Exploring Grandfather/Grandson Avenues


Some years back, while browsing microfilms of early Poughkeepsie newspapers, I came across an article from the Sunday Courier published March 13, 1892 entitled "Our Streets in 1799 and 1892" with one of the subtitles being "Origin of the Names of Many of the Streets". This article captured my interest because I, perhaps like many of you over the years, had wondered how streets received their names. One in particular came to mind, Hooker Avenue, because as these things sometimes go, how Hooker Avenue was named was often not presented in the best context. My inquiring mind wanted to know the real story.

The Courier article appears to have given a much more credible meaning to the naming of Hooker Avenue than those I may have heard earlier in my school years but never asked my parents about. "The origin of the names of many of the older streets is unknown. In addition to those given earlier in this article, there is. . . . . .Hooker Avenue after James Hooker; . . . . ."

Pictured preceding this article is the large cathedral style monument which marks the underground vault beneath the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery lots purchased by James Hooker November 11, 1853 in Section J. The base, with "Hooker" engraved on one side and on the opposite side, "Hamersley", is stately indeed. The 1892 Courier article states ". . .Hammersley avenue after J. H. Hammersley; . . ." Although the duplication of the letter "m" does not appear on the tombstone, both are the same surname as I have often discovered both spellings while researching the same family. James Hooker Hamersley was the grandson of James Hooker.

Who was James Hooker?

James Hooker was born July 12, 1792 in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of James and Mary (Chafee) Hooker and the 3rd great grandson or Rev. Thomas Hooker, born in England who came to America on the ship "Griffin" in 1633. James Hooker's grandfather Nathaniel Hooker, born 1710, was a prominent man in Colonial affairs, a captain in the militia, and a merchant in Hartford, CT. [1]

James Hooker entered Yale about 1806 and graduated with honors in 1810. One of his classmates was S. F. B. Morse. After graduation from Yale he settled in Poughkeepsie as a place to study law and did so under the most prominent lawyers of the day in Poughkeepsie. James Hooker quickly became one of the highest regarded counselors in the county. [2]

On January 24, 1816 he married Helen Sarah Reade, the youngest daughter of John and Catherine (Livingston) Reade. Her mother was a descendant of Robert Livingston, 1st Lord of the Manor and her father, was a descendant of Lawrence Reade, who was for many years Senior Warden of Trinity Church, and after whom Reade Street, in New York City is named.

James and Helen Sarah (Reade) Hooker's daughter, Catherine Livingston Reade Hooker, born 1817, married James William Hamersley and it is after their son James Hooker Hamersley (1844-1901) that we owe the name of another Poughkeepsie Street or shall we say, Avenue.

Judge James Hooker, attorney & counselor at law, Dutchess County Surrogate, Director of the Hudson River Railroad, one of the earliest owners of a plot in Poughkeepsie Rural cemtery and prominent well-landed local citizen died suddenly at Poughkeepsie on September 3, 1858. [3] His wife died January 30, 1879.

Once again, we see another aspect of how our local history relates to Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. It's all relative.



[1] The Descendants of Rev. Thomas Hooker, Hartford, Connecticut 1586-1908 by Edward Hooker, Commander, U. S. N., Edited by Margaret Huntington Hooker and printed for her at Rochester, N. Y. 1909

[2] History of Duchess County, New York, by James H. Smith, 1882, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY

[3] Poughkeepsie Daily Press, Saturday, September 4, 1858, Newspaper published at Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY

Prepared for
The Friends of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
by Virginia A. Buechele, April 23, 2010




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