Meet Your Ancestors...Up Close and Personal!

"Up Close and Personal" features tales, exploits, and research tidbits about Herkimer and Montgomery County residents. The submitter of the first of the articles below, Paul Van Allen, is a descendant of Edwin (Edward) Van Allen. Paul's contribution is followed by items from Van Allen hunters Paul Horvat and Gail Spanier. We welcome all submissions of Herkimer/Montgomery family stories, family legends, family skeletons, old rumors and gossip! Your story, or small item of research, might mention a neighbor, relative or surname someone is looking for, and lead you to new-found cousins such as these Van Allen researchers.

The Evening Times --- Little Falls, New York February 9th 1894

Killed On A Crossing-------Fatality on the Central this afternoon

Edward G. Van Allen, a Well-known Citizen of the South Side attempted to cross the tracks at Ann Street while the gates were down and was hurried to eternity by a Limited--- A former employee of the Central.

While on his way to pay an insurance bill, Edward G. Van Allen, the South Side beer bottler, was struck and instantly killed by the South Western Limited of the Central this afternoon at 2:05. He was at the Ann Street crossing of the railroad, and when the train came by he rushed under the gate, and before he had time to see the danger he was facing, the train struck him full in the body and tossed him in the air a distance of 125 feet.

Mr. Van Allen left the house about 1:45. He told Dan Dasey, his bartender, that he was going to the insurance office of Fitzgerald & Co. He was in a particularly happy frame of mind, and said he would return as soon as he paid his insurance money and, collected a few of his outstanding accounts. When he reached the Ann street crossing of the railroad a freight train was going west on track no.1 and the shifting engine with a few cars was moving slowly near the freight depot. Van Allen crossed under the gate, which was lowered at the time, and as he did so apparently did not hear the approach from the west of the fast train. The engineer of the train saw Van Allen cross under the gate and tooted the whistle as loud as it could be. Van Allen either became confused, or else did not have time to get out of the way, for he was caught up by the cow catcher of the fast train and thrown in the air. He turned several times and landed on the south side of the tracks near the freight depot.

Van Allen never breathed after the engine struck him. Death was instantaneous. The cow catcher hit him partly on the head, crushing his skull and producing instant death. As soon as the engineer saw that his train had killed a man he stopped and went back to where the body lay. When the body was taken into the freight house the train moved easterly.

The train that killed Van Allen was behind time, and when it went through Little Falls it was going at the rate of about 40 miles per hour. It was due to go through here at 12:29. It was delayed on the western roads.

The dead man was widely known in Little Falls, where he had lived nearly all his life. He did a large business, and was quite successful. For 15 years he was employed on the Central as freight brakeman and conductor. After serving a long time as freight brakeman he was promoted to the position of conductor, and served with much credit to himself up to the time of the strike. He was quite well known along the line of the Central, and was popular with his acquaintances. He was of a retiring disposition, but nevertheless was sociable.

Mr. Van Allen is survived by his widow and six small children. He also leaves two brothers, John Van Allen of Albany and Lyman Van Allen of Little Falls. Mr. Van Allen was a Republican in politics, and a few years ago ran for collector.

After Coroner Douglas had been notified of the accident he ordered the body removed to the undertaking establishment of Howell & Taylor, where it was taken at 2:35. The only visible marks about the body are two ugly wounds about the forehead. Several of the bones in his legs and arms were broken. His wife almost went into hysterics when notified of his death.

Copied from The Evening Times, February 9th 1894, Little Falls, New York by Paul Van Allen, great grandson of Edwin/Edward and Marguerite Van Allen, 21 October 1996. The writer of this article most likely new the victim as Ed or Eddie. He is called Edward in this article; however, his name was Edwin Van Allen. Edwin's wife Maggie was also two months pregnant, and had a boy in August 1894.

Jacob Van Allen -------23 February 1825

In Manheim 19 February 1825. Jacob about 56. He came into a store with a large jug, to get a gallon of whiskey. While the whiskey was drawing, he sat by the stove, chatting with one or two of his neighbors, and seemed in perfect health & spirits. After the whiskey was drawn he was asked to hand the jug over the counter; which he did , and then sat down again. In a moment after, his head sunk on his bosom - his breath passed from him with a faint sound-his face, which raised up, wore the aspect of death-and he was dead-without a struggle or a groan, and without indicating afterwards the least symptom of remaining life-altho every means, medical as well as other, was made use of to rekindle the vital spark.

