About my Internship at WHS and my First Day of Research


Before I dive right in, I wanted to share my goals in creating this blog. First of all, I want a documented experience of my internship so I can reflect back on my findings. By doing this, I hope to organize my thoughts and ideas about the project and have a clear sense each day of how I am progressing. Sometimes when you lock your thoughts up in your head, you may think they make sense, but when you go to formally write them down you find that perhaps you don’t know all that you thought you knew! Or, maybe you do, but writing develops that further. This happens to me pretty often, thus the creation of this blog. And, most importantly, I want to share everything I find with anyone whose interested in knowing more about local history and the roles our ancestral neighbors played in the past. It’s so cool, so intimate, and so important that it definitely needs to be shared.

That being said, Forward in all Directions!

I am so super, super, super excited to be interning at the Wappingers Historical Society. I have a deep passion for local history, and having the opportunity to get involved, hands on, with the society makes me incredibly eager to get going! Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long to get started (thank you, thank you, thank you!).

The first few days I met with Sandra Vacchio, president of WHS, and together we ironed out the details of my duties as an intern. As it turns out, my internship will be totally awesome as Beth Devine, Vice President of WHS, suggested that my most consuming role would be fine tuning the society’s knowledge of the Mesier family. This means researching and gathering more information on Peter Mesier, the homestead’s namesake, and his kin. The project, it seems, is of immense importance to the progress of WHS as having a comprehensive history of the Mesiers, their role in the affairs Wappingers and earlier in New York City, would offer the society a firm foundation as to what exactly the long-term goals of the society would/could and should be.

Beth has already given me a wealth of information to kick start my own investigations, and today I dove right into it.

First I started by confirming some of the information Beth gave me that we were a little confused on. I went ahead and created a tentative genealogy of the Mesiers. My goal in doing this was solely to understand which Mesier members actually lived on the homestead (and when). This is what I ended up coming up with (highlighted in yellow are the ancestors I believe to have resided in the home): Mesier Family Tree

Then, to give myself a overall gist of the the Mesier’s history, I read Henry Suydam’s History and Reminiscences of the Mesier Family of Wappingers Creek. Henry Suydam was the son of Jane Mesier, daughter of Catherine and Peter Mesier, and frequently visted his Aunt and Uncle at the homestead. He privately published his History in 1882, the same year the last Mesier (Henry Mesier, I believe) occupied the house. The book is a brief, charming history of the the family and it’s more notable members.  Though not thorough in the least, it was another great starting point.

I also wanted to learn more about the Wappinger’s Tea Party and the conflict with Peter Mesier, and I found an official document written by what was called The Committee and Commission for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York. Sound juicy?! Well it is! It is so cool to read about this kind of event happening not only right here in Wappingers, but at the Mesier Homestead itself! So awesome. Here it is: Peter Mesier & Wappingers Tea Party

I feel it’s also super important to have an understanding of who Peter’s parents and grandparents were and what they did themselves in New York. I unearthed some awesome, well documented information on where the first Mesiers lived and what kind of property they owned in Manhattan (this information is dated back to the 1660s – it’s incredibly hard to find specific details about one person that long ago, so we are incredibly lucky). And here’s what I gathered on that: Peter Mesier, SR

Finally, I wanted to know about Peter Mesier’s property losses in Manhattan due to two “great fires,” one in 1776 and one in 1778. What  I found in regards to this was very intriguing, and I was able to figure out quite a bit. Here are my notes on that: Peter Mesier in NYC – Houses Burned

All in all today was a great, successful, rewarding first day at WHS. I feel like I gathered  a lot of useful information and have the tools to formulate some more goals for moving forward – and I absolutely loved doing it. I feel like Sherlock Holmes.

**I want to make a note that my blog will be structured as follows: each day I’ll post a brief description of what I did and my notes on each topic, and then at the end of each week submit an comprehensive, detailed entry of what I found and reflect on those findings.

Utilizing Every Resource


Good morning!

I cannot stand the snow. I love New York and I will probably never want to leave – but if there is something that could make me want to leave it would be the snow!

