Gerow Family Papers (1746-1951)

Finding Aid Completed by Eric Roth, April 6, 2000
Last revised February 14, 2006
Volume: 1.5 cu. ft.
Acquisition: The papers were donated to the Huguenot Historical Society on July 8, 1972 by Mrs. Edgar R. Jones and Mrs. Francis Maymaley, and in 1983 by Lois Gerow Frankel.
Access: Unrestricted.
Copyright: Request for permission to publish materials from these records should be discussed with the Archivist and Director of the Huguenot Historical Society.

Funding support provided by the Gerow Family Association. Special thanks to Mrs. Mary Gelhaus for her help in processing the collection.

Biographical Note

The papers chiefly document the lives of five generations of the paternal line of the Gerow family, farmers at Plattekill, Ulster County, NY. Individuals primarily represented in the papers include Daniel Gerow A-1[1] (1697-ca. 1757), Daniel Gerow B-1 (1725-1791), William Gerow C-1 (1749-1832), Daniel Gerow D-4 (1783-1867), and Aaron Raymond Gerow E-18 (1827-1907) and their respective wives and families. Other individuals occasionally represented in the papers include Isaac Gerow, John Gerow C-2, James Gerow C-4, Deborah Gerow Denton C-9, Elias Gerow C-10, Mary GerowShuart C-11, Sarah Gerow Russell C-12, Elizabeth Gerow Thorne D-6, Esther Chadeayne Gerow Birdsall D-7, John Light Gerow E-12, Samuel Chadeayne Gerow E-17, Mary Augustus Gerow F-31, Lemuel Light, Jesse Hulsa Shuart, Lydia Gerow, and Ruth Palmer.

Daniel Gerow (A-1) was born to French Huguenot emigrant Daniel Giraud (Gerow) and his wife Jeanne in 1697 at New Rochelle, Westchester County, NY. In 1724 Daniel Gerow married Catherine Sicord (1704-1771), daughter of Daniel Sicord and Catherine Woertman, by whom he had six children: Daniel, Jeanne, Marie, Andre, Benjamin, and Isaac.  At New Rochelle, Daniel held the town offices of Surveyor of Highways (1722, 1734) and Fence Viewer (1730-1731). At some time probably in the 1740’s he became a tenant farmer at nearby Cortland Manor, where he later purchased a farm from William Skinner in 1755, only to turn around and sell it to Gilbert Drake one year later in 1756. Daniel died sometime between July 1756 and Aug. 10, 1757.

Daniel's first born son, Daniel B-1 was born at New Rochelle on March 26, 1725 and baptized at Trinity Church in New Rochelle on two days later on the 28th. In ca. 1748 Daniel married Elizabeth Coutant (ca. 1729-1816), daughter of Jean Coutant and Elizabeth Angevin, by whom he had 12 children: William, John, Elizabeth, James, Catherine, Daniel, Esther, Jane, Deborah, Elias, Mary, and Sarah. Like his father, Daniel also became a tenant farmer at Cortlandt Manor, where he apparently lived until ca.1781. 

In 1774, Daniel purchased land in the town of Plattekill, Ulster County, NY (often referred to as New Marlborough in the records) from John Leake of New York City. He moved there with his family sometime between 1781 and 1784, although his two eldest sons William and John had already been there since 1774. Daniel was also actively involved in military affairs, serving in “Jacob Teller’s 3rd Company in the Upper Battalion” in 1760. During the Revolutionary War, serving as private and sergeant in the 3rd Regiment of the Westchester County under Col.Samuel Drake, Capt. Samuel Delivan and Capt. Abraham Buckhaut. Daniel died in 1791. in 1791.

Daniel's eldest son William C-1 was born at Cortland Manor on Jan. 17, 1749. On Feb. 10, 1774, he married Esther Chadeayne (1750-1829), daughter of Daniel Chadeayne and Marie Sicord, by whom he had seven children: Sarah, Mary, Fanna, Daniel, Mary Ann, Elizabeth, and Esther Chadeayne Gerow. In 1818, William was involved in the construction of the Quaker Meeting House at Plattekill. He died on June 20, 1832.