This was copied from old newspaper records by Paul Van Allen in July 1996. It is on file at the Herkimer Historical Society, Herkimer, NY. More on Jacob Van Allen is in our Van Allen obituaries section of items sent in by Paul Horvat.

Van Allen, Mrs. Catharine H.D. 9-19-1849 (2)

In Manheim, 9-5-1849, an inquest was held upon the drowned corpses of Mrs. Van Allen, wife of Archibald Van Allen, age about 45, and her son of 17 months old, who met their Melancholy fate ( as is supposed ) in trying to ford the Mohawk river near the Lansing place. Leaves 5 children from whom she had been separated for some time past.

"Herkimer Freeman" 9-19-1849
Copied from a card on file in the Herkimer County Historical Society. I don't know what the H.D. (2), at the top means, but it was on the card in the file. (H.D. refers to the "Herkimer Democrat) Paul Van Allen. More on Catherine Van Allen and her husband Archibald is in our Van Allen obituaries section.

Gail Spanier, whose Loyalist and Canadian branch of the Van Allens left our area early, tells us about her own branch of this well-known family:

"I'm very interested in the VAN ALLEN family as my paternal grandmother's mother was Catherine Sarah (Sade) Van Allen. I grew up hearing about "Grandma Van Allen Who Was a Real Old Tartar". To go back to the beginning, I'll recount here the family tree as I know it":

LUCAS VAN ALLEN was born November 7, 1686, in Kinderhoek, NY, and married Elizabeth TRUYST in 1727. Lucas and Elizabeth went to Canada @1780. They had two sons, John and Jacob (known as Jacob Sr.).

JACOB SR. VAN ALLEN was born 1754 in Schenectady, NY, and died 1836. Jacob Sr. was entered as Ensign on muster roll of King's Royal Regiment raised by Sir John Johnston. He was Lieut. Infantryman 1781-82 and a corporal or captain in Munro's Company, 1782-83. He followed Sir John Johnston to Canada. He married twice:

(1) Rachael, who died of cholera before the war (they had a daughter also named Rachael), and

(2) Sarah Ann MEDOUGH (MEDEAU) who was born in Williamsburg, Matilda Township, Upper Canada . Jacob Sr. and Sarah were married on Nov !2, 1816 and had ten children including Jacob Jr. (Ihave the names and birth dates of the others.)

JACOB JR. VAN ALLEN ( UEL ) was born May 1785, and died March 1861, in Upper Canada. He married ( in 1810, in Mountain, Dundas Co., Upper Canada) Catherina LOUCKS (LOUX) who was born March 2, 1792 in NY State, and died January 4,1885. Jacob Jr. and Catherina had 8 children including William Samuel Van Allen. (I have the names and birth dates of the others.)

WILLIAM SAMUEL VAN ALLEN was born March 10, 1834 in Mountain, Dundas Co. and died March 21, 1885, also in Mountain. He married Jerusha CASSELMAN who was born on October 10, 1839 and died April 21 1928 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. William and Jerusha were married on October 25 1859 in Mountain and had five children,the oldest of whom was Catharine Sarah (Sade). (names etc. available)

Jerusha's paternal ancestors go directly back to Johann Dietrich Casselman who was born in 1615 in Adelshofen, Palatinate ( Johann's son Hans Dietrich was born in Stone Arabia in 1744). Jerusha's mother was Margaret Maria Van Allen, born 1817, eldest daughter of Henry Van Allen, born 1794 and Margaret KEELER. Henry was the younger brother of Jacob Jr. mentioned above. William married his first cousin once removed.

CATHERINE SARAH VAN ALLEN was born Nov 7, 1860 in Mountain and died June 18,1938 in Regina, Saskatchewan. She married Gideon SMITH of Mountain, and they had eight children, the eldest of whom was my grandmother, Bessie Maud Smith born 1881.

"There is speculation in my family that Lucas Van Allen's grandfather was one Pieter VAN HALEN from Utrecht in the Netherlands, born in 1630 and married to Marie TELLER. They had three sons: Johannes, William, and possibly another son (name unknown) who was the father of Lucas Van Allen. (or possibly that Johannes or William was Lucas's father)".

