Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys


Anecdotes of the Lower Mohawk Valley, As Told In A Family History

The Rev. Henry W. Swinnerton, of Cherry Valley, writes on interesting subjects--His stories deserve places among the humors of the Revolution.

All that is visible at the top of the page is VOLUME XXVIII. Amsterdam, NY. Thursday Morning Mar---
(The article is not in good shape and much of it is difficult to read. ajberry, typist)

In a family history lately published in Cherry Valley, entitled "Ancestors and Descendants of John Roseboom, of Schenectady, and Jesse Johnson, of Cherry Valley", there appears in brief form an anecdote of old Albany which is entitled to a place among the "humors" of the Revolution.


Mr. Elizabeth Roseboom Gansevoort was the daughter of John Roseboom of Schenectady, and spent her youth with her grandfather, Hendricks, and her uncle, Col. Myndert Roseboom, in Albany, being a girl under ten at the time at the time of Burgoyne's campaign. Her niece, Miss Catherine Roseboom, of Cherry Valley, often used to hear this "Aunty Gansevoort" tell the incident of which she was an eyewitness. It seems that word had reached Albany how the British general had boasted that the was going to make "elbow room" as he came from Canada down through the New York province. On the day after the defeat and surrender at Saratoga, as the crestfallen commander was brought to Albany, a crazy fellow, with tattered hat, who had got hold of the story, stepped ostentatiously in at the head of the procession, arms akimbo and wagging his elbows, shouting "Ell-bow rooo-o-m!" for Ginerr'l Burr-goyne!" The crowd roared, but nobody seemed to have remembered the scene but the little girl, whose young mind doubtless took firmer hold on this trivial occurrence than on the more serious events taking place around her.


The founder of the family whose history is embodied in the genealogical work above mentioned, was Henderyck Yannsen Rooseboom, who figures in the public annals as actively engaged in business at Beverwyck in 1660, his house being at the exit called "Roseboom's Gate", on Pearl street, north of Maiden Lane, and who was for many years Vooriezer and Aansprecker in the church (i.e., public reader and inviter to and director of funerals), and Pacht, or Farmer, of the slaughter excise, by which all who killed domestic animals paid tax to the city revenue. Records and other documents in the possession of the family at the present time and not hitherto published, afford a number of items of historical interest in connection with his descendants at Albany and Schenectady, during the French war and the Revolution, and supplement the public archives and various published accounts, in which the individuals treated are in some cases little more than barely mentioned.


An account books is preserved by the family, inscribed "Rates of the Powder House; Hendrick Roseboom. 1775." From this relic it appears that from 1771 to 1786, Hendrick (Myndertse), grandson of Henderyck Janse, held the important and necessarily dangerous office of "Cruyt magassijn Meester." (i. e., Master of the Powder Magazine, at Albany, in trust for "Die Committie") --the committee of public safety. For some years the deposits of ammunition in his care were small, his own son, Myndert"who was in mercantile business in the interval between the two wars), being among the first, apparently, to utilize the magazine. But as the great struggle of the war with the mother country came on, we find the old Dutch Magazijne Meester still in charge, and on one occasion loading up a train of twenty-five wagons with no less than a hundred barrels, and delivering it into the hands of the military authorities, represented by Mr. Philip Van Rensselaer. Lead, buckshot, swan-shot and flints were part of the "stoor" supplies.

Nearly seventy years old at the opening of the war, Mr. Hendrick Roseboom was unfit for service in the field, but he must have been still one of the efficient and trusted men of the community, to be continued in so vital a charge, under such altered circumstances.


The "rates" as appears from the first page of the Gun Powder Book, were "4 shillings for every barrel, 3 shillings for every half barrel, 2 shillings for every quarter cask or lesser quantity." The following entries, written partly in Dutch by Mr. Roseboom himself, and partly in a beautiful English hand, perhaps by his clerk, reveals the nature of the trust, and the names of some of the individuals concerned:

1771, Nov. 22, Myndert Roseboom, Dr.: to storage of 1 Barrel & 19 half-ditto, Gun Powder.

1773, Oct. 27, Mindert ontfangen & Vatties van 100 lb. in stoor, (i.e., Myndert Roseboom, Dr., Received 5 kegs of 100 lbs. each in store).

