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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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ment of education no less than $30,000. His
benefactions were not only most liberal, but
wisely devoted, and in those days these sums
were considered fortunes in themselves. He
was connected with the institution of Masonry,
having been initiated in 1786, when twenty-

two years old, and was placed in official sta-
tion, becoming successively junior and senior
warden, and then master. In 1793 he declined
further election in Master's Lodge, but in
1825 was installed in the highest office of
Masonry, that of grand master, which act was
conducted by Governor DeW'itt Clinton. The
funeral of General Van Rensselaer was a most
impressive one, perhaps more so than any
other at Albany before or afterwards. The
religious service was held at the North Dutch
Church, and the body, in a simple, unadorned
casket, was borne nearly a mile to the family
vault, upon men's shoulders, the bearers fre-
quently relieving each other, for no hearse was
permitted to receive the hallowed burthen.
The mourners, composed of the family, civic
officials. Masonic bodies, school societies, the
chief magistrate and other executive officers of
the state, members of the legislature, were all
on foot, not a carriage being in use. The mili-
tary were in citizens' dress ; all badges of of-
fice were laid aside ; no plumes nodded ; no
helmets glistened ; no music murmured ; sol-
emn, slow and silent, the vast throng moved
through the highway to the north. It is of
interest to note the manner in which in those
days the intelligence of his death was sent to
New York City, where he was well known,
and it being necessary to transmit the news
because of his prominence in the state's public
life. It is recorded in Munsell's "Notes from
the Newspapers," as an item of news on that
day. January 26, 1839:

".\n express was started by Messrs. Baker &
Walker, to carry the intelligence of the Patroon's
death to New York. A Mr. Dimmick left .\lbany 14
miniues before 6 p. m. in a sulkey. .^t Redhook, he
found a bridge gone, but mounted his horse and
swam the stream, drawing the sulkey after him. M
Fishkill, the obstruction was much more formidable.
The bridge was gone, and the road for more than
half a mile inundated. He again mounted his horse,
who pushed gallantly into the flood and swam, with
his rider and sulkey, over a quarter of a mile, bring-
ing both safely to the opposite shore. Notwithstand-
ing these and other obstructions the express arrived
at the Carlton House at 20 minutes past eight o'clock
in the morning, having rode over the distance of
about 150 miles in 14 H. -^i M."

General Stephen Van Rensselaer, the eighth
Patroon, married (first) Margaret Schuyler,
daughter of General Philip Schuyler and
Catherine Van Rensselaer, at Schuylerville,
New York, June 6, 1783; and married (sec-
ond) Cornelia Paterson. at New Brunswick,
New Jersey, on May 17, 1802. She was born


sjsting of seven persons — Gouverneur Morris,
DeW itt Clinton and Stephen Van Rensselaer
among the more important — for exploring a
route for a proposed western canal. In the
summer of that year, accompanied by a sur-
veyor, he traveled by horseback inspecting a
route for the projected undertaking which
resulted in the Erie canal, and they gave their
findings in February, 1811. With all his
enormous energy he advocated the measure
in the assembly, thus giving the plan an im-
petus very needful because of considerable
opposition. War against Great Britain was
declared in June, 18 12. This was another
crisis in his life. A requisition was made on
Grivcrnor Tompkins, of New York, and the
patriotic governor promptly obeyed, selecting
Major-General Stephen Van Rensselaer for
the command. They were then regarded as
rival candidates for the chief magistracy. The
lines of party W'ere distinctly drawn, and the
Federalists were charged with being hostile
to the war as being premature and unneces-
sary. General Van Rensselaer was a Feder-
alist. The appointment placed him in a po-
sition of embarrassment, for, should he de-
cline, it would tell against his party, and, on
the other hand, he was expected to defend
both the northern and western frontier, with
no experience in warfare, and dealing with
decidedly impracticable material in the make-
up of fighters. He did not hesitate an instant,
but accepted the service. His country had
summoned him to the field, and he was ready.
He was not a loiterer, for in an incredibly
short time he had thrown off the citizen sur-
rounded by political advisers, and had formed
his military family. In ten days he arrived at
Ogdensburgh, having inspected Sackett's Har-
bor on the way. On August 13th he was in
camp at Lewiston, just one month from his
call, and just two months later, on October
13th. he was engaged in one of the most gal-
lant and brilliant affairs of the whole war.
He carried his American arms into the ene-
my's territory and planted the flag of the
United States triumphantly on the Heights of
Quccnstown. Although gaining a complete
victory, unfortunately it was of brief duration,
on account of the defect' ' of his troops.
Had they remaincrl by him, ne could have re-
tained the peninsula of the upjjcr province of
Canada for the winter, for it was originally
planned that Fort George should also be

