McKownville Improvement Association
- The Van Bael patent, the dispute, and allocation of properties 1789-1798

William McKown bought property in the area now Guilderland between 1797 and 1806 with numerous transactions totalling at least 725 acres, besides the additional 430 acres he was allocated by partition of the Gore in 1807. Most of this land was (or was claimed to be) within the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, property of the patroon of the Van Rensselaer family.  Nearly all of it also lies within the area (map shown below) eventually granted in 1789 to the claimants of the Van Bael Patent. The history of ownership of the land and the contentious proceedings caused by the rival claims, and their settlement shortly before McKown made his purchases, are of historical interest, and explain why McKown was able to obtain land mostly free of the obligation to pay rent to the Van Rensselaer Manor.

Jan Hendrickse Van Bael
(or Baal), a resident of Beverwyck from as early as 1658 (described as a burgher, and a free trader), purchased detail from Van Bael Patent
        copyland in a deed dated 18th July 1672° from the Mohawk natives then in possession of the Normanskill valley and other adjoining parts of the land on the western side of the Hudson River. It is recorded that he obtained on 21st August 1672 Letters Patent to this land from Francis  Lovelace, Governor-General of the Province of New York. The definition* lacks precise detail of the extents of the area granted, but at some time after the patent award it was said to comprise about 69000 acres (stated in McClure 1876), which would enclose essentially all the width and length of the Normanskill valley. On 21st December 1674 Van Bael sold all of this property (except 4 morgens - about 8.4 acres) to Jan Albertse Bratt and Hendrick Willemse; Jan Albertse Bratt's half share was confirmed in a deed dated 29 May 1683. On 26 June 1683 Bratt sold this to Jacob Casperse for "the half island of Jan Bruyn and fifteen beavers", and also that day Jacob Casperse resold this half share to Symon Volkertse (Veeder), for "a parcel of land at Shinnectady".
Hendrick Willemse's half share of the Patent was sold by the administrators of his estate 16 March 1685 to Jan Casperse (Halenbeck) for an unspecified amount, and he sold it 31 January 1686 to Jan Hendrickse Vrooman for £48, who then on 28 September 1686 sold it to Omie LaGrange, for 100 beaver skins.
Jan Hendrickse Van Bael died in Holland in March 1681; the remainder of the Patent (or an effective quitclaim to any of it) was sold 6 September 1716 by his surviving heirs (his four daughters) jointly to Omie LaGrange and Johannes Simonse Vedder (or Veeder) for £250.
A separate web page provides information on Omie LaGrange and Symon Volkertse Veeder, and their descendants, including links to extensive family trees and data for them.
°sources earlier reported sale to Van Bael in 1660 (McClure, 1876; repeated in Cuyler Reynolds 1911); Dennis Sullivan's discovery of a copy of the original deed of sale shows that this early date is wrong, and is significant because it shows Van Bael made his purchase under English rule, and while still serving his second term as magistrate in Albany, not under Dutch rule, and a mere tailor and trader recently arrived in Beverwyck. It is also notable how swiftly he obtained the Patent confirming his purchase.

* The definition of land included in the 1672 Van Bael Patent (from the 1716 copy accompanying the deed of sale of that year): "a Certaine parcell of Land near Schanectade Lying and being by the kill or Creek called by the Indian name Tawalsoutha, otherwise the normans Kill the said Land Streching from the Sandy hills north-west on, to an out hooke of Land, the which it also includes, Containing in breadth & length on both sides of the kill all the Land as it lyes in a Square together with the wood Land, valley or meadow ground, Kills and Creeks therein included[.] ye said Indian Proprietors names who made Sale of the said Land & Sett to their markes for the Conveyance thereof being Canachko, Schaennino, Cankonadadin & Sagodermeckta, who acknowledge to have Received Satisfaction for the Same" [see discussion below]