William's first son, Daniel D-4 took over William's estate upon the latter's death in 1832.  Daniel was born on March 28, 1783 at Plattekill. On March 11, 1807, Daniel married Phoebe Clapp (1785-1873), daughter of Henry Clapp and Elizabeth Light, by whom he had nine children: William Henry, Catherine Ann, John Light, Henry Atlee, Esther Elizabeth, Clarkson Thomas, Peter Coutant, Samuel Chadeayne, and Aaron Raymond. At Plattekill, Daniel Gerow became a schoolteacher, Town Assessor, and farmer.  He died in 1867. 

The farm passed to Daniel’s youngest son Aaron Raymond Gerow E-18, who was born on February 19, 1827 at Plattekill. On February 13, 1861, he married Helena Heaton (1825-1921), daughter of Adna Heaton and Phoebe Lawrence. They had no children. Aaron and Phoebe and assumed legal guardianship of the children of Aaron’s brother Samuel Chadeayne Gerow upon Samuel's death in 1871. Aaron Raymond Gerow died on July 25, 1907.

Collection Description

The papers document the history of five generations of descendants of Daniel Giraud, a Huguenot refugee from France. The majority of the collection consists of deeds, leases, mortgages, promissory notes, bills of sale, wills, estate inventories, court papers, account books, receipts, letters, and other records primarily relating to the Gerow family farms and businesses at Plattekill, Ulster County, NY, and Cortland Manor, Westchester County, NY. These legal and business records chiefly relate to settlements of the estates of Daniel Gerow B-1, William GerowC-1, and Daniel Gerow D-4. Some documents concern the estate of Lemuel Light of Plattekill, NY. Of specific interest are the wills of Daniel Gerow (1791-1792); Elizabeth Gerow (1816); Lemuel Light (1823, 1826); William Gerow (1832); and Elias Gerow (1837-1838). There are also accompanying inventories for the estates of Daniel Gerow and Lemuel Light. 

In addition to the wills and inventories, other documents of note include an 1818 agreement to build a Quaker Meeting House at Plattekill, guardianship papers of the children of Samuel Chadeayne Gerow (1872-1880); and legal papers concerning the estate of John Vail. Account books and receipts contain daily records of cash transactions involving the purchase and sale of wheat, corn, rye, sugar, molasses, candles, apples, cider, vinegar and other kitchen goods and foodstuffs. Financial material from the 1830’s and 1840’s primarily relate to the family’s tailoring and clothing businesses at Plattekill and the Bowery, New York City. The account books contain store inventories, materials purchases and sales, and specific orders for making coats, pants, shoes, and other items. Other entries document cash paid out to laborers performing farm work such as planting gardens, chopping wood, picking stone, and repairing casks. Receipts of transactions between neighbors document the buying and selling of domestic supplies such as knives, blankets, clothes, wheat, spices, books and sewing supplies. Also among the receipts is an announcement providing information about a Revolutionary War meeting at a house in Cortland Manor dating from 1776.

The majority of the correspondence dates from the early 19th century and chiefly discusses family matters such as births, marriages, illnesses, deaths, visits, land, and the produce business. The majority of these letters were written to William Gerow C-1 and family at Plattekill from family members in New York City; Washington County, Virginia; Philadelphia; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and New Bruynswick, New Jersey. Correspondents include William Gerow, Daniel Gerow, Sarah Gerow, Mary Ann Gerow, Hannah Gerow, Deborah Russel, Nathaniel Hull, Aaron Raymond Gerow, James and Deborah Denton, and Mary Augusta Gerow. Two letters of particular interest are an 1814 letter of recommendation for Daniel Gerow D-4 as a schoolteacher, and an 1815 letter written to Daniel Gerow D-4 from Wm. Punderson apologizing for “giving way to passion.” 

The records from the late 19th century are largely dominated by the literary works of Jesse Hulsa Shuart and other unnamed authors, represented mainly in the form of poems and essays, although occasional copies of prayers and hymns appear as well. The majority of the literary works are contained in three bound journals edited by Shuart and his niece Lydia Gerow. Two of these journals are entitled “A General Repository of Facts, Fun and Fancy,” and the “Plattekill Literary Club Journal.” The subject matter of the poetry is varied, touching on issues such as family life, farmer’s rights, the Civil War, travel, and death. In addition to the creative writings, there are also two letters from Shuart to Lydia Gerow playfully discussing the journals and the responsibilities of editors in the publishing business.

