Cuyler Reynolds.

Genealogical and family history of southern New York and the Hudson River Valley : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the building of a nation (Volume 2) online

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church work, and he always was ready when
dutv called.



John S. Bussing married (first) in
Brooklyn, June 25, 1S25, Agnes Ann, born
August 5, 1802, died January 14, 1831,
daughter of Robert and Maria (Wood)
Speir, of Brooklyn ; they had three children :
Two died in infancy; the surviving child,
Robert Speir, mentioned below. He mar-
ried (second) in 1833, Ann, daughter of
Abraham and Margaret (Field) Van Nest,
of New York City ; children : Abraham Van
Nest, born in 1834, died in 1839; John Stuy-
vesant, mentioned below ; Mary, residing at
the present time (19 12) in the old home at
No. 4 East I2th street. New York City.

The Van Nest and Field families were
among the first to settle in Somerset county.
New Jersey, where they purchased large
tracts of land, some of which, after two
hundred years, are still in possession of their
descendants. Both families have always
been prominent in church and state affairs,
serving in the colonial and revolutionary
wars as officers and minute-men. In the
church many of them occupied official po-
sitions and some entered the ministry.

George Van Nest, father of Abraham Van
Nest, aforementioned, owned a large farm
near Somerville, New Jersey, and was
known as "Prince George" because of his
generous hospitality. His son, Abraham
Van Nest, became a prominent New York
merchant and a leader in both church and
city afifairs. For many years he served as
president of the Greenwich Savings Bank.
In 1819 he purchased for his summer resi-
dence the old historic "Sir Peter Warren
Mansion", in what was then known as
Greenwich village. It then was called "The
Van Nest Homestead" and remained such
until after the death of Mr. Van Nest in
1864. In this house John Schermerhorn
Bussing and Ann ^^an Nest were married.

(\'I) Robert Speir, son of John Schermer-
horn and Agnes Ann (Speir) Bussing, was
born .September 28, 182''), died June 21, 1895.
He succeeded his father in business, and
afterwards for many years was senior mem-
ber of the firm of Bussing, Crocker &
Dodge, manufacturers in metal ware. Dur-
ing the last forty-five years of his life he
resided in Brnokh-n. where he was prom-
inent in church work, devoting much time
and labor to the interests of the Bethel
Sunday school of Plymouth Church, of



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



which he was superintendent. During his
latter years Mr. Bussing was the beloved
teacher of a large Bible class of young
women at St. Ann's Church on the Heights.
He was vice-president of the Brooklyn City
Dispensary, and during the civil war was a
great advocate of improved sanitary affairs,
making large donations to that end, and
keeping the matter before the public by
persistent agitation. He was also president
of the Young Men's Christian Association
of Brooklyn from 1861 to 1864, and a strong
friend of the temperance cause.

He married, January 8, 1850, Mary Kings-
land, born Ma"rch 12, 1831, died July 19,
1910, daughter of Rodman and Mary
(Kingsland) Brown. Children: i. Cornelius
Wallace, born December 5, 1850, died No-
vember 24, 1870. 2. Robert Speir, born
January 29, 1853; married, April 26, 1904,
Mary Louise (Pierce) Read, daughter of
James F. Pierce, of Brooklyn. 3. Mary
Kingsland, born September 24, 1855, died
September 22, 1879. 4. Jennie Caswell, born
August 8, 1858, died January 24, 1861. 5.
Florence Gibson, born November 14. 1862;
married, June 7, 1887, Rev. Edward M. Mc-
GufTey ; children: Alice; Dorothea Drake,
died in infancy; Kingsland Drake. 6. George
Crocker, born September 11, 1868, died
March 15, 1885. 7. Edith Stuyvesant, born
Julv 3, 18 — . 8. Agnes Maude, born April
4, }8—.