The Van Rensselaer land holdings were originally purchased 1630-31 by agents, from the Mahican natives, the area being then under Dutch rule, from a European viewpoint, the purchase extending 2 days travel (in the 1685 patent specified as 24 miles) into the woods east and west of the Hudson River with the north and south boundaries in most places those that define Albany and Rensselaer Counties today#. So Van Bael's purchase was entirely within the area of the existing Van Rensselaer claim; perhaps he was able to do this because he bought it from a different native tribe, the Mohawks, who had well before 1660 driven the Mahicans out of this area on the west side of the Hudson. There is also some evidence that the Dutch West India Company director-general Peter Stuyvesant had encouraged purchases of land from the natives in spite of the Van Rensselaer claim. It is less clear whether the English governors continued to encourage intrusion after the takeover of the area in 1664 from the Dutch, but the fact of Van Bael's purchase and the swift confirmation of the patent, and of the Coeymans patent the following year, might be taken as evidence that Governor Lovelace was doing just that. After 1664 all the existing landholdings were reviewed and mostly reconfirmed for those whose owners were resident, but it took until 4th November 1685 for the Van Rensselaer claim to be issued an (English) Patent, in which the "Manor of Rensselaerwyck" was also established. The Charter of the City of Albany of 22 July 1686 (the Dongan Charter) also impacted the Van Rensselaer holdings as the Charter defined the Liberty of Albany as a strip, approximately one mile wide, extending northwest for 16 miles right across the area of the Manor and even a few miles beyond its northern boundary (shown on the map below); this exclusion of Albany from the Van Rensselaer patent was already specifically stated in that patent#, and Dongan reported to the Privy Council£ that he had got the Van Rensselaer's agreement to this release.
# The definition (for the land west of the Hudson) in the 1685 Van Rensselaer Patent: "all That and those tract and Tracts of Land called Ransselaerswijcke lyeing and being on and upon the banks of Hudsons River in the County of Albany in the Province of New Yorke aforesaid heretofore Called or knowne by the name of the Collony of Rensselaerswijcke beginning at the south End or part of Berrents Island On Hudsons River and Extending Northwards upp along both sides of the said Hudsons River unto a place heretofore called The Kahoos Or the Great Falls of the said River and Extending itself East and west all along from Each side of the said River backward into the woods twenty four English miles..........Except and always reserved out of this present grant and Confirmacion all that the Fort Albany and the towne of Albany from the southermost End of the pasture lyeing Over against the north End at Martin Garretsons Island to the post on the North side of the said Towne where it was formerly marked by Govemour Styvysant and soe backward into the woods Northwest sixteene English miles"

£ "By the means of Mr. James Graham, Judge Palmer & Mr. [Stephanus van] Cortlandt that have great influence on that people, I got the Ranslaers to release their pretence to the Town and sixteen miles into the Country for Commons to the King, with liberty to cut firewood within the Colony for one & twenty years. After I had obtained this release of the Ranslaers I passed the Patent for Albany..."

The dispute and arbitration
map showing the Van
        Bael Patent and larger area of grant 1789
The Van Rensselaers were politic enough not to challenge the Liberty, but they did object to the Van Bael Patent, regarding it as wholly invalid based on their prior purchase completed (at least for the area west of the Hudson River) in 1631. A legal dispute spanning several generations perhaps started sometime around 1700, and lasted until 1776 for the legal procedures, and to 1789 for actual resolution in dividing the properties. An arbitration achieved in 1775-6 involving supposedly disinterested referees was the procedure that nominally ended the dispute. The terms required legislative approval of the referees decision (by the Legislature of the Colony of New York) and signature of the approved bill by the King, which given the events of 1776 and later was never to happen! Despite the revolutionary interruption, the arbitration seems to have formed the basis for eventual settlement. It must have been a severe disappointment to the LeGranges and Veeders to be awarded a mere 1000 acres in a middle section of the Normanskill valley (shown on the map adjoining; click on the map for an enlarged image). It caused the effective dispossession of most of them, and more than 60 families, of properties they had been farming, some for as long as ninety years. It has to be wondered as to how independent the referees actually were from influence by the wealth and social connections of the Van Rensselaers and their lawyers; McClure, a Presbyterian clergyman, reported in 1876 that the LaGrange family descendants claimed that there was simple outright bribery.

The Van Rensselaers also challenged the Coeymans Patent, which overlapped a southern part of their claim on the west side of the Hudson, but in a striking contrast to the Van Bael case, the Van Rensselaer patroon (another Killian) chose in 1706 to deed the disputed area to Barent Coeymans and his son (but still subject to a token rent), and the Coeymans Patent was on renewed petition affirmed by the colonial Governor in 1714. It is significant that Barent Coeymans obtained his original patent in April 1673, only 8 months after van Bael; also that the Coeymans Patent has in its introductory language this declaration: "Whereas Barent Piertersen by the Consent and Approbation of the Commissaryes at Albany hath made Purchase of the Princepall Sachems at the Kattskill and Proprietors of...." This, and the quick approval of both patents makes clear that the colonial governor at this time, while the Dutch and the English were at war, was approving and encouraging encroachments on the van Rensselaer claim.