Snow prevented my presentation to the historical society last Thursday. I was going to talk about the research process and how difficult it can be to muddle through contradicting sources. I find this aspect of research sometimes infuriating, but in the end, it makes for a more interesting and compelling story. To put this in context, I was going to discuss the difficulties I had while researching the Mesier’s Mill in New Netherland, and though I have already given a presentation on that Mill, my research needed clarification.

The presentation will be rescheduled, so everyone still has a chance to come to the meeting and catch up on Mesier history. Also, we have a great surprise to be unveiled, so come!

Like I said in my last post, research via internet is becoming obsolete. Therefore, onward to the archives and solid literature! I need to start focusing on getting all this information about our Mesiers into their own context. This means reading about life in New York from 1660 – 1890. That is a huge time frame to understand, especially given the complex changes in attitudes and ways of living that have developed over two hundred years. I am certainly up for the challenge. I love New York and am already thankful for what the Mesiers have taught me so far.

Besides going to the archives and reading, Professor Roper is always encouraging me to reach out to experts already in the field. They are also incredibly useful resources. I’ve been hesitant to get in contact with anyone because I’ve felt shy about my own research, but I think I’m confident enough now with my own work to begin talking about it on a more academic level. There are a few people who can help.

First, there is Jaap Jacobs who I’ve already spoken to, but last week I emailed him again to see if he’s been back in Amsterdam for research. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been. But he did say that he’s made a note to take a look for any notarial documents concerning Pieter Jansen Mesier, our settler. We’d been lucky if he can do this for us, because apparently you can have an archivist do research for you, but with “hefty fees,” so Jacobs says. From our visit in September, it appears there are a few documents relating to Pieter from the Stadsarchief Amsterdam archives.

Professor Roper also suggested I get in contact with Dr. Christopher Minty who is a fellow at the New York Historical Society. He’s been working on research about New York Loyalist during the Revolution. He is therefore very knowledgeable on the subject and would probably turn out some great information which may help solve the Loyalist-or-Patriot mystery with the homestead’s actual namesake, Peter Mesier (1733-1805). This topic is particularly interesting. This Mesier had faced slew of difficulties after living in New York under British occupation and then in Wappingers as he dealt with the effects of being accused of being a Tory by a group of rowdy, tea-wanting, wine-stealing women. Knowing his affiliation would help clear up a few of his business associations and dealings. All in it all, it’s a bit of information that would be incredibly useful!

Further, Dr. David Voorhees (last name sound familiar? Perhaps a relation?) is the director of the Jacob Leisler Papers Project, a project of his amongst many others relating to Dutch New Netherland. He could possibly see if there is any information on our early Mesiers relating to Leisler’s Rebellion or otherwise. It would be curious to know what position our family took in the Rebellion, if any. Leisler’s Rebellion was a colonist’s revolt in now the Province of New York against their British ruler, King James II. The uprising lasted for three years, from 1689 – 1691, and left the colony split between two rival factions. Our Mesiers would surely have been aware, and likely affected by the event, and knowing how would maybe reveal some motive or indication of their political/social sentiments.

I want to be in contact with all of these wonderful scholars and see if our story can progress a little further. In every bit of excitement, you will certainly know of any new discoveries!

Next Phase of Research


Throughout my research I had been confused, sometimes misled by primary and secondary sources, and sometimes completely at a loss. But the whole process is completely satisfying. There is always quite a bit mystery involved which leaves me on edge, searching for the next clue that will propel me in some other direction. Our Mesiers are elusive, complex, interesting, and at times even frustrating as their motives are so diverse and outwardly contradictive. I find myself often biased – I want them to be this, or to have done that so they can be my proper heroes. Maybe that is the historian’s cross!

At the close of last semester, I have developed a deep love for the family. I believe that they are incredibly curious and demonstrate the multifaceted nature of New York’s history. Through researching their own experiences in their own contexts, I’ve also developed an even deeper love for New York history. I’ve always loved my home in the Hudson Valley, and I have an attraction to its story. Our Mesiers, therefore, are the perfect subject of my interest, and this project has proven to be extremely rewarding. I feel warmed at the thought of it.