stormed by regular troops. Very valuable to
him had been the services of his aide, Colonel
Solomon Van Rensselaer, who was wounded
a number of times when in the thickest of the
tight. By the shameful refusal of his yeoman
soldiery, under ' the plea of constitutional
scruples, to march into the camp which had
been won for them, he should have felt wroth ;
but he reported it as an unvarnished relation
of facts, telling the truth plainly, but without
complaint or reproaches, for he had done his
full duty. The British had lost their General
iJrock by the engagement, and during the ces-
sation of hostilities agreed upon for six days,
both sides proceeded to humanitarian duties
of burying the dead and caring for the
wounded General \'an Rensselaer informed
his antagonist that he should order a salute to
be fired at his camp and also at Fort Niagara
on the occasion of the funeral solemnities of
tl:e brave and lamented Brock, to which the
stern General Sheaft'e replied: "I feel too
strongly the generous tribute which you pro-
pose to pay for my departed friend and chief,
to be able to express the sense I entertain of
it." General Van Rensselaer entered the gu-
bernatorial campaign against Daniel D. Tomp-
kins in the spring of 1813, but his party was
in the minority, even though giving him a
united support, and he was defeated in the
state by 3.600 votes out of the S3,ocx> cast in
the election. In 1816 he was again elected to
the assembly, and in March the canal commis-
sioners, with Mr. \'an Rensselaer at their
head and acting as chairman, presented their
report to the legislature, requesting that body
to adopt immediate measures for prosecuting
the enterprise. In April this great work was
authorized, the mana.gement committed to a
board of canal commissioners, with General
Van Rensselaer as a member. He was presi-
dent of that board for fifteen years, succeed-
ing DeWitt Clinton in April, 1824, and serv-
ing until his death in 1839.

In 1819 the legislature was induced to pass
an act for the encouragement and improve-
ment of agriculture, appropriating money to
be divided ratably among the counties, which
were to form county societies, with presidents,
who should form a central board. The dele-
gates from twenty-six county societies met at
the capitol in January, 1820. and elected Gen-
eral A'an Rensselaer president. In 1819 he
wa'^ .■).•. ii-.l regent of the University of the


June 4. 1780, and died in New York City,
August 6, 1844. Her father was Chief Justice
\\'iUiam Paterson, a resident of New ijruns-
wick, New Jersey, born at sea, December 24,
1745, and died September 9, 1806, while on a
visit at the Manor House in Albany. He was
United States Senator in 1789; in 1791 chosen
second governor of New Jersey, and General
\\'ashington appointed him in 1793 a justice
of the United States supreme court, which
position he held up to the time of his death.
He married Cornelia Bell, daughter of John
Bell, in 1779. Three children were the result
of the first marriage, and nine by the latter.

