By Eli Van Valkenburgh in May 1897

This history of the Van Valkenburgh family written by Eli Van Valkenburgh was submitted by Jane Wood, a descendant and frequent submitter to this website. 



Eli Van Valkenburgh

The Van Valkenburghs, three brothers or more came from Holland and settled at Stuyvesant and Kinderhook in a very early day; about 1650.

One brother went west, another went to Canada, my GdFather, Bartholomew Van Valkenburgh and his newphew John J. Van Valkenburgh used to tell of a terrible storm they encountered on Lake Ontario when going to visit their relatives in Canada. 

The Van Valkenburghs as a race were men rather small 5 ft. 6 in. or 7 in. long bodied, short legs.  Of temperate habits; good constitutions; great vitality; fond of hunting and fishing and generally a long lived race.  James Van Valkenburgh of Plymouth Ind. lived to be 103.  John J. Van Valkenburgh his brother of Chatham 99.  Bartholomew Van Valkenburgh of Chatham 97. And many others of the family lived to a good old age, beyond the common lot of men. 

About 1766 Jacabus, another account has it James Van Valkenburgh, removed from Stuyvesant or Kinderhook and located at Chatham in Columbia County, New York (about one and a half miles south of Malden Bridge) by “posessioning in” by topping the bushes to denote taking possession.  Some four or five hundred acres.  Said land was bounded on the west by the Kinderhook Creek.  Commencing on said Creek about 20 rods south of a brook that emptys into said creek.  Thence east about one mile.  Thence north one mile.  Thence west about one mile to the creek again.  His wife was Nellie Sharp. 

The Van Valkenburgh who located the above land was deaf & dumb.  He had four sons viz: Lawrence (nee Law) Bartholomew (nee Bott) James (nee Coss) and Solomon.  The Dutch of Van Valkenburgh is “Follick”.  The original tract was subdivided as follows.  The south eighty acres was set off to his son Lawrence.  About 160 acres next north (the homestead) to Bartholomew.  The 150 acres or so next north to James, and 60 acres or so at the north end to James. B. Van Valkenburgh, a son of Bartholomew.  Lawrence did not retain his tract very long but sold it to Roswell Holdridge and he (Lawrence) removed to Oswego Co, N.Y. 

Lawrence Van Valkenburgh married Sarah ----- and removed to Oswego Co. N.Y. in 1790.  His son Lawrence Jr. in the shirt & Collar business in Troy, N.Y. is said to have been the first white child born 1792 in Oswego County.  Lawrence Jr. married Elizabeth Lester.  Their son Henry G. born Feb. 8th, 1831, married Sarah Starks.  Albertine Van Valkenburgh (a sister of Henry G.) married Wm. H. Cruduss of Meridian Miss.  The children of Henry G. are Elizabeth who married W. John Stevenson of Seattle Wash.  Lena, Mrs. E. Russell Stevens of Troy, N.Y. Cora, Mrs. James F. Young of West Troy, N.Y. Other children of Lawrence Van Valkenburgh reside in and about Oswego County.

Bartholomew Van Valkenburgh removed when he was about 14 years old from Kinderhook or Stuyvesant with his father to the land “posessioned in” at Chatham about 1766.  He inherited the old homestead and died there Feb. 14th, 1849 aged 97 years.  He married Gertrude Sharp.  Their children were Rachel, who married Samuel Brown, Christina who married John North, both removed to Oswego Co. N.Y.  Some eight miles from Fulton.  Brown had three children (perhaps more).  Jane married Simmon Richmond of Chatham.  James Brown married and had children.  He lived in Chatham and there was a Rensselaer Brown.  I do not know about the North family. Bartholomew Van Valkenburgh was a Revolutionary soldier in Capt. Van Alstynes Co. and went to Greenbush (opposite Albany) and remained there in camp some three weeks expecting the appearance of Genl. Burgoyne and his forces after his defeat at Saratoga they returned to their homes. 

Capt. James B. Van Valkenburgh born in Chatham Aug. 15th 1787 died there Apl. 15th, 1868 age 80 y 8 m, married Clarinda Pitts born in Chatham, May 4th, 1790 died July 3rd, 1871 81 y 1 m 29 d.

