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Guide to the Duane Family Papers
 MS 179

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Megan Dolan

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on February 03, 2016
Description is in English

Descriptive Summary

Title: Duane Family Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1700-1945
Abstract: Papers consist largely of the legal documents of James Duane, his son James C. Duane, and son-in-law, George W. Featherstonhaugh. Also includes correspondence and memorabilia from Duane family members.
Quantity: 14.42 Linear feet (19 boxes, 19 volumes, 19 oversize folders)
Call Phrase: MS 179

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Biographical/Historical note

The most prominent family members reflected in this collection are James Duane, James Chatham Duane I, and George William Featherstonhaugh. A brief description of each appears below.

James Duane James Duane (1733-1797), also known as James the Jurist, was the son of an Irishman, Anthony Duane, who came to New York as an officer among the British fleet in 1698. After his first wife, Eve Benson, died, Anthony Duane married Altheas Keteltas, with whom he had four children. He invested his profits in the neighborhood of Schenectady and also owned property in the Grammercy Park region of New York City.

After Anthony Duane’s death (c.1734), James Duane became the ward of Robert Livingston, the executor and guardian under the wills of both his father and grandfather. To ensure his education in person, Livingston took Duane into his home, where he fell in love with Livingston’s daughter, Mary (or ‘Poppy’) Livingston. They were married in 1759, after which Duane took the bar and became a prominent lawyer in New York. He made a number of investments in the Duanesburgh area of Schnectady and increased it in size through many land purchases. He also aided the emigration process of Scottish, Irish, and German families; facilitating their travel and supplying them with houses and land.

James Duane played an active role in the development of New York during the late 1700s through his involvement in a number of organizations and committees. He was a member of the Revolutionary Committee of New York, the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1784, and was one of the signers of the Articles of Confederation at Philadelphia in 1777. In 1775 he took part in consummating the Indian treaty at Albany. In 1776 and 1777 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention and was on one of the committees that drafted the Constitution. He was also a member of the Committee of Safety during the War of Independence and was very involved with this cause. Following the Revolution, Duane served as New York State Senator from 1782-1785 and 1788-1790. He was elected as Mayor of the City of New York in 1794 and served under this post until 1789. He was a delegate to the convention which adopted the Federal Constitution and made the Empire State part of the Union. He served as United States district judge from 1789-1794, the first person to hold this title. It was also said that James Duane was a supporter of the expansion of suffrage as there was a larger admission of freemen to the New York City rolls during his time in office than ever before.

Throughout his life he worked to establish his own estate, referred to as Duanesburg, on land he inherited from his father in Schnectady, New York. He died at Schenectady, New York, and is buried at Christ Episcopal Church in Duanesburg.

James Chatham Duane James C. Duane (1770-1842), son of James Duane, was a lawyer of Schnectady, New York. He married Marianne Bowers, daughter of Henry Bowers of New York City, in 1792; they had ten children together. James C. Duane spent his life working on the development of the Duane estate at Duanesburg. Although his father had increased the estate by 4000 acres, due to political changes, industrial discontent, financial panics, and anti-rent riots, he lost much of the property.

George William Featherstonhaugh: George William Featherstonhaugh was the son of Dorothy (nee Simpson) and George Featherstonhaugh. He was born in London but was brought up in Scarborough, Yorkshire. After spending some time working for British firms in both England and on the continent he moved to the United States in 1807. He married Sarah Duane (1775-1828), daughter of James Duane, and settled near Schenectady, New York, on land she had inherited from her father. They had four children together. In 1825 two of his daughters died of diphtheria and in 1828 his wife died when their house burned down due to a complication with a chimney. After their deaths Featherstonhaugh sold his estate at Duanesburg. He later came to Philadelphia and, in 1831, married Charlotte Williams Carter in Schenectady County, New York, with whom he had three children.

Featherstonhaugh was a geologist and geographer; he promoted agricultural and commercial development by applying scientific principles to farming, stressing proper drainage, and drawing attention to soil composition. He organized the first New York State Board of Agriculture, and became the first agricultural commissioner in the United States. He was also hugely influential in the establishment of steel railroads in the United States. Featherstonhaugh was instrumental in the development of a steam railroad that would connect the Hudson River at Albany, New York with the Mohawk River at Schenectady. In December 1825, Featherstonhaugh applied for a charter to implement this, which was granted on 17 April 1826. Construction of the railroad began in July 1830 and was completed one year later. The railroad was originally called the Mohawk & Hudson railroad however the name was changed to the Albany & Schenectady Railroad in 1847. It was the first railroad built in the State of New York and one of the first railroads built in the United States. The Albany and Schenectady Railroad made the Mohawk Valley the center of early railroad construction in New York State.

