Jan Janse was the founder of the Albany Bleecker family. Tradition holds that he came to New Netherland in 1658 and soon after settled in Beverwyck.
Initially, young Jan Janse brought a blacksmith's skill to the fur trade. While coming of age as a trader, Jan Janse improved his lot by teaching school, serving as a notary, and representing the cases of others before the Albany court.
In 1667, he married Margaret Van Woert, the daughter of an Albany brewer. Between 1668 and 1692, their ten children were baptized in the Albany Dutch church where both parents were members and frequent baptism sponsers. A pillar of the church, Jan Janse served as deacon and elder from the 1670s until his death.
These Bleeckers lived on Pearl Street where Jan Janse was an Albany mainstay. During the 1670s, he began to buy and sell town lots and was very active in the Albany real estate market. Like many aspiring traders, he appeared frequently before the Albany court as plaintiff, defendent, and witness. As he prospered, he also invested in land outside of Albany.
During the 1680s, he served on the Albany court and was identified as a commissary. In 1686, he was appointed one of the first aldermen under the new city charter. Governor Dongan also named him first chamberlain or city treasurer. As a member of the Albany corporation, he sat as a justice and served as one of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs. While serving at the muncipal level, he was elected to represent Albany in the provincial Assembly in 1698. Named recorder of Albany in 1696, his public career peaked with his appointment as mayor of Albany in 1700. He served for a year and was succeeded by his eldest son.
Jan Janse's sons extended the Bleecker trade network deeper into the Indian country during the peace of 1714-44. In 1715, their father became a naturalized British subject - further cementing the family's establishment in America.
Jan Janse lived out his long life in Albany - patriarch of a large and successful family. He died on November 21, 1732. Margarita passed less than a year later. Both were buried beneath the Albany church.
The life of Jan Janse Bleecker is CAP biography number 2. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Dying in 1732, he probably was born in the early 1640s.
Albany real estate transactions are documented in volume two of the Early Records of Albany.
External landholdings included shares in the Saratoga Patent and the Westenhook Patent.
first posted: 03/12/02; updated 8/20/06