James B. Van Valkenburgh was commissioned as Captain by Dan. – Tompkins Gov. of New York during the War of 1812.  He and his Co. were ordered to Hudson, N.Y. where his and another Co. was consolidated.  The Captains cast lots as to who should retain the command and Capt. James B. Van Valkenburgh lost and returned home.

Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh daughter of James B. Van Valkenburgh and Clarinda his wife was born at Chatham, March 25th 1808.  Married Aaron C. Gifford.  Died at Phelps, Ontario Co. N.Y Jan’y 17th, 1885.  Her husband died at Phelps Sept. 30th, 1874.  Born Oct. 4th, 1803. 

The children of Aaron C. Gifford and Elizabeth his wife were: Louisa : James V.: who married Jennie Lessey (no issue). He died at Enterprise Fla. Jan’y 23rd, 1873.  Jesse H. Gifford married Louise E. Sleight, no children.  They life in New York City.  Aaron C. Gifford Jr. married Elizabeth Carpenter of Phelps N.Y.  Their children are Carlota Louise and Henry Cos.  They reside in N.Y.City.  Clara V. Gifford married Albert Miller of Phelps, N.Y.  Their children are Elmer Gifford Miller and Irma V. V. Miller.  Charles Gifford Married Alice Wahu of N.Y. City.  Their children are Charles Herman: Robert Wahu and Elize Gladys Gifford.  They reside in N.Y. City.

Loren Van Valkenburgh, son of James B. & Clarinda his wife: was born in Chatham N.Y. July 30th, 1810.  Died at Coldwater, Mich. Nov. 1st, 1894 age, 84 yr 3 mo 1 d.  His first wife was Angeline daughter of Isaac and Polly Gifford of Chatham N.Y.  They had  one son Gifford Van Valkenburgh of Coldwater, Mich.  He married Arabella daughter of Hon. Esbon Blackmar, of Newark, New York. (no children) 

Loren Van Valkenburgh’s second wife was Annice Huested of Chatham.  Their children were Ella who married Frank Skeels of Coldwater.  Their children are Nina who married Eugene Howell of Coldwater.  ----- and Anna Skeels both died before marriage and Dizie Skeels.  (Mary L.)Lince Van Valkenburgh died when 17 or 18 years old.

George H. Van Valkenburgh (son of Loren) married Flora Smith of Coldwater, they have one son Jay Smith Van Valeknburgh.  Loren Van Valkenburgh’s third wife was Ann Van Ness (Aunt Ann) of Chatham (no children)

Harrison and Minor Van Valkenburgh sons of James B. and Clarinda Van Valkenburgh died at Chatham when children (both the same day) of bloody dysentery, then called “camp distemper”.  Angeline a daughter of James B. and wife died while a child from inhaling steam from a tea pot.  Catharine Van Valkenburgh the youngest of the family died from Croop when 2 or 3 years old.

George W. Van Valeknburgh (son of James B. and wife) was born at Chatham Feb’y 22nd, 1821.  He married Sarah Ann Burgess daughter of Volney Burgess and Poly Lester his wife of Chatham.  The children of George and wife are Volney B.Van Valkenburgh, who married Carrie Rowe of North Chatham.  Their children are John R., George V., Clara, Helen and Harriet.

Clara daughter of George Van Valkenburgh and wife, married Hendrick Hudson of Chatham and died soon after her marriage, leaving no children.  Louisa Van Valkenburgh second daughter of George & wife married Chauncey Ashley of Chatham.  They had one son George. 

Eli Van Valkenburgh appointed Adj. Paymaster with rank of Major of Cavalry by Abraham Lincoln Feb’y 19th, 1863.  Honorably mustered out of service at Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb’y 15th, 1866.  Maj. Eli Van Valkenburgh (son of James B. and Clarinda his wife) was born at Chatham, N.Y. Feb’y 20th, 1824 Died January 10,1902.  He was Pay Master in the army for three years during the Rebellion and for eleven years was Post Master at Hillsdale, Mich.  Was sec. & treas. Of the Detroit, Hillsdale & Potomic R.R. at the time it was built.  He was married Feb’y 8th, 1854 at Newark, Wayne Co., New York to Jane Augusta Blackmar of that place, a daughter of the Hon. Esbon Blackmar and Arabella Reed his wife.  Jane Augusta Blackmar was born at Newark, N.Y. July 5th, 1833 and died at Hillsdale, Mich June 6th, 1880.

