Patriot of the Revolution, son of David and Mary (Duyckinck) Abeel, was born in New York City, May 2, 1734. He was educated both in Dutch and English, and on May 1, 1751, was apprenticed to Gulean Verplanck, a wholesale merchant. After serving his time he entered the employ of James Napier, Esq., Director of the British General Hospital at Albany. He left his position in 1757, and returned to New York, where he was induced to accept a better position in the same service in charge of the New York stores for the supply of other hospitals. He refused in Dec., 1770, to go to the Army, then at Boston, and was dismissed from the British hospital service, receiving from Gen. Gage a certificate for past faithful service. In 1765 he joined his brother-in-law, Evart Byranck, Jr., in the iron business, continuing until
Aug. 24, 1774, when his partner withdrew and he continued the business alone till 1776, when, owing to the occupation of New York by the British, he was obliged to leave with his family, and located at Little Falls, N. J.On Feb. 14, 1755, he was appointed by James De Lancey, Esq., His Majesty’s Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Province of New York, and the territories depending thereon in America-Ensign of the company of militia foot of the city and county of New York, whereof David Abeel was Captain, and on April 15, 1760, he was appointed Lieutenant of the same company. In 1772 he was appointed Captain in place of his father, who resigned on account of advanced age. When troubles began with the mother country, he immediately resigned his commission and offered his services to his native State, and Nov. 3, 1775, he was appointed Major of First Regiment, New York City Militia, Col. John Jay commanding. He was a member of the New York General Committee, Aug. 28, 1775; Chairman, 1776; Member of New York Committee of Safety, 1776; Member of New York Provincial Congress, 1776-7. In a letter to his wife under date of June 19, 1776, he says: “The public have this day forced me into Congress, where I am to sit the second Tuesday of next month.”
Under date of July 3, 1776, he writes: “The night before last, just after dark, there was an alarm that the fleet was under way and coming up ; the drums beat to Arms. I sat up till I found that the Tide was spent, and wind would not permit them to come up; then I went to bed. About 11 o’clock I was awakened by Col. Remsen, who came with an order to have our Regiment out by 4 o’ clock in the morning. When I got up was hurried to go round to the Captain’s to warn them ; before long the alarm guns were fired, and the fleet appeared in the Narrows; the drums beat to arms, and every one was ordered to his post. Mine was at the New Brick Meeting House, where our regiment parades. There I stayed till it was found that they were come to anchor under Staten Island. Capt Randall has just informed me that they had only landed on Staten Island and drove the few Riflemen we had there to Elizabethtown point; shall be a little easier, as two thousand men are going over to prevent their marching into the country. If they had landed here they must have met with a warm reception, as I judge we had Monday by 12 o’clock, 15,000 Men in the City and its neighborhood. Tomorrow 7,000 Troops are expected from New England.”
Col. Jay’s regiment was soon after disbanded and the men joined other reg-iments, and Major Abeel was called to attend to his civil duties. On July 16 he writes from White Plains:
“I shall try next week to get permission to come and see you, as the consideration of forming a new government is postponed to the first of next month on account of the multiplicity of other necessary business which has come before the house since they have been here. We have only five New York members here at present, which is the exact number required to represent the city and county in Congress ; hope some more will arrive in a few days.”
The Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York assembled at Fishkill, Sept. 7, 1776, enacted the following:
Resolved, That a Committee of Safety and Correspondence for that part of the State which lies below the high Lands be immediately formed. That Col. Remsen, Major Abeel and Major Peter P. Van Zant be that Committee.
Resolved unanimously, That the Committee of Safety and Correspondence at New York be appointed and authorized to cause to be taken from the Doors of the Houses in the City of New York, all the Brass Knockers, and they cause the same to be sent to some careful Person at New Ark in New Jersey with all possible Dispatch—that the said Committee keep as accurate an Account as possible of the Weight and Value of them and of the Houses whence taken, in order that satisfaction may be hereafter made to the respective Owrers.”
Major Abeel served his country in various positions throughout the war. He was an active member of the Middle Dutch Church, in which he served as Deacon, 1764 and 1770, and an Elder in 1784. At the request of the corporation he wrote an account of the estate, revenue and income of the Dutch Reformed Protestant Church in the City of New York for different years, viz.: 1770, 1776, 1784 and 1786, showing the assets and liabilities, from winch it appears that the Manor of Fordham was sold in 1761, for £11,533, 17s., 9d. When the North Church was being built be placed under a pillar near the pulpit a plate of pewter on which was inscribed the names of the Elders and Deacons, who comprised the Building Committee, the names of the carpenters, masons, etc., and also the fact that “The first stone was laid, July ye 2d, 1767, by Mr. Jacobus Rosevelt, Senr. Elder, &c.” This plate was found when the church was torn down in 1875, and is still in possession of one of the members of the Consistory.
