Location: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Surname/tag: Suydam, Lott, Betts
This is a transcription of a newspaper article.
The Suydams of Bedford
An Interesting Sketch of an Old Local Family.
Hendryck and His Long Line of Sucessors in the City of Brooklyn-The Betts House and Some Ancient and Curious Relics.
When the old Brooklyn and jamaica turnpike, and before that the King's Highway, and before that still the Bedford lane, used to cross the junction of the Kreupel bosch and old Clove roads, and striking the present line of Fulton street at Arlington place make a turn to the southeast through the spot now occupied by the new Bedford Post Office, and curve around to Herkimer street, and then back to Fulton street at New York avenue, the land inside of that semi circle of road belonged to the farm and contained the homestead of the Suydams.
The Suydams, of Bedford, while not so numberous as the Lefferts, or, more properly speaking, those who became prominently identified with Bedford history, were earlier settlers at the Corners than that well known family, Hendrick Hendrickse having settled there in 1698, two years before Jacobus Lefferts, and the land was owned by his father previous to that date.
The ancestor of the Suydam family was Heyndryck Reycke (or Reycken) Von Lutphen, who migrated from Holland in 1663. Teunis Bergen, in his local history, makes the name "Von Suyt-dam," which means "from south of the dam," which is very plausible and very probable, as it is pretty difficult for a native Hollander to come from any locality that is not in near proximity to a dam. Holland is a great dam country. From the variety of ways in which Heyndryck used to set down his name, and the somewhat unique style of Dutch chirography which he used, it was difficult to tell exactly which was right, the signature appearing sometimes to lean to one and sometimes to the other of the names. Either or both might have been correct, as Lutphen had many manufactories, the power for which was supplied by dams.
Heyndryck Reycke came to New Amsterdam in 1663. He married Ida Jacobs and in 1677 settled at Flatbush. They had eleven children, one of whom Yda, married Pieter Lefferts, of Flatbush, a brother of Jacobus Lefferts, the ancestor of the Bedford Lefferts family. The fourth child was Hendrick Hendrickse. In 1698 Heyndryck Reycke von Suytdam deeded to his son, Hendrick Henderickae, a tract of land at Bedford, and that individual moved to the hamlet and became the head of Bedford Suydams. Just whom he married is not positively certain. It was Bennetje, but the daughter of whom does not appear to be absolutely sure, though Stiles says that Benuetje was the daughter of Thomas Lambertse, the innkeeper, who settled at Bedford about 1664.
Whether the house in which Hendrick went to live at Bedford was the same one which is recent years stood on what is now the line of Fulton street, or rather where the north sidewalk is, about one-third of the block west of Nostrand avenue, is not certain, but in all probability it was, or at least that part of it was. This house was double, and the north half was much older than the south half. It was two stores in height, with a Dutch hip roof and dormer windows. It was located just about where Carpenter's real estate office now stands on Fulton street. The front of the old house was aobut the outer edge of the present sidewalk, at an obtuse angle from the present fence line. Two willow trees which now stand in the lot east of Carptnter's office were formerly inside a circle in the grounds in the rear of the Suydam house. Just inside a gate in the fence to the west of the Carpenter building is a well (now covered over), which was in former years at the side of and supplied water to the Suydam house. The house fronted on the Kings Highway, which, at this point, ran from the coerner of Arlington place, southerly across Fulton street, through what is now the new Post Office, to the corner of Nostrand avenue and Herkimer street. Here are three locust trees in line, diagonally northwest from Nostrand avenue, inside the lot fence, which formerly stood upon, and now show the former line of the old road, and consequently the line of the Suydam land.