1773, Dec. 15, Aen 5 Barrels Cruyt en Die Magessijne ont fangen, (ditto, 5 Barrels of powder received in the Magazine.) "Aen" seems to be a contraction for "Dr. to." A vat of "vattie" was a cask: our word vat comes from the same. Much of this is old Dutch and quite unlike the modern spelling, Crupt is for the modern kreid, gunpowder, etc). The record gives powder stored for well known names. Gerit Jacob Lansing, Hendrick Wendell, Peter Dox, Dannel Cambel, Hermanus Ten Eyck, etc., coming gradually to the outbreak of the war.

1774, Oct 27, Onifangen Van ?Abraham Cuyler, 10 vatti van 50 per vat Crayt in Die Magessijn gestort.

1775, Jan 7, van Goesse van Schfeck entfangen in Majessijn 24 Cwartier (quarter), Vatties Cruyt.

1776, Aug 8, 225 Powder, 500 Flint Kilyan Van Rensselaer.

1776, July 1, Powder in Store out or the other Side from the Committee 43 cask of 50 lb. each., etc. Dellyard out of the Store of Committee (by order to?) Col. Lansing, Peter Van Ness, Dirk Jansen, Col. Van Rensselaer, (Henry Kilyan), Anthony Van Berge, col. Van Den Burgh, S. J. Schuyler, etc., had dealings with the magazine along this time. Then--

1777, June 10, 100 Barrells Loaded by order of Mr. Philip Van Rensselaer, 25 Waggons Each 4 Bar'l. This was out of the store of the committee.


Mynheer Hendrick was the son of Myndert Roseboom and Marie Vinhagen, and was born in Albany in 1707. He and his sons, all three of whom were officers in the Revolution, and the eldest, in the previous war, earnest, patriotic men, were actively engaged in business enterprises, and interested in the development of the country, before as well as after the Revolution, both by extending trade on the frontier and in promoting the settlement of the virgin lands. Sympathizing with those who had suffered, like his own ancestors in persecuted Holland, and as his children were to do again, from tyranny, when the band of Scotch-Irish pilgrim Puritans from Londonderry, in 1741, were making their way to the wilds of "Lindsay's Bush," (Cherry Valley), it was on his sloop that passage was given them up the river, and from his "Stoor" of merchandise that they were succored with implements and supplies for their undertaking. Trade relations were thus set on foot, which long continued with Hendrick's descendants, whose mercantile account books show the lasting nature of the friendship. His social position was excellent, his sister, Alida having married Sybrant G. Van Schaick, the mayor of the city, who was one of the patentees of the Cherry Valley grant of 8,000 acres at the head of Susquehanna, the others being John Lindsay, Jacob Roseboom, (a cousin), and Lendert Gansevoort, with whose family his granddaughter was to intermarry, the above named Mrs. Elizabeth Roseboom Gansevoort, whose husband was Conrad, son of Dr. Peter Gansevoort and Garretje Ten Eyck.

He had, as I have said a strong band of sons, only one of whom, John, however, married. The eldest, Col. Myndert Roseboom, in time of peace, kept up the mercantile establishment at Albany, exporting furs and receiving therefor from Holland and England consignments of merchandise including silverware, in which, from the book accounts the traffic of the family with the Indians, or Indian traders, appear to have largely consisted. It is known that silver or pewter medals, bearing the image of the virgin, were distributed by the French traders and Jesuit priests, and are occasionally found in the debris of the Indian settlements along the Mohawk. When Matthew Campbell of Cherry Valley returned as a boy from his captivity among the Indians, after the massacre of 1778, he was decorated with a little square brooch set with a dozen small diamonds, perhaps rifled from the body of some officer, and with two tiny ring buckles, half round, in silver, no doubt precisely such as are described in the dealings between Myndert Rooseboom and his brother, John who established himself at Schenectady in order to be in closer touch with the Indians of Niskayuna. Besides general merchandise, these silver ornaments were bartered to those trading with the Indians for furs and leather which were forwarded to Myndert, at Albany, for shipment to London.