Major Abeel married Nov. 19, 1760, Mary Byvanck, daughter of Evert Byvanck and Mary Cannon.
Evert Byvanck was born June 15, 1705; resided at his country seat on the East River near the foot of Delancy Street, which he was obliged to leave as soon as il was ascertained that the city would fall into the possession of British. He gives an interesting narrative of his efforts to get to horseneck, to which place he started on Aug. 31st, four days after the battle of Long Island. After relating some unimportant matters he says: “On Thursday, the 12th of September, I took my Chais, Horse and Negro Sam to drive, and went down to Corlears* Hook to my country seat * * * * There being heavy firing of cannon from the two Batteries on Long Island [then in possession of the British] and two of ours on Corlears’ . Hook, on both sides of the house, was advised not to proceed farther, but being so near my house, about three-quarters of a mile off, I went out of my Chais and ventured to walk through a Lane which led me to the back part of my place, ordering my man to follow me with Horse and Chais. A heavy cannonade still kept on ; as- we were going there several cannon balls ilew past us, and two balls struck a post and a rail of the Lane fence we passed through breast-high just before us; however, we got safe to the back part of my Land. * * * * That afternoon the Gentleman I took down with me in my Chais, came to me and importuned me to make all the haste I possibly could to get away out of imminent danger, as it was not in the least doubted but the King’s Troops were preparing for landing, and by all likelihood would land next day or Sunday, at farthest, and I would or could not then escape being killed, wounded or taken prisoner, on which I took his advice, and after the firing of the Enemies’ Cannon ceased, which was about six o’clock on Friday evening, 13 Sept., I ordered my man Sam to put the horse in the Chais, and I proceeded that evening as far as the hill above Harlem to the place where Mr. Lawe Kortright had retired to, being a house belonging to Mr. Eagans of St. Croix, where I was kindly received, who told me he had removed his family to Hackensack that day, and intended in one or two days to follow them; his house and out-houses were filled with officers, attendants and their horses. About ten o’clock we were all preparing to go to bed, when a General who was there received orders to be with his several companies of Soldiers at one o’clock that night op-posite Turtle Bay and Kip’s Bay, and to lay on their arms to obstruct the landing of the King’s troops then hourly expected.”
Under date of Jan. 28, 1777, he writes: “It is reported that our Army of 12,000 New England Forces will endeavor to retake New York, and plunder it very much, as they judge no man that is true to this country has any business there more than those that are Tories, against whom they are much exasperated. Just this moment we received news that Gen. Washington was beating all the King’s Troops back to New York, and hope in a short time to hear of their packing off and leaving us in quiet possession of our Estates.”
On Jan. 20, 1778, in a letter to his son, John, and his son-in-law, Garret Abeel, after describing the privations he had endured and the loss of his horse, stolen from the stable, he says: “I shall with all humility wait till the spring to see you and look out for deliverance from our cruel enemies; I hope and Trust the Lord will work a deliverance in good time; I look nor wish for a patched up peace as my son John makes mention of in his letters to me; if the weather be good in April, if the troubles be not over sooner, I intend to come a foot to pay you a visit ; horse I have none nor know where to buy one.”
He arrived at the house of his son-in-law, Garret Abeel, at Little Falls, N. J., where he died Monday, May 1, 1781, and was buried near there. His, remains were subsequently removed to the family vault in the Middle Dutch Church, corner of Nassau and Liberty Streets.
Major Garret Abeel, by his wife Mary (Byvanck) Abeel, had eleven children, only two of whom are married, viz:
- Jane, who was married to Gasherie Brasher, son of Col. Abraham Brasher, who had served with distinction during the Revolutionary war, and was also a member of the Provincial Congress
- Garret Byvanck. See further.
Garret Byvance Abeel
Son of Major Garret Abeel, was born March 5, 1768. He continued the iron and hardware business of his father at the corner of James Slip and Cherry Street, until 1802, when he erected the building on Water Street, adjoining the one on South Street, since occupied by the Abeels and their successors. He died Dec. 21, 1829.
He married Catharine Marschalk, daughter of Joseph Marschalk and Mary Schermerhorn. His wife died July 22, 1832.
They had twelve children:
- Mary, married Edward Dunscomb
- Catharine Schermerhorn, married Adrian H. Muller
- Elizabeth, married Albert W. Wright
- Joanna, who remained single, died June 25, 1882, in the sixty-sixth year of her age
- Theodore, born Aug. 11, 1810, graduated at Rutger’s College, July 15, 1829, died Dec. 27, 1829
- John Howard. See further.
