Helena Van Rensselaer Wendell


Helena Van Rensselaer was born in October 1702. She was a younger daughter of Albany leaders Hendrick and Catharina Van Brugh Van Rensselaer. Shortly thereafter, Hendrick relocated his family to a new home he built on recently allocated property across the Hudson in an area known as Greenbush. Thus, Helena probably grew up at the still standing riverside home called Crailo.

In December 1728, she married Albany native Jacob Wendell at he Albany Dutch church. By 1745, eight children had been christened in Albany.

These Wendells lived in the third ward where Jacob was a businessman and emerging civic leader.

Jacob Wendell died in September 1745 - several months after the birth of her last child. In her early forties, Helena then became head of their third ward household and was identified as "Widow Wynndall" on a census of Albany households taken by the British army in 1756 and on at least one subsequent assessment roll. She appears to have lived near the homes of her children and grandchildren. Over time, she probably would have lived with one or more of them.

Widow Helena Van Rensselaer Wendell is thought to have survived until January 1792. Thus, she would have lived almost ninety years.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Helena Van Rensselaer Wendell is CAP biography number 5081. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. With a number of "Widow Wendells" heading Albany households during the second half of the eighteenth, we must be careful not to confuse and compress information about them.

first posted 9/25/06; last revised 4/30/17