THE LEFFERTS FAMILY _______________________ An Important Chapter in the History of Bedford Its First Representative, Who Came Over in 1660 Jacobus and the BLOM House A Long Line of Descendants.

2 October 1887 Brooklyn Eagle The history of Bedford Corners, from its original inception and for more than a hundred years thereafter, it was known as the seat of the LEFFERTS family, though, to be strictly accurate, the LEFFERTS ancestor was not one of the original settlers, but purchased his land. The first representative of this family in this country was Laffert Pieterse van HAGEWONT, who migrated to this country from Holland in 1660. He settled at Flatbush, where he owned seventeen morgens of land, in 1675. The name Laffert is said to mean loaf or bread giver; Pieterse, in accordance with the old Dutch custom of adding "se" or "sen" to signify "son of," meant "the son of Peter," while "Hagewont," a village in North Holland, means "the prickly wood." We therefore have the name reduced to "The breadgiver, son of Peter, of the prickly wood." This old Leffert Pietersen or Peter LEFFERT, does not appear to have made himself prominent in any way except by being a constable in 1692, one of the assessors in 1703, by aquiring a good deal of land and being the father of fourteen children, the mother of whom was his good wife, Abigail, daughter of Anke Jaase Van NUYSE, of New Amsterdam. On the 14th day of May 1700, he purchased the property of Thomas LAMBERTS, at Bedford, and died in 1704. Out of his fourteen children, only two of whom were girls, thus making a pretty good start for the LEFFERT name in America, one settled at Bedford and became the ancestor of that branch of the family, and though his descendants grow in numbers, filling up and overflowing that hamlet and becoming numerous in other States, there is but one family of descendants at the Bedford Corners to-day and even that one does not bear the family name. Jacobus LEFFERTS, who was born January 9, 1686, may have inherited the LAMBERT property from his father, as he was the only one of Leffert Pieterse's children to settle at Bedford, or he may have come into possession of Bedford land through his father in law, Nicholas, or Class Barnse BLOM, of Flatbush, from whom his wife inherited property. The change in the roads and the loss of records at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, render the tracing of the lines of these old localities rather difficult. Jacobus married Jannetje BLOM and not only inherited land from his father, but became possessed of the BLOM lands and also added to them by purchase. There was the residence or Hostelry of Thomas LAMBERTSE, which was aquired by Leffert Pieterse by purchase, which was located on the west side of the cartway in the south part of New Bedford. Then there was the BLOM house, which seems to be definitrly located nearly opposite Arlington place on Fulton street, and there was another piece of land, containing twenty acres, sold to Jacobus LEFFERTS on April 4, 1753, by his son in law, Hendrick FINE, situate on the south side of the Clove road, and seventy-four acres on the east side, for 760francs. It is very hard to make a distintion in these several pieces of land without the old time records, which were carried to England and never recovered, except by concluding that some of them passed by sale from the LEFFERTS family and then back again. Where was FINE'S blacksmith shop? Where was Thomas LAMBERT'S hostelry? Where was Jacobus LEFFERTS house? Where was John BYBON'S brew house? Where was the house of Rem REMSE, father in law to Jacobus' son, Barent LEFFERTS? We can conjecture and guess, but history answers with a big interrogation point. We find that some of the property referred to was purchased by Leffert Pieterse, and that some, which was apparently the same, was subsequently bought of other parties by his son Jacobus. That part of Jacobus' land was bought in later years by his son Leffert-commonly called "Squire Lefferts"--and again purchased by the squire's son, Leffert Lefferts, Jr.-known as Judge LEFFERTS-from outside parties. The exact location of the residence of Jacobus LEFFERTS is uncertain. It may have been in what was known as the BLOM house, as he came into possession of his father in law's property, or it may have ben in what at one of several other localities in the immediate neighborhood, as the LEFFERTS possessions, previous to the Revolution, appeared to include, at one time or another, all the land on both sides of the Kings highway from what is now Arlington place to Classon avenue. The BLOM house stood on the south side of the King's Highway, a little west of south from the junction of Fulton street and Arlington place. It was destroyed over a hundred years ago and rebuilt by Charles TURNBULL, an officer in the American Army, in 1787. The latter house still stands and is owned by John BENTLY. It does not face squarely on Fulto street, but at a slight angle from it, which showns the difference in the line of Fulton stret and the old Brooklyn and Jamaica turnpike at this point. This house is built in the substantial manner that houses were put up a hundred years ago. It is only one and a half stories, the half being in a high Dutch roof with the dormer windows. The front entrance admits one to a very wide hall in which is a broad stairway leading to the second floor. On the right