Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2015 Issue

Fitting the Past into the Present

271f39c7-add4-40b0-b68c-2b8ba8d4e210

On a busy day in November in Boston in 2014 I visited the Shadow Fair and stopped to speak with Cheryl Needle, a displaying dealer and long time research member of AE.   She said she had something for me, an Ulster County, New York item:  a 22 page petition dated August 6th, 1821 addressed to the Supreme Court [of New York] to partition the [Town of] Shawangunk lands of Cornelius Bruyn to three heirs.  Several foldout maps on the final 4 pages situate the parcels in relation to the Wall Kill or Paltz River.  The stenciled wallpaper-cover was visually appealing even before I opened the document.  I had never seen anything like it before.

 

Any document of this type relating to the Hudson Valley would be interesting but the fact that the document is a Shawangunk transfer on the Wallkill River that a few miles north flows through New Paltz on its way to the Hudson River at Rondout/Kingston made it one of the most complex southern Ulster documents I had ever seen.  I grew up in New Paltz, collecting local material and such material is impossibly rare.

 

In looking it over I realized the challenges to understanding it would be substantial but that it would also test the many printed and online resources I’ve accumulated over the years.  For books the AED provides immediate clarity on often obscure sources and questions.  But genealogy which would be at the heart of this study is another thing altogether.  For that I would need genealogy.com, ancestry.com and politicalgraveyard.com.

 

So this would be a challenge.

 

The petition, on behalf of three heirs, Morris Bruyn, Sylvanis J. and Sylvanis M. Bruyn’s representatives following his death in 1815 asked the state to recognize the division of his Shawangunk land and explains the division, in addition to providing detailed descriptions also with maps that place the Bruyn properties on what we now call the Wallkill River.  So who was Cornelius Bruyn and where was this land in the Shawangunk of his day?  I ask this because the maps predate development of the town.

 

Cornelius was an heir himself to a storied history of patriots and politicians.  The Bruyn family traces its connection in Ulster County to the earliest days under the British who took control of New York from the Dutch in 1664.  Hoe’s Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, New York mention the baptism of Hester to Jacob[us] and Geetruy 1650-1719 [Gertruyd Yselsteyn 1650-1719] Bruyn in 1683.  Jacobus would die in 1694 after they moved to Shawangunk but leave an ambitious widow we now identify as Gertrude who obtained a royal patent for a substantial tract of land given to her and her three children Jan, Jacobus and Esther.  Jacobus, the younger, [1680-1744] would marry Katrina and she bear fifteen children down through which, three generations hence her great grandchildren would become the principal heirs to her grandson Cornelius’ land division and transfer in 1821. 

 

Cornelius would become the link between the extraordinary early history of the Bruyn family and his heirs who would receive portions of these Bruyn lands.

 

As to what role these early generations of Bruyns played in the history of Ulster county, New York State and nation here is a short list.  For the sons born to Jacobus and Jane [Graham] Bruyn four sons, including Cornelius, would dominate the local New York Assembly seat for most of two decades [1770-1790] and serve in the New York State Senate for a decade.  Johannes, his brother, would be a presidential elector in 1792 with the opportunity to cast his vote for George Washington for a second term.  Cornelius served two years in the Assembly:  1793-4.  He seems the least political of the brothers.

 

In their time the Bruyns were important people but as the family’s presence reached one hundred fifty years in th county they began, as this document confirms, to divide their properties into smaller and ultimately unsustainable parcels.  We in part know this from their omission 45 years hence in the list of Shawangunk men who served in the Civil War [Slyvester's History of Ulster County].  And we also believe this because today there are no Bruyn surnames in the current Wallkill [Shawangunk] phone book.  But they did not go easy.  In the 1871 Ulster County Directory there were three:

 

Edmund Bruyn [Bruynswick], lumber dealer and farmer.

 

Edward H. Bruyn [Shawangunk] groceries, dry goods, boots, shoes, crockeryware etc

 

Mrs. Harriet Bruyn [Ulsterville] farmer

 

And in the 1885-6 Crum & Fowlers Ulster County Directory 4:

 

Edward Bruyn, farmer Bruynwick

John O. Bruyn Brunswick

Mrs. Margaret Bruyn, Wallkill

Bruyn [William] & Russell, felloe manufacturers Dwaarskill

 

And today there are none living under the Bruyn surname in Shawangunk and the various hamlets within its borders. 

 

As to the property of Cornelius Bruyn that was divided and gifted we can place his parcels on the Shawangunk map in the Walker & Jewett Atlas of Ulster County [1875].

