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the heer and his friends, and smoke the “ pipe of peace.” It was evening, and after a convivial supper the guests grew merry, and General Schuyler offered to bet a large amount that the horse he rode in coming to the feast could beat a famous race-horse named Sturgeon, owned by Mr. Douw, which in his day had won many a purse. It was in midwinter, the ice very slushy, and raining fast. But the Indians and negroes, under Peter Van Loan, the overseer, entered into the sport, cleared the ice, and stationed themselves with lanterns across and down the river. The race was run, old Sturgeon coming in first, amid the shouts and yells of white men, Indians, and negroes, his rider being King Charles, of Pinkster fame. Still another ancient family were the Gansevoorts, descendants of John Wessel Gansevoort (known in his day as Wessel, and “Lux Mundi”). He was an intimate friend of Thomas à Kempis, as well as of Sixtus IV. Soon after the latter was made Pope he asked Gansevoort what he could do for him, whereupon Wessel asked for a Greek and Hebrew Bible from the Vatican Library. “You shall have it,” said the Pope. “But what a simpleton you are why did you not ask me for a bishopric :" “Because I do not want it,” was the simple reply. His descendant, Harmen Harmense Van Gansevoort, was a brewer in Beverwyck in 1660. In 1677 he purchased the lot on the south corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane, which is still owned by his
descendants. He married Maritie Leendertse Conyn. A son by this marriage was Leendert (Leonard) Gansevoort, known by all as the eerlijk mensch.* Early in life young Gansevoort, de promker van Beverwyck,+ won the heart and hand of Catryna de Wandelaer, and they settled on the lot where Stanwix Hall now stands; and from that homestead went forth a goodly family, whose names have been illustrious for honesty, bravery, and all those generous qualities of the now called “old school.” Their son, Harmen, married a daughter of Captain Petrus Douw, of Wolvenhoeck, whose son, Brigadier-General Peter Gansevoort, was the hero of Fort Stanwix. General Gansevoort married Catherine Van Schaick. He was a man of noble presence, of a fearless and magnanimous spirit, undaunted courage, and inflexible integrity. His son, General Peter Gansevoort, was for some time private secretary to De Witt Clinton. His grandson, Guert Gansevoort, commanded the John Adams during the Mexican War, and subsequently the Roanoke. Judge Leonard Gansevoort was a nephew of Harmen Gansevoort. § He was president of the Convention which adopt
* Honest man. + The beau of Beverwyck.
# Afterward Fort Schuyler, now Rome.
§ A granddaughter married Judge Elisha P. Hurlburt, of the Supreme Court. A great-greatgrandson, John Graham Storm, was the first president of the Lenox Fire-Insurance Company, and married a daughter of Rear Admiral Jacob Walton, of the British navy.
ed the first Constitution of the State, April, 1777, and was the first Judge of Probate. His granddaughter is the widow of the late Hon. Alexander S. Johnson, Judge of the Court of Appeals. It will be noticed that the ancestors of these old families had each his trade. One of the great charms of the Dutch life was its simplicity. They did not materially alter their modes of living with the increase of wealth, and they found their happiness in quiet and unostentation. You would have found among them refinement of feeling and cultivated minds, with a due appreciation of things necessary to a higher life. They were as they seemed, simple and true. Lord Bacon says, “If it be a pleasant sight to behold a fair round timber tree, sound and perfect, or a fine old mansion, not in decay, how much more an old family that has stood against the weather and the winds!” Most families die out in two hundred years, but the Van Rensselaers have proved an exception. The founder of the family, old Killiaan Van Rensselaer, was a rich pearl merchant in Amsterdam, who in 1631 availed himself of an offer made by
the Dutch West India Company to grant lands to any one who should fairly purchase them from the Indians and form a permanent settlement. The medium of commerce was seawant, better known as wanpum, which was simply a number of strung shell beads. If black, these beads counted three to a stuiver (two cents); if the interior was white, six. The tract of land granted was on the west bank of the Hudson, including Fort Orange, and a large number of agriculturists and mechanics were sent out to people it. Seven years later Van Rensselaer purchased from the Indians for a mere trifle an immense tract on the east side of the river. It extended twenty-four miles along the Hudson, and forty-eight miles from east to west, including the greater part of Albany, Rensselaer, and Columbia counties, and