or west side of this hall are two large parlors with an arch between and doors on the side into the yard. On the other side of the hall is a room with book cases built in the wall, evidently intended for a library; next, without communication between, is a small room used as a china closet, which opens into a good sized room where the large fire place is, now occupied by a range. Of course there have been changes and modifications during the century the house has stood there, so that the present interior arrangements only give an idea of how the house used to be. The upper floor is cut into small rooms with low ceilings, occasioned by the form of the roof. Before Jacobus died on September 25, 1754, he and his good wife, Janetje, raised eight children, of whom four were located at Bedford. -Abigail married Lambert SUYDAM, who commanded a troop of horse in 1749 and was uncle to that doughty soldier, Captain Lambert SUYDAM, who was a familiar figure in the early days of the Revolutionary War. -Eliza, another daughter married Hendrick FINE, blacksmith, of Bedford. They left no descendants. The other two children who remained were Leffert and Barent. When Jacobus LEFFERTS died he devised his Bedford real estate to Barent, his Brooklyn land to Leffert and his property in Bushwick to his son Nicholas. Barent LEFFERTS, who was born on the 12th of November, 1736, married Phebe or Femetje, daughter of Rem REMSEN, of Bedford. He lived at the house of his father in law, which was probably what is now the back building of the Rem LEFFERTS house, now standing on the corner of Arlington place and Fulton street, or in a house which stood on the King's highway, in what is now the block between Fulton street and Brevoort place, west of Bedford avenue. He was a farmer, but was a lieutenant in the local millitia. In November, 1776, he signed the declaration against England and took part as a member of the Provincial Congress. After the battle of Long Island, along with his neighbors, he took the oath of alliegiance to Great Britian, but in November, 1783, he promptly came forward and united with his neighbors in an address to George WASHINGTON, congratulating him on "the glorious and memorable era of the United States of America." He died in 1819, leaving six children, four daughters and two sons. The daughters went elsewhere; one son, Jacobus, died young and unmarried, and it is his tombstone which now stops the gap in the fence behind W. PAINE'S barn; and Rem inherited the old REMSEN place, corner of Arlington place and Fulton street, and in 1836 built the fine house on it which still stands there. Rem was born November 12, 1770, and lived an odd kind of life until September 4, 1855. He married twice: first; Cornelia REMSEN, of Flatlands, and second; Maria BROWER, of Brooklyn, but had no children by either. he was an eccentric individual, and many queer stories are told about him. It is said that he kept at home for a long time a $1,000 bill of Long Island Bank, of which his cousin, Leffert LEFFERTS, was the president, and would call at the bank when he was short of funds to obtain a discount in preference to parting with the bill, even though the fact of his having the bill in his possession was known to the bank officers. His object in keeping a note of so large a denomination at home was to enable him to offer it to the tax collector when he called, as was the custom in those days. As the collector could not change it, Rem got a delay in paying his taxes, but it is related of one Samuel DOXY-who should have been named Ortho instead of Samuel, because he was mighty sound in his methods-on being appointed collector, prepared himself with the necessary change before calling on Rem, changed the $1,000 bill and broke up the practice. It is said that after DOXY beat his little game Rem always had the change when the collector called. He died without descendants, leaving his propertty to his wife, which after her death became a legacy to be fought over in the courts. Leffert LEFFERTS, afterward known as the squire, was older than Barent. He was born on the 11th of March, 1727. He lived at Bedford in a house erected in 1753, at the southwest corner of the Clove road and the King's highway, it being in the angle now formed by Bedford avenue and Herkimer street, and north of the latter. This house was only pulled down about 1881. He married Dorothy COWENHOVEN and had seven children, all of whom went away from Bedford, except Catherine, who was killed in 1733 by the accidental discharge of a pistol; John L. and Leffert, Jr. Squire LEFFERTS was a man of considerab;e importance in his day. He was one of the three freeholders appointed to defend the patent of Brooklyn from 1756 to 1776; from 1761 to 1776 was town clerk; 1761 to 1777, one of the assistant justices, whence the title "squire;" in 1765-686-67, Commissioner of Highways. In 1776, he was sent to the Provincial Congress, and according to the Long Island Historical Society reports, "of the eleven elected to the Provincial Congress from Kings none contributed more essential aid to the Revolutionary cause" than he. In 1774 Squire Leffert LEFFERTS bought from the executors of Andriese Andriese, of Bedford, for L429, ten acres of the south side of the Jamaica road, twenty-three acres on the east side of Clove road and two lots of salt meadows in Flatbush. It is on a portion of the ten