I am stepping away from the assigned 52 Ancestors theme of “resolution” this week. Instead of focusing on one ancestor, I’ll be talking about the house many of them lived in and the church they all attended.
Rev. William Seward moved with his family from Connecticut to Dutchess County, New York about 1795, after he retired from his job of pastor of the Congregational church in Greenwich, CT. He bought 352 acres of land in New Hackensack including a house that was built about 1752. It is still standing today and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I found out that it is now for sale.
Last year I bought the book Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley before 1776 to look up more information about the house. The author mentioned a brick house built by Philander Seward near the one bought by his father but did not have a picture or illustration of it. From the book: “Northwest of the house is a handsome brick house, built about 1840… known as Seward Place in the nineteenth century….” I wondered if it was still standing.
Jump ahead to a few months ago, when a cousin texted me a photo of a building in my eldest Aunt’s collection. It had the words “The Seward House of New Hackensack, NY” written on the back. Was this Philander’s house? I tracked down the New Hackensack Reformed church building on Google Street view because I know the house was near the church. When I found a building that looked like my photo, it was behind the church and did not seem to have a separate address. My next step was to write to the church and confirm it was the same house. My contact at the church said this building was now used as their parsonage and offered to set me up with a tour of the church and the grounds.
In December I finally got the chance to take them up on their offer and brought along my camera. Above is a photo of the same side shown in the older photo. Below left is a view of the house at another angle with the columned porch that was added at a later date. Below right is a picture of the Spring house where the family kept their food cold.
The main part of Philander’s house was built in 1840, but other parts of it dated back to 1813. It was bought by the New Hackensack Reformed Church in 1964 and has been used as a parsonage since then.
The Sewards all attended New Hackensack Dutch Reformed Church, founded in 1758, which at that time was down the road. William and Thankful’s children married men and women from the community, many of whom had Dutch ancestry. Philander married Susannah Monfort, Anna married Jacobus Swartwout, Hannah married Rev. George Barculo (who served as pastor of the New Hackensack church 1805 – 1810), and Electa married James Dodge.
Reynolds, Helen Wilkinson. Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley before 1776. New York: Dover, 1965.
New Hackensack Reformed Church, A History of the New Hackensack Reformed Church (Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of New Hackensack) 1758-2008, (N.p.: n.p., 2009), 11-13.