My research is no where never over or even near coming to an end (in fact, these things can never be complete). I’ve only scratched the surface and have faced quiet a few road blocked – which often led to facing the humbling experience of being wrong. It’s only result is a greater open-mind and better perception. I love this experience; it has been the best aspect of the project’s continuing development. The feeling of revelation is wonderful, and that only derives from confusion!

There is a lot to be done, still. I am still struggling to find information on Abram Mesier (1663-1719) and his son Peter Mesier (1700 – 1770). Any primary sources coming from the period after 1700 to 1776 (in New York) are sparse. This seems to be the result of the fire in 1911 at the capital in Albany which destroyed much of the state’s archival documents. UGH! I am so grieved at this event! More than a hundred years later I directly feel the loss. It has been so frustrating. What we do know about these two figures is what must have been their industrious nature, which left a prominent legacy which Peter Mesier (1733 – 1805), his brothers (and in-laws) would perpetuate as long as they continued their own roles and status in the city and then in Duchess County. Therefore, you can imagine my frustration at not knowing how this came to be!

Picture of the the 1911 Fire from inside the Capital Building

It seems to be the case that my internet searches (databases, digital transcriptions, digital scans, etc) are no longer yielding new results. I knew this would eventually bring me into the next phase of my research, which will now shift to focus on physical archival documents. This means taking trips the New York Historical Society and the New York Public Library, both which seem to carry files which may prove to be helpful in finding information on these two elusive Mesiers, Abram (1663 – 1719) and Peter (1700-1770).

I’m excited for this, and I’m sending out emails to the archivist who manage the boxes as to prepare for future visits. Hopefully we’ll uncover some new clues!

On to the next stage!


Hello, good morning! I’m excited to get back to blogging about my internship, and now independent study. Professor Roper and I have decided that the project is worth taking to the next level, and so in addition to the roles of my internship for the historical society, I will also be writing and gathering materials for a substantial case study about the family.

My independent study will start with Peter Jansen Mesier coming to the settlement at New Netherland and follow the family to the 19th Century, ending with Peter A. Mesier, prominent book seller and lithographer in New York City. I want to demonstrate the family’s roles and experiences living in the city and how they exemplify colonial New York. The thesis of my paper is still being developed and fine tuned, but I will keep the blog updated on my progress.

For the historical society, Sandra, Beth and I have discussed what they hope the outcome of my project will be. For the historical society I’m going to continue my post-1776 Mesier research and focus on the history of the family in regards to their role in the village of Wappingers.

Between the two projects there will be a comprehensive history of the Mesier family from 1660 until 1891. I’m very excited for this, and eager to get everything going! In my next post I’m going to summarize everything I worked on last semester so it’s clear where we’ve left off.

Until then!

Break Throughs and Curious Finds


It’s been about three weeks since I’ve submitted any posts, and I apologize for the wait. The reason I’ve been holding off on writing about my research is because information is never cut and dry, especially, especially, when dealing with primary sources. Therefore, I was hesitant to put forth any sort of analysis of some of the new information I found – and I still am. It’s extremely important to have a context to put this all in, and though I’m familiar with New York history, I lack the in-depth knowledge required to speculate confidently on what our heroes, Peter Mesier Jr. and his father, Peter Mesier, were like. Thus I’ve been spending a lot of time with Professor Lou Roper, who does have that knowledge necessary for fair speculation. Mulling over my recent finds, we’ve had a great time trying to understand Peter Mesier Jr (1733-1805, Homestead’s namesake) and his motives as a merchant. I deeply appreciate his mentorship!

The past few weeks I’ve set out to answer some questions:

1) What was Peter Mesier, Jr., trading in? (Which goods, imported from where? Was he exporting, etc?)

This is an important question, as noted by a good friend of mine, for it would shed some light on Peter’s political interest, which we are very curious to know since he was operating businesses at the onset of the American Revolution.

2) Therefore, we want to know: was he a Tory?

The Historical Society maintain the idea that he indeed was, given the court minutes which detail the “Tea Party” during which two continental soldiers and a group of women raiding the store run out of his home in which he told tea. This information seems to suggests that the community believed him to be a Tory. Further, we have Maria Mesier’s short history of the family in which she writes that her grandfather, the Peter Mesier at hand, was a Tory, “though a very quiet one.” But there are contradictions with this idea.