 

We can see what was a toll bridge across the Wall Kill and the location of his homestead nearby.  We also know from the 1875 Atlas that a paper manufacturer was later built on his land.

 

But a question remains.  Within Shawangunk where are these lands that are so precisely mapped in this petition to the court?  For the answer I sent copies to Harold Van Aken, an engineer and web master of the wallkillhistory.com site.  He was able to precisely place the Cornelius Bruyn lands along the east side of the Wall Kill River where a waterfall would have facilitated one of the early Bruyn endeavors, a grist mill.

 

This family name has since receded leaving only place names to remember them.  In one part of Shawangunk there is the Brunswick Turnpike and in another the hamlet of Brunswick.  And they who look west can see the outcropping jutting south along the ridge line that divides Minnewaska State Park from the town to an outcropping called Gertrude’s nose, named for the feisty widow who at the beginning of the 18th century secured for her descendants the land that Cornelius’s representatives deeded to his heirs in 1821. 

 

So this document and its maps are precisely what a collector would want, a document that is simply the entry point to an exploration that tells a story and illuminates both the past and present.

 

This article has been made possible by the help and cooperation of Harold Van Aiken, who in addition to being an engineer, is also the webmaster various New York State historical sites:

 

Wallkillhistory.com

Livingstonmanor.net

Coldenpreservation.org

Neversinkantiquetractor.com

 

With Harold the past and the present are a continum.  If your passion is history and your focus Ulster county you can reach Harold by email at mail@hvanaken.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>The Tragedie of Julius Caesar.</i> London, 1623. 1st appearance in print, Complete from the First Folio. Sold for $175,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Zane Grey, Inscribed photograph album depicting Grey and party at Catalina, fishing, and in Arizona. $700 to $1,000
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Eric Taverner, Salmon Fishing...London: Seeley, Service & Co., 1931. $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> The Gentleman Angler. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Ken Robinson, Flyfishers' Progress. [London: The Flyfishers' Club, 2000. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> G. H. Lacy, North Punjab Fishing Club Angler's Handbook. Calcutta: Newman & Co., 1890. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> J. Harrington Keene, Fly-Fishing and Fly-Making for Trout, etc. New York, 1887. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, online only: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake" Johnson. July 13-24, 2018</b>
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Arthur Macrate, The History of The Tuna Club, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1948. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Joseph D. Bates Jr. Streamer Fly Tying and Fishing. Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, 1966. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Paul Schmookler and Ingrid V. Sils. Rare and Unusual Fly Tying Materials: A Natural History. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, online only Jul 13-24:</b> Herbert Hoover, Fishing For Fun - And To Wash Your Soul. New York: Random House, 1963. $400 to $600
  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 372: Martin Luther King Jr. March for Freedom Now! Placard. Chicago, 1960. 28 x 22”. $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 567: Warhol, Andy. Tate Gallery Exhibition Booklet, Signed on the Cover by Warhol. Tate Gallery, 1971. $700 to $900
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 72: Mitchell, Margaret. <i>Gone With the Wind.</i> New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936. First edition, first issue. $4,000 to $5,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 468: Photo Archive Documenting the 1930s—50s Chicago Jazz and Night Club Scene. A significant collection. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 143: Dr. Seuss. <i>Oh Say Can You Say.</i> 1979, First Edition, Signed. $200 to $300
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 285: [Maps] Thomas G. Bradford. <i>A Comprehensive Atlas, Geographical, Historical & Commercial.</i> Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1835. First Edition. $1,600 to $1,800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 69: Herman Melville. <i>Moby Dick, or The Whale</i>. New York: Random House, 1930. First Kent Trade Edition. $400 to $600
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 295: John James Audoban. Group of 148 Lithographs from the Birds of America. Philadelphia: J.T. Bowen, ca. 1840s. $600 to $800
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 54: Langston Hughes. <i>One-Way Ticket.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949. First edition. $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions: Fine Books & Manuscripts. July 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 7: Ray Bradbury. <i>The Martian Chronicles.</i> With a Wine Label Signed by Bradbury. Garden City: Doubleday, 1950. First edition $300 to $500
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 121. Frank L Baum. <i>The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.</i> Chicago: George M. Hill Co., 1899, 1900. First Edition. $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July. 28:</b> Lot 369. [Declaration of Independence] Peter Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence. One page; 29 x 26”. From the "American Archives" 1837-1853 series of books. $15,000 to $20,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions