Hamilton Child wrote in The Gazetteer and Business Directory of Ulster County, N. Y., for 1872 that Gardiner, New York “is rolling in the east and hilly in the west and center. “ He continued that the Shawangunk Mountains extend along the west border… The Wallkill flows north-east through near the center, and receives the Shawangunk from the south-west… Lumber and leather are manufactured to some extent. The Wallkill Valley R.R., extends through the town.”
The subject of Child’s picturesque description, the locality then and today known as Gardiner was, according to Kenneth E. Hasbrouck Sr., originally named Church Corners, after Samuel Church.
Why did it become Gardiner? The change occurred when the Seventy-Sixth Session of the Legislature passed an act “to erect the town of Gardiner in the county of Ulster on April 2, 1853.” Gardiner’s borders were based on a map drawn by Calvin McKinney. Gardiner was carved out of the towns of Shawangunk, New Paltz, and Rochester.
The first town meeting of the new town was ordered to be held the, “third Tuesday of May next, at the dwelling house now occupied by Denton Smith….”
This still leaves the question, why the name Gardiner? The town was named for Addison Gardiner who was a Lieutenant Governor of New York State. He was elected to Lieutenant Governor in 1844. Later, he sat as a Judge on the New York Court of Appeals from 1847 to 1855. Although both a Lieutenant Governor, and Judge for New York, Gardiner was not born in New York State.
The New York Historical Society of the New York Courts lists his place of birth as “Rindge, New Hampshire on March 19, 1797.″ He was the child of “William Gardner, who served as a colonel of a local regiment and for three years as a member of the state legislature, and Rebecca (Raymond) Gardner.”
The family left New England for New York after 1809. They settled in Manlius, located in Onondaga County. William Gardner quickly became “a successful merchant and manufacturer.” It was while in Manlius that the family “restored the original spelling of the family name, Gardiner.”
Addison Gardiner retired from public life in 1855. Although he still came out of retirement for affairs of the court, he mainly spent time on his farm outside of Rochester where he died on June 5, 1883.
The question that remains is whether Addison Gardiner ever visited the town that was named after him.