was called the Colonie of Rensselaerwyck, of which Van Rensselaer was Patroon. That purchase made his descendants very rich, and much of the land still remains in the family. In 1664 the colony passed into English hands, who confirmed the right of soil to the Patroon, but transferred the sovereignty to the British government. There have been few better transfers of real estate in the Old or New World, and it was almost as good as buying the whole of Manhattan Island for twenty-four dollars. The privileges of a patroon were similar to those of an old English baron, and “were an odious form of feudal government.” De Heer Van Rensselaer was descended from a long and honorable line of ancestors, and was himself a refined and educated gentleman of the old school. He never saw his vast estate, but intrusted it to his agent and nephew, Wouter (Walter) Van Twiller. The Van Rensselaer name is closely interwoven with the history of the State, and of all the patroons De Heer is the one especially known as the ancestor of stanch patriots and true philanthropists. The manorhouse was erected in exact counterpart of the Holland residence, and here were stored for generations the massive furniture, richly carved in quaint designs, the silver, and portraits of Dutch ancestry. De Heer Van Rensselaer, “bewindheb
solo Mox VAN
ber,” died in Amsterdam in 1645. His son Jan Baptiste then took charge of the affairs of the Colonie, and was succeeded by his brother Jeremias in 1658, who administered its affairs for sixteen years, and died greatly lamented. His wife was the daughter of the Hon. Oloff Stevensen Van Cortlandt, of Nieuw Amsterdam. His son Killiaan Van Rensselaer married his cousin Maria Van Cortlandt, and from them was descended Stephen Van Rensselaer, known as the “old Patroon.” He was born soon after the accession of George III., and graduated at Cambridge in 1782. His father, who erected the manor-house, died soon after, and his widow married Dominie Westerlo, who had come from Holland to take charge of the Dutch Church. The “old Patroon” was a member of the Congress that elected John Quincy Adams President. By his first wife, a daughter of General Schuyler, he had a son Stephen, called the “ young Patroon,” and the last to bear the title. His second wife was a daughter of the Hon. William Patterson. He sustained Madison in the war of 1812, and, as a general on the Niagara frontier, made his name renowned for courage and gallantry. He owned over 600,000 acres in Albany and Rensselaer counties, besides 350,000 acres in St. Lawrence County, which, together with valuable estates in New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, made him at the time of his death, in 1839, one of the richest men in the country. He was benevolent and greatly given to hospitality, but his tender point was early hours. No matter how distinguished a guest was beneath his roof, when nine o'clock struck he took his flat silver candlestick from the hall table and went to bed. Hendrick Van Rensselaer, the sixth child of Jeremias Van Rensselaer, married a granddaughter of the celebrated Anneke Jans. His son, Colonel Killiaan, was the grandfather of the brave old patriot General Solomon Van Rensselaer, and father of Colonel Nicholas Van Rensselaer, who was with General Montgomery at the storming of Quebec, and engaged
in the disastrous battle before the city's beleaguered walls on the memorable December 31, 1775; he was also the father of Major-General Henry K. Van Rensselaer.
As an example of the ability which marked the career of this family, it can be stated that during the first forty years following the organization of the Federal Government, the district embracing Albany was represented for twenty-two years by those bearing the Van Rensselaer Inanne.
While we recollect with honest pride the industry, integrity, enterprise, love of freedom, and the heroism of old Beverwyck, let us not forget that the truest way to honor our Dutch ancestry is to follow the example of those who knew no fear where liberty or honor was at stake; and let me ask indulgence on the plea that “I am a Dutchman, and so think nothing which concerns the Dutch of unconcern to me.”
RICHARD IIENRY STODDARL).
I would that I might twine a laurel wreath
But thou art standing on Parnassus' height,
A few are clustered on the mountain-top,
Below, a multitude are gazing up
Once gladly through a Castle in the Air
Now, standing with white locks, they list to hear
And they have roamed the storied Eastern land,
And they have listened eagerly to hear
At length it rang when Felix clutched the cord;
Far down the changeful vista of the years
We, too, have mourned when thou hast sadly sung
Yet was there need for sorrow had we asked,
Now, though I can not weave the laurel crown,
This simple leaf, plucked from the laurel bough,