Portrait of Jacob Schieffelin

Portrait of Jacob Schieffelin

Jacob Schieffelin


Jacob Schieffelin, the Philadelphia-born son of a German immigrant businessman, engaged in furnishing stores and provisions for the British Army in Canada, was an entrepreneur who moved vigorously into commerce and real estate speculation wherever he found himself.


Jacob Schieffelin (born August 24, 1757, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Colony; died April 16, 1835, in New York City, NY), the Philadelphia-born son of a German immigrant businessman engaged in furnishing stores and provisions for the British Army in Canada, was an entrepreneur who moved vigorously into commerce and real estate speculation wherever he found himself. Although Schieffelin served with the British forces during the Revolutionary War, he married a fierce anti-British Quaker, and developed and maintained strong family and business ties with his American in-laws. His complex story of shifting loyalties in an era of fluctuating political, economic, and social boundaries enriches our understanding of the early years of the American Republic and provides insights into how New York City overcame years of British wartime occupation and gradually emerged as an economic engine that helped power the young United States.

Family Background

The Schieffelin family traces its roots back to the thirteenth century. The family possessed a great deal of land in Swabia, a region that is now part of southwestern Germany and northern Switzerland.[1] Jacob Schieffelin’s grandfather, Johann Jacob Schieffelin (1702-1750), visited North America in 1743 while seeking business opportunities on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean.[2] Johann Jacob (1) possessed large properties in Swabia, and his visit and subsequent decision to settle in Philadelphia attest to his desire to seek new business ventures in fields such as land speculation in British North America. His sons, Jacob (2) and George, the father and uncle, respectively, of Jacob Schieffelin (3), arrived in Philadelphia days after their father’s death in 1750 and pursued numerous business opportunities in the maturing colonies.[3]

Johann Jacob (1) married Maria Katharine Answerder on April 24, 1731, and his son, the second Jacob (2), was born in the Duchy of Württemberg (later the Kingdom of Württemberg and now part of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg) on February 4, 1732.[4] Jacob (2) married Regina Ritzhauer six years after his arrival in Philadelphia on September 16, 1756, at St. Michael’s and Zion Church.[5] His son, Jacob Schieffelin (3), the subject of this biography, was born in Philadelphia on August 24, 1757. Jacob (2) had three other children, all sons: Melchior (1759-1769); Jonathan (1762-1837); and Thomas (1769-1828).[6]

During the Revolutionary War, Jacob Schieffelin (3) married Hannah Lawrence, a member of a long-standing Quaker family who themselves had married into long-standing American families.[7] Jacob (3) established strong business bonds in both trade and real estate with Hannah’s siblings and their spouses. Understanding these links is crucial to appreciating the family’s interrelationships, as well as its impact on New York City.[8] Seven of Jacob and Hannah’s children survived to adulthood, two died young. Of the surviving seven, four (Henry Hamilton, Effingham, Richard Lawrence, and Anna-Marie, represented by her husband Benjamin Ferris) were involved in the family’s commercial and real estate activities.[9]

Business Development

In 1760, ten years after arriving in Philadelphia, Jacob Schieffelin (2) moved his young family to Montreal during the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years’ War) soon after it passed into the hands of the British in order to continue his efforts “furnishing stores and provisions” for the British Army.[10] Nine years later, Jacob (2) died in Philadelphia during a business visit, but his family remained in Montreal after his death.[11] In 1770, at age thirteen, Jacob (3) went to work in the store of Lazarus David, a respected Montreal merchant, as a clerk. Five years later, at age eighteen, Schieffelin was enrolled in the Canadian militia raised in Montreal to oppose the American colonists’ 1775 invasion of Canada.[12] The following summer he resigned his clerkship with Lazarus David and made his way southwest, with good references, to the British fort and frontier settlement of Detroit.[13]


Soon after arriving in Detroit, and shortly after opening a store that presumably offered general purpose merchandise and groceries, he “suffered a violent fever, with chills and ague.” During the illness he was visited by Governor Henry Hamilton who attended to him, mixing his medicines and otherwise looking after him, and subsequently treating him like a son.[14] In 1777, the British had undertaken a major western offensive using Detroit as a base to recruit and arm Native-American war parties to raid American settlements.[15] Hamilton appointed Schieffelin both secretary of the government and a lieutenant in the Detroit Volunteers, effectively placing him on an equal footing with British Army officers regarding rank and pay.[16] Hamilton also recommended that Schieffelin acquire a business partner to handle day-to-day activities and keep the store running while Schieffelin was away from Detroit on military or government service. On June 28, 1777, Schieffelin entered into partnership with Thomas Smith.[17] The following year, he purchased a house and lot from Theophile Lemay, thus beginning his life-long real estate career.[18]

