Sunday, March 08, 2009


Fitch is one of the many small streets in the Wilbur area of Kingston. What is interesting is where the name comes from.

In the latter years of the 19th century, the Wilbur/Twaalfskill area was the major hub of Bluestone trade. One of the many companies dealing in Bluestone was the Simeon & William Fitch Quarries. Ezra, the older cousin was operating Reed & Fitch Freight at the top of the valley, when William came down from Coxsackie, to join the Bluestone firm where he served until his retirement in 1856.

Ezra's freight company dissolved and he joined the Bluestone Company as well. Leaving after a few years, Ezra entered Law School and practiced here in Kingston. The bluestone business went bust at the end of the century. But Ezra continued practice until he became interested in the special tailor shop in NYC where he purchased his suits.

David Abercrombie was operating out of a small shop on 64th st in Manhattan. He focused on clothing for the elite. Fitch invested, becoming a partner then insisted on becoming a distributer and opening the line to a wider demographic. He closed his practice in Kingston by this time.

Ezra eventually bought out David, but kept the company name A&F.
Although family members took different paths, they were occasionally seen at St Johns Episcopal Church where they were members of the congregation.

Ezra, at the age of 62, retired from the company in 1928 and died soon after in 1930, enjoying his last days hiking the [then undisturbed] Catskills. What we have left as a reminder is the small street in Wilbur that bares the family name and much of the street is missing. It used to intersect with Hamilton St, about an eighth mile south, but the quarry chewed the land from beneath the street during the 20th century.

The Fitch family is buried in the Wiltwyck Cemetery. Their impact on the early industrial development along the Wilbur waterfront should be better known to the generations to come. Considering they are paying top dollar for the A&F Brand today.


Anonymous said...

Thats pretty interesting.
I didnt realize that such a little
"po-dunk" town had history like that.
Im sure most teens that wear the brand do.

Anonymous said...

Third time is the charm I guess. Thanks for the article. I enjoyed reading it. Keep the Wilbur articles coming. I hope the next one is when they finally fix Fitch St this year.

Anonymous said...

Intriguing history. Imagine the connection of a multi-million dollar company with Wilbur and Coxsakie. What other namesakes are preserved in street titles? And whats with the floating hospital docked at Feeneys?

Anonymous said...

Will you be cleaning up the Wilbur area like you've been doing along Broadway? If what you accomplished today around Stuyvesant St is what to expect, then a few hours down here will do wonders. Let us know. Nice history lesson.

Anonymous said...

To 8:40
The FLOATING HOSPITAL floated in sometime in December. It is being retrofitted into a floating photograhpy studio that will dock at South St Seaport, NYC - per a FREEMAN picture/caption.

To 8:58
There is a small group of residents in Wilbur that are VERY interested in doing a spring clean-up as well as bringing a piece of the Kingston Victory Project to our unique neighborhood. If you are interested in joining us please let Mike know - I'm sure he can get us in touch.

Anonymous said...

It was also a hub of a glove factory, run by my grandmother's parents in the 1800's named Beuer.