A "cardboad mount" for this watercolor in the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art was labelled "North Pearl Street – from Steuben Street South – as it was in 1812 – from original sketches by James Eights." Described and presented in 200 Years of Collecting, pp. 58-59.
The following explanation appeared in a section entitled "Albany Fifty Years Ago" printed in Munsell's Collections, II, pp. 21-22. Listed as "No. VIII" it has been transformed here for accessibility:
No. VIII is a continuation of No. VII, showing a portion of North Pearl street. This section will appear familiar to some of my Albany friends who were boys fifty years ago, for they will recognize in 15 the little district school-house and its surroundings, where they went to get whipped, and to be seated upon a hard high bench six or seven hours each day. The first house in this sketch (10) was the dwelling of Dr. William M'CIellan, an eminent Scotch physician.- In the next (11) broad and spacious house dwelt the very distinguished John B. Romeyn, D.D., of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. llomeyn was quite remarkable for his obesity.-J An anecdote connected with him is related, which exhibits the often lurking humor of the grave and taciturn Indian. One very hot day in July, during the administration of Governor Jay, the doctor was present just at the conclusion of a council with Mohawk and Oneida Indians, at Schenectady. The Indians have a custom of adopting white people of eminence into their tribes, and giving them significant names, and the honorary title of chief. At the Doctor's urgent solicitation he was adopted by the Oneidas. The day was excessively sultry, and he sat there perspiring at every pore. When the ceremony was ended, he in- quired what was his new name. With great gravity the old sachem gave it in the Iroquois language, while not a muscle of the face of his dusky companions was moved. The Doctor wished an interpretation, and the sachem, with equal gravity replied, The Great Thaw. The Indians sat unmoved, while the whole white portion of the audience roared with laughter.
1 This person, it is claimed, was Cornelius Brower, some time baker, and afterwards a sort of cartman, but never a sexton at all.
2 This was many years previous the house and store of Henry Bleecker, an Indian trader, the store occupying the room with a single window. Customers entered the hall, and made their purchases at an aperture in the partition. The shop was opened by swinging a door up and fastening it against the ceiling. Business was done in an unostentatious way in those days — no thrusting of goods out on the side walk, no opening the whole front to the street. The entrance to some places of business is said to have been through an alley at the side of the house. Mr. Bleecker was badly wounded by an Indian while on a trading expe- dition up the Mohawk, which, although he lived some years after, hastened his death.
3 The reminiscent seems to have made a great mistake here. This house was built and owned by John Nicholas Bleecker, who had been a commissary in either the French or Revolutionary war. Dr. Romeyn married a daughter of Mr. Bleecker, and resided in tlie house a very short time. So far from being obese, he was a i;pnrem.-An. Tlie anecdote must relate to his father, who is represented to have been a portly man, of a very fine presence, but hardly answering to the description here given.
Next to Dr. Romeyn's stood a house of more ancient pattern (12) in which resided Nicholas Bleecker, one of the wealthiest merchants of the city. Peter Elmendorf, an eminent lawyer, dwelt in the adjoining house (14) ;i and between that and the little school house (15) was the play- ground for the boys. Looking over that inclosure, and among the trees, IS seen the top of the old family mansion or homestead of the Bleeckers, at the corner of Chapel and Steuben streets. There Harmanus Bleecker, our minister at the Hague a few years ago, resided at the time of his death. I believe the property has since passed out the possession of the family. I remember seeing there, during the latter years of the late Mr. Bleecker, a fine portrait, cabinet size, of John Randolph of Roanoke, painted by Ward of Philadelphia. Bleecker and Randolph were warm friends while they were in Congress together in 1811 ; and, as a token of that friendship, they exchanged portraits with each other.
The last house (16) was the residence of John Andrews, a well known police constable, who was the terror of evil-doers in the good old Dutch city fifty ye:\rs ago. He might always be seen at the polls on election days, with a stout leather cap, similar to those worn by firemen, and an ugly looking hickory cudgel with two huge knobs on the larger end.
No. IX not hsown
note: ' Peter E. Elmendorf lived in the house No. 12, attributed to Nicholas Bleecker, and in the next house resided Gerardus Lansing, brother-in-law of Gen. Ten Broeck, and formerly an Indian interpreter. A house has been omitted which stood next to No. 13, built and occupied by Jolin Rutger Bleecker, a surveyor. These discrepancies are not much to be wondered at, when we consider what disputes sometimes arise where property is accurately described. No. 12 was the last of the old houses in that row, and wns taken down but a few years ago. The site is now occupied by the free stone front dwelling of William S. Learned, Esq. This lot is said to have belonged originally to Maria Sanders, daughter of Robert Sanders and wife of Philip Van Rensselaer. It descended to her daughter Betsey, the first wife of Peter E. Ehnendorf. From Mrs. Elmendorf it descended to her daughter Maria, wife of Peter Sanders, still living; and was conveyed by her to William White, and by him to the present owner. In this house Burgoyne was entertained at a large dinner party while he was in Albany, by Mr. Philip Van Rensselaer. Peter E. Elmendorf afterwards lived in a house nearly opposite to this lot, where stands the house built by Mr. Thomas W. Olcott, at present owned by Azariah E. Stimson.
first posted: 10/10/03