Catherine Westerlo Woodworth


Catherine Westerlo was born in August 1778. She was the daughter of Eilardus and Catherine Livingston Westerlo. Her father was the European born domine of the Albany Dutch church and her mother was the young widow of the Patroon. Her half brother was Stephen Van Rensselaer III and she probably spent her first years at the Van Rensselaer Manor House.

Eilardus Westerlo died in 1790 and her older brother became a prominent Albany attorney. While they were still single (thirty-year-old Rensselaer married the Chancellor's daughter in 1805), these siblings were closely connected. In 1800, however, they both were accounted for in the second ward home of their widowed mother.

In July 1810, Catherine was thirty-two when she wed a somewhat older John Woodworth at the Dutch church.

Primarily an attorney, Woodworth was elected to the New York State Senate in 1804 and also engaged in business. These Woodworths raised their family in a comfortable home on North Pearl Street in which they kept boarders as early as 1804.

Catherine Westerlo Woodworth died in September 1846. Her husband survived for another twelve years.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Catherine Westerlo Woodworth is CAP biography number 6866. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

Working NOTES: Albany, Aug. 8th, 1802. This far have we proceeded without anything to mortify or disappoint us. I wrote the night I arrived at Lebanon; the next morning the bell rang, & we all assembled to breakfast. There were about thirty ladies much dressed, looking very handsome; it seemed more like a Ball Boom than a breakfasting room. We were the last that came to breakfast & all eyes were fixed upon us. Lady Nesbert and the Allston * family from Carolina were opposite. This daughter of CoL Burr's is a little, sweet looking woman, very learned they say, understands the dead languages, not pedantic, rather reserved. Lady Nesbert, a most interesting woman full black eyes with a wild melancholy expression and a voice so sweet and plaintive you would think of melancholy music. I have not heard her speak a dozen times since I have been here and she rarely ever smiles. Old Mrs. Allston the Mother is a sour looking woman, nothing affable or condescending. Miss Allston they say is a romp, tho' her Mother restrains her so much you would not suspect it. Old Mr. Allston is affable and agreeable. We had likewise there a Mr. Constable from New York; he lives in great style, very much the gentleman. Miss _____ from New York, is a truly fashionable City Belle. She is a fortune but I believe not of family. The gentleman she calls her Father and whose name she takes 'tis said was hired by a British officer (her real Father) to marry the Mother and adopt the daughter and a very large sum was given him. He appears an abandoned old rake—pale and sallow. Oh! he is a horrid looking object, in a deep consumption I imagine. She is very attentive. But good heavens! I had no idea of a fashionable girl before, one that devotes her whole attention to fashion. I have much to tell you when I return about Miss A.'s French style of dress. Mr. and Mrs. Ransselaer left Lebanon the day before we did with Mr. and Miss Westerlo.§ Mr. Welsh the Miss Stevensons and Miss Livingston, the Albany Belle — all belong to Albany. Mr. and Miss Westerlo, Miss Beekman, and the Mr. (Philip) Ransselaer who is Mayor of the City called last evening and we all went to walk. We went to Miss Westerlo's and spent a charming hour. All returned with us and we engaged to go to meeting with Mr. and Miss Westerlo and take tea at the Mayor's this afternoon. Mr. Westerlo is going to Ballston in company with us and a Mr. [Oliver] Kane, of New York, whom we met at the Coffee House — a very genteel man. A little lawyer from Litchfield who came in from Lebanon with us is likewise going on Monday; so we shall have a very pleasant party. Mr. Kane says I shall meet one of the greatest New York Beaux at Ballston — Mr. Bowne. — I wonder if it is the same I have heard you mention? I shall find out About eleven o'clock, or rather twelve I was surprised by some delightful music - a number of Instruments most elegantly playing "Rise Cynthia Rise." I jumped up and by the light of the moon saw five gentlemen under the window. To Mr. Westerlo I suppose we are indebted. — "Washington March" — "Blue Bells of Scotland" — " Taste Life's Glad Moments" — "Boston March" — and many other charming tunes—played most delightfully. I have heard no music since I left Salem till this and I was really charmed. The bell will ring soon and I must finish this after meeting.

§ Rensselaer Westerlo and his sister Catherine Westerlo, who afterward married Mr. Woodworth. The mother of Mr. Van Rensselaer was Catherine Livingston, eldest daughter of Philip Livingston, commonly called "Tho Signer," he having been one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Mrs. Van Rensselaer had three children by her first husband, Stephen Van Rensselaer, and two by her second husband, Dominie Westerlo. Mr. Van Rensselaer and Mr. Westerlo were therefore half brothers.

Sunday afternoon: The dinner was brought on the table just as the bell rang for meeting so that we were obliged to stay at home this afternoon and tell Mr. Westerlo and his sister, who called again for me, as Mrs. Derby did not go out, that I would go to Mrs. Vansselaer's after meeting, (Philip Van Vansselaer's) where the Patroon and wife will probably be. In the morning Mr. Derby and myself went to the new Dutch Church with Mr. and Miss Westerlo and sat with them—next pew to the Patroon's —whom you saw in Salem with his beautiful wife. After meeting, Mr. Westerlo came with the Patroon and his wife to see us. She is really beautiful —dressed very plain. Cotton cambric morning gown—white sarsnet cloak, hair plain and black veil thrown carelessly over her head. They urged my dining there to-morrow, but Mr. Derby is determined to set out in the morning for Ballston. The waters, all tell him, will be of great service to him. When we return we shall go and see them. A great number of elegant gentlemen are here in this house—many from New York— some going to the Springs. Mr. Kane of New York (whose sister married Robert Morris) is here, and will set out for the Springs in company with us, Mr. Westerlo and some others. We shall go to Lake George and probably make a party from Ballston. Mrs. Derby has insisted on my wearing the sarsnet dress to-day as we shall drink tea at the Mayor's.
    Many people will be talking about my going this journey, many will censure me perhaps. If you should hear of any unkind remarks you would not do me a greater favor than to vindicate my conduct. I have never for one moment since I left Salem regretted I came.— The affectionate attention of Mr. and Mrs. Derby delights my heart—was more than I had a right to expect. I have received much delight in this tour; —seen much elegant company, variety of manners and characters. I am sensible it will be a source of great improvement as well as pleasure. I shall have seen that style and splendor which has so many magic charms when viewed at a distance divested of its false place. We find it mingled with as many pains as any other situation in life—nay more poignant pains. I feel that I shall not be at all injured by this life though I enjoy myself highly and mingle with these people with much delight. I shall return happy and contented Mr. Derby is quite unwell—has eaten nothing but milk since we left Salem. His stomach refuses everything else. I have strong hopes that the Ballston Waters will have a good effect. Everyone tells him so. A Gentleman just from Balston says there is a great deal of company at the Springs—dance every other night. If the waters agree with Mr. Derby we shall stay.a week or ten days. I have not time to write anything about Albany; — fine Society I believe — full of Dutch houses. [ Excerpted from "the letters of Eliza Southgate Bowne" as printed in Scribner's Magazine ].

first posted 9/5/13; updated 2/22/14