Wouter Knickerbacker was born in October 1712. He was the son of Johannes and Anna Quackenbush Knickerbacker. He probably grew up on his father's farms in Rensselaerswyck and Schaghticoke from where his father had occasional business with the city of Albany.
In January 1735, he married Albany native Elizabeth Fonda at the Dutch church in Albany. By 1749, eight children had been christened in the Albany church where both parents were members and frequent baptism sponsors.
By mid-century, the Knickerbackers were becoming well-established in the Albany hinterland - particularly at Schaghticoke. Perhaps Wouter began his adult life as a countryside tenant of the city of Albany.
In 1756, his house was described on a census of Albany houses made by the British army. At that time, he was identified as "Mr. Knickerbacker." He was the only one of more than 300 householders to be called a "farmer". During the 1760s and 70s, his second and third ward holdings were valued on Albany assessment rolls.
Wouter buried his wife in the church cemetery in December 1760. At that time, he was in his late fourties and probably too old to re-marry. He did maintain his Albany properties until the late 1780s when his holdings no longer appeared on city assessment rolls. By that time, the Knickerbackers were no longer visible Albany residents. Perhaps he was absorbed in one of the households of his adult children.
In October 1774, he was named co-executor of the estate of Albany resident Douwe Winne. A decade later, he was named co-executor of the estate of Johannes Groesbeck of Rensselaerswyck. In 1788, his name appeared among the debts owed the estate of Dr. Henry Van Dyck.
In his sixties at the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, he was too old for active service but did contribute to the American cause on at least two occasions. A few years later, he joined his neighbors in petitioning the governor on behalf of incarcerated individuals.
Sources: The life of Wouter Knickerbacker is CAP biography number 1530. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Research on this historically reticent individual is not complicated by the fact that he "seems" to have been the sole "Wouter Knickerbacker" operating in the region during the eighteenth century.
first posted: 7/20/09