Pieter Ryckman probably was born during the 1730s. He possibly was the son of Wilhelmus and Anna Wyngaert Ryckman of Schenectady. However, he seems to have spent his early adulthood in Albany and on the frontier where he was known as a merchant and trader.
In November 1758, he married Albany native Lydia Vandenbergh at the Albany Dutch church. At that time, he was identified as an Albany merchant. By 1769, six children had been christened at the Albany church where both parents were long-time members and pewholders.
In 1764, he joined with other Albany merchants in a petition to the British regarding the fur trade. Throughout the 1760s, he was known as a "Canada trader" who frequently traded to Niagara. At the same time, his Albany family continued to grow in their first ward home.
In 1763, he was appointed firemaster for the first ward. In 1765, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council. In 1768, he was elected assistant alderman.
With the onset of hostilities, he was elected to the Albany Committee of Correspondence and served until it was superceded by the resurrected municipal government in 1778. Maintaining his contacts with Native peoples in the west, he served Governor Clinton as a messenger and interpreter.
With the end of the war, Ryckman continued in government service but also acquired extensive acreage in the western regions of New York State. With his son and protege, he seems to have spent considerable time in the Finger Lakes region where the Cayugas thought of him as an adoptive son.
He also retained his Albany home - although it was chiefly inhabited by his wife and sisters. In time, they were joined by Wilhelmus while their father stayed in the West.
Pieter Ryckman died in January 1811 and was buried in the Dutch church cemetery plot. He had lived more than seventy-nine years. His will passed probate in November 1813. His widow maintained an Albany home and lived on into the 1830s.
first posted: 8/25/05