Jane Van Loan

From the Biographical Review, Volume XXXIII, located at the Durham Center Museum.
Transcribed by Celeste MacCormack.


MISS JANE VAN LOAN, one of the most prominent and highly respected ladies of Catskill, was born in this place, her parents being William W. and Sally (Du Bois) Van Loan.

Her grandfather, Captain Isaac Van Loan, was in his time the leading man of the town, and widely known throughout all this section of the county. He had large shipping interest, and was the owner of several sloops which ran on the river. When young he had learned the masonís trade, and always as long as he lived he took a deep interest in the welfare of mechanics, and aided them in every possible way. Nor was his helpfulness extended to this class alone. Every person deserving of sympathy was sure to find in Captain Van Loanís warm heart, which overflowed with kindness to all mankind, a fountain of consolation, and every worthy cause found in him an unfailing champion. A man of fervid religious aspirations, in the church he was a pillar of strength. He was a member of St. Lukeís Episcopal Church, and many years one of its vestrymen. He took a prominent part in securing in 1801 the erection of the church edifice, which was the first in Catskill. Not only did he aid with generous contributions of money, but he gave much time and personal effort during his service as a member of the building committee. He was one of those genial and whole-hearted men who are sure to make friends wherever they go, and his death caused deep and wide-spread grief. He never neglected the duties of good citizenship. For many years he served the town as Road Master, and for a time was Sheriff of the county. His death occurred in 1840, at seventy-two of age. His wife, who also died at seventy-two, was born in Schoharie. Her maiden name was Jane Dies. She was a daughter of Madame Dies, who was long the first lady in Catskill. Madame Dies lived in the beautiful, old-fashioned house that formerly stood where the Shale brick works now are. She was a daughter of Jacob Goelet, the famous New York family of that name. Captain Isaac and Jane (Dies) Van Loan had five children.

William W. Van Loan, father of Miss Jane received his education in the public schools of Catskill. He began his business career in the village, conducting a grocery store until 1828, when he sold it and went to New York City. There he opened a general merchandise store where the South Ferry Station now stands. In those days New York had not outgrown her early boundaries, and Canal Street was still the end of the city. Miss Van Loan remembers the old city well. In the summer of 1832 the cholera epidemic in New York drove Mr. Van Loan and his family back to Catskill, and the store and the town residence were closed. But in the fall the family returned to the city, where they remained until 1834. Mr. Van Loan than came back to his native place and went into mercantile business here in the store where Mr. Fox now is. He owned considerable land, which had been part of his fatherís estate. He served the town as Postmaster for some years, having the post-office where Mr. Bourke is now located. He died at the age of seventy-two. He and his wife were members of St. Lukeís Church. Mrs. Van Loan was born in this village, and died here at the ripe age of eighty-four. She was a daughter of Captain Barent Du Bois, who was a lifelong resident of Catskill with the exception of time he served in the Continental army during the Revolution. Of the children born to William and Sally (Du Bois) Van Loan, only two grew to adult years. These were Jane and Rachel. Rachel, who died in 1891, at the age of seventy-two was the wife of John Breasted, who was prominently identified with the Alair Iron Works and with the Morgan Iron Works. He was born here, son of Peter Breasted, a painter, who was a lifelong resident in this town. John Breasted had an office in New York for some years, but later returned to Catskill, and in company with others built the Prospect Park Hotel. He was the manager of this until failing health compelled him to give up business. He died in 1884. He gave a bell for St. Lukeís Church.

The Van Loan family has been identified with St. Lukeís Church longer than any other family now living, and Miss Van Loan has recently shown her appreciation of the significance of this fact, as well as her affectionate veneration for her grandfather and sister, by the gift of a beautiful spire and a costly altar rail for the new church. This building is said to be the handsomest on the Hudson, and the spire, which has been erected at the cost of fifteen hundred dollars, is a masterpiece of design and construction, and greatly admired. It can be seen twenty miles down the Hudson, towering up into the blue. In it is hung the bell given by Mr. Breasted. The altar rail, which is of solid brass, is exquisitely engraved, and will be inscribed through its entire length on the front and back. On one side the inscription will be in memory of Mrs. Breasted, and on the other in memory of Captain Isaac Van Loan. It is to be made and put in at the cost of one hundred and fifty dollars.


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