Children of General Stephen \'an Rensse-
laer and Margaret Schuyler : i . Catherine
Schuyler, born in July, 1784, baptized August
9 ; died at Albany, April 26, 1797, without
issue. 2. Stephen, June 6. 1786; died 1787.
3. Stephen, (q. v.) Children of General
Stephen Yan Rensselaer and Cornelia Pater-
son : 4. Catharine, born at Albany, October
17. 1803; died in New York City. November.
1874: married, 1830, Gouverneur Morris W'il-
kins. 5. William Paterson, mentioned below.
6. Philip Schuyler, October 14, 1806; died
June I, 1871 ; married, October 17, 1839,
Mary Rebecca Tallmadge, born May 16, 1817,
died Au,gust 3, 1872. and had: James Tall-
madge : Philip, died 1882 ; Cornelia ; Clinton ;
Franklin ; Cortlandt. 7. Cortlandt, May 25,
1808 : died at Burlington, New Jersey, July
25, i860; married, September 13, 1836, Cath-
erine Ledyard Cogswell, born September 22.
181 1, died December 24, 1882, daughter of
Mason Fitch Cogswell, M. D., by whom:
Philip Livingston; Alice (Hodge); Elizabeth
W'adsworth ( Burd-Grubb ) ; Ledyard Cogs-
well ; Alexander. 8. Henry Bell, May 10, 1810;
died at Cincinnati, Ohio, March 23, 1864 ;
married, August 22, 1833. Elizabeth Ray King
(daughter of Governor John Alsop King and
Mary Ray), born August 17, 1815; by whom:
Euphemia. Elizabeth ( Waddington), John
King. Katherine (Delafield). and Henry. 9.
Cornelia Paterson. July 8. 1812; married
Robert Turnbull, M."D., February 16, 1847;
by whom: Cornelia Paterson (Turnbull) and
Catherine Euphemia (Turnbull). 10. Alex-
ander. November s. 1814: died. 1878; mar-
ried, 1851, Mary Howland ; (second), 1864,
Louisa Barnewell, and had : Samuel How-
land, Mary, Louisa Baylies, Mabel, and Alice.
II. Euphemia White, September 25, 1816;

died Alay 27, 1888; married. May 2, 1843,
John Church Cruger; by whom: Stephen Yan
Rensselaer (Cruger), Cornelia (Cruger). and
Catherine (Cruger). 12. Westerlo, born at
Albany, March 14, 1820; died at Albany. |uly
8, 1844.

(VII) William Paterson, third son of Gen-
eral Stephen (3) \'an Rensselaer, and second
child of his second wife, Cornelia Paterson,
was born March 6. 1805, in Albany, and died
November 13, 1872, in New York City. He
married (first) in New York, March, 1833,
Eliza Rogers, born there in 1812, died in
Cuba, March, 1836, leaving one child. He
married (second) in New York, April 4, 1839,
Sarah Rogers, born October 29, 1810, in New
York, died November 19. 1887, in Rye. New
York, daughter of Benjamin \\'oolsev and
Susan (Bayard) Rogers. Children of second
marriage : William Paterson, born January,
1835, '^^^^ ^^ his nineteenth year; Susan Bay-
ard, January 31, 1840, died in her twenty-
fourth year; Cornelia, September 22, 1841, in
Albany, married. April 22. 1862, John Erving;
Walter Stephen. November 2, 1843. 'i'^fl 'n
his twenty-second year, in Rye ; Captain
Kiliaen. mentioned below ; Sarah Elizabeth,
January 18. 1847, died in Rye, at the age of
twelve years; Arthur, September 28. 1848,
died in New York, in his twenty-first year ;
Catherine Goodhue, 1850, in Norwalk. Con-
necticut, married, June 11, 1891. Rev. Anson
Phelps Atterhury ; Eleanor Cecilia. November,
1853, in Rye, married there, June i, 1887,
Hamilton R. Fairfax.

