Haarlem, Blaeu’s Toonneell der Steden, 1652
 17th Century Map of Haarlem (278K)

source: http://www.klink.net/~fab/dutchcon.html

Colonel Barent Van Kleeck was the elder of one of the first Dutch families to occupy that part of the Hudson Valley near Poughkeepsie.  The origins of his family have been narrowed down in recent years to a particular part of the Netherlands. 

According to genealogist Fletcher A. Blanchard, Jr. of Northville, NY:

“Barent Baltus {van der LIPPSTADT} was born prior to 1610, possibly in Lippstadt in what is now Westphalia, Germany. He is thought to have come with his parents to Haarlem, Holland where he appears in tax records for 1628 and married his first wife, Sarah Pieters in 1631. There was one child from this marriage, Pieter Barentsen, who is believed to have stayed in Holland. Barent married 2nd, Mayken Laurens de QUIJTERS in Haarlem in 1636 and they had seven children. In 1647, Barent married 3rd, Aechtie(Agatha) Pouwels at Ouderkerk on the Amstel in Amsterdam and there were no children from this marriage.” (http://www.klink.net/~fab/dutchcon.html)

An important part of Colonel Barent Van Kleeck’s history is his service with the military.  He served during the ongoing Dutch War of Independence, a series of battles and conflicts which took place on and off from approximately 1600 to 1715.   During the first years of his life, there was a truce between Spain and the United Netherlands, which lasted until 1621, when this war recommenced.   This next period of war lasted 27 years, ending in 1648. 

Barent Van Kleeck earned his military rank serving during one of the wars the Dutch experienced during their recapture of that part of the United Netherlands once known as the Spanish Netherlands.

Colonel Barent Van Kleeck’s philosophy and training in terms of disease and health are based in part on his cultural upbringing and his military experience.  Barent Van Kleeck probably felt that there were two behaviors people had to have to remain healthy–remain in good physical shape and choose the right places to live.  The former was an offshoot of the development of the exercise and gymnastics philosophy that the Dutch military services adhered closely to in order to remain healthy.  The latter was a tradition brought about by his life in the upper-Dutch settings, residing within a healthy highlands setting with refreshing air and climate patterns conducive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

A number of other traditions in medicine, especially the Rhinelanders version of medicine were available to the Hudson Valley during the years that Col. Van Kleeck had his influences upon the local culture and traditions.  These influences would result in very localized examples of practices of medicine as it was philosophized and practiced by local families from about 1680 to 1750.  In time, several of these traditions became a part of the local philosophy preached and practiced by the professionals in the field, and some, a generation or two later, were developed into actual disciplines that were adhered to and followed by these families and their friends and neighbors.  These practices were upsetting to the status quo that had developed by leaders in the field such as those who helped to form the Dutchess County Medical Society under Gov ernor Clinton’s rule around 1795 to 1797.  Fortunately for the Van Kleeck’s history, one of the first members of this professional group was Dr. James Livingston Van Kleeck, who served as Secretary of the Association during its first months or existence only in name from about August 1796 to March 1797, and from then on in an official manner for the next decade.    

Major Themes in Col. Barent Van Kleeck’s Medical Philosophy

  1. Medical Topography, weather, precipitation and “miasma”
  2. Medical Climatology and “Torrid Zone” diseases
  3. “Animalcules” and “Worms”
  4. “Endemic” and “Epidemic” disease patterns.
  5. Water and disease.
  6. Diet.
  7. Hygiene.
  8. Exercise.


For related genealogical history, see http://www.iment.com/maida/familytree/henry/genealogy/robert2.htm#gilbert

There are some important influences Colonel Van Kleeck had on local culture.  The Van Kleeck and Parmentier (French Huguenot) families had their important political and social relationships and interactions.  Likewise, as Dr. Cornelius Osborn (of Dutch-English descent) married into the Parmentier family, and remained a relative of Colonel Van Kleeck as well, some sharing of knowledge and philosophy had to have taken place.  There is still one other culture that had its impact on the immediate setting–the Moravians, early settlers who often intermarried with local Native American women.  Colonel Van Kleeck’s Dutch heritage and military health practices and beliefs form a closure on the traditional domestic lifestyles that were being practiced in this part of the Valley.  Such is the reason for producing a more detailed rendering of this important part of local County history.

