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Ex Libris








Schenectady, N. Y.

Times Art Press,
Troy, If. Y.






The Settlement, .....



Trade, Protection, Customs,



Calamities, ......



Ancient Dwellings, ....



Churches, .....



Churches, .....



Free Masonry, .....



An Historical Bridge, ....



Early Transportation, ....



Glen-Sanders, .....



James Duane, .....



Featherstonhaugh, ....



General William North, ....



Toll, ......



Schermerhorn, .....



Yates House, .....



Educational, .....



Hotels, ......




Reminiscences, . ...


List of Illustrations.

The Old Glenville Bridge,

View from Rear of Court House,

North-East Corner Ferry and Union Streets,

Clute & Reagles Blacksmith Shop on State Street

Site of the Old Fort,

Plan of the Fort at Schenectady,

Plan of the Fort at Schenectady, 1664,

A Plan of Schenectady, about 1750,

Plan of the Fort at Schenectady, 1768,

Abe Veeder's Old Fort,

Fluting Iron from the Sanders Mansion,

Spinning Wheel from the Sanders Mansion,

Eighteenth Century Cut Glass in the Bradt Family,

Corner of Washington Avenue and State Street

The Massacre, January, 1690,

North Side of State Street, near Washington A

Ravine near the DeGraaf House,

Scene of Beukendaal Fight,

DeGraaf House, Beukendaal,

Present Location Teller & Stanford,

Protection Hose No. 1,

Burning of First Dutch Reformed Church,

Mabie House,

The Arent Bradt House,

Bradt House,

Miniatures in the Bradt Family,

The Original Dutch Reformed Church,

A Church Furnace of 200 years ago,

Old Union College Building,

State Street, below Ferry,



List of Illustrations. Continued.

The First Dutch Reformed Church,

Present Location Y. M. C. A.,

St. George's Episcopal Church,

An Eighteenth Century Chair,

Present Location Reeves-LurTman Co.

Showing Construction of Glenville Bridge,

Bridge Connecting Schenectady and Scotia,

City End of Glenville Bridge,

Showing Interior of the Bridge,

Dock Street,

Another View of Dock Street,

The De Witt Clinton Train, .

Terminus of Mohawk & Hudson Railway,

First Train on Mohawk & Hudson Railway,

First Time-table of the Mohawk & Hudson Railway,

Drullerd's Hotel and New York Central Railway Station,

First Railroad Depot at Schenectady,

An Old Style Locomotive,

The Glen-Sanders Mansion,

The Abraham Glen House,

Attic of Glen-Sanders Mansion,

An Old Cradle,

Sanders Tablet in Allhallows Church, London,

A Stairway in Glen-Sanders Mansion,

Ornate Fire Bellows,

Judge James Duane,

Christ's Episcopal Church, Duanesburg,

A Quit-Claim Deed,

Present Location Ellis Mansions,

Sarah Duane,

General George Washington,

James Duane Featherstonhaugh,

Fireplace in Featherstonhaugh Mansion,

Featherstonhaugh Mansion,

Colonial Furniture in Delancey Watkins' House,



List of Illustrations. Continued.

General William North's Mansion,

Indian Spear Heads,

Present Location Union Hall Block,

Maalwyck Farm,

Chamber in the Toll House,

Dining Room in the Toll House,

Ravine on the Toll Place,

The Toll House,

Tea Set in the Toll House,

Platter in the Toll House,

Present Location Myer's Block,

Silver Mounted Pistol in Schermerhorn Mansion,

Pear Tree 150 Years Old,

Silver Quart Cider Mug,

Daniel Campbell's City House,

Governor Yates' House,

Entrance to Residence of Hon. A. A. Yates,

Old-time Leather Fire Bucket,

The Mohawk Bank,

Schenectady Academy,

Entrance to Union College Campus,

Dr. Nott's Hat and Cane,

Union College,

Dr. Nott's Stove,

Blue Gate, Union College,

Bowery Woods,

Present Location Edison Hotel,

Present Location Vendome Hotel,

Ledyard's City Hotel,

Givens' Hotel,

Original Plan for using Mohawk River as a Ship Canal,

Dutch Church Paper Money,




There are a great many interesting facts,
traditions, anecdotes and reminiscences relative
to Schenectady, which are buried from the
general public in specialized histories, gene-
alogies, biographies and in the memories of
the older residents. It is the purpose of this
book to present such facts, traditions and
reminiscences as have been dug out from the
dry, if more profound and scholarly, produc-
tions of authors who were masters on the
subjects upon which they wrote. Schenectady
is so rich in such material that it has been
possible to treat the subjects only partially
and casually.