(VI) John Stuyvesant, son of John Scher-
merhorn and Ann (Van Nest) Bussing, was
born in New York City, September 21, 1838.
He acquired his early education in Colum-
bia College Grammar School when it was
located in Park Place, in close connection
with the college. For thirty-three years he
was engaged in the banking and brokerage
business on Wall street, under the firm
name of Gelston & Bussing, the partner-
ship being dissolved by the death of the
former. Both partners were members of
the New York .Stock Exchange. This house
was one of the oldest firms with continued
and unchanged membership, and one of the
most conservative in the street. It passed
unscathed through the many exciting ex-
periences of Wall street. It stood unswerv-
ingly for perseverance, energy, honesty, up-
right dealing, strict integrity and close at-
tention to the interests of customers. Mr.



Bussing retired from active business in 1898
and since that time has devoted himself to
various forms of philanthropic and church
work.

Mr. Bussing has always been actively
identified with Christian work, filling many
positions of trust and honor. For thirty-
three years he was one of the consistory
of the Collegiate Reformed Church of New
York, and as an elder served on its finance
committee. "His calm and clear judgment
in the solution of serious problems gave
him an influential voice in all important de-
cisions. His wise and zealous loyalty to
the Collegiate Church has contributed large-
ly to the conservation of its interests and
influence in the denomination and in the
church at large." For a long period he was
connected with the Young Men's Christian
Association as one of its board of managers,
and later as one of the advisory board, and
also served in the same capacity on the
board of the Young W^omen's Christian As-
sociation and as chairman of its finance
committee. He was trustee of the Northern
Dispensary from 1875 to 1882, and also
served as president of the New York Bible
Society. He has long been identified with
the Hospital Saturday and Sunday Associa-
tion of New York City, was one of its foun-
ders, and as one of its board of managers
was actively interested in its work. In
1885 he was elected treasurer of the Board
of Domestic Missions of the Reformed
Church of America, and held the position
for twenty-one years, giving the work his
active, vigilant sympathy. He was also
treasurer of the Industrial Educational As-
sociation, treasurer of the Board of Trustees
of the Interdenominational Committee of
the Young Men's Christian Association, and
director in the City Mission and Tract So-
ciety. In i8q9 he became a member of the
committee of the General Synod which had
care of the grounds and property of the
Theological Seminary at New Brunswick,
New Jersey. Through his efforts and lib-
erality great improvements were made in
the furnishing and decoration of Hertzog
Hall and also in beautifying the surround-
ings, making the seminary a fit and attrac-
tive abode for the sons of the prophets. In
ic)04. he was elected a member of the Board
of Superintendents of the same institution.



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



49



Mr. Bussing served for over seven years in
the Twenty-second Regiment, National Guard
of the State of New York. During the civil
war he went to the front with his regiment in
1863, and received his honorable discharge
as first lieutenant of Company A from Gov-
ernor Fenton. He is one of the Sons of the
Revolution, being eligible because of the
service in the revolutionary war of his great-
grandfather, John B. Field, and is also a
member of the Society of Colonial Wars,
and of the St. Nicholas Society, which is
largely composed of old Knickerbockers.

Mr. Bussing married (first) in 1873, Kate,
daughter of James and Maria (Kinney)
Breath. Their twin children, Kate and
Anna, died in infancy. He married (second)
October 31, 1882, Emily Morton, daughter
of Henry T. and Sarah E. (Barstow) Jen-
kins. Mr. Bussing is residing at the present
time (1912) at No. 26 East loth street. New
York City, his home for the past thirty
years.