The enlarged grant to Van Bael Patent claimants
After the American revolution, there must have been some strong motive for the Van Rensselaers to offer a better deal than that of the referees decision, because they did decide to convey a significantly larger area to the Veeder and LaGrange persons who were parties to the agreement.  These people appear (from deeds listed below) to have been granted by Stephen Van Rensselaer III and conveyed for nominal prices at least 4,100 acres within a 5¼ mile square area surrounding the 1000 acre square of the arbitrated Patent (shown on the map above), and also some additional hundreds of acres elsewhere in the Manor of Rensselaerwyck. The primary conveyance "for the final and amicable settlement of the controversy" was written in 1789, although it was not submitted for recording in the County Clerk's Office until 1800, where it is found sandwiched among a number of deeds all involving William McKown, conveying property within both the Van Bael Patent and in the larger Van Bael grant area! The land McKown purchased 1797-1806 that lies within the arbitrated 1000 acre Van Bael Patent was by definition free of any rent obligation to the Manor. Much but not all of the land granted by Stephen Van Rensselaer in the surrounding 5¼ mile square area was apparently conveyed free of rental conditions, unlike most of the transactions of the Manor; the land purchased by McKown from various of the grantees in this area appears from the deeds to have been free of Manor rents.

The published documents on the Van Bael Patent arbitration
An Act to confirm a Submission to Referees of a Controversy concerning the Bounds of the Patent of Jan Hendrickse Van Baal
pp. 753-766 in Laws of the Colony of New York; Chapter 1703, passed April 1, 1775¤.
claimants under the Van Bael Patent: Simon Johannes Veeder, John M. Veeder, Volkert Veeder, Abraham Veeder, Arie LaGrange, Christian LaGrange, Omie LaGrange, Isaac LaGrange, Coenradt LaGrange, Omie LaGrange the Younger, John LaGrange the Younger, Myndert LaGrange, Barnardus LaGrange, John LaGrange.

The Referees report and decision dated 24th May 1775 - Deed book 10, pages 168-173

¤ This document also contains the definition of land included in the original 1672 Van Bael Patent: "a Certain Parcel of Land near Schenectady lying and being by the Kill or Creek called by the Indian name Tawalsontha otherwise the Normans Kill, the said lands stretching from the Sandy Hills North West on to an Out Hook of Land the which it also includes Containing in Breadth and Length on both sides of the Kill all the Land as it lies in a Square together with the Wood Land Valley or Meadow Ground Kills and Creeks therein included."
This definition is subtly different and truncated from that in the original deed found by Dennis Sullivan, which reads:
"a certain parcel of low land, situated on both sides of the Normans Kill, with the woods, woodland, timber, mountains, mines, hills, kills, lakes, marches, and everything appertaining thereto, as the same lies in its square, beginning at the Sant Berg, where the burghers of Schagnegtadie, alias, Albanie, daily haul their sand from, one hundred and thirty paces northeast of a round swamp, to the west of the city; thence running north-westerly to and including the Otgagtenorde, alias the Uithoek (Out-hook or Look- out); thence south-westerly the same distance; thence south- easterly equally far, and thence to the aforesaid Santberg, or place of beginning"

The ambiguities in either of these definitions are more than just the obvious;
1) "Schenectady" to the natives originally meant the area near the mouth of the Normanskill§, not the other end of the 18 mile portage route from the Hudson to the Mohawk, to which the Europeans transferred this name! The deed makes this clear, but it has been concealed in the Patent.
2) to the Dutch, a hook (hoek) commonly meant a place along a river (or coastline) where there was a promontory, and in rivers this can be where a tributary stream enters and a peninsula or small islands form by deposited sediments from the tributary - the Patent definition could perhaps be interpreted to be speaking of the hook at the mouth of the Normanskill where it enters the Hudson; however the deed, and particularly the map, shows that this has to be a hill in the Albany Pine Bush some 6 to 8 miles northwest of Albany. There are several possibilities for this feature, including Prospect Hill, or one of the high dune crests along Curry Road near the old Mohawk Path (Kings Road). It seems clear that the arbitrators either ignored this item, or perhaps attached it to a not very prominent hill just east of the south end of present-day Veeder Road.
3) to stretch from the sandy place ("hills") near Albany northwest 6 to 8 miles and include the Normanskill valley on both sides of the stream is obviously much more than the 1000 acre square the referees declared as the patent, and the meaning of "square" in the patent, absent the map and the equal sides given in the deed definition, might be
what we would now call a rectangle, based on its use in contemporary local documents that also specify the dimensions [see these three dated 1662, 1665, and 1673]. Thus the statement in James McClure's document (repeated by Cuyler Reynolds) that the patent covered 69,000 acres is consistent with it originally including essentially all the land of the Normanskill valley, an area which can be drawn as a rectangle about 15 miles long and 5 miles wide. The deed, while requiring an actually square boundary, still defines a similarly very substantial area, at least 36,000 acres for an Uithoek at Prospect Hill, and near 60,000 acres for the highest and most prominent hill near Curry Road.
One can readily understand that the Van Rensselaers would object to such a substantial slice out of their Manor, especially one coming so close to Albany, but it is more difficult to understand why this clash was not detected and resolved in the process of renewal of the Patents by the English in the 1670-86 interval. The natives were apparently not unhappy to sell the same or overlapping tracts of land more than once, and in the case of the Mohawks to Van Bael, they were selling the land taken from their enemies, the Mahikans; Bradley (2006) also states that the Mohawks did not sell any of their own land until after 1700. A clue to what was happening in the 1672-3 interval can be found in the Coeymans Patent which begins with this preamble: "...Whereas Barent Piertersen by the Consent and Approbation of the Commissaryes at Albany hath made Purchase of the Princepall Sachems at the Kattskill and Proprietors of....", and seeing that this patent was approved enthusiastically by the English Governor-General Francis Lovelace, it is clear that these large encroachments on the van Rensselaer claim were at the time being officially promoted and supported! Perhaps this should not be a surprise since the Dutch and the English were then at war, until early 1674, and title to property in New York held by owners absent in Holland was not being reaffirmed, and some was confiscated.

