Peter and Josiah P. LeFevre Family Papers: "The Bontecoe LeFevres" (1703-1937)

Finding Aid Completed by Eric Roth, August 31, 1998
Last Revised August 12, 1999
Volume: 1.7 cu. ft.
Acquisition: The majority of the papers were donated to the Huguenot Historical Society by Perry LeFevre on June, 19, 1998. Other papers in the collection were donated by Faye LeFevre. Date is unknown.
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.

Special thanks to volunteer Amanda Nelson for her assistance in processing this collection.

Biographical Note

Peter LeFevre was born in the town of New Paltz, NY, on February 10, 1759, to Daniel LeFevre and Catherine Cantine. Daniel was the grandson of Huguenot emigrant and New Paltz patentee Simon LeFevre. Peter lived in one of the stone houses on the LeFevre family estate called the Bontekoe (Bontecou) farm [1]. In 1789, LeFevre married Magdalene Elting, daughter of Roelif Elting and Mary Louw. Together they had 10 children.

In politics LeFevre was a Federalist and was twice elected to represent Ulster County in the New York State General Assembly in 1798-1799 and 1808-1809 [2]. LeFevre was also elected Town Supervisor of New Paltz from 1797-1798, Town Assessor several times in the early 1800's [3], and appointed to Associate Judge [4]. Peter LeFevre also represented Andries LeFevre's share of the New Paltz Patent as one of the Twelve Men from 1800-1824 and as such, signed a contract on April 30, 1774, which bound all owners of the patent to "pay all assessments made by the 'Twelve Men' for legal expenses in defending the claims of title of any of the owners" [5]. He also served as Elder of the Dutch Reformed Church of New Paltz, entered into a partnership with his brother-in-law Ezekiel Elting to build a mill at Dashville Falls (Esopus) in ca.1810, and "did some service in the patriot cause as a teamster, going with a load of arms to the American army" [6]. Before his death in 1830, LeFevre committed to writing a brief history of the Town ofNew Paltz explaining the nature of some of the legal contracts executed by the early New Paltz settlers.

Peter's youngest surviving child, Josiah P. LeFevre, was born on August 10, 1811, and inherited his father's estate in New Paltz upon the latter's death in 1830. According to the Sylvester's History of Ulster County (1896), Josiah received his education "in the common schools of the neighborhood, and at New Paltz village" [7]. In 1836, Josiah married Elizabeth LeFevre, daughter of Andries J. LeFevre and Hannah DuBois, and had eleven children, four of whom died young. Josiah served in the 92nd Regiment of Infantry of New York receiving the appointments of Lieutenant (1833), Lieutenant Colonel (1838) and Colonel (1842). At New Paltz Col. LeFevre also held the public offices of Supervisor (1851-1853, 1864-1866, 1868), and Justice of the Peace (1854, 1857, 1870) and Assessor (dates presently unavailable), and also served as Elder of the Dutch Reformed Church of New Paltz [8].

Josiah's eldest son, Johannes LeFevre, was born on May 26, 1837, and attended the academies at New Paltz Academy and Claverack, and Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., where he graduated in the Scientific field in 1860 and Civil Engineering in 1861. During the Civil War, Johannes helped to organize, and later joined the Company E. of the 156th Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers for whom he served as Second and later First Lieutenant in 1862, and First Lieutenant of the 156th N. Y. Regiment of Infantry in October, 1863. He also held the positions of Regimental Quartermaster, Quartermaster of the Pioneer Corps under Gen. Banks and served as Civil Engineer at Camp Bisland, Port Hudson joined Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah, and fought in the battle of Winchester. On October 18, 1864, Johannes received the commission of Captain of the N. Y. 156th Regiment and the next day commanded his troops in the battle of Cedar Creek, where he was fatally wounded. Captain Johannes LeFevre died three weeks later at Tidball Hospital in Winchester, Virginia. His body is buried in the New Paltz Rural Cemetery [9].

