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Schermerhorn Genealogy and Family Chronicles:
Chapter V: Descendants of Cornelius Jacobse Schermerhorn (Part 2 of 4)

Go back to: part 1 of Chapter 5 | ahead to: part 3 of Chapter 5

[This information is from pp. 321-339 of Schermerhorn Genealogy and Family Chronicles by Richard Schermerhorn, Jr. (New York: Tobias A. Wright, Publisher, 1914).]

Fifth Generation

274

FREDERICK, son of (268) Johannes Schermerhorn and Elizabeth Dederick; bp. Apr. 27, 1762, in Catskill; d. Feb. 13, 1847; m. Jan. 16, 1787, in Claverack, SARA VAN HOESEN; b. 1770; d. Oct. 16, 1846.

Children, bp. in Claverack:

The parents of Frederick Schermerhorn removed from Columbia Co., N. Y., to the Catskill Mountain neighborhood in 1758 and there established a home in the woods. Frederick's brother Jacob lived about eight miles away, near "Round Top," with his wife's family, the Stroops. On one occasion when Frederick was visiting his brother's family, the house was visited by a party of Indians, who killed and scalped Mr. and Mrs. Stroop, Jacob Schermerhorn being away at the time and his wife having fled with her two children upon noticing the approach of the Indians. Frederick, then a lad of seventeen, was taken away with the Indians, who eventually reached Fort Niagara and there sold him to the British. He was given his choice of joining the British army or being turned over to the Indians again, and with much reluctance and grief, chose the former. He became a member of a company called the "Foresters" under Guy Johnson and served four years, or until one year after the war. He had many thrilling adventures, which are graphically described in Rockwell's History of the Catskill Mountains. After he was finally released from the British army, he returned to his old home and found that his parents had removed to Hudson, Columbia Co. He was dressed in the uniform of a British soldier and with the changes resulting from exposure, hardship and advancing years, none of his old neighbors knew him. He went to Hudson and found his father and brothers, and none of them recognized him until he made himself known. He remained with his family for several months, and soon after his marriage removed to Stockport, Columbia Co., where his son John was born. From there he removed to Catskill, then to Kiskatom and finally to Round Top in the town of Cairo, where he bought a farm of 100 acres. Here he remained for fifty years, and during the long winter evenings he entertained his friends and relatives with the narrative of his adventures. He lived to see his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up around him and died at the home of his son-in-law, Miller Jones, in his 84th year, a worthy Christian gentleman.

275

JOHANNES, son of (268) John Schermerhorn and Elizabeth Dederick; bp. Jan. 6, 1765, in Catskill; m. Dec. 13, 1786, in Claverack, CATHARINE HELM.

Children:

276

WILLIAM, son of (268) John Schermerhorn and Elizabeth Dederick; b. about 1766; d. Oct. 18, 1824; m. Oct. 13, 1791, in Claverack, MARY VAN HOESEN; b. Apr. 12, 1772; d. May 6, 1858, at Chatham Centre, N. Y.

Children:

William Schermerhorn lived in Hudson, N. Y., in 1790, and though unmarried at this time, according to the census of this year, maintained a private establishment. He later moved to Chatham, Columbia Co., N. Y., as is evidenced by real estate records on file in Hudson. He inherited some of his father's Hudson property, presumably quite a little. His grandson, William L. Van Alstyne, was Mayor of Troy, N. Y., in 1863-4. William Schermerhorn was a member of the Reformed Church at Nassau, Rensselaer Co., in 1805, and in 1821 occupied pew No. 8. He was a member of the Committee appointed in 1820 to purchase a lot and erect a new church building.

277

WILLIAM, son of (269) Jacob Schermerhorn and Elizabeth Whitaker; b. Feb. 25, 1782; bp. in Schachticoke; m. Dec. 25, 1806, in Wynantskill, CATY COLE.