In 1834 Featherstonhaugh was appointed the first US government geologist. After acquiring a large quantity of unexplored land in the Louisiana Purchase 1803, the United States government sought to document the mineral resources of the territory. Soon after his appointment, Featherstonhaugh was instructed to survey the structure and mineral resources of Arkansas and adjacent territories. He provided detailed descriptions of his geological findings and his observations on the local inhabitants in the region in his book Excursion Through the Slave States, 1844. He notably recorded much of their dialogue in their dialects. Featherstonhaugh also surveyed and published a number of official and popular reports on the region.

In 1839, Featherstonhaugh served as boundary commissioner on the North American Boundary Commission to survey the area disputed between the United States and Britain on the border between Maine and New Brunswick. His conclusion that Britain had a rightful claim to the territory earned him much criticism within his adopted country. Although the Webster-Ashburton treaty of 1842 largely ignored his findings, Britain did not. In 1844 he was appointed the British consul at Le Havre, a position that he held until his death in 1866. Featherstonhaugh was a key player in the emergence of the steel railroad in the 19th century and he was also a respected geologist. The recognition he received for his accomplishments as a geologist is evident through his election to the American Philosophical Society in 1809, and to the Geological Society of London in 1827.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection contains papers relating to the Duane family and related families. The majority of the collection consists of the papers of James Duane, a prominent New York lawyer, patriot, and land developer. There are also papers relating to Duane’s son, James Chatham Duane, a lawyer of Duanesburg and Schenectady, and his son-in-law George William Featherstonhaugh. The collection also includes correspondence and other papers relating to other Duane family members, predominantly William North Duane Jr, great-great grandson of James Duane, his mother Anne Dalliba Duane and others.

The portion of the collection relating to James Duane, Senior, largely pertains to such matters as: his law practice in New York and New Jersey; relations with Great Britain and political affairs in the colonies prior to the Revolution; New York State’s controversy with Massachusetts over the New Hampshire grants, and Duane’s own holdings in the disputed area; his activities and interests as the New York delegate to the Continental Cngress, as first federal judge for the district of New York, as a New York State senator, and as mayor of New York City; the settling of Duanesburgh, Schenectady County, New York, affairs of the Livingston family and of Livingston Manor; the settlement of estates; his property holdings in the Hardenburgh, Schuyler, and Franklin patents, and in New York City, Otsego County, Ulster County, and Socialburgh, New Hampshire (now Rutland, Vermont); New York State boundaries.

The portion of the collection relating to James C. Duane and George W. Featherstonhaugh is largely comprised of letters, deeds and other land papers, legal papers, accountancy papers, and miscellaneous certificates and memorabilia. The portion relating to other Duane family members contain a substantial volume of correspondence, largely relating to William North Duane and his mother, Anne Dalliba Duane. The majority of this correspondence is from the period of 1880s-1890s when William North Duane was studying in Germany. The remaining correspondence relates to a variety of Duane family members and relations of the Duane family. Also included is a range of items of memorabilia such as a stamp collection, three photographs, a lock of Anne D. Duane’s hair from her deathbed, and journals of William North Duane.

Arrangement note

This collection has not been fully processsed, but is loosely organized into the following three series:

Series I. Correspondence
Series II: Legal and Business papers
Series III. Duane family papers

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Administrative Information

Access restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Portions of the collection that have been microfilmed will be brought to the researcher in that format and can be made available by Interlibrary loan. Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading Room for details. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) Items that include presidential signatures will be presented to researchers in duplicate form.

Use restrictions

This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from: Manuscripts Department, New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024; or via email at mssdept@nyhistory.org.

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

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Container List

Series I: Correspondence

Conditions Governing Access note

This series is available on microfilm; originals are not available to researchers.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1-10 Folder : Correspondence and related documents

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Series II: Legal and Business Papers

Arrangement note

Legal papers retain their original organization system: legal documents with clear case names are alphabetized by the plaintiff's last name; legal documents without clear case names but with dates are arranged chronologically; and legal documents without clear case names or dates (for example, case notes or summaries) have been categorized as assorted legal documents. There is also one folder of "cataloged" legal papers, which includes those documents which have been indexed in the original card catalog of the manuscript department, available to in-house researchers.

The various categories of legal documents have not been reviewed to identify related materials, so researchers should be aware that papers relating to the same case or controversy may appear in multiple folders.

