Bill's Albertson Pages
Centering on the branch of the family that in 1922
donated the "Eagle's Nest" property in Delaware, New Jersey
to the Episcopal Diocese of Newark
In 1742 or thereabouts, a family of 7 living in the Dutch section of what is now Nassau County on Long Island picked up and moved west. They were Nicholas Albertson, his wife Engeltie Vandewater Albertson, and their children Anglechea (1732-10/11/1807), Garret (5/10/1735-8/12/1813), Cornelius (9/3/1737-3/21/1813), Dorothy (9/3/1737-) his twin, and Abigail (1739-). They settled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where three more children were born, Sarah (6/18/1743-11/26/1836), Nicholas Jr. (1746-8/16/1818) and John (1749-2/3/1822). Nicholas was a millwright. The family moved often, as he completed one project and relocated a few miles to start the next. In 1760 Nicholas contracted smallpox, which took his life that spring. That fall Engeltie contracted pleurisy, which took hers. Five of their children were adults by then and Sarah nearly so, but Nicholas and John were 14 and 11. There's no record of who watched out for them while they finished growing up, but both survived into adulthood and on to a reasonably old age in the 19th century.
Cornelius married a girl named Mary Robeson* (6/26/1740-5/27/1807) on 29 October 1756. Mary lived with her parents in what is now the village of Delaware in Knowlton Twp, NJ in a house that's still standing. It's not certain how they met, they lived 25 miles of mostly wilderness apart. In his journal** Garret mentions "I was one month on the frontiers" early in the French and Indian War which would be 1755 or 1756. The frontier at the time was Sussex County, including present-day Warren County which wasn't calved from Sussex until 20 November 1824. Garret could have been anywhere from Belvidere to Port Jervis
. That includes Delaware, where the Robeson House served as a fortress against marauders, being built of stone on high ground overlooking the Delaware River. Maybe Garret met Mary there and somehow introduced her to his brother. Maybe Cornelius served with Garret on the frontier and met Mary there himself. In any case they did meet and get married, and at some point Cornelius moved in with his in-laws. It's likely that he brought his brother Nicholas to live with him in the fall of 1760 after the loss of their parents, because not long afterward in the early 1760s Nicholas married a girl named Japie Aten, who lived just across the river from Delaware NJ. The young couple, both well under 20, settled on the plateau high above the Delaware River flood plain, 250 yards northeast of Blair's Knob, a 20 minute walk from Cornelius' house by the easiest route. Over the next years and decades they cleared and tilled the 170 acres they owned (land was so cheap at the frontier in northwestern New Jersey in the 1760s that apparently even teenagers could own that much of it) and they built a beautiful home over a natural spring that stood for 200 years. Four generations of Albertsons lived and died in that house - Nicholas and Japie and their family, their youngest son Henry and his family, his eldest son William F., and his family of daughters and a live-in niece. These families left rich traces in church records, tax records, bibles, censuses and newspapers. They signed deeds, wrote wills, filed insurance claims. When they died their survivors placed head stones in their memory. This, a work in progress, is their story.
* Often rendered as Robinson, but both parents left wills under the name Robeson. Two of their three children were girls, and their son Elam notoriously died young, so it's a moot point. By the way, all accounts of the story about Elam that I know of, beginning with James P. Snell's 1881 opus History of Sussex and Warren counties, New Jersey, claim that the incident occurred in 1777. The actual date had to be much earlier, probably 1756. For one thing, Elam's father Edward Robeson died in 1764 and wasn't up to sending his son on errands in 1777. For another, the accounts refer to the victim as "young Elam" or "the Robeson boy". Elam was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church in Kingston, NY on 18 December 1737. In the spring of 1756 he was 18; by planting season of 1777 he would have been going on 40. In his will dated 25 November 1762, Edward Robeson left (with strings) his New Jersey property to Mary, and the 250 acres he owned on the western bank of the Delaware River above Easton to John Lowrey, husband of his daughter Sarah (baptized as Zara 15 February 1735/6). No mention was made of Elam, placing an upper limit of 1762 on the date of the incident. Finally, Indian attacks in the area are associated with the early years of the French & Indian War, 1755-1756. History of Northampton County [Pennsylvania] and the Grand Valley of the Lehigh, edited by William J Heller et al, published by The American Historical Society, Boston, New York and Chicago, 1920 tells of the flight of residents of outlying areas of Northampton County to more populated areas over the winter of 1755-56. We learn at the end of Chapter XIX of an 1877 History of Northampton County, that a peace treaty was signed on 26 October 1858. There was another outbreak of massacres in 1763-64 (Ibid, Chapter XX), but by then Cornelius and Mary had already named their first son after her late brother.