Children:

William Schermerhorn lived on the farm of his father, which was located south of Troy, near the town of Wynantskill, during his early married life, removing later to Poestenkill, a village four or five miles east.

278

JACOB T., son of (270) Tunis Schermerhorn and Hendrickje Konyn; bp. Mch. 11, 1764, in Linlithgo; m. Mch. 1, 1790, in Linlithgo, SARAH SHUTTS.

Children:

Jacob T. Schermerhorn moved from the Manor of Livingston to Lexington, Greene Co., N. Y., some time between 1793 and 1800, and settled on the banks of the old Schoharie Kill, about three miles above Prattsville. He was an industrious, thrifty farmer, raising flax and wool, which was spun, woven and made into clothing at home for family use. He had the largest apple orchard and sap bush in the vicinity, and often made over 2000 pounds of maple sugar in a season; and every Fall would fill his big cellar with apples, potatoes, pork, beef and vegetables to live on during the winter.

He was quite an expert with bees and often had several pounds of honey in the house at one time, there not being much market for such products in the mountain towns in the early days, and no way of sending the product to larger towns and cities.

The family lived well, having plenty of poultry, hens, geese, ducks and turkeys to feast on, besides an abundance of eggs, milk and butter. The streams abounded in fish and the forest, with wild game. Wild pigeons were so plentiful that they often destroyed the buckwheat in the Fall, and the family caught large quantities in nets with the aid of a stool pigeon.

Deer was also plentiful and venison was no rare dish on the family table. When Abram was a young lad, he caught a little fawn in the woods and ran home with it, not knowing at the time that it was a young deer. This fawn became so tame that it would follow the family about like a pet dog, but it was timid when anything strange was in sight.

The family also had privations. Wolves and other wild beasts would often devour the lambs, poultry and even young calves. The children were in danger if they wandered too far into the woods, and many a night the family would be awakened by the howling of wolves hunting for prey near the buildings.

My grandfather, Jacob T. Schermerhorn, brought up a negro boy by the name of Ben Arnold, who was always called when he grew up, Ben Schermerhorn. Ben married and lived in Hunter, N. Y., and raised a family of children. Since his death, his children, altho black thorobreds, still go by the name of Schermerhorn. — (Related by D. Abram Schermerhorn.)

279

CASPAR LEONARD KONYN, son of (270) Tunis Schermerhorn and Hendrickje Konyn; bp. June 29, 1766, in Linlithgo; d. Apr. 2, 1851, in Roxbury, Delaware Co., N. Y.; m. Oct. 7, 1788, ANNATJE SHEFFER, of Hudson, N. Y.; b. Oct. 8, 1768; d. Apr. 2, 1851; dau. of John Sheffer and Hannah Snyder.

Children:

Caspar Schermerhorn lived in the Manor of Livingston until about 1793, when he removed to Greene Co., and finally to Delaware Co., in the Town of Roxbury. His old homestead is still standing.

280

CORNELIUS, son of (271) Cornelius Schermerhorn and Lysabeth Cool; bp. Jan. 20, 1760, in Linlithgo; d. 1832, in Little Falls, Herkimer Co., N. Y.; m. MATILDA DAYTON; b. 1769; d. 1846.

Children:

It is said that Cornelius Schermerhorn was born in the vicinity of Schodack in a town on the Hudson River. He removed to Schenevus, N. Y., where he became the proprietor of a grist mill. Undoubtedly his brother Jacob also had prominent interest in this enterprise, a history of Schenevus (1876) giving account as follows: "At an early day came Jacob Schemmerhorn and settled a little east of the present boundary of Schenevus. After the Spencer's Mills were built, he built a grist mill not far from his own residence, on the Schenevus Creek, which did some business, but was soon destroyed by fire." Cornelius Schermerhorn later moved to Little Falls, Herkimer Co., N. Y., where he died. No trace has been found of the families of any of his children excepting that of his son, Urial Wright Schermerhorn.

