Wouter Knickerbacker


Wouter Knickerbacker was born in October 1712. He was the son of Johannes and Anna Quackenbush Knickerbacker. He probably grew up on his father's farms in Rensselaerswyck and Schaghticoke from where his father had occasional business with the city of Albany.

In January 1735, he married Albany native Elizabeth Fonda at the Dutch church in Albany. By 1749, eight children had been christened in the Albany church where both parents were members and frequent baptism sponsors.

By mid-century, the Knickerbackers were becoming well-established in the Albany hinterland - particularly at Schaghticoke. Perhaps Wouter began his adult life as a countryside tenant of the city of Albany.

In July 1759, his account was paid from the city treasury. He does not seem to have held community-based offices nor to have served in the Albany militia at that time.

In 1756, his house was described on a census of Albany houses made by the British army. At that time, he was identified as "Mr. Knickerbacker." He was the only one of more than 300 householders to be called a "farmer". During the 1760s and 70s, his second and third ward holdings were valued on Albany assessment rolls.

He was among a number of Albany people who held lots along the south side of Foxes Creek on lease from the city government.

Wouter buried his wife in the church cemetery in December 1760. At that time, he was in his late fourties and probably too old to re-marry. He did maintain his Albany properties until the late 1780s when his holdings no longer appeared on city assessment rolls. By that time, the Knickerbackers were no longer visible Albany residents. Perhaps he was absorbed in one of the households of his adult children.

In October 1774, he was named co-executor of the estate of Albany resident Douwe Winne. A decade later, he was named co-executor of the estate of Johannes Groesbeck of Rensselaerswyck. In 1788, his name appeared among the debts owed the estate of Dr. Henry Van Dyck.

In his sixties at the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, he was too old for active service but did contribute to the American cause on at least two occasions. A few years later, he joined his neighbors in petitioning the governor on behalf of incarcerated individuals.

Not appearing on the census of heads of households in New York State in 1790, Wouter Knickerbacker is said to have died in Saratoga on August 8, 1797 a few months shy of his eighty-fifth birthday.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Wouter Knickerbacker is CAP biography number 1530. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Research on this historically reticent individual is not complicated by the fact that he "seems" to have been the sole "Wouter Knickerbacker" operating in the region during the eighteenth century.

first posted: 7/20/09