Abraham Ten Broeck is probably the most prominent member of the Ten Broeck family dating back to the early years of New Netherland. His father, Dirck Ten Broeck, was mayor of Albany from 1746 to1748, and previous to that had been active in civic government. His father was also a successful Albany businessman and had accumulated considerable family assets.
Abraham had decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a businessman working in his father’s business ventures. However, in 1751, Abraham’s father passed away and the family decided to send Abraham to Europe to broaden his education, to learn about international business, and to absorb continental culture. So when Abraham was only 17 years old, in 1751, he went to Europe for a year. Upon his return, in 1752, he took over his father’s business interests, and continued to live with his mother in the family mansion. By the mid-1760’s, Abraham had been able to further develop the various businesses he had inherited, and he had become one of Albany’s wealthiest businessmen.
In 1763, Abraham married Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, the only daughter of the then Rensselaerswyck patroon, General Stephen Van Rensselaer. The couple had five children, all born between 1765 and 1779. The Ten Broeck’s, based on the combined wealth of each partner, became one of the wealthiest families, not only in Albany, but also in all of New Netherland.
In 1979, Abraham’s brother in law, Stephen Van Rensselaer, passed away, and left no heir old enough to manage the huge Van Rensselaerswyck estate. Abraham was named co-administrator of the estate for a period of five years, until his young nephew, the future patroon, came of age in 1784. Abraham proved out to be an able administrator of the Rensselaerswyck estate, signing up many new tenants, both local ones but also new immigrants from abroad.
Abraham also followed in his father’s footsteps in the political and governance area. In 1759, he was elected to the Albany city council. The following year, in 1760, he was elected to represent Rensselaerswyck in the provincial assembly, a colonial assembly. He served in the provincial assembly until 1775, when it was dissolved at the beginning of the American Independence movement. During his tenure, he was a proponent of American rights over English prerogatives. Ten Broek also followed in his father’s footsteps in terms of the governance of his home town. He was appointed mayor of Albany in 1779, upon the death of the then mayor, John Barclay, and served as mayor until 1783. In 1796 he was again appointed mayor upon the death of Abraham Yates, Jr., and served until 1798.
Abraham Ten Broeck was also actively involved in the local militia. Since the 1750’s, he held commissions in the provincial militia, during the colonial period. In 1775, he was Colonel of the Albany County Militia, and rose through the ranks, until he reached the rank of Brigadier General of the Militia.
Abraham Ten Broeck and his wife Elizabeth Van Rensselaer built a beautiful home, their mansion. The Ten Broeck’s named their mansion, built in 1798, “Prospect”. The mansion was located on the Hudson River and had a sweeping view of the river. In 1848, the mansion was purchased by Theodore Olcott, who renamed it, “Arbor Hill”. Exactly 100 years later, in 1948, the mansion was presented by the heirs of Robert Olcott to the Albany County Historical Association, and was renamed the “Ten Broeck Mansion”.
Abraham Ten Broeck passed away on January 19, 1810 in his 75th year. His wife Elizabeth followed him in death in 1813. The city of Albany had lost a couple of prominent citizens who contributed much to the community.
Abraham Ten Broeck, famousamericans.net/abrahamtenbroeck
Abraham Ten Broeck, www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/bios/t/abtbroeck6.html
Ten Broeck Mansion-Albany Historical Association, www.albany.org
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