Since the Chelsea Yacht Club was founded in January, 1881 as the Carthage Ice Yacht Club, it seems fitting to begin its history with the history of Carthage Landing, which is what the hamlet of Chelsea was named when the club was started. According to Charles B. Glass (pp. 25-29, Year Book, Dutchess County Historical Society, 1919), a man named Abram Gerow came north from Westchester County in 1800 to settle near Low Point on the river. One section of the Hudson River chart shows the location of Low Point. (95A13. This code shows the location in J.J. Mitchell's slide collection.) Perhaps it came by its name because New Hamburg, the next hamlet north on the east bank of the river, was once known as High Point (Matt Williams, p. 1B, Poughkeepsie Journal, 8/16/95). Mr. Gerow purchased land, built a log-house and a cooper's shop. He conducted a cooperage business for several years and also fathered ten children. The oldest daughter, Jane, married Charles P. Adriance who was active in the affairs of the hamlet until his death in 1892.
In 1812 Robert W. Jones filed map No. 51 in the Dutchess County Clerk's office which is labeled "A Map of Carthage in Dutchess County at a place called Low Point on the East side of the Hudson or North River---." Broad Way is shown as the central street heading toward the river. Either Mr. Jones or his map is probably the source of the name Carthage. Mr. Glass says that the hamlet was called Low Point until the completion of the Hudson River Railroad. At that point it was named Carthage. However there was already a Carthage in Jefferson County (Carthage, Jefferson County, Four River Valleys Historical Society, P.O.Box 504, Carthage,NY 13619 cited on p. 147 of Preservation Directory, Preservation League of New York State, 307 Hamilton Street, Albany, NY 12210(1988)), and mail was being misdirected so the hamlet was renamed Carthage Landing. Mail service was no better so the name reverted to Low Point until the railroad built a new station. At that point the name became Chelsea. The time was either June 17, 1901 or June 30, 1901. (private advice from Tom Holls, (914)297-1384, is that the first date is from Post Offices in New York State and the second is from a history of the Chelsea Fire Company. The fire company history says that the change was from Carthage Landing to Chelsea.(February 5, 1993))
Frank Hasbrouck (pp. 470-471, Frank Hasbrouck, editor, "The History of Dutchess County, New York," Poughkeepsie, NY (1909)) says that Low Point was equal in importance as a place of river commerce with the two docks at Fishkill Landing. until John Peter De Windt built Long Dock at Fishkill Landing in 1815. After that time, Low Point fell behind even though it had deeper water.
According to Charles Glass, commerce at Low Point prospered until the coming of the railroad. A Mr. Hoagland built a dock and a storehouse and carried on a general transportation business using sloops until 1836 or 1838. Then he sold his business to John Hopkins, who had as his partners, his two sons, Solomon and Gilbert, and also Charles P. Adriance. The business grew to the point where the sloops were inadequate and the steamboat William Young was purchased to take care of the commerce.
"In those days the street leading to the dock was frequently blocked, for a mile or more, with farmer's loaded wagons, coming from as far as the Connecticut state line, and they were often delayed for hours, to unload their produce, and then to be re-laden with supplies for the farm and household." (p. 26, Charles B. Glass)
There were other businesses at Low Point. At about 1820 Cornelius Carman established a shipyard at approximately the place where the Chelsea Yacht Club clubhouse is now located. He built both sailing vessels and steamboats. In 1828 he built the Plow Boy, a steam ferry-boat, for Carpenter and De Windt of Fishkill Landing. It was the first steam ferry to ply between Fishkill Landing and Newburgh.
The first centerboard used on the Hudson River was introduced by Cornelius Carman who installed it in the sloop "Freedom." Henry Noble MacCracken, the former president of Vassar College, says in his book "Blithe Dutchess" (Hastings House, New York (1958))
"[Moses] Collyer tells that Cornelius Carman of Low Point (Chelsea) introduced the centerboard. This brought Dutch sideboards into the hull and was easier to handle in rough weather. Probably it was the Dutch practice, though an English authority attributes it to a Captain Schank of the Royal Navy in 1774. His name, however, is Dutch, and he may have been a Dutchess Schenk for all I know.----
"It was certainly the Hudson that brought the centerboard into use., and Hudson yachtsmen the practice. The English terms "sliding" and "strop" keels were never used by the Americans while the English dropped the terms, a sure sign of provenance."
When the Hudson River Railroad was built, the shipping of goods by water from Low Point fell off. In 1856 Starr B. Knox bought the dock property and converted the storehouse into a flour mill. He found that the milling machinery was shaking the building to pieces. He had to interrupt a prosperous business to repair the damage. It opened again for a while and then closed until 1868 when it reopened and ground flour until the Union Pacific Railroad and the great steam mills of the west offered too much competition. In 1895 David Hunt purchased the property, and the mill was torn down.
T. Van Wyck Brinckerhoff in his "Historical Sketch and Directory of the Town of Fishkill" (Dean & Spaight, Fishkill Landing, NY (1866)) says that, in 1866, Carthage Landing (or Low Point) was about three miles north of Fishkill Landing on the shore of the river. It had a post office, a school, several stores, a hotel, and two churches. The Methodist Church was organized in 1823, and a church building was built in 1833. The Episcopal Church was built in 1865. The village had about 300 inhabitants. The disposition of houses and streets is shown in a detail from Beers' "Atlas of New York and Vicinity" (published by Beers, Ellis & Soule, 95 Maiden Lane, New York, N.Y. (1867)). (95A12}Little had changed in 1876 as is shown in a detail from the "New Atlas of Dutchess County, New York"(C.W.Gray & Son and E.A.Davis, Reading Publishing House, Reading, PA 1876). (95B2)