Scope and Contents note

This series includes legal papers and business papers dating from the early 18th century to the late 19th century. The legal papers largely concern legal cases and documents primarily relating to land issues in the area of Schectady, NY; such as deeds, leases, rents, surrenders and grants. The business papers include a variety of accountancy documents and letters relating to business matters. These papers primarily relate to James Duane, James C. Duane and George W. Featherstonhaugh.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 11 Folder : 1 Assorted legal documents (folder 1 of 6)
Box: 11 Folder : 2 Assorted legal documents (folder 2 of 6)
Box: 11 Folder : 3 Assorted legal documents (folder 3 of 6)
Box: 11 Folder : 4 Assorted legal documents (folder 4 of 6)
Box: 11 Folder : 5 Assorted legal documents (folder 5 of 6)
Box: 11 Folder : 6 Assorted legal documents (folder 6 of 6)
Box: 11 Folder : 7 Dated legal documents
Box: 11 Folder : 8 Dated legal documents
Box: 11 Folder : 9 Dated legal documents
Box: 11 Folder : 10 Dated legal documents
Box: 12 Folder : 1 Dated legal documents
Box: 12 Folder : 2 Dated legal documents
Box: 12 Folder : 3 Dated legal documents
Box: 12 Folder : 4 Dated legal documents
Box: 12 Folder : 5 Dated legal documents
Box: 12 Folder : 6 Legal cases: A-B
Box: 13 Folder : 1 Legal cases: C-D
Box: 13 Folder : 2 Legal cases: E-F-G
Box: 13 Folder : 3 Legal cases: H
Box: 13 Folder : 4 Legal cases: I-J
Box: 13 Folder : 5 Legal cases: K-L
Box: 13 Folder : 6 Legal cases: M-R
Box: 14 Folder : 1 Legal cases: S
Box: 14 Folder : 2 Legal cases: T
Box: 14 Folder : 3 Legal cases: V
Box: 14 Folder : 4 Legal cases: W-Z
Box: 14 Folder : 5 Legal papers (catalogued)
Box: 14 Folder : 6 18th century New York sheriff's writs
Oversize: large Folder : Duane OS1-OS2 Deeds, releases, and other land papers, New York City (includes surveys of Grammercy)
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS3 Saratoga Patent (Folder 1 of 3)
Oversize: large Folder : Duane OS4-OS5 Saratoga Patent (Folders 2 and 3 of 3)
Box: 14A Folder : 1 Saratoga Patent, Field Book
Oversize: medium Folder : Duane OS6 Hardenburgh Patent
Box: 14A Folder : 2 Hardenburgh Patent, Field Book
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS7 Schuyler Patent, Otsego County
Box: 14A Folder : 3 Schuyler Patent, Field Book
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS8 Deeds, assignments, and other land documents, Oneida County
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS9 Leases, Duanesburg
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS10 Leases, Duanesburg
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS11 Surrenders and Grants, Duanesburg
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS12 Legal papers and notes, Duanesburg
Oversize: medium Folder : Duane OS13 Legal documents and papers, Princetown, Albany County
Oversize: medium Folder : Duane OS14 Legal documents and papers, Albany County
Oversize: medium Folder : Duane OS15 Letters patent, deeds and other legal documents, Ulster County
Box: 14B Folder : 1 Letters patent for land in the township of Socialborough
1771 April 3
Box: 14B Folder : 2 Letters patent for land in the township of Durham
1773 January 7
Box: 14B Folder : 3 Detached seal
Oversize: medium Folder : Duane OS16A Deeds and other legal papers, Socialborough and Durham
Box: 15 Folder : 1 Assorted documents (primarily receipts and financial documents)
Box: 15 Folder : 2 Assorted documents (primarily receipts and financial documents)
Box: 15 Folder : 3 Assorted documents (primarily receipts and financial documents)
Box: 15 Folder : 4 Assorted documents (includes letters and legal documents)
Box: 15 Folder : 5 Assorted documents (includes letters, receipts and legal documents)
Box: 15 Folder : 6 Assorted documents (includes letters and real estate papers)
Box: 15 Folder : 7 Assorted documents (includes letters and real estate papers)
Box: 15 Folder : 8 Assorted documents (includes letters, receipts and real estate papers)
circa. 1830s - 1880s
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS16 Assorted documents (letters, petitions, and legal documents)
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS17 Wills and related documents
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS18 Appointments and commissions, James Duane (as Mayor and District Court Judge)
1779, 1785, 1789
Box: 15 Folder : 9 Bank notes, bank book and proxy of James C. Duane's (Mohawk Bank, Schenectady)
Box: 16 Folder : 1 Letters to George W. Featherstonhaugh
Box: 16 Folder : 2 Letters to George W. Featherstonhaugh
Box: 16 Folder : 3 Letters and notes relating to Featherstonhaugh family members
Box: 16 Folder : 4 Documents relating to the Sigma Phi Society of the State of NY
Box: 16 Folder : 5 George William Featherstonhaugh's account book from Schenectady Bank
Box: 16 Folder : 6 Papers relating to the Northern Boundary (folder 1 of 3)
Box: 16 Folder : 7 Papers relating to the Northern Boundary (folder 2 of 3)
Box: 16 Folder : 8 Papers relating to the Northern Boundary (folder 3 of 3)
Box: 16 Folder : 9 Undated letters, notes, and ledgers
circa. 1841
Box: 17 Accountancy book ledger
Box: 17 Folder : 1 Accounts and receipts
Box: 17 Folder : 2 Letters, legal and accounting documents (folder 1 of 3)
circa 1820s
Box: 17 Folder : 3 Letters, legal and accounting documents (folder 2 of 3)
circa 1820s
Box: 17 Folder : 4 Letters, legal and accounting documents (folder 3 of 3)
circa 1820s
Box: 17 Folder : 5 Documents relating to the purchase of the Bradshaw Farm
Box: 17 Folder : 6 Copy of lecture written by George W. Featherstonhaugh