Among Josiah and Elizabeth's other surviving children, Peter A. LeFevre (1838-1878) graduated from Union College in classical studies (1861), served in the 156th N.Y. Regiment as Lieutenant and Captain, married Anna Margaret DuBois, and had three children. Peter later relocated to Bartlett, Shelby County, Tennessee, where he died of Yellow Fever. Ralph LeFevre (1844-1925) attended school at the New Paltz Academy and later the State Normal School at Albany, N. Y., became editor and proprietor of the New Paltz Independent [10], and wrote the History of New Paltz and Its Old Families, published by the Fort Orange Press, Albany N. Y., in 1909. Ralph married Esther Margaret Oliver in 1873 and had three children. Jane LeFevre (1842-1908) resided at home and remained unmarried. Isaac LeFevre (1846-1931) married Melissa DuBois in 1886, had two children and relocated to Oxmoor, Jefferson County, Alabama. Moses LeFevre (1848-1896) married Cornelia Deyo in 1881, had three children and remained in New Paltz. Simon LeFevre (1858-1946) married Jane DuBois Hasbrouck in 1908 and also resided in New Paltz [11].

Collection Description

This collection documents the lives of Peter LeFevre and Josiah P. LeFevre and their families who resided in New Paltz during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Types of records include military papers (muster rolls, sworn statements of service and correspondence), relating to the 92nd and 156th Regiments of the New York Militia, (1833-1844) and (1862-1864), respectively; and mortgages, deeds, wills, bonds, property survey maps, court papers, family correspondence, account books and genealogy materials pertaining to the LeFevre, Elting, DuBois, Hasbrouck, Auchmody, Brodhead and Cantine families of the towns of New Paltz, Esopus, Shawagunk and Rochester in Ulster County, New York. In particular, much of the papers concern the LeFevre family's properties located in the hamlet of Bontecoe in northern New Paltz. The primary subjects found in the papers include land tenure, guardianship and inheritance, farming, financial matters (credits, debts, etc.), family matters (births, illnesses, deaths, etc.), the Civil War, gold speculation in California, and church affairs at New Hurley, NY.

The main strengths of the collection are the documentation of the deaths of Isaac LeFevre in California (1851) and Captain Johannis LeFevre in Winchester, Virginia (1864). In both cases, the letters written by the families of these two individuals are particularly rich in emotion and content. The letters written by Maria LeFevre, wife and widow of Isaac LeFevre provide rich descriptions of the lives of speculators and miners in California in 1850. Also, the letters written by Captain Johannis LeFevre home to friends and family provide a great deal of insight to the thoughts and actions of Union soldiers during the Civil War. The military papers of Josiah P. LeFevre are also of interest due to the thorough documentation of the 92nd Regiment of the New York Militia during the 1830's and 1840's.

These records include correspondence, court papers and orders concerning delinquent soldiers and elections of officers, as well as sworn statements of service signed by the enlisted soldiers. Legal items of note include a document pertaining to the division of lands within the New Paltz patent (1703); legal contract written in Dutch (1741); a copy of the Articles of Association proclaiming New York's support of the Rebellion against the British (1775). Of particular interest are five sales of slaves by Mathusalem DuBois to Peter LeFevre and the Cantine Family to Daniel LeFevre (1763-1798 and undated); wills, probate records and/or estate inventories of Isaac LeFevre (1793), Margaret Freer, widow of Jacob Freer (1812), William Relyea of Plattekill (1828), Dinah Brodhead (1854), Ellen LeFevre (1885, 1888) and Josiah P. LeFevre (1893-1896); Jane Hasbrouck LeFevre (undated); and chancery and estate papers regarding the custody of the children of John P. LeFevre, deceased (1824).

Other records of interest include an historical sketch of New Paltz by Peter LeFevre (ca. 1830), a graduation speech given by Johannis LeFevre at Union College (1860), a teacher's certificate of Moses LeFevre (1867), and poems, essays and songs composed or copied by various LeFevre family members (1854-1880). Also found in the collection is a leather bound ledger containing entries kept in Dutch by Andrius LeFevre from 1755-1791. The first 66 pages have been covered with newspaper clippings from the late 19th century. Clippings include poems, stories, human-interest accounts, riddles, etc.

