Samuel W Durant.

History of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

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Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 150 of 192)
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now Utica, and three in Deerfield.

" Trenton, therefore, was not far behind when her first settler arrived
in 1793. Gerrit Boon, of Holland, marking forest-trees for the line
of a future road, as he came over from Fort Schuyler, pitching his
tent here in this sheltered valley where two creeks come together, he
determined that this should be the seat of a future village, and he
called you Olden Barneveld, not only as significant of the love of re-
ligious liberty, which sought a place of refuge from the tyranny and
bigotry of the old world, but also as a monument to the memory of
John of the Olden Barneveld, a noble family of Gerland, of whom
Motley speaks as the foremost statesman of the Netherlands, 'who
had the hardihood, although a determined Protestant himself, to
claim for the Roman Catholics the right to exercise their religion in
the Free States on equal terms with those of the Reformed faith.*

" A lineal descendant of this patriot and martyr now resides at Utica,
— Mrs. James Madison Weed, the adopted daughter of the late Rudolph
Snyder, and an esteemed friend of your deceased Sophia Mappa.

" The name of Olden Barneveld comes back to me as I recollect its
inscription on the letters which my youthful hands so often carried to
the mysterious post-office. It has been suggested that if the name
had been shortened to Barneveld it might yet have been retained by
a people too young and too much in a hurry to think or say Olden,

" It is to he regretted that the historic designations of Fort Schuyler
and Fort Stanwix and Barneveld should have been changed for those
of Utica, Rome, and Trenton, which only dim history. It is lament-
able that Indian and descriptive names of localities and streams have
been thrown aside and misplaced Latin and Greek names substituted
in their stead.

■* It was not poverty or mere adventure which brought Gerrit Boon
through the wilderness to this place in 1793, but a great trust, which
to- day astonishes us by its magnitude. He was the agent of the
Holland Land Company, which at one time owned over five millions
of acres of land in this country.

" This is not the time or place to speak of Herman Le Roy, William
Bayard, James McEver, Paul Busti, Colonel Lincklaen, General Led-
yard, David Evans, Joseph Ellicott, and others, trustees and agents of
that great company. I must limit myself here to say that the title to
all the twenty-three thousand acres in Servis' Patent, under which
many of you hold your farms and homesteads, was at one time vested
in Gerrit Boon as trustee.

"As that patent is in your own town it will interest you to know
that it was granted in 1768 by Sir Henry Moore, then Governor of the
colony, to Peter Servis and twenty-four other tenants, really for Sir
William Johnson. Jones states after the grant Sir William made a
great feast, roasting an ox whole, and to this feast he invited Peter
Servis and his twenty-four colleagues, and during the feast they con-
veyed the land to him. It descended to his son. Sir John Johnson,
who conveyed it to some parties in New York City, who, between 1790
and 1800, conveyed this and other tracts of land to Gerrit Boon in
trust for the Hollaud Land Company.

" Although there is no record of this conveyance from Servis to Sir
William, his title has never been disputed save once, and then by
Servis himself, who, after the Revolution hearing that Sir John had
buried his title-deeds during the war to prevent their destruction, and
that they had thus become illegible, brought an action of ejectment
against Boon, but the court allowed verbal evidence to be given of
his conveyance to Sir William, and Servis was defeated. The witness
to prove the conveyance from Servis and others to Sir William was an
old negro, who was employed to fiddle for the guests at the feast.

"Boon, after residing a few years in this country and discharging
his trust to the Holland Land Company with fidelity, returned to Hol-
land and died there. He was a man of ability as well as integrity.
He erected a frame dwelling-house upon the lot where we are now as-
sembled. That house was subsequently moved, by the Rev. Mr. Sher-
man, across the road, where it was enlarged and where it now stands,
— the pleasant and hospitable residence of Mrs. Douglas. Mr. Boon,
like many others from the old country, was compelled to undertakings
in which he had no experience, and some of which would not work, like
his stone grist-mill, the picturesque ruins of which are on the banks of
the Cincinnati Creek, just above the railroad embankment. He could
not make the dam stand, and so that mill was abandoned for another
farther up stream, which I shall mention hereafter.

"Dr. Guiteau is my authority for stating that Mr. Boon was the
veritable Dutchman who was so delighted when he first saw the manu-
facture of maple-sugar from the sap of your maple-trees that he pro-
posed to continue this business all the year round; and he actually
caused to be made a large number of grooved slats in which he pro-
posed to conduct the sap from the bill-sides into a reservoir in this
valley. These slats were afterwards used more profitably for the sides
of a large corn-house, and the frame of that corn-house is to-day
doing service as a part of one of your dwelling-houses.