Cornelius Schermerhorn and his brother John were soldiers in the Revolution. The Regiment to which Cornelius belonged was disbanded in Connecticut, and on his way home, stopping at a certain house over night, he met the girl, Matilda Dayton, who was later to become his wife, subsequently returning to her home and thereupon bringing his courtship to a happy ending. His brother, John, in later years made his home with his nephew Urial.

281

CORNELIUS, JR., son of (272) John C. Schermerhorn and Annatie Osterhout; b. June 6, 1769; bp. in Rhinebeck; d. Dec., 1860, in Geneva, N. Y.; m. Oct. 12, 1793, in E. Greenbush, CATHARINE VAN RENSSELAER; b. May 23, 1773; d. Mch. 10, 1846, in Geneva, N. Y.; dau. of General Henry K. Van Rensselaer and Alida Bradt.

Children:

Cornelius Schermerhorn, usually referred to as Cornelius Schermerhorn, Jr., probably to distinguish him in his youth from his grandfather, uncle, or some other Cornelius Schermerhorn, was born in Rhinebeck, N. Y., and was John C. Schermerhorn's eldest son. He probably left Rhinebeck with his father in 1785-1786, if not before, and on Apr. 3, 1800, being a resident of Schodack, N. Y., his father deeded to him for a purely nominal sum, ($500.), four-fifths of his Rensselaer Co. property, about 270 acres. Cornelius resided only for a short time on this estate, as he also owned a farm in Greenbush, containing over 325 acres. He married Catharine Van Rensselaer, daughter of General Henry K. Van Rensselaer and grand-daughter of Col. Kiliaen Van Rensselaer. It is said that she was born in the old Van Rensselaer Manor House (sometimes called "Fort Cralo") at Greenbush, now Rensselaer. At least, her father's family lived there. This building is still standing. Cornelius and his wife resided in Greenbush for a period and then removed to Albany, where they remained until 1828. Owing to his connection with the Van Rensselaers, who at that time were people of the highest position in society and of the largest means, he was not led into modes of life which would not provide for any particular economy on his part. In fact, he undoubtedly lived beyond his means, which were not large, and the time arrived when recuperation of finances was necessary. It was undoubtedly due to the effects of these financial difficulties, that he was led to seek new fields of enterprise, and thus removed with his family to Geneva, N. Y. He was a merchant in Geneva and a farmer. He lived there until his death in 1860, at the advanced age of 91 years.

While living in Albany he was a close companion of his brother-in-law, Gen. Solomon Van Rensselaer, the famous old soldier, hero of the Revolution and the War of 1812. He was with him in a serious political affray in 1807, which the papers of the day made much of and which is graphically described in Mrs. C. Van Rensselaer Bonney's Historical Gleanings. The General met on the streets of Albany a certain Elisha Jenkins, whom he accused of being responsible for a scurrilous attack on him in connection with certain political matters, and thrashed him. Some hours later three friends of the latter came upon General Van Rensselaer, and proceeded to assault him in a most serious manner. Cornelius Schermerhorn was accompanying the General and evidently took part in the affray. In the lawsuit resulting from the affair, Elisha Williams characterizes as follows: "It is worthy of remark that while Tayler was surrounded by about 70 of his personal and political friends, Van Rensselaer contended with a host alone. But 'tis said Schermerhorn was there. Yes, Schermerhorn, who as one of the witnesses swears, commanded almost the elements; he that day was there. This giant, this Hercules, this Orlando Furioso, was there. But that he raised his hand against any one until the joint attacks of Tayler, Bloodgood and Cooper had nearly caused the murder of Van Rensselaer, is not pretended by any mortal." Cornelius Schermerhorn was several inches over six feet tall. All tradition qualifies him as particularly handsome of feature. We are thus led to believe that with these other qualities above mentioned, his person was one of some distinction.

