The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 51

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam



Largely self-educated, his life begun in the business world at the age of fifteen years, Richard Brindley Overbagh, of Saugerties, where he was born and where he died, worked his way upward from office boy to one of the leading positions in the commercial world in which he labored for nearly half a century. His life was one of constant activity, his steps ever forward. He made a host of friends, was a devout churchman, a fair competitor, and a man of rigid honesty in all his dealings. His death occurred April 4, 1926.

Mr. Overbagh was born September 21, 1863, a son of Peter A. Overbagh, also a native of Saugerties, and of Caroline G. (Caldwell) Overbagh, born in Maryland, of a noted Southern family. The elder Overbagh was a soldier in the Civil War and died soon after the close of that conflict, at the age of thirty-eight years. He had been engaged in farming and brickmaking. His ancestry was Dutch, his first American forebear, Johannes Overbagh, coming to this country from Holland in the early eighteenth century.

Richard Brindley Overbagh was educated at Saugerties Academy, but was compelled to leave school in his fifteenth year. He went to work for J. B. Sheffield & Company, as office boy, rose to be bookkeeper and finally, with William E. Simmons, bought a coal and lumber business, which they conducted for eight years. Mr. Overbagh, during this partnership, operated a shoe store, while his partner ran the lumber yard. The last venture was enlarged as trade increased and now has spread to Tannersville, where there is a branch. Since the death of the founder and owner of the Saugerties coal & Lumber company, his sons, Robert F. and William Hoyt Overbagh, have conducted the business of the entire enterprise, which represent an investment of more than $100,000, handles all grades of lumber and building material and has a trade covering a wide territory. Richard Brindley Overbagh was a great reader, never owned a cent that he did not earn and made a substantial success of life. He was for many years a member of the School board, of which he had been president. He was a director of the Saugerties Bank, thirty years the superintendent of the Sunday School of Trinity Episcopal Church, of which he was for many years junior warden. He was a member of the Twaalfskill Golf Club, the Rip Van Winkle Golf Club, at Palenville, and a director therein, also one of the organizers.

Mr. Overbagh married in Saugerties, September 18, 1884, Isabel Freligh, daughter of James Austin Freligh, of Malden and Coxsackie, later of Saugerties, where he was a lawyer, merchant, and for eighteen years secretary of the Saugerties Savings Bank. His wife was Susan A. (Hoyt) Freligh, who was born in Coxsackie and died in Saugerties in 1911. The children of Richard Brindley and Isabel (Freligh) Overbagh were: 1. Gertrude, born August 4, 1885. 2. Richard Freligh, born September 10, 1887. 3. Isabel, born November 11, 1889. 4-5. William Hoyt and John Caldwell (twins), the last-named deceased in 1920.


Having received upon his shoulders the mantle left by his late lamented father, proprietor of the Saugerties Coal & Lumber Company, the oldest concern of its kind and one of the most important in that section, Richard F. Overbagh is making a splendid record in his management of the business for the estate. His interests also extend to a directorship in the Saugerties Bank, The Saugerties Co-operative Savings, and Loan Association, and presidency of the Tanners-

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ville Supply Company, of Tannersville, New York, all of which he inherited, so to speak, from his father, who had long held membership in their bodies.

Born in Saugerties, September 10, 1887, Richard F. Overbagh is a son of Richard B, and Isabel (Freligh) Overbagh; his father, born in 1863 in Saugerties, died at his home there, April 4, 1926, his mother, born in 1857, still survives her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Overbagh also had four other children: Mrs. F. E. Fuller, of Youngstown, Ohio; Isabel Overbagh, of Saugerties, New York; J. Caldwell, deceased; W. Hoyt, of Saugerties, New York, who is also associated with Richard F. in the coal and lumber business. Richard B. Overbagh was connected with the J. B. Sheffield Company in Saugerties for some years, and subsequently was engaged in the retail shoe business. Later he became interested in the coal and lumber business and, in 1890, in association with William E. Simmons, and Benjamin F. Crump, he organized the Saugerties Coal & Lumber Company, dealers also in builders' supplies. Mr. Overbagh was one of the principals in building-up of the business to the large proportion for which it was and still is known, excelling all others of its kind in the Saugerties area. The company furnishes virtually steady employment to some twenty-five person, a considerable force for the type and location of the business. As a member of the directorate of the Saugerties Bank and Saugerties Savings Bank, Mr. Overbagh filled an important place in financial circles of the town. The son, Richard F., passed through the Saugerties High School; prepared for college at the Mohegan Lake School, class of 1906, and then entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, from which he was graduated in the class of 1910.