" Colonel Adam G. Mappa and his family followed Boon from Hol-
land to this country, and Mr. Mappa became Mr. Boon's successor as
agent of the company at this place, and after a year or so Francis
Adrian Vanderkemp, of Holland, and his family came here to reside.
These two men were inseparable in their lives and fortunes. Colonel
Mappa was an accomplished gentleman, less learned but more practi-
cal than Mr. Vanderkemp, and the latter in his autobiography speaks
of him as an officer of acknowledged skill in the Old World, and during
the short-lived but disastrous revolution in Holland of 1786, in which
both were engaged, Colonel Mappa was placed in charge of the army.
Their cause seems to have been just, and on the side of humanity and
liberty, but they were defeated through the treachery of the Dutch
government. Colonel Mappa and his family escaped to this country.
Mr. Vanderkemp was imprisoned, and only released by a ransom of
$35,000 paid by his friend De Nys, and in 1788 he and his family came
to this country, first settling at Esopus,-^- on the Hudson River, then on
an island in Oneida Lake, and then here. His son, John J. Vander-
kemp, was first clerk in the office of t^ Holland Land Company at
this place, under Colonel Mappa, then chief clerk and finally general
agent of the immense business of that company, having his head-
quarters at Philadelphia. Judge Vanderkemp became acquainted
with John Adams (afterwards President) in 1780, while he was in
Holland trying to negotiate a loan for our own country, in which he
was seconded by Baron Van der Cappellan and by Mr. Vanderkemp.

" There is now in the historical library at Buffalo a very interesting
autobiography of Judge Vanderkemp, placed there with valuable let-
ters by his granddaughter, Mrs. Henry, of Germantown, near Phila-
delphia. In this biography he states that early in life, before
completing his studies, he became a deist, but was brought into
trouble with clergymen by the boldness with which he asserted his
views, and was unable to pursue his studies for want of money, and
then it occurred to him (to use his own language) 'that the Bap-
tists at Amsterdam were reputed to be of extensive liberal principles.
... I resolved then to open my mind to Professor Osterbaen, ask
him for support to promote my studies at Amsterdam, in their semi-
nary, if I could be admitted without compromising myself in any
manner, without constraint to any religious opinions I might foster or
adopt in future, and with a full assurance that I should be decently
supported, all of which was generously accepted, and Osterbaen actu-
ally acted and proved himself to me a friend and benefactor, a guide
and father.' These facts relating to the liberality of the Baptists of
Amsterdam, and this tribute to the wise generosity of Professor Os-

*i* Altei'wards Kingston,



terbaen, should be repeated in the presence of all the citizens of Tren-
ton, that they may rightly value the good works of the Baptist Church.
You doubtless desire to know the result of this generous compact with
the youthful but deistical Vanderkemp, and I can best tell you of that
in his own words: "I remained in my study, and continued my in-
quiries night and day, taking no more rest than imperiously required,
and was within a short time fully convinced of the historical truth of
the Christian revelation. . . . But the grand question demanded,
'What is the Christian religion?' ... So I read the Now Testament
— I mean the Evangelists and Acts — again and again, till I was cou-
vinoed that Jesus came into the world to bring life and immortality to
light, which was indiscoverable by the light of reason; that a merci-
ful God required from frail creatures sincerity of heart and genuine
repentance; that to love Him and his neighbor was the summary of
the doctrine of Jesus, the true characteristic of a genuine believer;
and that it was the will of our Heavenly Father that all His children
should he saved. ... I explained myself faithfully and with candor
to my friend, and deemed it a duty in my situation to make a public
profession of my religious principles, and received on it baptism from
the worthy "Van Heiningen in November, 1773.' Mr. Vanderkemp
was admitted to the ministry and acquired much distinction in the
pulpit, but after he took up arms against his government he resigned
his pastorate, and seems never to have resumed the ministerial office
in the pulpit. In this country he was employed by Governor Clinton
in the work of translating the ancient Dutch records of the State,
and was also appointed a master in chancery and one of the assistant
justices of the County Court, and hence his subsequent title of judge,
by which ho was generally addressed.

