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A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times
7: Adult Freeholders — Sweer Teunise Van Velsen alias Van Westbrook

Prof. Jonathan Pearson

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[This information is from pp. 192-194 of A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times; being contributions toward a history of the lower Mohawk Valley by Jonathan Pearson, A. M. and others, edited by J. W. MacMurray, A. M., U. S. A. (Albany, NY: J. Munsell's Sons, Printers, 1883). It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 974.744 P36, and copies are also available for borrowing.]

[Copies of this book are available from the Schenectady County Historical Society.]

[The original version uses assorted typographical symbols to represent footnotes. To improve legibility, the online version uses the form (page number - note number.)]

Sweer Teunisen, first settled in Beverwyck where and at the Esopus [Kingston], he remained for some years. In 1664 he married Maritie Myndertse, widow of Jan Barentse Wemp. In 1669 he received a conveyance from Madam Johanna [De Laetj Ebbingh of land at Lubberde's landt [Troy], according to contract with Jan Barentse Wemp, and in 1675 he sold to Jan Cornelise Vyselaer and Lucas Pieterse Coeymans, a saw mill and two morgens of land on the Poesten kil. (192-2) He received a patent in 1667 for a lot on the west corner of Broadway and Van Tromp street, Albany, 9 rods square [108 feet English], which he sold in 1678, to Wouter Aertse, having previously removed the house to Schenectady.

About the year 1666 he removed to Schenectady and built the first grist mill in the settlement, on Mill lane; this was carried away by a flood and rebuilt in 1673. In consideration of his loss he was allowed to take an eighth instead of a tenth as toll.

The following is his petition to the Governor for redress of grievances:

"Petition of Sweer Teunise to the Governor wherein he states that he did build at Schenectady a corn mill and made a contract with the comonalty 28th Jan. 1669, by which it was agreed that he should enjoy all the i. e., on Tuesdays, all the corn that was to be ground and if he could not grind it all that day he was to grind the day after, for which he was to receive the 10th or 8 stuivers sewant per skipple, or 4 stuyvers sewant for malt; No other mill was to be erected as long as he did accommodate the people with good meal. After about two years an extraordinary high flood carried off his mill; he engaged to rebuild the mill and completed it before July, 1673, at which time a new covenant was made whereby in consideration of his great damage it was agreed he should have the 9th, or 10 stuyvers sewant the skipple and enjoy all the rights of the first contract; and whereas certain persons possessed of envy and malice did send him certain new regulations ordering him to take the 10th, or 8 stuyvers sewant, notwithstanding your humble servant triumphing and winning the Process with Lewis Cobes, your schout, the Court releasing me of the same."

Now said Teunise petitions to have his rights confirmed and ratified by the Governor and Council. (193-1)

In 1676 Van Velsen was made one of the magistrates of the village. In the massacre of 1690 he was slain, with his wife and four negro slaves, leaving no heirs here, though there were many of his name in Ulster county.

Besides the half of Van Slyck's island acquired through his wife, he owned the land on the south side of State street from Church street nearly to Coehorn creek easterly, and extending southerly and westerly upon the lowland to and beyond Mill creek so as to comprehend 24 acres. Before his death it was understood that he had in his will devised a half or a third of his property to the church and the remainder to his wife's children by her first husband, Jan Barentse Wemp; but as his will, if ever made was burned in the destruction of the village, the church had no legal claim upon his estate. A compromise was however effected in 1694, the church taking that portion of his estate lying on the south side of State street between Church and Dock streets, together with his grist mill, and his wife's heirs the remainder. (193-2)

This settlement of the estate having been concluded by the claimants (193-3), the following property was assured to them by a confirmatory patent dated Sept. 13th, 1694, to wit:

"to Capt. Sander Glenn and Johannes Glenn (193-4), and Barent Wemp, sundry parcels of land in Schenectady i. e. to each of them one equal third part of said land, — the said Johannes Sanderse Glenn to hold in trust one-third part for the benefit of the children of Myndert Wemp lately deceased and of Dinah his wife, now wife of said Johannes, said parcel of land being described as follows: — all that home lot of ground in said town of Schenectady whereon are the messuage and barn, lately in occupation of Sweer Teunise Van Velson deceased, lying eastward and westward on both sides of the kil or stream of water [Coehorn and Mill creeks], which the common highway from Albany to Sehenectady [State street] crosseth, running with a small arch or bow to the side of the woods southward, to a marked white oak tree, which stands on the brink of a hollow, and running west to the land, fly or marsh lately belonging to Gerrit Bancker deceased — the whole of the orchard, pasture and part of the marsh, containing 12 morgens or 24 acres more or less; — and also one grist-mill or corn-mill standing upon the kil or creek [on Mill Lane] within the said town of Schenectady; and also three morgens, or six acres more than the one-half part of a certain island [Marten's or Van Slyck's island] lying over against said town on the other side of the [Binnè] kil; and also one equal half part of another island "lying to the rear [West] of said island, separated by a small kil, both lying to the west of said town and the southernmost parts of said islands; containing the whole of both islands 22 morgens, or 44 acres; and also another small tract of land lying without said town upon the land commonly called Juffrouw Corlaer's land bounding to the West of Gysbert Gerritse [Van Brakel's] land, and to the south of Isaac Cornelise Swits land, containing four and a half morgens or 9 acres more or less." (194-1)

The exact position of Van Velsen's house in the village cannot be fixed with certainty, but was probably situated between the house of Mrs. Abel Smith and the south corner of Mill Lane and State street.

From his house easterly to Coehorn kil, State street at this time was only settled upon the north side, and the ancient burghers had a clear view from their front stoops, of Juffrouw's landt and the wooded heights lying south and west of the village. That portion of the above described land, including the mill, lying between Church and Dock streets, was conveyed to the church; the remainder was held by Wemp's heirs. As the demand for house lots increased, the church divided up and sold its portion fronting upon State street, reserving the lowland in the rear, and the corn mill on Mill lane. This was called the "church pasture," and was not finally sold until some time after 1800.


(192-2) Deeds, I, 271; Deeds, II, 751.

(193-1) Col. MSS., 45.

(193-2) Col. MSS, XXXVII, 216; Dutch Church Papers; Deeds, IV, 82; Not. Pap., II.

(193-3) "Feb. 26, 1689-90, Diewer Wendel, widow of the late Myndert Wemp, Capt. Sander Glen, man en vooght of his wife Antje Janse [Wemp], daughter of Maritie Myndertse, late wife of Sweer Teunise. Barent Janse, son of Maritie Myndertse and Arnout Cornelise Vielè, chosen guardian of all parties, — agree that the property of Sweer Teunise Van Velsen shall be divided into three parts, — one part for Maritie, widow of Myndert Wemp; one for Capt. Glen, husband of Antje Janse, and one for Barent Janse, son of Maritie Myndertse." — Not. Papers, II.

(193-4) After the massacre he married the widow of Myndert Wemp, in 1691.

(194-1) Patents, 1469; Coun. Min., VI, 62; Dutch Church Papers; see also Van Slyck.

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