Isaac Denniston


Isaac Denniston was born about 1760. He was the son of innkeeper Hugh and Rachel Van Valkenburgh Denniston. He grew up in a large family in the Catskill area and came to Albany when his father took over a landmark tavern in the late 1770s. In 1785, he was named in the will filed by his father.

Following Hugh Denniston's death in December 1785, Isaac took over management of his father's Southside inn and/or tavern. This Albany landmark was valued under his name for several decades. In 1790, his household included nine family members (and other residents) and two slaves. Ten years later, four slaves and eleven family and boarders made up his first ward home.

In June 1787, he married Eleanor Visscher at the Albany Presbyterian Church. At least five children were subsequently christened in Albany churches.

Building on the successes of his father and the connection to his in-laws, the Visschers, Isaac Denniston became a pillar of the new city that emerged after the Revolution. He sat on the Boards of a number of Albany-based corporations and organizations. By 1803, he was identified as a "gentleman."

In 1809, he "owned" twenty-five feet of space on the Albany docks in partnership with David Waters.

He also was a noted horticulturalist perfected a plum during the early 1800s.

In 1817, he was appointed by the governor to be one of the managers of the lottery in New York State.

By 1818, he had built a substantial building known in city directories as "Mansion House" on Lydius Street.

Later on, he was referred to as "the venerable Isaac Denniston" and was the only living witness to a disturbance surrounding the ratification parade in Albany in 1788.

This Isaac Denniston died in 1853. His son and namesake became a prominent Albany attorney - hopefully not confused here with the profile of his long-lived father.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Isaac Denniston is CAP biography number 4108. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 8/15/07