Simeon De Witt, a nephew of Mary DeWitt Clinton, DeWitt Clinton’s mother, was born in Wawarsing, Ulster County [now Orange County], New York. His parents were Andries De Witt, a physician, and Jannetje Vernooy. Both parents had clear and unambiguous Dutch names. Simeon was born in a large family. He was one of 14 children. His family was reasonably well off and was able to send him to college. He enrolled in Queen’s College, Brunswick, New Jersey, and graduated from that institution in 1776. Eventually Queen’s College became the present day Rutgers University. At the time of Simeon’s graduation, he was the only graduate that year.
Simeon De Witt participated in the Revolutionary War, which started about the time of his graduation from college. Since he was rather young at that time, little is known about his participation in the Revolutionary War. Following graduation, he returned to his home in New York State, and began training to become a land surveyor. He trained under his uncle, James Clinton, and in 1778, Simeon was appointed assistant geographer to the army under Colonel Robert Erskine. Following the death of Erskine in 1880, Simeon was appointed Geographer and Surveyor of the Army. In that and in his previous capacity he helped develop a number of maps of New York State that are presently held in the New York Geographical Society’s collection.
Following the Revolutionary War, Simeon De Witt was appointed to the position of Surveyor General of New York State, a position he held for the remainder of his life. In that position, he became responsible for the detailed mapping of all of New York State. He also served on the three man commission that was responsible for the street layout of today's New York City. The commission decided on the present day rectangular layout of the New York City because it would allow for more effective utilization of the land, and also more efficient traffic movement. His position also caused him to become intricately involved in the feasibility and planning for the Erie Canal. In 1810, he was appointed to the Erie Canal Commission to study the feasibility and planning of the canal. Also a member of the Erie Canal Commission, and its chairman, was Simeon’s cousin, DeWitt Clinton.
Simeon De Witt married Elizabeth Lynott in 1789. The couple had two children. Unfortunately Elizabeth passed away only four years following their marriage, in 1793. A few years later, Simeon married Jane Varick Hardenberg, with whom he had a son, Richard Varick De Witt, who became a distinguished civil engineer. Jane V. H. De Witt also passed away at an early age in 1808. Several years later Simeon married for a third time, this time to Susan Linn. There is no information as to whether the couple had any children.
During the 1790’s, Simeon had purchased land at the south end of Lake Cayuga, and he is given credit for being one of the founders of Ithaca, New York. During his later years he built a home in Ithaca, and resided there until his death in 1834. He was buried on his estate, but his remains were later moved to Albany, where his remains are interred at Albany Rural Cemetery.
Simeon De Witt, http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/bios/d/sdewitt.html
Simeon De Witt, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_De_Witt
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