Kent is a town in Putnam County, New York, United States. The population was 13,507 at the 2010 census. The name is that of an early settler family. The town is in the north-central part of the Putnam County. Many of the lakes are reservoirs for New York City.
Kent was part of the Philipse Patent of 1679, when it was still populated by the Wappinger tribe. Daniel Nimham (1724–1778) was the last chief of the Wappingers and was the most prominent Native American of his time in the Hudson Valley.
The town was first settled by Europeans in the mid-18th century by Zachariah Merritt and others, from New England, Westchester County, or the Fishkill area. Elisha Cole and his wife Hannah Smalley built Coles Mills in 1748, having moved to that location the previous year from Cape Cod. Coles Mill operated until 1888 when it was submerged under West Branch Reservoir. Around this same time the northeastern part of the county was settled by the Kent, Townsend, and Ludington families, among others. The father of Hannah Smalley and his family moved to Kent about two years before Elisha Cole and his family.
Kent was a part of the Frederickstown Precinct which was chartered in 1772, the rest of Frederickstown consisting of the future town of Carmel and the western parts of the future towns of Patterson and Southeast. Other early family names were Townsend, Smalley, Kent, Dykeman, Barrett, Cole, Boyd, Wixon, Farrington, Burton, Carter, and Ludington.
The present-day intersection of Interstate 84 and Ludingtonville Road was the home of Col. Henry Ludington and his daughter Sybil, who rode one night in 1777 to call up her father's militia during the American Revolutionary War. A statue of her stands on the shores of Lake Gleneida across from the Putnam County Courthouse.
When the towns of Carmel and Patterson were split from Frederickstown in 1795, the remnant, constituting the current Kent, was established as the "Town of Frederick". Until 1812 it was part of Dutchess County. The town's name was changed to "Kent" in 1817. A small portion of the town of Philipstown was transferred to Kent in 1877.
The major population center of the township is Lake Carmel, a settlement around an artificial lake of the same name developed in the 1920s. Historically the population centers had been Farmer's Mills and Luddingtonville, little of which remain, and Cole's Mills, none of which remains.
Much of early Kent's economy was based on dairy farming for the New York City market, but with many reservoirs being constructed in the late 19th century for drinking water for the same city, most of the farms were submerged, and the dairy industry was all but abandoned by the 1920s. At that point, and because of the advent of the automobile, Kent started to attract new residents from the city.
The town is served by the Carmel Central School District and, for the majority of residents, by the Carmel Post Office. Kent is home to the Mt. Ninham Fire Tower, located in the Taconic Hills. Built by the State of New York and the CCC in 1940, it is the tallest remaining fire tower in New York state and appears on the National Historic Lookout Register.