His initial step in his business career was taken when he joined his father, then the sole owner of the Saugerties Coal and Lumber Company, and he remained in association with him and virtually in conduct of the business until the death of the elder Mr. Overbagh in the spring of 1926. Since that occurrence he has managed the estate's interest in the business, and is adding constantly to the prestige and good will of the concern. Mr. Overbagh is affiliated with Lodge No. 193, Free and Accepted Mason; Rip Van Winkle Golf and Country Club of Palenville, New York; the Twaalfskill Club, of Kingston, New York, and is Ulster County Scout Commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Richard F. Overbagh married, July 13, 1913, Catherine Cantlin, of Ithaca, New York, and they are the parents of a son, Richard B., born September 13, 1914.


Having achieved a splendid inspiring record in the business and cultural development of the eastern section of New York State, James Austin Freligh, of Saugerties, is one of this city's most esteemed and honored citizens who, until his retirement from the active affairs of business some years ago, had the honor to be one of the oldest members of the business world in point of service. Mr. Freligh began his long and interesting career as a practicing lawyer, but later engaged in business, coming to Saugerties in 1876, where he has ever continued to maintain his residence. In addition to his position of prominence in the commercial world, he sought to further the interest of his fellow-citizens in classic and cultural achievements, and, having been accomplished musician, he was active in promoting the interest in good music throughout this vicinity, being founder of the Saugerties Musical Association, of which he acted as conductor, also serving as choirmaster of the First Dutch Reformed Church of Saugerties for many years.

Mr. Freligh was born in Malden, Ulster County, June 22, 1836, son of Levi and Abigail (Maxon) Freligh. Levi Freligh was born in Quarryville, near Saugerties, on the old Freligh farm, but the greater part of his life was spent in Coxsackie, Greene County. His ancestors were among the early Dutch settlers of Ulster County.

James Austin Freligh was educated in the public schools of Coxsackie, after which he applied himself to the study of law and being admitted to the bar of New York State, practiced his profession with his brother, William F. Freligh, up to the time of the Civil War. In 1865, the family moved to Glens Falls, where Mr. Freligh engaged in the drygoods business and continued in that commercial enterprise until the spring of 1876, when he removed to Saugerties, continuing in the same business in association with his brother Benjamin. Some time later, he engaged independently in the flour and feed business in Saugerties and conducted a prosperous and growing trade for a number of years. Active in the financial affairs of this city, he served as secretary of the Saugerties Savings Bank for eighteen years, relinquishing this position at the age of eighty-four, when he

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retired from active business concerns. His value to this city in promoting the musical progress of his fellow-citizens is unbounded, while the various musical organizations which he founded and conducted won renown and praise throughout the surrounding territory. For many years, Mr. Freligh promoted light opera in various towns and villages throughout the adjacent area, bringing to the people of this vicinity an opportunity to enjoy the very best of musical compositions. In politics, he is a staunch supporter of the principles of the Republican Party and during his active career was always to the fore in advocating and assisting the cause of good government. He is a leading member of the Dutch Reformed Church and served as superintendent of the Sunday School for many years.

James Austin Freligh married Susan A, Hoyt, daughter of William G. and Mary (Wolf) Hoyt, of Coxsackie, and to this union were born three children: 1. Isabel, widow of Richard B. Overbagh. 2. Mary Hoyt, deceased. 3. William Russell, of Saugerties.


Among the younger members of the legal profession in Saratoga Springs, New York, is Frank Fancher Crawford, who has been engaged in general practice there since 1920, and who specializes in automobile law. His spacious offices are located at No. 384 Broadway, where he is taking care of a very large and important clientele.

