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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Pitkin

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 155-157 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 Patronymica Britannica gives the following derivation from the parent name Peter — "Petre, Peters, Peterkin, Pitkin, Peterken, Peterham, Pierce, Pierson, Perkin, Perkins, and others." The name of Pitkin is an abbreviation or derivation of Peterkin, which is kin to Peter. The Royal borough of Berkhamsted, St. Peters, Hertfordshire, appears to have been the English home of the Pitkins at an early date, but the family is traceable over portions of Europe and the West Indies, irrespective of the American branches. The name William seems to have been a favorite one in the family and was the name of the first representative in America. The name in America is an honored one and borne by a United States senator, three members of congress and state senators, a speaker of the house, forty members of the house and senate, two attorney generals, three judges of supreme court, several judges of county and probate courts, several with degrees of D.D. and LL.D., colonial commissioners, a founder of the Western Reserve College, thirty clergymen, two generals, a quartermaster-general, six colonels, numerous majors and commanders, three graduates of West Point, two governors, a lieutenant-governor, a historian of the United States, mayors, bank presidents, surgeons in the United States army and navy, physicians, lawyers, business men innumerable, not to mention other important trusts conferred. "Seldom is it the fortune of any family to have numbered so many individuals raised to places of distinction, in the affairs of state."

(I) William Pitkin, progenitor of the American family, came from England in 1659. Possessing an excellent education he soon gained the full confidence of the colonists. He settled at Hartford, Connecticut. He was educated for the law and perhaps also for the ministry, but the little colony into which he entered had no need of either lawyer or minister, so he applied for and received permission to teach school at a salary of 8 pounds per annum and a load of wood from each pupil or "three shillings in lieu of the wood." He was a man of wealth (part of which no doubt he brought with him from England), as there is evidence that he was the largest land owner on the east side of the river. He bequeathed in his will nearly eight hundred acres of land and his estate inventoried 700 pounds. He was admitted a freeman of Hartford, October 9, 1662, and appointed the same year prosecutor for the colony. In 1664 he was appointed by the King as attorney-general from 1675 to 1690, and annually represented Hartford in the colonial assembly. In 1676 he was chosen treasurer of the colony, in 1676 he was appointed with Major Talcott to negotiate peace with the Indian tribes; in 1690 he was elected a member of the colonial council and so remained until death; he was often employed by the governor as commissioner to settle disputes with other colonies. Aside from his profession he was a large planter, and had interests in a saw and grist mill. Although a member of the Church of England he asked for the rites of baptism for his children in the Puritan Church, and they were so baptized. The records assert that they all "owned their covenant" with and became members of the "First Church in Hartford." He left a large manuscript volume of religious writings which shows him to have been a man of deep piety and of no mean knowledge of theology. "After having filled various and important offices, distinguished for his virtues and ability, he died December 16, 1694." He married, in 1661, Hannah Goodwin, born in England in 1637, died February 12, 1724, only daughter of Hon. Ozias and Mary (Woodward) Goodwin, the progenitors of the Goodwin family in America. Children:

  1. Roger, see forward;
  2. William, born 1664, died April 5, 1723, married Elizabeth Stanley, was a most prominent man;
  3. Hannah, born 1666, married Timothy Cowles;
  4. John, born 1668, died 1706, unmarried;
  5. Nathaniel, born 1670, died February 20, 1733, married Hester Hosmer;
  6. George, born September, 1675, died December 23, 1702, unmarried;
  7. Elizabeth, born October, 1677, married John Marsh;
  8. Ozias, born September, 1679, died January 29, 1747, married Elizabeth Green.

(II) Roger, eldest child of William "the ancestor," and Hannah (Goodwin) Pitkin, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1662, died November 24, 1748. He was a farmer. He built and settled near his father on the first main street on a portion of his father's land. He was a leading citizen. He was one of the selectmen of the town for many years and its first school committeeman in 1720; was commissioner on the "Great Meadows," was appointed by the general assembly captain of the first militia company on the east side of the river, the then (1698) Third Company State Militia. He was actively engaged with his command in defense of the town against the Indians in 1704 and in other troublous times. He "owned the covenant" with the "First Church of Hartford," November 22, 1685; together with his wife; his brother William and his wife, he was received into full. communion August 14, 1692. He married, in 1683, Hannah, born October 13, 1666, died November 1, 1703, daughter of Captain Caleb and Hannah (Cowles) Stanley, of Hartford. Children:

  1. Hannah, married John Bidwell;
  2. Caleb, see forward;
  3. Mary, married Timothy Porter;
  4. Rachel, married Joseph House;
  5. Mabel, died in infancy;
  6. Jonathan, married Rebecca Smith;
  7. Mabel, married James Porter;
  8. Roger, married Esther Cowles.

(III) Caleb, eldest son of Roger and Hannah (Stanley) Pitkin, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, August 19, 1687, died January 16, 1773. He married (first) Dorothy, born, February 19, 1697, died April 17, 1746, daughter of Jonathan and Dorothy (Hale) Hills. Children:

  1. Dorothy, married John Goodwin;
  2. Mary, married Samuel Bidwell;
  3. Thankful, died December 17, 1742, unmarried;
  4. Sarah, married Nathaniel Olmstead;
  5. Caleb, see forward;
  6. Nathaniel, married Thankful Porter;
  7. Hannah, married Aaron Burnham;
  8. Joshua, married Ann Stanley;
  9. Jerusha, married Samuel Olmstead. He married (second) Deborah ————.