The other links to check out:


The Van Kleeck House

In XXX, Part 1 of his History of Dutchess County, New York, (1882), James H. Smith writes for the early settlement of Poughkeepsie:

“The first settlers were Dutch, and among the first, if not the first, was Baltus Van Kleeck … who, it is generally conceded, built the first substantial house on the site of the city in 1702. It was constructed of rough stone, and stood on the south side of Mill street, a little east of Vassar street … It stood for nearly a century and half a venerable old relic of the long ago past; but, having come, by inheritance, into possession of the Vassar family, it was torn down in 1835, in response to the demand of a progressive impulse.”  (Source: wikipedia and usgennet.org.  See http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/county/dutchess/dutch/Hist/pough1.htm/.  Wiki accessed 12-10-10.  US Gennet 5-8-09.)

This places was described as the Myndert Van Kleeck house in B. J. Lossing’s The pictorial field-book of the revolution (New York: Harper Brothers, 1859.  Volume 1, p.383):

In yet another more recent writing published on the same, the description of the house states: “it was the home of Baltus Van Kleeck, one of the original settlers. Was built by Van Kleeck in 1702; demolished in 1835.”  [Source: From “The Concise History of Dutchess County”.  Accessed 12-10-10 at  http://www.hopefarm.com/dutches1.htm]

The Van Kleecks and their relatives the Parmentiers, Huguenots, inhabited both sides of the river near Poughkeepsie.  According to the same reference we find:

“Although Dutchess was mapped out as a county in 1683, first legal residence in the county was not established until four years later under a land purchase from the Indians with confirmation of title by the Colonial Governor. Robert Sanders, an Englishman, who was an interpreter between the Indians and Europeans, and Myndert Harmense Van Den Bogaerdt, a Dutchman, purchased land embracing the present city of Poughkeepsie, which is the county seat of Dutchess. As of June 9, 1687, Sanders and Harmense ( for so the latter was known, rather than Van Den Bogaerdt) leased a large part of their holdings to Baltus Barents Van Kleeck and Hendrick Jans Ostrom.”


“Lands upon which Messrs. Van Kleeck and Ostrom agreed to settle were described by the Dutch as “Iying in the Lange rack” and “called Minnisingh and Pochkeepsin.” “Lange rack” was the broad expense of the Hudson River extending north and south of the approximate center of the shoreline of Poughkeepsie, a total distance of about ten miles. This straight section of the river was called “the Long Reach” by Robert Juett, mate of Henry Hudson’s “Half Moon,”, when Hudson sailed up the river, in 1609. “Minnisingh” was believed to refer to high ground in the Dutchess Turnpike east of the present Poughkeepsie, while “Pochkeepsin” was one of the numerous spellings of the county seat”.

[Footnote to Lossing quote above:

