Joanna Livingston Lt. Governor Pierre Van Cortlandt


Pierre Van Cortlandt and Joanna Livingston

Van Cortlandt Manor
300th Anniversary
Van Cortlandt Papers
Billings Papers
Methodism in Croton-on-Hudson

NY Lt. Governor Pierre Van Cortlandt
(10 Jan 1721, Manor House NY)
(1 May 1814, Manor House NY)
+ Joanna Livingston 28 May 1748 [sister of Dr. Henry Livingston, Sr.]
(17 Aug 1722-10 Sep 1808, Manor House NY)

Brig.Gen. Philip Van Cortlandt1
Catharine Van Cortlandt1 [married Abraham Van Wyck]
Cornelia Van Cortlandt1
Gertrude Van Cortlandt1 [died aged 11]
Gilbert Van Cortlandt1 [died aged 29]
Stephen Van Cortlandt1
Catharine Van Cortlandt1 [married Abraham Van Wyck]
Pierre Van Cortlandt1 [U.S. Representative]
Anne De Peyster Van Cortlandt1 [married Mayor Philip Schuyler Van Rensselaer3]

Joanna and Pierre
No 3033 p.142 Joanna baptized 9 Sep 1722 witnesses Henricus Beekman, Jinnet Livingston. Johanna Livingston.,the wife of Van Horne and dau of Robert 1st lord, Gilbert's sister

"You tax me so Severely for not Acquainting You when Sisr Hannah [Joanna] was to be Marryed .. [I] am Surprized you Never heard his Name ... Its Pierre Van Cortlandt and a Worthy Gentleman he is." James Livingston, Jr., to Henry Livingston, June 16, 1748.

Painting of Joanna in northwest room, Prophets' Chamber, of Van Cortlandt Manor. oil on canvas attributed to Ezra Ames, probably Albany, New York, c. 1812.

Joanna and Pierre Van Cortlandt married the year that Henry Jr. was born. They lived south of Poughkeepsie on the Van Cortlandt Manor. Pierre had inherited as his part of the huge Van Cortlandt estate. The house where Pierre and Joanna entertained George Washington is now a New York landmark, and is open to the public.

Van Cortlandt Manor
South Riverside Avenue
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
(914) 271-8981
Virtual Hudson Valley:

Pierre was a member of the Provincial Congress at White Plains that gave New York's ratification to the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776. He later became Lieutenant Governor of the State and, often, Acting Governor during the war when Governor George Clinton mounted military campaigns.

Van Cortlandt Manor Marked Historic Anniversary
To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the signing of a Royal Patent designating the Lordship and Manor of Cortlandt, Historic Hudson Valley marked the occasion with a special events weekend on September 20 and 21, 1997.

Because the Van Cortlandt family accumulated much of its wealth from the brewing industry in Manhattan, the focus of the tercentenary festivities was be on the history of alcohol in the Hudson Valley.

Oloff Van Cortlandt was the first member of the family to arrive in New Amsterdam in 1638 as an employee of the Dutch West India Company. He later became an independent business man and politician. In 1642 he married Annetje Lookermans, the daughter of a wealthy Dutch merchant.

Their oldest son, Stephanus continued the tradition of the family in business and became Mayor of New York and Chief Justice of the New York Provincial Supreme Court. After his marriage to Gertruyd Schuyler he began acquiring land between the Croton River and Peekskill.

By 1697 Stephanus' land holdings had grown to 86,000 acres in northern Westchester, between the Hudson River and the Connecticut border. He was the first and only Lord of the Manor of Cortlandt as he followed the Dutch tradition of willing his estate to all his immediate heirs rather than to his oldest son.

In 1732, after the death of Gertruyd, Stephanus' son Philip inherited the Croton River property with the manor house and 10,000 acres, plus his father's New York house, which he maintained as his permanent residence. However, the family visited the manor in order to hunt and fish. Philip was also a successful merchant and sat on the Provincial Council. He married Catherine de Peyster in 1710.

The estate was divided again when Philip died in 1747. Stephen inherited the house in Manhattan and Pierre Van Cortlandt moved, with his wife, Joanna Livingston and baby son, Philip, to the manor in 1749. The manor then became self-sufficient with the addition of a barn, carpenter and blacksmith shops, apple orchards and a brick kiln.

