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. 
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. 
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.  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.
 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
 History of Duchess County, New York, by James H. Smith, 1882, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY
 Poughkeepsie Daily Press, Saturday, September 4, 1858, Newspaper published at Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY
The Friends of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
by Virginia A. Buechele, April 23, 2010
Reflections on The First Interments; Little Flowers Gone Too Young, But Not Forgotten by Ginny Buechele
Reflections on The First Interments; Little Flowers Gone Too Young, But Not Forgotten
Ere sin could harm, or sorrow fade,
Death came with friendly care;
The opening bud to heaven conveyed,
and had it blossom there.
This lovely bud, so young, so fair,
Called hence by early doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise would bloom.
There in the Shepherd’s bosom,
White as the drifted snow,
Is the little lamb we missed one morn
From our household flock below.
So the bud of our bosom fluttered up to the dawn,
A window was opened – our darling was gone!
A tenant from time, from fears, and from sin,
For the Angel on watch took our little flower in.
Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery “was dedicated with solemn and appropriate ceremonies to the sacred purposes for which it is used” on November 2, 1853. (The Rural Cemetery, 40 years Since It Was Dedicated To Its Present Uses; The Courier; Poughkeepsie, N. Y., August 27, 1893) In the same article The Courier also reported 9,000 interments within the cemetery boundaries.
In locating this 1893 article, this writer found her interest peeked. This article was the impetus to research further regarding the first interments in “The Rural Cemetery”.
Early cemetery records revealed the first two interments in the cemetery occurred November 23, 1853. However, they were in reality re-interments from the “Episcopal Burying Ground Poughkeepsie”:
Eliza Bodden; born Springfield; resided Springfield; died Nov. 28, 1843; interred November 23, 1853; Lot 38 Section J; and,
Washington Bodden; born Springfield; resided Springfield; died January 29, 1845; interred November 23, 1853; Lot 38 Section J.
As near as can be determined from: cemetery office records which note William Bodden as the owner of Lot 38 in Section J; tombstone inscriptions from the Bodden monument in Section J; and, information from “The Dutchess County Commemorative and Biographical Record” (J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago, 1897), Eliza and Washington both died at age 2. They were the children of William and Elizabeth (Wilson) Bodden.
Born 1813, William Bodden was a native of Scotland who came to America with his father at the age of four (4). Bodden came to the Town of Poughkeepsie in 1830 and settled on his 130 farm near Camelot where he specialized in raising fruit. He was a consistent member for 65 years of the Washington Street Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics he was a Republican. At the time of his death at age 84, he was survived by his widow and nine (9) children. His sons served as pall bearers at his funeral
Caroline “Carrie” J. Peters – The First Interment?
“The Poughkeepsie Eagle” Saturday, December 10, 1853 reported “The first interment in the new Cemetery was made on Sunday last. It was the child of Mr. Peters, noticed under the obituary head.” as follows: “1st inst, in this village, Caroline J., only daughter of Daniel and Ellen Peters, aged 3 years 2 months 17 days.” (Note- “1st inst”. refers to the 1st day of the current month of publication – the usage of the era – inst = instant abbreviated)
A review of original record books in the possession of the cemetery revealed the earliest interments were recorded chronologically.
The 3rd interment is noted as follows:
Carrie J. Peters; daughter of Daniel and Ellen Peters; born Poughkeepsie; resided Poughkeepsie; died December 1, 1853; Interment December 4, 1853; Lot 61 Section J.
To date little has been found on Daniel and Ellen Peters other than what is found in the 1850 Federal Census for Poughkeepsie enumerated on August 6, 1850 which lists Daniel as a “baker” age 21 born New York and, Ellen as age 20, also born New York.
What is known from cemetery office records is the plot owners were Daniel and Jarvis J. Peters. Also buried in the plot are Charity H. Briggs died 1877, Esther H. Swan died 1856, Melinda Peters died 1901, and Rachel Higgins died 1872. The most interesting to this writer is the small individual monument for little Caroline still exists today. Although the inscription has worn away with time, the monument for this little flower stands in the shadow of a large evergreen and the individual monuments for the four (4) women interred with Caroline. Caroline’s grave is well guarded.
The first three (3) interments in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery were all little flowers gone too young, but not forgotten.
Prepared for The Friends of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
by Virginia A. Buechele, October 17, 2009