b.4 May 1754 Rhinebeck (town), Dutchess, New York, United States
d.12 Aug 1825 Dutchess, New York, United States
m. 27 Apr 1737
m. Abt. 1774
Facts and Events
Johannes Ring (1754-1825) was a prominent miller in Dutchess County, New York, during the first decades after independence. He was usually called Johannes or Johannis Ring, but he was also known by the Anglicized name John, particularly in his later years.
Early Years, 1754-1782
The first decades of Johannes' life are not well documented. According to his mother's Bible, he was born May 4, 1754. The family Bible does not mention a baptism and none has been found in local church records. Nor is there any known record of his marriage to Maria Barbara Pultz. In fact, Johannes does not appear in local church records until his own son Peter was baptized in 1775. Even this record is doubtful, since the parents are called Johan George Ring and Maria Barbara, perhaps due to an error by the pastor.
Documentation begins to improve during the American Revolution. Johannes was one of four Ring men who refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the Patriot government at Rhinebeck in June and July, 1775. As conflict between Britain and the Colonies intensified, Johannes changed his views and publicly supported the Patriots. In 1778, he was one of forty Rhinebeck men who petitioned New York Governor George Clinton requesting the pardon of John Moffat for a unnamed crime, arguing that Moffat “hath during the present troubles Distinguished himself as an active and remarkable Zealous Whigg, and been peculiarly Serviceable to the publick in apprehending and Otherwise Discouraging the Enemies of this state.” Three years later, in 1781, Johannis Ring enlisted in the Dutchess County Militia, Sixth Regiment, under the "Land Bounty Rights" provision that offered a 200-acre land grant in return for service. By that time, the war was almost over, so it is unlikely that the Sixth Regiment was ever called up to serve in combat.
Mill at Rhinebeck, 1783-1788
Johannes ran a grist mill at Rhinebeck during the first years after war, but we do not have exact information about its location and dates of operation. An account book mentions Ring's Mill in an entry dated September 1783, but it does not refer to Johannes by name. The first reference to him as proprietor dates to 1787, when the Poughkeepsie Journal ran a series of letters regarding a dispute between John Ring and the firm of D'Hart & Pennington, who had consigned a delivery of wheat to Ring's Mill. This dispute was referred for arbitration to local notables Robert Sands, Everardus Bogardus, and Ananias Cooper, who decided in John's favor.
Ring's Mill may be a forgotten name for the stone grist mill that once stood on Landsman Kill near Route 308 and Miller Road east of Rhinebeck Flatts. This mill, commonly known as Rutsen's Mill, Sand's Mill, or Schuyler's Mill, was built by Henry Beekman's heir Jacob Rutsen in 1739. It was later run by Jacob's son John Rutsen until he died in 1771. Robert Sands took control in 1779 when he married John Rutsen's widow. Philip J. Schuyler then inherited the mill when he married John Rutsen's daughter in 1788. The Schuyler mill can be seen on the Alexander Thompson map (1798) (see the building labelled "G.M." near the Sands and Schuyler homes). Sands and Schuyler used hired millers and Johannes may have had that position during Sand's tenure from 1779 to 1788.
House and Blacksmith Shop, 1794-1808
The Johannes Ring house is shown on a copy of the Alexander Thompson map of Rhinebeck (1798) that is currently owned by the Library of Congress. The house appears to occupy the site of the historic J.E. Traver farm at 122 Violet Hill Road, which was built before 1798 and was later owned by Johannes' son-in-law Philip P. Moore and his daughter Anna Maria Ring (see Google Maps).
Rhinebeck town records refer to the Johannes Ring house as a landmark to define the boundaries of two road districts, one running from "Nine Partners at Conley's to John Ring's & to the Flatts" (1794-1795) and another from "Jacob Moul's to John Ring's" (1799-1808). Jacob Moul's Inn survives today at 377 Old Post Road. It is shown on the Thompson map (1798) where the Post Road intersects the road running east to the houses of Robert Sands, Philip Schuyler, and Johannes Ring. Soon after this map was made, the town approved an alteration of this eastern road from the Sands house to the blacksmith shop and house of Johannes Ring.
Local Politics, 1792-1799
Johannes was active in the Federalist Party during the 1790s. He represented Rhinebeck at local and county conventions in 1792 and 1795, rubbing shoulders with a cross-section of local conservatives, including Henry B. Livingston, the brother-in-law of John Jay and a future Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; William S. Pennington, one of Johannes' adversaries from the legal dispute of 1787; prominent men of Dutch descent, such as Andrew G. Hermance; as well other German men like Frederick Tator, a cousin of Johannes on his mother's side. Johannes also served a term as town assessor (1794), one of the few public offices available to Germans.
