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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Olcott

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 133-137 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.]

The Olcotts, of Albany, New York, descend in a direct, unbroken male succession from Thomas Olcott, the emigrant ancestor of the Connecticut branch of the family, who was among the first settlers of the town of Hartford, and one of the founders of the trade and commerce of the colony of Connecticut. He came from England with the Winthrop company in 1630. There is reason to believe that he was one of the "goodly company" of men, women and children who, in June, 1635, left Newton and other settlements in Massachusetts to plant a new colony in the Connecticut valley. They came through the wilderness until they reached the mouth of the Chicopee river, near what is now Springfield, and followed down the banks of the Connecticut to the spot where in the autumn before, the settlement of what is now Hartford, but then called Suckiange, was commenced. Mr. Olcott had been educated in England, was a merchant, and brought with him the experience and fruits of successful enterprise. In common with Edward Hopkins, Richard Lord, William Whiting and others he engaged in trade, for which the Connecticut was supposed to afford great facilities, especially in the traffic of furs. Mr. Olcott first located himself on a lot on the east side of the Public (now State House) Square. He subsequently became the purchaser of one of the lots assigned to Edward Hopkins in the original distribution of the town among the first settlers. This lot comprised the whole square fronting on Main street and bounded by Pearl, Trumbull and Asylum streets. On the southeast corner he erected a dwelling for his own occupation, which continued m the family for several generations. Thomas Olcott died in 1654, aged about forty-five years. His wife, Abigail, died May 26, 1693, aged seventy-eight years. Children:

  1. Thomas, see forward;
  2. Samuel;
  3. John, baptized February 3, 1639;
  4. Elizabeth, baptized December 7, 1643;
  5. Hannah.

(II) Thomas (2), son of Thomas (1) and Abigail Olcott, emigrant, was born about 1635. There seems to be no record of his death — that he lived to advanced age and until the year 1719 appears by the land records of Hartford, wherein is recorded a deed of land from him to his son, Thomas Olcott, Jr., dated February 14, 1719. His wife, Mary, died May 3, 1721, at Windsor, Connecticut. Children:

  1. Abigail, died March 14, 1688, at Springfield, Massachusetts;
  2. Mary;
  3. Thomas, see forward;
  4. Samuel, died May 10, 1693;
  5. John, drowned May 25, 1685;
  6. Timothy, born 1677, died April 5, 1754; married (first) ————; (second) Mary Field, widow of Ebenezer Field, and daughter of Ebenezer Dudley, of East Guilford, Connecticut; she died April 20, 1740; (third) Elizabeth ————, who died August 29, 1764.

(III) Thomas (3), son of Thomas (2) Olcott, of Hartford, married, 1691, Sarah Foote, of Wethersfield, Connecticut, who died July 24, 1756, in the eighty-sixth year of her age. Children:

  1. Abigail, died at age of eighteen years;
  2. Sarah, born December 12, 1694; married a Mr. Dean, of Plainfield, Connecticut;
  3. Mary, born November 21, 1696; married a Mr. Stoughton;
  4. Cullick, born April 18, 1699, died 1732;
  5. Nathaniel, born September 11, 1701; married Hannah, daughter of Nathaniel Pitkin, of East Hartford;
  6. Josiah, born March 2, 1703, died February 8, 1785; married, May 15, 1740, Penelope, daughter of Rev. Jonah Beckwith, of Lyme, Connecticut;
  7. Margaret, born April 12, 1705; married Richard Ely, of Lyme, Connecticut;
  8. Hannah, born August 4, 1707;
  9. Elizabeth, born November 17, 1709; married Colonel John Pitkin, of East Hartford, Connecticut, brother of Governor William itkin, and great-grandson of William Pitkin, one of the first settlers of Hartford;
  10. a child, born 1712, died in infancy;
  11. Thomas, see forward.

(IV) Thomas (4), son and youngest child of Thomas (3) Olcott, of Hartford, was born in 1713, died May 3, 1795. He was a resident of Stratford, Connecticut. He married (first), 1736, Sarah, daughter of John Easton, of Hartford. She died March 30, 1756; married (second) Sarah, widow of Hezekiah Thompson, of Stratford, Connecticut, and daughter of Zachariah Tomlinson, November 10, 1757. She died May 11, 1811, in the eighty-ninth year of her age. Children by first wife:

  1. Josiah, born July 17, 1737, died at age of ten years;
  2. Sarah, born August 17, 1742; married Thomas Hawley, of Stepney;
  3. John Easton, born July 24, 1749; married Hannah Sands, of Long Island, New York.