That so many pictures of ancient buildings, dwellings
and old time views are presented to the readers is entirely
due to the kindness of Mr. William A. Wick. This collec-
tion of ancient landmarks that have been torn down and of
those still standing, has been obtained by Mr. Wick at
considerable labor and expense. That the collection is
unique is patent to all who see the pictures.


Chapter I.
The Settlement.


T IS an odd fact, frequently remarked upon by inter-
ested outsiders, that almost none of the descendants
of the old Dutch settlers of Schenectady have ac-
knowledge of the origin or meaning of the name of
that city. But if the interested outsider remains in
Schenectady long, he soon ceases to wonder at the lack
of knowledge for he finds that the rather stolid Dutch
mind is little given to speculation or investigation ;
that with them if a thing is, it is, and that is enough
for all purposes of trade ; trade and the consequent accumulation
of dollars being the chief thought among them.

Schenectady no doubt means, "beyond the pine plains" and
"Schonowe," a name given to the locality in the earliest days,
before and at the time of the settlement, means "the great flats."
The authority for these definitions is the Rev. W. M.
Beattchamp, S. D., an Episcopal clergyman who devoted many
years to the Iriquios. or Five Nations, their language and cus-
toms. He was so highly regarded by the Indian survivors of
the Five Nations that he was adopted by them and, as a man.
bore about the same relation to them that the late Mrs. Converse
did as a woman.

"Beyond the pine plains" did not apply to what is now the site
of Schenectady, any more than to any other place similarly

1 8 Old Schenectady.

situated ; in fact, it was first applied to Albany. The immediate
vicinity of Schenectady on the north and west was extraordinarily
fertile river flats without trees of any kind. This was described
by the Indians as "Schonowe," or "the great flats," when trans-
lated. Any other great flats would have been described by the
Indians by the same word.

To the east and south of the great flats were vast sandv
plains covered with a forest of immense pines. Between Sche-
nectady and Albany was a sandy plain, pine covered, which
ended at Albany abruptly and equally so at Schenectady. If an
Indian was traveling toward the east over the regular trail, when
he arrived at the Hudson, on the site of Albany, he called it
Schenectady, that is, "the place beyond the pine plains." Other
Indians, traveling west over the trail, finally arrived at Sche-
nectady, which was also "the place beyond the pine plains." It
was this place beyond the pine plains, at the western end of the
trail joining the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, which has retained
the descriptive name of Schenectady.

Another more poetic meaning is given by Major J. W.
MacMurray, editor of Pearson's History of the Schenectady
Patent. The authority he quotes says : "The usual signification
attributed to this word, is believed to be erroneous having been
derived, not from the Mohawk, but from the Mohegan language.
In the former tongue — the Mohawk — he says, 'Gaun-ho-ha' means
'door'; 'S'Gaun-ho-ha' means 'the door' and 'Hac-ta-tie', means
'without.' These two words combined form, 'S'Gaun-ho-ha-hac-
ta-tie,' this abreviated and written, 'S'Guan-hac-ta-tie' means
'without the door.' 'S'Guan-ho-ha' appears also in another name
given to the town by the Mohawks at an earlier date. * * * *
by a conveyance to Van Curler the land is named by the Indians,
'Schon-o-we,' identical probably with 'S'Guan-ho-ha,' in sound
and signification."

It would seem to require a large supply of Christian Science
faith to believe that these two words are the same in sound and

Meaning of Schenectady. 19

To arrive at the idea which the Indians wished to convey by
the word, "S'Gaun-hac-ta-tie," "without the door," something
must be known about the Iriquois or Five Nations.

The Five Nations occupied chiefly the middle portion of
New York. This confederation was composed of the Mohawks,
Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas. Their territory ex-
tended from the Mohawk river at Schenectady on the east, to
Niagara river on the west and was spoken of in their picturesque
and figurative language as the "Long house," or, sometimes as
the "Cabin." The location of the Mohawks on the river flats
between the high hills of what is now Glenville and Rotterdam,
was called "The Door of the House." As the Mohawks were the
most powerful of the tribes and were the furthest east, it was to
them that embassies from other tribes, or the white settlers, were
sent. To the west of the Mohawks, at about the center of the
State, were the Oneidas, Onondagas and Cayugas, while at the
extreme west, on Niagara river, were the Senecas.