Contrary to policies that prohibited government officers from engaging in trade with locals, fearing there might arise “an over indulgence to the natives,” records from the Canadian Archives reveal that Schieffelin engaged routinely in business activities during his years in British government and military service.[19] In April 1779, the British sloop H.M. Angelica, en route to the British post at Fort Michillimackinack, jettisoned two trunks of china belonging to Schieffelin in Lake Erie that were worth £856 (approximately £89,700 in 2011£ or $142,000 in 2011$).[20] Around the same time, Schieffelin noted in his journal that he had sustained a wartime loss related to a shipment of animal pelts. [21] At the end of the American Revolution, Schieffelin filed a claim for the lost china with Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton of Quebec.[22] This was one of numerous government claims Schieffelin filed during his career to recover losses sustained as a Loyalist during the Revolution and later as an American merchant during the Napoleonic conflict preceding the War of 1812.

In 1778, Governor Hamilton, while stationed in Detroit, initiated a military campaign to reestablish British control over the Illinois country after American forces under George Rogers Clark captured several trade posts and settlements. Hamilton, Schieffelin, and other Loyalist military officers, together with a large body of Native-Americans, marched southwest to Vincennes on October 7, 1778. Schieffelin’s journal entry of this date briefly presented the plan: “The 7th of October 1778 went on an Expedition against the Illinois, under Governor Hamilton who had instructions from Lord Dartmouth” to continue down the Mississippi and take New Orleans.[23] The expedition reached Vincennes in December, and the local militia surrendered to the British forces. However, Clark returned and surrounded Vincennes, forcing the British to surrender the settlement on February 24, 1779. Historian Gerald O. Haffner describes Clark’s capture of Vincennes as “the most important event in the West during the War for Independence.”[24] The British prisoners, considered a very rich prize, were marched to and imprisoned in Williamsburg, Virginia, from where Schieffelin escaped on April 19, 1780. An account of his escape, “with M. [Philippe Francois Rastel, Sieur de] Rocheblave, late Commandant of Illinois to Little-York,” was published within days of his reaching New York City.[25] After their escape, Schieffelin and Rocheblave spoke French when conversing with Americans they encountered as they made their way north to New York. The ruse helped convince listeners that both men were French, and thus allies of the American revolutionaries, which permitted them to pass unmolested through territories under American control.[26]

Schieffelin and Rocheblave reached New York City on July 9, 1780, and were welcomed to the British-controlled city. Their arrival was reported in the Royal Gazette on July 12.[27] In New York City, Schieffelin met Hannah Lawrence, the daughter of a Quaker family that traced its origins back to seventeenth-century Long Island. Lawrence, considered a local beauty, participated in a writing society and disseminated incendiary poetry against the British occupation under her penname “Matilda.” She personally distributed some of her missives in front of Trinity Church, and was fortunate not to have been caught committing such a treasonous act. It is unclear how the two met but by August 9, a month after he reached the city, Schieffelin was billeted with the Lawrence family, as is noted in Hannah’s “A Journal of Her Lady’s Courtship.”[28] Hannah began the journal on July 20, shortly after she began seeing Schieffelin, and it ended with their marriage on August 13. They were married at the home of Surgeon General John Field by British Army Chaplin Reverend W. John Walter of Boston, having been refused parental and Quaker Meeting permission for the marriage.[29]

On September 15, 1780, Schieffelin and his new wife set sail for Quebec on the Harlequin. [30] After delivering dispatches to General Haldimand in Quebec, Schieffelin planned to return to Detroit where he would “continue as lieutenant, and be employed in the Indian Department if needed.”[31] He arrived in Quebec on October 17, delivered the dispatches two days later, and received a warrant from the paymaster for “328.19 Sterling [approximately £34,000 in 2011£ or $54,400 in 2011$] for my Pay from 24 Sept. 1778 to the 24 Sept. 1780,” as he related in his journal.[32] The back pay covered his service with Hamilton in the Illinois country and his time as a prisoner of war.

