Vankleek House

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The Vankleek House. It was built by Myndert Vankleek, one of the first settlers in Dutchess county, in 1702, and was the first substantial house erected upon the site of Poughkeepsie. Its walls were very thick, and near the eaves they were pierced with lancet loop-holes for musketry. It was here that Ann Lee, the founder of the sect called Shaking Quakers, in this country, was lodged the night previous to her commitment to the Poughkeepsie jail, in 1776. She was a native of Manchester, England. During her youth she was employed in a cotton factory, and afterward as a cook in the Manchester infirmary. She married a blacksmith named Stanley; became acquainted with James and Jane Wardley, the originators of the sect in England, and in 1758 joined the small society they had formed. In 1770 she pretended to have received a revelation, while confined in prison on account of her religious fanaticism; and so great were the spiritual gifts she was believed to possess, that she was soon acknowledged a spirtual mother in Christ. Hence her name of Mother Ann. She and her husband came to New York in 1774. He soon afterward abandoned her and her faith, and married another woman. She collected a few followers, and in 1776 took up her abode in the woods of Watervliet, near Niskayuna, in the neighborhood of Troy. By some she was charged with witchcraft; and, because she was opposed to war, she was accused of secret correspondence with the British. A charge of high reason was preferred against her, and she was imprisoned in Albany during the summer. In the fall it was concluded to send her to New York, and banish her to the British army, but circumstances prevented the accomplishment of the design, and she was imprisoned in the Poughkeepsie jail until Governor Clinton, in 1777, hearing of her situation, released her. She returned to Watervliet, and her followers greatly increased. She died there in 1784, aged eighty-four years. Her followers sincerely believe that she now occupies that form or figure which John saw in his vision, standing beside the Savior.


Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851)I:383


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