Lest We Forget: Egbert Benson

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In the run up to Red Hook’s 2012 Bicentennial, it is fitting to recall Egbert Benson, for whom the Historical Society is named. As James Kent, Benson’s student, friend and colleague wrote of his mentor, “This great and good man lived to survive all his contemporaries, and seems to have died almost unknown and forgotten by the profession which he once so greatly adorned.” Thanks to Clare O’Neill Carr, to whom we are indebted for her incomparable A Brief History of Red Hook, we know a great deal about Benson, whom she profiled in a 2001 issue of the Historical Society Newsletter. Following are excerpts from her article. Benson was just 25 years old, the son of an old New York Dutch family, when he came to set up a law practice in Red Hook in 1772, fresh from an apprenticeship in his native New York City. His relative, Tryntje Benson, had married into the Hoffman family in Tivoli. He had most likely visited her as a boy and young man and become familiar with Red Hook. It is from the Hoffman home in Tivoli that he wrote to clients and conducted his practice, when he moved here just before […

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