Prior to the 1800s, printed documents were scarce and there was usually no generally accepted spelling for many words. Most words were written phonetically; whatever combination of letters caused a person to say the intended word was accepted. [Read more…] about Albany Artist Ezra Ames: A Biography
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, there were a growing number of adventurers anxious to explore the sea, find new lands, chart new islands, and if they made their fortune while doing it, all the better.
There were also those just trying to get away from home and signing on to a whaling ship seemed the adventure of a lifetime. [Read more…] about James Eights: An Albany Artist-Scientist Who Explored Antarctica in 1830
Stephen Van Rensselaer III (1764-1839), was orphaned at the age of ten. His father had died when he was five and his mother remarried Reverend Eilardus Westerlo, minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany. She died five years later and Stephen was raised by Abraham Ten Broeck (later Brigadier General) and his wife (Stephen’s aunt) Elizabeth Van Rensselaer.
Stephen attended the John Water’s School in Albany, grammar school in Elizabeth Town, New Jersey and Classical School in Kingston. He then attended college at Princeton, but withdrew to Harvard because of the dangers in Northern New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. In 1776, Stephen’s grandfather Philip Livingston (who had married Ten Broeck’s sister Christina) had signed the Declaration of Independence. [Read more…] about Stephen Van Rensselaer III: The Last Patroon
Tjerck Claeszen DeWitt immigrated to New Amsterdam (now New York City) from Grootholt in Zunterlant in 1656. Grootholt means Great Wood and Zunterland was probably located on the southern border of East Friesland, a German territory on the North Sea only ten miles from the most northerly province of the Netherlands.
By 1657, Tjerck DeWitt married Barber (Barbara) Andrieszen (also Andriessen) in the New Amsterdam Dutch Church and moved to Beverwyck (now Albany). While in Beverwyck, he purchased a house. At this time Albany contained 342 houses and about 1,000 residents, about 600 of whom were members of the Dutch Church. [Read more…] about Simeon DeWitt: America’s Surveyor General
Robert Yates (1738-1801) was born in Schenectady. His parents were Joseph and Maria Yates. He received a classical education in the city of New York and later studied law in the Albany law firm of William Livingston, who was later a signer of the U.S. Constitution.
Yates was admitted to the New York bar in 1760 and thereafter resided in Albany. From 1771 to 1775, Yates was on the Albany Board of Aldermen and considered himself a member of the Radical Whigs, a party carried over from England that had a reputation for strong opposition to corruption and the protection of liberty. [Read more…] about Robert Yates, John Lansing & The Constitution
William Paterson was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1745. His family immigrated to America when William was two years old. Arriving first at New Castle, Delaware, the family settled for a short time in New London, Connecticut. At first, his father traveled around the country selling tin ware, moving the family several times. He eventually settled in Princeton, New Jersey where he became a merchant and manufacturer of tin goods.
Paterson attended local private schools and eventually the College of New Jersey (Princeton) where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1763 and a master’s degree in 1766. Showing an interest in law, Paterson apprenticed with Richard Stockton, who later signed the Declaration of Independence. Paterson practiced law in New Bromley, South Branch. In 1779, he settled near New Brunswick at Raritan Estate, all in New Jersey. [Read more…] about William Paterson & The Constitution of the United States
“The importance of the Hudson River in the present contest, and the necessity of defending it, are subjects which have been so frequently and fully discussed and are so well understood that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon them.” – George Washington
It is hard to imagine a time in the United States when highways did not exist, but that was certainly the case at the time of the Revolutionary War. Some cities could brag of their cobblestone streets but once outside the residential area, roads could best be described as single-lane dirt paths, frozen solid but probably covered with snow in winter, mud bogs in spring, and deeply rutted, jarring, swaying and unstable conveyances the rest of the year.
A small military wagon could move along only as fast as a team of oxen could pull it. Moving armies and cannon along these roadways was a slow, difficult undertaking, offering opposing forces considerable advance notice and many opportunities to thwart progress or attack. [Read more…] about Chains Across the Hudson, Stirling Ironworks & The Townsend Family
In the first days of August, 1777, Albany seemed doomed to be overrun by the British. General John Burgoyne had taken Crown Point, Fort Ticonderoga, Fort George, Fort Anne, Fort Edward and Fort Miller, the last substantial fortified place protecting the city from the north. To the west at Fort Stanwix, a siege was underway requiring many of General Philip Schyuler’s troops being sent to that fort’s defense from their camp on Van Schaick Island, now in the city of Cohoes.
Burgoyne however, had severely stretched his supply line. He was now having problems bringing up food and supplies over primitive roads that had been severely rutted and nearly destroyed by the Revolutionaries. He had to slow down to wait for food and had to keep his supply line protected all the way back to Canada, spreading his troops more thinly. [Read more…] about Revolutionary Albany: The Battles of Saratoga & Loyalist Opposition
After a late-summer of preparations, too late in the fall of 1775, the Colonial Army mounted a two-pronged invasion of Canada. General Schuyler invaded Montreal from Fort Ticonderoga and General Benedict Arnold attacked Quebec.
Schuyler fell ill and was replaced by General Richard Montgomery. Montgomery took Montreal and then marched to assist Arnold at Quebec. [Read more…] about Revolutionary Albany: Setbacks As The War Presses Toward Albany
In early May, 1775 the Revolutionary War was underway on largely local scale. The attack on the British forces leaving Lexington and Concord had happened less than a month earlier, and 4,500 British troops had landed in Boston.
The lightly defended Fort Ticonderoga was taken on the morning of May 10, 1775, in a surprise attack by the Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, with the help of Benedict Arnold. The fort had been held by the British for 16 years, since it was taken from the French in 1759. [Read more…] about Revolutionary Albany: Supplying Ticonderoga, Dealing With Loyalists & Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Relations