New York City was under British control for mostly the whole of the Revolution and was a haven for refugees with Patriot sympathies. Beyond the City, much of upstate New York was in rebellion. During the time, Fishkill (Wappingers) was a contested town. It bordered those cities and towns loyal to the crown and those north who favored the rebellion. This sparked Professor Roper’s and Dr. Jaap Jacobs skepticism that Mesier was indeed a Tory. Why would a Tory flee where he was safest? Given his own example, life beyond the city for Tories was unsure! He would certainly have known this.

Thus the question is an important one, and one we can answer by way of the first question.

3) Who were Peter Mesier’s associations (i.e. who was he working with, his partners, etc.)?

Associations are very important, especially during this time. By understanding the circles Peter ran in, we can understand Mesier himself, of course! We can also find new leads – discover more questions in this way. I’m also hopeful that perhaps by uncovering Peter’s ‘friends’ we see if their family papers still exist (letters, indentures, petitions, etc) and maybe find some mentions of Peter there. A significant quest!

I’ve also been working on research regarding Peter Mesier, Jr.’s father, Peter Mesier, but information from this period (after the colony at New Netherland and before the Revoltion (1700-1770, which is ironically the dates which are Mesier’s birth and death), is very obscure. This can perhaps be owed to the fire at the archives in Albany in the year 1911 (learning this I was deeply affected, knowing that some essential information I could have found may no longer exists). But there is hope, and anything elusive is certainly worth finding, never mind how long it may take – this is the nature of research.

I want you to know that these past few weeks, in regards to these questions, have been extremely productive and eye-opening. I am ecstatic with the information recently found, for it has allowed me to start answering these questions were are vital to the project. Peter Mesier, Jr. is one our biggest focuses, and given the new information, I’m certain he is a curious and interesting case!

I am, though, holding off on sharing the exact documents found and what they may mean. The blog, as noted earlier, is raw – it follows my research, my errors, my ‘guesses.’ Given the significance of some of this information, I want to be sure of the ideas I put forth for you all. Moreso, I want to present it in its entirety, as it’s surely better appreciated in a comprehensive form. Thus everything will come in a full, finished package which will hopefully be published for the homestead. I’m very excited for this!

Clearing Things Up


Good morning!

Last week I received in the mail from Andrew Hendricks, the Mesier descendant I was able to get in contact with, some of his genealogical research on the family and on the Mesier Mill. He also sent me his proposal to reconstruct the mill at Ground Zero as a memorial of the 9/11 attacks, as the mill was the first structure to be built on the site.

I was eager to read what research Hendricks had done in regards to the mill since it has been a big curiosity of mine since I learned of it last month. I’m happy to say that Hendricks has cleared a lot of confusion of mine when it came to the mill, and I finally feel settled about the matter.

I’ll explain what my initial concerns were, and why they came about.

When I first learned that the Mesier’s built/owned a mill in New Netherland, I looked for maps and the map keys that would label the sites and landmarks on them. I used Hugo Allard’s map, of course, as it’s one of the only topographic maps of early New Netherland. This particular map claims to depict the settlement circa 1660.

1673, From the Map of Matthew Seutter,

This version of Allard’s map was published by Matthew Suetter in 1673. The sites and key are the same. Here is the key:

Allards map key

You can see on the map to the far right a windmill with corresponds to the key, Q. In a book titled Views of Early New York, a description of Q, the windmill, is given:

Map key Q

**There’s an issue with this description in itself, which I’ll come back to later on in this post.

My mistake, which would lead to further contradictions, was assuming that this mill depicted on Allard’s map was the same mill on Castello’s Plan, located on the bluff just outside of fort New Amsterdam:


The information was at first non-controversial for me until I came to learn that the mill depicted on the Castello Plan was built around 1658. That wouldn’t make any sense if it were Peter Mesier who built it, since he arrived in New Netherland around 1661. I spent a lot of time confused about this matter. When I sat down with Dr. Jaap Jacobs and explained what I knew about the mill, he was hesitant to believe that Peter Jansen Mesier built the mill on Castello’s Plan and that he even built a mill in 1662.