When Fulton street was made in 1854 the old house had to be removed, as it was in the way of the improvement. In the cornre of the foundation of the eastern or new part of the house was found a stone on which was the date 1767, the probable time of its erection. Singularly enough this same stone, previous to its purpose in the more humble but useful capacity of a mile stone, for it showed upon another side the graven information: "Miles to." Probably the remainder of the legend before the stone was cut in half to adorn a corner would have made it read: "Three miles to the ferry," as that was the didstance by the old road from this point. This stone is still preserved by C. W. Betts, a descendant of Hendrick Hendrickse, who occupies the premises on the south side of Fulton street, cast of Nostrand avenue, which was formerly a part of the old Suydam farm. Mr. Betts also has preserved an iron back piece taken from one of the fireplaces in the old house, which was cast with the date on it in New York, in 1785. In all probability the western half of the Suydam house town down in 1854, which was known to the much older than the other half, was the original residence occupied by Hendrick Hendrickse, and Bennetje Lambertse, his wife, and their five children. Hendrick died in 1730. One of Hendrick's sons was named Lambert Suydam, and it seems that in this generation the family name became settled, the Dutch custom of naming being dropped and the English one of having a family name adopted. This Lambert married Abigail, daughter of Jacobus Lefferts, and sister of Squire Leffert Lefferts, of Bedford. He had children, but they moved away from Bedford. He was captain of a troop of horse in 1749. He died in 1767.
Another one of Hendrick Hendrickse's sons was Hendrick Suydam, who inherited the Bedford farm. He was born on 2nd of December, 1706, and died in 1768. He married Geertje Ryerson, of Flatbush and was the father of that doughty soldier, Captain Lambert Suydam, who was quite a character during the Revolutionary War.
Captain Lambert was born July 30, 1743. He married Sarah Hagerman, by whom he had five children; and for a second wife married Annie Remsen, widow of Barrent Johnson, by whom he had two children. He was quite an active partisan in the early days of the Revolution and commanded a troop of horse under General Greene, who were engaged in driving off stock so the British could not get hold of it. After the battle of Long Island he had to cross over to the Connecticut shore to avoid capture. It is related that on one occasion desiring to visit his family at Bedford, he crossed the Sound in an open boat and rode on horseback across the country to his home. On another occasion the British sought to capture him. They had a camp just below, at what is now the blocks south of Bergen street and west of Franklin avenue, while their headquarters were at Squire Lefferts' house, corner of the Clove road and the King's Highway, which was jus south of the rear end of the new club house of the Kings County Wheelmen, which is located on Bedford avenue, near Herkimer street. The British, either knowing or suspecting a visit, sent a corporal's guard up to Captain Suydam's to arrest him. When they got there the good wife invited them in and treated them so hospitably to a warm supper, which she had probably prepared for the captian, that he got away while they were engaged at the feast.
Subsequently the doughty captain must have been caught, for some time after we hear of him being at home on parole. But, though compelled to be a non combatant in a military sense, it did not prevent his being combative enough when occasion required. One morning, when it was quite foggy, he heard a noise in his yard and looking out he saw three soldiers skinning one of his cattle which they had killed. He blazed away with a load of buckshot and at least one of them was killed. Strange to say no notice was taken of the occurrence by the military authorities save to bury the dead man, the probable reason being that they knew the soldiers were aggressors.
Captain Lambert Suydam had a son named Hendrick, who lived for a time at Bedford, and who married Ida Lefferts, great granddaughter of Pieter Lefferts and Yda Suydam, of Flatbush, but who subsequently went to New York to reside.
The captain died on the 12th of April, 1833, having nearly completed his 90th year and devised his farm to his daughter, Maria, widow of Daniel Lott. Daniel had been a resident of Flatlands, but, it appears, that at some period after he married Maria Suydam they went to live at the old homestead with the captain. There was slavery in New York in those days. The State adopted gradual emancipation in 1794, and as late as 1817 there were upward of 20,000 slaves within her boundaries. Another act was passed which went into effect on July 4, 1827, declaring all slaves free. It appears that Daniel and Maria Lott were slave owners, for on the fly leaf of a copy of a volume of "Gibson's Surveying," published in 1796, and "printed by Joseph Cruikshank, No. 87 High street, Philadelphia," and which, according to the inscription, was purchased by Daniel, then a resident of Flatlands, in 1797, for "price sixteen shillings;" there is a record of slaves in Maria Lott's writing, which runs as follows:
- Jack was born 25 Sept., 1806.
- Bet was born 9 July, 1812.
- Rosanna was born 1 Oct., 1814.
- Dianca was born 23 April, 1818.
It is also stated that Maria looked after her slaves with a vigilant eye, but on one occasion she met with a surprise. An urchin having been obstreperous, she pursued him through the house to the attic, but when she had arrived he had mysteriously dissappeared. Lookout out of the window in the gable of the house, she saw him crouched on the ground below, having jumped out of what was equivalent to a third story window. As he was not hurt hte preseumption was that he had landed on his head.