(VIII) Captain Kiliaen (3) Van Renssa-
laer, third son of William P. and Sarah
(Rogers) Van Rensselaer, was born February
14. 1845. in Albany, and soon after his father
settled in New York, in which city the son was
educated. At the beginning of the civil war
he was but sixteen years of age, but before the
close of the conflict he entered the army and
became captain of Company I, in the Thirty-
ninth Regiment New York Volunteers, which
served under Generals Grant and Hancock,
and he participated in some fourteen different
enga.gements. After the close of the war he
traveled extensively abroad, and subsequently
engaged in the brokerage business in New
York. He died, November 26, 1905, in New
York City. Captain \'an Rensselaer was ac-
ti\e in many societies of religious and phil-


anthropic character, as well as others. He
was a director of the American Tract So-
ciety, of the City Missions, president of the
Grand Army Mission, and of the Sanitary
Aid Society. He took great interest in the
work and prosperity of the New York Pres-
byterian Church, in which he was an elder,
and gave much of his time to the cause of
similar organizations. He was a member of
the Holland, St. Nicholas, and Huguenot So-
cieties, of the Loyal Legion, and the Grand
Army of the Republic. Politically he was a

He married, December 13, 1870, Olivia At-
terbury, of New York, a granddaughter of
Anson G. Phelps, the noted merchant and
philanthropist. She was a lineal descendant of
the celebrated Bishop Atterbury, of England,
and was a great-great-niece of Elias Boudinot.
first president of the congress of the United
States. Captain and Olivia (Atterbury) Van
Rensselaer were the parents of seven children :
Olive, married Lewis B. Gawtry, and resides
in New York ; Sarah Elizabeth, married Ben-
jamin W. Arnold, and li\es in Albany, New
York; Katherine Boudinot, died young; Edith,
died young; Kiliaen. mentioned below; Me-
lissa, died young; William Stephen.

(IX) Kiliaen (4), senior son of Kiliaen
(3) and Olivia (Atterbury) Van Rensselaer,
was born May 21, 1879, at Seabright, New
Jersey. He attended the Lawrenceville school,
and entered Princeton University, but did not
complete the course, going out as a soldier
in the Spanish war in 1898. He was a mem-
ber of the Twelfth New York Regiment,
which was stationed at Chickamauga, Georgia,
Lexington, Kentucky, Americus, Georgia, and
^L'lntanzas, Cuba. After the close of this
service he settled in New York City, where
he became an investment broker, and now re-
sides in that city. He was a member of
Squadron A, National Guard State of New
York, from 1900 to 1905. He is a member
of the Union and Racket and Tennis Clubs
of New York, in religious faith a Presby-
terian, and politically a consistent Republi-

He married, in New York, November 23,
1905, Dorothea Manson, daughter of Thomas
L. and May (Groot) Manson. They have a
daughter, Barbara, born April 13, 1908, in
New York.

(VH) General
VAN RENSSELAER Stephen (4) Van

Rensselaer, son of
General Stephen (3) Van Rensselaer, the
eighth Patroon, and Margaret Schuyler, was
born in the Manor House at Albany, New
York, March 29, 1789, and died in the same
place, May 25, 1868. He was given a thorough
education, and enjoyed the benefits of culture
acquired by travel abroad and by continual
association with people of retinement. In so-
cial and public life he was greatly respected,
and in his family much beloved. A leading
event in his life, as it affected him and his
family, was the anti-rent feud. Anti-rentism
had its origin in Albany county. Its exist-
ence dated from the death of General Van
Rens.selaer in 1839, the holder of the
Manor of Rensselaerswyck under the British
crown and its regulations. He was known to
that generation as "the Patroon," was some-
t'nies styled the "good Patroon," and after
his death as "the old Patroon." Primogeni-
ture was the law of inheritance in England,
so it had been to some e.xtent in the British
colonies, and, as the eldest son, Stephen Van
Rensselaer had inherited the Manor. But the
revolution and subsequent laws changed the
rule of inheritance, giving alike to all the chil-
dren if no w'ill were made. In order to break
the force of this radical change, and so as to
continue this vast landed interests in the hands
of his two eldest sons, Stephen and William
Paterson Van Rensselaer, General Van Rens-
selaer (1764-1839), on reaching his majority,
had adopted the system of selling lands in
fee, reserving to himself in the conveyances,
and to his heirs and assigns, all mines and
minerals, all streams of water for mill pur-
poses, and beyond this, certain old-time feudal
returns, denominated rents, payable annually at
his Manor House, usually specified as so many
bushels of good, clean, merchantable winter
wheat, four fat fowl, and one day's service
with carriage and horses ; finally, the reserva-
tion or exaction of one-quarter of the pur-
chase price on every vendition of the land. In
other words, one condition alone provided
an income to him every time the purchaser
of land should resell it. It is said that the
mind of .Mcxander Hamilton conceived and
framed this form of lease or conveyance for
Van Rensselaer's especial benefit. Under such
peculiar conditions the land of the Patroon in