Several interesting unpublished documents illustrate the military and patriotic record of this soldier of the French and Indian war and of the Revolution. He was born in 1735, his mother being Maria Ten Eyck. In 1759 was issued to him a "Warrant, for 1,487 pounds, being the amt. of bounty and enlistment money for 111 volunteers." An original Order Book of that year kept by Capt. Roseboom, who on May 16 signs himself as Major, indicates that he was adjutant or Assistant Adjutant of that division of Gen. Amherst's army which the same year, under Col. Prideaux, made an expedition against Fort Niagara, which it captures July 24-5. The book begins April 13, with the troops at Albany, the order being given by Col. Corsa, under Col.s "Pridieu," Johnson (afterward Sir William), and Bradstreet. Some of the regiments are, "the 44th l? Royals, late Forbeses Inniskillings, Royal Highlanders, Abercombie's, Mury's Pardoe's and four battalions of the Royal American." Leaving Albany May 8, he is with the troops as they march through the Mohawk valley, the supplies being carried in whaleboats and bateaux on the river, and reaching Oswego on June 27, where the book closes. It contains the daily orders, paroles, countersigns, number of men, accounts of court martials, etc. In 1761 "Myndert Roseboom, Esquire," received from "Hon'ble Cadwallader Colden" his commission as Lieu't-Colonel of Brewerton's regiments of which he was placed in charge. His service to the cause of the Revolution is shown by a volume of records, eloquent of the distress caused by the war, inscribed, "Receipt Book: Albany, 12th, August, 1777--Commissionaers Middle district, City and County of Albany. Signed, Myndert Roseboom. Thos. Banker, (major), and George White." While the father was guarding and issuing the ammunition for the war, the son was caring for the fugitives, suffers from the distress of the times, gathered at Albany. The book, which reads like a chapter or column from a correspondent in Cuba of today, is full of receipts for money paid to parties who furnished food and supplies to the "poor distressed people", and the "Refugees," extending from Sept. 15, 1777, to Aug. 2, 1778, of which the following are samples: "Received, Albany, 16th, Oct, 1777, from Col. Myndert Roseboom, the sum of thirty shillings for three had of cattle which I have slaughtered for the poor distressed people, Jno. Padgett." "Received Albany 6th Oct., 177, from Col. Roseboom, twenty-four pounds, six shillings, in full for six weight, flour, 30-3 weight at thirty-four shillings for John Depeyster. D. P. Ten Eycks," "Received Albany, 15th, Feb., 1778, from Col. Roseboom, the sum of sixteen pounds in full for one ox for the use of the poor. Philip Schuyler." "Received Albany, 2nd Feb. 1778, Col. Roseboom, the sum of sixty pounds for 3,000 weight of flour, Hendrick Roseboom."

Letters are preserved from mercantile correspondents with London with whom Myndert and his brothers, Barent and John, had commercial dealings, both before and after the war. One of which, treating of some transactions with the brothers at Albany, dated in September, 1775, as the storm was loudly threatening, ends as follows: "I fell very sensibly for the distressed situation of American, as well as for many indiv--End of Footnote.

This book was used in 1765 for invoices of hardware, and on Sept. 29 of that year for the rent roll of "ye lands of Geo. Clark, esq., to ye inhabitants of Cherry Valley," many of the names being familiar there. In 1775 accounts of church money received and expended were entered in Dutch by persons not named.


In the Revolution their feeling was wholly with the Colonies, as witness another of those business epistles, dated at the close of the war, in 1784, which reveals how men were writhing with the utter demoralization of business in which they could neither pay their creditors nor dare give credit, and ending with these strong words, in which the whole misery and trouble is laid at the doors of its true authors: "You may believe me when I assure you that I rejoice as sincerely as you can do at an end being put to the war with America, as I ever thought it both impolitic and unjust, and God knows I have suffered enough by it in being kept out of many sums of money which have been owing to me for several years past, but I hope I may now soon receive or at least some part of them. I remain, &c. Amos Hayton."

This debtor could not pay, notwithstanding his hopes of being able "soon" to do so, like other, who either defaulted or paid in worthless Continental notes: and Col. Roseboom bent to the storm and assigned his large affairs to his brother John and Nephew Henry. John with his sons pushed west to Canajoharie, to begin again, and the Colonel to Cherry Valley, where the family had lands, and where we find that he, "Dec. 26th, 1799, paid Col. (Samuel) Campbell for three years' board, seventy-four pounds fifteen shillings." Here he appears to have acted as agent for the lands of Lieut.-Governor George Clark. He died unmarried in Canajoharie, April 10, 1806, aged 70.


John, whose house in Schenectady was at the northeast corner of the crossing of the road from the Fort with that to Niscayuna, was a member of the committee of safety and a lieutenant in the army of the Revolution. This fact need not be introduced in the present abstract, since it is derived from the published papers, except for the circumstances that in connection with it is developed the discovery, till now overlooked, apparently, that two of the members of the Schenectady committee were James Wilson and Hugh Mitchell. These two men, of whom the former was high sheriff of Albany county, (not surveyor-general, as I state in the work), were Cherry Valley settlers, and had retired from there before the oncoming of trouble, perhaps a little better off than some of the other refugees, to Schenectady, the latter returning to his home unfortunately too soon with his family only to become the center of one of the most harrowing scenes of that great massacre of the revolution.