He fell in naturally with the graceful ways of living. There are members of the family still living, who recollect the crested coach, with liveried footmen and coachmen, in which Cornelius was accustomed to travel, often when he was calling on some of his country relatives. He always kept in close touch with the latter and particularly in his old age seemed to enjoy his visits to the old homestead farm, maintained by his brother Jacob. Even in the later days when he was not blessed with much of the world's goods, he seemed to be able to keep up the appearances of substantial living. On one occasion during the last year of his life, when he paid a visit to his brother Peter in Schoharie Co., a grand-daughter of the latter describes his advent on the scene as follows: "Cornelius had come equipped with all the appurtenances of wealth, elegant carriage, fine span of horses, coachman, footman, everything wealth could furnish."

The Dwight genealogy speaks of Cornelius Schermerhorn as follows: "He was a man of large and powerful frame, of great intelligence and always an ardent political opponent of the Democracy. His first Presidential vote was given for Washington and his last for Lincoln, and he voted at every such election during the entire period of his life."

282

[Silhouette: original size (4K) | 4x enlarged (11K)] JACOB, son of (272) John C. Schermerhorn and Annatje Osterhout; b. Jan. 17, 1775; bp. in Rhinebeck; d. Sept. 24, 1834; m. Sept. 16, 1798, MARIA VANDERHEYDEN; b. Mch. 14, 1779; d. Oct. 27, 1857; dau. of Derick I. Vanderheyden and Rachel Fonda.

Children:

John C. Schermerhorn informed his son Jacob that if he would marry Maria Vanderheyden, niece of the North Patroon of Troy, he would give him 50 acres of his farm to start housekeeping with. In Sept. 1798, the marriage took place, and in April, 1799, the property was deeded over to Jacob's wife. In 1819, Jacob purchased 53 acres adjoining, and this 105 acres is still in the possession of his descendants.

Jacob Schermerhorn was a man of inflexible will, and strong character. His word was law as far as he was concerned, and whatever course he thought was right, he would pursue, irrespective of circumstances or consequences. This occasionally led him into encounters with the authorities and numerous anecdotes are recalled of him, which denote his strength of purpose and his recklessness of consequences in whatever he believed to be right and just.

He was withal a prominent man in his community, as a man of such character naturally would be. He was termed "Squire" Schermerhorn. He was a successful and prosperous farmer and his inventory made shortly before his death indicates in detail, the wide extent and substantial character of his possessions. The first move he made, when settling on the property his father deeded to him, was to locate his well site. This was according to his father's first instruction. Then he built his house convenient to this and later his barn, not too far from the house. The house was located in a protected swale, encompassed on three sides by the hill slopes. It was built immediately after his marriage, and the barn in 1800, this date being found on some of the heavy timbers, when several years ago it was rebuilt.

It was on this farm that the children of Jacob Schermerhorn were reared. Only one son was born to him, and there was much work to do, in which all hands cheerfully bore their share. Jacob would not allow his wife to do anything but the very light work, and his daughters were called upon to make up for this, though there was no lack of servants on the place; in fact, there were several slaves, one of whom, old "Ginny," is talked about to this day, and to whom Jacob eventually gave her freedom. Though the nearest school was over a mile away, the children tramped there, over fences and through woods, in all kinds of weather. They all received a good education for those times. It was undoubtedly a happy family. Jacob Schermerhorn and his wife were faithful members of the First Presbyterian Church of Troy and drew many of their friends from this source. The Homestead was open to all of their friends and the social gatherings were many. The Rev. N. S. S. Beman, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, was a particularly intimate friend of the family and a frequent visitor. A large portrait of him in oils, which hung in the parlor of the old homestead for years, had been presented by him to the family. Many other well known people of the old days of Troy were frequent visitors at the family homestead, and as years went by, and when Jacob Schermerhorn and his wife had passed away, still the hospitality of the family was maintained, and the friends welcomed by the two unmarried daughters, Maria and Hester, and their widowed sister Julia, who had come back to the old home to live. The stories told of these old ladies have passed on to the present generation — they have been held up as typical examples of superior womanhood. They revered their father's memory and taught the younger generation to take example from him. Their lives were simple and full of charity, kindliness and unselfishness. The old homestead served as a picturesque setting for the peaceful repose of their declining years.