Frank M. Crawford, father of Mr. Crawford, died in Saratoga Springs, New York, in February, 1922, aged sixty-three years. He was engaged in business in Saratoga Springs as a retail shoe dealer, and was well known as a successful and progressive business man. He was also prominent in Masonic circles, being a member of Rising sun Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, of Saratoga Springs; Rising Sun Chapter, Royal Arch masons; Washington Commandery, Knights Templar; and of the Consistory, in which he held the thirty-second degree. He was also a member of Oriental Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He was held in very high esteem among his associates and had a host of friends in Saratoga Springs. He married Jessie Hart, whose death occurred in 1901, and they were the parents of five children: 1. Emily, who is teaching kindergarten in Public School No. 3, in Saratoga Springs. 2. Bessie. 3. Jessie, who married Spencer Harwood, of Rupert, Vermont. 4., Irwin, who is engaged in business as a manufacturer of dye presses in Cazenovia, New York. 5. Frank Fancher, of further mention.

Frank Fancher Crawford, youngest child of Frank M. and Jessie (Hart) Crawford, was born in Saratoga springs, New York, June 10, 1897, and received his early and preparatory education in the public schools of his birthplace. When his high school course was completed he began the study of law in Albany Law School, from which he was graduated with the class of 1918, receiving at that time the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He then continued reading law in the office of the late Judge Salisbury, and on March 6, 1920, was admitted to the bar. He then opened an office in Saratoga springs, in the Saratoga National Bank Building, and prepared to receive clients. As time passed patronage came. He was well prepared for his work, able faithful, and ambitious. To each case which came to him he gave his most careful attention, and his clients soon found that this young man was one in whom they could place confidence. In May, 1925, almost exactly five years fro the time he opened his first modest office in the Saratoga National Bank Building, Mr. Crawford removed to the spacious offices which he now occupies at No. 384 Broadway. He takes care of a large and important clientele, handling a large general practice, and also specializes in automobile law. He is known as an able and resourceful practitioner and has already made for himself an established place in the profession. Politically he gives his support to the Republican Party. Upon the entrance of the United States into the World War, Mr. Crawford enlisted as a member of Company L, New York State National Guard, in 1917, was later mustered into Federal service, and continued in service until 1921, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant. Fraternally, he is affiliated with Lodge No. 161, Benevolent and protective Order of Elks, of Saratoga Springs. He is a member of the American Bar Association, and his religious affiliation is with the First Methodist Church.

Frank Fancher Crawford was married, in Syracuse, New York, March 19, 1919, to Margaret Hyslop, daughter of Alexander M. and Sarah (Linnon) Hyslop, of Syracuse. Mr. and Mrs. Crawford, are the parents of one daughter, Patricia, who was born July 11, 1921.

Henry W. OTIS

Who at this writing (1928) was vigorous and active at the age of

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Eighty-four years, is an outstanding figure among the citizens in Kingston, New York. He is a descendant of one of the families composing the early settlers of New England, being of the eighth generation from English ancestry who came from Barnstable, Devonshire, England, in 1631, settling in Hingham, Massachusetts, in the place called Otis Hill. His grandfather, Paul Otis, was born in Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1771, and passed his entire life in his native community. His father, the great-grandfather of Henry W. Otis, served in the Revolutionary War.