Children by second wife:

  1. Thomas, born October 3, 1758; married (first) Mary, daughter of Andrew Thompson, of New Haven, Connecticut; (second), March, 1821, Lucy Mitchell;
  2. Josiah, see forward;
  3. Hannah, born January 25, 1762; married, about 1780, Beach Judson of Stratford, Connecticut;
  4. Mary, born April 3, 1763; married, March 18, 1784, Captain Nehemiah Gorham, who served in the revolutionary war;
  5. Anna, born 1765; married, August 30, 1769, Isaac Bronson, of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

(V) Josiah, son of Thomas (4) Olcott, was born at Stratford, Connecticut, July 19, 1760, died in Hudson, New York, January 24, 1860, in the one hundredth year of his age. He was educated in New England, and settled in Hudson, Columbia county, New York, then a thriving city, with a large fleet of sea-going vessels largely engaged in the whaling industry, that annually brought to the city many tons of whalebone and many thousand barrels of whale oil. In 1785 he engaged in the manufacture of cordage with Thomas Jenkins; built a rope walk six hundred feet in length, and did an extensive business in the making and wholesaling of rope of all kinds and sizes. After the death of his partner he continued the business alone. He was a shrewd and capable business man of energy and direct purpose. The qualities that made his own life a success were transmitted to his posterity as will be seen in the following generations. His long and useful life ended in Hudson and covered a century which saw the colonies emerge from dependencies into a great united independent nation. The second war with Great Britain, the war with Mexico, had terminated just as the nation was plunging into the great civil war. He married Deborah, daughter of Thomas and Deborah Worth, of Nantucket, Massachusetts, June 7, 1794. Children:

  1. Thomas Worth, see forward;
  2. Frederick, born January 16, 1797, died March 29, 1816;
  3. Ann Maria, born November 11, 1798; married, September 27, 1819, Richard I. Wells, of Coxsackie, New York;
  4. Alfred, died in infancy;
  5. Ophelia, born February 18, 1803, died October 10, 1839; married, December 28, 1836, William Henry Folger, of Hudson, New York;
  6. Theodore, born May 28, 1805; married (first), May 5, 1834, Eliza Yates; (second), October 1, 1840, Mary Jenkins;
  7. Jane Matilda, born March 28, 1806, died April 9, 1837;
  8. Orrin, died in infancy;
  9. Horatio Josiah, born January 4, 1810; married, September 6, 1831, Harriet M. Leonard;
  10. Egbert, born October 18, 1812, died May 22, 1873; married, September 5, 1837, Mary E. L. White;
  11. Mary, died in infancy;
  12. Caroline and Cornelia, twins, born December 4, 1818; the former named died March 26, 1885, and the latter November 13, 1899.

(VI) Thomas Worth, son of Josiah and Caroline (Worth) Olcott, was born in Hudson, New York, May 22, 1795, died March 23, 1880, in Albany. He was educated in the Hudson schools, and began his long and successful career in finance as a clerk in the Columbia Bank of Hudson, where he remained two years. He rapidly grasped the fundamental principles governing monetary law. His active mind and quick, decisive character made him an unusually valuable employee, and when the Mechanics' and Farmers' Bank opened its doors for business, July 29, 1811, he was one of the clerical force. On that date began his remarkable connection with that institution; a connection lasting nearly seventy years, the last forty-four years of which were spent in the president's chair. His rise was rapid; six years after the bank opened its doors for business, he became cashier; nineteen years later, in June, 1836, he was elected president. The Mechanics' and Farmers' Bank, whose success, in a large degree must be, and is, by general consent, credited to the genius of Thomas Worth Olcott, was the third bank incorporated in Albany and was chartered ostensibly for the benefit of the mechanics and farmers of Albany county. Its charter provided that none but mechanics and farmer should be elected as bank officers, but some years later was amended so as to authorize the president and directors without reference to their occupation or business. It is a noted fact, and one that created considerable discussion and comment, that the entire first board of directors were Democrats. It had been understood that two Federalists would have a place on the board and they were later substituted. Mr. Olcott was the fifth president, and at his death he was succeeded by his son Dudley, who is the present incumbent (1910). The first period of the bank's history ended by expiration of charter in 1833. At the expiration of the second charter in 1853 the bank closed up its affairs, when the stockholders received one hundred and fifteen per cent., besides their stock in the new bank, which renewed the charter for twenty years and went into operation again with the same officers.

