The Square can hardly be found now, for half of it is under Stewart Field. It was not a crossroads, but a diamond shaped piece of land surrounded by four roads, a mile around. It was on the eastern edge of Little Britain. The northern tip of it reached over into the town of Newburgh. During the Revolution it was called Liberty Square because there was not a single disloyal family on it. Later it was named Washington Square.
Ruttenber and Clark in their HISTORY OF ORANGE COUNTY say the roads led to Newburgh, Goshen, New Windsor and Little Britain. To understand the layout of these roads one must remember that the causeway across Washington Lake was not constructed until about eighty years ago. To go from Little Britain to Newburgh it was necessary to go around Little Pond as it was called, either to the north of it or the south. It was usual to go north of it for Newburgh, south of it for New Windsor. Also there was a bend in the road we now call the Little Britain Road, so the present Moore’s Hill Road and Riley Road ended directly on the main road.
The old Little Britain Road turned in where there is now a short road marked Square Hill Road. Before the days of Stewart Field that road crossed Silver Stream Road and went on to what is now called Old Little Britain Road. Silver Stream Road was the other boundary. It is now dislocated by the Thruway at its south end.
The Square was really surrounded by three roads but one of them had a big bend in it so the one seemed like two. All the houses on these roads forming the Square was considered on the Square whether or not they were within the enclosure. Not only the Falls House, which was opposite the end of Silver Stream Road at the south east corner of the Square, but many other houses on the Square are worth remembering.
The picture of Squire Patton with some of his family and some of his pumpkins is interesting and so was Squire Patton. The house is still standing, on the north side of Little Britain Road opposite Temple Hill Road. It seems a bit away from the Square, but its farm bordered Silver Stream Road back in the days when Squire Patton owned it.
But young James Patton began at the north edge of the Square. He was born in 1803 in the town of Newburgh. His father, William Patton, died when James was only thirteen. In the will, which was probated Jan. 17, 1817, he left “to son James the farm I purchased of Jesse Wood together with the farm I purchased of John Parshall and also w0 acres of land on the southeast end of the lott I bought of Joseph Robenson, and also my secretary and watch.”
On reaching majority he inherited these fifty acres of land and began farming with a team of horses and one cow. Later he conducted a blacksmith shop along with farming. And from 1827-1830 he rented the Red Tavern and ran it and a grocery store. In the New Windsor town records for 1829 James Patton is listed as paying $10.00 for license and permit.
Next he bought the farm on Little Britain Road and lived there the rest of his long life, till 1893. In John J. Nutt’s NEWBURGH we have this account of him, “On coming to this place he began business of buying and selling cattle…. For many years he has been the largest dealer in this vicinity. Mr. Patton has lent his aid to many good works…In all that concerns his neighborhood his opinion has weight.”
When eighteen years old he joined a local cavalry company and served seven years. As a member of this company he had the honor of being one of General Lafayette’s bodyguards when he visited Newburgh in 1824.
“Mr. Patton was one of the first stockholders of the Highland Bank. He also promoted the organization of the Quassaick Bank, of which he was one of the directors for many years…He was also one of the incorporators of the Newburgh Savings Bank…He was twice elected justice of the peace and has held other offices…A country gentleman of the ‘old school.’”
When the monument was built at Temple Hill, Squire Patton drew much of the stone for it from his own farm with his team of oxen.
In the picture of the old Little Britain church, the one with a group of the officers standing in front of it, Squire Patton is the one with his arms akimbo. (See Orange County Post, April 14, 1966).
Part of his farm was taken when Washington Lake was made larger by damming the outlet. When the causeway was built across the south end of the lake, that whole piece of road was called Patton Ave. for years.
Squire Patton is remembered as a man who was successful in all his undertakings, and at the same time public-spirited, big-hearted, generous, interested in the well being of the folks about him.
Created by Elizabeth Finley Frasier
Created April 29, 2009