Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 800, De Zeng Family (Geneva, NY)
Papers, 1729 - 1925, 1.75 linear feet / 4 boxes
Call Number: MG 800
Correspondence, diaries, financial documents, land surveys, genealogical notes, poetry, and photographs pertaining to the de Zeng family of Geneva, New York, as well as allied families - Betterton, de Lancey, Endicott, Lawrence, Oehlschlagel, Rees, Reynolds, and Seward. The de Zeng family was founded by Baron Frederick A. de Zeng (1756-1838), a Hessian officer in the Revolutionary War who became a U. S. citizen, glass manufacturer, and canal executive. His son, William Steuben de Zeng (1793-1844), was co-owner with Joseph Fellows of a cotton factory in Geneva, and in 1825 had a role in both the founding of Geneva (now Hobart) College and in the effort to secure legislative authorization for construction of the Cayuga and Seneca Canal. Of special interest are: (1) an unidentified physician's notebook, 1729-1734, with medicinal recipes, probably once the possession of Dr. Edward Cutbush; (2) an historical list of masonic lodges until 1735; (3) a diary kept by James Reynolds during a 1772 sea voyage from Philadelphia to England and back aboard the Ship Mary and Elizabeth, James Sparks, captain, containing a reference to John Woolman, a passenger aboard the ship; (4) a manuscript copy of an account of scalpings by Seneca Indians during the Revolutionary War; (5) drawings by Edward Cutbush, 1787, and by his father, a shipyard carver; (6) field books of Seth Pease and a Mr. Stoddard's 1799 survey of the 5,000,000 acre tract west of the Genesee River for the assignees of Robert Morris (1734-1806); and (7) a log kept May 22 - October 10, 1836 aboard the Ship Eunomus by its captain, George W. Endicott, on a voyage from Boston to Rio de Janeiro. Included is correspondence of Aaron Burr (1756-1836), Edward F. de Lancey, Robert Morris (1734-1806), Thomas Morris, James Rees, James Reynolds, Henry R. Schoolcraft, Charles A. Seward, Clarence Seward, and William A. Seward.
Gift of Caroline F. Clark and Reginald E. Francklyn, 1973.
The De Zeng Family Papers date from 1729 to 1925 and total 1.75 linear feet. The collection was processed as part of a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant project (1997-1998) to arrange, describe and catalogue The New Jersey Historical Society’s health care and social welfare-related manuscript collections.
The De Zeng Family collection pertains to several generations and related families of the De Zeng family from Geneva, New York, founded by Baron Frederick A. De Zeng (1756-ca. 1837), a Hessian officer in the Revolutionary War who became a U. S. citizen, glass manufacturer, and canal executive. Also; his wife, Mary Lawrence (d. 1836) and her family; many of their children including their son, William Steuben De Zeng (1793-1844), a co-owner of a Geneva cotton factory, who married Caroline Cutbush Rees in 1817, the daughter of Major James Rees of Philadelphia and his wife Elizabeth Reynolds (b. 1770); Elizabeth’s sister, Anne Reynolds (b. 1768-1823) married Dr. Edward Cutbush. The third generation includes William Steuben and Caroline’s children and their allied families including James Rees De Zeng (b. 1819), Josephine Matilda (b. 1823) who married Edward de Lancey; and others.
BARON FREDERICK AUGUSTUS DE ZENG (1756-1838)
A native of Dresden, Saxony, Baron Frederick A. De Zeng came to America in 1783 at the age of 27, and in the same year, married Mary Lawrence. In 1792 he was commissioned by New York Governor George Clinton as "Major Commandant" in the militia, and he was often known as "Major De Zeng." With General Schuyler, he established the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company near Little Falls, New York. Around 1796, with Jeremiah Van Rensselaer and Abraham Ten Eyck, Major De Zeng established a window factory at Hamilton, New York. Major De Zeng made early explorations for improving navigation and building canals and in 1822, he was instrumental in the formation of the Seneca Lock Navigation Company. De Zeng and his family lived in Kingston, in Ulster County, and then at Bainbridge, Chenango County, where he built and owned the bridge over the Susquehanna River. He died in Clyde, Wayne County, on April 26, 1838. Their children were: George Scriba; Ernestine (married Dr. James Houghtaling); Richard L. (married Sarah Lawrence, his first cousin); Phillip Mark; William Steuben (married Caroline Cutbush Rees); Arthur Noble; Sarah Matilda (married Richard L. Lawrence, her first cousin); Amelia Clarissa; and Maria.
JAMES REES (1763-1851)
James Rees, born in Philadelphia in 1763, was the confidential clerk of Robert Morris, a patriotic financier, and witnessed negotiations between Morris and George Washington. He was married to Elizabeth Reynolds (b. 1770) in 1792. (His first wife was Hannah Betterton.) After moving to Geneva, New York in 1798, Rees became the first cashier of the bank of Geneva. He also served as sheriff of Ontario County in 1810, deputy quartermaster of the northern division of the army during the War of 1812, a State bank commissioner (1836-1837), and Geneva postmaster. Major Rees was one of the founders of the Geneva Academy and was active in converting it to a college. His residence in Geneva, known as Rees’ Hill, became the home of his daughter, Caroline Cutbush Rees and her husband, William Steuben De Zeng, and later became part of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (c. 1878). Other children include Edward P. Rees and James R. Rees.