During the civil war the bank closed up its affairs and organized in 1865 under the National Banking laws, having previously operated as a state bank. In 1868 they again chartered under state banking laws, abandoning the national system. The career of the bank has been one of unvarying prosperity excepting only a short period in 1817 when the capital became impaired, owing to the financial troubles growing out of the depression following the war with Great Britain, 1812-14. In 1855 the Mechanics' and Farmers' Savings Bank was incorporated with Thomas W. Olcott as the first president, succeeded in 1880 by his son Dudley. While Mr. Olcott was eminently the man of affairs, and held a position in the financial world second to none and was recognized as a great banker, his obligations to his city as a citizen did not rest lightly upon him. He was an active, as well as a leading member of the boards of several of the public charitable and educational associations that have made Albany famous. His private benevolences were many and cannot be recorded; his public service can. He was vice-president of the first board of directors of Albany Law School organized in 1851, the fourth school of its kind organized in the United States. In 1855 he was elected president of the board, continuing until his death in 1880. He was president of the first board of directors of Dudley Observatory, a scientific institution founded through the munificence of Mrs. Blandina Dudley, widow of Charles E. Dudley, with the co-operation of leading citizens of Albany. The observatory profited greatly through the generosity of Mr. Olcott and that of his sons, the latter furnishing the funds for refitting Olcott Meridian Circle (named for its donor), housing it in a suitable building and remounting it on the new site. He was president of the Albany Agricultural and Arts Association; president of Albany Hospital, in which he took a deep and lasting interest; trustee and president of Albany Girls' Academy; trustee of the Boys' Academy; president of Albany Cemetery Association.

In addition to these institutions, all of which he served faithfully, giving largely of his rare executive ability and unerring judgment, his purse was ever open for all good causes, earning him the title of the "most charitable man in Albany." Returning to his business life he was president of the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad Company, afterward merged into the Boston & Albany system, and later trustee of the sinking fund commission, appointed to retire the bonds issued by the city of Albany to aid in the construction of the road. The retirement of these bonds was successfully accomplished under the guidance of Mr. Olcott and is still referred to as the "greatest piece of financiering ever accomplished in Albany." When Secretary Chase was perfecting plans for a National Bank system he held frequent interviews with Mr. Olcott and was largely guided by his wise counsel. In 1863 he declined a flattering offer from President Lincoln of the position of first comptroller of the currency, but he declined all public office except such as related to the promotion of education or other local interests.

During his business life he developed a wonderful quality of quick, decisive action; strong in his opinions, he was always open to conviction and ready to accept the views of others. His ability to judge human nature and read men was another marked quality. His courage was another attribute that rendered him conspicuous; nothing daunted him and failure was a word with which he was unacquainted. He was identified with the Christian life of Albany as member and trustee of the Second Presbyterian Church. His political life was inconspicuous. In early life and up to 1860 he was a Democrat; then for the remainder of his life a Republican. He was strongly Union in his sentiments and served on the committee having in charge the recruiting and equipping of the One Hundred and Thirteenth New York Regiment (Seventh Regiment, New York Volunteer Artillery). His only other public offices that can be construed as political were as bridge commissioner to select the site of the lower bridge across the Hudson at South Ferry street, and his appointment to the state board of regents. His home in Albany was in the midst of a plot of about three acres of ground and there he gratified his love for flowers and plants to the fullest extent and spent his hours of leisure in their cultivation. He was quiet, unostentatious and domestic in his tastes and habits; giving little evidence of being the wealthy and distinguished financier. He died at his home in Albany in his eighty-fifth year, continuing his active business life until his last illness.

He married Caroline, daughter of Daniel Pepoon, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, August 17, 1818. She died March 12, 1867. Children:

  1. Frederick Worth, born August 10, 1820, died November 2, 1822.
  2. Thomas, born December 31, 1821, died August 27, 1873; married (first), April 3, 1844, Lucia Marvin Fowler, who died August 25, 1850; (second), October 5, 1853, Harriet M. Leonard, who died January 13, 1861; (third), February 19, 1863, Emma McClive.
  3. John Josiah, born March 11, 1823, died April 10, 1899.
  4. Robert, born July 26, 1824, died May 10, 1859.
  5. Mary Marvin, born April 11, 1826, died April 25, 1892.
  6. Theodore, born May 1, 1828, died February 27, 1907; married, October 2, 1856, Ann Hazleton Maynard.
  7. Alexander, born August 10, 1829, died April 21, 1887; married, May 21, 1856, Catherine Amanda Mallory.
  8. Grace, born April 5, 1834, died August 7, 1834.
  9. Dudley, died in infancy.
  10. Dudley (2), see forward.
  11. Frederick Pepoon, see forward.