Jacob Schermerhorn was justice of the peace of his town for many years. The records show from 1815 to 1819, but it was undoubtedly longer. His word was authority in the neighborhood, and his reputation was one of strictest integrity, though he was not always an easy man to deal with. Tact and diplomacy were matters of little consequence to him, his course always being one of excessive frankness and straight to the point.

Jacob Schermerhorn also cared for his old parents, until their death. This was to have been the duty of his elder brother Cornelius, who had received the bulk of his father's property, but the financial difficulties of Cornelius at this time became unusually burdensome, and the task was thrust upon his brother Jacob. The latter accepted it loyally, and built an addition to the homestead for the old couple, who lived there in comfort for the rest of their lives.

The old place in Rensselaer Co. still exists, but its present appearance is not as it used to be. An old photograph [original size (55K) | 4x enlarged (198K)] of thirty or perhaps forty years ago, has come to light, showing the old dwelling in a most pleasing aspect, mellow toned from the wear of many seasons, and snugly settled among a grove of locust and ash trees, the lawn sloping gently to a brook several score yards away, and neatly kept flower beds in between. Lilacs and honeysuckles grew near the house, and they were aged shrubs. Around the corner was the old well, with its long sweep to deliver the bucket to and from the depths. Inside the house, one met nothing else but furnishings of the early age; the house was full of it. The beautiful mahogany sideboard, the long haircloth sofa with attractively turned legs, the old four poster bed, the curled maple excritoire with chairs and tables to match, the old "Patroon's chair" (which was said to have been the property of the Vanderheyden Patroons), the "grandfather's clock," the old portraits of great grandmother Schermerhorn, and Dr. Beman on the wall, and those also of some of her grandchildren, the silhouettes of Jacob [original size (4K) | 4x enlarged (11K)] Schermerhorn and his wife, and the collection of old daguerrotypes — these were but a few of the many objects of interest. In the dining room was a china closet filled with antique ware of many kinds and in the kitchen, the old fashioned iron utensils still hung before the great open fireplace. For over one hundred years this old house and its contents remained practically undisturbed. Then, not many years ago, a cottage was built nearby and the occupants of the old house, moved to their new abode, and their belongings went with them. The old house still stands, but it is deserted, and straggling vines and bushes have over-run the once well-kept lawn. The wear of one hundred and twenty years could not help but leave its mark, and it is the early picture of the place that is the pleasanter to dwell upon.

[Photo with grandson: original size (18K) | 4x enlarged (76K)] Maria Vanderheyden, wife of Jacob Schermerhorn was a niece of Jacob I. Vanderheyden, North Patroon of Troy, and her father, Derick I. Vanderheyden, was first cousin of Jacob D. Vanderheyden, the Middle Patroon. She was born in the old Vanderheyden mansion, which was located on what is now River St., a little north of Hoosick St., Troy, N. Y. In fact, a portion of the original building remains to this day, incorporated as a part of a Catholic Institution now occupying the site. Jacob D. Vanderheyden, her father's cousin, Troy's most prominent citizen in the early days, presented to the First Presbyterian Church the ground upon which the church was erected and which it now occupies. He was also one of the organizers of the church, and a leading member of the congregation until his death. There are stained glass windows in the church in honor of the Vanderheyden family. Derick I. Vanderheyden (father of Maria Schermerhorn) owned a large farm on the outskirts of Troy, where Oakwood Cemetery is now laid out. A large portion of this cemetery occupies the site of the original Vanderheyden farm. His father had owned one half of the entire territory upon which the city of Troy is now located. A portion of the Vanderheyden Estate is still in possession of one of his descendants, Miss Jane Vanderheyden. The first dwelling of Derick I. Vanderheyden was demolished about forty years ago, and the present one erected in its place. This is a large commodious dwelling, of fair architectural type and of substantial proportions and construction.