The attention paid to form and ceremony was shown when the
Governor of Canada attempted to make a treaty with the Senecas
by sending an ambassador to the Senecas directly, instead of by
way of the "Door." The Mohawks resented this as an indignity
and a slight, so they sent word to the Governor that, while they
were "The Door of the House" he had entered by the "Chimney,"
and he would better look out or he would get smoke in his eyes.

It is a tradition that for many generations, perhaps centuries,
the site of the chief village of the Mohawks was the spot where
Schenectady is and their location being the door of the house,
they called their village "S'Gaun-ho-ha," meaning "the door."
When their chief village was moved to the west, where Fort
Hunter now is, their old site was no longer "the door," but "with-
out the door," so "ho-ha" was dropped and "hac-ta-tie," meaning
"without," was added to the first syllable making "S'Gaun-hac-
ta-tie" — "Without the Door."

Danker and Sluyter, in their journal of 1680, make a very
pretty play upon the word, or else it is a curious coincidence.

20 Old Schenectady.

The immediate neighborhood of Schenectady was, and still is
very beautiful. The scenery is of the kind which is peaceful and
restful and the weary traveler or pioneer must indeed have been
impressed, when the pines suddenly ceased, and he beheld the
lovely valley. So these old boys in their journal describe the place
as, "This Schooneetendeel," which by a very slight stretch of
imagination is similar to the eye and ear to the Indian word.
Now in the Dutch, "schoon" means, "beautiful ;" eeten," from
"achten," meaning, "esteemed" or "valuable;" "deel," or "del,"
meaning, "a portion of land," especially a valley ; hence, a beauti-
ful, fertile valley.

Some of the spellings of Schenectady show that the early
settlers were probably of the same opinion as was President Andy
Johnson who, when called to account for his faulty orthography
replied, that he regarded a person as being something of a fool
who did not know enough to spell a word in more than one way.
The Dutch found the Indian gutterals hard to pronounce and
much harder to express in letters, so when the spelling had to be
done by ear and not by actual knowledge, it was often very much
off. Besides the original Indian word and its Indian corruption
already given, Arent Van Curler, the pioneer of Schenectady and
the country roundabout, made it, "Schan-ech-stede." An official
document of 1664 gives, both "Sch-augh-stede" and "Sch-auech-
stede." It is probably from the former spelling that a local tribe
of the Order of Red Men gets, "Schaugh-naugh-ta-da." An
Indian deed of 1672 for the township gives, "Schau-hech-ta-de,"
which was probably as near as the Dutchman who drew the deed
could get to the sound of the word when pronounced by the
Indians. In 1675, Sheriff Cobes, of Albany, dropped the second
"h" from the spelling in the deed and strangely enough. Governor
Stuyvesant in an order written in 1663 spelled the word exactly
as it is now spelled. Tn 1678, Governor Andross, in a proclama-
tion prohibiting trade with "Scon-ex-ta-dy." in the last two
syllables followed the spelling of Governor Stuyvesant and made
a muss of the two first syllables, probably through an effort to

The Off -Shoot. 21

be phonetic. Morse's Geography of 1789 gives "Skenectady."
hi 1693, the Rev. John Miller, a man of liberal education, gave
"Scan-ec-ta-de ;" in [695 the inventory of the estate of Hendrick
Gardinier, gives, "Shinn-ectady ;" Lieutenant Hunt, Commander
of the Fort in 1696, spelled it, "Schon-ac-ta-dv," the nearest
phonetic spelling found ; and in 1802, when the people had become
well acquainted with the Mohawk language, it was spelled in
a petition, "Schon-hec-ta-dy."

Of the seventy-one different spellings to be found in old
documents, only once is the word begun with a C and that was
done by the Rev. Dr. Johnson who wrote to Archbishop Seeker,
of London, in 1759, about the building of an Episcopal Church —
St. George's — in "Chenectedi."


It is a good thing to be well born and a better when honest,
broad-minded qualities and principles of good citizenship, thrift
and independence are inherited with the blue-blood. Of such
were the early settlers of Schenectady.