acres mentioned that the BREVOORT house now stands. While Squire LEFFERTS was clerk he kept the offices on the second floor of his residence at Bedford, and at the outbreak of the Revolution John RAPALJE was his deputy. During Squire LEFFERTS absence after the Battle of Long Island, RAPALJE, on pretense of moving them to a safe place, carried away the records and took them to England, and they were never recovered. RAPALJE having become an active Tory, his lands were confiscated after the war. There seemed to be some question among active Revolutionary patriots to the position of Squire LEFFERTS during the war. His house at Bedford, the one torn down in 1881, was occupied by the British general, GRAY, as headquarters and Squire LEFFERTS acted as an agent to estimate the value of supplies seized by the troops from the Long Island farmers. It was claimed by some of the Whigs, or rebels against the English, that he did not manifest enough patriotism, as he did not leave his home and go to fight for American independence. Others, to the contrary, took the ground that not being a military man and having reached close to 50 years he could be of more service to the cause at home, while his active participation would only result in the confiscation of his property. Long Island was peculiarly situated. A good many of the inhabitants were violent Tories, while many were indiffernt. After the Battle of Long Island, or it might more properly be called of Brooklyn, the Island was occupied by the British and controlled by them until the end of the war. A few had followed the American Army off the Island, but the majority, being left to the tender mercies of British troops and their Tory neighbors, took the oath of allegiance. Their lot was not a happy one. They were harrassed, plundered, subject to the orders of the military, their property at the disposition of the British officers, and they were compelled to go with their teams and forage for the troops. Hence it was claimed by his friends that Squire LEFFERTS could be of more service to the cause at home than if he had gone into the field, as he was thus enabled to act in the interest of his neighbors, in seeing that they were properly paid for the supplies seized, and it is also stated that he paid large sums of money to the secret agents of the Revolution in aid of the cause. Squire LEFFERTS, Jr., son John L. was a farmer. He resided for many years in the old BLOM house at Bedford. He married Sarah COWENHOVEN, daughter of Rem COWENHOVEN, his mothers brother. He had ten children, most of whom moved away. He had a son, Colonel James LEFFERTS, who lived in New York City and reared a family. His son Rem, a broker, lived in Bedford and died without issue. His daughter Cornelia married Robert B. LEFFERTS, of New Utrecht. She resided in Bedford and died without issue. Leffert LEFFERTS, Jr., or the judge, was born on the 12th of April 1774, so that his infancy was spent amid the early days of the Revolutionary War and his early childhood while the British occupied his father's house. It is said that when peace was declared and the English were about to leave the country he asked some of the officers by whom he had been made a pet, why they were leaving. On being answered, "Because you Yankees have beaten us," He exclaimed: "Then why dont you fight it over again?" Judge LEFFERTS graduated at Columbia College in 1794, -studied law with Judge Egbert BENSON, -was admitted to practice in the Court of Common Pleas and the Supreme Court in 1798, -was appointed clerk of the courts in 1801 and held that office until 1816, keeping the office at the old homestead at Bedford. -In 1805 he was a commissioner in chancery and in 1823 was made the first judge of Kings County, which office he held until 1827. -He was the first president of the Long Island Bank. -He was the Federal candidate for Congress against John LEFFERTS, of Flatbush, -the Republican candidate, in 1813 -and Federal candidate for Senator in 1815, but was defeated both times. Judge LEFFERTS married Maria BENSON, daughter of his mother's sister. He had but one child, Elizabeth Dorothea, who married James Carson BREVOORT, and to whom descended, on his death in 1847, the fine residence which he built in 1838 on that part of the Jamaica road now known as Brevoort place. This old mansion, now occupied by the last representative of the LEFFERTS family at Bedford, is a handsome, substantially built brick structure, two stories high, situated in the center of the northern half of the grounds, which occupy the whole block between Bedford avenue and Bedford place, Brevoort place and is up broad stone steps to a portico about twenty feet long, on which there are four, massive stone pillars reaching as high as the roof of the house. There are also broad stone steps leading to the entrance on the west side, and a porch the whole length of the building on the south. Entering from the north side, the visitor is admitted into a tiled hall running to the west entrance, in which is the stairway. This floor is divided into parlors, library and diningroom. The culinary department is in the basement, while the upper floor is divided into commodious sleeping apartments. It was a handsome house when it was erected fifty years ago; it is a handsome house amid the advances and improvements of to-day. H. J. S. RETURN to PEOPLE MAIN RETURN to BROOKLYN MAIN