"I hope this may be of some use or interest to you. I'd be delighted to hear from anyone with a connection and any details that you could pass on! " Cheers from "Down Under". Gail Spanier. (See below for Paul Horvat's letter to Gail about Lucas Van Alen)

Not to be outdone in trying to untangle the many Van Allen ancestors and intermarried families, Paul Horvat has been corresponding with Paul Van Allen (who contributed the newspaper clippings above) and other Van Allen researchers.

"I am an avid genealogical researcher and library volunteer, and am researching the Van Allen family. The following is information regarding War of 1812 veteran Benjamin Van Allen, formerly of Montgomery County, NY, who died in MN. "

(Taken from The Minnesota Genealogist, Vol. 16, No. 2)

Van Allen, Benjamin, SC-14969, srv Capt. B. Ellwood's Co NY Mil.

War of 1812 Veterans: Benjamin Van Allen:this article is part of a series of sketches of War of 1812 veterans buried in the state of Minnesota. This series continues the mini-biographies published in The Prairieland Register until December 1983. Anyone having questions or additions, please contact the Project Director, Arthur Louis Finnell, CGRS, 3917 Heritage Drive, Bloomington, MN, 55437.

BENJAMIN VAN ALLEN was born 24 July 1795 in Montgomery County, NY. He was the son of Richard and Nancy Zimmerman Van Allen. He married Mary Zimmerman on 16 March 1819 at St. Johnsville, Montgomery County, NY. He died about 1884 and by 4 December 1885 in Dodge County, Minnesota.

Military records show that he served as a musician (drummer) in Captain Benjamin Ellwood's Company, 19th Regiment of Infantry, New York Militia from 7 Sept. to 14 Nov. 1814. He was discharged at Sacketts Harbor, NY. He came to Minnesota after 1861 and settled in Canisteo Township, Dodge Co. MN.

Nancy Van Allen m. James BAXTER
Eliza Van Allen m. Charly BROWN
Allen Van Allen
Henry Van Allen
Charles Van Allen b. 15 Sept. 1834, Montgomery Co. NY
Catherine Van Allen
Mary Van Allen
Thomas Van Allen
Walter Van Allen


"In checking the 1870 census for Dodge County, MN, I found Dewitt Clinton Van Allen with his family in the town of Canisteo. I am enclosing a copy of this page (pg. 689 handwritten, and listed in the AIS and pg. 17 per the enumerator) for your reference, which states the following":

Charles Van Allen; 36; Farmer; b. NY
Barbara; 36; Keeping house; b. NY
Mary C.; 11; at school; b. NY
Walter; 10; b. MN
Dewit C. ; 8; b. MN
Laura A.; 4; b. MN
Ida; 2; b. MN
Milton; 2/12; b. MN; b. in Sept.
Benjamin; 74; at home; b.NY

"I saw a reference in the IGI (International Genealogical Index) that showed Charles Van Allen, Dewitt's father, marrying Barbary Ann KELLER on 4 December 1856 in Dodge County, MN. "

1880 Census: pg. 326A, Town of Canisteo, Dodge County, MN

Charles Van Allen; 46; farmer
Barbara; 46; housekeeper
Mary; 21; assistant housekeeper
Walter; 20; working farm
Dewitt; 18
Winsor; 16
Laura; 13
Ida; 12
Leroy; 8
Marie; 6
Benjamin; 83; father

1880 Census: pg. 328B, Canisteo, Dodge Co., MN

A. Van Allen; 50
Lani; 45
Bradford; 20
Ella; 16
Milton; 14
Lorri; 11
Libbie; 7
?? Jordei; 5

"All of the above family were born in NY except the last child. This means that A. Van Allen came to MN about 6 years before, or about 1874."

"Richard Van Allen, Benjamin's father, is the son of my 5th great grandparents, Peter Van Allen and Maria ELLWOOD. I have the Van Allen family traced back to their origins in Oldenzaal, Holland. It would be great to find living descendants of Benjamin Van Allen, and new cousins." Paul Horvat.

Paul Horvat couldn't wait to correspond with his new-found cousin Gail Spanier and shares this Sep 26, 1997 letter about the history of Lucas VAN ALEN's progenitors, and a photo of the Luykas Van Alen House. (photo file size about 100k plus text)


"Here is the ancestry of your Lucas, as outlined in the January 1950 edition of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record article, "The Van Alen Family in America". They also have a biography for Lucas listing his children as Laurens, Johannes, and Stephanus. How was it that you connected Jacob, Sr. with Lucas? Will send biography on Lucas later. Hope you find this interesting. P.S. I descend from Stephanus Van Alen, brother of Lucas. I have a copy of a painting of him that I got from the Columbia County Historical Society, and his wife, Maria Cornelisse Mulder."

