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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Jacob Van Valkenburgh, M. D.

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[This information is from pp. 342-345 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.]

Jacob Van Valkenburgh, M. D., of Sharon, Schoharie County, N. Y., was born in this town, June 13, 1839, son of Henry and Olive L. (Roth) Van Valkenburgh. His ancestors were Germans from the Lower Palatinate of the Rhine, or Pfalz, Germany. They came in the great Palatinate exodus about 1709. The original surname was Falkenburg. Some members of the family wrote it Valkenburg, and about the beginning of the present century it assumed its present form, Van Valkenburgh.

Dr. Van Valkenburgh is a lineal descendant in the sixth generation of Arnold Van Valkenburgh, who came to America accompanied by his wife and one son, the latter being then eight years old. Arnold Van Valkenburgh resided in Ulster County, New York, from 1709 to 1713, when he came to Schoharie County, and acquired from the Indians a tract of land. His son, John Joseph Van Valkenburgh, also resided in this county. The latter, who was the great-great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, served in the French and Indian War as an Ensign. He was also a private in Colonel Kilian Van Rensselaer's regiment in the Revolutionary War, and acted as a scout. He had three sons — Adam, Joachim, and Joseph. The second son, Joachim, was shot by an Indian at Jefferson Lake in this county.

The third Joseph, who was Dr. Van Valkenburgh's great-grandfather, was born in 1744. He and his two brothers served in the Revolutionary War as privates in a regiment commanded by Colonel Peter Vrooman. Joseph Van Valkenburgh was the first of the family to locate in Sharon. The farm he cleared is now owned by John J. Van Valkenburgh, a distant relative of Dr. Jacob Van Valkenburgh. The log house of the pioneer stood about one mile from his great-grandson's residence. Joseph Van Valkenburgh married Magdaline Brown, who was born in 1742. Their children were: Lana, Merie, Eve, Adam, John Joseph, Elizabeth, Nancy, Peter, Merie (second), Margaret, Jacob, Joachim, and Henry. Joseph, the father, died March 28, 1815.

John Joseph Van Valkenburgh, second, the Doctor's grandfather, was born in Schoharie, July 23, 1771. The greater part of his life was spent in Sharon, where he owned a well-cultivated farm of one hundred and forty-four acres. He was one of the founders of the Bellinger sect, being a Calvinist in religious belief. Of reserved disposition, he held aloof from public affairs. During the War of 1812 he was drafted; but, being unable to go to the front, he furnished a substitute. He died on his birthday, July 23, 1855. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Bender, was born in Bethlehem, Albany County, N. Y., October 13, 1776, and died June 4, 1860. Their children were: Henry, Lana, Christian, William, Maria, John, Joseph, Stephen, and Elizabeth. Joseph served in the Mexican War, was wounded at the battle of Chepultepec, and subsequently drew a pension.

Henry Van Valkenburgh, Dr. Van Valkenburgh's father, was born in Sharon, May 14, 1798. He belonged to the Bellinger church, of which he was Elder for many years. Studying theology, he became an evangelist, in which capacity he was widely known throughout New York and New Jersey. He left the homestead after his first marriage, but continued to make general farming his chief occupation. He died in this town, April 18, 1866. For his first wife he married Rachael Bloomingdale, who was born June 19, 1803, and who died April 26, 1835, leaving one son, Henry H. The latter, when fifteen years old, went to reside with a bachelor uncle in the town of North Green bush, Rensselaer County, N. Y., whose property he afterward inherited; and he became a prosperous farmer and dairyman. He married, and at his death left five children. For his second wife Henry Van Valkenburgh married Olive L. Roth, who was born in Massachusetts, July 31, 1810, daughter of Joseph Roth. She was a descendant of John Roth, an Englishman, who was the progenitor of a long line of physicians and surgeons of Uxbridge, England. Some of her brothers were well known as bridge-builders and mechanics. She was given a good education, and was particularly proficient in vocal music. She was reared a Calvinist in religion. She died August 23, 1874, having been the mother of four children — Jacob, Albert A., Joseph, and Emily. Albert A., who was a farmer, enlisted in Company E, Forty-third Regiment, New York Volunteers, with which he served in the Civil War for two years, at the end of that time being assigned to the invalid corps. He died soon after his return from the army. Joseph, who is a merchant in Canby, Minn., is married, and has a family of five children. Emily became the wife of David Ottman, of Cobleskill.

Jacob Van Valkenburgh began his education in the district schools, and at a later date studied the classics and high mathematics under the direction of a private tutor. He afterward attended the Troy Academy, then presided over by Professor Wilson; and his classical studies were completed at the Hartwick Seminary. He taught school for a time, and also studied theology and medicine, with the view of becoming a missionary, but finally gave his whole attention to medicine. Beginning the study of that profession with Dr. William H. Parsons, an eclectic physician of Sharon, N. Y., he later received instruction from Dr. Robert Eldredge, and acquired a knowledge of botanic medicine under Dr. John Praymer. He also studied two years with Dr. J. S. Herrick, an allopathic physician of Argusville, N. Y.; and he received his degree from the Eclectic Medical College of Philadelphia, Pa., known as the Paine School, January 22, 1862. Locating in Charleston, N. Y., in April of that year, during the first five years of his practice he was obliged to contend against the animosity then existing between the eclectic and regular schools of medicine; but the skill he displayed in his profession at length gained for him the recognition of his opponents, and he has since received honorary degrees from two medical colleges. In 1867 he moved from Charleston to Sharon, where he has a lucrative practice.

Dr. Van Valkenburgh was one of the organizers of the Eclectic Medical Society of the State of New York, being one of the charter members named in the article of incorporation by the legislature of the State. He was corresponding secretary of the society, and served on various committees. He was also one of the organizers of the Twenty-third Senatorial District Medical Society, now known as the Susquehanna District Medical Society, and was one of its censors. He has been health officer many years, acts as a Notary Public, and was a trustee of Slate Hill Cemetery. He was a trustee of the public school in his village for many years. He delivers extemporaneous address on public occasions, on patriotic, educational, or religious subjects; frequently lectures to various societies, and writes for the medical and secular press. A book-lover and a close student from his boyhood, he has gathered a large library, to which he makes additions every year. Never idle, he employs each moment in some useful occupation. He owns a farm, and is out of debt. In politics he was formerly a Republican, but supported the candidacy of William J. Bryan in 1896. While now a Populist, he loyally supports President McKinley and Governor Roosevelt.

Dr. Van Valkenburgh married Harriet Moulton, daughter of Gurdon Moulton, of Lykers, Montgomery County, N. Y., and of English ancestry. Mrs. Van Valkenburgh, who was a teacher in the public schools, died May 31, 1892. She was the mother of four children, namely: Emma, widow of Irving A. Parsons; Minnie, who married Charles Van Horne; Moulton, who died at the age of twenty months; and Flora, who resides at home with her father. The daughters are all graduates of the Cobleskill High School, and the first and second were teachers prior to their marriage.

Dr. Van Valkenburgh assisted in building the Methodist Episcopal church, which stands on land given by him for that purpose. He has served as steward and trustee and as superintendent of the Sunday-school. He is also a class leader, and acts as janitor without fee or reward. He is a Master Mason, having been a member for thirty years, or since 1869, of Cobleskill Lodge, No. 394, F. & A. M.

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