The receipts of Peter and Josiah P. LeFevre mainly relate to purchases of real estate, insurance, foodstuffs and other domestic goods, newspapers, and labor for building a bridge. Other receipts concern taxes, court fees, medicine, insurance, school tuition and teachers' wages.

The weaknesses of the collection include the fragility of some of the documents and the fragmentation of the papers before 1790, and between 1864 and 1905. Also, the lack of a complete set of account books of both Peter and Josiah P. LeFevre creates an unfortunate gap in the collection. Some account books of Josiah P. LeFevre, however, are located at the Elting Memorial Library Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection in New Paltz, NY, as is a book kept by Peter LeFevre as Justice of the Peace.

The papers are organized into three series: 1) Military Papers, 2) Account Books, and 3) Family Papers. Oversize documents are housed separately from the rest of the papers, in Box #4. The bulk of the records fall between 1790 and 1905. The conditions of the records vary greatly. Many of the oversize deeds and other estate papers are in extremely poor condition, showing damage from numerous tears and damage caused by scotch tape. Most of the other papers are in fair to good condition. The particularly fragile papers have been placed in Mylar sleeves in order to facilitate access. Much of the handwriting throughout the collection is legible, although occasional documents are difficult to read due to faded ink or the use of a light pencil.

Prolific correspondents include Jacob Jansen of Wawarsing, who writes of debts owed to Josiah P. LeFevre (1847-1849); Peter G. LeFevre of Owasco, NY, who discusses a cholera epidemic in Poughkeepsie and Rondout, sales of livestock and crops in New York City, the lumber industry, and the anti-foreigner group called the "Know Nothing Society" in New Paltz (1854-1856). Other primary correspondents are Maria LeFevre of Montrose, CA, wife and widow of Isaac LeFevre (1850-1852); Johannes A. and Andreis A. LeFevre (sons of Andrew LeFevre and Hannah DuBois); Rachel Elting, wife of Ralph R. LeFevre; M. L. Howard, attorney to Henry J. DuBois, concerning stock in Last Chance Mining Company in Nebraska City, Nebraska (1891-1892), and Rev. Vennema and Dr. Matthew Beattie, who write of the "shameful course of action" of a Rev. George Scarlett in connection with the New Hurley Dutch Reformed Church (1895). Occasional correspondents include Reuben Bernard, attorney and banker of Kingston, NY; Jonathan Hardenbergh of Jefferson County, NY; and Elias Bevier, who discusses the political organization of the Dutch Reformed Church (1828).

The Huguenot Historical Society also maintains other collections pertaining to the LeFevre Family and other local families of New Paltz and environs. In particular, The Civil War Letters of Louis Coe Bevier (1862-1863) and The Selah Schoonmaker Family Papers (1843-1917) compliment the letters of Johannes LeFevre found in this collection. The Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz, NY, also maintains letters (and transcriptions of letters) concerning Johannes LeFevre's service in the Civil War. Other collections documenting the lives of New Paltz families during the late eighteenth and early-to-mid nineteenth centuries include the Levi Hasbrouck Family Papers: The Locust Lawn Collection (1672-1969), Deyo Family Papers (1675-1870), and Elting Family Papers (1703-1928), which contains accounts held between Josiah P. LeFevre and Ezekiel Elting. The Family Bible kept by Ellen LeFevre is maintained in the Huguenot Historical Society Bible Collection (Bible #64) and contains a picture of her husband Isaac LeFevre.

Series Descriptions

Series 1: Military Papers (1833-1864) 0.2 cu. ft.
This series contains warrants, testimonies, correspondence, sworn statements of service and other materials pertaining to the management of the 92nd Regiment of the New York State Militia under the direction of Josiah P. LeFevre. The events chiefly documented in the records are court-martials of soldiers charged with delinquency, and elections of officers within the regiment. Other papers refer to Johannes LeFevre's service in the 156th Regiment New York State Regiment during the Civil War. These later records (1863-1864) mainly consist of monthly returns of Quartermaster's stores. Other records include Muster rolls, lists of enlisted and deceased soldiers, and certificates of appointment. Consisting of two subseries: Military Papers of Josiah and Johannes LeFevre, respectively, the folders are filed alphabetically by type, and thereunder chronologically. Oversize documents are located in Box 4.

