Notes for GARRIT VAN VELSOR:
Son of William and Jannetje (Losee) Van Velsen, Sr.
First Name: Also found as Gerret and Gerritt.
Born: Before June 29, 1733 in Cold Spring Harbor, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.
Baptism: June 29, 1733 at First Reformed Dutch Church of Jamaica, Queens, Long Island, New York.
Died: December 5, 1813 in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, Long Island, New York.
Married: (1) Margritye Snedeker 1757 at Dutch Reformed Church, Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York.
(2) Maragrieta "Pegge" Ryder About 1760 in Unknown.
(3) Levinah ? About 1777 in Unknown.
He was an "old respected inhabitant of Cold Spring" according to Whitney's Notebook. Garret was the first cloth weaver in Oyster Bay, Long Island and a great grandfather of the poet Walt Whitman. The mother of Walt Whitman, Louisa Van Velsor, was Garret's granddaughter. When Whitman's "mother, when a child, used to go & see him, she remembered him at work at his loom & also going to church, wearing the white linen caps, turned up around, which old men wore" (notebooks and unpublished Prose manuscripts, page 15). In the first census of the United States taken in the 1790, State of New York, Garret is shown as the head of his household in Oyster bay town, Queens County. Living with him at that time were "one free white male under 16" and two free white females". The New York census then included heads of families. This must have been his third wife Levinah and Garret's only son by her Samuel. It is unclear who the young woman was. We speculate that she was a sister of Samuel, but we have no record of her. Garret was married three times. His first wife, Margaret Snedeker died after bearing him two sons. His second wife Maragrieta, bore him one son and four daughters. His third wife, Levinah, bore one son, Samuel. Garret was in his forties by then., His will was dated November 30, 1813. He died at the age of 76 and willed his estate to his wife Levinah and his sons William (who's mother was Margaret Snedeker) and Samuel. Witnesses of the will were Hawley Beers, Israel Youngs and Ananias White. It was proved on December 16, 1813 in Oyster Bay Township and has much useful information about Garret and his family.
THE OLD VAN VELSOR HOMESTEAD AND FAMILY BURIAL GROUND
The Van Velsor homestead and family burial ground, near Cold Spring Harbor, were on the old coaching road between Huntington and Hicksville. It was along this road that the stages travelled on their way to meet the train at Hicksville and Syosset, before the railroad reached Huntington. The old Van Velsor Road was just north of the railroad tracks at Woodbury. it is now known as Stillwell Road. The best description of the spacious Van Velsor home to be found is that written by Walt Whitman after a visit to the locality in 1881, as reported in his "Specimen Days":
I went from this ancient grave place eight or ninety rods to the site of the Van Velsor homestead, where my mother was born (1795), and where every spot had been familiar to me as a child and youth (1825-1840). They stood there a long rambling, dark-gray, shingle-sided house, with sheds, pens, a great barn, and much open road-space. Now of all those not a vestige is left; all had been pull'd down, erased, and the plow and harrow pass'd over the foundations, road-spaces and everything, for many summers; fenced in at present and grain and clover growing like any other fine fields. Only a big hole from the cellar, with some little heaps of broken stone, green with grass and weeds, identified the place. Even the copious old brook and spring seem's mostly to have dwindled away. the whole scene, with what it arous'd, memories of my young days there half a century ago, the vast kitchen and ample fireplace and the sitting room adjoining, the plain furniture, the meals, the house full of merry people. My grandmother Amy's sweet face in its old Quaker cap, my grandfather the "Major", jovial, red, stout, with sonorous voice and characteristic physiognomy, with the actual sights themselves, made the most pronouc'd half-day's experience of my whole jaunt." Walt Whitman Index for Garret Van Velsor, Walt Whitman's Maternal Great Grandfather: Notebooks and Unpublished Manuscripts, Volume I, Family Notes and Autobiography 9, 14, 15
(Note Also it should be noted that during the Revolutionary War, British soldiers, encamped in Long Island, used the headstones for ovens and hearths. They were lost forever.)