His family were ruthlessly slain before he could rescue them, one child being struck to death in his arms as he was endeavoring to revive a few sparks of life left by a previous murderous wound. The father identified the murderer in on of his own Tory neighbors, named Newbury, whose hanging for the crime he ??? procured. We can understand how ready the members of the committee were to avenge the blood of the family of one of their own members. It is pathetic to see the name of this bereft and lonely old man. "High Mitchell," on the old church list, as admitted to the communion in 1811, finding consolation there as he neared the end of his race, childless, widowed and brokenhearted.


The whole of the record of the early generations of this ancient Albany family would be of interest to the reader who values the details of our history and welcomes any light that can be thrown upon Colonial Revolutionary or post Revolutionary times: but it is designed here to embody those portions of this contribution to the subject which, as said above, are derived from documentation hitherto published, and which possess the ??? acceptableness of being positive additions to our stock of facts. But to any who will take the pains to read them, these biographical pictures, composed from the minute items, meager dry, and scattered, which have been gathered from many chaotic sources by the patient research of those who have devoted themselves to these stubbly fields, illustrate how our ancient characters stand as its fragments are pieced together and intelligently interpreted by the aid of some little of the historic sense and constructive imagination and can thus be restored to us clothed with the activity of life and grouped amidst the surroundings where they once moved and took their parts. I close with only one such example in which I have taken great pleasure, where ??? buried in the dust of the old faded writings has been brought to life after more than two hundred years of oblivion; the few scattered allusions which alone betrayed the presence of a forgotten Albany hero, we have been able to lay together so coherently as to set before us once more almost the living presence of the man as explorer, trader, warrior, and pioneer. This was Captain Johannes Roseboom, eldest son of the original Henderyok Janse, the uncle of the above Col. Myndert. Previous to his marriage his life was adventurous. In the Colonial history, Vol. V. P 76, we read of a distant expedition of which he was the head: "In or about the year 1685, Col. Dongan, the governor of New York, sent one Roseboom, an inhabitant of Albany, with ten or twelve men, to invite the Ottawaws ( a people on the back of Maryland, Virginia and Carolina), to come and trade at Albany." This general statement with its vague and unformed ideas of the geography of the mysterious region in the interior, is more fully explained in Vol. III, where we find that "Capt. Roseboom," on a second trip, which was evidently in the direction of what we now call Canada, made a number of these Indians prisoners, and that in restoring them the next year to their tribe by Dongan's orders, he was himself captured by the french expedition: On p. 422, there was a brief reference to the capture by Indians: August, 1687, Ottawa Indian prisoners sent home by Capt. Roseboom last Fall."

(illegible..13 lines) their's and took five or six hundred prisoners and brought them away to their own country which when I heard of, I ordered delivered to Roseboom and to one Major McGregory, a Scot gentleman, who went with sixty of the young men of Albany and some Albany Indians, (a beaver trading to those further nations) as many of these prisoners as were willing to return home. The governor of Canada, hearing of their going that way, sent 200 French and 400 Indians to intercept them, and has taken them prisoners, taken their goods from them, and what further damage is not known." There are other references to the capture of Roseboom and McGregory by the French, and serious trouble grew out of Governor de Nonville's sentencing to death one of Roseboom's soldiers.


The rivalries of the two nationalities in the obscure paths of the wilderness was at its height. The French invaded the territory of the Iroquois in 1684 and '97, but were repelled with loss, jealousy of the Indian traffic being the constant source of irritation, and the deep struggle for empire unconsciously rooting itself, whose issue only the slow unfolding of the centuries was to reveal; our present interests being so strangely liked with the forest, expeditions, resentments and rivalries of such men as this old Albany pioneer and his antagonists in the "Ottawawa" country. He married, settled down, raised a family, and became one of the pillars of the church, when the Reformed Protestant body,which had existed by sufferance ever since the English occupation, was incorporated by George I, In 1720, Johannes, and William Jacobse Van Deusen, the husband of his sister Elizabeth, are named as two of the four elders, while Myndert, his youngest brother, (through whom the line commemorated in the present book is traced), is one among the four deacons, who with the minister were to make up the Consistory at the time of this, our grant." The work is the result of the joint researches and labors of Miss Catherine Roseboom, Dr. J. Livingston Roseboom, Joseph Henry White and the undersigned.

HENRY U. SWINNERTON, The Parsonage, Cherry Valley. March 1898.


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