"I take from Judge Vanderkcmp's journal the following account
of his reception in this country :

"After stating that he received letters from General Lafayette,
Jefferson, and other distinguished men to our citizens, and embarking
on an American ^hip arrived at New York May 4, 17S8, he adds : ' I
delivered my letters of introduction to the French ambassador, the
Count Montier, — introduced to him by Colonel A. Hamilton; so I did
to General Knox, Governor Clinton, Melanctbon Smith, and met with
every kind of civility and hospitable receptions. It seemed a strife
among many who should do the much. Never I can repay it; but
never, I am confident, it can be obliterated in my breast- No rela-
tions, no parents, could do more as Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, — the ven-
erable Mrs. Tappen welcomed Mrs. Vanderkemp as u. daughter, both
ladies, and so Mrs. Hamilton conversed with your mother in Dutch.
. . . Had we posscs:?ed, indeed, the first rank and worth then, yet we
could not have desired a more cordial, a more distinguished reception
than we were honored with day after day by the families of the Clintons,
Knox, and others. I send my other letters to Colonel Jeremiah Wads-
worth, Governor W. Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, and General
Washington, from whom I received ere long a courteous invitation
to visit Mount Vernon. Thither I went. I stopped at Elizabeth-
town, visited Governor Livingston, with whom I spent a few days in
the most agreeable manner. From his seat I pursued my journey to
Philadelphia, where I met the same hospitable reception by a mercan-
tile house from Antwerp, by Bt-njamin Franklin, and which should
make me blush could I pass it by in silence. ... So I arrived at last
at Mount Vernon, where simplicity and order, unadorned grandeur
and dignity, had taken up their abode. That great man approved, as
well as Clinton, my plan of an agricultural life, and made me a ten-
der of his services.' Yet he also writes that there seemed to him in
Washington somewhat of a repelling coldness under a courteous de-
meanor. That Washington inspired others with awe was undoubtedly
true. Whether it was his nature or the effect of the struggles through
which he had passed, or of the great responsibility laid upon him, I
do uot know; but I was told by Mrs. Arthur Tappan, who was an
adopted daughter of Alexander Hamilton, that she often saw General
Washington at Hamilton's house, anl recollected on all occasions when
General Washington entered the room there was a manifestation of
such respect and care of manner towards him on the part of others as
made a lasting impression upon her mind. I adopt the suggestion of
Rev. Mr. Silsbee, that it was of great importance that the person of
the first President of the infant republic should be surrounded with
all the dignity of an European king.

" Our Hollanders themselves were not wanting in serious formality,
and it is said that when Baron Steuben announced a visit at Trenton,
they met him as he appeared at the cJgeof the forest and escorted
him in line to the house, where he was received at the front door by


the ladies with all the courtesy and consideration which would have
been proffered to him in the Old World ; and no spot in the Old World
could have shown more refinement or elegance of manner, or more
culture, than was to be found at Olden Barnevcld at that day. It is
from the letters of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and DeMMtt Clinton
that we receive the strongest impression of the learning and character
of Judge Vanderkemp, which attracted towards him the admiration
and esteem of those great men.

" Through the kindness of the Buffalo Historical Society, I am per-
mitted to have their original letters, and to present to you copies and
extracts from some of them. First of all John Adams writes:

" ' London, Jan. 6, 1788.

"'Sm, — As I had suffered nnich anxiety on ytiiir iiccount dnrinfr your im-
priBonment, your letter of the 29th of hist month gave me some relief. I re-
joiced to find that yuu was tit liberty imd out uf danger.

'"Inclosed are two letters, which I hope may be" of service to yon. Living
is now cheaper than it has been in America, and I doubt not you will tucceeJ
very well. You will be upon your piiard among tlie Diitcli people in New
York respecting reli;iious principles uutil you have prudently informed your-
self of the state of parties there. If you should not find everything to your
wish in Now York, I think in Pennsylv;in:a you can not fail. But New York
is tb« best place to go to at first.

'"I wi-h you a plesisant voyage, and am, sir, your most

" ' ObtiditiMt Kcrvaiit',

■''.lyHN An VMS.

'* * Rev. Mr. V-^nderkemp.'

" De Witt Clinton writes to him as follows:

"'Albany, 20 April, 1822.
"'Mv DEAR Sir, — ... I shall go to the West early in June to visit the
whole line of llie canal, and, if possible, I will make a diverging visit on my
return to the most Icurnec] man in Aiuerica, AVhen the ajnis basiUcum is
finished I shall consider tins State iis'in a situatiim to Lie as prosperous as she
pleases; but wealth and prosperity, my frieutl, are too often th«' parents of
folly, and the mure opulent tlie State the greater the temptation to the eriter-
priaes of parties.
'"' Mrs. C. joins me in kind n-gards to yon.