Dr. Jacobs suggested Peter’s ownership of this particular mill would not have been likely given the context. Peter would have only been about 22 years old, and other documents which Dr. Jacobs has access to suggest that Peter may have been a solider (likely for the West India Company – this still has to be confirmed). In which case, coming to New Netherland would have been a “fresh start” for him. There are also sources which reveal that Peter was petitioning for an ancestor’s inheritance, perhaps insinuating a want/need of money? We can’t be sure, but it did seem unlikely to Dr. Jacobs that Peter had the means to erect this mill.  Thus this became my own hesitation, and I tried to overcome the contradictions by proposing that though the mill was erected by someone else, Peter Jansen Mesier and his family came to own it at a later time.

Don’t be confused – the end of all this is that was mistaken! Peter Jansen Mesier did in fact erect a mill. He did so around 1685 near Cortlandt and Wall Street. The street it was built on was appropriately named Windmill Lane. Dr. Hendricks is to thank for his research and clarification. He included a short description from The Tip of the Island: The Saga of Lower Manhattan  by David Allgeyer:

“Mesier’s windmill stood at the end of Windmill Lane near the bank of the North River. Built in the days of the early colony in 1686, the big windmill became a landmark for ships and river craft, as its tall “sails” could be seen for great distances. It was relatively easy to navigate by both land and water around the tip of the island in the days of early settlers by simply becoming familiar with the locations of the great windmills.

Mesier’s windmill prevailed for almost a hundred years before becoming run down, and it was finally torn down about 1780. By about the end of the 1700’s all of the city’s marvelous windmills had vanished.”

Here is a map I found that notes the mill in 1695:

new_york_1695It’s #24, “A Windmill”

On a few maps the landmark is designated as “Mesier’s Mill.” This was the future site of the World Trade Centers; the South Tower stood almost directly on the site of the windmill.

I’m happy to have cleared this up, thanks so much to Dr. Andrew Hendricks! The find is very cool and important! My end goal in all of this is to have a comprehensive “Mesier” history, but also to put their history into context, sharing how the Mesier’s history is very indicative of American History. This last point is what has made the project so fascinating for me. I love it.

Everything being said about the windmill, I’m happy to have settled the discrepancies! Now on to the next chapter!

An Interesting Find


Hello, hello!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks this month! There are some goals of mine that I want to start working on again, and I figured I’d make a list and work on them in order from here on out.

  1. Research Abram & (his son) Peter Mesier (1696 – 1770, m. Jenneke Wessels)
  2. Research Peter Mesier (1733 – 1805, m. Catherine Sleght)
  3. Understand context further!
  4. Make a trip to NYC Historical Society
  5. Make a trip to The New Netherland Institute in Albany

Seeing how it took two months to take on my first focus, Peter Jansen Mesier & the Mill, and put a solid genealogical foundation behind my research, I imagine that it might very well take me the rest of the semester to tackle these goals. But there is no fear in that! I’ll be back for the Spring semester and I’m sure I’ll work through the winter. It’s an addiction, anyway!

I’m excited to undertake all of these goals. I want to know about the early Mesiers, how they made their fortune, and what kind of people they were and I found something the other day that made me extremely eager to understand the Mesier’s individual lives. I’ve been telling everyone because I just think the find is so cool. I was entering “Mesier” in a few databases to see if anything would turn up that could prove helpful, and so I was using JSTOR. Well, JSTOR turned up a few hits on “Mesier,” and as I was reading over the results one of the abstracts caught my attention. It was a chapter in the textbook American Literature, the chapter titled “Philip Freneau and The Time-Piece Literary Companion.” Philip Freneau was an American author and poet, and is often known as The Poet of the American Revolution. He was a dedicated nationalist and concerned with the new country’s affairs, which is the primary focus of his works. The chapter in the book I found comprises of letters written by Freneau to his friends, family, and I fellow writers. In one letter, in which the result directed me, Freneau is writing to another author named Seth Paine. Together, at the time in 1800, they had worked on a short piece, An Eulogy on General George Washington (an appropriate subject; Washington had just passed in December, 1799). In regards to the promotion of the eulogy, Freneau wrote to Paine:

