Jacob Lawrence Ostrander
The Last Voyage of the First Son
Grave 504, Public Lot 17263, Section 16
Directly in front of the McCulloch/Rose granite headstone, a white marble stone stands on the grave of a victim of the Brooklyn Theater Fire (see above). Due to the age of the marble marker, the inscription on it is barely visible, but the following words can still be read:
On the evening of December 7, 1876, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported two lists of bodies as they were laid out at the Brooklyn Market and the Morgue. These bodies were numbered and described by items found on their persons; out of 45 bodies at the morgue one was reported as “No. 41. Recognized as Jacob L. Ostrander, of No. 374 Navy street.” This was the first mention of Jacob among the victims of the fire. The next day, a daily newspaper in the City of Troy, reported on the conditions at the site of the fire.
An old man passed about the room in the market weeping. He said that his son, Jacob Ostrander, aged 21, of 374 Navy street, and his son-in-law, Wm. Bryant, were among the dead. His boy had been off on a whaling voyage, and had returned only a few days ago. He hoped to identify him through a carved ring from whale ivory which the boy wore.
The Sun, published in the city of New York, was the main source of information for The Troy Daily Times. The original story reported on December 7 read, “Among the others identified were:…Wm. Bryant of 370 Navy street, and Jacob L. Ostrander of 374 Navy street. Young Bryant was soon to be married to Ostrander’s sister.” According to his death certificate, remains of William A. Bryant were removed to Connecticut; he was recorded as single because his marriage was not finalized and perhaps in the future, I will trace his story in full. In the meantime, I must turn to Jacob L. Ostrander, whose obituary was published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on December 8, 1876.
Jacob L. Ostrander.
The funeral services over the remains of Jacob L. Ostrander were held this afternoon in the Tabernacle. A large number of relatives and friends were present. A solemn dirge was played on the organ by Mr. Morgan, as the remains were borne into the church. Rev. Charles W. Wood officiated and preached an appropriate sermon. The remains were interred at Green-wood. Mr. Ostrander was very highly esteemed.
Portion of 1853 Map of Ulster County by Brink and Tillson that shows one of the last farmlands of the Ostrander family in Shawangunk. J. Ostrander on the map refers to Jacob J. Ostrander, grandfather of Jacob Lawrence Ostrander. Today, the road running from south to north on the map corresponds to Hoagerburgh Road, and the territory northeast of the farm is currently the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge
Jacob’s paternal surname indicates his Dutch ancestry, and it is likely he was directly related to Pieter Pietersen from whom the name Ostrander originated. Peter Pietersen was four years old when he arrived in New Amsterdam in 1661 with his sister, mother and step-father, and the family settled, if only temporary, in the English Town of Gravesend (currently a Brooklyn neighborhood) in Kings County. In 1663, the family moved to a village of Wyltwyck (current Town of Kingston), which is in Ulster County, New York and from there the branches spread into the various parts of the colonies.
Jacob Lawrence Ostrander’s family moved to Brooklyn in early 1870s from Virginia. His father,Jacob Ostrander Jr. was born in 1829 in the Town of Shawangunk, Ulster County to Jacob J. Ostrander (1799-1879) and Maria DuBois (1804-1878). Like his father before him, Jacob Ostrander Jr. was a farmer in Shawangunk. By 1855, when the New York State Census was enumerated, Jacob was living with his wife Frances, and 8 year old sister-in-law, Mary Low, in the Town of Newburgh, Orange County. The census shows Jacob was a resident of the town for the past two years and occupied as clerk.
Jacob Ostrander’s Civil War Draft Registration, June 1863, Town of Wallkill, Orange County, Line 16 (ancestry.com).
Seven counties of the Hudson Valley. Not identified on the map are Shawangunk and Wallkill that are located south of New Paltz; Crawford was formed out of Montgomery and now located to its north on the border of Ulster County. Hamlet of Searsville is part of Crawford and Scotchtown is part of Wallkill.