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Series III: Family Papers

Scope and Contents note

This series includes papers relating to members of the Duane family, their relatives and extended family. The papers are of an informal nature and are largely comprised of correspondence between various family members. This correspondence includes letters from James Duane to his Daughter and son-in-law, Maria and William North, in the late 1700s, and letters relating to William Augustus Steuben North and his family membes. The majority of the correspondence relates to William North Duane, his mother Anne Dalliba Duane, and their family members during William's time at school in Germany in the 1880s. Also included is an assortment of items of memorabilia primarily relating to William North Duane.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 18 Folder : 1 Letters from William North Duane to his mother Anne D. Duane
Box: 18 Folder : 2 Letters from William North Duane to his mother Anne D. Duane
Box: 18 Folder : 3 Letters from William North Duane to his mother Anne D. Duane
Box: 18 Folder : 5 Letters between Duane family members and William North Duane
Box: 18 Folder : 4 Letters from Anne D. Duane to William North Duane
Box: 18 Folder : 6 Letters from Anne D. Duane to members of her family
Box: 18 Folder : 7 Letters from Anne D. Duane to members of her family
Box: 18 Folder : 8 Letters between members of the Duane family and their relations
Box: 18 Folder : 9 Letters between members of the Duane family and their relations
Box: 19 Collection of stamps, photographs, and lock of Anne D. Duane's hair
Box: 19 Assorted loose envelopes
Box: 19 Journals and notepads
Box: 19 Folder : 1 Assorted documents relating to the Duane family
Box: 19 Folder : 2 Assorted legal documents relating to Duane family members
Box: 19 Folder : 3 Compositions by James C. Duane
Box: 19 Folder : 4 Letters from James Duane to his daughter and son-in-law, Maria and William North
Box: 19 Folder : 5 Papers relating to William Augustus Steuben North
circa. 1754-1878
Box: 19 Folder : 6 Letters to Hannah E. North
Box: 19 Folder : 7 Miscellaneous genealogical papers relating to the Eustis and Westin families
Box: 19 Photograph of un-named man
Box: 19 Folder : 8 Unidentified framed photograph of a family member
Oversize: small Folder : Duane OS19 Certificates issued to William North Duane
1888, 1892, 1897

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Series IV: Bound Volumes, 1754-1843, undated

Scope and Contents Note

This series consists of assorted bound volumes, including account books relating to land holdings, court dockets, a register of baptisms from Duanesburgh Christ Church, Bleeker and Duane family genealogies, and journals and letterbooks. Also included are cookbooks and recipes from the mid-19th century.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 1 Account book, land holdings
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 2 Rental of Farms in Franklin's Patent and in Applefield, Saratoga County (account book)
circa 1790's
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 3 Rental of Farms in Hardenburgh Patent and of West Camden in the Town of Salem, Washington County (account book)
circa 1790's
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 4 Rentals in West Camden, Provincial, Hardenberg, Cosby, Franklin and Saratoga Patents (account book)
circa 1790's - 1830's
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 5 Account book, James Duane
circa 1800-1810
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 6 Account book, Lands in Otsego County belonging to estate of James Duane
circa 1830's
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 7 Numbers, Bounds, Dimensions and Contents of the several Farms Surveyed in the township of Duanesburgh (account book)
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 8 Bleeker Family genealogy (copied from Bleeker family Bible)
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 9 Daybook, James Duane
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 10 Duanesburgh Christ Church Register of Baptisms 1795-1812/Record of legal cases, 1755-1769
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 11 New York Court Dockets
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 12 Extracts from the journals of James Duane
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 13 Letterbook
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 14 James Duane journals
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 15 Duane Family Genealogy
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 16 Register of lands in three parts: 1. Duaneburg; 2. Lands affected by the New Hampshire Claims; 3. Detached Lands

Separated Materials note

Two oversized items ("Map of the Subdivision of the Great or Hardenburgh's Patent" and "Plan of Duanesburgh") were removed from this volume and will be found in Duane OS Folder 20.

1765-circa 1790's
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 17 Cookbook, Eliza Duane
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 18 Cookbook
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 19 Cookbook
circa 1850's?
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 20 Cookbook
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 21 Cookbook
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 22 Cookbook
Box: BV Duane Family Volume : 23 Loose recipes

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