only one fiddler, evening dress was obligatory for the men; knee breeches and silk stockings, in the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary period; dress coats, pantaloons, white stockings and pumps after the nineteenth century was well under way. Nobody needed to tell the ladies to dress suitably.
As the first State capital and place of organization of the new government, Kingston experienced its most famous, though not its most secure period. Life then became exciting. Though the population was patriotic almost to a man, loyalists from other sections and even from New England, jammed its courthouse jail and the concentration camp or "Fleet Prison" on sloops in Rondout Creek. Top flight statesmen, generals and legislators deliberated in its courthouse and the two other improvised seats of government, the Senate House, a Ten Broeck residence, and Evert Bogardus' Tavern, where the House first met. New York State came into being, with its first Governor. General George Clinton, inaugurated on Wall Street, in front of the courthouse. The first Supreme Court of the State convened.
Then came October 16, 1777, and Kingston lay in ashes. But it was soon rebuilt. New York's first families came there for their children to be educated in the academy, or for business to be transacted at the county seat.
The village of Kingston had its first official beginnings on May 11, 1805, when Tobias Van Buren was appointed president of the board of directors at a meeting held at the house of Evert Bogardus, innkeeper. Its existence as a city dates from 1872, when the two villages of Rondout and Kingston were combined.
Still retaining much of its old historic atmosphere, the present city is an uptodate town, benefiting from its unrivaled position as the gateway to the whole range of the Catskills. Modern concrete highways lead to it from north, south and west, and the Hudson River steamboats bring many visitors there by a scenic water route famous all over the world.
It is, however, still uncrowded, and a most attractive town for residential purposes. Besides the well kept up older section, it has attractive new real estate developments. Building on and near Manor Avenue has restored the manor lands of Kingston's first settler to their early importance, with many handsome residences, while in other directions new, convenient houses and cottages with magnificent views of the Catskills spread out from old 'Sopus to offer the combined advantages of town and country to modern Kingstonians.