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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Joseph W. Van Schaick

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[This information is from pp. 285-286 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Joseph W. Van Schaick, for many years a prominent farmer of Sharon, Schoharie County, was born in this town, June 5, 1804, son of Koert and Margaret (Wilson) Van Schaick. He was a descendant in the fourth generation of Francis Van Schaick, one of three brothers who emigrated from Holland and settled in New Jersey. Francis Van Schaick died in New Jersey; and his son William, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, settled in Glen, N. Y., where he probably spent his last days. William Van Schaick married Patience Schenck, who also was of Dutch descent.

Koert Van Schaick, father of Joseph W., served in the Continental army during the Revolutionary War, several others of that name, who were relatives, being enrolled among the patriots. He came from Glen to Sharon some time between the years 1790 and 1796; and the title to the homestead, upon which his grand-daughter now resides, was issued in the latter year. He cleared a large farm, built the present residence, which is now about one hundred years old, and was favorably known throughout this locality. He lived to be over seventy years old. His wife, Margaret, who came from New Jersey, was of English and Scotch descent. She became the mother of nine children; namely, Mary, Patience, Margaret, Joseph W., the subject of this sketch, Leffert G., Rachel, Sarah, James, and another son who died in infancy. James, who served as an officer in an artillery company connected with the State militia, was accidentally killed by the premature discharge of a cannon at an election celebration in 1844. He was unmarried. The other seven married, and had families.

Joseph W. Van Schaick succeeded to the homestead, which he occupied his entire life, and was one of the stirring farmers of his day. Though not an aspirant for public office, he was honored with election to various local positions of trust, serving acceptably as Supervisor of the town in 1849, and was highly esteemed for his many excellent qualities. He was a firm, stanch, and lifelong Democrat. He was a prominent member of the True Reformed church of Sharon, and by his liberality and labor was instrumental in a great measure in the building of the church edifice. He died on April 23, 1880, honored and esteemed by all who knew him.

Joseph W. Van Schaick married Elizabeth Slingerland, daughter of Captain Jacob Slingerland, of Bethlehem, Albany County, who died in 1890. Her father died when she was young, and she was reared in Sharon by an aunt. Mr. and Mrs. Van Schaick were the parents of eight children; namely, Koert, Elizabeth, Mary, Catharine, John, Slingerland, Sarah, and Emily. The eldest, who was a well-known singer and teacher, died at the age of thirty-three years, leaving one son, William, who is now residing in Rochester, N. Y. Slingerland died in California. Elizabeth, Mary, and Sarah are no longer living. Emily is the wife of Mr. Van Schaick, of Montgomery County. John is an attorney in Cobleskill, and an ex-State Senator.

Miss Catharine Van Schaick is a graduate of the State Normal School at Albany. She was for several years a successful teacher, but gave up educational work in 1883 in order to care for her mother. After the death of her mother in 1890, Miss Van Schaick took charge of the homestead; and, being a woman of good executive ability, she has managed the property energetically ever since. She possesses literary tastes and attainments of a high order; and these, together with her excellent social qualities, endear her to a large number of friends and acquaintances. She is a strict adherent of the Dutch Reformed church. The house she occupies has long been conspicuous as a landmark. It contains many relics in shape of family utensils used by her grandparents; also the Revolutionary musket, with its highly prized date of 1776 engraved thereon, and the old sword hanging idly in its scabbard high up on the wall.

The Van Schaick family are sturdy-going Americans, and in every generation men of this name have gone forth to serve their country upon the battlefield and in the council chambers of the government. The family cherish the traditions of Alkmaar, Leyden, Brill, and the Beggars of the Sea. They reverence the memory of William of Orange and Prince Maurice, under whom their ancestors fought the Spanish tyrant. But they have transplanted these memories and traditions to American soil, and are thorough patriots. Down to the latest generation the strong qualities of the race have descended. The recent appointment of Louis J. Van Schaick, son of ex-Senator Van Schaick, to a Second Lieutenancy in the United States regular army, marks the beginning of another career which bids fair to be an honored and a useful one.

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