Young Abraham was sent to New York City to learn business in the house of his brother-in-law, Philip Livingston. Following the death of his father in 1751, the seventeen-year-old was sent to Europe to learn about international business and to absorb continental culture. By 1752, he had returned home to stay - residing in the family home at Market and Columbia Streets with his widowed mother.
Capitalized by family assets, he prospered in trade - securing wood from upriver forests and cutting it into boards for export while importing a range of items to be sold from his riverside store. By the mid-1760s, he was one of the city's wealthiest businessmen with his Albany holdings including additional lots and buildings, storehouses, stables, a lumber yard, and the new dock on the north side of the city.
In 1759, Abraham Ten Broeck was elected to the Albany city council from the third ward. He served as assistant and alderman for many years even though he was elected to represent Rensselaerswyck in the provincial Assembly in 1760. He was re-elected and served until the Assembly was dissolved in 1775. During that time, he gained a reputation as a supporter of American rights over British prerogatives!
In 1763, he married Elizabeth Van Rensselaer - the only daughter of the patroon. Their family of five children (born between 1765 and 1779) was smaller than most - perhaps due to the ages of the parents. All were baptized in the Albany Dutch church where Abraham and Elizabeth were prominent members.
Following the untimely death of his young brother-in-law in 1769, Abraham Ten Broeck was named co-administrator of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck. He performed that service until his nephew, the young patroon, came of age in 1784. Manor records show Ten Broeck was ambitious in signing up new tenants - overflow people from established early Albany familiies and a large number of recent emigres as well. Many of these new leaseholders settled in the riverside area between the northern city line and the Manor House that came to be called "Watervliet."
Businessman and landlord, Abraham Ten Broeck was actively involved with the provincial militia - holding commissions since the 1750s. In 1775, he was colonel of the Albany County Militia. He ultimately held the rank of Brigadier General of the militia.
For thirty years, Abraham Ten Broeck was a prominent resident of Albany's third ward. In 1788, his townhouse was assessed on a par with Schuyler and Yates Mansions - the three highest in the city. In 1790, that home was attended by twelve servants. Following the destruction of his Market Street home in the fire of 1797, he began building a grand mansion on Arbor Hill - which then was technically out of the city and a part of Watervliet. His family moved there in 1798. In 1800, his household was configured on the Watervliet census and still included ten slaves. For all of that time, he also owned substantial properties both in and out of the city.
He filed a will in March 1809. It left his substantial estate to his wife and then to their children and grandchildren.
The life of Abraham Ten Broeck is CAP biography number 6. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. This important figure deserves a substantial biographical consideration. Until then, see this profile taken from Howell and Tenney. Also of interest is a sketch essay from The Other Revolutionaries.
Siblings: Abraham Ten Broeck's mother gave birth to twelve children between 1715 and 1738. The marriages of Abraham and six of his siblings further connected the fourth generation of this one-time New Netherland family in regional circles.
first posted 9/5/01; last revised 5/8/13