Jacob and Hannah Schieffelin returned to Detroit via Montreal and reached the western outpost on April 24, 1781.[33] Once in Detroit, Schieffelin returned to his position as government secretary and continued to purchase land.[34] Although the British forbade land purchases from Indians, numerous tracts were purchased by British officers and supporters once it became clear that Britain would not prevail in the revolutionary conflict. Of Schieffelin’s purchases, most notable was a grant obtained from the Ottawa Nation in October 1783 for “a tract of land seven miles square, fronting on the south side of the Detroit River, near its mouth and directly opposite Isle au Bois Blanc.”[35] Schieffelin may have anticipated the British government’s strategic interest in establishing a settlement opposite Detroit, which would soon become an American settlement, on the Canadian side of the Detroit River. Although the deed was subsequently cancelled and the land conveyed to the British in 1790, the purchase demonstrated Schieffelin’s foresight as a land speculator, a skill he would put to good use two decades later in Manhattan.[36]


At the conclusion of the American Revolution, provincial military officers serving in the British Army in Detroit were dismissed from service effective June 24, 1784.[37] Jacob and Hannah moved to Montreal where Schieffelin pursued a career as a merchant, auctioneer, and importer. His appointment as “a Public Vendue master for the City and District of Montreal” authorized him to buy “and sell all and whatsoever Lands, Tenements, goods and effects, which may at any time be required.”[38] During this period, he accepted John Shuter as an apprentice “to be taught in the art and mystery of a Merchant or a Shopkeeper” for a six-year term commencing 1791, which suggested that his business was successful and that he expected to remain in Montreal for an extended period of time.[39]

In addition to commerce, Schieffelin expanded his real estate holdings in Canada. Records indicate that he filed for grants of lands in Canada in 1789, 1792, and even in 1803, long after he had moved to New York City.[40] Family papers document that he received 500 acres of land north of the Ottawa River.[41] Schieffelin also purchased land in the United States. A January 23, 1794, letter discussed real estate purchases in upstate New York, but provided no details about the transactions.[42]

In 1789-1790, Schieffelin spent an extended period of time in England lobbying on behalf of himself and the loyalist Canadian veterans who served under him during the war. On October 25, 1789, Schieffelin embarked on the ship Integrity bound for London where he sought to obtain compensation in the form of half-pay and recognition of rank for himself and his men. While in London, he maintained a chatty and lengthy journal chronicling his social activities, but included little information on his business activities, with the exception of mornings spent in the local coffee house where he caught up on news and presumably inquired of local business, as he would later do at the Tontine Coffee House in New York City. It is likely that he spent time with Effingham Lawrence, the brother of his father-in-law John Lawrence. Effingham Lawrence, the uncle of the Effingham Lawrence whose drug business Schieffelin would later take over in New York, had moved to London after his marriage and had become a druggist. This family relationship would provide a link between Quakers in England and the drug business in New York City and would allow access to the latest and best products available. Although Schieffelin’s trip to England was primarily related to his wartime service, the four to five months he spent in London provided him with an opportunity to meet with his father-in-law’s brother, acquaint himself with potential business partners, and establish relationships that would be important when he entered the drug business in New York City.[43]

By early February 1790, Schieffelin had wrapped up his business in London and was preparing to depart. Before he left, though, he placed orders for “sundry articles to get made by manufacturers” and prepared to ship the goods back to Montreal. A six page Inventory of Sundry groceries and Merchandize shipped by Jacob Schieffelin detailed the many items that he purchased in London, which carried a total value of £796, 15s, 5d (approximately £74,300 in 2011£ or $118,000 in 2011$).[44]

Despite living in Montreal, Jacob and Hannah’s relationship with Hannah’s extended family was strong, as letters between Schieffelin and John B. Lawrence, Hannah’s brother in the early 1790s demonstrate. The relationship exemplified the transnational social networks maintained by family and friends in the United States and British Canada which “kept departed [Loyalists] updated on the situation in town[s], sometimes aiding them in buying back attainted lands or counseling them on their next move.”[45] Lawrence wrote to Schieffelin on September 27, 1793 that he regretted “much you not coming to N. York with us as Effm. is anxious to come to some agreement respecting the store.” There is nothing in the papers to indicate why Effingham Lawrence was so anxious to sell the firm although his death in 1800 at the early age of forty suggests he may have been in poor health. Perhaps in order to hasten Schieffelin’s decision, Lawrence added that a person in the city has applied for part of the store. “I shall desire Effm to let you know his terms immediately on his return from Country.”[46] By early 1794, Schieffelin and his family had returned to New York City where he and his brother-in-law John took over Effingham Lawrence’s drug business, originally established in 1781 at 227 Queen Street (also known as Pearl Street) in Manhattan.[47]