(VII) Dudley, son of Thomas Worth and Caroline (Pepoon) Olcott, was born in Albany, New York, September 21, 1838. He was educated in the Albany Boys' Academy, and afterward attended the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, where he took a course in civil engineering. In 1858 he became connected with the Mechanics' and Farmers' Savings Bank, of Albany, as accountant. This position he held for seven years, when he became assistant cashier of the Mechanics' and Farmers' Bank, later cashier. For thirteen years he was cashier of this bank, until December 31, 1878, when he was chosen vice-president. In March, 1880, he was elected president, succeeding his father. Under his wise and able management the bank has continued its successful life, and is one of the strong, conservative financial institutions of the state. He is thoroughly versed in the laws governing finance, is devoted to the institution over which he presides, and is recognized everywhere as one of the clearest-headed and ablest financiers of the state. He was president of the Albany Bankers' Association, and represents the Mechanics' and Farmers' in the leading bank associations of the country. In 1861 he toured Europe, since which time his service has been continuous, saving only his annual summer vacation, which is spent in Canada. The connection of the Olcotts, father and son, now covers the period of a full century, 1811 — 1911. Seventy-five of these years have seen them occupying the president's chair. This is both a wonderful and an unusual record, probably unequaled in point of continuous service. Mr. Olcott has no outside business interests although he is devoted to the welfare of many of the leading public institutions of Albany. He is a member of the board of governors of the Albany Hospital; president of the Albany Cemetery Association; trustee of Home for Aged Men; trustee of Albany Orphan Asylum; trustee of the Albany Academy for Girls, and aids other good causes by his influence and liberality. He served his state one term as paymaster general, appointed by Governor Fenton in 1867. He served the city of Albany as park commissioner, was treasurer and later president of the commission during its entire existence. Politically he is a Republican, but his devotion to business precludes all idea of public office. He is a member of the Fort Orange and Country clubs, Albany, and of the Metropolitan, Union League, and Down Town clubs, of New York City. He is fond of the solitude of the great woods, and each summer, for the past thirty-one years has spent his vacation at Ristigouche river, Canada, where his favorite sport, salmon fishing, is his daily occupation. Mr. Olcott's home is the old family mansion in Albany, in the midst of the beauties created and loved by his father, which he perpetuates and continues in loving remembrance. He is unmarried.

(VII) Frederick Pepoon, son of Thomas Worth and Carolina (Pepoon) Olcott, financier, who died at his home, "Round Top," near Bernardsville, New Jersey, April 15, 1909, was born in Albany, New York, February 23, 1841. Upon graduation from the Albany Academy he entered the bank of which his father was the head, and there secured the training and knowledge in financial matters which characterized his business career and placed him in the highest rank of modern, conservative financial men. For a time he was engaged in the lumber business, also a partner with Blake Brothers & Company, bankers and brokers. In 1882 he accepted the nomination and was elected comptroller of the state of New York, which position he occupied for a term of two years. In 1884 he declined the Democratic nomination for governor and accepted the presidency of the Central Trust Company, of New York City, where he remained until 1905; retiring in that year on account of ill-health to his favorite residence and farm, "Round Top," Bernardsville, New Jersey. In addition to his connection with the Central Trust Company, Mr. Olcott was president of the Galveston, Houston & Henderson Railroad, a director of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad and other railroads, of the Bank of America and of the Morristown Trust Company of New Jersey. Personally Mr. Olcott was known as a man of broad, philanthropic tendencies, taking personal interest in the political and social welfare of the community, and ever ready to assist those less successful in the battle of life. He was greatly interested in horticulture, and his gardens were famous for the production of choice plants and rare flowers. He was also a breeder of trotting horses. Mr. Olcott was a member of the Union League, New York Yacht, Metropolitan, Manhattan and Down Town clubs, of New York, and of the Morristown Club. He married Mary Esmay, by whom he is survived, together with a son, Dudley, and one daughter.

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