“On my arrival in N.Y. in April last, I put the 50 Eulogies into the hands of P. A. Mesier, Bookseller, for sale (38). He tells me that he has disposed of very few, altho’ I had them advertised in the Daily Advertiser several times. There is no taste in this place for anything good or philosophical. The vilest trash has here a currency above all the eloquence of Plato-”

The footnote reads that “The Daily Advertiser for April 10 and 11, 1800, announced that Peter Mesier was selling Seth Paine’s Eulogy on General George Washington. A reading of Paine’s oration suggests that Freneau’s comparison with Plato expresses gratitude for the loan of one hundred dollars, rather than an objective appraisal.”

The find isn’t ground-breaking – but these little insights make history real. We get to read here about Peter A. Mesier (1773 – 1847), have an actual interacttion, and not just with anyone but with Philip Freneau! Isn’t that amazing to imagine? You can just picture Peter at his counter in the bookstore explaining that the eulogies aren’t selling, and Freneau disgusted by the lack of interest in his and Paine’s work. We can understand this, we can visualize the circumstance. So often we only have names, which makes history abstract to us. But here we have a primary source, a short little narrative, which we can use to become a little more intimate with history. I was elated with the little clue, and emailed my American Literature professor, Andrew Higgins, who (and this is the power of context, once again!) made the discovery even more interesting. He wrote (and I included another short anecdote he shared because I liked it): 
“One of the things I’ve always loved about studying the Nineteenth Century is that America was really so small at the time that there are so many interesting connections between people.  I’ve done a lot of work on Longfellow and his family history.  He and Hawthorne were close friends, and I discovered that their ancestors also knew each other. In fact, Hawthorne’s great-great-great grandfather was a judge at the Salem Witch Trials when one of Longfellow’s ancestors was being tried. (Longfellow’s ancestor was a pretty tough customer, and pretty much told the court off and walk away, which was the beginning of the end of the witch trials.)  So yeah, I know how much fun it is to find these connections.
What I like about this mention of Freneau is that it so fits with his personality. He always had this sense that he was unappreciated, and towards the end of his life he became pretty bitter about it. He’s got a couple of poems about being neglected.”
Isn’t it great when everything makes sense?

Continuing Research


The Fall Festival Mesier House tour was wonderful. We put lots of hard work into researching “eerie” local history stories and writing what we found into an interesting tour of the homestead. I’d say it was a success! We had lots of guest and they loved the home (as most do when they visit!).

That being said…

Ahh, feels nice to have sole devotion to the Mesier Family research again! I’ve been working on a lot of genealogy lately; connecting with Andrew Hendricks sparked my curiosity in discovering more Mesier descendants. Ancestry.com has been helpful, but I’ve reached a few road blocks, unfortunately. I’m not sure if some if the ancestor’s I’ve been following just didn’t have children, or if I’m just not finding them! It has been a little frustrating. However, I have expanded my knowledge of the family tree significantly, and I want to share some updates on the genealogy.

There is one major correction that must be noted. Earlier I had written that Peter Mesier (1696 – 1770) was the son of Peter Jansen Mesier (1640 – ) and brother of Abram Mesier (1663 – 1752). I realize now that a) date wise this makes little sense (Peter J. would not have had a child at 56 years old, 30 years after his first child) and b) it makes more sense that Abram Mesier was Peter Mesier’s (1696) father. Therefore, Abram Mesier and Elizabeth van Cowenhoven are the parents of that Peter Mesier who married Jenneke Wessels. Sorry for my mistake and the confusion (and there are many at times!).

One of my first endeavers was to find out about Henry Mesier’s, one of Matthew and Joanna Mesier’s son, children and their descendants. This particular branch of the family is a curious case for us at the homestead because in the 1890s (and when the home was given to the village), the Mesier family seems to drop off the grid. Thus, we want to know about this Henry Mesier’s children and where they resided and what they did. I felt confidant we could obtain this information, but I wonder if we can find out why they seem to have left Wappingers.

