Phillips was working in Hudson, New York, by 1812-1813, when he painted portraits of Ashbel Stoddard (1763-1840) and his wife Patience Bolles Stoddard (1762-1841), who were among Hudson’s earliest residents, settling in the city just one year after it was founded in 1783.3 Ashbel Stoddard in particular is of great importance in the history of Hudson and of Columbia County, as he was the first printer in Hudson, one of the earliest printers and publishers in the Upper Hudson Valley region and publisher of the first newspaper in the county.
Ashbel Stoddard and His Family in Hudson, New York
Ashbel Stoddard was born in 1763 in Saybrook, Connecticut, one of three children of Simeon Stoddard and his wife Sarah Waterhouse Stoddard.4 In 1755, following completion of his studies at Yale University, Simeon set up as a Congregational minister in the north parish of Saybrook, where he met his future wife Sarah. Simeon and Sarah married in January 1761 and had their first child, Simeon Stoddard, that same year. Ashbel was born two years later, followed by his sister Sarah in 1766.
Stoddard came from a long line of Congregational ministers on both his father’s and mother’s side of the family.5 He had a strict religious upbringing, which was later reflected in the themes of many of the books and pamphlets he published in Hudson. His career and accomplishments reflect an education with emphasis on reading and writing as well as religion. As a university educated minister, Simeon Stoddard no doubt instilled in his children an appreciation of literature, albeit of a religious nature or moral tone.