During the upheaval that led to the Revolutionary War, Pierre sided with the Patriots. He was a member of the Provincial Congress at White Plains that gave New York's ratification to the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776. He later became Lieutenant Governor of the State and, often, Acting Governor during the war when Governor George Clinton mounted military campaigns.

Meanwhile, Pierre's son, Philip was actively pursuing a military career. George Washington made him Colonel of the Second New York Regiment. He commanded troops under Lafayette and was a member of the court that tried Benedict Arnold. Both father and son were present, at the end of the war, at ceremonies commemorating Washington's return to New York City.

In 1776 the family had retreated to Peekskill and then to Rhinebeck with many of the family treasures. The manor house was plundered by the British in 1779. The family did not return until 1803, but the estate was quickly rebuilt and was soon a thriving operation. It was during this period the Van Cortlandt Ferry House became an important stop on the Albany Post Road, providing lodging and refreshment for travelers.

Philip became the first Supervisor of the Town of Cortlandt, a State Assemblyman, a State Senator and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. When he died in 1831 he left a share of the manor to his sister, Catherine Van Wyck's son, Philip.

In 1836 Philip Van Cortlandt's brother's son, Pierre III, moved into the manor house with his wife, Catherine Beck. Their living children inherited the manor house in 1895 and their daughter, Ann Stevenson Van Cortlandt, remained until her death in 1941. She is remembered as enjoying occasional automobile rides around the area.

The manor house was sold in 1945 by Miss Van Cortlandt's nieces to Otis Taylor. After his death it was acquired by Jerome Britchey who took down the barns and built the Starlite Drivein Theater, on the site of the current ShopRite.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. bought the manor house in 1953 and began the restoration of the house and grounds.

Researchers at Van Cortlandt Manor have unearthed a wealth of evidence of the making and using alcohol in Van Cortlandt family recipes. They include Cider, Lemon Wine, English Champagne, Ginger Beer, Spruce Beer, Methiglin, Currant Wine, Neyeaux and Eau de Quoin. Others feature alcohol as a necessary preservative for fruits such as Raspberries in Brandy and Brandy Peaches. "Shrubs" and "Syllabubs" were also obvious favorites.

The Manor House maintains a large collection of artifacts that were used to store and drink alcohol. There are some high quality wine glasses and decanters, porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware drinking vessels. Organizers of the celebration hope to arrange special tours to highlight the collection as a way of focusing on social history and decorative arts.

However, they are also planning on exploring another opinion of alcohol. Although the consumption of the beverage was very high and considered healthy, in the late 18th century members of the medical profession began to question the use. Benjamin Rush wrote one of the first treatises, "An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors," which contains a chart outlining the effects of immodest drinking.

Van Cortlandt Manor Site Director Margaret Vetare explained that some of the Van Cortlandt women, who were Methodists, would have opposed the use of alcohol on religious grounds. She would like to stage a recreation of a discussion between those who frowned on alcohol and those who supported its use such as grain farmers, tavern keepers and those who wanted to exercise their right to liberty and pursuit of happiness.

The gardens at Van Cortlandt Manor are also associated with alcohol. The apple orchards provided ingredients for cider and there is an example of hops growing ready for beer. Herbs such as woodruff, wormwood and borage were used in wine infusions.

Half Moon Press

Van Cortlandt Papers
1661-(1751-1840)-1938. 1,501 items, including correspondence, indentures, rent rolls, wills, account books, receipts, and cookbooks of members of this prominent New York family, emphasizing the careers of Pierre Van Cortlandt (1721-1814) and his sons, Philip (1749-1832) and Pierre, Jr. (1762-1848).

For permission to view these documents, please contact the Historic Hudson Valley Library at (914) 631-8609
Rockefeller University, Historic Hudson Valley Manuscript Collection

Andrew Billings Papers
University of Michigan
Clements Library

Billings, Andrew
Papers, 1776 March 6-1806 December 27
Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 8 items

Pierre Van Cortlandt (1721-1814) was one of the aristocrats of the Hudson Valley, presiding from his estate near Croton, N.Y. His marriage to Joanna Livingston united two of the Valley's elite lineages, and his connections to the Schuylers and other prominent families ensured his standing.