Johannes Van Alen, a son of Johannes Van Alen, married in Oldenzaal, Holland, July 26, 1626. The witness at the wedding was "the father of the groom, Johannes Van Alen."


Laurens Van Alen was baptized Mar. 14, 1632, in Oldenzaal, Holland, and about 1669, married Elbertje Evertse Backer; she was born about 1646, the only daughter of Every Luycasse & Jannetje (Emmetje) Volkertse Backer. As a child of twelve she is recorded June 19, 1658, as a passenger on De Bruynvis (HSYB:1902, p.7). Laurens is first mentioned in the records on May 25, 1660, when together with Peter Van Alen, Philip Pieterse Schuyler, Abraham Staats, Gerrit Schlechtenhorst, William Teller, David Schuyler and others, "on behalf of the commonalty legally assembled," he petitioned the authorities to forbid Christian brokers (traders) to roam the woods and asked that only Indian brokers be allowed in the Indian trade (CMFO:II:255). On Aug. 8, 1661, he leased from Barent Van Marle, a house and lot in Albany (ERA:3:92), and on Oct. 7, 1669, Wittawitt, a Mahickander Indian, acknowledged that he had sold to Laurens Van Alen, a certain piece of land in Kinderhook, stretching to the Clyne Laek (Alb. Co. Deeds, v.4, p.259). He appears as attorney for his father-in-law, Evert Luycasse Backer, Jan. 13, 1669-70, and this item is important as giving an approximate date for his marriage; also, it would appear that his mother-in-law, Jannetje Volkertse, is frequently in legal difficulties, evidently as a result of a very sharp tongue!

On May 9, 1672, it is recorded that Pieter Van Alen, Dirck Wessels, and Laurens Van Alen were proprietors of a certain piece of land behind Kinderhook, of which Jan Bruyn also owned a share (CMA:1:299), and he and Andries Teller (as curators of the estate of Pieter Van Alen and guardians of his children) sold the house and lot in Albany, on Mar. 15, 1674-75, to Johannes Wendell on behalf of Marytje, widow of Pieter Van Alen. During the next several years the records show that Laurens was involved in various real-estate transactions in Albany in which he bought and sold property both for himself and others, for whom he acted as attorney. On June 13, 1681, he was appointed Assessor in Albany and in June of the following year, an Overseer (CMA:3:131 & 262); he was nominated Commissary there Sept. 19, 1682, and Magistrate on Apr. 10, 1684 (Ibid.:3:287 & 437). Other local offices that he held were Constable, for which he was chosen Nov. 17, 1684, Assistant Alderman, to which he was named July 22, 1686, and Justice of the Peace, for which he received his commission Oct. 6, 1690 (CMA:3:484; CEM, p.198).

On May 4, 1697, when he is referred to as "of Kinderhook," Laurens purchased from Gerrit Teunisse Van Vechten, "living at Catskill,&quot' a certain little house with garden an orchard and two pieces of land "at the Grootstuck" in Kinderhook (Alb. Co. Deeds, v.4, p.98). He along with Derick Van Der Carr and Peter Van Slyck, were elected trustees "by and for the inhabitants of the township of Kinderhook," and certificates of their election were filed June 12, 1703 (CEM, p.314). As trustees of Kinderhook, on May 8, 1711, they confirm to Jan, son and heir of Jan Tysen Goes, and to Johannes, Catharina, Evert, Peter, Stephanus, Lucas, Jannetje, Styntje, and Jacobus Van Alen, heirs of Evert Luycas, deceased, certain lands granted to him and Jan Tysen Goes, from the native Indians (Alb. Co. Deeds, v.5, p.113). The order in which the children are named in this document seems to be strictly that of seniority, and corresponds with what we can infer from later records. As Justice of the Peace at Kinderhook he took acknowledgment of a deed of the heirs of Jan Gardinier May 16, 1714 (ibid. v.5, p.226). He died within the next few months as his will, dated Mar. 4, 1712, was proved Oct. 27, 1714 (WNYHS:26:141); he is probably buried on his farm at Kinderhook.


Cousin Paul

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Last Updated: 2/13/02
Copyright © 1996-2002 Paul Van Allen
Copyright © 1997-2002 Paul Horvat, Gail Spanier, Martha S. Magill
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