"Garret Abeel Letter
to wife Mary"
Transcribed By James F. Morrison
Albany May 27 1772
I wrote you a short and Evert a Long letter Just before I was a going to set off for the Mohocks Country, last night I returned here again in good health thank God, I shall now give you a detail of my Journey. but first I must let you know for the first four days not being able to Buy, hire or Borrow a horse in this place to go only as far as Mr Van Schaaks, I resolved to walk it and accordingly Wednesday May 20th about 6 o Clock in the Morning I set out and when I had got about 4 Miles up I stopt a one Cadmuss's to take breakfast while there it begain to rain too hard for me to proceed, resolved to wait till ye rain held up, but while I was seting at ye fire for it was cold enough to bear a good fire, a young Man came in who knew me, but whome I did not know after seting together waiting for the holding up of the rain about two hours and seeing not the least prospect of its clearing up, He offer'd that If I wou'd go with him to his House which was but a little way off and dine with him he wou'd after dinner furnish me with a horse to proceed, I cou'd not refuse so good an offer, went to his House found him to be Peter Schuyler and that he was married to Getty Lansing, had a good dinner, and after dinner the weather being cleared up, I proceeded on Horse back to Van Schaacks. about 4 o Clock I got to Lansing Town, where Mr French lives and stopt at his house. Lansing Town Is very pleasently situated near the bank of Hudsons river about 9 Miles from Albany, and promises to be a florishing place. by what I can learn French does mighty well there he has a very good House & Store house, I did not stay long there as he was from home, but got one of his People to set me over to Van Schaacks Island which lays right oposite I went directly to Esqr Van Schaacks House and was very well received by his wife, he being from home, after having drank Tea I took a walk round to view the Island, which I found to be a most delightfull one, with the best situation, sort and other conveniences I ever saw Mr Van Schaak has built him self a fine house on it and may live like a Prince In the Evining he came home and made me welcome I sleept there that night and next Morning retired to Albany again where I got by 12 o Clock. In the afternoon I heard of a Horse to be sold which was strongly recommended to me by every one that I asked about him, early the next morning I went to se him, and told the Person that I wou'd give him an Answer whether I took him or not in 2 hours time, being much divided in mind which might be best to return again directly to New York or go my self and View ye Lands first, Just before I came to any conclusion I received your first letter, which made me determine to stay and get some better Information about Lands before I returned, I then went and bought the Horse tho' at a Price I was convinced was above his Value, but I cou'd not get any other, and the Albany People in general are worse than the Jews, they wou'd take the advantage of their Father being from their Infancy accustomed to over reach both the Indians and Poor German Farmers. The same day Fryday May 21 about 2 o Clock I set out for Schenectady where I got by six o Clock and put up at one R Clinches, Schenectady is about 7 miles from Albany the road to it is though a sand which only bears Pine trees, so that there are only 4 or 5 houses on the Road built for Intertaining Travelers but in which nothing is to be found but Rum and Water no fodder for Horses or food for man but Butter and Bread. Schenectady is a Pretty Place consisting of about 200 houses situated in a Valey, it has three Churches and some very gentle houses, but those are mostly built by shangers who have for some time past and begin more and more to gain the Trade from the Dutch Inhabitants. here I cou'd assign many reasons why this comes to pass, but It wou'd make this letter too long. The next morning about 6 o Clock I set out again. dined about 19 miles from Schenectady and got by 7 o Clock in the Evining to Wm Cebers about 40 miles from Schenectady Ceber lives at Conojohary where a gentle Church is built, I was oblidged to go by Esqr John Abeels to go to Cebers the distance between them is only about one stones throw. not knowing how Esqr John was, I did not care to stop. but told a girl who was milking at some distance from the House who I was and that I was going to Cebers, and shou'd call when I returned to see Mr. Abeel. I had not been above one half hour at Cebers before Esqr Johns wife came in and wou'd have me by all means to go down to her House but being tired and desirous to going soon to bed I declined it. I slept at Cebers and about 8 o Clock Sunday morning May 23 I mounted again to proceed to ye Lands, which Ceber Informed one was about 16 Miles off but that there was a Road to the Lakes near which they lay - I had gone though alonely road about 5 Miles without seeing any one on the Road when I