The surname Eagle would ap-
EAGLE pear to have been originally

applied to a person of an am-
bitious or soaring disposition. There are
several legendary stories of eagles which
may have originated the name, as for ex-
ample that of De Aquila (Lat. eagle), of
which it is said : "The surname of this fam-
ily was originally assumed from Aquila in
Normandy, so denominated by reason an
eagle had made her nest in an oak growing
there when the castle was first building." Eu-
genulf de Aquila accompanied Duke Will-
iam into England at the Norman Conquest.
The family were banished by Henry H. and
probably never returned, as their name does
not occur in more recent times, but some
hold that the modern name Eagle or Eagles
in England is a translation of the Latin sur-
name. In Ireland the surnames Eagle and
Eagleton are often translations or adapta-
tions from the Gaelic, O'HioIracain. In a
book called "The Modern Irish Gentry" the
only mention of the Eagles and Bulls were
in the following couplets. The following is
a brief summary of the family names that
came into Ireland with the Cromwellian
settlement, or with the Revolution :

"The Parrotts, Eagles, Cocks, and Hens,
The Swallows, Snipes, Pyes, Robins, Wrens."



'Our Bulls and Bears, and Wolves and Hares,
Strong, Steeds and Hunters, Colts and Marcs."
The coat-of-arms of the Eagle family is as
follows : Sable six lions argent, three, two
and one. Crest: A lion's gamb erect and
erased or grasping an eagle's leg erased at
the thigh gules. See Fairchild's "Book of
Crests." Also Burke's "(icneral Armory." The
coat-of-arms of the Eagles family is as fol-
lows : Or a fesse between three eagles dis-
played azure. Crest: Two lions' jiaws in a
saltire ppr.

(I) Henry Eagle, first American ancestor
of the branch of the Eagle family here dealt
with, was the son of George Eagle, surgeon
in the British army, and was born in the
city of Dublin, Ireland, in the latter part of
the eighteenth century, and died in New
York City in 1852. He catne to this coun-
try about the year 1795 and settled in New
York. He became the major of an Irish
brigade belonging to the troops of New
York, and during the war of 1812 was sta-
tioned at Long Island and assisted in pre-
paring earthworks near Fort Greene. The
family residence was on the southeast cor-
ner of Broome street and Broadway (No.
764 Broadway). At that time that section
of the city was in the country, a mile and
a half distant from the settled portion of
the city. The two brothers of Henry Eagle
were in the British military service ; one
was a surgeon, the other went to the East
Indies, rose to the rank of major, married
a lady of title, and died in 1814.

Henry Eagle married (first) Christiana
Bull, of Waterford, Ireland, who died in
1816. Their children were: John, died un-
married : Eliza Bennis, married Dr. Thomas
Ogden ; Ellen, married Abijah Smith : Chris-
tiana, married Rev. John Messenger; Henry,
of whom further. Henry Eagle married
(second) Eliza Nelson. Their children
were : Robert Nelson, W' illiam. Horatio, Ma-
tilda, Caroline, Maria, died young.

(II) Henry (2), son of Henry (i) and
Christiana (Bull) Eagle, was born in New
York City, April 7, 1801, died there. No-
vember 26, 1882. He entered the United
States navy on New Year's Day. 1818. and
passed about a year on the seventy-four gun
ship "Independence"', then used as a school-
ship for midshipmen in Boston harbor. It
was the custom of the period for midship-



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



men to go into the merchant service to gain
experience. Midshipman Eagle sailed in the
frigate, "Macedonian", under command of
Captain Downs, for the Pacific coast of
South America, then passing from the feeble
grasp of Spain. Seven days after leaving
Boston the vessel lost her masts in a se-
vere storm, but succeeded by the aid of jury
masts in reaching Norfolk. Virginia, where
damages were repaired. While at Panama,
an incident occurred illustrating his gener-
ous impulses, not yet fully curbed by con-
ventional rules. A young English surgeon,
named Kernan, belonging to the expedition
of Sir (iregor McGregory, had been cap-
tured with others during the attack on Porto
Belle, and marched across the country to
Panama, where he was placed in the chain
gang and condemned to be a street scaven-
ger. The owner of a drug store ascer-
taining his profession, obtained permission
to employ him. Midshipman Eagle, who
visited the store, learned the facts, and tak-
ing another midshipman into his confidence,
rescued and secreted the prisoner on board
the ship, though fired on six or eight times
while making the attempt. On demand of
the viceroy, Captain Downs made search,
without discovering the surgeon until after
he had put out to sea. One of the most
valued souvenirs in possession of Commo-
dore Eagle's family is a letter written by
Kernan, warmly expressing his gratitude for
deliverance from a captivity which would
doulHless have ended in death. The frigate
returned to Boston in June, 1821.