New York – Druggist

When Schieffelin and John Lawrence entered into the drug business, the trade was primarily conducted by wholesale houses in New York and Philadelphia.[48] Before the Revolutionary War, drugs and botanicals had been mostly supplied by the English. By the time of the Revolution, about half of the drug manufacturing in England was controlled by the Quakers.[49] Quaker pharmacists in America had ready access to the latest and most up-to-date information thanks to their coreligionists in England. At the end of the eighteenth century, druggists provided a wide array of medicines, botanical products, cooking spices, surgical supplies, medicine chests, as well items found today in hardware stores — paints and glassware, for example — to general stores, physicians, farmers, plantations, ships, and apothecary shops. [50] Soon after the beginning of the eighteenth century, many druggists and apothecaries had expanded into chemical manufacturing, an activity that accelerated during the Revolutionary War, when, cut off from England, druggists learned new manufacturing techniques to produce the embargoed chemicals.

While Lawrence and Schieffelin’s firm had a London agent to source materials for their firm, they did not operate any retail branches besides their Manhattan store and depended on intensive advertising to promote the business.[51] One of the first advertisements, typical of many issued by the firm over the next eighteen years, announced that the new store at No. 195 Pearl Street had “just received by the late arrivals from Europe, an extensive and general assortment of Drugs & Medicines, which will be sold on the lowest terms for cash, or on a short credit, by Lawrence and Schieffelin: Under which Firm, the business of the said store will, in future, be carried on with punctuality and dispatch.” [52] The notice added that the firm has “Medicine Chests of all sizes for ship use, or that of private families, with proper directions.”[53] Within a month the firm’s advertisements included notices that they were accepting apprentices, suggesting that the business was growing. A September 1795 advertisement announced the replenishment of stock brought by the Ohio from London and the Union from Amsterdam; and added that the firm would prepare physician and family prescriptions, in addition to stocking medicine chests, shop furniture, vials, surgeons’ instruments, and other items.[54]

In 1794, the same year that Schieffelin joined the New York City business community, the Tontine Coffee House opened on the corner of Wall and Water Streets in Manhattan. It was the first iteration of the New York Stock Exchange and was used by a group of local traders who had set down the rules for stock trading in the 1792 Buttonwood Agreement. Schieffelin’s brother-in-law, Effingham, was one of those who formed the association that was responsible for upkeep of the building on whose second floor businessmen bought, sold, and traded stock and merchandise.[55] Ships’ captains also visited the coffee house to register their cargo, that is, provide details of the specific goods, volume, and value of cargo so appropriate taxes could be assessed. It eventually became one of the city’s busiest centers for buying and selling stock and other goods, as well as for conducting business deals and discussions. Schieffelin visited the Tontine Coffee House to purchase and trade cargo from ships that supplied his drug store, and also, in 1804, to purchase property in Ohio which was auctioned there.

Schieffelin’s success convinced him to expand his business beyond medicinal drugs. Since New York City’s harbor could accommodate deep-draft oceangoing vessels, by the end of the eighteenth century it had surpassed Philadelphia in the value of imported goods and therefore offered merchants increasing opportunities for trade. Schieffelin took advantage of this potential and added shipping and additional foreign trade to his business. He had several warehouses in New York City, where he stored imported goods such as double-refined saltpeter, coffee, Muscavo sugar, and gun powder. Schieffelin’s growing interest in shipping and importing concerned his partner John Lawrence enough that he withdrew from the partnership in 1799. Lawrence soon thereafter established a new store at 199 Pearl Street.[56] There is little reason to believe the reorganization was less than amicable since the brothers-in-law soon began investing jointly in property on the northwestern end of Manhattan Island, which eventually became known as Manhattanville. Schieffelin’s early efforts in shipping were successful, one 1795 voyage yielded a return of $25,000 (approximately $462,000 in 2011$), and he began to invest these profits in real estate, his second major business activity.[57]

