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Guide to the Jacques Cortelyou papers ARC.025

128 Pierrepont Street
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Nicholas Pavlik

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 22, 2011
English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical Note

Jacques Cortelyou (1796-1891) was of the seventh generation of the eminent Cortelyou family of Brooklyn. He was born in Brooklyn in 1796 as the third child of Peter J. and Phebe H. (Voorhees) Cortelyou. During the War of 1812 he served as a private in the 64th Regiment of the New York Militia. He married Ann Maria Fowler in April of 1830, and over the course of their marriage the couple had three children. Ann died in 1848, and Jacques did not remarry.

Jacques Cortelyou was the last member of the Cortelyou lineage to reside at the historic Old Stone House (commonly known as "the Cortelyou house") at Gowanus, which he had inherited from his grandfather, also named Jaques Cortelyou (1743-1815). The Old Stone House was originally built by Claes Arentson Vechte in 1699. Vechte and his descendants resided in the house and prospered as farmers on the surrounding property until the Revolutionary War, when the house was seized by the British. In 1779 the house was willed to Nicholas R. Cowenhoven, who was the last descendant of Vechte to reside at the property before selling it to the elder Jaques Cortelyou in 1797, who purchased the house with the intent of passing it on to his recently married son, Peter (b. 1768). However, upon Peter's premature death in 1804, the house was instead willed to Peter's son, the younger Jacques Cortelyou. Shortly after the death of his wife, Jacques sold the property in 1852 to Edwin Litchfield and moved to a farm in Hope Junction in Dutchess County, N.Y., where he resided until his death in January of 1891.

The Old Stone House continued to stand in Gowanus until 1897, when street grading nearly buried the entire house and the remaining exposed part was razed. In 1926 the Brooklyn Parks Department excavated the house, and by 1934 the house had been rebuilt using the original stones. The replica still stands today, serving as a museum dedicated to preserving a part of Brooklyn's colonial heritage.

Sources:

  1. Cortelyou, John Van Zandt. The Coretlyou Genealogy: A Record of Jacques Corteljou and of Many of His Descendants. Lincoln, NE: Brown Printing Service, 1942.
  2. New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. "The Old Stone House." Accessed June 23, 2010. http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/historical_signs/hs_historical_sign.php?id=138