The children of Eli and Jane Augusta were as follows:  Arabella born at Newark August 27th, 1855.  The following children were born at Hillsdale, Mich.-viz; Esbon b.March 30th 1857; Agnes Elizabeth august 10th 1859.  Harriett Reed Oct. 4th 1863.  Mary Mumford June 20th 1866.  Jessie Winifred Aug. 9th 1868.  Edith Pitts Nov. 18th 1870 and Maud July 25th 1872, she died Sept 15th 1872. 

Hon. John W. Van Valkenburgh (son of James B. and Clarinda Van Valkenburgh) was born at Chatham, N.Y. June 23rd 1826.  He was commissioned as 1st Lt. Nov. 16th, 1849.  James Bain Col. 3rd division 23rd Regt.  He was First Lt. Co. E 128th Regt. N.Y. during the War of the Rebellion.  He was a member of the New York Legislature from Columbia County in 1866 and a member from Albany Co. in 1873.  He was superintendent of the Albany & Susquehanna R. R., and receiver of the Chatham and Lebanon Springs R. R., President of the Albany Helderberg & Schoharie R. R.

His first wife was Mary Rice.  They had one daughter Anna who married a Mr. Lyon of Albany.  She died at the time of the birth of a son.  He was adopted by his Gd. Father John W. Van Valkenburgh, who had his name changed by Legislative enactment to Dewitt C. Van Valkenburgh.  John W. Van Valkenburgh’s second wife was Louise Allen Smith of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence Co. New York.  Their residence was Albany, N.Y. (no children).  John W. Van Valkenburgh was brevetted Captain, Dec. 19th, 1879, by L. Robinson, Governor of New York.  

Cornelia Van Valkenburgh daughter of Bartholomew and Gertred Van Valkenburgh married Israel Huested and they had two children.  Eliza who married Russell D. Lister of Chatham and they had three children.  Cornelia who married Rev. W. E. Gibbs (Universalist).  Mary who married Henry Sayne of East Chatham, N.Y. and Joseph H. who married Alice Young.  They lived in Washington D. C. where Joseph H. died.  Cornelia Van Valkenburgh’s second husband was George (nee Jerry) Van Hoesen (no children).  They both lived and died in Chatham. 

Rensselaer Van Valkenburgh, a son of Bartholomew and Gertrude Van Valkenburgh married Amanda Palmer.  They had two children, Heber and Gertrude.  The former married for his first wife Mary Griffith of Nassau, N.Y. and they had one son Heber Jr., he married Alvina Crowell of Albany, N.Y. and they had one daughter Anlie.  Heber Jr.’s second wife was Ida M. Taylor of Detroit, Mich.  They had two sons Robert H. and Vivian.  Heber Sr.’s second wife was Anna Varney Hudson of Chatham and they had one daughter, Cora.  Gertrude, daughter of Rensselaer and Amanda Van Valkenburgh married Nicholas Smith of Chatham.  Heber Van Valkenburgh died Nov. 17th, 1909. 

Jane Van Valkenburgh, daughter of Bartholomew and Gertrude Van Valkenburgh married Heber Palmer of Chatham.  Their children are as follows, viz: Platt, Malvina, Eliza, Rensselaer, Israel, Richard, Margaret, Jane, David, Heber and Ziuri.  Platt and Rensselaer died when 16 or there about.  Malvina married Isaac Parker of North Chatham.  Eliza married a Mr. Filkins.  Most of the others are married and have families, but farther deponent sayeth not. 

James Van Valkenburgh, third son of the first settler of the Chatham Tract married Permelia Sutherland.  Their children were as follows, viz: James Jr. John J., Sylvester, Lawrence, Bartlett, Betsey, Samuel, Saloma, Harry; Roxana, Wesley and Amanda.  James Jr. married ------- and removed not far from La Porte, Ind.  He lived to be 103 years of age.  His children reside at Plymouth, Ind.  One daughter married Hon. H. G. Thayer of that place. 

