Bleecker Family
Papers, 1769-1830


Quantity: 1 box plus 1 extra-large folder (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift from unknown source; salvaged from Capitol fire in 1911
Processed By: Regina Berry, Student Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, May 2016

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Biographical Note:

The Bleeckers were a prominent family in early Albany, beginning with the emigration from The Netherlands of Jan Janse Bleecker (1641-1732) in 1658. The family grew and prospered over the next century, with two of Jan’s sons serving as mayor of Albany for a time in the early 1700s.  By 1790 there were nine Bleecker households in Albany and the family constituted one of the most influential families in the city. The family business soon extended beyond fur trade to include other commodities that supplied the settlers of an emerging region and the forts that protected them.

Jan Janse’s success in the fur trade enabled him acquire to extensive land holdings. His sons and their sons built on that legacy, making the family prominent patentees and landholders throughout the Hudson-Mohawk region.  His grandson, John R. Bleecker (1713-1800), followed in the family business tradition, traveling beyond Albany to trade for furs as well as dealing in wine and foodstuffs. John also developed the special skills of surveyor and map maker.

John R. Bleecker married Elizabeth Staats in 1743 and set up a household on Pearl Street in Albany. Of their eight children, four sons lived to adulthood: Rutger Bleecker (1745-1787), James Bleecker (1755-1825), Barent Bleecker (1760-1840), and John Bleecker (1763-1833).  By the 1770s, John R. and his family were spending more time at their country home in Saratoga while maintaining their Pearl Street residence as well. John and Elizabeth owned substantial acreage in what became Montgomery, Otsego, and Herkimer counties, and land on the Schoharie River.

Their son, Barent Bleecker, married Sara Lansing in 1787.  He became a prominent business and community leader who made his home on North Market Street.  He owned a store on the riverfront, stables, storehouses, houses and lots in a number of locations around Albany.  He also owned extensive real estate in upstate New York.  The town of Bleecker in Fulton County is named for him.

His brother, James Bleecker, married Rachel Van Sante (sometimes spelled Zandt) in 1782.  James, like his father and brothers, seems to have had a prosperous life judging from the division of his estate in 1819 (see Folder 1). The couple had several daughters and one son, Gerrit Van Sante Bleecker (1790-1856).

John R, his wife Elizabeth, sons Barent and James, their wives Sara and Rachel, Gerrit, Gerrit’s wife and children, and a sister of Gerrit’s are all buried in Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New York.

Sources: 1) Mullenneaux, N. (2008, December 25). The People of Colonial Albany Live Here: John R. Bleecker.external link   2) Schullery, R. R. 2013, July 11. Find A Grave: James Bleecker.external link 3) Marte. 2010, June 12. Find A Grave: John R. Bleecker.external link

Scope and Content Note:

This small collection of 25 items contains mainly land papers of John R. Bleecker, James Bleecker, Barent Bleecker and Gerrit Van Sante Bleecker.  There are deeds of sale, leases, mortgages and some damaged survey maps that may have been produced by John R. Bleecker.  These cover properties in Albany, Saratoga, Schoharie counties and Plattsburgh (Clinton County).  Also included is a trust document set up by James Bleecker, bills for clothing for Gerrit V.S. Bleecker, and a few statements of Barent Bleecker.  Many of these papers were damaged by the Capitol Building fire of 1911.

Related Collections:

The New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections, has several other small collections pertaining to this family. The Rutger Bleecker Papers (SC11846) contains the personal records of the eldest son of John R. Bleecker and older brother of Barent. The Bleecker Lyon Collection (SC18047) has land papers of the Bleecker, Truax and Lansing families, collected by a descendant. The Barent Bleecker Papers (SC20601) relate to the real estate interests of the brother of Rutger and James Bleecker, in several New York counties. 

The John N. Bleecker Papers (SC10431) is a larger collection documenting the activities of this second cousin to Rutger, James and Barent, and is also at the New York State Library.

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Description
1 1 Deed between James Bleecker of Albany, N.Y., and Barent Bleecker and Gerrit V.S. Bleecker, pertaining to the division of his estate and the establishment of a trust, January 23, 1819 (7 p.)
1 2 Legal documents (3 items):
  1. Deed of sale of land from Goose G. Van Schaick to Gerrit Van Sante, May 18, 1786
  2. Mortgage discharge paper, from Harmanus Barnhart to John Lansing, Jr., for land at Schoharie in Albany County, [N.Y.], May 20, 1794
  3. Letter from [Mr.] Marsh, Plattsburgh, [N.Y.], to Doctor P.P. Staats, Albany, [N.Y.], regarding the sale of land, July 28, 1828
1 3 Land titles (2 items):
  1. Lease of property in Saratoga, [N.Y.], from John R. Bleecker to [Herculis ?], October 1, 1769
  2. Lease of land in the Fourth Ward of Albany, [N.Y.], from [?] and Gerrit Van Sante Bleecker, trustees to the estate of James Bleecker to James Gould for 12 years, October [?], 1823
EL 4
EL folder
Land titles (3 items):
  1. Deed of sale of land in Plattsburgh, Clinton County, N.Y., from Charles L. Platt to James Bleecker, both of Albany, N.Y., for $2500, September 8, 1815
  2. Deed of sale of house and lot in the First Ward of Albany, [N.Y.], from Charles L. Platt, of Whitestown, to James Bleecker, of Albany, for $1000, August 29, 1819
  3. Deed of sale of land in Plattsburgh, N.Y., sold at auction to Barent Bleecker and Gerrit Van Zandt [sic] Bleecker for $1000, June 7, 1827
1 5 Land survey maps, fragmented and damaged; one marked “Slingerlands,” one dated November 3,1800 (8 items)
1 6 Bills and receipts (9 items):
  1. To Giles W. & Ira Porter, from G.V.S. Bleecker, September 1, 1811
  2. To Giles W. & Ira Porter, from G.V.S. Bleecker, October 11, 1813
  3. To Giles W. & Ira Porter, from G.V.S. Bleecker, April 12, 1815
  4. To Giles W. & Ira Porter, from G.V.S. Bleecker, October 11, 1813
  5. To Giles W. & Ira Porter, from G.V.S. Bleecker, February 28, 1816
  6. To Shepard & Boyd, from G.V.S. Bleecker, May 3, 1819
  7. Balance due notice to G.V.S. Bleecker, August 1, 1830
  8. To Thomas Thompson, from G.V.S. Bleecker, August 1, 1830
  9. Mortgage notice to G.V.S. Bleecker and Barent Bleecker, signed by Barent Sanders, n.d.
  10. Barent Bleecker statement, n.d.
Last Updated: May 24, 2021