During the colonial era, there was a strict hierarchy in Rhinebeck politics. Germans made up a majority of the local population, but they were generally thought unfit to hold the highest political offices. Some held comparatively minor offices like town clerk, constable, road commissioner, or assessor, but the highest offices like town supervisor and seats in the state assembly were dominated by Rhinebeck's elite Dutch families. During the revolution, local elites began to embrace outsiders like Egbert Benson, who led the local committee of safety, served in the New York State Assembly, and became the first New York Attorney General, but the Germans remained marginalized.
In 1799, a group of Germans in the Federalist Party broke with tradition and nominated one of their own as a candidate for New York State Assembly. In its published platform, these electors challenged the "practice of sending Lawyers and New Comers to transact public business," vowing to nominate one of the common farmers who made up "the greater part of this and every other county." That candidate was "John Ring, a respectable and deserving farmer." The correspondents nominated to carry word of his nomination to neighboring towns were all men with German surnames like Schultz, Shafer, Fraligh, Lown, Tator, Cramer, and Pultz. They evidently failed to garner enough support outside of their own community to match other Federalist challengers or to overcome the popular candidates of the Democratic-Republican Party. On election day, John received only 1,065 votes, 98 fewer than the leading Federalist candidate and more than 1,000 votes behind top candidates from other parties.
Fourth of July, 1813
On July 5, 1813, more than a decade after he ran as a candidate for the New York State Assembly, Johannes was chair of the Federalist Party's Fourth of July celebration at William Jaques Hotel in Rhinebeck (now known as the Beekman Arms). This event took place during the War of 1812 (1812-1815), while many of the town's young men were actively serving in the war effort as soldiers in the New York State militia, including Johannes' son, Captain George J. Ring, and his nephew, Lieutenant Philip D. Ring.
The Poughkeepsie Journal described the occasion:
The Declaration of Independence was read by Mr. Benjamin Price, and a well written oration delivered by Mr. GEORGE A. SHUFELDT. The sentiments it breathed were such as every true American would be proud of, and the style in which it was delivered was highly respectable. An excellent dinner was prepared by Mr. Jaques, the room was handsomely decorated with two Naval Columns, on which were inscribed the names of Hull-Decature-Jones-Bainbridge & Lawrence-the Columns, were connected by the names of Washington and Hamilton, the fast friends and firm advocates of the Navy. At three o'clock the Chair was taken by Mr. John Ring, who presided, assisted by Col. Anthony Delameter. After the cloth was removed the following toasts were drank.
Oriole Mills at Rock City, 1809-1825
Johannes became the proprietor of a grist mill and a fulling mill on the Saw Kill stream near Rock City, Dutchess County, New York sometime between 1808 and 1810. This area became part of Red Hook when it was separated from Rhinebeck in 1813. The Johannes Ring house and mills are both named in the original definition of Red Hook's southern boundary. The mills are also labelled on the first Red Hook town map (1815). Rhinebeck town records between 1811 and 1830 describe a road that ran directly from the church to the mills, following the present route of Stone Church Road and Oriole Mills Road. The mill site was apparently located on the north side of Oriole Mills Road east of Camp Rising Sun (see Google Maps). A nearby stretch of the Saw Kill has a series of waterfalls that supported the grist mill of Robert G. Livingston before 1769, and later powered a large mill complex with a fulling mill, a grist mill, and a saw mill. Two of these mills were run by Johannes before 1825.
Johannes was surrounded by family at Oriole Mills. His oldest son George J. Ring lived on his nearby farm from about 1810 to 1819, and his youngest son Henry Ring also had farm in that area between 1815 and 1819. Things began to change in 1816, when Johannes' wife Barbara died of consumption. Then George bought the Elmendorph Inn at Red Hook in 1819 and moved there to open a store. Henry lost his farm that same year in a sheriff's sale and died the following year. By 1820, the only family members still living at Oriole Mills were Johannes and his second wife Gertrude Marquart. They had married at the church of St. Peter the Apostle in 1817.
The list of witnesses to the will may shed some light on Johannes' final years. Two of the witnesses are lawyers: Benjamin R. Kissam and T. A. Livingston. The first witness, Samuel Pindar, ran a woolens mill at Oriole Mills during the 1830s. He was later succeeded by Alfred Pindar who manufactured yarn there into the 1870s. Based on these circumstances, it would appear that Samuel Pindar started to take over the Oriole Mills between 1820 and 1825 as Johannes withdrew due to declining health.