After being stationed at the Brooklyn
Navy Yard until the latter part of 1822,
Midshipman Eagle took a voyage as sailor
on the .American ship, "Beaver", to the
East Indies and China, without special inci-
dent, exce])t that he came near being lost
overboard in a heavy squall. His salary on
this cruise was half pay from the government,
$115 per annum. After this voyage he was
for a time on duty in the Navy Yard, and
was then transferred to the man-of-war
brig. "Enterprise", fitting out for a cruise in
the West Indies after pirates. Five or six
months were passed in this way when the
vessel was totally wrecked on the unin-
habited island, called Little Curacoa. One
of the lieutenants and Midshipman Eagle
were sent to Curacoa to charter and prepare



a \essel for taking home the officers and
crew. This was satisfactorily accomplished,
and on his return he was ordered to the
sloop of war, "Erie", of the Mediterranean
squadron. The squadron touched at several
of the (irecian islands. Some weeks were
sj^ent at the port of Smyrna, and then the
fleet separated, and the "Erie" sailed for
Algiers, arriving there just after the British
consul had been falsely accused by the Bey
of appropriating to himself a portion of the
English tribute and had embarked for Malta.
During the year 1S25 the "Erie" visited the
Bay of Naples.

Alidshipnian Eagle was commissioned
lieutenant, March 3, 1827. and in that and
the following year cruised again in the West
Indies and in the sloop-of-war, "Natchez",
where on one occasion he commanded the
launch, and with another boat's crew at-
tacked and routed a pirate schooner. Re-
turning he was sent to the Brazils in the
frigate, "Hudson", the flag-ship of the
squadron, and remained on the station for
some years. Lieutenant Eagle was at-
tached to the receiving shi]) at New York,
and in 1834 sailed again for the Brazilian
station in the sloop, "Erie", where he passed
a second period of several years. He was
stationed at the rendezvous at New York in
1840, and the following two years cruised
in the Pacific Ocean on the sloop-of-wy,
"Yorktown", when he w^as i)laced in com-
mand of the schooner, "Shark", and served
two years more on the Pacific station. He
was commissioned commander, June 4,
1844. On his return he was detailed to
superintend the construction of the Stevens
iron battery at Hoboken, to which he de-
voted several years, acting as inspector in
New York in 1846. The Mexican war called
him to the Gulf, where he commanded the
bomb vessel, "Aetna" and a division of five
vessels of the squadron. Taking Frontera,
the seaport of the fertile province of To-
basco. in southern Mexico, he was appointed
civil and military governor of the jirovince
and collector of the port. The imports were
principally from this country. He per-
formed the duties of his dual ofifice so ac-
ceptably, increasing the revenue, opening
schools, and encouraging people to industry,
that on the restoration of peace they be-
sought him to remain, declaring that he had



SOUTHERN NEW YORK



51



lightened their burdens and elevated their
cnndition. Subsequent to the war he was
on special service. In 1853 he was sent to
the Gulf of St. Lawrence and adjacent
waters, in command of the steamer, '"Prince-
ton", of the home squadron, to protect the
interests of our fishermen. After a year or
more spent in this service, Captain Eagle
was, in November, 1854, ordered to cruise
in the "Princeton'' in search of the missing
sloop-of-war, "Albany", commanded by his
old friend. Commander Gerry, who had
sailed from Aspinwall, September 25, 1854.
After a fruitless cruise of two months
through the Caribbean Sea and the West
Indies, all hope was abandoned ; the "Al-
bany" was never heard from. He was com-
missioned captain, September 14, 1855.

