Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2009 Issue

Chasing Wisps Across the Internet

L.hasbrouck

Levi Hasbrouck by Ammi Phillips. Circa 1825


By Bruce McKinney

In a thousand places the drama of life has played itself out and the details disappeared. The famous and infamous have lived on in collective memory, the simply good, bad and in between inevitably disappeared. There is simply no time to remember everyone although the ability to remember, even reconstruct lives, is increasing. We may someday live in a world that forgets nothing. Today we live in a world that is beginning to remember what time forgot. I found this out recently while researching an early Ulster County bank certificate.

Two months ago I purchased for $34, on eBay, a stock certificate issued by the Ulster County Bank in 1834. I'm building a Wiki Blibliography for Kingston-Rondout and so look for material on the area. When I received it I noticed it was made out to a Levi Hasbrouck of New Paltz. I once lived there but moved away decades ago. The name was unfamiliar. I next did some internet searches and found an emerging patchwork of museums, colleges, associations and municipal staff willing to take a few minutes to search their records for references to him. It turns out there is a light but discernible footprint.

I'm somewhat aware of the history of Ulster County and have some of its histories. In Sylvestor's History of Ulster County I found a detailed history of the bank from its first organizing in 1831 to the publishing of Slyvestor's in 1880. I found further reference to the bank in Picturesque Ulster, a series of folio magazines published in 1896. Online I found reference to some of Levi Hasbrouck's records in storage at the Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz and noticed a separate online notation to a painting of him in the holdings of a Massachusetts museum. I contacted them to ask if it would be possible to see and learned they didn't have it. The painting's earlier listed ownership then led to a gift to the University of Indiana at Bloomington which confirmed, when contacted, they had no record of it either but could not confirm they didn't have it. In the process I learned Levi's wife's name, Hylah Bevier Hasbrouck, and found links to an online exhibition of the Huguenot Historical Society that is located less than a mile from the Elting Library. They, it turns out, have the Ammi Phillips painting of her referenced on the Library of Congress website, and it turns out, they also have a painting of Levi. They also own his home and it is open to the public. It is Locust Lawn, located on Route 32 on the road from New Paltz to Modena that continues on to Newburgh.

Having come this far [electronically] I contacted the Ulster County Records Center in Kingston which was able to provide a certificate of [re]incorporation for the bank dated 1861 that Mr. Hasbrouck, as stockholder, signed in a palsied hand. He died two months before the document was officially filed with the county.

I also found a reference in Lefevre's History of New Paltz [1903] to Levi's father Josiah one hundred years earlier as "quite certainly the richest man in New Paltz, perhaps the richest man in the county." This suggests the son was also well-to-do and is consistent with investing in a new bank.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.

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