Albany and Rensselaer counties was sold to
innnmerable purchasers for farms. The sys-
tem operated successfully during the life of
the Patroon ; but when his son Stephen (born
in 1789), inherited the land by his father's
death in 1839, a new and serious trouble arose.
The first purchasers did not object, for they
had bought with the definite understanding
clearly before them ; but on the death of the
Patroon and also of the purchaser, the suc-
cessors of the latter, as new owners, began to
grow restive under the burdens imposed, and
when either Stephen or William P. Van
Rensselaer pressed for payments of the money
due as reserved in the deeds the owners of
the land began the question the legality of the
reservation. To Stephen Van Rensselaer and
his younger brother, William Paterson Van
Rensselaer, the Patroon, General Stephen Van
Rensselaer, had devised by his will, drawn on
April 18, 1837, all interest in the lands thus
sold by him in fee, with the reservations of
rents — in other words, they believed that they
owned or retained the soil. Stephen, the old-
est son, was to receive the rents in Albany
county, and William P. Van Rensselaer those
in Rensselaer county. The rents of this time
came in more sparingly and were paid more
I relunctantly than they had been to the father,
I who had been noted as one of the most gentle,
kind-hearted and benevolent of men, often
generously reducing the rents and in many
; ways calling forth the love and gratitude of
I the land-holders. The only course open for
i his son was to sue in the courts, and it was
I not long before a strong hostility developed.
The legal contests of a quarter of a century
might have been avoided if the lawyers had
perceived that the deeds of the Patroon, being
; absolute conveyances of all interest in the
lands, the reservations were, for that reason,
in\alid as incumbrances, made so by the Eng-
lish statute, known as the statute of quia
cinptores, which rendered it impossible for a
British subject, on a conveyance in fee of
his land, to make, or if made, to enforce by
re-entry or forfeiture, such feudal reserva-
tions. That was a right remaining in and be-
longing to the crown alone. It is probable
that Hamilton assumed that that statute was
never in force in the colonies, for it was
adopted back in the reign of Edward I., and
later lawyers might have dismissed the consid-

eration of it on the assumption it was not the
law of either colony or state.

In the spring of 1839 the anti-renters held
their preliminary meeting, numerously at-
tended by all the farmers living in the Helder-
berg towns. They appointed a committee to
wait on Mr. Van Rensselaer to ascertain
whether a compromise might not be efifected.
On May 22 the committee visited the office
of Mr. Van Rensselaer, but he refused to
recognize them and instructed his agent, Douw
B. Lansing, to inform them that he would
communicate in writing. He did so, inform-
ing them that he considered it would be an
injustice to himself and his family to consent
to their claims. From that time on his agents
had much difficulty in collecting rents, and
frequently, when attempting to do so, were
held off by shotguns. In December, Sheriff
Archer was obliged to call to his aid, in serv-
ing process, the posse coinitatis, or power of
the county. Politicians were alive to bring
the landholders into line, and urged the press
to take the matter up. After many years the
question was allowed to drop from politics and
the court of appeals rendered decisions in
special cases in 1852, 1859, and finally in 1863,
after which the matter rested.