Many of Schieffelin’s business activities were conducted within a broader family network that encompassed both the Lawrence clan and later his and Hannah’s offspring. The strong family connections that Jacob and Hannah had maintained with her relatives while the couple was living in Montreal continued after their return to New York City. His partnership with John Lawrence proved successful. Another brother-in-law, Richard L. Lawrence, operated a business a couple of doors down on Pearl Street that imported and sold leads, steel, pots, kettles, and other hardware.[58] The success of these businesses encouraged others in the family to open their own firms and in May 1801 two of Schieffelin’s sons, Edward L. and Henry Hamilton, purchased the stock of the late Dr. Nicholas S. Bayard and entered into co-partnership at 193 Pearl Street, next door to their father. [59] Barely a month later, this firm advertised for an apprentice, a sign that business was strong despite the nearby competition.[60] In July 1802, Schieffelin expanded his business and was appointed the wholesale and retail agent for P. Paterson, M.D, of London, and began selling Paterson’s “restorative vegetable drops” as well as his “nervous cordial pills.”[61] In 1803 his son, Edward L., now operating independently out of a storefront at 218 Water Street, expanded his products to include Glauber’s salts — a hydrate of sodium sulfate used widely at the time for its medicinal properties — as well as an antidote to the “dangerous effects of impure wines, otherwise undescribed.”[62] Both of these products speak to a couple of the major health concerns of the era: recurring epidemics of yellow fever and cholera and impure or poorly preserved food. In June 1804, Edward announced a partnership with Jonathan Schieffelin, Jacob’s (3) brother. The new firm, J & E Schieffelin & Co., operated out of 179 Pearl Street, where they had taken over the store of James Thomson.[63] This firm was dissolved in 1807 and its business subsequently conducted by a partnership of Jacob’s two brothers, Jonathan and Thomas, operating as J. & T. Schieffelin.[64] In 1805, Jacob and his son Henry joined together under the name Jacob Schieffelin & Son, and announced that the goods in their several warehouses would be of interest to dealers of drugs and medicines “on the continent of America, and the West-Indies.”[65] Jacob and Henry’s partnership was dissolved in 1814, “by mutual consent,” and the business conducted by the new partnership of Henry H. and his brothers Effingham and Jacob, under the name of Henry H. Schieffelin & Co, a name which would continue until 1849, when Henry retired, handing the firm over to four of his sons, Samuel Bradhurst, Sidney Augustus, Bradhurst, and James Lawrence, under the name of Schieffelin Brothers & Co. [66] These changes show that family members moved easily into and out of partnerships with each other, since many of them were in the same business, with a stock of similar products, and all located in close proximity to the busy docks along the East River waterfront.

Despite competing against each other at times, Jacob Schieffelin, his sons, his wife’s siblings, and their respective spouses maintained good relationships that continued for decades. The Manhattan New York City Directory of 1828-1829 lists John B. Lawrence, druggist, operating at 195 Pearl St. and offers nine separate listings for Schieffelin firms: Bradhurst [in-law of Henry Hamilton Schieffelin] & Schieffelin, druggists; four sons of Jacob — Effingham Schieffelin, marine justice; Henry H. Schieffelin, attorney; Richard L. Schieffelin, attorney, solicitor, and counselor; Henry H. Schieffelin & Co., druggists; — and four others, presumably sons of Jacob’s brother Thomas who died in 1828 — H.L.W. Schieffelin, owner of a china store; H.M. Schieffelin, merchant; Theodore Schieffelin, sail maker; Thomas, merchant.[67]

The various businesses operated by the Schieffelins and Lawrences, beginning with Schieffelin’s first partnership with his brother-in-law, John, offer testimony to the two families’ central place in the fabric of New York City’s business community in the early years of the Republic. While Schieffelin’s business relationships with his in-laws and his sons were numerous and, for the most part, successful, the only business relationship on record with his brothers and their sons was limited to the short-lived partnership of Jacob’s brother Jonathan and Jacob’s son Edward L. that dissolved after three years in 1807, in apparently ruinous financial condition.[68]

The nearly continuous war between Great Britain and France, which began in the early 1790s and continued for the next two decades, and both nations’ seizures of neutral American ships and cargo caused enormous trade disruption for merchants and shippers during the era.[69] British and French confiscations of vessels containing cargo belonging to Schieffelin brought him considerable losses. President Thomas Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807, which banned American ships from sailing to foreign ports, was intended to serve as a warning to both Great Britain and France by preventing them from obtaining American merchandise on American ships. Instead it caused far more harm to the U.S. economy whose businessmen could ill afford the loss of trade with Europe. John Lambert, travelling back to New York in early 1808, offered a bleak view when he reported that

…there were 500 vessels in the harbor, which were lying useless, and rotting for want of employment. Thousands of sailors were either destitute of bread, wandering about the country, or had entered into British service… and the farmers refrained from cultivating their land; for if they brought their produce to market, they either could not sell at all, or were obliged to dispose of it for only a fourth of its value.[70]

Trade disruptions, due to the Embargo or the subsequent War of 1812, seriously affected all American merchants who dealt in goods imported from Europe. Schieffelin’s business during the war changed greatly. Where once many ships had arrived routinely from England, France, and Holland filled with goods for his and others’ stores, now there were none. Consequently, Schieffelin could only offer local, American-made products in his shop.