Henry Mesier had three children with this wife Elizabeth Wetmore. Their names were Althea (commonly misspelled in census records), Joanna, and Henry. The eldest, Althea, is recorded to have lived in Manhattan by 1894, where she married George Wharton McMullins. She died in 1948, apparently having reared no children. Joanna also lived in Manhattan by 1898 and married there as well to Creighton Spencer. She died in 1932, also childless. I’ve spent hours on ancestry trying to confirm that these two women indeed had no children, hoping to find otherwise. But that was to no avail, unfortunately. I thought that this fact was so strange! I would have thought it would be very uncommon for a woman have no children whatsoever in the early 20th century.

The youngest child and son, Henry Mesier, did have children. His absence from Wappingers is more explicit, also. Henry Mesier was a preist and often moved to serve various parishes. By 1900 he was living in Queens as a boarder (lodger). Then, by 1910, he was living across the river in Kingston, New York and was by that time married to Judith Teleki Walter. Census showed that he lived from then on in Pomfret, Garden City, and Kings, all in New York. He died in Kings in 1934. There are numerous newspaper articles from towns and cities around New York that cite his sermons and presences in churches. This explains his leave of Wappingers.

We can speculate why the Mesier homestead was, at this point, unused by the family. Mathew and Joanna’s six children all died by 1890, and the home would have belonged to Henry’s three children, Althea, Joanna, and Henry. We know this because they are named in wills and in the petition against them by William Henry Reese, who orchestrated the donation of the home to the village. I don’t believe that the three heirs to the home fought the petition – perhaps they welcomed and suggested it. After all, it seems they had left Wappingers at that point, anyway, for Manhattan. Henry would have had good reason to leave; his position as a priest would have demanded it. The two girls, though, I’m not sure why they left. It could be that their husbands were settled in the city and they naturally would have assumed that location, but that’s a little unclear yet.

That is my thinking on the subject, but I also wanted to follow these lines in hopes of discovering more living descendants. This matter could take a bit, and I imagine I’ll be working on this throughout the project.

Thus I ventured to uncover descendants of Henry and Judith Mesier. The couple has two children, Catherine Elizabeth Mesier and Mary Mesier. This was a little sad for me because I’d love to connect with someone who yet bears the name “Mesier,” and seeing as Henry and Judith had only girls, there was no hope that this line would provide that for me. Of course, it’s worth to follow anyway! Catherine Elizabeth didn’t seem to marry by her death in 1955, but Mary married a man name George E Dimock Jr. Mary, with her father, lived in many towns in New York and after his death was a lodger in New York City. She was attending university there, and became a teacher. In 1946 she married George, and together they moved to New Haven, Conneticut. From there they left for Massachusetts, and in 1998 she died in Northampton. With George she had two children, Bridget and Peter. It’s unclear by the records (that I’ve seen so far) if Peter is still alive, but his wife, Wai-Chee Sung, is. The last record I found of him was his residence in 1988 in Brooklyn. Between the two I’ve yet to find any record of children. I’d still have to spend more time with this line to find more information. I haven’t researched much of Bridget, either.

Circumstance has it to follow a direct “Mesier” line (that is, descendants bearing the name), we would have to go back to Peter Mesier and Jenneke Wessels’ first child, Abraham. Abraham married Catherine R. Elizabeth, and one of their sons, Peter A. Mesier, married his first cousin, Catherine Mesier. Catherine Mesier was one of the daughters of Peter and Catherine Sleght, our main line. Peter A. and Catherine Mesier had one son, Edward S. Mesier who had two wives, and by his second wife Georgianna Hyslop had a son, Louis Mesier. Louis did marry, to a Maria Gautier, but unfortunately it appears that they had no children. Imagine my frustration! My only hope now is to find the other children of Abraham and Catherine R Mesier and follow their sons’ lines. That is what I’m working on now.

I have a few very interesting finds to share with you all for tomorrow, but I’m afraid I have to end this blog post here. It’s time for class!

Until tomorrow!

Fall Festival – Press Release!