The men who settled Schenectady were unique in the New
World, as settlers. Their largeness of mind was equalled by
unselfishness ; their thrift for the present by their thoughtfulness
for those who would come after them. Their pronouns were
"We" and "Our," not "V and "Mine."

Schenectady was not a child of Albany, notwithstanding the
fact that those who settled it were from that place. It was to be
rid of Albany and the intolerable monopoly of the Dutch West
India Company and its self-assumed right to interfere with the
inherent rights of individuals, and of the Patroons, men who
were granted vast tracts of valuable land for the purpose of
colonization, but who in reality became rivals of the West India
Company in trade monopoly and oppression of the individual, that
the men who became the Fifteen Original Proprietors of Sche-
nectady cut loose from such oppression and formed a new settle-
ment where all should have equal right to buy and sell and live.

2.2 Old Schenectady.

While their condition was greatly improved, they did not
entirely free themselves from the monopoly of Albany till 1727.

Led by Arent Van Curler — a man of such honesty, justice and
fearlessness that his name became a synonym with the Iriquois
and Indians of Canada for all that appealed to them as being the
best — they went to Schenectady (the place "Beyond the Pine
Plains") and purchased from the Iriquois, or Five Nations,
"Schonowe," or the "Great Flats." Here on the site of the
present city of Schenectady they built a village and on the great
flats they had their farms. The township included 128 square
miles and a certain portion of this was given to the original
settlers ; the remainder, known as common lands was held in
trust for the community then existing and for those who should
come after them. These men, of their own will, assumed the
titles of Trustees in accord with their idea of "We" and "Our"
instead of "I" and "Mine" and later, when one of them tried to
set upon a claim of personal ownership in the common lands,
he and his heirs were fought to the end as determinedly as only
Dutchmen could fight. This idea of all living for one and one
for all was the result of deliberate purpose, not of chance. They
wished to establish a settlement in which all should be equal and
they realized their wish.

Although this first permanent settlement was not made till
1662, Van Curler was more or less familiar with the locality for
twenty years before, for he first saw it in 1642. Even then there
were a few daring hunters and trappers who had made homes for
themselves widely separated one from the other. There seems to
be no record of who they were, where they came from or what
became of them.

The desire of the settlers to have the land surveyed and their
portions allotted was not realized till two years after the settle-
ment, for the authorities at Albany were jealous and fearful that
some of the profits flowing into their pockets would be stopped
at the new settlement. In April, 1662, Van Curler had written
his second request that Jacques Cortelyou be authorized to make

Location of Proprietors 23

the survey. This request was weakly denied by the Director
General on the ground that before the settlement could he formed
and the land surveyed, at least twenty families should compose
the settlement and that they should promise not to trade with the
Indians. In May, 1663, Governor Stuyvesant made another
excuse for delaying the survey, this time on the ground that he
had been informed that some of the settlers had dared to sell
liquor to the Indians against his express orders to the contrary.
He ordered Cortelyou not to survey land for any one in the new
settlement unless he signed a pledge, drawn by the Governor, not
to trade in any manner with the Indians. They were also to agree
to pay, without opposition, should they violate their pledge, fifty
beaver skins for the first offence ; one hundred for the second,
and for the third to voluntarily forfeit all their lands. This reply
was talked over by Van Curler and the other fourteen proprietors
and they decided to sign it. Still the Governor delayed. He
took on a highly religious and fatherly tone. He feared that the
transportation of valuable goods by wagons so many miles from
Albany would cause the Indians to attack the wagon trains, kill
the settlers and steal the goods and mistreat their women. Finally,
after Alexander Lindsey Glen, William Teller and Harmon
Vedder presented a petition on April 17, 1664, for a survey,
it was granted.


The area laid out as a village by the Fifteen Original
Proprietors of Schenectady, included about twenty acres. The
streets were broad and were laid out at right angles, with four
hundred feet between parallel streets. Each of these blocks was
divided into four lots of two hundred feet. This made each lot
a corner lot, with frontage on two streets. Besides the village
lots, each proprietor was given a farm on the flats or islands; a
pasture to the east of the village; and a garden to the south of
the village.