§Schoolcraft, Henry R, 1845; Oneóta (pp. 36-37), New York, Wiley & Putnam []
"ALBANY.—The name by which this place was known to the Iroquois, at an early day, was Schenectady.....The meaning of this name,..... is Beyond the Pines, having been applied exclusively in ancient times, to the southern end of the ancient portage path, from the Mohawk to the Hudson."

Bradley, James W., 2006; Before Albany – an archaeology of Native-Dutch relations in the Capital Region 1600-1664. New York State Museum Bulletin 509, 230pp.

In April 2023, available for download at the NYS Museum website

Deeds relating to property in the Van Bael Patent and grant
a links to deed book and page numbers are to text transcripts or abstracts;
scanned images of the microfilm documents are linked to the
          logo ; image quality is variable.
Note that deeds before 1874 were transcribed sometime in the earlier part of the 20th century to typescript and the original handwritten versions are apparently not available. Transcription errors from this process are clearly present in a number of these pre-1874 documents

The deed settling the extent of the Van Bael patent, and the larger area granted by Stephen Van Rensselaer III to the proprietors

Deed book, pagesª property Grantors grantee date date recorded
17; 376-81  pdf logo Van Baals patent Stephen Van Rensselaer J Glen; Veeders; LaGranges§ 1789-02-08 1800-03-13
§ The grantees were: John & Catherine Glen, Luykas Veeder, Volkert S. Veeder, Volkert Veeder, Abraham Veeder, John M. Veeder, Jacob Veeder, John LaGrange, Christian LaGrange, John LaGrange the Younger, Omie LaGrange the Younger, Jacobus LaGrange, Omie LaGrange (son of Isaac LaGrange), Isaac LaGrange, Coenradt LaGrange, and Arie LaGrange 
This deed specifies the area and the division of the Van Bael patent into 96 equal parts among these individual grantees and three others not party to the agreement thus:
Veeders - 48 parts; LaGranges - 48 parts
Veeder group 1 - Catherine Glen (formerly Veeder), Luykas W. Veeder, and Volkert S. Veeder: 8 parts each [24 parts]. Includes by inheritance share of Simon Johannes Veeder.
Veeder group 2 - John M. Veeder, Volkert Veeder, Abraham Veeder, Jacob Veeder, Simon M. Veeder, and Myndert Veeder: 4 parts each [24 parts]
LaGrange group 1 - Johannes [John] LaGrange and Christian LaGrange: 8 parts each [16 parts]
LaGrange group 2 - Barnardus LaGrange, Omie LaGrange the Younger, John LaGrange the Younger, Arie LaGrange, and Jacobus LaGrange: 3 and 1/5 parts each [16 parts]
LaGrange group 3 - Omie LaGrange son of Isaac LaGrange, Isaac LaGrange, and Coenradt LaGrange: 5 and 1/3 parts each [16 parts]

The deed also specifies the larger area and its division outside and surrounding the Van Bael patent, granted by Stephen Van Rensselaer "for the final and amicable settlement of the controversy". This division was into  81 and 3/5 parts to the Van Bael proprietors, and the remaining 14 and 2/5 parts retained by Van Rensselaer. This retained amount is not explained, but would amount to the shares of the three individuals not party to the agreement, and one more of the LaGrange group 2 members, ?Jacob(us).