If this incident really did occur in 1756, word of it would have quickly reached Hunterdon County and could well have been what drew Cornelius Albertson (and other militia-age men) to the Robeson house in the first place. Cornelius and Elam were both Dutch and were born a few weeks apart, which would have impressed both Mary and her parents.
** Garret's journal is a must read for history buffs! Much of what is known about his generation and his parents comes from this document. It also provides a brutal first hand account of life on the front lines in the French & Indian War. In addition to the journal, the linked web page includes the text of a note that was circulated some years later among Garret's descendants and those of his brothers and sisters, concerning an estate in Amsterdam. This I believe is the source of the widespread and probably unwarranted belief among 19th century Albertsons that Nicholas Sr. was the son of Cornelius of Amsterdam. Garret's journal was first published in 1845 by grandson Thomas, 33 years after Garret wrote it. It was probably heavily edited for publication. Younger brother Nicholas' will, linked below and written in his own hand, is a delightful travesty of English spelling and usage and there's no reason to think that an older brother born among the Dutch would be more fluent in English than a younger brother born among the English.
Links, live and planned
Who was Nicholas Albertson Sr?
1816 Deed of 86 Acres from Nicholas Albertson to his son Henry
Be sure to click through to the maps!
Will of Nicholas Albertson, d. August 16, 1818
(cleaned up image, big file, best to download)
Spoiler alert: Henry ends up with the rest of the farm. "humslid" is a link to my notes, including a few words on the pdf's.
Will of Henry Albertson, d. October 21, 1853
With links to my notes and observations, and to a page of biopics of Henry's heirs.
The Albertson farm goes to William F. Albertson, Henry's oldest son, by way of Jacob D. Addis
Two 1855 deeds 3 weeks apart concerning the same property, presented side by side.
Growing Up Albertson - 4 Sisters and a Cousin
Some of the images are links to full-sized copies. Click if you're having trouble reading. Click the 1886 inventory booklet to flip the pages.
Interactive Albertson Genealogy
Thanks & Credits
I've had some great help along the way. Jill McCollum tossed me a couple of web pages early on, one of which prompted me to get in touch with Don Dorflinger, who recommended that I join the Knowlton & Blairstown Facebook group, where I met the incredible Cynthia Montes and a great bunch of other "townies" including my first live Albertson, Betty Ann King. Betty Ann has sent me some deeds and put me in touch with her very distant cousin Scott Reichard who has done a ton of Albertson genealogy research. I found Lisa Milton at findagrave.com, where she left a request for a headstone photo that I tried and failed to fulfill (not my fault! The stone is broken). She's descended from Uncle Eli, younger brother of William F. Albertson. She sent me pdf's of Nicholas' and Henry's wills and the deeds from Nicholas to Henry and from Henry's estate to Addis. These are the items that got this website started. The newspaper clippings in the scrapbook and that great 1895 photo of the school staff were simply handed to me by Cynthia, and she did me the great favor of getting me the deed from Jacob D. Addis to William F. Albertson at my request. Thank you so much for all you've done, Cynthia Montes!
I was inspired by my brother Peter Kelly to get started on this, and also by Dan Karcher, creator and maintainer of the Eagle'sNestCamp.net
media site, from which I might have borrowed a picture or two.