Article Number 5b - The Van Vechten Patent No. 3 Cont'd - Samuel Van Vechten

Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 5b was published on March 11, 1876. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.


Saturday, March 11, 1876. Local Sketches.--No. 5. (Continued.) An Outline of The History of the Town of Catskill, To The Year 1783. By Henry Brace. 

The sons of Teunis Van Vechten were taught to read and write in a little school-house, which stood on the south side of the Snake-Road. Its exact location it is not easy to describe. But the rude cabin was built on a grassy knoll among the old trees, a few rods east of the rivulet, which crosses the road near the remains of a fish-pond, built a few years ago by the GRANTS. 

From this school the boys were sent to the Academy, at Kingston. Abraham afterwards removed to Albany and became one of the foremost lawyers of his day. Samuel spent his life on the ancestral estate, with the exception of the time he passed in the northern army of the United States. In 1776, he received his commission as Captain, in a regiment of infantry of which Anthony Van Bergen was Colonel, and almost immediately entered into the service. On the nineteenth of May, he left Albany on horse-back, and on the twenty-second joined the Northern Army under Schuyler, at Skenesborough. In the labors of the service of that busy year, the order-book of Captain Van Vechten shows that he bore a full share. He was officer of the day, in due routine, at Ticonderoga, at Skenesborough, and at Fort Edward. He duly drilled his little company of recruits, among whom were Solomon Schut, of Catskill, and Isaac Overbagh, of the Kykuit. He was twice bearer of dispatches to Albany. He enforced order and discipline among the carpenters and the boatmen, who had been assembled from the Hudson and the Connecticut to build bateaux for the defense of Lake Champlain. In his turn, he superintended the repairs of Ticonderoga and Fort George.

Skenesborough, as Whitehall was then called, lay at the junction of Wood Creek and Lake Champlain. The hamlet was surrounded on three sides by wooded swamps, in which, under the summer sun, a frightful miasma was created. The soldiers breathed the subtle poison and died of fever by hundreds. I doubt whether the weekly muster-rolls of the captains of companies, when our soldiers were lying among this morasses of the Chickahominy, can tell a story so mournful as the story which is told in the weekly muster-rolls of Captain Van Vechten, when he lay with his handful of men among the morasses of Skenesborough. On the twenty-first of September, 1776, his company was composed of thirty-four men, of whom eight were present for duty and twenty-three were absent, sick. On the twenty-eighth of September, his company was composed of twenty-nine men, of whom twelve were present for duty and thirteen were absent, sick. On the fourth of October, his company was composed of twenty-three men, of whom twelve were present for duty and ten were absent, sick. It was in this region, in the autumn of 1777, that William Van Orden was stricken down with fever, of which, while making his way by easy stages to his home in the Inbogt, he died at Teunis Van Vechtenís house, where he had stopped for the night.

The last entry in Captain Van Vechtenís order-book was made in February, 1777. He remained, however, in the army during the campaign against Burgoyne. But what part he took in the stirring events of that year is no longer remembered.

In 1783, then, the persons who were dwelling in the house of the Van Vechtens were Teunis Van Vechten, an old man of seventy-six years, his wife Judith Ten Broek, their son Samuel, and his wife Sarah Van Orden, a handsome woman of pleasing manners, and their first-born child, a baby of a year old.

The smaller dwelling, which either Van Bremen or Dirk Teunisse had built, and which had its chief door and approach on the east, was torn down in 1750. On or near the same site, the present stone house was in that year erected. It was a story and a half high, and had a steep roof, which extended on the north over a long stoop or piazza. In 1806, another story was added; and at this time, I suppose, was put in the gable of red brick, which makes a pleasant resting-place for the eye, when one is looking from the top of Jefferson Hill down upon the lovely valley of the Catskill.


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