Despite British efforts to win his support during the Revolution, Van Cortlandt sided with the colonists, accepting a commission as Colonel of the 3rd Regiment, Westchester Militia. Following the war, he was rewarded for this prescient choice, becoming the first Lieutenant Governor of New York state, and for many years thereafter, he was a loyal supporter of the political titan, George Clinton. Van Cortlandt was noted for his graciousness and hospitality.

After the war, Pierre's son, Gilbert, entered into a business partnership with a fellow Revolutionary veteran and relative, Andrew Billings. The partnership proved to be both brief and unfruitful. Gilbert's death, some time before 1790, apparently left Billings saddled with expenses, leaving him to plead with Pierre and later, Pierre, Jr., to help settle the debt.

The Andrew Billings Papers contain six letters written by Andrew Billings, two of which are addressed to Pierre Van Cortlandt, Sr., three to Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr., and one to Gilbert Van Cortlandt, Pierre's son and Billings' partner in the failed firm, Cortlandt, Billings & Co. The collection also includes two account sheets and a letter written by Gilbert during the Revolution, probably addressed to Pierre Van Cortlandt, Sr.

Three letters in the Billings Papers are of substantial interest beyond the information they provide on the business transactions of the Van Cortlandt and Billings families. In the first, dated March 6, 1776, Billings discusses his hardships in raising troops in Westchester County. In the later two letters, dated June 15, 1785, and October 16, 1790, he bemoans the poor business climate of the early national period, the scarcity of money, and the new laws concerning the abolition of primogeniture. In the 1785 letter, he also outlines an interesting idea for creating a co-operative among Poughkeepsie-area merchants.

Collections relating to the Van Cortlandt family are housed in several institutions, including Van Cortlandt Manor, Pierre Van Cortlandt's estate and the New-York Historical Society.

Methodism in Croton-on-Hudson
In the middle of the 18th century, Methodist Circuit Riders often stopped at Van Cortlandt Manor House, where a corner bedroom was kept in readiness for traveling dignitaries. So often was the room occupied by such men as George Whitfield and Francis Asbury that it became known as "Prophets Corner". By 1780 a formally organized Methodist Society exited and began plans for its first church building. In 1777, Pierre Van Cortlandt, first Lieutenant Governor of New York, ceded to the community of Croton Landing a piece of property on a high knoll overlooking the Hudson River. The prominent Van Cortlandt family also contributed to the building of the Methodist Chapel. The exact date of the building cannot be determined, but records tracing the production of nails used in the Chapel place the date of construction between 1779 and 1781. The property as a whole was placed under the supervision of the Methodist Church by the will of Brigadier General Philip Van Cortlandt, who died in 1831. Bishop Francis Asbury recorded in his journal in 1795,"I had a comfortable time in Croton Chapel with Romans 1:16." Asbury made other visits to the chapel and Van Cortlandt Manor and must have greatly influenced the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church, for when they erected their second building, his name was given to the society.
AsburyUnited Methodist Church

Gen. Van Cortlandt was an ardent patriot and made unusual sacrifices for his country. From 1768 he represented the Manor in the Colonial Assembly and in the later Council of Safety and of the Second, Third, and Fourth Provincial Congresses. In 1777, he was President of the Convention which framed the first constitution of the state under which he became the first Lieutenant Governor and George Clinton, Governor. He served in that office for seventeen years, declining re-election in 1795.

During the Revolution his Manor House, inherited from his father, was the object of Tory attacks and he and his family were obliged to seek safety in Dutchess County, the stronghold of his kinsmen, the Beekmans. In November 1783, he entered New York City with Gen. Washington after its evaculation by the British and he was an honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati. The inscription on his tombstone reads: "He was a Patriot of the First Order; zealous to the last for liberties of his Country" (Harold D. Eberlein, Manors and historic homes of the Hudson Valley, 1924, pp. 121-25).
Gilbert Livingston Descendants, Kinkead


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