In addition to affecting his merchandise selection, the trade disruptions and losses affected Schieffelin’s bottom line. His operations had relied heavily on capital raised from investors and banks, capital that had always been repaid once goods were sold. Schieffelin began to carry heavy debts that could not be so readily repaid. These circumstances “compelled him to sell his horses and carriages, his country estate of Rooka Hall and reduce his expenses in every way.”[71]

Some of his shipping was insured, some not. Although Schieffelin’s records detail what he insured, for how much, and what he paid, they shed no light on why he did not insure all shipments. He filed claims with Great Britain and France for ship losses on uninsured cargo and went to great lengths to pursue the claims. One of the losses he suffered, cargo of the ship Brunswick seized in Antigua in July 1807, was initially considered to be an insured loss. In 1811, the Lords of Appeal in London reversed course, however, and declared it uninsured, opening the way for London to pay.[72] Nonetheless, correspondence and documents in the files carry on through 1823, when it was argued that the case fell under the spirit of the Tenth Article of the Treaty of 1794, “it being a case of the debt due not from an individual British subject to these American citizens, but from the Government itself.”[73] The claim was never resolved but the fifteen-year history of the claim is testimony to the tenacity with which Schieffelin pursued the loss.

As the War of 1812 was winding down, Schieffelin retired from the pharmacy and shipping businesses, ostensibly to better manage property he had purchased in Pennsylvania (1796) and in Ohio (1804), leaving the firm in the hands of his son, Henry Hamilton Schieffelin. The inventory of Schieffelin’s estate, prepared on his death, shows no outstanding debts owed, indicating that his debts to investors and banks had been paid. While family records suggest that Schieffelin retired to manage his out-of-state property, documents also show that he continued to purchase property in Manhattan.

New York – Real Estate

As early as 1778, Schieffelin began purchasing real estate and he continued this practice soon after establishing his business in New York City in the 1790s.[74] Some of his purchases were clearly for speculative investment purposes, others for personal use, and some blurred the lines between the two. Land outside New York seems to have been purchased primarily as an investment venture — notwithstanding the fact that over thirty years later, his son Jacob Jr. would move permanently to land presumably owned by his father in Pennsylvania — and there are records of numerous purchases of this nature. On November 19, 1796, he and five others, mostly relatives, completed two major purchases of land in Lycoming, Pennsylvania.[75] One of the purchases consisted of 112 tracts of land, 110,859 acres in total, from William Parker, for $27,714.75 (approximately $487,000 in 2011$). The second purchase, from George Eddy and his wife, consisted of 114,545 acres for $22,909 (approximately $402,000 in 2011$). In each purchase, two of the investors, Edmund Prior and Effingham Lawrence, acquired one quarter of the property each and the other four investors received one eighth of the property each. [76] In one day, the six men purchased close to 225,000 acres in north-central Pennsylvania. The following year, Schieffelin purchased lots in Columbia County and Saratoga County, south and north, respectively, of Albany, New York.[77]

A September 19, 1804, copy of the American Citizen, a daily New York newspaper, hand-annotated by Jacob Schieffelin offers a glimpse at how Schieffelin, and presumably many others, conducted land transactions during this era. The fourth page of the newspaper noted that Ohio property would be sold at the Tontine Coffee House on November 21, 1804, and provided location information, acreage, and descriptions (for instance, poor hill land or good rich upland) for each parcel. Shieffelin had marked some of the lots listed in the newspaper, on which he presumably had bid, and noted on the front page, “Marietta lands purchased by Jacob Schieffelin.” On the basis of similar public announcements and survey results, Schieffelin bid for and purchased numerous parcels of land throughout the Northeast. His inventory of assets, prepared in 1811, listed 1,173 acres in Ohio and 822 acres in Rochester, New York. A sale of land in Georgia to his son Richard, as well as a letter to his son Jacob regarding efforts to collect a debt in the South, show that he did not limit his investments to the Northeast.[78] Land speculation has been called perhaps the single most important process in understanding nation-making and in these purchases, Schieffelin was following the steps of earlier land speculators, who came where land was abundant and cheap, having left behind a world where land and its products, such as food and lumber, had become scarce. He was also following in the footsteps of contemporaries such as Washington, Franklin, Patrick Henry, and Daniel Webster who were all active land speculators in the Early Republic.[79]