Series 2: Account Books (1845-1937) 0.5 cu. ft., 4 items
Includes one leather bound ledger containing entries kept in Dutch by Andrius LeFevre from 1755-1791. The first 66 pages have been covered with newspaper clippings from the late 19th century. Clippings include poems, stories, human-interest accounts, riddles, etc. Other account books include one pocket account book of Peter LeFevre (1815-1824); four hardbound daybooks kept by Josiah P. LeFevre for the management of his farm between the years of 1845 and 1896; three account books of Simon LeFevre (1883-1935); and two small account books of Jane LeFevre and Jane D.B. Hasbrouck LeFevre (1904-1937). One account book of Simon LeFevre relates to the administration of the estates of Magdalene P. and Johannes G. LeFevre (1900-1905).

Series 3: Family Papers (1703-1905) 1 cu. ft.
Records include family correspondence, bonds, receipts, wills, deeds and other legal papers; genealogical and family history materials; as well as poems, songs and other creative works documenting the business and personal affairs of the families of Peter and Josiah P. LeFevre in the predominantly in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Papers are filed alphabetically by type and thereunder chronologically. Oversize estate and legal papers, and miscellaneous papers are located with the other oversize documents in Box 4.

Box and Folder List

Box 1
Series 1: Military Papers (1833-1864)

Military Papers:
Josiah P. LeFevre:
Administrative Records (1839-1844)
Correspondence (1839-1842)
Correspondence (1844 and undated)
Sworn Statements of Service (1835-1844)

Johannis LeFevre (1863-1864)

Box 2
Series 2: Account Books (1815-1937)

Account Books:
Andrius LeFevre (1755-1791) includes 19th century newspaper clippings
Peter LeFevre (1815-1824)
Josiah LeFevre:
Simon LeFevre:
Jane LeFevre (1904-1908)

Jane D.B. Hasbrouck LeFevre, Bank Book (1924-1937)

Box 3
Series 3: Family Papers (1703-1905)


Estate and Legal Papers:
(1753-1798 and undated)
(1850-1893 and undated)

Genealogical and Family History Materials (1830-1893 and undated)

Miscellaneous; poems, essays, songs, advertisements, certificates, etc. (1854-1880 and undated)

(1820-1895 and undated, scattered)

Box 4: Oversize
Series 1: Military Papers (1833-1864)

Certificates (1833-1842, 1862-1863)
Muster Rolls and Inspection Returns (1842-1844, 1863-1864)

Series 3: Family Papers (1703-1905)

Estate and Legal Papers:
(1703, 1741-1783, scattered)
(1822-1851, scattered)

Miscellaneous; (1840, 1881)


[1] LeFevre, Ralph. History of New Paltz and Its Old Families. Fort Orange Press, Albany, N.Y. (1909): p. 443.

[2] Sylvester, Nathaniel Bartlett. History of Ulster County, New York, with Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia, Everts & Peck (1880): Part First, pp. 100-101; Part Second, pp. 12, 26.

[3] New Paltz Tax Assessment Records. New Paltz Town Records (1677-1932). mss. coll. Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, N. Y.

[4] Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, N. Y.... Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co.(1896): p 41.

[5] Ibid, p. 9.

[6] LeFevre, p. 442.

[7] Sylvester, p. 26.

[8] Ibid, p. 12, 26.

[9] Biographical Sketch of Johannes LeFevre. (See: Genealogical and Family History Materials (1830-1893 and undated, in Series 3).

[10] Sylvester, p. 26.

[11] Wright, Donald L. The New Paltz LeFevres: Simon LeFevre and Elizabeth Deyo, married 1660, and their descendants. Published under the auspices of the LeFevre Family Assocation, New Paltz, NY p. 29-30.