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Gideon Wells, Mr. Linccln's Sccretary of the Navy during the war.
In 1853, at Murthly Castle in Scotland, where I was staying, the conversation turned upon the character and social position of those who settled the Eastern States. Our host, Sir William Drummond Stewart, who had spent much time in the United States and was a great friend of our country and its institutions, insisted that most of the earlier settler3 of New England were members of England's best families ; and maintained his position by historical facts. Finally, the old seal which I wore was appealed to by Sir William, as illustrating, in part, bis position. The question arose, what evidence is there that this seal was cut in the sixteenth century? I answered,-—“None, except that it has for nearly three centuries, been preserved as an heir-loom transmitted from Richard Webb." Sir William, who was well known for his collections of seals of all countries and all ages, said that the style of engraving demonstrated its antiquity. At this Earl Dalhousie remarked—“ that it is of date anterior to 1600, is I think, proved ; but I deny that it can be proved by the character of the engraving on the seal.” Sir William insisted upon his position, and the matter terminated in a wager for a dinner to be given, for all present, at the Clarendon, on our return to London in the Autumn ; where Strongitharm, the great seal engraver, should settle the question.
In due time, Dalhousie, Stewart and one or two others of the party, appeared at the great stone engravers,—the question was stated to him, and he was called upon to decide when the stone was cut.
After a very careful examination, he declared, with much positiveness, that it was engraved sometime between 1500 and 1600. Then followed the question, upon what data is the decision based ? H; turned to me and enquired—“D) you frequently use the scal ?” I answered—“No ; because in taking it off the wax, if I let it get properly cooled , it breaks the edges of the impression.” He replied—“ You have told the whole story. not until after 1600 that they improved the art of cutting on stones; prior to this, they cut perpendiculary into the stone, and in consequence, the seal could not be removed from the wax without injury to it. Tho remedy was manifest, and from about 1600, all cutting on stones, intended to be used as seals, was done with an almost imperceptible bevel, as you will perceive on examination.
The remedy was complete ; and hence Sir William's ability to fix about the period when this seal was engraved."
Now, as to the champagne glass, with its peculiar stem. When my father left General Washington's staff, shortly after the campaign in New Jersey, he, Washington, presented to him the military canteen. It was perfect at the time ; but all that remains of it, is the champagne glass with the spiral stem. The Webb Decanter, as we call it, may, possibly, have belonged to the same canteen ; but of this there is no tradition.
The anciont seal, alluded to above, beyond question was brought to this country by our ancestor Richard Webb, about 1626 ; who, in 1632, was made a citizen of Boston. In 1635, he, in company with the Reverend Mr. Hooker, Mr. Howkins, Mr. Wyllis, Mr. Richard Webb and Mr. Hayes, accompanied by some sixty others, took possession of their grant on the Connecticut River, from Lords Say and Brook, and settled Hartford. Those early settlers of Hartford, were generally intelligent and of good family and connection in the mother country. In a note at page 12, of the autobiography of Lyman Beecher, occurs the following:
“ Although the colonies of New Haven, Guilford and Saybrook, embraced a larger proportion of gentlemen, in distinction from yeomen, that any of the others, yet it is stated in Hollister's History of Connecticut, that more than four-fifths of the early land proprietors of Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield, belonged to families having coats of arms in Great Britain."
In October, 1780, my father married Eliza Banker, daughter of Richard Banker, one of the then leading merchants of New York, and the largest owner of lands in the Kayaderosres Patent ; which included the region about Saratoga. She was a cousin of John and Peter Jay; and died in child-bed, November 18, 1781 ; and her infant followed her a few days thereafter. The Lispenards, Rutgers, Bleeckers, Bankers, Remens, Barclays, Webbs and Livingstons, all intermarried.
My father, after the close of the war, continued to reside in New York, until 1790 ; when, on the 5th September, he married,
at Claverack, Cɔlumbia County, Catharin: Hogebɔom, daughter of Judge Stephen Hogeboom and Hillitjie Muller [Miller), of the Manor of Claverack, fourth in descent from Peter Hogeboom, who came from Holland with Van Rensslur-“the great Patroon,” as he was called —in 1657. I have, as you know, the old family bible brought from Holland ; and also, the old clock which stood in the first Manor House, and which keeps as good time as ever. removed from the old Hogeboom Manor House, on the west side of Claverack Creek, near Hudson, to the new Manor House, built in the village of Claverack, in 1767, near the Court House,–Claverack being then the County seat of Columbia County.
Daniel D. Barnard, Esq., of Albany, in his history of the Van Rensselær family, says, “ the Ten Brookes, Mullers [Millers], Hogebooms, Remsens and the Van Courtlandts, came over with the " old Patroon in 1657." My great grandfather, Jeremiah Hogeboom, was born in the old Manor House, west of Claverack Creek, on the 5th April, 1712 ; and my grandfather, Stephen Hogeboom, on the 15th December, 1744.
