For my last research post of this year, I though I would share this interesting bit of New York state history that I found in my online travels.
As I have hit a pretty sturdy brick wall researching Gertrude Cain’s Irish ancestry, I have moved on to trying to flesh out Gert’s non-Irish side. And over time I have found some pretty interesting history I have been able to share in this regard. So here is another interesting story, it’s about Jan Van Loon (pronounced ‘van loan’) and his house. I plan on telling you more about Jan himself next year, for now we will stick with his house.
Jan Van Loon arrived in New York in 1675. He was a blacksmith who spoke French, and was Catholic. In 1685 he purchased a very large tract of land consisting of thousands of acres, (this property now encompasses Athens and parts of Catskill and Coxsackie). In 1688, as the earliest European settler in the area, Jan decided to name the settlement he started Looneburgh. Or, later settlers named the property in his honor. The story is told both ways. The patent is still known by that name.
Apparently, when Jan built his house for his family in 1706, he built it to last.* According to wikipedia it is now known as one of the oldest extant buildings still standing in the state of New York. Although, if you do a search of a list of the oldest buildings in New York it is about 31 down from the top. But still, that is pretty darned old. The house is located in Athens, the exact address is 39 South Washington Street, on what is also New York State Rt. 385.
In 1932 an historic marker was placed outside the house, as you can see in the image above, which reads:
JAN VAN LOON HOUSE BUILT 1706 BY JAN VAN LOON CHIEF HOLDER LOONEBURGH PAT. 1688. ATHENS VILLAGE FIRST CALLED LOONEBURGHNew York State Education Department
Jan’s place on the family tree is Gert’s 5th great grandfather, on her mother’s side. Gert actually descends from Jan twice, as her great-great grand mother Lena/Helena Van Loon is the daughter of Van Loon cousins.
*Although, technically, only one wall of the original 1706 structure remains unchanged.