(IV) Caleb (2), son of Caleb (1) and Dorothy (Hills) Pitkin, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1727, died October 2, 1768. He was known as "Ensign" Caleb. He married, in 1750, Damaris, died September 18, 1773, daughter of Timothy and Hannah (Goodwin) Porter, who settled at New Hartford. Children:

  1. Caleb (3), died unmarried;
  2. Stephen, married Jemima Tyler;
  3. Dorothy, married Isaac Steele;
  4. Damaris, married Jonathan Marsh;
  5. John, see forward;
  6. Hannah, married John Porter;
  7. Timothy, married Sybil Cowles.

(V) John, fifth child of Caleb (2) and Damaris (Porter) Pitkin, was born in Hartford, January 5, 1761, died August 1, 1837. He married, February 5, 1788, Rebecca, born December 24, 1764, died January 8, 1837, daughter of Elijah and ———— (Roberts) Andrus, of Colebrook, Connecticut. Children:

  1. Sally, died at age of eighteen;
  2. John, died in infancy;
  3. John R., see forward;
  4. Lucy, married Calvin N. Barber;
  5. Elizabeth, married Bethuel Gilbert;
  6. Dorothy, married Sleiting Frisbie.

(VI) John Roberts, third child of John and Rebecca (Andrus) Pitkin, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, September 24, 1794, died September 2, 1874. He began his business career in early life with S. and L. Hulburt, of Winchester, Connecticut, in a mercantile enterprise in Augusta, Georgia. He remained in the south engaged in this and other lines until 1832, when he located in New York in the dry goods business. He was a man of great worth and varied talents. He foresaw the enormous growth of New York City and the advantageous location of some of the Long Island contiguous property. He projected, planned, and with indomitable will and energy founded the city of East New York and Woodhaven, Long Island, and lived to see their growth and prosperity assured. He was a profound student of the questions affecting capital and labor and his fond hope was to see a union between them. He early argued that organized labor must be a competing element in many trades. He saw his position justified, more especially in the boot and shoe trade with which he was familiar. His residence was in Woodhaven, and he died in Brattleboro, Vermont. He married (first) October 1, 1823, Sophia M. Thrall, of Torrington, Connecticut, who died November 30, 1849. He married (second) June 11, 1857, Mary Allyn, born in 1826, died in the eighties, daughter of Luther and Mary Olive (Dickinson) Allyn. Children of first wife:

  1. George D., born November 18, 1824, died February 14, 1886, married Magdelene Vanderveer;
  2. Frances A., born October 17, 1827, married Isaac W. Vanderveer;
  3. Henry F., died in infancy;
  4. Georgianna L., born February 2, 1834, married Edgar W. Allyn;
  5. Frederick E., born April 29, 1836, married Jane A. Hall;
  6. Wolcott H., of whom further;
  7. John W. S., born October 25, 1841, married Julia S. Pratt.

Children of second wife:

  1. Mary Ella, born April 28, 1858;
  2. William T., died in infancy;
  3. Emma V., born July 15, 1866.

(VII) Wolcott H., sixth child of John Roberts and Sophia M. (Thrall) Pitkin, was born in Brooklyn, New York, December 22, 1838. Upon the death of his mother he went to live with his uncle, a farmer near Torrington, Connecticut. When nineteen years of age he entered mercantile life with the wholesale boot and shoe jobbing house of William Smith-Brown & Company. At the outbreak of the civil war that firm retired from business and he became interested in the East New York Boot and Shoe Leather Manufacturing Company, founded by his father in 1858, at East New York, Long Island. In 1859 he was placed in charge of the company's works at Providence Rhode Island. In 1866 he discontinued the manufacture of the company's goods there, and under contract from the state of New York organized workshops, in the Albany County Prison, where they manufactured goods until 1870. In that year the company built a factory on Hamilton street, Albany, fitted it with modern shoemaking machinery, and operated it until 1895, when it was discontinued. Mr. Pitkin was manager of the Albany factory, and conducted it with marked success. Since retiring from manufacturing he has devoted his attention to the care of his large real estate and other interests. Before his father's death he had received from him the charge of all his large real estate holdings in East New York and elsewhere on Long Island, and was a prime factor in the development of much business and residential property, which he advantageously improved, and much of which he disposed of to good advantage. In Albany he also purchased and improved much valuable property, contributing in large degree to the advancement of the city in various localities. In 1909 he took up his residence in Congers, New York, noted for its beauty and healthfulness. Here he purchased a fine farm just on the outskirts of the village, and upon which he is now erecting a beautiful modern residence, principally upon his own plans with an eye to attractiveness and the greatest possible utility. In national politics Mr. Pitkin is a Republican; in local affairs he has always pursued an independent course, supporting such candidates as were best fitted to subserve public interests. He is a charter member of the Fort Orange Club, Albany. His family are members of the Emanuel Baptist Church, Albany, which he attended while a resident of that city. He has traveled extensively, and in 1905 made a six months' tour of Europe with his family.

Mr. Pitkin married, October 21, 1868, Mary W., born July 15, 1846, daughter of H. C. Southwick, of Albany, New York. Children:

  1. John R., born March 23, 1871, died November 13, 1875;
  2. Sophia M., born January 20, 1874, died November 13, 1875;
  3. Edith Winifred, born March 7, 1877; graduate of Wellesley College, and of Tufts Medical College (from which she received the degree of M.D.), and of New York Post-Graduate School; has had considerable experience in hospitals of New York, Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts, and is a capable physician; resides with her father;
  4. Mary S., born December, 1878, died March 20, 1886;
  5. Wolcott H., Jr., born December 6, 1881; graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School; is engaged in the practice of law under United States District Attorney Wise, in New York City.

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