"•I am yours nu»st truly,

'*' Dk Wrn" Clinton.
'"F. A, Vandf.rkejip, Esq.'

"Thomas Jefferson writes:

" ' MoNTiCEl.LO, Jan. n, '24.

*" Dear Sir, — Your favor of DeccmVter 28 is duly received. It gladdens nie
with the information that you continue to enjoy liealtli. This is a principal
mitigation of the evils of age. I xush that the hituatiun of our friend, Mr.
Adams, was ecpially comfurtabiti ; but M'hatllearn of h:s ])hysical cundiiiuu
is tiiily deplunible. His mind, however, continues strong and firm, Iiis mem-
ory sound, his hearing perfi'ct, and his epiiits good ; but both he and myself
arc at that time of life when tlieie is nothing befoie ns to produce anxiety for
its continuance. I am sorry fur the occasion of expie&sing my condolence on
the lose mentioned in your letter. The solitude in wliuh we are left hy the
death of our friends \s mie of the great evils of protracted life. When I look
back to the days of my youth it is like looking over a field of battle, — all, all
dead! and ourselves left alone amidai a new guneratioii whom we know not;
and who know nut us.

*' ' 1 thank yon beforehand for the book of j'our friend, P. Vreede, of which
you have lieen so kind as to bespeak a copy for me. On the subject of my
porte-feuiUe, be assured it contains nothing but copies of my letters; in thene
1 have sometimes indulged myself in I'eflection on the things wliich have been
passing, — some of them, like that to llie Quaker to which your letter refei-s,
may give a munient's amusement to a reader. And from this voluminous
mass, when I am dead, a selection may perhaps be made of a few which may
have interest enough to bear a single reading. Mine has been too niueh a l.fe
of action to allow my mind to wander from the occurrences pressing on it.

" ' Th. Jkfferson,'

" ' MoNTiCELLO, November 30, '25.
*' ' Dear Sir, — Your favor of the ICth is just received, and your silence on
the subject of your health makefi me hops it is gond. A dozen years older
than you are, I have no right to expect as gi'od. I have now been confined to
the house six months, but latterly get better, insomuch as for a few days past
to rideal.ttlf on horseback. Although my eyesight i.s so good as not

to use ghuses by day, oil her fm- reading or writing, yet consfcuit occupation in
th(^ concerns of our universiiy permits me to read vei-y little, and that of
conimeiTial science was never a favorite reading with me. The classics are ■
my first delight, and I unwillingly lay them by for tlie productions of the day.
Our univeisity, now the main business of my life, is going on with all the
success I could expect. . . . Hoping you may continue to enjoy good health
and a life of salisraclion, as long as you think life sati.- factory at all, I pray
you to be assured of my affectionate good wishes and great esteem and respect.

" ' Th. Jefferson.'



" Again Clinton writes :

"'Ai,B\NT, 8 Aiirll, 1823.

'"My dkar Sir, — I have sent by mail a collcctioD of Govoruov Olinton'B
B|ieecli<'R, priutud by a bookseller in Now York.

"'Daiito I sliall endeavor to procuro for j-on. *'Ecce Homo" is a. book
highly bUuspheinuiis. Tlie Trinitarians hplieve in the divinity of the person
as well as of the mission of Chrii^t; tlie Unitarians only in the divinity of the
misiion. Botli creeds ascribe the ntmost piirit.y to Jesus, and consider him
with the hiy;iiest veneration; but "Ecce Homo" assails his moral character,
and treats hltn as an imiiostor. This book is not foi' Ralp, and I cannot ask the
author for a perusal; it wonld bo indirect eiicourageiuent. Your letter to
Colonel Mappa on tlie canal, written in 1792, is really a curio&iry. It gives
you tlie oii;^inal invL>ntion of the Erie route, and I sliall lay it by as a Hiibjoct
of momentous reference on some future occitsion. I shall, as I shall soon
have leisure, review your philosophical work with pleasure.*

" Mr. Clinton sent Mr. Vandcrkemp his likeness, and writes about
it as follows :

... "'I am glad you are pleased with the operations of the pencil and
the graver in the representation yon have of your friend. Wbatever their
correctncf-s may be, I (an assure you that I give you a true delineation of his
]ie.;irt when I say Ihiit he will always be happy to hear from you, and announce
to yiiu by words and deeds the sincerity of liis friendship and the entirety of
his re?!pects. My regards to the family. Your^ truly,

" ' De Witt Clixton.