On the first overt act of rebellion in 1861,
he was the bearer of important communi-
cations from the commandant of the Brook-
lyn Navy Yard to Washington. Having ac-
complished his mission, he asked for imme-
diate active service. The only command
then available was that of the gunboat,
"Monticello", which he willingly accepted,
arriving in Hampton Roads within a few
days after the fall of Fort Sumter. During
the remainder of April and the month of
May he blockaded the James and Elizabeth
rivers. On May 19, 1861, he made the first
naval attack of the war and silenced the
guns of the battery at Sewell's Point, one
of the defenses of Norfolk. In connection
with this memorable attack, he subsequent-
• ly received an official letter from Hon.
Gideon \\'elles, then secretary of the navy,
in which was stated : "The Department can-
not withhold the expression of its high ap-
preciation of your promptitude and gal-
lantry". The command of the frigate,
"Santee". was now ready for him, and he
sailed for the Gulf, and passed two years
principally in blockading Pensacola, Florida,
and Galveston, Texas, during which time he
captured several vessels, including the pri-
vateer, "Royal Yacht". \\'hile blockading
Galveston, Captain Eagle requested of
Farragut that he be assigned to duty in the
contests on the Mississippi river, to which
Farragut wrote in reply : "Your turn will
come, I hope soon, for active employment
in rougher work." This wish to have Eagle
with him in the Mississippi fight was not,



however, to be realized, for the "Santee".
although a splendid frigate, was unfit and
unable to do the work of a steamer in run-
ning past forts, etc. It was Captain Eagle's
misfortune that in volunteering so soon for
service, he had to be given a sailing vessel.
He received his commission as commodore,
July 16, 1862, and on January i, 1863, hav-
ing reached the age of sixty-two, was placed
on the retired list, although he was on ac-
tive duty for his country until 1867. He
was prize commissioner in New York in
1864, and a part of 1865, and for a year later
inspector of light houses of the entire Gulf
coast.

From the year 1870 he was a member of
the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of
the United States, and after serving for.
two or three years as vice-commander he
was elected commander and occupied that
station for two successive years. Commo-
dore Eagle was also a member of the As-
sociation of Mexican Veterans. Among his
life-long friends were such men as William
E. Dodge, Admiral Farragut, Hamilton
Fish, Wilson G. Hunt, Alexander S. Webb,
and others distinguished in our state and na-
tional history.

Commodore Eagle married, in 1833, Min-
erva, daughter of Sheldon Smith, a gallant
Connecticut soldier of the war of 181 2, and
at one time a part owner with Cornelius
Vanderbilt, of the steamboat, "Caroline",
which plied between Bridgeport and New
York. After selling his interest to Mr. Van-
derbilt. he went to Newark, New Jersey,
where he planned and constructed its reser-
voirs and water works. He was also asso-
ciated with Anson G. Phelps in founding the
manufacturing village of Birmingham, Con-
necticut, and afterwards in promoting its
interests. His death occurred in 1863. Sur-
\i\ing children of Commodore and A!'^
Eagle: Clififord F., served as captain in the
Union army during the civil war; Clarence
H., of whom further; Isabel C, married
Fitch W. Smith, of New York ; Ida M., mar-
ried Thomas H. Messenger, of Brooklyn.

(Ill) Clarence Henry, third son of Henry
(2) and Minerva f Smith) Eagle, was born in
New York City, February 7, 1857. He was
educated at the Columbia Grammar School
and the College of the City of New York.
After leaving tollege he went in a stock



SOUTHKRN NEW YORFs.



