Spelled variously, the Visscher family was prominent in early Albany and is descended from New Netherland pioneers Harmen Bastiaense and Hester Dircks who raised a large family in Beverwyck and then Albany.
Five sons: Johannes, Bastiaen, Nanning, Frederic, and Dirck (each known by the patronymic "Harmense" until after 1700) became Albany residents. Their sister married Evert Wendell. Each of these prominent Albany households was accounted for on the census taken in 1697. At the same time, the offspring of that generation permanently established the family in Albany and its hinterland.
In 1742, four Visscher men were identified as freeholders and living in the third ward.
In 1756, a census taken by the British army identified seven "Fischer" households within the city. Now known within the city as "Visscher," that number respresented a high point for the family in Albany.
In 1790, three Visscher-named households were listed on the census for the city of Albany. Five were configured on that census in surrounding Watervliet. The promising public career of Matthew Visscher was cut short by his death in 1793 at the age of forty-two.
In 1813, four Visscher-named households remained in the city. Chief among these was the State Street home of Sebastian Visscher, an attorney and jurist and that of his mother, widow Lydia Fryer Visscher who lived at 100 North Pearl Street until her death in 1841.
A large number of descendants appearing in local phone books and using a variety of spellings, testify to the vitality of the Visscher family today. The name of the Mohawk river landing called "Vischer's Ferry," also recalls this important early Albany family.
Sources: CAP research
on the Visscher family is informed chiefly by family
and community-based resources. At this point,
the standard and enduring online
resource on the family was compiled (published
in 1883) by descendant Sebastian Visscher Talcott (1812-1888). Still worthwhile
is the genealogy compiled by Cuyler Reynolds
a century ago and now online
from the Schenectady Digital History archive.
Variants: Just too many to even list, flexibility is a key attribute in searching for family members within the historical record. But be sensitive to Fisher, Visger, and those called Harmanse and Bastiaense!
first posted: 7/20/04; revised 2/20/11