over took a boy, with a bag on his shoulder containing his stockings and shoes to save them while he walked bare foot asking him If I was on the right road he told me I was and that he was going about 8 miles farther on it, to his Fathers House which was the first I wou'd come to, not caring to proceed alone I let my Horse walk and followed him, we did not get to his Fathers House before one o Clock which was a block house situated in the woods with about 2 Acres of half cleared land near it. The Woman made me Tea, Fry'd Eggs and gave me good bread & butter for dinner I found the family consisted of 9 Persons. the Man his wife and 7 Children, he told me that he began now to live and hoped to live better and better every year, After dinner I proceeded being Informed that the Lake was 6 Miles of that I shou'd see a house about 3 Miles off anf then none till I came to the Lake I traveled thus alone though a Wood, and none of the best Roads 'till six o Clock, when though the Woods I saw as by appearance the Ocion, I knew ye Journey wou'd then soon be to an end but Judge my agreeable surprise, when soon After at the side of a Large Lake before me appeared a very good board house with a Peaza round it, and several buildings about it and a saw Mill at a little distance, I made up to it and found one Adam Young with his family the possessor thereof I stay'd there about a half an hour and then proceeded to Hendrick Weavers the Person who bought the Land of Father, I found his House a good blockhouse situated on a Neck of Land between ye Two Lakes of both which he had a prospect. I found also that he was now able to raise from the land which he had cleared more than sufficient for his family, that he had plenty of 5 or 6 kinds of fish Just before his door of which he cou'd at any time take what quantity he pleased that he cou'd in the season shout plenty of wild fowl, and also Deer, I found his land good far beyond expectation and as delightfully situated as ever I saw, and now worth twice as much as he gave for it, The 1 Lake is about 1 Mile long and 3/4 Mile broad and ye other about 2 Miles long and 1 Mile broad, the lands father has still unsold lays about 2 Miles from this Mans House at ye End of the last mentioned lake. It was too late to go to view them that Evining but Intended doing it next morning, but about 9 o Clock at Night there came up the most severe Thunder storm I have remembered for a long time which continued almost through the Night and I can ashure you made the House I was in Shake under me, The next morning what with the want sleep and fatigue of my Journey I found my self too unwell to walk though the wet woods two Miles got all the Information I cou'd of those People who lived near and had been over the lands and much to my satisfaction, though I cou'd not sell them at least for the Cash, I resolved as the weather did not appear setled to return again, and at 11 o Clock got at the house when I had eat dinner the day before did not stay there long but set off again and after I had got about 2 Miles in the Woods I saw a Thunder storm rising behind me. It begain to rain soon after I had then about 6 Miles to ride though a wood and bad road before I came to a house but happily I got only a little of the storm it going aside of me but when I was got about one Mile from the House I saw another coming up very fast. I rode on fast and reached the House just before it began to rain found it Inhabited by one Lansing a young Man from Schenectenday who had my horse put up Immediatly and Insisted upon my staying to dine with him, which I did and about 3 o Clock the rain holding up I proceded again to Cebers were I got about 6 o Clock, I then went directly down to John Abeels house, they were exceding glad to see me. I found him very reasonable, but his Aspect rather wild, he appeared at times thoughtfull, and sullen. his countenance bespoke a man of much greater Age, they Informed me that he had been so well for a long time past. I can ashure you that his appearance and the Reflection of what he had been and might still have been cou'd he have enjoyed his reason, made me feel quite beside my self. I cou'd not stand it but was oblidged to return to the Cebers to try and find something to divert my thoughts, Not many years ago he was a man in full health and very florishing Circumstances so much so that Intending only to make one trip more for trading with the Indians and then to settle himself he purchased this very fine farm and left orders with his Merchant Mr Van Schaak to have him a goods house built by the time he returned, Mr Van Schaak built him a stone house Two or rather three stories high with sash windows in the front four rooms on a floor, very convenient and in a pleasant situation but alass. what's Man, how little can we build on future happeness here below we may promise our self the enjoyment of great pleasure in prospect & to obtain it, spare neither our health our time, nor too often our very honor and