Having the last name Van Rensselaer and a family tree that traced its roots back to the first major landowner in the Hudson Valley was enough to ensure that Philip Van Rensselaer was a member of the upper class. However, class in 18th century America wasn't simple. Although his last name and pedigree ensured him a place in the upper level of 18th century Albany society, it did not mean that all upper class gentlemen were created equal. In fact, Philip Van Rensselaer would have been socially inferior to Albany gentlemen such as General Philip Schuyler and the Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer. Much of what Philip did with his life and for his family seems to indicate his desire to propel his family further up the social ladder. His words and deeds show that he considered himself a gentleman, equal to any located at the apex of 18th century Albany society.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

First Generation Cherry Hill Chronology: 1799

Maria Van Rensselaer, who served as executrix of her husband's estate after his death, was ordered in 1799 to pay $928.75 for a debt left by Philip to the First Dutch Reformed Church of Albany and pay an additional $21.68 for damages sustained by the ministers and elders of the church.  Sheriff John Given seized two male and female slaves, along with four horses and four cows, to satisfy the damages and costs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Historic Cherry Hill Collection

Sofa. Mahogany. New York, c. 1785

Upholstered frame with curved back and rolled arms, squared and tapered front legs, squared and splayed rear legs, joined by stretchers, rectangular in section. The lower back rail is branded PVR for Philip Van Rensselaer. Although the basic form is Chippendale in inspiration, the tapered front legs suggest that this piece was made in the last quarter century of the eighteenth century. This eighteenth century couch is unique in that it is one of the few existing fold-out couches for that time period. The above picture demonstrates how it can be opened.

PVR Chronology: March 3, 1798

Philip Van Rensselaer died at Cherry Hill on March 3, 1798.  He was a few months shy of his 51st birthday. At the time of his death his youngest child was just five years old.

Monday, October 24, 2011

PVR Chronology: February 14, 1798

Philip and Maria's second child, Elizabeth, died from consumption on February 14, 1798.  She had been sick for 16 months prior to her death.

Friday, October 21, 2011

PVR Chronology: 1798

The Cherry Hill farm encompassed about 900 acres of land by 1798.  At that time, it was a fully operating farm, complete with a store house, brew house, and a tan yard.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Historic Cherry Hill Collection

Cellaret or wine chest. Mahogany, second wood American white pine. New York, 1770-1790

This cellaret descended to Arriet Van Rensselaer, Philip's daughter, and to her daughter Harriet Maria Elmendorf. The interior is divided into twelve bottle compartments. The PVR brand for Philip is on the inside of the cover.

PVR Chronology: December 1797

In December 1797, a female slave named Dinah started her term of servitude at Cherry Hill. The duration of her servitude was to be ten years. Three years later Dinah would be sold to Philip and Maria's daughter Arriet Van Rensselaer for the sum of five shillings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Historic Cherry Hill Collection

Solomon Van Rensselaer c. 1794. 

PVR Chronology: January 17, 1797

Philip and Maria's fifth child, Arriet, married Solomon V. Van Rensselaer at Cherry Hill on January 17, 1797.  Solomon was the son of Philip Van Rensselaer's older brother making him first cousins with Arriet.  Arriet and Solomon had 12 children together.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Historic Cherry Hill Collection

Corner chair, commode.  Mahogany, secondary wood American white pine.  New York, c. 1770-1790.

PVR Chronology: October 1796

In October of 1796, Philip's daughter Arriet received a letter from family friend Ann Ludlow.  Ann wrote, among other things, that Philip was not well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PVR Chronology: 1794

Philip Van Rensselaer became the first town supervisor of Bethlehem in 1794.  On February 13th of that same year, his 13th and final child, a son named Sanders, was born at Cherry Hill.  The following month his eldest living child, Elizabeth, was married to Peter E. Elmendorf II at Cherry Hill on March 14th.  Elizabeth and Peter Elmendorf had two children:  Sarah (b.1793) and Maria (b.1796).

Historic Cherry Hill Collection

Linen press cupboard.  Mahogany, secondary wood tulipwood and American white pine.  New York, c. 1787-1795

Friday, October 7, 2011

PVR Chronology: Early 1790s

Philip and Maria's daughter Arriet was invited to the Albany Dancing Assembly for the season in the early 1790s.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

PVR Chronology: April 14, 1790

Philip and Maria's twelfth child, a son named Schuyler, was born at Cherry Hill on April 14, 1790.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Historic Cherry Hill Collection

Palampore. Cotton printed and dyed. India, eighteenth century.

PVR Chronology: July 15, 1789

Philip Van Rensselaer received an invoice, dated July 15, 1789, from Jorghem Staats for money owed for the use of Staats slave, a "negro man named George." Philip had contracted for the services of George on board his sloop (a river sailing vessel) for a four month period of time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

PVR Chronology: 1787

Philip Van Rensselaer contracted with Isaac Packard, a house wright, to build a new structure on the farm he leased from his wealthy and powerful relative, Stephen Van Rensselaer, III, the Patroon of the Rensselaerwyck Manor.  Philip's new country home, Cherry Hill, stands today.  The contract between Philip Van Rensselaer and Isaac Packard is part of the museum's manuscript collection. 

Philip and Maria's eleventh child, Maria Matilda, was born on May 11, 1787.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

PVR Chronology: April - July 1786

Philip and Maria's tenth child, a daughter named Maria Matilda, was born on April 20, 1786.  The baby lived for only 2 1/2 months.  She died on July 1, 1786.  Philip Van Rensselaer recorded the following:  "She was buried next to her Aunt Elizabeth Sanders in the ground of the new built place on Cherry Hill."  Elizabeth Sanders was the unmarried sister of Maria Sanders.