Search billions of records on

Article Number 5a - The Van Vechten Patent No. 3 -
Dirk Teunisse, Samuel and Teunis Van Vechten

Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 5a was published on February 26, 1876. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.

Saturday, Feb. 26, 1876 Local Sketches.--No. 5. An Outline of The History of the Town of Catskill, To the Year 1783. By Henry Brace. 

Five years after Dirk Teunisse Van Vechten had made his purchase, his title was confirmed by the Colonial Government. The Patent to him is dated the twenty-first day of March, 1686. It grants the Van Bremen estate, or the Flats; another “piece of land lying before his door,” or the Streeke; a hundred acres of adjoining woodland, and the mill and mill-dam, on the Hans Vosen Kill.

On this estate Van Vechten, coming down from Albany, or from its neighborhood, with his wife and children, lived during the remainder of his life. The farm produced nearly everything the family needed for use, wool, tobacco, maize, and perhaps a little flax. But the chief harvest was wheat, which the fertile low lands bore abundantly. A portion of the crop was, of course, consumed at home. Another portion was brewed into beer, which took the place of tea and coffee on the tables of the yeomen of the valley of the Hudson. The remainder was carried from the farm, at high tide, in boats of light draft, to the small sloops which plied between Albany and New York, and which, while waiting for their load, lay at anchor in the deeper water of the Catskill. But Van Vechten himself had no need of working with his own hands; his business was chiefly the oversight of his farm and his little mill. Besides this duty of superintendence Van Vechten, after 1689, and until the year of his death, was a Justice of the Peace for the County of Albany. But his labors as a magistrate could not usually have been arduous. The arraignment of a drunken Indian for theft, and the occasional trial of an action at law between his neighbors,--if the amount in dispute was not greater than forty shillings,--were the sum of his official duties at home. He was paid by fees, and these, if I rightly interpret an obscure statement in the records of the County at Albany, in a year of unwonted press of business, ran up to the sum of fifteen beavers, or about sixty dollars in silver. But the office was an honor, as it was only conferred on men of established position in the county.

Three times a year Van Vechten went to Albany to attend the quarter Sessions. This court had all the authority which the Quarter Sessions of the English counties exercised during the last half of the seventeenth century. It was a court of criminal jurisdiction, and while it had the power to try crimes of every grade, it, in fact, took cognizance only of lesser offenses, petty thefts, assaults and batteries, the sale of spirits to the Indians, violations of the law relating to bastards.

The court was composed of the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen, of the city, and the Justices of the Peace of the county. I cannot find, however, that the Aldermen ever took part in the proceedings. But with the gentlemen who were wont to be present, with Peter Schuyler, with Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, with Marte Gerritse Van Bergen, with Dirk Wessels, Van Vechten took his seat. And, if the members of the court were in any degree of like habits with the members of its famous model, as that model is described in English novels and plays of the beginning of the eighteenth century, we can readily believe that, in one of the little rooms in the Stadt Huis, after adjournment had been proclaimed, and when the constable had lighted the long pipes of their worships, there went on much friendly discussion over the news of the day, the movements of the French on the frontier, the temper of the Iroquois, the renewal of the stockades and of the block-houses of the city, the condition of the harvests, the state of the fur trade, and the price of wheat flour at Barbadoes.

In the autumn of 1689, there were rumors abroad of an invasion by the French, by the way of Lake Champlain. Preparation was immediately made at Albany for their coming. Stockades were built at Saratoga, at Half-Moon, at Paepsknee, and at the Groote Stick. Power and arms were brought from Fort William, in New-York. Men,--among whom were Francis, the son of Silvester Salisbury, and John and Teunis, the sons or nephews of Dirk Teunisse Van Vechten,--were enrolled, at the daily pay of twelve pence, with their provisions, “to serve their Majesties and the Country upon the Frontiers.” Letters were written to the chiefs of the Five Nations to keep them in their allegiance. Their Sachems and chief warriors were invited to Albany, with a promise that, if they came, “their feet should be well greased.” In all this unwonted bustle, Van Vechten took a share. One reads of him in the old records, that he was in Albany in consultation with Peter Schuyler, the Mayor, and in convention with the members of the Quarter Sessions and the officers of the fort. He was sent to Esopus to get men ready for a march to the frontiers. He entertained, at his house in Catskill, the messengers who were sent to Connecticut for assistance.

Van Vechten died on the twenty-fifth day of November, 1702. His wife, Janetje Vrelant, and his son Samuel, survived him. To the latter, I know not whether by devise or by inheritance, came his father’s lands.

The portrait of Samuel Van Vechten is in the possession of his great great-nephew. The name of the painter has been forgotten, and I have not been able to find any signature on the canvass by which the name might be traced. As Van Vechten was born in 1673, and as the picture represents him as between thirty and forty years old, it must have been painted about the year 1710. It is between a three-quarter and a full length portrait, and is in a state of excellent preservation. Van Vechten is painted in the fashionable dress of the day, in a flowing brown wig, in a brown coat with large cuffs, and with a Sleinkirk of lace or of lawn about his neck. He seems to have been a man of fine presence. His eyes are full of intelligence and a pleasing smile is about his mouth.

His Dutch Bible is also in the possession of the same descendant. It is a noble folio, bound in hog-skin now black with age, and secured by heavy clasps of brass. The book was printed at Dordrecht or Amsterdam, in 1702, in black letter and in clear type, and with ink which has not faded by the lapse of one hundred and seventy-five years.

Samuel Van Vechten died a bachelor in 1741, at the age of sixty-eight years. His lands on the Catskill he devised to his nephew Teunis, the son of his brother Teunis.

I know little of Teunis, the nephew. In 1748 he received a commission as a first lieutenant of a company “of militia foot, whereof Kasparis Bronk is Captain in the first battalion of the regiment of the county of Albany, whereof William Johnson is Colonel.” But it is no longer remembered whether he served under this commission on the frontier. He seems to have been a thrifty man, for he added to his ancestral estate by the purchase of lots five and fourteen in the second sub-division of the Lindesay Patent, of land in the Catskill Patent surrounding Greene’s Lake, of land in the Loonenburg Patent, in Coxsackie, and of land in the Vrooman Patent, on the Mohawk, known by the name of Jersey Field. He moreover added largely to the value of his farm by building, about the year 1770, a grist and saw-mill and a mill-dam on the Catskill, at a cost of a thousand pounds. This mill stood on the bank of the Creek, at the place where the northern end of the mill-dam now is, while the mill-dam, a structure of timber, was built about a hundred feet further up the stream. Teunis Van Vechten died on the third day of April, 1785, at the age of seventy-eight years. His will is of record in the office of the Surrogate of the City and County of New York. He bequeaths his large Dutch Bible, and the portrait of his uncle Samuel, to his oldest son Samuel, “in right of primogeniture,” and devises to him the lands on the Catskill. To his other sons, Jacob, Teunis, and Abraham, and to his only daughter, Elizabeth, the wife of Hezekiah Van Orden, the testator left a large share of the remainder of his estate.

Home         Table of Contents        History of the Towns Home Page

Brace Articles Home Page