John Ostrander, Jr.


According to family-based resources, future Albany resident John Ostrander, Jr. was born in November 1754 and was a native of Rhinebeck. He possibly only was distantly (or not at all) related to the Albany area Ostranders. DAR records hold that he was born in Albany in 1755. Finding no corroborating christening we are skeptical and seek information on his origins! He is sometimes confused with the same-named and older Albany native. This sketch organizes information about John Ostrander, Jr., Revolutionary war veteran and one-time sheriff of Albany County.

By 1774, he had married Catherine Wetzel (Hetzell) at the German Presbyterian church at East Camp on Livingston Manor. A number of their children were christened at East Camp probably including his son and namesake. In March 1787, a daughter was baptized by them in Albany. However, the other John Ostrander was adding to his family at that time as well.

His complete wartime service as an officer in the Revolutionary army was detailed in the pension application his widow submitted thirty-seven years after his death. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Continental army in February 1777 and served the overall cause in a number of ways until the end of the war. Initially a recruiter, he saw action at the Battle of Saratoga, in the Mohawk Valley, in Rhode Island, at Schoharie, and in the lower Hudson Valley. He almost died from smallpox during those times. His family followed him to Albany in 1777, then to Johnstown, and finally were settled in the mid-Hudson Valley. Financial concerns induced him to resign his army commission in 1781 and he finished out the war in service of New York State to be closer to his family.

In 1784, these Ostranders removed permanently to Albany where they resided until John Jr's. passing. In Albany, this Revolutionary war veteran found success at least until illness overtook him.

In December 1791, he wrote to his assemblyman inquiring about possible compensation for wartime service.

Family-based resources hold that by the mid-1780s, John Ostrander, Jr. had become the deputy to two Albany sheriffs. In October 1792, the newspaper noted that he had been appointed sheriff in place of Peter Gansevoort, Jr., who had resigned. He was re-appointed three times and served until replaced in 1796.

In February 1788, John Ostrander, Jr. was listed among the subscribers to the newly published Laws of New York State. At that time, his name appeared among those who were from Albany County. As he later, was identified as "Esq.", perhaps he had become a legal practicioner. We seek to verify that connection.

For more than a decade John Ostrander, Jr. was an Albany mainstay. His first ward home was valued moderately and his household consisted of three members in 1790. His home and holdings (he seems also to have owned lots on Wolf Street as well) on the Southside last appeared on the tax list in 1799. Living with him (and assessed separately) was his son.

John Ostrander, Jr. filed his will in January 1800. Suffering from consumption, he died shortly thereafter. On January 24, he was buried from his church. The will passed probate in Albany on February 19 leaving his real property and personal estate to his wife and children. Ostrander's passing occasioned notice in a Boston-based periodical. Later that year, Catherine was listed as head of the first ward household. His widow lived on at their Beaver Street address. She later re-located and survived until 1847.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Ostrander, Jr. is CAP biography number 1702. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted 1/10/13; updated 2/8/13