“1 This is from a sketch which I made in 1835, a few weeks before the venerable building was demolished by the hand of improvement. It stood upon Mill Street, on the land of Matthew Vassar, Jr., a short distance from the Congregational Church. It was built by Myndert Vankleek, one of the first settlers in Dutchess county, in 1702, and was the first substantial house erected upon the site of Poughkeepsie. Its walls were very thick, and near the eaves they were pierced with lancet loop-holes for musketry. It was hero that Ann Lee, the founder of the sect called Shaking Quakers, in this country, was lodged the night previous to her commitment to the Poughkeepsie jail, in 1776. She was a native of Manchester, England. During her youth she was employed in a cotton factory, and afterward as a cook in the Manchester Infirmary. She married a blacksmith named Stanley; became acquainted with James and Jane Wardley, the originators of the sect in England, and in 1758 joined the small society they had formed. In 1770 she pretended to have received a revelation, while confined in prison on account of her religious fanaticism; and so great were the spiritual gifts she was believed to possess, that she was soon acknowledged a spiritual mother in Christ. Hence her name of Mother Ann. She and her husband came to New York in 1774. He soon afterward abandoned her and her faith, and married another woman. She collected a few followers, and in 1776 took up her abode in the woods of Watervliet, near Niskayuna, in the neighborhood of Troy. By some she was charged with witchcraft; and, because she was opposed to war, she was accused of secret correspondence with the British. A charge of high treason was preferred against her, and she was imprisoned in Albany during the summer. In the fall it was concluded to send her to New York, and banish her to the British army, but circumstances prevented the accomplishment of the design, and she was imprisoned in the Poughkeepsie jail until Governor Clinton, in 1777, hearing of her situation, released her. She returned to Watervliet, and her followers greatly increased. She died there in 1784, aged eighty-four years. Her followers sincerely believe that she now occupies that form or figure which John saw in his vision, standing beside the Savior. In a poem entitled ” A Memorial to Mother Ann,” contained in a book called ” Christ’s Second Appearing,” the following stanza occurs :

” How much they are mistaken who think that mother’s dead.
When through her ministrations so many souls are saved.
In union with the Father, she is the second Eve,
Dispensing full salvation to all who do believe.”

* The city of New York elected James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low, and John Alsop delegates to the first Continental Congress, in 1774. The Dutchess county committee, whose meetings upon the subject were held in the Van Kleek House, adopted those delegates as representatives for their district. —See Journals of Congress, i., 7. “]

The following was found in a book detailing the early Albany papers (see p. 556 at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=moa&cc=moa&view=text&rgn=main&idno=AFK3932.0001.001).  The land claim referred to in this document is in close proximity, or within the patent related to the Van Kleeck claim.

There are several research question related to Dutchess County medicine that Col. Van Kleeck’s history led me to pursue.

The first pertains to his philosophy regarding health and disease due to his military upbringing and the region in Europe where this experience took place. The Slavic community settings were very naturalistic in the health and medical traditions. High elevations, extreme in climates, fresh air, numerous springs, the large supply of cold mountain snowmelt waters, and to some, unique observation of the fauna and their used of these waters, all gave way to the earliest naturalistic based interpretations of water cure around 1800. But this time frame is long after Col. Van Kleeck’s years in the Hudson Valley. Van Kleeck’s own childhood and military experiences would have included similar philosophies pertaining to the links between health and longevity and outdoor life, living at high elevations and on montane peaks, with clean air and climate by your side, engaged in outdoor activities and exercise, military based hygienic bathing and living practices, and appropriate dietary patterns. (In my classes I used to tell this story as one having to chose between the more physically straining lifestyle at Van Kleeck’s place versus selecting the bed-ridden life one had to live at the Huguenot “castle” across the river near New Paltz, being offered a French culinary diet complete with wine provided as a part of your stay, so long as you were willing to accept the French Curee’s practice of ‘the laying of hands’.)

The second pertains to his relationship with Ann Lee, the founder of Shakerism. When Ann Lee was forced to remain at his place due to her unique form of prayer and religious practice, she had to be evaluated for her ‘state of mind’, to used a more colloquial means to describe this event. Such an event might have been reminiscent of the Salem witchcraft trials pformed decades earlier, but was also related to similar concerns expressed around 1715 to 1720 according to very early court records, which detail a similar court event pertaining to possible witchcraft in the Putnam or Westchester County parts of the Valley. Col. Van Kleeck could have involved any of a number of community church leaders referred to as “doctors”, or another physician in the immediate vicinity, but based upon the year this event occurred, the war-related history for the time, and his associates, it seems likely he asked his nephew Cornelius Osborn to review her medical status and/or a physician on staff. Due to the timing, in particular the year when this took place–1777–Dr. Osborn’s involvement seems a likely option along with the chief surgeon of the Fishkill camp, assuming he was present at the time.