broker's office as clerk, and later opened
an office of his own. In 1889 he left stock
broking for the printing business, in which
he is still engaged. He was a private and
corporal of the Seventh Regiment National
Guard of New York; captain of Company
E, Twelfth Regiment National Guard of
New York, 1883-86; major and inspector of
rifle practice of the First Brigade StafT Na-
tional (".nard of New York, 18S6-88, General
Louis Fitzgerald commanding. He was the
crack rifle shot of the Seventh Regi-
ment, and was on the Creedmoor Rifle Team
during the eight years he was with the regi-
ment. He is a member of the Military Or-
der of the Loyal Legion, Military Order of
Foreign Wars, of the Veterans of the Sev-
enth Regiment, of the Society of Colonial
Wars, Sons of the Revolution, Society of
American Officers. Veteran Corps of Artil-
lery, Society of 1812, Naval Order of the
United States. Aztec Club of 1847, Society
of American Wars, New York Yacht Club,
Atlantic Yacht Club, Adirondack League
Club and Alpha Delta Phi college fraternity.
Mr. Eagle married, November 2, 1887.
Lizzie Matilda, daughter of Enoch and
Eliza (Van Auken) Ketcham. Children: i.
Mildred, born August 28, 1888; married
Herbert Nelson Fell, February 28, 1912;
child, Sylvia Elizabeth, born January i.
1913. 2. Henry, born July 7, 1890; gradu-
ated from Princeton University in June.

I9T2.

(The French Line.)
A great many families bearing the name
of French claim their descent from Rollo,
Duke of Normandy, who settled in France
and in 910 A. D. formally adopted the Chris-
tian religion, taking at his baptism the name
of Robert, Count of Paris, who was his god-
father. He had already conquered the prov-
ince of Normandy, which was ceded to him
in due form by Charles the Simple of
France, King, who also gave him in mar-
riage his daughter Gi.sela, A. D. 912. Anti-
quarians have brought to light what are
supposed to be about forty variations of the
surname, French, among them being Frene,
Freyn. Frcvne, dc la Freyne. do la Fresnay,
Frainch, Ffrenche, and Frenche. The an-
cient motto of one branch of the family was
"malo mori quam foedari" — "death rather



than dishonor." It is said that "of the sev-
enteen families of French mentioned by
Burke are quite a variety of armorial bear-
ings, the dolphin and the fleur de lis being
the most conspicuous." From Harlovan,
third son of Rollo, descended Sir Ma.xinii!
ian de French, whose son Sir Theoples
French (or Freyn) went with William the
Conqueror to England and fought in the
battle of Hastings. This was the first
branch of the French family planted in Eng-
land, and from that descent of Rollo are sup-
posed to be many of the families later found
in both England and Ireland.

(I) William French, the immigrant ances-
tor of this family, was born in Halsted.
county Essex, England, March 15, 1603, died
at Billerica, Massachusetts, November 20,
1681. He came to America on the ship "De-
fence," with the Rev. Thomas Shepard and
his brother Samuel. Roger Harlakenden and
George and Joseph Cooke, in the summer of
1635. He settled first in Cambridge, and in
1652 was one of the original proprietors and
first settlers of Billerica. He was lieutenant
of the militia and afterwards captain ; was
the first man chosen to sit in the "deacon's
seat," 1659; commissioner to establish th'^
county rates in 1659: selectman in 1660. and
for nine years in all ; was on the committee
to examine children and servants in reading,
religion and catechism in 1661 ; was the first
representative or deputy to the general court
at Boston, elected 1660, and taking his seat
in 1663. A tract written by him entitled
"Strength out of A\'eakness." in which he
gives a detailed account of the testimony of
an Indian convert to Christianity, was pub-
lished in London and afterwards republished
in the "Massachusetts Historical Societv
Collections." He bought part of the old
Dudley farm in Billerica, and his house
stood near the turnpike, east of the Brad-
ford road, near Ralph Hill's house. Hill
called him brother in his will. French was
a tailor by trade. He married (first) a wo-
man who.se baptismal name was Elizabeth,
and who is surmised to have been sister to



Online LibraryCuyler ReynoldsGenealogical and family history of southern New York and the Hudson River Valley : a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the building of a nation (Volume 2) → online text (page 10 of 95)