The mother of Maria Vanderheyden was Rachel Fonda, daughter of Capt. John P. Fonda and Dirkie Winne. The Fondas lived on what was called the "Flatts," a district along the Poestenkill Creek on the east border of Troy, near the bridge crossing the creek and leading to Albia. They owned a large estate in this vicinity, over 500 acres, it is said. Where the present pond is formed by a mill dam connecting with a collar shop, was an orchard, and the house was near the present bridge. There is an interesting anecdote relating to this old place. The story dates back to the Revolutionary days, and it was during this period that Derick Vanderheyden was courting Rachel Fonda, who was later to become his wife. It is best told in the words of Mrs. Catherine Schermerhorn Shipherd in a letter to her granddaughter in 1884.

"The house was located on a flat of meadow, bordering on the north side of the Poestenkill, and the south bank of the Poestenkill Creek was a range of abrupt rocks, where the Tories concealed themselves, watching and waiting until the family should leave the house, so they could rush down and rob the premises. There were two brothers and the father at home, and being the Sabbath day, they went out at early eventide to make some calls, and the father, to bring up the cows, leaving the women alone. The robbers seized this opportunity and went into the house, setting a guard at each door while the rest ransacked from dome to base, taking whatever they wanted. My grandfather (Derick I. Vanderheyden) unexpectedly arrived to call on his prospective bride. One of the men took the reins of the horse from his hands, bidding him go direct into the house, which he did, being only one against a party of seven thieves. After they had selected what they wanted, they went to the mother and two daughters and took all the jewelry on their persons, except from the daughter who later became my grandmother. As one of them took her hands to remove her rings, he looked into her face and said: 'You are such a pretty girl, you may keep your rings.'"

Another descendant of John Fonda states that the old grandfather, Peter Fonda, was also in the house when the robbers entered, and that he rose from his chair exclaiming: "Must we give up without a fight?" But he was too old and feeble and powerless to do anything but submit. The Tories took all the silver, linen and guns, and the silver knee buckles belonging to the old gentleman. The guns were afterward found hidden under the old wooden bridge, crossing the Poestenkill, where a more modern bridge now stands. The linen was discovered on the high bank on the opposite side of the creek. Later some of the thieves were caught, tried and sentenced to be hung. One of them returned to John Fonda one of the stolen knee buckles and a spoon, which are now in the possession of one of his descendants.

Mrs. Shipherd describes other incidents of the olden times as follows:

"My grandfather (Derick I. Vanderheyden), died in his 60th year and in due time my grandmother married again, her second husband being Levinus Lansing, one of the founders of Lansingburgh. She was 65 and he was 70, both 'well preserved' and as happy as though 18. My grandmother was dressed in a changeable silk dress, and wore a white crépe cap, and a kerchief of white crépe was pinned on across her shoulders in Quaker style — looking as trim as a girl. Her sister and the latter's husband acted as bridesmaid and groomsman, and the spacious old house, where her children were born and married, was filled with children and grandchildren of the founders of the Cities of Troy and Lansingburgh. And a gay time it was, with a generous supply of wines and cordials, and good cheer with all parties. No Temperance in those days, — yet no Intemperance in that happy plane of society. Strict old time principles and decorum were the order then in the higher circles of society, and colored servants affiliated in both families. And the bonnet I gave you was a part of the outfit of the bride, who, in this case, became the wife of one from each of the families of the founders of the cities referred to. I am sorry, dear, that I could not afford to have the bonnet covered with such material as it had originally. But if you can put the cover in front without the plates in it, and put the bow of ribbon on the band, it will be a correct representation of what it was when your great-great grandmother wore it on her bridal tour, to the house of the bridegroom, aged 70, a spacious mansion, in the city that bears his name on the banks of the Hudson River. The house had huge double doors, finely wrought. When the wedding circle met at his house, there was music and dancing. The Rev. Dr. Blatchford was present and so was your grandmother. It is not common for a young woman to make her grandmother's wedding dress, but I made hers… The old mansion where this wedding occurred and where my grandparents had lived to marry off their eight children, and where these children and their children were gathered on New Year's Day of each year, to greet each other and partake of a feast composed of the best the farm and market afforded, and where the venerable Patriarch, summoned by his descendants, bowed before God and with heartfelt thanksgiving offered up his acknowledgment for the innumerable blessings that crowned their lives, and where he implored the mercy and favor of God for those present and those who might descend from them to the remotest generations — this old mansion still stands (1870) and is occupied by his descendents."