WILLIAM STEUBEN DE ZENG (1793-1882)
The son of Baron Frederick A. De Zeng, William Steuben De Zeng, was born in Little Falls, New York in 1793. He moved to Geneva in 1812 and married Caroline Cutbush Rees, the daughter of Major James Rees and his wife, Elizabeth, in 1817. For more than half a century De Zeng was identified with the growth and development of Geneva and its surrounding region. He led the effort to secure legislation and construction of the Cayuga and Seneca Canal. Owner of the Ontario Glass Works Company and co-owner of a cotton factory with James Fellows, he was also a long-time member of the board of trustees of Hobart College, which his father-in-law had helped found. De Zeng was also one of the originators of the Manhattan Life Insurance Company in New York City. Their children include: Caroline (b. 1827), who married Clarence A. Seward (c. 1850); James Rees (b. 1819); Josephine Matilda (1823-1865), who married Edward F. De Lancey; William (1825-1849); Henry L. (b. 1829); Edward Cutbush (b. 1831); Mary Ann (b. 1834); and Evalina Throop (b. 1836).
DR. EDWARD CUTBUSH (1772-1843)
A son of Edward Cutbush (1735-1790). Born in Philadelphia, Edward Cutbush, surgeon of the U.S. Navy, received an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1794, where he was resident physician of the Pennsylvania Hospital from 1790-1794. He married Ann Reynolds (1768-1823) in 1795. In 1799 he entered the Navy and in 1829, after 30 years of service, he resigned his position and retired to Geneva, New York, where he became a professor of chemistry and dean of the medical faculty of Geneva College. He wrote articles in various medical journals and published Observations on the Means of Preserving the Health of Sailors and Soldiers (1808).
The De Zeng Family Papers were a gift of Caroline F. Clark and Reginald E. Francklyn, 1973. At the time of the donation, photographs, miniatures, maps and objects were separated from the De Zeng Family papers and transferred to the museum collection.
The De Zeng Family collection pertains to Baron Frederick Augustus De Zeng (1756-1838), who came to America from Dresden and settled in Geneva, New York, and to many of his children’s families, most of whom continued to live in Geneva. The offspring of the Baron and his wife, Mary Lawrence, and in particular their son, William Steuben De Zeng (1793-1844) and his wife, Caroline Cutbush Rees, represent the main sources of the related families. The families included in the collection are: Betterton, Cutbush, De Lancey, Endicott, Lawrence, Oehlschlagel, Rees, Reynolds, and the Seward family.
The collection dates from 1770-1925; the bulk dates span about a century, from 1770-1870. The papers are organized by prominent family members and are further subdivided by family genealogy and by various document types. The papers of each family member are arranged in roughly chronological order. Types of documents include: personal and business correspondence, genealogical and biographical papers including narrative histories and family charts, physician’s notebook, diaries, family photographs, financial documents, legal papers, land surveys, field books, ship’s log book, manuscripts, published essays, English transcripts of German documents, hand-drawn maps, drawings, poetry, and newspaper clippings including obituaries.
The collection not only documents the affairs of this extended family, but provides information on the history of upstate New York at a time when this region was still considered part of the "Old West." Materials related to the development of Geneva include field notes surveying the 5,000,000 acre tract west of the Genesee River (1799); the development of Hobart and Geneva College; the manufacture of glass, cotton and other early industries; early efforts to contain the lakes with canals; and correspondence reflecting the social customs from some of its most prominent citizens.
Of special interest are: an unidentified physician’s notebook, 1729-1734, with medicinal recipes, probably once the possession of Dr. Edward Cutbush; an historical list of masonic lodges until 1735; a diary kept by James Reynolds during a 1772 sea voyage from Philadelphia to England and back aboard the ship Mary and Elizabeth, James Sparks, captain, containing a reference to John Woolman, a passenger; a manuscript copy of an account of scalpings by Seneca Indians during the Revolutionary War; a printed booklet of John Quincy Adams’ Fourth of July oration (1821); drawings by Edward Cutbush, 1787, and by his father, a shipyard carver; field books of Seth Pease and a Mr. Stoddard’s 1799 survey for the assignees of Robert Morris (1734-1806); and a log kept May 22 - October 10, 1836 aboard the ship Eunomus by its captain, George W. Endicott, on a voyage from Boston to Rio de Janeiro. A significant item includes an article by F. L. Pleadwell (Annals of Medical History, 1923) describing the life and writings of Dr. Edward Cutbush who published Observations on the Means of Preserving the Health of Sailors and Soldiers in 1808.
The papers also include letters and signed documents of: Aaron Burr (1756-1836), Robert Morris (1734-1806), Thomas Morris and Henry R. Schoolcraft.
Processed by Kim Seltzer, February 1998 as part of the "Farm to City" project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The New Jersey Historical Society