Lucas Van Vechten
Stefan Bielinski

Lucas Van Vechten was born in October 1724. He was the second son of the eight children born to Albany-area residents Reuben and Geertruy Witbeck Van Vechten.

Losing his father in 1735, the young boy found the opportunity to follow the fur trade out on the frontier. By the outbreak of the Seven Years War, he was an associate of William Johnson and well-known at outposts across British North America where he provided a number of services. He also was called "Captain" - although his commission has not been found! As late as 1762, he was at the head of a party receiving a trading pass to Toronto.

Frontier trader Lucas Van Vechten also was a prominent Albany-area resident. He received negroes and other property from the estate of his uncle. By the 1760s, he had settled in Albany. In 1763, his name was on a list of Albany freeholders. Three years later, he joined the local protest against the Stamp Act by signing the Sons of Liberty Constitution. During that time he was .living in a modest home near the northern boundary of the city.

Although he may have been married to a woman named Maria Lantman, none of their children appear to have been baptized in any of the Albany churches. He was, however, a member and pewholder of the Albany Dutch church.

Like most native sons, he served in the Albany militia. He was a lieutenant!

Over the next decade, Van Vechten established a more permanent home near the Patroon's house in Watervliet where he formed an association with Stephen Van Rensselaer II. At the outbreak of the War for Independence, he held several lots in Albany city, property in Rensselaerswyck, and investment real estate beyond.

In 1775, he was a member of the Albany Committee of Correspondence for Rensselaerswyck. In July, he declined a Congressional appointment as Major in the Continental army. No reason was given for the refusal. After 1776, he no longer attended committee meetings. In 1778, he was among those who were exempted from active service because they were over fifty years old.

After the war, sixty-year-old Lucas Van Vechten settled into his Watervliet home where he was attended by six slaves. Managing his Albany property, he occasionally was reimbursed for expenses by the Albany city government.

In August 1797, a great fire destroyed a large block of the North End waterfront. Van Vechten's house and stables on Montgomery Street and his dwellinghouse, storehouse, and stable on Water Vliet Street were among those lost and his tenants were displaced.

Lucas Van Vechten died in December of 1801 and was buried from the Albany Dutch church where he was a life-long member. His will passed probate in February 1802.



the people of colonial Albany

The life of Lucas Van Vechten is CAP biography number 2542. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

Numerous references in the Johnson Papers document his business during the war years. Johnson referred to him as "captain."

Van Vechten was identified as the head of a trading party of four Englishmen, two Negroes, and 12 Canadians travelling in three canoes. They were permitted to trade a list of specified goods with "the savages" on Late Ontario by order of General Thomas Gage. See JP:3, 754-55. His Albany associates in this venture were John Stevenson and Evert J. Wendell.

He was one of 94 partners in the Jerseyfield Patent (Herkimer County) in 1770.

Home | Site Index | Navigation | Email | New York State Museum

first posted: 5/15/02