The women of Locust Lawn were well educated, upper class ladies who appear to have exhibited the ideal of high society womanhood in the Hudson Valley. Hylah Bevier and her daughters Sarah Maria, Ann Bevier, Louisa, and Laura Tallmadge all attended various schools throughout the Hudson Valley and Litchfield, Connecticut. Through their compositions we can see that they were taught to be intellectual, thoughtful, and well-articulated individuals. Hylah attended the Litchfield Female Academy as a young adult and eventually conducted with purpose while holding a leading position in the societies in which she circulated. Furthermore, her daughters would each become educated, both at home and in private institutions with each girl going on to establish and run their own prosperous households. It is through objects such as clothing, needlework, quilts, books, sheet music, and letters that we can obtain a glimpse into the daily lives of these women and learn about them through their own words. Though their stories do not reflect the experiences of the entire female population in the Hudson Valley, there is still much that can be learned about the nature of upper class womanhood by looking at the possessions and correspondences that these women left behind.
Hylah Bevier was born on August 31, 1795 in the town of Rochester, Ulster County, N.Y. Her father Captain Philip DuBois Bevier served with distinction during the Revolution. In 1782 Philip married Ann DeWitt, daughter of Petrus DeWitt and Rachel Radcliff. The couple had eight children. Hylah and her six sisters and one brother grew up in a prosperous, orderly household. Their mother was an astute, independently minded woman who successfully managed the family farm and other business concerns after her husband’s death in 1802. Sometime around 1811 (or possibly before), Hylah was sent to The Litchfield Female Academy, in Litchfield, Connecticut. Here she was enrolled into a full curriculum that combined academics with classes in household management, music and the decorative arts. In 1821 at the age of 26, Hylah Bevier married Levi Hasbrouck. She and Levi raised four daughters and one son. Hylah Bevier Hasbrouck was 78 years old when she died at Locust Lawn in 1874.
“The characteristics of Mrs. Hasbrouck’s life were strongly marked and easily understood by all who came within her influence. With intense earnestness of purpose, she combined a singular clearness and force of intellect which would have given her a leading position in any society in which she might have mingled. When to these were added the power of wealth and family position, all around her felt that hers were an influence which no other could wield.”
~ Excerpt from obituary of Hylah Bevier Hasbrouck, New Paltz Times 1874
Sarah Maria Hasbrouck, the first child of Levi and Hylah Hasbrouck, was born on November 12, 1823. She may have been born at her mother’s childhood home in the township of Rochester, Ulster County. Sarah Maria was in one of the first classes at the New Paltz Academy which was founded in 1833. Her composition books are beautifully written and describe in great detail trips abroad that she may have taken when she was very young, although it is unclear when and with whom she traveled. In 1850, at the age of 27, she married Louis Hasbrouck (her father Levi’s cousin). Louis was employed by his father-in-law to manage investments and other business matters. The couple relocated to the town of Ogdensburg, in upstate New York, where they raised three children, Levi, Philip Bevier and Laura Maria. Sarah Maria Hasbrouck died of typhus fever in 1858, when she was 34 years old. A small bouquet of dried flowers marked with the day she died, was found at Locust Lawn among her sisters possessions. Sarah Maria's tombstone reads "Our much loved sister who died March 12, 1858. Aged 34 years & 4 mo.".
“In the bosom of her family she was loved with a tenderness and a strength which the sweetness of her disposition naturally inspired.”
~ Excerpt from obituary of Sarah Maria Hasbrouck, Ogdensburg Journal 1858
Ann Bevier Hasbrouck, the second daughter of Levi and Hylah Hasbrouck, was born on March 11, 1827. Ann was educated at home by tutors and later she attended school at the Newburgh Academy. At the age of 28, she married George Innis of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a prominent businessman (and three term mayor of Poughkeepsie). Their wedding took place in the formal parlor of Locust Lawn on May 16, 1855. To celebrate the event, a new Brussels carpet was purchased for the room where it can still be seen in the house today. Mr. and Mrs. Innis resided at Rosewood, 40 Main Street in Poughkeepsie and had two children, Hasbrouck and Martha. This brother and sister would eventually inherit Locust Lawn. Ann died in 1906 at the age of 79. At the time of her death she was living with her married daughter Martha Innis Young whose home “Locust Grove” in Poughkeepsie was originally owned by Samuel F.B. Morse, the painter and inventor.
Louisa Hasbrouck, the third daughter of Levi and Hylah Hasbrouck, was born on August 20, 1831. Like the rest of her siblings, Louisa’s early education started with tutors at home. Later, she probably attended the Poughkeepsie Female Collegiate Institute (founded in 1848). Louisa never married. She lived her entire life at Locust Lawn. Louisa Hasbrouck died in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. on November 21, 1867 while staying with her sister Ann Bevier Hasbrouck Innis. She was 36 years old. It is likely that Louisa died of tuberculosis.
“Death does not often call from us one who had stronger and sweeter ties to bind her to earth. Her position was not merely enviable because every earthly comfort that this world’s goods can confer was hers, but she was singularly blessed with a flow of priceless love which most deeply mourns that its dear object has been removed."
~ Excerpt from obituary of Louisa Hasbrouck, newspaper source unknown 1867
Laura Tallmadge Hasbrouck, the fourth daughter and youngest child of Levi and Hylah Hasbrouck, was born on January 19, 1834. In 1850, Laura attended the Poughkeepsie Female Collegiate Institute where she studied a variety of subjects including mathematics, science, philosophy, and French. In 1873 at the age of 39, Laura married Abraham Varick of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a widower with three children and a trustee of the Poughkeepsie Female Collegiate Institute. Laura purchased Locust Lawn from her brother Josiah’s widow, in order to keep the homestead and farm from being sold out of the family. She held title to the property until her death in 1925 at the age of 91. Upon her death Locust Lawn passed to the children of her deceased sister Ann B. H. Innis. In 1923 Laura T. H. Varick gave land to the Village of New Paltz to be used as a public park - known today as Hasbrouck Park.
“Mrs. Varick will be mourned by a wide circle of friends who admired and loved her. She was what used to be called an “old fashioned gentlewoman,” a type rarely found in these days.”
~ Excerpt from obituary of Laura T.H. Varick, New Paltz Times, March 26, 1925
Margaret (Maggie) DeKay was born April 1852 to Robert W. DeKay and Elizabeth Durling and died in 1934. On June 1, 1881, Maggie married Josiah Hasbrouck, whom she had known since at least 1880. The wedding ceremony was held in Warwick, N.Y. in the town where her parents resided. Maggie and Josiah had one child named Hylah, after her late grandmother Hylah Bevier. Hylah was born June 21, 1882 in Warwick, and died April 25, 1979 in Warwick, N.Y.