Good morning!

It has definitely been an busy week here at the Mesier homestead. Preparations for the Fall Festival are swiftly underway and consuming most of my internship hours. It’s going to be an exciting event, and I can’t wait to see how the tour turns out. I’ve been working on a bunch of stories for it, and hopefully they play out as well as they do in imagination! Make sure you buy tickets to reserve a spot for the tour which will be given throughout the day. Tickets are required in advance, and you can purchase them via PayPal here.

(Click the image for more information)

Discovering Mesier Family Descendants


I have been eagerly awaiting Andrew Hendricks’ reply to my email, the man who Len Tantillo says is a Mesier descendant (and commissioned Tantillo’s Mesier Mill paintings), and this weekend I was happy to receive a call from him! I was at work unfortunately, but as soon as I could I returned the call. We discussed for a long while the family, the mill, and our research.

It was definitely interesting to talk with Hendricks. He is deeply interested in his family’s history, and curious to know about the homestead here at Wappingers. He explained that he’s spent a lot of time researching and ascertaining about the mill in the New Netherland fort, and has even petitioned for the mill to have a place in the 9/11 Memorial (the Mill stood where the South Trade Center Tower was built). His passion and enthusiasm for the history reflects my own, and it’s always exciting to talk with someone who shares so specific an interest.

Andrew Hendricks has also visited the sites in Manhattan and has spent some time at the New Netherland Institute in Albany. He’s been in contact with Jaap Jacobs, and let me know that he will further reach out to Dr. Jacobs in regards to the Mesier project (which is great because we agreed that perhaps he could incite Dr. Jacobs to offer some more attention to the project). Hendricks also agreed to mail me his proposal for the 9/11 Memorial which includes the research he has done so I can add it to my own Mesier documents, which will be extremely helpful. So thank you, Andrew Hendricks! I expect that we will remain in close contact throughout the project.

Connecting with Len Tantillo, an Local Artist


Hello again, dear followers of the Mesier Family history!

Lately I’ve been working on the homestead’s tour for the Fall Festival which is fast approaching. That project has been coming along well and I think we’ll have a pretty interesting tour for the public come October 18th. I can’t give too many details here, so you’ll just have to come by the homestead and see for yourself!

As for the Mesiers, I’ve been eager to share that I have been in contact with Len Tantillo to ask him about his research regarding his painting “Mesier Mill, c. 1695,” which is this particular painting:

Mesier Mill 2

Isn’t it beautiful? The Mill, as depicted, is interesting in itself with its great Dutch-style character. I love it; seeing the painting provokes me further to unearth the story behind it and it’s apparent relevance to the Mesier family.

When Len Tantillo got back to me, I was very excited. The mill has had much of my attention regarding the project and I’m desperate to learn more about it. He was very helpful and shared lots of information – particularly a extremely intriguing connection! He told me that he was commissioned to paint the mill by a man named Andrew Hendricks, a descendant of the Mesier Family. I was surprised at this information – we haven’t been in contact with any descendants of the Mesiers besides the Reese family. Immediately I wanted to connect with  Hendricks, who provided the research he’s personally done in order for Tantillo to accurately depict the mill. Tantillo was kind enough to share Hendrick’s contact information, and I emailed him immediately.

Speaking with Tantillo was amazing. His work is absolutely beautiful, and at the homestead we feel so lucky (shocked, astonished, amazed!) that this wonderful painting of the Mesier Mill by such a talented artist exists. Tantillo was happy to know about the Mesier Homestead as well, and offered to sell us prints for the museum, at a discounted price, of his works that depict the Mill nestled on the bluff. Everyone here is eager to have prints of the paintings for the homestead – so thank you, Len Tantillo!

Len Tantillo’s Mesier Mill, c. 1695 is currently on display at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. There the painting, along with 24 other original works, are on display in the exhibit titled A Moment Past: L. F. Tantillo Paints New York History until December 30th. The exhibit catalog is available for purchase online through Amazon.

Len Tantillo also has work displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a “permanent presentation of Dutch Architecture in Colonial America.”

Read Len Tantillo’s short biography here.

Thank you for reading!