Elizabeth Douw Beekman


Elizabeth Douw was born in December 1733. She was a younger daughter in the large family of Petrus and Anna Van Rensselaer Douw. Elizabeth grew up in the family homes in Albany and across the Hudson at the country seat built by her father called "Wolvenhook."

In January 1764, she was identified as a "spinster" when became the thirty-one-year-old bride of widower Johannes M. Beekman. At that time, her brother was the mayor of Albany. By 1775, the marriage had produced four children who were christened at the Albany Dutch church where she was an occasional baptism sponsor.

These Beekmans raised their family in a comfortable house in Albany's third ward where Johannes was a prominent businessman and civic leader.

Johannes M. Beekman filed a will in December 1787. It named Elizabeth and two sons as heirs and Elizabeth as co-executor of his substantial estate. The will did not pass probate until July 1799. However, she was a widow by 1790, when the third ward census listed her as the head of the household. That home was attended by five slaves.

With the help of her servants and her son, she remained the head of her household until she was in her nineties. Elizabeth Douw Beekman died in December 1811 at the age of ninety-eight.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Elizabeth Douw Beekman is CAP biography number 2077. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 2/5/06