" ' Dr. Vakderkeup.'

"Judge Vanierkemp was very ncir-sighted j and one winter,
having ocsasijn to go tD a neiglilj )rin^ village, he drove his horses
some wayf, when suddenly coming upon a settlement, he inquired
what village that might be, and was informed it was Trenton. He re-
plied, 'Ah, but that may not be, as I have just left there!* But it
was Trenton. Mrs. Ann Jones ti-lls me that when at Esopus he
undertook to cut down a tree. Governor Clinton discovered the at-
tempt, and slipping on a workman's dress, and taking a scythe in his
hand, proceeded towards the judge as if mowing, and, when near
enough, exclaimed, * Ah, mine Hcrr Vanderkerap, you can no more
cut down that tree than if you were a woodpecker !' The judge de-
tected the Governor's voice and threw down his axe, while the Gov-
ernor abandoned his scythe as equally useless.

" When the judge wished to build a barn on his island in Oneida
Lake, although surrounded by a dense forest of all kinds of timber,
he had the frame hewed on the banks of tlie Hudson River, and rafted
all the way up tliat and the Mohawk River, and then into Wood
Creek to the Oneida Lake, where bis chicken-house, as afterwards
visited by others, proved to be a better building than his own dwell-
ing. His forgctfulness brought him into much confusion at timu.s, ns
when in Philadelphia he hired a horse and wagon, talting no note of
name, or street, or number, and so oti his return went driving through
the streets inquiring of the people if they knew Avhose horse and
wagon ho was driving. He had many theories upon agriculture,
but was very much troubled when he discovered that the beans he
planted had made a blunder and come up with the beans on top, and
must all be turned over to grow right.

"Judge Reeves, of Litchfield, Conn., had the same unaccountable
difficulty with his beans, but that did not lessen the respect which all
entertained for these learned men.

"The portrait of De Witt Clinton, referred to in his last letter, is
now in the possession of your esteemed fellow-citizen. Dr. Guiteau.
His father. Dr. Luther Guiteau, was born at Lanesboro', Mass., in
1778. He moved here in 1802, and practiced his profession until his
death, in 1850, and during the forty-eight years of his professional
life he was but once aside from it, and that was when, in 1819, he was
elected to the Slate Assembly. Dr. Luther Guiteau, Sr., was sueeccdcd
in his profession and practice by his son of the same name, and so
from 1802 to this hour there has not been a day in which there was
not some one of that family to care for you, — at the joyous dawn of
life, or at its sad close, or during intermediate hours of sickness.

"Mr. Jones, in his Annals, twenty-five years ago, publishes these
words of the elder Guiteau : ' Not a little remarkable in the history
of his family was their connection with the medical profession. For
many generations it is well ascertained that they had in succession
furnished one, at least, who did credit to himself and honor to the
science of medicine. It is said of (he Swiss that their mountains be-
come their men, and ihey become their mountains. With no less truth
it may bo said of the Guiteau family, the medical profession becomes
it, and it becomes the profession.' The quarter of a century which
has elapsed ^ince Mr. Jones made that f=latemont has made no change

in the relation of the family to the medical profession. May the day
never come when there shall not be found sonic one of that name and
family engaged in this most humane of all prorcssions! The elder
Dr. Guiteau was a firm Democrat, and in a minority in this village of
Federalists. Party spirit ran high, and it was determined to dis-
pense with Dr. Guiteau's services, and so they hired two physicians,
one after the other, whose medicines they hoped would not have a
Democratic flavor. But, alas! when sickness cnme, the people would
call in Dr. Guiteau, aud so the Inst of the political doetois quit the
place in disgust, declaring that he would not stay here and shake (he
bush for Dr. Guiteau to catch the bird. After this the doctor was
master of the field of medicine, and no Democratic ingredients were
found in his practice, although at one ])olitical ptruggle he was
charged with having bled to death a Mr. Culver, a patient of his.
To this the doctor refused to make any reply until election day, whin
be produced the dead man in good health, and received from him a
sound Democratic vote. Generally the Democrats were the sufferers
by the bitterness of party feeling, but on one occasion it served them
a good turn. During the war of 1812 a woolen-factory was started
here, which made uncommonly good cloth, which, at that time, com-
manded $10 a yard, and the Federalists would not permit any Demo-

Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 150 of 192)