(This was the old house on what is now Oakwood Ave., Troy. It was probably demolished shortly after this letter was written. The last extract is from a letter written Dec. 30, 1870, which had become lost and re-written on request nearly 15 years later.)

Jacob Schermerhorn and his wife, Maria Vanderheyden, are buried in the old family burying-ground located on the homestead farm. His grandchildren, Hester M. and Alfred Howes, still occupy a portion of the original homestead property.

283

CATHARINE, dau. of (272) John C. Schermerhorn and Annatie Osterhout; b. July 19, 1781; bp. in Rhinebeck; d. July 5, 1841, in Troy, N. Y.; m. Mch. 8, 1800, in Schachticoke, JACOB I. VANDERHEYDEN, son of Jacob I. Vanderheyden and Maria Van Schaick.

Children:

Jacob I. Vanderheyden, Jr., was son and heir of the North Patroon of Troy, N. Y. Jacob I. Vanderheyden, the North Patroon, owned that portion of the original City of Troy (in all 490 acres), which was bounded on the south by Meadow Creek, and the North by the Piscawen Kill. This was a third portion of the whole property. The south border actually was that formed by a line passing through Grand Division (now Grand) St., to the River.

285

PETER I., son of (272) John C. Schermerhorn and Annatie Osterhout; b. Aug. 1, 1786; d. Apr. 17, 1865; m. Mar. 25, 1809, CATHARINE LETTS of Kingston; b. Dec. 15, 1791; d. July 12, 1868; dau. of John Letts.

Children:

Peter Schermerhorn was the younger son of John C. Schermerhorn and Hannah Osterhout and was probably born in Rensselaer Co., the same year of his father's removal from Rhinebeck, Dutchess Co., N. Y. His brothers Cornelius and Jacob inherited most of his father's property, Peter being but a boy of 13 or 14 when his father turned over his property to his other two sons. Cornelius had inherited the bulk of the property and when in 1804 he was forced to sell it to keep his skirts clear of some financial difficulties, which his more or less extravagant living in Albany had brought about, Peter found it necessary to shift for himself. At least he was not satisfied with the provisions made for him, and though only at the age of seventeen, he packed up his clothing one night and two big calf law books and left home while the family were sleeping. The following is quoted from a letter of one of his granddaughters:

"After tramping several days he came to a hamlet where a schoolmaster was wanted. He took the position and so began a vocation he followed for many years. It would appear that he kept up his study of the law, for I can remember his going to court and my asking my father if grandfather was a lawyer. His reply was 'Not exactly. He is termed a pettifogger, that is, he can conduct civil cases but not criminal cases, as he was never admitted to the bar.' I know it was his boast that an adverse decision had never been given against him. I think he continued his teaching until my father was well in his teens, and then he took up a small farm. His daughter, Adeline, later induced him to come and live with them, and there he and his wife ended their days."

Besides conducting legal cases, Peter Schermerhorn held a number of public offices, including that of Town Clerk. He was a superior man mentally, and was possessed of great pride and self-respect, which left a firm impression upon his children, and reference to these qualities have become by words of still later generations.

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