The apportionment of the village lots, according to records,
was as follows :

Location of Proprietors. 25

Arent Van Corlear — or Van Curler — was on the north-east
corner of Union and Church streets, where the old Union Classi-
cal Institute building- — now the Mohawk Club — stands.

Philip Hendrikse Brouwer was on the north-west corner of
State and Church streets. He died, leaving no children; so the
name is extinct.

Alexander Lindsey Glen was on the west side of Washington
avenue, extending from the northerly line of Union street down
toward Front street.

Simon Volkertse Veeder was on the north-west corner of
State and Ferry streets, diagonally opposite the Y. M. C. A.

Ahasueras Tennis Van Valsen was on the south side of State
street, at its junction with Mill lane. The property extended
back on the lowland toward the canal, and included about twenty-
five acres. He was the miller of the community, and as he was
killed in the "massacre" of 1690, without children, the name is

Peter Adrience Van Woggieum, also called Soegemakelyk,
was on the south-west corner of Union and Church streets,
opposite the old Union Classical Institute property.

Cornelius Antonisen \ an Slyck's location is not known. He
married a daughter of a Mohawk chief and was adopted by the
tribe. He was held in high esteem by the Mohawks and by his
white associates. His descendants may boast of fine old Holland
blood and of much older American blood. The Mohawks were
fierce and cruel and the gentlemen of Spain, who managed the
Inquisition, were crafty and cruel ; but the former possessed
qualities which, in Europe, made princes and great nobles of those
who possessed them.

This Indian wife was somewhat remarkable and was so highly
esteemed by the Dutch of her day, that the following paraphrase
from Dunker's and Sluyter's journal of 1680, will be interesting.

"I was surprised to find so far in the woods" — the place so far
in the woods was Schenectady — "a person who showed so much

26 Old Schenectady.

love for God. She told me her story from the beginning and how
it was that she became a Christian." Her father and mother were
tull-blooded Mohawk Indians, who instinctively hated the
Christians and their teachings, and her mother would never listen
to anything about them. This girl lived with her parents and
brothers and sisters. Sometimes she went with her mother to
the settlements to trade, and sometimes the people from the settle-
ments went to the place, where she lived, to trade. Some of the
whites took a fancy to the girl as she seemed to be more of a
Christian, in many ways, than an Indian. When they proposed
to take her to the settlement and bring her up according to white
ideas her mother would not hear of it and the little girl was at
first afraid. After repeated visits by the settlers and requests to
take her to the settlements the little girl discovered that the
Christians were not all that her mother had told her they were.
She seemed to be naturally drawn toward Christianity, the love
of God and of Christ. This caused her family to hate and abuse
her. Finally they drove her out and she went to the white settlers,
who had been so kind to her. She was gladly welcomed and lived
for a long time with a woman who taught her to read and write
and household duties. When she had learned the Dutch language
she studied the New Testament with such good purpose that she
made a confession of faith and was baptized.

Gerrit Bancker was on the south-west corner of Union street
and Washington avenue, opposite the residence of D. Cady Smith,
on Washington avenue.

William Teller was on the south-west corner of Union street
and Washington avenue. His lot included the lot of Judge Jack-
son, on Washington avenue, and of W. Scott Hunter, on Union
street. He was the first of the name to come to the Colony from
Holland, in 1639, in the service of the West India Company. He
was possessed of ample means and great influence.

Bastian De Winter was on the south-east corner of Union
and Church streets, where the residence of Franklin McClellan —
formerly the property of Richard Fuller — now stands, across
Union street from the First Reformed Church.

Incorporated as Borough and City. 2J

Arent Andries Brack was on the north-east corner of State
street and Washington avenue, where the apartment house, "The
Alexandria," stands, opposite the Freeman House. As Bradt
died before the apportionment, Bastian De Winter's name, as
attorney for the widow, appears on the apportionment.

Pieter Danelse Van Olinda's location is not known. He
married Hillitie, one of the half-breed daughters of Van Slyck.
She owned large tracts of land, by gift from the Mohawks.

Jan Barentse Wemp — later spelled Wemple — was on the
west side of Washington avenue where is now the hotel called the
Freeman House.

Peter Jacobse Borsboom was on the south-west corner of
Front street and Washington avenue, where is now the residence
of John Keyes Paige. He was survived by several daughters,

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Online LibraryGeorge S. (George Simon) RobertsOld Schenectady → online text (page 1 of 19)