Henry Livingston Thomas
Witness Letters



Poughkeepsie, Dec. 15, 1851.

Dear Abraham,

You have probably expected an answer to your letter before this time, and doubtless have set me down as an ungrateful fellow, not worthy to be thus thought of, but I have just received it, as, contrary to the expectation of everybody, Gertrude has been spending three weeks in Hudson. I was delighted to hear from you, and thought that as I am one hour the oldest, you certainly did right in paying me the respect of addressing me the first epistle.

Gertrude tells me that "Old Father Time" has wrought great changes in you - especially as to size - that you are very studious, filling with knowledge your head, etc. But I hope that withal you will not suffer too much learning, to make you mad, as that would be attended with terrible consequences.

We had a visit the other day, from your old servant Campbell - I, being at the office, did not see him, but mother says that on going to the door she was accosted by a person whom she did not recognize, until he exclaimed, "Why, don't you remember Comal?" He said that he was an agent for lamp sicks, and lived in New York. I should think he was engaged in rather a novel business.

I trust that in addition to conversations with pen and ink, we may soon enjoy the pleasure of a visit from you, as we now have a railroad between us, and that annihilates time and space. John has occasion to come this way now and then, and I hope that you will take the opportunity of accompanying him one of these days. I did not forget to ask Gertrude her welcome of you, and it strikes me that taken altogether, it was rather uncousinly, at least, if nothing more. Still, I do not wonder at her being surprised at beholding you transformed from a little chap, riding on sticks for horses, to a six footer, and on seeing a stiff beard sprouting from your chin. You perhaps often think of the Duanesburgh times, when we rode on horseback in such a novel way: the happiest moments of my life were probably spent then.

The most prevalent thing among us at Poughkeepsie just now is cold weather, cold feet, and blue noses, and to crown all the people appear to be afflicted with a general cold in the head. As I look from my window just now the sky looks rather lowering, as if the white masses of snow were preparing themselves for a sally through their cloudy barriers. I trust they will act in accordance with present appearances, at least in order to allow an easy passage to Santa Claus with his "eight tiny reindeer," for my sympathy is enlisted on the side of such juveniles as those whom his visits gladden.

Now, Abraham, I think you may safely consider that we have had that introduction of which you speak. I therefore hope to receive an answer soon, and with love to Uncle Lansing and all the cousins, I remain yours affectionately.

Henry L. Thomas

New York Public Library
Lansing-Gansevoort Collection

Abraham Lansing and Henry Livingston Thomas were 1st cousins. Abraham Lansing's mother was Caroline Mary Thomas, the sister of Henry's good Revolutionary War friend, Dr. John Thomas, who had moved to Poughkeepsie because of his friendship with Henry.

Hudson-Mohawk Family Memoirs, Vol. I, Hudson-Mohawk Family Histories, Page 73
Abraham, third child of Christopher Yates and Caroline M. (Thomas) Lansing, was born in Albany, New York, February 27, 1835, died October 4, 1899. His academic education was received in the schools of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, and at the Albany Academy. He entered Williams College, where he was graduated with the degree of A.B., class of 1855. He decided to follow the profession of law, and entered his father's office for study and instruction. He was graduated from the Albany Law School in 1857. He at once advanced to the front rank and in a short time was looked upon as a leader in his profession. In 1868 he was appointed city attorney of Albany, and in 1869 was made the first supreme court reporter. While in that position he published the first seven volumes of the supreme court reports. In 1874 he was appointed by Governor Dix acting state treasurer, and in 1876 he was chosen corporation counsel for Albany. In 1882 he was elected state senator for Albany county, receiving the largest majority ever given a candidate for that office. While in the senate he was actively identified with the passage of the act establishing the State Railroad Commission and the law providing for the establishment of a state park at Niagara Falls. He was interested in other lines of activity outside his political and professional duties. He was a director of the National Commercial Bank, trustee of the Albany Savings Bank, park commissioner of Albany, governor of the Albany Hospital, trustee of the Albany Academy, Albany Medical College, Albany Rural Cemetery, Dudley Observatory and the Fort Orange Club; a life member of the State Geological Society and other organizations and clubs. In his legal business Mr. Lansing had a partner, his brother William. He married, November 26, 1873, Catherine, daughter of General Peter (2) and Mary (Sanford) Gansevoort, Mrs. Lansing survives her husband. She is a granddaughter of General Peter and Catherine (Van Schaick) Gansevoort.


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