Abraham grew up learning to sail from the Douws who were well-represented among Hudson River skippers. His long career spanned much of the eighteenth century during which he was among the most active of the Albany-based Hudson River sloop captains.
The couple set up their household in the third ward - near the waterfront and the homes of Albany's other river people. Douw established his Albany credentials by serving as firemaster in 1738 and qualifying to vote in 1742. In 1748, he was elected third ward alderman. He was re-elected eleven times - serving until 1760. By the 1750s, he was a Market Street mainstay - skipper, trader, and Dutch church member.
His prominence was based on the association with Pieter Winne in the river trade where he took over for the assemblyman and later inherited Winne's sloop and rigging - as well as his home and stables. Captain Douw carried cargoes and dispatches during the last two colonial wars and throughout the period for Sir William Johnson and others. Through Johnson, he was appointed to the county court.
In 1741, Douw and Winne were partners in the Sacandaga Patent.
In 1761, Abraham married widow Catharina Lansing. Over the next decades, he became more of a businessman and real estate trader. During that time, he acquired additional Albany acreage as well as shares in tracts in the upper Mohawk and Hudson Valleys. His son, Peter Winne Douw, ran the sloop and later followed Abraham to the city council. Too old for service during the War for Independence, the septuagenarian was a respected Albany patriot, "gentleman," landlord, dock owner, and later superintendent of docks.
Abraham Douw filed his will in May 1787. It named his second wife Catherine, sons Volkert and Peter, and daughters Elsie Fonda and Margaret Ten Eyck as his heirs. He died in December 1787 in his seventy-eighth year.
first posted: 01/22/02; revised 1/05