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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Genet

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[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 519-521 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

Mrs. George Clinton Genet is the owner of the estate known as the Cantonment, distant about one and one-half miles from the city of Rensselaer, which is situated on the east bank of the Hudson river, opposite the city of Albany. Though spending much of her time in New York City, during the winter months, she regards the Cantonment as her home.

Augusta Georgia Kirtland Genet, only daughter and youngest child of Benjamin Bostwick and Mary A. (McCulloch) Kirtland, was born in Augusta, Georgia, where her father was engaged in business at the time of her birth. Benjamin Bostwick Kirtland, born 1806, died 1859, was of a prominent New England family of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was a son of Samuel Cook and Harriet (Bostwick) Kirtland. Mary A. (McCulloch) Kirtland, born 1813, died 1873, was the only daughter of Hathorn and Christina M. McCulloch. Hathorn McCulloch purchased the Cantonment property from the United States government about the year 1830, and established his home there.

Shortly after the birth of his daughter, Mr. Kirtland gave up his business in Georgia, brought his family north, and made his home with his father-in-law at the Cantonment. He took the entire supervision of the farm connected with the estate, and made many improvements. He became noted as a scientific agriculturist and was for some years, until ill health forced his retirement, treasurer of the New York State Agricultural Society. His exhibits at various state fairs were of sufficient merit to bring him many premiums, in one instance an elaborate service of silver. For an exhibit sent to the first World's Fair at London in 1851, he received a medal and a certificate of merit over the signature of Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria. The Kirtlands had an extended acquaintance not only among the neighboring families of the heights on the east side of the river, but in Albany and elsewhere, and were noted for their hospitality.

Besides their daughter Augusta, Mr. and Mrs. Kirtland had two sons, William Hathorn and Albert Buchanan. William early in life went to New York City, where he engaged in business, first with an uncle, afterwards for himself. He retired a few years ago and now lives at Yonkers. Albert commenced in a bank in Albany, making his home with his parents during the summer. Aside from his business, a military career attracted him. He was a member of the famous Albany Zouave Cadets, a crack military company, and was also aide-de-camp on the staff of Major General John Taylor Cooper, New York State Militia. Upon the outbreak of the civil war he obtained a commission in the Twelfth New York Cavalry, and served with his regiment throughout the war. At the end of his service he was acting brigade quartermaster with rank of major. On being mustered out he went in business in the south. He died in Baltimore in 1896.

In 1863 Augusta G. Kirtland married George Clinton Genet, a lawyer of New York City. Mr. Genet had already attained prominence in the politics of the city, having been identified with the Mozart faction of the Democratic party, and had held the office of corporation counsel of the municipality. After his marriage he retired from the field of politics, confining his activities to the practice of law, in which he was eminently successful. Fortunate investments, coupled with the income derived from the practice of his profession, brought to him early in life a competency. He was tall in stature, erect and of impressive appearance, of fine mental attainments, and of a genial disposition which endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. He was the youngest son of Edmond Charles and Martha Brandon (Osgood) Genet, and was born on his father's estate at East Greenbush in 1824; died in New York, 1904.

Edmond Charles Genet, father of George Clinton Genet, known during his lifetime as "Citizen" Genet, was a conspicuous figure in the history of our country following the revolutionary period. Born in France, and a Frenchman, he commenced his career in the diplomatic service of that country during the reign of Louis XVI. Later, under the republic, as adjutant general and minister plenipotentiary from the Republic of France to the United States of America, he came to this country in his official capacity, representing France as its minister during the administration of President Washington. He was the subject of much unmerited harsh criticism, his assailants, it would appear, being unmindful of the fact that in his actions he was obeying the instructions of the government of which he was the accredited agent. Upon the assumption of power in France by Robespierre and the extreme radicals, Mr. Genet was recalled as minister, but refused to return, choosing rather to remain in our country and become an American citizen. He married Cornelia, daughter of George Clinton, major general in the revolutionary army; first American governor of New York state and vice-president of the United States. Outliving Cornelia Clinton, he married Martha Brandon Osgood, daughter of Colonel Osgood, of Massachusetts, a revolutionary officer and postmaster general in the cabinet of President Washington. Mr. Genet possessed a large estate in East Greenbush, a few miles south of the present city of Rensselaer, where he died in 1834. His remains rest in the cemetery at East Greenbush. A sister of Mr. Genet was Madame Campan, who was lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette at the court of Louis XVI. A niece was the wife of the renowned Marshal Ney, of the first Napoleon's imperial army. Mrs. Genet, of the Cantonment, has in her possession many relics of "Citizen" Genet, also some of Marie Antoinette, the Empress Josephine and Marshal Ney.

The Cantonment was originally a military reservation consisting of about four hundred acres of land situate in the town of East Greenbush, near the city of Albany. It was purchased by the United States government shortly after the commencement of the war of 1812, from the Van Rensselaer patroon, and was known as the Greenbush Cantonment. It was an important military post where many troops were concentrated to be sent where needed in operations incident to the prosecution of the war. Here were large barracks and officers' quarters, a magazine, stables, storehouses and other buildings, and on a commanding summit overlooking all stood the headquarters of the commandant.

In a work published in 1841, entitled "Historical Collections, New York," is a rather crude woodcut giving a partial view of the Cantonment buildings and surroundings; also with a brief historical sketch, is published the verbatim account, written by an army officer, of the military execution of a deserter. The publishers preface the narrative by the statement that it is "shockingly minute in detail." It is, but it is none the less interesting.

Hathorn McCulloch, Mrs. Genet's grandfather, purchased the reservation, as has been previously noted. In the year 1841 he deeded the southern half to his son William A. McCulloch. This part of the original estate is known as Hathornden. On the death of Hathorn McCulloch, Mrs. Benjamin B. Kirtland, his daughter, became the owner of the Cantonment, and on her demise, Mrs. Genet, her daughter, the present owner, succeeded. Mrs. Genet's residence is the one her grandfather transformed and rebuilt for his home from one of the buildings used as quarters for line officers during the military occupancy. On account of its location it was more suitable for that purpose than the commandant's quarters. Though nearly one hundred years old and a frame structure, its several owners have always kept it in repair, and it can be truthfully stated that, with its many improvements, it is a far better building now than when originally constructed, and today, taken in connection with its surroundings, ranks among the beautiful suburban homes in the vicinity of Albany. Stately elms of many years' growth give generous shade to the house, and spacious lawns encompass it on all sides. From the lawn, with its graveled roadway and walks, a shaded roadway leads into the state road, still known as the Barrack road, leading to Rensselaer and Albany. Another road to the south extends through Hathornden to the Columbia turnpike. Besides the residence, other buildings on the estate consist of stables and outbuildings for the exclusive use of the owner, together with a house for the farm manager, a lodge for the gardener and gatekeeper, and barns, sheds and buildings required in operating the farm. Though Mrs. Genet, since the death of her husband, lives somewhat in retirement, she maintains a perfectly equipped and well ordered country establishment, and the Cantonment is rarely without guests when she makes it her home.

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