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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Horsfall

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[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 863-865 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 founder of the Horsfall family in Schenectady, New York, was Joseph Horsfall, born in Yorkshire, England, of an old English family. He was born in 1781, died in Schenectady, New York, in 1849. He learned the carpenter's trade and quickly became known as an expert workman, having a natural aptitude for tools and inherited mechanical ingenuity. In 1800 he came to the United States and settled in Schenectady, New York, where for several years he followed his trade as journeyman. The first work he did in Schenectady was on the steeple of the old West College, later known as the "Union School" of Schenectady. He took a course in architecture, planning many of the buildings he subsequently erected. After a few years of experience in Schenectady as a journeyman, he began contracting the erection of buildings on his own account. As a contractor and builder he was very successful, his skill in architecture being a material factor in his success. After a long and successful business career he died at the age of sixty-eight. He was a man of great natural ability, quiet and unassuming, very charitable and of the highest integrity. He was a Whig in politics. He was reared in the faith of the Established Church of England, but after his marriage connected himself with the First Dutch Reformed Church of Schenectady that he might worship with his wife in the church of her choice. He married, in Schenectady, January, 1803, Eleanor Groate, born at the Groate homestead at Kinderhook, Columbia county, New York, in 1781, died in Schenectady, 1861. (See Groate forward.) They had ten children, all of whom lived until after the death of their mother.

  1. Elizabeth, born December, 1803; married (first) Barent Felthausen; (second) James W. Taylor; had issue by both husbands.
  2. Mary Ann, born in 1805; married Judge Jeremiah Groate, an early merchant of Crane's Village, Montgomery county, New York; she survived her husband, and died at Medina, New York, where two daughters and one son reside.
  3. Rebecca, born 1807, died at Gloversville, Fulton county, New York, at age of eighty-six; married John Wood, who died without issue.
  4. John Ogden, born 1809, died unmarried in Schenectady, 1886; he was a lumber dealer and an alderman of that city.
  5. Eleanor, born 1811, died in Detroit, Michigan; married Stephen H. Johnson, an attorney of Schenectady and New York City, warden of the State Prison at Sing Sing, New York, in 1864, died at Schenectady, New York, at the age of seventy years, leaving a son, Bishop Joseph H. Johnson, first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, California.
  6. Joseph, born 1814, died 1874; he engaged in the lumber business with his brother, John Ogden Horsfall; he married Gertrude Hinman, of Lansingburg, New York, and had two children who died young.
  7. Captain William, born in 1816; enlisted in the spring of 1861 in defense of his country's flag; was elected captain of a company in the Eighteenth Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, and met his death while gallantly leading his men during the bloody battle of Antietam; he was killed instantly, a bullet piercing his heart; he was a good man and a brave soldier; unmarried.
  8. Harry, born 1818, died 1900, unmarried.
  9. Sarah, born 1820, died 1900; married Howland Swain Barney, founder of the dry goods house of H. S. Barney & Company, a most successful merchant and prominent business man, who died in Schenectady, November 14, 1904; no living issue.
  10. Deborah, born 1825 in Schenectady; she now (1910) resides in her elegant home built on a site where her entire life has been passed. She is in perfect health, and in a quiet unostentatious way supports cheerfully all good causes. She is very charitable and is an active worker in the Episcopal church despite her eighty-five years. She is the last survivor of the ten children of Joseph and Eleanor (Groate) Horsfall.

(The Groate Line)

The immigrant ancestor of the Groate family of the Mohawk Valley was Philip Groat, who came from Rotterdam. Holland, to America, and in 1716 made a purchase of land near Cranesville, Montgomery county, New York, thirteen miles west of Schenectady. When removing to the latter place he was drowned in the Mohawk by breaking through the ice. He was in a sleigh, and his companion was also drowned. His widow and three sons, Simon, Jacob and Lewis, made the intended settlement on the Cranesville lands. In 1730 the Groat brothers erected a grist mill at their place, believed to have been the first one ever built on the north side of the Mohawk. This mill when first erected ground wheat and made flour for the residents upon the German flats some fifty miles distant. The first bolting cloth in this mill was put in by John Burns, a German, in 1772. Prior to this the settlers either lived on unbolted flour unless they sifted it through hand sieves. Lewis Groat, one of three sons of Philip, was a friend of Sir William Johnson. About the time of the revolution, Lewis, a widower with five children, was living upon the Cranesville homestead. He was a comparatively wealthy man, owning the farm and grist mill. One day while standing under a tree on his farm to obtain shelter from a passing shower, he was taken prisoner by three Indians, whom he thought to be friendly and allowed to seek the same shelter. He was taken to Canada and after suffering the tortures of all prisoners to the Indians was sold to a French Canadian, Lewis de Snow, who at first treated him cruelly but afterward was his warm friend. When war was declared between England and France, Groat was claimed as a British prisoner, previous to the capture of Quebec, and for six months was imprisoned near Montreal, but was finally liberated and returned to his Montgomery county home after an absence of four years and four months, to the great surprise and joy of his family, who had given him up for lost. He again married, and John L. Groat, a son of the second marriage, was the father of Judge Jeremiah Groate, who married Mary Horsfall, daughter of Joseph and Eleanor (Groate) Horsfall. Eleanor Groate Horsfall descended from another branch of the same family, who settled first in Columbia county, New York. The family name is spelled both Groat, Groate and Groot, although the latter is a distinctive line founded by Simon Simonse Groot in 1645.

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