Maria Lott sold the Suydam property to her son in law, Charles C. Betts, who resided at the old house with his family for many years.
Charles C. Betts, who was born in Richmond, Mass., in 1808, and came to Brooklyn when young, was quite a prominent resident of this city. He was an Alderman, member of the Board of Education, City Clerk and Controller. He was successively secretary, treasurer, vice president and president of the Brooklyn City Railroad, and executor of several large estates, and a director in several large corporations. He died September 18, 1852, being just eleven days over 74 years of age.
In 1837 Charles C. Betts built the house now located in the northwest quarter of the block, bounded by Nostrand and New York avenues, Fulton and Herkimer streets, but at that time none of these streets were laid out. The land was part of the old Suydam farm and the particular part where this house stood was in the bend formed by the Jamaica turnpike, where it curved out from Fulton street at the site of the new Bedford Post Office, ran to the line of Herkimer street and then completed the semi circle at Fulton street and New York avenue. This house, which is a frame one, is not very elaborate in outside adornments, but is large, well arranged for comfort and is located in the midst of pleasant grounds, through the present surroundings are only a tithe of those which originally formed the immediate grounds containing the lawns, drives and gardens of the place.
As originally arranged there was an extended lawn both to the west and south of the house. On the south side there was a large circular drive, in the center of which were grass and flower beds. Beyond this circle was the entrance on the mamaica turnpike, at what is now Herkimer street. From this circle a drive extended all around the house, and running to the barns on the south side of what is now Fulton street. Immediately back of the house there was a grape arbor, fifty feet long, which extended back across the present line of Fulton street to the kitchen garden. On the west side of the house two carriage drives turned west, one form the southwest and the other from the northwest corner of the house, and both making a grand curve, one reached the gate leading out on the Brooklyn and Jamaica turnpike, in the neightborhood of the present new Bedford Post Office, and the other curved toward the corner of Nostrand avenue and Herkimer street, but joined the othe drive near the main entrance. The house never had what might legitimately be called a front door. It has a large parlor on the south side, a hall through the building from east to west, a short hall, in which is the stairway, running north, dividing the north side of the house into library and dining room. On the southern half of the house, on borth the east and west sides, are inclosed porches. These porches in former years were open with steps at the side and end to "welcome the coming and speed the parting guest," who made use of any of the several carriage ways which led up to the house.
When C. C. Betts died, and his property was divided among his four sons and two daughters, the homestead descended to Charles W. Betts, the present owner. Charles W. married Miss Annie Stuart, a belle of Westchester County, and they, with their nearly grown family, now occupy the above described premises.
Charles W. Betts has made some changes in the house to keep up with modern improvements, but, as a whole, it is very much as it was when built-from basement to attic a most substantial and well built structure. In the parlor is still retained the hamdsome chandelier put up fifty years ago, the only change being a metamorphose from candelabra to gas; the handsome center piece in the celling is the same, and the large mirrors are the ones which reflected the faces of the earliest guests of the house, and still watch the sly flirtations going on when the young folks gather in the hospitable halls.
Mr. Betts is quite a lover of those things around which the imaginary moss of many years has grown. He has old books in his library, old deeds, old papers, mpas, genealogies, reminiscences and similar articles. One of the receptacles in which he keeps papers in a mahongany box about six by twelve inches, with a star and scroll work inlaid in maple on the lid, which was given to his grandmother, Maria Suydam, when she was but 8 years old.
Some of the trees now surrounding the house were planted by Mr. Betts when a mere child. They are silver maples. There were some silver maples abou the old Suydam house. The fruit of this tree is formed of two winged nuts, each with one or two seeds. As a small boy he gathered up these winged seeds or butterflies from the old tree and planted them at the new home and they grew and flourished. Some of the trees are still on the grounds. About 1,300 were raised and disposed of to be planted on various streets in Brooklyn and many found their way to Central Park in New York.
Of C. C. Betts' descendants two sons, Edward and George, reside on Pacific street, but Charles W. and his family are the only descendants of the Suydam family still residing within the limits of what was the old time hamlet of Bedford Corners or the later Village of Bedford. H. J. S.
- The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), Sunday, 23 October 1887, pg. 6, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 10 May 2020).