Hon. John J. Van Valkenburgh of Chatham Center, N.Y. was a wealthy and influential member of that community.  He was commissioned as Lt. Feb. 27th, 1812.  He was a member of the Legislature from Columbia Co. in 1820.  He married Katy Van Alen of Chatham.  They had two children Elsey Mariah who married Saml. Wilbor and they had two sons, Samuel a newspaper man in New York City and John J. who resides on his Gd. Father’s old homestead.  James G. Van Valkenburgh (son of John J.) resides at Chatham Center.  He was a member of the New York Legislature from Columbia Co. in 1859.  He married Evaline Wilbor of Chatham.  They have one daughter, Katy, she married Ford Williams of Newark, N.Y.  They reside in Chatham Center and have several children. 

Sylvester Van Valkenburgh’s first wife was -----Pratt of New Concord, Columbia Co. N.Y.  They; had one daughter who married --- Chesterman of Harlem, N.Y.  Sylvester Van Valkenburgh for his second wife married Miss Chesterman of Harlem, N.Y. 

Lawrence Van Valkenburgh (nee Lall) married ---- Lippett.  They lived at Malden Bridge and afterward near Old Chatham.  Their children were Jane Ann who married Aistripp Robinson.  Lydia who married Evan Oliver.  John R. who married Lydia Rhodes, Lorenzo never married, Permelia who married Darwin Root of Chatham and they had several children, Angeline, Sarah and Mary who never married and Aurelia who married. 

Bartlett Van Valkenburgh married  Mary Polly Beebe and lived at New Concord, Columbia Co. N.Y. 

Betsy Van Valkenburgh married Rennselaer I. Hoag of Old Chatham.  Their children were Hannah who married Herman Pratt of New Concord.  Thomas who married Millicent Lay and James who married ------., all of Chatham. 

Samuel Van Valkenburgh married Jane Baker, one of their daughter’s married George G. Cornell and they reside in Washington D. C. 

Saloma Van Valkenburgh married Joseph A. Pratt of Malden Bridge, N.Y.  Their children were Sarah who married Alexander Davis of Stuyvesant, N.Y.  Harrison who married Cornelia Peasley and they have 2 or 3 children.  Charlotte who married a Boucher.  They have one son Pratt Boucher.  Mary who married Franklin Van Ness (no children) and Anson Pratt who married and lived in Buffalo, N.Y. and left three children for his sister Sarah to look after. 

Harry Van Valkenburgh married ----- and had several children, some of the boys were painters by occupation and some of them lived in Albany and some in Kinderhook, NY. 

Roxana Van Valkenburgh married Dr. Turk.  They had one daughter Eulalie. 

Wesley Van Valkenburgh married -----Rogers.  They removed to Jefferson County, New York, not far from Watertown. 

Amanda Van Valkenburgh married Barent Van Alen of Troy, N.Y.  I do not think they had any children. 

Solomon Van Valkenburgh fourth son of the first settler of Chatham tract married ----Salmon.  Their daughter married Thomas Hicks of Nassau, N.Y.  They kept a school near Nassau, called “The Transylvania University”. The father and mother and two sons Alonzo and James, went west where the mother died.  The father returned to Nassau and lived with his daughter until he died and he was buried at Brainards Bridge, N.Y.  Some of the family lives at Richmond, Mass. 

This history was hand written on black paper with white ink, it was given to me by Elliott Gluek, who is the great grandson of Eli Van Valkenburgh.  I have retyped the history only using the parts which include Columbia County residents and history.  The term deaf and dumb was used by the writer and describes what must have been a man born deaf and unable to talk.

The history includes the Pitts Family history as well as the Blackmar Family history, which I have not included here.

The information included here may not be accurate, but I found it very interesting as it came close to placing where my ancestors lived in the Town of Chatham, along the Kinderhook Creek. 