honesty, and then behold when we think the time is come that we are to reap the fruit of our Labours. Death cuts us off or we are rendered in some other manner Incapable of enjoying or wishes, the last was Just the case of our poor Esqr who on his return home was deprived of his reason and his house was oblidged to be converted to his prison, he has a small room at one End, strongly fixt up to contain him while the fit is upon him the window is built up with stone above half way and secured with Iron grates - these and such like reflections employ'd my mind till I got on sleep, Towards morning I was waked by a most disagreeable and frightfull dream which I cant help relating, I thought that I was Just returned home and when I came in I heard that you had knowingly and willfully given our dear little Polly Poisen instead of Medicine, I cried I raved, scolded at you, and then expostolated with you In short I was quite beside my self, when I was told that she began to puke I then ordered plenty of sweet Oil to be given her and through the great preturbation of mind I got awake before I knew the effect of the Oil, think how much I was frightened, but how glad when I found it only a dream, God send that it may not portend any harm to her or you she has ever since been uppermost next to you in my thoughts oh cou'd I but be for one day amouring you. and then ye back again how glad shou'd I be, But to proceed the next Morning Tuesday May 25th It rained when I got up so went and Eat breakfast at Esqr Abeels tho' with reluctance, after breakfast It held up a little of raining and Mr Ceber being oblidged to go to Johnson Hall or rather Johnstown where Sir William lives I agreed to accompany him as I was told it wou'd not be much out of my way. at 9 o Clock we sat out and proceeded through Steen Rabie a very flourishing settlement where there is two Churches to Johnson were we arrived at 1 [? the number is a blotch] o Clock I put up at one Tices in Johnstown, This town is designed to be the County Town of Tryon County, there is already a fine Stone Church built in it and they were beginning the foundation for the City hall, it consists at present of one Wide street which contains about 20 houses built all within a very few years and many of them this year. It must become a flourishing Settlement in a very little time, I left it at 2 o Clock and by seven got at one Bones near the Mohocks river about 20 miles from Schenectendy there I lodged and the Next morning tho' it rained proceeded on my return I dined at Schenectendy and by 7 o Clock yesterday being Wednesday Evining I got safe to Albany, there had the agreeable pleasure of hearing from Two Men who were come from Acquackenough and had left N York last Saterday, that they had been in our house and left all well soon after getting to Esqr Willets I had the agreeable pleasure of finding a letter from you and also one from Evert. I shall stay today and it may be tomorrow in this place and then proceed to Spencer Town geting all the Information I can about the lands, and soon after If God pleases come back to this place and Embark for N York I can not set any time when I shall be able to set out again for home. I dont think it will answer any good end for me to stay 'till ye Commissioners go on the survey which will not be 'till ye ninth of June and then they cannot proceed with greater dispatch on Account of my staying. It will be at least 3 Months before they will be able to finish their Survey as the Tract they now are going to lay out is very large containing 72,000 Acres on which there lives 300 Falulies [sic], I cant learn that they are like to meet with any oposition from the Inhabitants -
I am extreemely sorry to Inform you that at my return here I found Esqr Cathina Willet very Ill she has keept her bed then two days David and James have not been here yet nor are they expected 'till next Tuesday. Mrs Brinckerhoff and Caty are both well, they will not return 'till the business is finished.
- This letter I find so long that unless I conclude I shall not have time to Write Evert by this oppertunity, Hope this will find our dear little ones well, kiss them for me and tell Garry I have got a horse for him to ride, Polly that this is such a poor place that I can not get any thing to send her. I shall If I can bring them some Albany Cokies - My Love to all Relations & Friends and believe me my Dear & Dearest
Polly Forever -
Your Loving Husband
P.S. Evert most try and
get Potts of James by all
means If he can -
SOURCE: DOCUMENT NO. 13936, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND MANUSCRIPTS, NEW YORK STATE LIBRARY, ALBANY.
The above letter was typed for Fulton County's site by Johannah (Baum) Adams. Johannah's ancestors are from Oppenheim and she writes: "Frederick Baum. It was donated by James F. Morrison.
Copyright ©2000, James
Copyright ©2000, Johannah Adams, Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.
Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:35:28 PDT