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A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times
7: Adult Freeholders — Arent Van Curler

Prof. Jonathan Pearson

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[This information is from pp. 168-171 of A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times; being contributions toward a history of the lower Mohawk Valley by Jonathan Pearson, A. M. and others, edited by J. W. MacMurray, A. M., U. S. A. (Albany, NY: J. Munsell's Sons, Printers, 1883). It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 974.744 P36, and copies are also available for borrowing.]

[Copies of this book are available from the Schenectady County Historical Society.]

[The original version uses assorted typographical symbols to represent footnotes. To improve legibility, the online version uses the form (page number - note number.)]

The acknowledged leader of the little colony at Schenectady in 1662, was Arent Van Curler. He came over in 1630 as superintendent of Colonie Rensselaerswyck, and continued in office until 1646, besides acting as colonial secretary. In 1643 he married Antonia Slaaghboom, widow of Jonas Bronck (168-2) and soon after settled on the "Flatts," above Fort Orange. Here he remained until the spring of 1662, when he took up his residence at Schenectady and where he remained directing and furthering the interest of the settlers until his unfortunate death.

Having accepted an invitation from De Tracy, the Governor of Canada to visit Quebec, on his journey he embarked in a canoe on Lake Champlain and being overtaken by a storm was drowned in July, 1669. (168-3) No man of his time had so fully won the confidence and esteem of the red men as Van Curler, and to honor his memory they ever after addressed the Governor of the Province by his name. His character for kindness and humanity was known even to the French in Canada, many of whom he had rescued from the hands of the cruel Mohawks; (168-4) to perpetuate his memory they gave the name of Corlaer to Schenectady.

Juffrouw Van Curler continued to reside in Schenectady until her death about the beginning of the year of 1676. On the 27th Jan., 1672/3, in consideration of the loss of her husband in public service, and of her house, barns and corn by fire, Governor Lovelace licensed her to trade with the Indians, it being thought also that her license would stop the quarrels of the other two tapsters, Cornelis Cornelise Vielè and Acques Cornelise Gautsh [Van Slyck], the Indian. (168-5)

The Governor's order on her application is as follows:

Upon ye Request of Antonio Van Curler of Schanechtide presented to His Honor ye Governor, that having not long since received a very great Losse by ffire, there may for her Reliefe bee so farr indulged as to have licence to sell some Rumm to ye Indyans, as also some quantity of Powder and Lead; the Premises being taken into serious consideration, It is ordered that in regard to the very great Losse and Damage sustayned by the said Antonia Van Curler in having her House, Barnes and Corne destroyed as by her is set forth, as also the Losse of her Husband, Arent Van Curler while hee was employed in his Majties Publick Service, Shee, the said Antonia his widdow shall have free Lyberty and Licence for ye space and term of one whole yeare and two Months after the date hereof, That is to say, from the first day of Aprill next untill the 29th day of May wh. shall bee in the yeare of Or Lord 1674, to sell and dispose of to the Indyans or others in and about Schanechtide in Rumme one hundred Anckers and in Lead to the value of two hundred Beavers or 1,000 weight; But for Powder in this conjuncture of time during the Warr, Its thought inconvenient any Extraordinary Liberty should be granted therein."

By order, &c.

"The matter of difference between ye two Tappers [C. C. Vielè, and A. C. Van Slyck] at Schanechtide, not thought fitt any order shall be made therein further, this Liberty to the Widdow probably being a mean to defeat both their Expectations."

Her will was admitted to probate in New York city and letters of administration were issued to Willem Beeckman, Jan. 15, 1676. (169-1) On the 5th of April, 1681, he reported the proceeds of her estate to be fl. 10,805-17 in beavers [$4,322.34]; — debts, fl. 21,171-7 [$8,468.54]; — preferred debts, fl. 4,600-6 [$1,840.12], leaving fl. 6,205-11 [$2,482.22] for other creditors.

