GrandPapa's Letter part 6
Franklin B. Van Valkenburgh

Portraits and Silhouettes

I remember as wonderful exhibitions of artistic taste some silhouettes of my Father, which he brought with him on his return from one of his visits to New York, They represented him in a high collar, with a black stock, and a coat collar reaching to his ears, which was his accustomed dress, and were considered "wonderful likenesses," They were cut out of thin black paper, and pasted on to a white back-ground, and although of course only showing his profile, were really quite like their original, and easily recognizable as likenesses of "the judge. " But the great thing in the line of portrature was the first Daugerreotype displayed in the village. It was a picture of Dave, in a characteristic attitude, i.e. with his hat on his head, and his feet hanging gracefully ? ? over the back of the chair in which he sat; This was a "nine days wonder" in the community, and Dave was often called on to tell the story of its manufacture, which he did in a variety of terms?? His story of "the dark room, " and of the camera was something wonderful to hear, and when he asserted that the original picture was always first seen "up-side-down, " it was decided that no "modest person, " could ever submit to being taken.

I remember too, that the occasion of Dave's visit to New York was that he had taken a trip on one of Father's lumber rafts to Baltimore, and walked from there to Mt. Vernon, to do penance at the tomb of The Father of his Country," and then walked almost the entire distance from there to his home, via New York. It was the custom of all the Rafters to walk home, but not by that route. Another of the mementoes of that voyage, which Dave brought home with him was a green lemon, which he picked from a tree said to have been planted by George Washington; This lemon was carefully dried by our Mother, and was in use so long as she lived, to place in the foot of the numerous stockings she was compelled to darn for the use of the feet almost innumerable for which she was accustomed for 80 many years to provide.

Dave was at this time the owner of a large black shepherd dog, which he used to shear to fit his name, which was LION, and LION was the first Mail Carrier I remember to have known, He used to carry messages daily between the store and our house, and was as trusty and intelligent as it became an United States official to be. and his death was as deeply lamented, and his funeral so fully attended, that it seemed as if some important biped might have passed away.



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JACOB VAN VALKENBURGH Born at Kinderhook, N. Y. March 1795 Died at St. Nicholas, Fla. March 3, 1879 (Son of Bartholomew Jacob Van Valkenburgh and Catherine Pruyn)


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MARY (Polly) BETHIA HIGGINS VAN VALKENBURGH Born at Lyme (Hamburgh) Conn. Oct. 22, 1793 Died at Racine, Wis. May 10, 1871 Daughter of David Higgins and Eunice Gilbert


The house next east of the District School House, i.e. the one toward our house and the square, was that of my Uncle William V. V. or rather, to our childish perceptions, that of his good wife, "Aunt Emily", and there she lived with our cousins ALLIS: HORACE: and Carrie. Their barn stood close to the back end of the school house, and was another favorite place for play at noon or recess, and Carrie, twice married and long since dead was the first girl to whom I lost my heart? and to whom I was totally and eternally attached. She was just a week older than "the twins, " and was very gentle and lovely in her manners, and I was her acknowledged favorite for a time, while Allis was the bully of the school, and I feared and hated him as fully as I loved his sister.

We used to go from school to Aunt Emily's for drinking water, and although not old enough to either fill or carry the pail, I used to go with the other boys, and was always welcomed with a kiss, and a bit of cake or candy if I met my Aunt.

The next house was that of John Hotchkin, and faced our back gate, and next to that was his store, facing on the Square and the side of Father's store; The Post Office was kept in his store, and we were sometimes allowed to go there for the mail, after mother had assured herself that the stage was gone, and there were no teams in sight.

Father's store was one of the three large ones in the village, and contained a varied assortment of goods needed in such a place. It was a great treat to go there and sit on the counter, or a dry goods box, and see and hear what was going on. The store room was probably twenty feet wide and twenty five or thirty feet long, with a Counter along each side and a large wood stove, similar to the one in the school house, in the middle, and was the lounging place of a good many people of various characters and characteristics and a diversity of thoughts and expressions. Prattsburgh was settled by a race of blue Presbyterians, from New England and Eastern New York, and was an exceedingly precise and proper place, It was impossible for many years after its first settlement for any one to purchase or hold a bit of Real Estate in the Township without first agreeing to contribute a certain sum annually toward the "support of the Gospel," which was held to mean the Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, So that the people were a God fearing and worshipping people. ; After a while some of the unregenerate got a foot hold .there, and some slaves, manumitted by law dwelt within the limits of the town, but I never knew more that two or three families of foreigners there, and they were Irish. Father Hotchkin was the first Pastor I can remember, and all I recollect of him is seeing him in the pulpit, and noticing that as he prayed he worked himself up and down on his toes, so that his venerable bald head rose to view above and disappeared behind the pulpit with every .utterance, and I can now hear him say in deep and solemn tones his well known formula with which he closed his invocations, "WORLD WITHOUT END A-A-A-AMEN AH-H-H-MEN.


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