Abraham Van Vechten
Stefan Bielinski

Abraham Van Vechten was born in December 1762. He was the youngest son of Teunis and Judike Ten Broeck Van Vechten of Catskill. His older brother, Teunis T. Van Vechten, also became a resident of Albany.

Abraham Van Vechten received a basic education in Esopus. He was a schoolmate and lifelong friend of Stephen Van Rensselaer, III. He then attended Columbia College. Afterwards, he clerked at the Albany law office of John Lansing, Jr. He then moved to the Mohawk Valley and began to practice law. He quickly gained repute in the handling of real estate matters. In 1790, his household was configured on the census for the town of Caughnawaga.

In May 1784, he married Watervliet resident Catharina Schuyler at the Albany Dutch church. The marriage may have produced as many as fifteen children! Both parents were members and pewholders at the Albany Dutch church.

In 1788, he began a long association with the Albany government when he was retained by the city to take action against squatters on the city's Fort Hunter lands.

Settling in Albany during the 1790s, over the next three decades he developed an extensive legal practice. He trained many attorneys including his nephew and protege, Teunis Van Vechten. His house on Market Street was a center of legal business in Albany for many years. One of his students recalled his training under Van Vechten and lifelong association with his mentor.

Bust of Abraham Van VechtenAt the same time, he held a number of public offices including that of city recorder (1797-1808), State senator, member of the New York State Assembly, and Attorney General - first in 1810. In 1792, he was elected one of the first directors of the Bank of Albany. He belonged to and served as an officer of a number of community organizations.

Contemporary observer Gorham Worth also profiled and praised the jurist.

Catharina Schuyler Van Vechten died in 1820. Abraham Van Vechten died in January 1837 at the age of seventy-four. His obituary appeared in papers far beyond Albany. This one from Newark, New Jersey "Suddenly at his residence in Albany, Abraham Van Vechten, in the 75th year of his age. Pure, enlightened, and patriotic, he lived respected, and his memory is blessed. He was one of the fathers of the N. Y. Bar." His will (written four years earlier) passed probate at the end of January.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Abraham Van Vechten is CAP biography number 2378. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Chief among the online genealogical resources is HMGFM.Several online biographies sketch out his life.

Copy of a likeness of a bust of Van Vechten from volume 10 of Munsell's Annals of Albany. At one time, it was displayed in the New York State Capitol in Albany.

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first posted: 3/10/04; updated and image added 12/23/09