While Schieffelin’s real estate dealings in undeveloped, rural land can be considered speculative purchases, those within the extended geographical sphere of New York City can be seen as investments in property directly relevant to the business life of the city. Schieffelin purchased some property for his own business activities and acquired other land with the intent to lease it for business or residential purposes, thereby developing a steady income on property he could later sell for profit. He commenced real estate purchases in the vicinity of Manhattan within six months of his arrival in 1794. His first purchase consisted of property in Brooklyn.[80] Since his business operated out of Manhattan, this was either intended as an investment property or purchased in anticipation of constructing a warehouse on the property in the near future.

Schieffelin used a portion of the $25,000 profit he made on one shipping venture in 1795 to purchase farmland on the Hudson River, property intended for his personal use.[81] Five years later, he sold approximately half of the property, a piece of land equidistant from the East River and the Hudson, to Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton built his estate home — the “Grange” — on the land. Schieffelin’s friendship with Hamilton, rather than a profit motive, appears to be the reason why he sold such a large piece of the land to the founding father. On the remaining parcel, fronting on the Hudson, Schieffelin built Rooka Hall, described in handwritten notes in the family papers as “containing twenty-five acres of beautiful meadow-arable and woodland, fronting on the Bloomingdale Road on the East, Myers Woods on the South, and Samuel Bradhurst’s farm of 100 acres on the North, with Hamilton’s country seat on the other side of the road.”[82]

On June 6, 1798, he purchased “all those lots or parcels of land, situated, lying and being in the seventh ward, of the city of New York, between the mansion house, late of James Delancey, Esquire, and the house commonly called the haunted house, known by lots number two hundred and seventeen, two hundred and eighteen, two hundred and nineteen, and also one half of lot number two hundred and sixteen.”[83] Six months later, he purchased 34 acres “in Haerlem (the 7th ward) for $10,750 [approximately $203,000 in 2011$].”[84] Just as the family businesses of the Schieffelins and Lawrences intertwined, so too did their real estate transactions. Schieffelin purchased and sold property to family members. For example, in March 1800, his brother-in-law John purchased lots of land in the Seventh Ward from Schieffelin and in the following September, several tracts of land in Lycoming, Pennsylvania.

Schieffelin’s various purchases and sales of property in Upper Manhattan suggest an overarching plan for many of these investments, a plan that would produce one of the earliest planned communities in the still-nascent republic. Schieffelin saw the potential of this under-developed part of northern Manhattan Island, with an excellent, though small, harbor on the Hudson River, and he purchased residential and business properties, built homes, introduced both industry and educational institutions, and eventually a local church to the community. In 1806 Schieffelin and his brothers-in-law, Thomas Buckley and John B. Lawrence, joined the lands they owned individually and jointly in northern Manhattan and requested that surveyor Adolphus Loss lay out the plan for Manhattanville, which was incorporated as a village the same year. Manhattanville was organized around a street grid that followed the natural topography of the area, on land that had long been cattle pastures and farms. Harlem Cove formed the heart of the commercial waterfront. Stables, warehouses, icehouses, and factories blossomed along Manhattan Street, which in turn became a major transportation route moving goods from what was then Kingsbridge Road to the Hudson River.[85] The Public Advertiser in 1807 described Manhattanville as

a flourishing little town, pleasantly situated near the banks of the Hudson, about eight miles from City-Hall… first projected and laid out twelve months ago by Mr. Schieffelin and others, since which an Academy has been erected, where are taught by persons of superior qualifications, the Latin, French and English Languages… A very excellent public house has been built and opened, together with many private houses and a ferry established to the opposite shore of the North [Hudson] river… and a market is contemplated to be finished in the course of the present summer. [86]

When established, the streets carried the names of Schieffelin, Effingham, Buckley, Lawrence, Hamilton, and Manhattan. Extant maps show not only the street plans and parcels owned by the individual developers, but also Harlem Cove, with its high and low water marks, situated at the west end of what is now 125th Street.[87]