Major Eli Van Valkenburgh – a newspaper article - obit

For many generations, the head of the family of Van Valkenburghs was staat-meister of the city of Haarlem, Holland.  In the latter part of the seventeenth century three brothers, tanners by trade, and evidently younger sons, left their native land to seek their fortunes in the new world and settled near the Hudson River.  No place more desirable could have been found by these wise Dutchmen, as they had fine farming land and good water power, and one of the most beautiful situations in the world, looking across the valley of the Hudson to the Catskills, forty miles away.  They all prospered, married and had families and their descendants are living on these same farms to the present day.

From this hardy stock was born Major Eli Van Valkenburgh, at Chatham, Columbia County, New York, Feb. 20,1821, the sixth of a family of nine children, none of whom are now alive.

His father was born and spent his life at the paternal homestead.  He was Captain of a company in the War of 1812 and instilled patriotism into his sons, which bore fruit in later years.

Major Van Valkenburgh received the customary common school education, which in those days was more strenuous than now, and many was the good story he used to tell of his early instructor, named Josephus Johnson, whose peculiarities would fill a book.

Later he was sent to a seminary in Vermont, where his musical ability and good fellowship made him popular with all.

After leaving school he assisted his older brother in his store at Malden Bridge, N.Y., but soon desired to start for himself and went to western New York, where he became editor of the Geneva Courier.  When he sold his paper he engaged in the general hardware business in company with his cousin, Jesse G. Pitts, at Newark, New York.

While in Geneva, he became acquainted with Miss Jane Blackmar, whose father was a prominent and wealthy merchant at Newark, and February 8th, 1854 they were married.  Eight children blessed this marriage.  The youngest died in infancy, but six daughters and one son are still living.  Mrs. Van Valkenburgh was an intellectual and witty woman.  She cared nothing for society, but her books and flowers and family filled her too short life very full, she died June 6th, 1880.  Deeply mourned by all those who knew her well, and by the poor and unfortunate, who never appealed to her in vain.

 Soon after his marriage, Major Van Valkenburgh moved with his wife to Hillsdale, and became the general manager for his father-in-law.  The Hon. Esbon Blackmar, who owned large tracts of Michigan lands and wished some competent person to look after his western interest.

Esbon Blackmar was at one time representative in Congress from Wayne County, N.Y. and was a broad minded and highly esteemed man.  He was much interested in all matters relating to education, and gave to Hillsdale College the land on which the buildings now stand.  He also built the brick house on the east side of Hillsdale Street at the top of the hill, which is one of the landmarks of the city.  Into this house the newly married couple moved and here two of their children were born.

At the time of the civil war, Mr. Van Valkenburgh appointed paymaster with the rank of Major of Cavalry by Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 19, 1863 and was honorably mustered out of service at Cincinnati, Feb. 15, 1866.  While not actually a soldier in the field, he saw much of the war and had many thrilling experiences.  When the war was over he returned to Hillsdale and engaged in the shoe business with Hiram Pierce.  Later he was secretary and treasurer for the Detroit, Hillsdale and Ypsilanti Railroad, which afterward became the Ypsilanti branch of the Lake Shore Road.

In 1874 he was appointed postmaster at Hillsdale and for eleven years he held that position, giving general satisfaction and enjoying the opportunity it gave him for keeping in touch with his fellow townsmen.  Eminently social by nature, genial, and with a keen sense of humor, he went in and out before the citizens of Hillsdale, his honesty, justice and kindness of heart winning the respect of all.

No one was more easily touched by the sorrow or misfortunes of others, and no one more enjoyed fun than he; a good story was to him a pleasure to be passed on, and his quick laugh rejoiced the heart of the story teller.  His love of nature was his life long pleasure, and with his dog by his side and his gun over his shoulder, he delighted to tramp for miles through the country; whether the foxes were visible or not he was happy.

He was an ardent Republican from the organization of that party, and no one was in doubt where he stood on any question of politics or government.  He was much interested in family history and compiled a genealogy of the Van Valkenburgh and allied families for his own pleasure.  The comparative leisure of his later years gave him increased opportunity for reading, and to the day of his death he was well informed on all the topics of the time and acquainted with the best of current literature.  His passing from this life, January 10th, 1902, was painless and sudden as he would have had it, and it is the pride of his children to have had so honest, fearless and wise a father.