Also present in the collection are handwritten recipes for curing meat and facilitating the birth of calves; business cards for dealers in domestic goods and the United States Hotel in Boston; an advertisement for Winer’s Arcanum, a blood purifier; invitations and calling cards; a list of students and subscribers (1815); an 1823 circular from the Overseers of the Poor at Plattekill; insurance policies from the Dutchess County Mutual Insurance Company (ca. 1850); and postcards sent to Ruth Palmer from vacation sites in the United States from 1926-1951. Also of interest is a ciphering book of Samuel Chadeayne Gerow E-17 entitled “Laying out and Dividing Land” containing geometrical and word problems designed to instruct the student to survey real estate. 

There is also a photograph album and loose daguerreotype, tintype, albumen photographic prints containing images of the Gerow, Heaton, Hulsa, Shuart, Decker, Clapp, and Carpenter families. Most of the photographs are identified portraits of family members. Items of specific interest include photographs of Daniel Gerow D-4 and his wife Phoebe Clapp, Jesse Shuart, Mary Augusta Gerow F-31, and a post-mortem picture taken of a young child named Charles Gerow. 

The overall physical condition of the records is fairly good, but some deeds and survey maps show serious damage from tearing and embrittlement. All pre-1850 records are stored in mylar sleeves.

The Gerow Family Papers is one of several collections of Gerow family material maintained by the Huguenot Historical Society. Other collections include the Eleazer Baldwin Gerow Family Papers (1833-1945); Hiram Clark Gerow Travel Diary – TRANSCRIPT (1850); Lucy Anne Gerow Autograph Albums (1881-1898, 1909); Samuel Chadeayne Gerow Letters – TRANSCRIPTS (1848-1871); Samuel Heaton Gerow Papers (1805-1938); and the Stephen, Gerow Papers (1863-1918). Researchers may also want to consult the Huguenot Historical Society Bible Collection for other Gerow family materials.

Series Description

The collection is divided into three series: Papers, Account Books, and Photographs and Postcards.

Series 1: Papers (1746-1934) 0.5 cu. ft.
This series includes letters, wills, deeds, mortgages, survey maps, bills of sale, receipts, poems, essays, genealogy, calling cards, invitations, business cards and other loose documents. The papers are organized alphabetically by type into folders and therein by date.

Series 2: Account Books (1817-1870) 0.5 cu. ft.
This series includes eight account books of Daniel Gerow and other family members relating to the management of the family farms and businesses. The account books are numbered but not organized in any specific way. There is also an unidentified name index. 

Series 3: Photographs and Postcards (ca. 1840-1951) 0.5 cu. ft.
Includes bound and loose daguerreotypes, albumen prints and tintype photographs of the Gerow, Heaton, Hulsa, Shuart, and Carpenter families. Most of the photographs are identified portraits of family members. This series also includes postcards sent to Ruth Palmer from vacation sites in the United States from 1926-1951.

Box and Folder List

Box 1
Series 1: Papers (1746-1934)

Ciphering Book, Samuel Chadeayne Gerow (undated)
Correspondence (1799-1879)
Estate and Legal Papers:
      (1746-1799 and undated)
      (1771-1850 and undated) - oversize
Genealogical Papers (ca. 1825-1934)
Literary Essays and Correspondence, Jesse Shuart (1876, 1884 and undated)
Literary Journals, Jesse Shuart (1875-1876)
Miscellaneous Papers (1814-1885)
Patent for "Improvement in Cooking Stoves, John Light Gerow (1849) - oversize
Poems, Jesse Shuart (1876 and undated)
Receipts (1753-1876)

Box 2
Series 2: Account Books (1817-1870)

Account Books (1817-1870):
     #1 (1817-1842)
     #2 (1842-1845)
     #3 (1837-1847) "Daniel Gerow's Cash Book"
      #4 (1837-1841) "Daniel Gerow's Invoice Book"
      #5 (1837-1841) "Daniel Gerow's Day Book"
      #6 (1843-1845)
      #7 (1841) Tailor's Order Book
      #8 (1864-1870)
     Name Index, Unidentified (undated)

Box 3
Series 3: Photographs and Postcards (ca. 1840-1951)

Daguerreotypes, loose (ca. 1840-ca. 1850)
Photograph Album (ca. 1875)
Photographs, loose (ca. 1850-1908)
Photographs, oversized (late 19th century)
Postcards, Ruth Palmer (1926-1951 and undated)


1. Identification numbers and biographical information are taken from the Giraud-Gerow Family in America, 3 vols. published by the Gerow Family Association and the Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, NY, 1981.