The curateurs of Arent Van Curler's estate, were Dr. Cornelis Van Dyck and Johannes Provoost of Albany. (169-2)

Van Curler's home lot in the village was a portion (probably the whole of the easterly half) of the block bounded by Union, Church, Front and Washington streets. After the death of himself and his widow, without issue, this lot was divided into four smaller portions and sold; the occupants of these parcels were as follows:

The lot on the corner of Union and Church streets, 100 by 264 ft., was occupied by Ludovicus Cobes, in 1684; from him it passed to Catrina Otten, wife of Gerrit Symonse Veeder, and remained in his family or connections until after the beginning of this century.

Before the year 1684 Maria, widow of Jan Peeck, lived on the lot immediately north of this, being the west corner of Front and Church streets. Adam Vrooman early came into possession of this parcel. It was here that he so bravely defended his house against the attack of the French and Indians in 1690. In 1718, he conveyed it to Pieter Quackenbos.

The lot next west of the Veeder lot, 50 feet front on Union street and extending through the block 400 feet to Front street was owned by Symon Groot, the first settler, in 1669, and was still in the family in 1790.

The lot next west of Groot's and of the same dimensions, was owned by Benjamin Roberts as early as 1669; from him it passed to Reinier Schaets, who was killed here in 1690; in 1701 Gideon, the son of Reinier, sold it to Albert Vedder, son of Harmen Albertse, the first settler. (170-1)

Owing to Van Curler's great services in extinguishing the Indian title and in procuring a survey and the patents for the lands, he received more than a double share of the choicest land on the Great flat [and village].

The confirmatory patent for this farm was issued to his widow on the 4th of May, 1668, the description being as follows:

"A certain parcel of land at Schenectady lying to the south-east of the Great creek or kil [Binnè kil] to the north of the woodlands, to the South west of a certain small creek [Sand kil, now Mill creek], containing 114 acres or 57 morgens and thirty rods, as granted Aug. 19, 1664, by Governor Stuyvesant to said Arent in his lifetime." (170-2) This land was bounded according to this description, north-east and south by the Great creek, now the Binnè kil, by "a certain small creek," subsequently called the "Sand kil," now Mill creek and by the woods on the sandy bluff; on the west side it was bounded by Pieter Andriaense Van Woggelum's and Catalyntje De Vos' [Bratt's] farms numbered respectively four and one. The Schenectady car works stand on the extreme western boundary of Van Curler's farm, the west fence of the yard being a portion of the dividing line.

After Van Curler's death in 1667, this farm passed to his widow, who continued to reside here until her death in 1677.

The estate being insolvent was sold by the administrators, Cornelis Van Dyck and Johannes Provoost, in 1681, to pay the debts. It was divided into at least five parcels. The westernmost parcel, on a part of which stand the Schenectady car works, was sold to Sweer Teunise Van Velsen, the town miller. After his death in 1690 it fell to his stepson Barent Wemp. The second parcel next east of the lane leading past the car works, was bought by Gerrit Gysbertse Van Brakel, and later in 1741 was divided by east and west lines into three lesser parcels owned by Johannes Abrahamse Truax, Robert Yates and Jacobus Vedder. The third parcel was owned wholly or in part by Isaac Cornelise Swits; the fourth by Barent Wemp and later by his son Jan; and the fifth and largest parcel comprising 20 morgens was purchased by Adam Vrooman and his brother Jan, the former the easterly half next the village and the latter the westerly half.

Notes

(168-2) Jonas Bronck in 1639 became proprietor of 500 acres of land in what is now Morrisania, Westchester Co. — Bolton's Westchester Co., II, 395.

(168-3) O'Callaghan's Hist. N. N.

(168-4) Col. MSS., III, 395.

(168-5) Orders in Council, p. 127; Eng. MSS., XXIII, 149; Col. Doc., II, 652.

(169-1) Bolton's Westchester Co., II, 283.

(169-2) Proceedings of Justices Court Albany, I, 20, 51; Deeds, III, 104.

(170-1) Patents, 647; see also Roberts, Schaets and Vedder.

(170-2) Patents, 535.

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