Thursday, August 20, 2020

James Quackinbush - The Man Who Owned Manhattan, New York

JAMES QUACKINBUSH, son of Reynier born in Tappan, September. 8, 1758 and married 1st,  in Schraalenberg, New Jersey on December 25, 1783 to Leah or (Lea) Demarest. He married 2nd, (date unknown) Margaret Fake, widow of Romeyn. James and Leah Demarest had the following children: Rynier, born September 25, 1784; David, born February 22, 1786; James, born November 2, 1787; John, born March. 20, 1789; Abraham born February 6, 1791; Maria, born January 10, 1793; James, born November 19, 1794; Benjamin, born January 24, 1797; Andrew born January 6, I799; Ann. Born January 25, 1801. There were no children by Margaret, the second wife of James.
The first marriage of James Quackenbush occurred at Schraalenberg, N.J, on Christmas Day, 1783, just one month after the evacuation of New York by the British troops, when he was wedded to Leah Demarest of that place. The Rev. Solomon Froeligh performed the ceremony, and the records of the Schraalenberg Dutch church contain the following entry of the marriage: (Date missing)—"Jacobus Quackenbos young man, born at Tappan, res. N. Y. and Lea Demarest y. d. [young daughter], b. and living at Schraalenberg." Leah Demarest was one of triplets baptized at Schraalenberg, June 27, 1764. She was of the fifth generation descended from' David des Marest (b. at Beauchamp, France, about 1620) and Marie Sohier, who arrived in this country with a small band of Huguenots, April 16, 1663, on the ship " Bontekoe " {" Spotted Calf ") and settled in New Jersey. (" The Huguenots on the Hackensack, " by Rev. David D. Demarest, D. D.) Her grandfather, Benjamin Demarest, was one of the original members of the Dutch Church of Schraalenberg, and was very prominent, holding the office of Deacon and Elder successively, and other offices as well. Her parents were David Benjamin Demarest and Marrytie Ackerman. Leah Demarest died in 1805, and James Quackinbush married Margaret Fake, widow of Romeyn. According to the records of the Harsenville, now Bloomingdale. Reformed Dutch Church, James Quackinbush was a Deacon from 1824 to 1830, and an Elder from 1830 to 1840. He died two years later in his 84th year.

JAMES QUACKINBUSH spent his early life in the vicinity of Tappan, New York, and nothing is recorded concerning him prior to the Revolution, when the official records show that James Quackinbush served as a sergeant in Colonel Gilbert Cooper's regiment of Orange County, New York, militia. Revolutionary War. His name appears on a receipt roll signed by Colonel Cooper, February 23, 1786, without remark.

After the war James Quackinbush engaged in the dry goods business, probably retiring in 1803, when he purchased a large farm on Murray Hill, adjoining the John Murray property. This farm, for which James Quackinbush paid $12,700, contained more than 15 acres, and included most of the land now bounded by Lexington and Madison avenues, 38th and 41st streets.

The old homestead, subsequently destroyed by fire, stood near the center of the property, near the present site of the Murray Hill Hotel, at Park avenue and 40th street. In those days the Boston Post Road, after branching off from the Bloomingdale Road at what is now Madison Square, skirted the easterly side of the "commanding height of Inclenberg" or Murray's Hill, and was much used by the city residents while taking their favorite drive, the "Fourteen Miles Round." "Inclenberg" the country seat of Robert Murray, was the nearest house to the southward of James Quackinbush's  Homestead, and stood at what is now 36th street and Park avenue {This is now Manhattan, imagine what this property would be worth today). It was at Inclenberg that "Mrs. Murray's wit and Mr. Murray's wine " saved Putnam's army from destruction on Sept. 15, 1776, when the victorious British officers, feeling confident that the ragged Continentals were entrapped, tarried at Mrs. Murray's table, thus enabling Aaron Burr to guide Putnam's troops to the present Longacre Square, where Washington met them, galloping down from his headquarters at the Apthorpe Mansion. James Quackinbush acquired the Murray Hill farm on Aug. 5, 1803, taking title from Thomas Cooper, Master in Chancery, Daniel McCormick and Charles Smith, Trustees, and occupied the same until his death, Jan. 17, 1842, when it was divided into building lots and sold for $150 each. His heirs lived to see this property become the most fashionable residence section of New York City, the lots commanding almost fabulous prices but a few years later.

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