John Howard Abeel
Son of Garret Byvanck and Catharine (Marschalk) Abeel, was born June 27, 1815, at No. 19 Park Place, New York City. He was prepared for college at Borland and Forrest Academy, but after the death of his father in 1829 he decided on a mercantile career. He entered the silk house of Downer & Co.. in Hanover Square, but after a little over a year’s experience he was induced to enter the employ of the old iron firm then conducted by Alfred and Edward Abeel. Edward died Jan. 18, 1832.
Alfred took his brother George into partnership, who relinquished his law practice, having graduated at Columbia College in 1822. In 1826 he was authorized to practice as attorney-at-law, by Hon. John T. Irving, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the City of New York. The same year he was appointed attorney in the Supreme Court, and in 1827 made solicitor by the Court of Chancery. Alfred died Dec. 14, 1835, and on Jan. 1, 1836, George took his brother John into partnership, and retired May 1, 1840, after which he spent most of his time in travel, both at home and abroad. He died Oct. 26, 1884, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. John Howard conducted the business alone for a few years, and as his sons became of age gave them an interest. He retired Jan. 1, 1870, leaving the business to his four sons. He died April 19, 1896.
He married Jan. 18, 1838, Catharine Emeline, daughter of Dr. John C. Strobel, an eminent physician of New York, who died of yellow fever, Oct. 15, 1822, during the great epidemic of that year. Dr. Strobel’ s wife was the daughter of Francis Marschalk and Sarah Butler; she died Aug. 14, 1818.
They had eight children, six of them are named below:
- George. See further.
- John Howard, Jr.
- Catharine, married Charles J. Canda, Assistant U. S. Treasurer, New York
- Louisa, married Dr. Samuel Kuypers Lyon, a prominent physician
- Alfred, born Oct. 14, 1844 (married Nov. 21, 1867, Rachel C, daughter of Ascher C. Havens; died May 8, 1871, leaving one son, Alfred.)
- Frederick H., born July 31, 1848, married Nov. 30, 1880, Helen Douglass; died Oct.. 7, 1887, leaving no issue
Eldest child of John Howard and Catharine Emeline( Strobel) Abeel, was born at No. 90 Prince Street, Oct 16, 1839. Receiving his education at the well-known school of Clark & Fanning, he acquired the requisite knowledge and training to fit him for the responsible position to which he was soon to be called as the head of the oldest mercantile firm in New York City. After leaving school, he entered at once his father’s employ, and after mastering all the details and technicalities of the” business, became a partner with his father, and later his successor. Like his predecessors, he proved himself equal to every emergency, and the firm he represents has never yet failed to meet all its obligations and maintain the high credit for which it has always been noted. The old-fashioned ideas of honesty and business probity on which the house was founded are still kept up, and the ancestral pride is shown in the careful preservation of books and papers of one hundred and fifty years ago, as well as the military commissions that tell the story of the honorable service rendered by their worthy sires during the days that tried men’s souls.
Public honors have had no attraction for Mr. Abeel, and, except to fulfill his obligations as a citizen, he has taken no part in public affairs of any kind, knowing that a man cannot give attention to one without neglecting the other. He is a trustee of the East River Savings Bank, a member of the St. Nicholas Society, the Suburban Riding and Driving Club, Harlem Club, Historical Society, Museum Natural History, Zoological Society, Harlem Board of Commerce.
Mr. Abeel married Julia E. Guenther, daughter of Rev. Francis H. Guenther, a well-known divine of Buffalo, a descendant of an old and prominent Saxon family. Their children are:
- George H., born Oct. 21, 1862;
- Francis H., born Jan. 5, 1864;
- Henry Fraser. See further.
Henry Fraser Abeel
Youngest son of George and Julia E. (Guenther) Abeel, was born in New York City, Sept. 28, 1870. He was educated at the public school, and entered the employ of his father’s firm, beginning at the lowest round of the ladder, and subject to the course of business training that would be required of any stranger. He reached his present position as a member of the firm, to which he was admitted Jan. 1, 1893. by his own efforts, and was well fitted to assume the responsibilities and obligations which such a position entails. Recognizing his duty as a citizen to maintain at all times the honor of his country, he joined the famous Seventh Regiment in 1890, and served the usual term as a member of Company B. His willingness to aid his fellow men is shown in his connection with the Masonic Fraternity as a member of Alma Lodge No. 728 of New York.
He married Jesslyn Irene Forsythe, daughter of James Forsythe and Anna Moore. They have one child:
- Hazel Forsythe.