Thursday, June 7, 2012

John Van Gilder's Character

In the course of investigating a crown court case between the two prominent and powerful landlords Van Rensselaer and Livingston, the following testimony on the character of the Mohican-Wappinger man John Van Gilder was obtained from Timothy Woodbridge in 1768.  Woodbridge was a teacher at the Stockbridge Mission in western Massachusetts. 

That he [Timothy Woodbridge] known and been acquainted with Joseph Van Gelder’s family his Father an Indian his Mother a White Woman and well behaved.  It is probable Joseph Van Gelder was baptized.  His father attended the publick Worship and was Christened as he told the witness  That he understood Joseph Van Gelder had been also christened  the Family lived in a Manner of the English and Dutch and were esteemed to be christians like the rest of the Neigbours  it is 27 or 28 Years since he instructed Joseph Van Gelder in Reading and the Catechism, he has seen the Family admitted as witnesses  Joseph Van Gelder was eight or nine Years old when he was at School with [me] he was there two Summers  Supposes all the Children of old Van Gelder and his wife when were baptized  that his father was put on the same footing with respect to the Laws as the Whites were  other Indians were not so considered.
Richard Moore further claimed:

he has known Joseph Van Gelder [John's son who was also interviewed for this case] he is Christian and baptized by a high Dutch Minister  Joseph Van Gelder’s Father’s Children was baptized and he himself  That he was Married by a Minister.  Joseph Van Gelder lives at Egremont on this side Howsitenack River to the Eastward of Tackannick Mountains  he his [sic] known him from a Child  he always bears a good Character  he would Venture to take his Oath at any time for the truth  The General Reputation is that he is a Christian.  He believes His father belonged to the Catt’s Kills 
This documentation can be found in the New-York Historical Society, Miscellaneous Manuscripts V, filed under John Van Rensselaer.

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