The large area of the once famous "Lum-
ber District" extending along the river front
from North Ferry street northward for a
mile, and real estate in or close to the city,
were not encumbered by perpetual leases,
and remained as a source of income for mem-
bers of the three generations following.
.\mong the papers preserved by the family is
the account-book of General Abraham Ten
Broeck, the guardian during the minority of
Stephen, and under the entry of a "charge for
beef and liquor consumed in a dinner to the
tenantry on this your glorious twenty-first
birthday" is a brief mention of a transaction
which many years later took from the Van
Rensselaers many of their acres. On that day
the Patroon sold in fee, with warranty of
title, his farming lands in Albany and Rens-
selaer counties, and no less than nine hundred
farms of 150 acres each, or more than 207
square miles, were leased on that day.

^^'hen Stephen (4) Van Rensselaer died.
May 25, 1868, he left behind him an enviable
reputation for the sterling virtues which had
distinguished the line from which he liad
descended. He was liberal in his benefactions



and dispensed wealth freely to all charitable
objects and church. On his death, about 2,500
acres between Troy and Shaker roads, north
of the Manor House, and in which he had a
life estate, reverted to his half-brother, Will-
iam Paterson Van Rensselaer.

General Stephen (4) \'an Rensselaer and
Harriet Elizabeth Bayard were married in
New York City, by Bishop Hobart, of the
Episcopal church, January 2, 1817. She was
burn in New York City, February 12, 1799,
and died in the Manor House at Albany, June
ly, 1875. She was the daughter of William
Bayard, who died September 18, 1826, who
married, (October 4, 1783, Elizabeth Cornell,
born in 1764, died at the Manor House, Al-
bany, January 17, 1854. William Bayard was
the son of Colonel William Bayard and Cath-
erine McEvers.

Colonel William Bayard was a prominent
and opulent merchant of New York City,
where he was born on June i, 1729, and died
at Southampton, England, in 1804. He re-
sided at Castle Point, Hoboken, New Jersey,
and, although hf joined the Sons of Liberty,
his estate was confiscated because his prin-
ciples would not permit him to aid the move-
ment for independence. He was a direct
descendant of Nicholas Bayard, born in Al-
phen. Holland, about 1644, who came to
America with the Dutch Governor, Pieter
Stuyvesant, landing at New Amsterdam on
May II, 1647, and died in New York in 1707.
He was mayor of New York in 1685, secre-
tary of the Province of New York in 1673,
and receiver-general in 1663. Colonel Will-
iam Bayard's wife, Catherine McEvers, was
born in 1732 and died in 1814. Mrs. Stephen
\'an Rensselaer was a woman of superior edu-
calif>n and culture, given to the most cordial
hospitality, and her life was consecrated to
kind acts. Following her death in 1875 there
was a division of the property among the
heirs, and the Manor House was closed for-
ever as a family habitation. In October, 1893,
the building was razed, and the land there-
abouts ])laced on the market. Twenty-five
years later it was the scene of a number of
maiuifacturing plants, and what were once
handsome grounds and a forest park were
bisected by spurs of railroad tracks.

The children of General Stephen \'an Rens-
selaer and Harriet Elizabeth Bayard were as
follows: I. Elizabeth Bayard, born at Albany,

bctober 4, 1817; died July 7, 1819. 2. Mar-
garet Schuyler, born at Albany May 12, 1819,
died there September 15, 1897; married (first)
at Albany, April 12, 1837, John DePeyster
Douw ; married (second) April 24, 1851, Wil-
mot Johnson. 3. Harriet Elizabeth, May
30, 1821 ; died September 19, 1821. 4. Cor-
nelia Paterson, January 24, 1823 ; died at Bos-
ton, Massachusetts, March 4, 1897; married,
at Alliany, June 10, 1846, Nathaniel Thayer,
of Boston. 5. Stephen, June 12. 1824; died
April 9, 1861 ; married Annie Wild, no issue.

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 3 of 95)