finding your roots

Servants of Cortlandt Van Rensselaer

Sammy Cohen June 26, 2012

I live in Burlington, NJ, an important town rich with history. We predate Philadelphia by 4 years.

My house was the residence of Cortlandt Van Rensselaer (CVR). I have done much research on the house and the family. However, I am interested to find out more about the servants of CVR. They were mentioned in the will of his wife, Catherine.

CVR was a Presbyterian minister, ordained in Hampden-Sydney, Va. He was against slavery and wrote many articles about this and are currently in the library in Virginia. Since this was before the Civil War, he was not viewed kindly in the South. He came to Burlington to start the Presbyterian church and built STONE COTTAGE c. 1840. The basement of the house was “servants quarters” and kitchen and, at the time, complete with a dumbwaiter and a fireproof (safe). Some remains of each still exist.

But who were the servants and did he bring them to New Jersey from Virginia? Are relatives still here in Burlington? What was their ethnicity?

While I am no relation to any here, I almost feel it my duty while living ( being the “caretaker”) in this house to establish as much history as possible.

I believe this would be a valuable story for your series. Can you help me?

Thank you .

Sammy Cohen

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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