Spelled and referred to variously, future Albany resident Gerrit Heyer was born about 1738. He was the first son born to the marriage of New York City natives Willem and Tabitha Simpson Heyer. His father appears to have been a Manhattan-based trades and/or businessman. He also appears to have been the brother of William Heyer, a contemporary resident of Albany. However, we still seek defining information on this Gerrit's origins and path to Albany.
Perhaps this subject married twice. His first wife may have been one Mary Baldwin with whom a Gerrit Heyer received a New York marriage license in July 1757. At that time, this Gerrit would have been just nineteen. In November 1772, Gerrit Heyer was granted another marriage license to unite with a younger Jane Van Slyck. By 1787, six of their children had been christened at the Albany Dutch church where his family received services over several decades. In August 1797, "Gerrit Heyer's brother" was buried from the Albany church.
In 1767, his name was included on the rosters of two Albany militia companies. In 1773, he was appointed firemaster for the first ward. In 1766, his house and property had been valued moderately on the Albany assessment roll. He may have been the "Barber Garrey" who was listed in the same location in 1767. Over the following decades, his holdings were included on city-based surveys. However, in 1781, he was among those newcomers who purchased the "freedom of the city. At that time, he was identified as a "peruke maker."
Living in Albany during the war years, he contributed for the relief of Ticonderoga in 1775 and gave information on suspicious characters in July 1780. A person of that name was an enlisted man in the third regiment of the New York Line. Afterwards, he was awarded a land bounty right in conjunction with the Albany militia company commanded by Capt. John Price.
During the 1780s and 90s, he served as a fireman. He raised his large family in a modest home on the east side of Court Street. He may have owned additional lots behind his home and along the river. By 1800, his wife seems to have passed on but his family still consisted of three children. In 1813, the first city directory gave his address as 50 Court Street and then 50 South Market Street in 1814. Subsequent directories listed the same location as the address of Mary Heyer (daughter-in-law), a milliner at 476 South Market.
Gerrit Heyer died in September 1821 at the age of eighty-three.
Sources: The life of Gerrit Heyer is CAP biography number 8443. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.
first posted 9/10/08; updated 9/4/15