Paul Otis was the father of seven sons and three daughters; of these, Harvey Otis, father of Henry W. Otis, was born in 1802,m at Scituate, Massachusetts, where he was educated. At the age of fifteen, or in 1817, he went to Boston, where he served five years as apprentice in the mason's trade. In 1824, he moved to Albany, New York, where he engaged in business as a mason and builder until 1832, in which year he came to Kingston, where for thirty-four years he was a leading contractor and builder. In 1828 at Boston, Massachusetts, Harvey Otis married Cynthia Ross, daughter of Seth Ross, who was born at Sterling, Massachusetts, in 1777. His wife Lydia (Cook) Ross was born at Newton, Massachusetts, in 1776. The parents of both Harvey and Cynthia (Ross) Otis were among the early citizens of Massachusetts where the men members of the families took part in active m military service in the Revolutionary War. Seth Ross, father of Cynthia (Ross) Otis, and so maternal grandfather of Henry W. Otis, died at Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1837. His widow came to Kingston, New York, where she made her home with her daughter, Cynthia, until the time of her death in 1863 at the age of eighty-five years, Harvey and Cynthia (Ross) Otis were the parents of eight children, three of whom died young; the others were: Lydia, who never married; Harriet, wife of John Midgley, of Worcester, Massachusetts; Harvey, Jr., who during the Civil war was a member of Company A, 156th New York State Volunteers, and was killed in action at the Battle of Winchester, Virginia, September 19, 1864; James R. of Kingston; and Henry W., mentioned further.

Harvey Otis was a staunch Baptist, and in politics was first a Whig and later a Republican. In 1866 he retired from active business in favor of his son, Henry W., the subject of this writing. Harvey Otis died in Kingston, New York, in 1880, aged seventy-eight years. His wife, Cynthia (Ross), also died in Kingston, New York, in January, 1889, aged eighty-five years.

The photograph shown of Henry W. Otis was taken at the beginning of this writing. He was born May 19, 1843, in Kingston, New York. He was educated at the public schools and at Kingston Academy, and at the age of sixteen he began learning the trade of mason and builder under his father, Harvey Otis. In September, 1964, when twenty-one years of age, he enlisted for active service in the Civil War conflict, and entered the United States Navy. He served in the North Atlantic Squadron, chiefly on picket duty on the Roanoke River and Albemarle Sound. For part of the time he was on the flagship "Shamrock," and later on the "Arletta," from which he was honorably discharged in October, 1865.

He then returned to Kingston and worked for his father as foreman and contractor until his father's retirement on July 1, 1866, when he assumed full charge of the business, which comprised general contracting and building. Henry W. Otis has erected many of the large buildings in Kingston and vicinity, including the new York State Armory; the Alms House; finishing of the City Hall; the American Cigar Factory; the Central Young Men's Christian Association; most of the Cornell buildings; many of the public school buildings and many churches. He built the Old Men's Home at Poughkeepsie, New York, as well as the gymnasium at Vassar College. He built the public school at New Hamburg, the Akim Public School at Pawling (Quaker Hill); the lighthouse at Hudson, as well as many other prominent buildings, on the river. His operations have extended over a wide territory, reaching as far south as Florida, where he had headquarters at Jacksonville for three of four years. He had the contract for erecting the extensive carpet works for A. T. Stewart at Glenham, New York, a very large contract in those days, involving three hundred thousand dollars. He had the contract for building the West Shore Railroad Station at Newburgh, together with the passenger station at Kingston.

His interesting and very busy life has been spent in one of the most remarkable peropds in the history of civilization, for he has seen the changes from transportation from the ox-art to aeroplane, and in lighting system, from the tallow candle to the latest improved incandescent lamp. He was born just a few years before the noted "gold rush" to the California coast, and took part in the Civil War to restore the seceding States to the Union, and looked

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on through the vicissitudes of the Spanish-American War and the World War. During all this time, except when in service in the Navy during the Civil War, Mr. Otis was busy erecting a number of buildings that stand today in three or four States as monuments to his skill and ability as a contractor and builder.

In 1867, Henry W. Otis married Harriet Carson, of Kingston, New York. She died in 1871, leaving two children: 1 Martha, do died in 1871. 2. Cynthia Ross, who married (and later divorced) Charles W. Howgate, by whom she had one son, Dr. Henry Otis Howgate, of Greenwich, Connecticut, whose young daughter, now Cynthia Ross Howgate, is a great-grandchild. Later Cynthia married Richard Outwater, of Greenwich, Connecticut. In October, 1872, Henry W. Otis, married (second) Abbie F. Disabel, of West Troy, New York, and by this marriage had four children: 3. Burt D., who married Anna May Farrar, and had four children: 1. Ruth E., ii. Roger H., iii. Marion F., iv. Chester E. 4. Ella L., wife of Lewis Brown (see a following biography) 5. Harriet, deceased, wife of Captain Frank J. Holmes, of Greenwich, Connecticut, who had two children: 1. Frances R, and ii. Charles H. 6. Myra S., widow of F. J. Holmes, of Upland, California.

