Henry Van Bergen

From the Biographical Review, Volume XXXIII, located at the Durham Center Museum.
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


HENRY VAN BERGEN, the well-known miller of Coxsackie, N. Y., was born in Athens, Greene County, on December 30, 1850, son of Peter and Mary (De Griff) Van Bergen. The founder of the Van Bergen family in this country came from Holland to Albany, N. Y., in early Colonial times, and later, in 1678, with his three sturdy sons, settled in Leeds, now the town of Catskill. One of the immigrantís sons Peter, by name, was born in Albany. From him the line is through his son Henry, followed by three in successive generations bearing the name Peter, the fourth Peter being the father of the subject of this sketch. Henry, first, and his descendants above named, were all born in Coxsackie. The family is among the very oldest in Coxsackie, and all the land embraced within the town limits was at one time owned by the Van Bergens. The first Reformed church, which was built in 1740, stood on land which was the gift of one of the members of this family.

Peter Van Bergen, the great-grandfather, resided about a half mile from the present village. He died in 1854, at the age of ninety. His wifeís maiden name was Woodbeck. They had a large family of children. Grandfather Peter had a brickyard near the present town of West Coxsackie, or the Lower Landing, which he carried on with great success. He was one of the leading men in the town, and a member of the Assembly in 1846. He was a stanch supporter of the Democratic party. His first wife, the grandmother of Henry Van Bergen, was an Egbertson. She bore him two children. His second wife was before marriage Christiana Van Wormer. She was born in Glenville, Montgomery County. Of her six children, two are living, namely : Isaac, who resides in New York; and Christina, who is the wife of W. R. Adams, at Four Mile Point.

Peter Van Bergen, father of the subject of this sketch, purchased a farm of his own in early manhood, and later had a part of his fatherís farm. He lived just across the line in New Baltimore, and died there at the age of sixty-six. Like his ancestors he was an active member of the Dutch Reformed church, and one of its leading officials. His wife, Mary, who survives him, was born in Amsterdam, N. Y., a daughter of Diedrich De Graff, a farmer, who married a Miss Van Wormer, and had a large family. She is the only survivor of her fatherís family. Her father died at the age of sixty, and her mother at the age of seventy-five. Three children were born to Peter and Mary Van Bergen; and two, Nelson and Henry, are living, both millers in this town.

Henry Van Bergen, the special subject of this sketch, obtained his education in the common schools, and subsequently assisted his father on the farm until the latterís death. He then came to the village and built the grist-mill, which he has since so successfully operated. It is a steam-mill, and has three runs of stone and a set of rollers. A very large custom business is here done in grinding grain, and from this mill large quantities of buckwheat flour are put into the market.

Mr. Van Bergenís marriage occurred in 1886, his wife being Phoebe J., only child of the late Captain James Delamater, for many years one of the best-known pilots on the Hudson River. She has borne him two childrenóMamie and Lawrence.

Mr. Van Bergen upholds the time-honored principles of his family in his adherence to the Democratic party; but he believes in putting in office the best man, regardless of party affiliations. In 1887 and 1888 he was Supervisor in the town of New Baltimore. In 1888 he was candidate for County Clerk, and was elected by one hundred and fifty-one votes, all the other members of the ticket being defeated by three hundred votes. After serving three years he was again nominated in 1891, and was re-elected by a thousand majority, running six hundred ahead of this ticket. Three years later, in 1894, he was again nominated, but failed of election, going down in the Democratic "land slide." In 1896 he was Presidential Elector from this district. He was on the County Committee, being its chairman in 1892, and was re-elected in the following year, but resigned. He has at different times refused the nomination both to the State Legislature and to Congress. He is one of the Town Water Commissioner, and has served on the Board of Education for the last three years, having under his charge the school at West Coxsackie. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias, and he and his family are adherents of the Dutch Reformed church.


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