To illustrate the relationships between these various family groups, we have compiled two family trees showing three generations descending from the two original resident owners of the lands of the Van Bael patent:
[large page size pdf charts - view in a separate pdf viewer; zoom in to read information] Omie LaGrange descendants, and Symon Volkertse Veeder descendants.
Also there are simplified charts (letter-sized pages) showing the participants at each stage of the arbitration, settlement, and partition 1774-1796, for the Lagranges; and for the Veeders.

Forced (Sheriff's) sale of property of Abraham and Simon M Veeder to William Cooper, then sold to Robert McClellan
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
14; 75-7  pdf logo Veeders Mills; 11ac; 250ac; share of 5 mile square William Cooper
Robert McClellan
1795-11-07 1795-11-18

agreements between and deeds from the Van Bael proprietors as to the partition of lands in the patent and grant
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
17; 450-3  pdf logo 4 parcels totalling 2,050 ac
John Glen, Veeders*
La Granges*
 17; 453-7 pdf logo 10 parcels totalling  2,080¼  ac
La Granges¤ John Glen, Veeders¤ 1796-01-16 1801-02-10
* The grantors were: John & Catherine Glen, Lucas W Veeder, Volkert S. Veeder, Volkert Veeder, Jacob Veeder, Peter Veeder, Robert McClellan, Myndert J Veeder;
 the grantees were:
Omie LaGrange, Isaac LaGrange, Coenradt LaGrange, Barnardus LaGrange, Omie LaGrange junior, Arie LaGrange, John LaGrange, Jacob LaGrange, John C LaGrange, Christian LaGrange, and James M LaGrange.  The 4 parcels were of 206, 450, 662, 732 acres
¤ The grantors were: Omie LaGrange, Isaac LaGrange, Coenradt LaGrange, Barnardus LaGrange, Omie LaGrange junior, Arie LaGrange, John LaGrange, Jacob LaGrange, John C LaGrange, Christian LaGrange, and James M LaGrange;
the grantees were: John & Catherine Glen, Lucas W Veeder, Volkert S. Veeder, Volkert Veeder, Jacob Veeder, Peter Veeder, Myndert J Veeder, Robert McClellan.
The 10 parcels were of 18, 99, 95, 51, 180, 28, 86, 37, 662¼, 824 acres

deeds distributing land or shares within the Van Bael patent and grant
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
13; 252-3  pdf logo 214.5 ac on Normanskill
Stephen Van Rensselaer
Omie LaGrange
23; 91-5  pdf logo 1157 ac next to Van Baals P Stephen Van Rensselaer Volkert M Veeder
1789-02-06 1814-02-25
13; 448-9  pdf logo 600 ac next to Van Baals P
Stephen Van Rensselaer John C & Christian LaGrange
16; 80-2  pdf logo all of share in Van Baals Pat Volkert S & Hannah Veeder William McKown & John Humphrey 1797-04-26 1797-04-29
17; 383-4  pdf logo all of share in Van Baals Pat John & Judith LaGrange William McKown 1798-12-05 1800-03-24
24; 222-6 pdf logo  2/96 share in Van Baals Pat
Stephen Van Rensselaer Abraham Veeder
26; 467-71  pdf logo 2/96 share in Van Baals Pat Stephen Van Rensselaer Jacob Veeder & Matthew Bullock

other deeds distributing land or shares to the same grantees outside the Van Bael patent and grant
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
16; 182-4  pdf logo 300ac, 3 lots Hellebergh
Stephen Van Rensselaer Volkert S Veeder
16; 46-8  pdf logo Berne 2-lots 160ac Peter Veeder et al William McKown 1795-12-11 1797-03-02
16; 178-81  pdf logo Hberg 3 lots; 120, 60, 120ac Volkert S & Hannah Veeder William McKown & John Humphrey 1797-08-23 1797-08-31

property containing the house of Myndert Veeder, used to define the position of the small 1776/1789 Van Bael patent (1000 acres)
Deed book, pages property Grantors grantee date date recorded
205; 267-9  pdf logo 38.83ac N side Normans Kill
*John W & Catherine Veeder
Josiah Van Patten
*grandson of Abraham Veeder, a grantee of the 1789 deed, above; in which the house is described "...the dwelling house at the Normans Kill aforesaid formerly possessed by Myndert Veeder, but then or late in the possession of Volkert Veeder, Seymon Veeder and Abraham Veeder or some or one of them..."

McKownville land forming the Gore; the Betty line and the Corporation line
William McKown property dealings 1795-1835  

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