Hometown Happenings: The Impact of David Pye, Clarkstown’s First Supervisor

By Town of Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann

By Supervisor George Hoehmann

I have the great privilege of serving as the 45th supervisor for the Town of Clarkstown. While several distinguished individuals have held this office, I want to bring attention to the very first Clarkstown Supervisor over two-hundred years ago, David Pye, a truly remarkable man and a pioneer in colonial Clarkstown.

Born in England in 1724, David Pye was a lawyer by profession and came to the colonies on business at the age of thirty-three. He decided to remain in America and became one of the earliest settlers of what is now Clarkstown. Over the course of his life, Mr. Pye held several offices in the area. He was first appointed as a justice of the peace and held a place on the Board of Supervisors. In 1769, he was appointed excise commissioner, with the responsibility of collecting taxes on liquor in the Haverstraw Precinct. Mr. Pye was in charge of supervising the construction of new county buildings in New City in 1774, but the operations was interrupted after the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. He was reappointed when construction resumed a decade later and he was one of three commissioners that divided Haverstraw into the three districts of Ramapo, Clarkstown and Stony Point.

David Pye’s impact was not confined to just our borders. Mr. Pye was elected to represent Orange County on the New York Provincial Congress, the defacto government of New York during the revolution, in which he signed the following on May 26, 1775:
“We, the Deputies of the different counties of the Colony of New York, in the Provincial Congress convened…Do…resolve never to become slaves and do associate…to adopt and endeavor to carry into execution whatever measures may be recommended by the Continental Congress for the purpose of preserving our constitution and opposing the arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British Parliament.”

In 1777, Pye was a representative on the New York Constitutional Convention and was a member of the Congress that officially ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1778.

In addition to serving as Clarkstown’s first Town Supervisor in 1791 and 1792, Pye was also appointed to represent the town in the State Assembly and State Senate throughout the 1790s, even while running the town at the same time. After being Supervisor, Pye was on a committee to split off Rockland from Orange County, as the Ramapo mountains made governing very difficult, and in 1798 Pye became the first County Clerk of Rockland until his death in 1784. He is buried at the Clarkstown Reformed Church.

It is easy to be impressed by the life of David Pye, yet it is difficult to comprehend how one man can accomplish so much in one lifetime. He was a man who lived through a crucial period in the history of our town, state, and nation. From helping to create the foundations of the Town of Clarkstown and Rockland County, to assisting in the navigation of New York from a colony to a free state, there is little that happened in the early history of our area that was not impacted by David Pye.