On December 15, 1876, the Tri-State Union newspaper, based in Port Jervis, New York, published the following obituary:
As to what type of merchant Jacob Ostrander Jr. was is unknown, but he must have been a successful one. Both the layout of the property and its proximity to railroad allowed the Elder Ostrander to make such a good fortune that he moved his family from Wallkill, New York to Virginia, approximately five hundred miles away. The move, I believe, was a calculated one on part of Jacob Ostrander Jr., for he procured enough money from sale of his business to invest it in a new venture.
The records are not clear, but it is possible, Jacob Ostrander Jr. moved to Virginia in order to help in rebuilding some of the badly damaged areas during the Civil War. The Township of Wythe, which is now a neighborhood in the City of Hampton, was a scene of a naval battle during the war.On August 10, 1870, when the United States Federal Census was enumerated, the Ostranders were recorded as living in Wythe Township, Elizabeth City County, Virginia. The family consisted of Jacob and his wife Fanny E., their seven children (Jacob L. 16 years, Rachel A. 14 years, Josephine 12 years, James L. 10 years, Edward N. 8 years, Mary H. 5 years, George N. 3 years), and Jacob Low, a nine years old nephew of Fanny. The census enumerator recorded The Elder Jacob as a farmer, which was valued at $4000; he also had a $150 Personal Estate.
The Ninth United States Census, enumerated on August 10, 1870 for Wythe Township, Elizabeth City County, Virginia; lines 1-10, the Ostrander household (www.ancestry.com)
Name and address of deceased Jacob L. Ostrander
Age 24 21
If employed at time of death, where? was to go as Seaman and leave his mother $150
What, if any wages received? gave his family about $2 or 3 per week on average
Names and ages of those depending on deceased father Jacob 48 receiver on Old Dominion Steamship line $60 a month, six children daughter 18 (teacher but unemployed) boy 16 with Toote & Richardson Fulton St. NY $5 per week, boy 14, girl 12, boy 10, girl 8
Was the body identified? Yes
By whom buried? Farrell Barnum
Was funeral expenses paid by the city? No, family paid $59.50 for funeral
What, if any, wages received by surviving members of the family? $20 a week
Are there any unemployed members of the family who are willing to work? If so, give occupation daughter teacher Rent $20 a month
Remarks and recommendations of visitors
family is much in want because husband has not been able to work nor daughter since the calamity
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society,
Brooklyn Theater Fire Relief Association Records, 1876-1879, Case Notes (N-Q)
This record is the second clue as to what Jacob L. Ostrander’s occupation was prior to his death (first being the newspaper obituary above). But it also sheds some light into his father’s profession. Both father and son worked on ships, though their jobs were complete opposite of each other. According to the records at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Jacob L. Ostrander worked as whaler.
Jacob’s name appears in Whaling Crew List Database, where he is described as 19 years old light skinned and light haired man standing at 5’6″ tall and resident of Brooklyn. He was on board of the bark Janet, which began its voyage from New Bedford, Massachusetts on April 12, 1875 under the command of Captain Peter Gartland. Jacob’s arduous voyage lasted nineteen months, as Janetreturned in November of 1876. The Whaling Museum website describes the conditions aboard a whaling ship as ranging from unpleasant to revolting. So, it is not surprising that the young Jacob should seek entertainment upon his return to Brooklyn. Alas, no one could have predicted that it would have been Jacob’s last visit to the theater.
Courtesy of the New Bedford Port Society and the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Crew List for bark Janet for the year 1875
Along the Historic James River by Robert F. Day, page 31
Name: Jacob L. Ostrander
Native of: U.S.
Resident of this City: 21 years
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Birthplace: U.S.
Mother’s Birthplace: U.S.
Place of Burial: Green-Wood Cemetery
Undertaker: Thomas W. Barnum, 329 Fulton
Certificate of Death: 11387