Mrs. Henry W. Otis died February 16, 1924, at the age of eight-three years. Mr. Otis is a Republican; though never seeking office he did serve the city of Kingston for a time as assessor. He is a director of the Home-Seekers' Co-operative Savings and Loan Association, of which he was one of the founders in July, 1899, and is one of the most highly respected and venerated men in this section.

On July 11, 1928, Mr. Otis departed this life, aged eighty-five years.


William Brown, great-grandfather of Lewis Brown, was born in 1771, settled in Olive, Ulster County, New York, and married Charity Winchell; they had six children. The third of these, his grandfather, William Brown (2), settled at what is now known as Browns Station, Ulster county, New York, was married to Rachel Bush, whose father "Bush" was carried off by the Indians and years later was bought from the Indians near Binghamton (it is said( by a kindly lady and later returned to his parents, whose name he had forgotten, but he described his father as having some fingers off one hand and a great Indian fighter. It is said that his father "bush," Rachel bush's grandfather was a very noted Indian fighter, usually working or fighting single-handed and alone. While splitting rails in the woods one day he was surprised by a "band of twelve Indians," who had determined to "capture him alive." He stated that he would go with them willingly if they would just help him split that one rail. They agreed, he placing the Indians along each side of the partially split log told them to pull hard, they then trying to pull it apart with their hands, when he knocked the wedge our and had them all fast. He then easily "killed the whole band of Indians" by knocking them over the head with the butt of his axe. William and Rachel (bush) Brown has seven children: 1. Stephen. 2. Francis. 3. Catharine. 4. Nathaniel. 5. Lemuel. 6. Isaac. 7. Walter S.

Walter S. Brown, father of Lewis, was born October 1, 1844, and on September 9, 1866, married Ellen Boice, to whom five children were born: 1. Horton, and 2. Freddie, died in infancy. 3. Lemuel, born September 13, 1873; married Mary Bush; they had no children. 4. Lewis, of whom further. 5. Orpha, born September 9, 1877; married John Parslow, and they have one son, Merton.

Walter S. Brown died April 4, 1911, aged sixty-six years. His wife, Ellen (Boice) Brown, was born March 6, 1847, and died February 22, 1926, aged nearly seventy-nine years. She was a daughter of Lemuel and Mary Ann (Brinck) Boice, who were married July 14, 1842. She was a good mother, an excellent cook and nurse for her own and great many of the Boice family during her very active days.

Lemuel Boice was born May 5, 1819, at Shokan, in the old stone house against the hill, where his father, Peter Boice, and grandfather, John Boice, were also born, both of whom were farmers and leading men of their day. Lemuel Boice only received a limited education in the district school of that period, but developed into a man of intelligence and one of the best informed on general topics in the township. He started with farming, then to peeling, getting out and preparing bark for tanneries. Later he build a tannery at Boiceville; also engaged in the lumber business, and "Boiceville," it is said, was named for him." In 1865 or 1866, he went to the old homestead, again taking up farming and lumbering, owning two or three sawmills. About 1870 Lemuel Boice built the Hamilton House, a large brick hotel and store property which stood as a monument to him until the New York City water supply acquire and destroyed the same for reservoir purpose. In 1876-77 he took the contract for grading the railroad, building

