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Guide to the Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt collection 1974.168

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Rachel M. Oleaga

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on January 15, 2021
eng using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Revised by Amy Lau, Archivist, to remediate oppressive language from subject terms, abstract, biographical and scope and contents note.  , December 2020

Biographical Note

The Vanderbilt family originated from the Netherlands and settled in Flatbush, Kings County, New York in the late seventeenth century; Jan Aersen van der Bilt is the first Vanderbilt documented in 1640. The Vanderbilts whose material appears in this collection include Jeremias Vanderbilt (b. 1695), Jacob Vanderbilt (b. 1692), John Vanderbilt (b. 1752), and John Vanderbilt (b. 1794), among others.

Jeremias Vanderbilt (b. 1695) was the child of Aris Janse van der Bilt and Hilletie Remsen, grandson of Jan Aersen van der Bilt. Jeremias and his brother Jacob (b. 1692) along with their eight siblings, were born and raised in Flatbush. Jeremias, unlike Jacob who established himself in Staten Island, remained in Flatbush working as a farmer and serving various offices in the Town of Flatbush. Jeremias lived and worked on the family property and owned enslaved people. Jeremias served as town Constable from the year 1742 to 1743 and he also served as Supervisor for the town from 1759 to 1763 (Aris Jensen also served this position years earlier).

John Vanderbilt (b. 1752) was also a farmer in Flatbush, New York. He married Marritje Ditmars (b. 1757) and had several children. During the American Revolutionary war, John was a member of a local militia and was involved in rounding up arms for a visiting battalion. Like other members of his family, he was also involved in local appointments and politics, serving as town clerk for Flatbush from the years 1792 to 1794. Documents in the collection also refer to John as one of the "peoples Justices of the Peace for Kings County," including documents written by John which establish license for individuals to operate an inn and tavern in their home. John owned and purchased enslaved people; an enslaved person's bill of sale from his sister Mary Vanderbilt is seen in the collection. John is listed in the 1790 census stating the ownership of ten enslaved people and listed in the 1800 census stating the ownership of nine enslaved persons and one "free person not taxed." John died in 1812.

John Vanderbilt (b. 1794) is the son of John Vanderbilt and Marritje Ditmars. He lived in Flatbush and worked as a young boy at a store and counting room in New York City. John married Sarah Lott (b. 1795) in 1817 and they resided on Lott family property. He was principally a farmer. John owned and purchased enslaved people and is noted for manumitting two of his estates enslaved persons in 1822 under a laws passed in 1781 and 1788 which gradually granted enslaved people freedom through various processes. John died in 1842. He is the father of judge John Vanderbilt (b. 1829), who was an influential member of Kings County, New York and husband of Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt.

A note on names: In this collection Vanderbilt is spelled in multiple ways including, Vanderbilt, Van Der Bilt, Van der Bilt, van der Bilt, and V. D. Bilt. The name Ryerson is also spelled as Reyerson. First names appear with alternate spellings or in familiar forms: Jeremias is sometimes spelled Jeremyes, Jerimyas or Jeremyas and Jeromes is sometimes spelled Jeromus.