My father made the acquaintance of my mother, when she was on a visit to his friend, the late Major Popham, of this city, long the President ot the Society of Cincinnati ; who died at the ripe age of ninety-seven. From him I learned, as well as from tradition, that she was celebrated as being wonderfully beautiful and attractive. Mrs. Gerard Beekman, who was a Van Courtlandt, and a friend of my mother, and who died at the old Beekman Manor House, in 1847, at the age of ninety-five,-told me that Miss Hogeboom, was considered the belle of the city at the time of her marriage; and as Mrs. General Webb, was one of the most distinguished ladies of Washington's court. Her portrait is in possession of Mrs. Chester, daughter of my eldest sister, Maria, who was a second mother to all of us.
Col. William Popham to Dr. W. Vrooman Wimple, son-in-law of
NEW YORK, Dec'r 16th, 1789. DEAR Doctor:-At the particular Request of Kitty, I take the Liberty now to account, through you, to the family for her not returning to Claverack with Mrs. Ludlow, as was intended,
and why (her Indisposition), was used to Mrs. Ludlow (wife of W. B.] as a reason for her delay.
Shortly after Kitty's arrival with me in this city, she attracted the notice of Gen'l Webb in a more than usual degree; and as the General was always considered rather as one of our family, he had frequent daily, nay, hourly opportunities of conversing with & admiring the native Simplicity of our little friend without even a suspicion of a serious Intention-
A few days, however, before Mrs. Ludlow came to town, I began to suspect that the General's pointed attentions, and Solicitude to please, might have a dangerous effect on the susceptible Heart of a Girl unhacknied in the ways of Love, and in the end terminate in a final separation, to the Injury of her health and destruction of her happiness
I communicated my Ideas on this subject to Polly, who, I found, had viewed matters in the same light; and as we conceived ourselves the Guardians of her Happiness, determined on her returning with the first favorable opportunity ; particularly as we could not with propriety exclude the General from the house, or deny Kitty the Pleasure which she appeared to take in his Company
When Mrs. Ludlow came to town, the opportunity offered which we looked for, and Arrangements were accordingly made for an Embarkation, which Polly easily discovered to be a very unpleasant Circumstance to both parties. Intimately acquainted with General Webb’s Character as a Man of Honor, and solicitous for the Happiness of our young friend, I, for the first time, assumed the Father, and took upon me to converse seriously with Kitty on the subject; in which interview, after setting the matter in a clear point of view, I proposed that she should push the General to an explanation the evening previous to her intended departure ; and if she should, from such explanation, have reason to believe that he was serious in his Intentions, that I should insist on her spending the winter with me, and trust to female Invention for a plausible excuse—but that if she found him evasive in his Conduct, or undecided in his Intentions, that then she should by all means fly from his presence as from a Pestilence—and scek the Restoration of her IIealth and Happiness in the arms of her Parents.
For the particular event of this Interview, I must refer yon to her letter ; all that I can add is, that they seemed better pleased with each other than before, and, of course, I laid an Embargo on her, at least for a few months longer
In this Business I intend you to be persuaded, and to assure. the family, that nothing but a sincere Regard to the Happiness of Kitty, has been my motive, and that I look forward to an event which will I am pursuaded, meet the approbation of her friends, when they consider that it will, in all human probability, compleat the Happiness of one in whose prosperity we ar3 all interestedWith our best Compliments to your Wife and the good fam
am, Dear Doctor,
Your most ob'd't,
Having alluded to Mrs. Beekman, who retained all her faculties until her death, I add the following anecdote, which she related to me in 1845 :
My uncle, John Webb, a Captain of cavalry, was, like my father, a frequent visitor of the Beekman Manor House, during the campaign on the Hudson; and having slept, there, on one occasion, Mrs. Beekman says, “on leaving in the morning, he said to me, 'I leave my valise, which contains all the money I have and my uniform. I'll send for it ; but do not deliver it without a written order from me.' On the following morning, I heard John Smith, a neighbor, whom I always suspected, ask my husband for Major Jack's valise ; and he told me to get it from the Major's bedroom. I called out, enquiring of Smith, if he had a written order from Major Jack, for the valise ? He answered, No; but you cannot doubt that he sent me.' I told him he was a good-for-nothing fellow ; and bade him go about his business.
“It subseqently turned out, that Smith, at that moment, had charge of Major André, and wanted Major Jack's uniform, in order that he might pass our lines as an American officer. André was arrested on the following morning, and Smith fled to New York.”
The two old chairs I have, known as the Boekman Chairs, I purchased at the sale of Mrs. Beekman's furniture, 1847, because