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arches and bridges, for the railroad between Arkville and Delhi, doing this work as far as it went; but the road was not completed and was abandoned. Up to this time he was one of the most successful men, financially, in this locality, but lost heavily on this railroad contract. He was a self-made man, of great strength of character, and one of the most active in the country, and up to his seventy-fifth year was full of life and energy. He was always an ardent Republican and quite active in political matters. He was elected supervisor in 1858, being one of the leaders of he party at that time. He has always been a public-spirited citizen and highly esteemed and respected by all classes of society; he died December 2, 1899. Lemuel Boice married Mary Ann Brinck, on July 14, 1842, she died in June, 1874. They had eight children; 1. Horace, born July 24, 1843; married Mary David. 2. Nancy, born January 23, 1845; married Alonzo G. Davis. 3. Ellen, became the mother of Lewis Brown. 4. Lewis, born September 23, 1849; married Sarah Boice. 5. Elizabeth, born January 6, 1852; married Isaac M. Davis. 6. Leland, born June 14, 1854; married Josephine Ennist. 7. Zadoc P., born July 29, 1858; married Adelia Elmendorf. 8. Orpha, born April 20, 1862; married George Siemon. On March 30, 1876, he married his second wife, Mary C. Hill, by whom he had no children.

Lewis Brown was born January 18, 1875, at Stone Ridge, New York, where his father, the late Walter S. Brown, built and operated a paper mill. He is an enterprising business man who has kept up with changed conditions and so added not only his share of service and progress to the city of Kingston, New York, but has added to his own good measure of success by hard work in so doing. Coming from the families of early settlers in Ulster County, New York, the Browns of Browns Station and the Boices of Boiceville, Lewis Brown is one whose interests are firmly established in the progress of and service to his native Ulster County, and the birthplace of his forebears. He was educated at various country schools, at the Kingston Academy, and took a course at Spencer's Business College at Kingston, including considerable study at home. On finishing his education he helped his father in operating a steam saw and heading mill at Coo Hill, situated between Browns Station and Marbletown. His father later moved, built and operated a steam lumber and heading mill several years at Sawkill, New York, where he also built a nice residence and barn. Later on, in 1899, his father again moved and set up his mill at Slide Mountain, where he bought up two thousand acres of timberland mostly from the Cornell Estate, and then operated it under the name of W. S. Brown & Sons, the sons being Lemuel and Lewis. Shortly after this mill was built, it burned down, at about which time Lemuel left to go with the Hunter Excelsior Company, at Hunter, New York, as superintendent, while Lewis stayed with his father, and about this time was appointed postmaster at Slide Mountain. They rebuilt their heading mill and operated it for several years. Lewis also was instrumental in organizing the Slide Mountain and Pine Hill Telephone Company, when poles were set and wires strung, but there was some dissension among stockholders and owners of rights of way and some poles were chopped down, so the line was subsequently only finished and operating between Oliverea and Pine Hill. Later W. S. Brown & Sons sold out their mill property, and timberland to Cortland interests and Lewis remained as superintendent for one and one-half years. Later he was employed by the New York Board of Water Supply as foreman for a bout three years, during the greater period of the setting of diamonds in diamond bits for deep test borings under the various locations for dams and dykes. Lewis Brown later was manager for a store in Middletown for about one and one-half years, during which time he married Ella L. Otis, in New York City. He then went back into the lumber business at the Vyl, New York, where his father and brother were operating, and this connection continued up to the time of his father's death in March, 1911. On May 1 of the following year, with Emerson Brown as partner, he started his present business in one small corner room in the Stuyvesant Garage on Clinton Avenue, operating then under contract with the "Thirty-five Per Cent Automobile Supply Company," and now owning the present business and property at Nos. 783-789 Broadway, doing both a wholesale and retail business covering three counties.

Lewis Brown is a member of Kingston Lodge, No. 10, Free and Accepted Masons, the United Commercial Travelers, and charter member of the Kingston Kiwanis Club. In politics he is a Republican. He has no particular "hobby," as he things he is not yet "old enough" to play golf. He does like to see a good boxing match, baseball game or horse race, and has had the thrill and pleasure of an airplane ride, as well as riding in a speed boar, "Gar Wood," making they said, fifty miles per hour.

On June 22, 1909, Lewis Brown married Ella

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L. Otis, at Fifty-third Street and Lexington Avenue, New York City, she being a daughter of Henry W. and Abbie F. (Disabell) Otis. (See preceding biography.) Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Brown have no children.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

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