Schieffelin did not confine his investments in Manhattan to the northern end of the island. He invested in property in Lower Manhattan with the intention of leasing it. As early as 1799, his firm posted notices of property available to rent, for business or residential use, in Lower Manhattan and Manhattanville.[88] Many notices listed multiple properties, such as a March 1809 announcement offering a dozen houses, one with a store, mostly in Lower Manhattan but another on Bloomingdale Road (later renamed Broadway) in the northern part of the island with “a few acres suitable for a gardener,” as well as several well-built two-story houses in Manhattanville.[89] His inventory of 1811 lists fourteen houses and lots in Manhattanville with a value of $28,633 (approximately $506,000 in 2011$); seven houses and lots in Lower Manhattan valued at $58,850 (approximately $1,040,000 in 2011$) and Rooka Hall valued at $16,000 (approximately $283,000 in 2011$). The majority of these properties (excepting his store on Pearl Street, his country estate, and the property in which he lived) were rental units.

Curiously, starting in 1808 Schieffelin’s firm posted rental notices for the Manhattanville Academy, “where a person qualified to take charge of a large respectable School, would meet with liberal encouragement.”[90] Later, the notices offered “to let or lease the buildings known as Manhattanville Academy and Boarding House, with a good garden and as much land as may be wanted for pasture and cultivation… also the Three-Story House on the westerly side of Walnut-street… has a number of rooms, and fitted up for boarders and a grocery store.”[91] These notices suggest that Schieffelin and his partners’ hopes for the thriving community, at least as far as the Academy was concerned, were fading. In 1810, perhaps in response to the losses he incurred due to British and French attacks on his shipping, Schieffelin placed Rooka Hall for sale in a notice, referring to it as “that elegant and beautiful Farm, of 24 acres, on the Hudson River and Bloomindale Road.… The buildings are insured for $7600 [approximately $143,000 in 2011$] – There are above 1000 choice grafted Fruit Trees… the fences have cost $1000 [approximately $18,900 in 2011$].”[92]

The Inventory of Real and Personal Estate of Jacob Schieffelin, dated January 2, 1811, outlines his investments as of 1810.[93] Presumably the trade losses he had suffered and his outstanding debt compelled the preparation of this inventory, one that includes houses, land, stock, shipments, and claims on the governments of England, France, and Holland. His summary shows real estate investments worth $137,305.33 (approximately $2, 430,000 in 2011$), less bonds and mortgages of $54,041.59 (approximately $955,000 in 2011$), and lost shipments and claims of $93,249.35 (approximately $1,650,000 in 2011$).[94] The details of the shipping losses offer clear testimony to his financial problems.[95] Subsequently, as he sold property, he annotated the Inventory so his estate could more easily be brought up to date. The change in his real estate holdings when he died offers stark witness to the effect of the shipping losses. The Estimate of Estate of J. Schieffelin prepared after his death in 1835 valued his real estate holdings (including New York City, Ohio and Pennsylvania) at $55,700 (approximately $1,470,000 in 2011$) and French claims of $7000 (approximately $184,000 in 2011$).[96] A Schedule of Lands Belonging to Jacob Schieffelin, published in August 1835 after his death, inventoried over fifty lots of over 10,000 acres in four Ohio counties. Some of these were purchased in 1804, but another half dozen purchases from 1815 to 1830, both in Ohio and Manhattan, attest that he continued to expand and manage his speculative land investments actively following his retirement from the drug business.

At the time of his death, however, there is no mention of property in upstate New York or Canada, and there were no outstanding claims against him and only one for him, against France, which was paid to his estate after his death. A decade after his death, three of Jacob’s sons (Henry H., Effingham, and Richard L.) are listed among the wealthy citizens of New York City, worth $200,000, $300,000, and $350,000, respectively (approximately $6,140,000, $9,210,000, and $10,700,000 in 2011$). The entries indicate that the bulk of their wealth derived from their father’s estate, presumably from property sold after his death.[97]

Social Status

Jacob Schieffelin, son of a German immigrant father, swore allegiance to the British crown and served as a member of the Canadian militia during the Revolution. He married into a long-standing American family, however, and, along with his family, became firmly entrenched in the business community of New York City. He joined the German Society in 1794 and, within a year of its founding in 1802, served as a director of the Washington Mutual Assurance Society.[98] Both of these associations provided him companionship and access to fellow businessmen in addition to the relationships he developed in the course of his business activities. The location of his businesses, as well as his early residences in Lower Manhattan, was in an area occupied by the great import and export houses of the era. These were situated strategically close to the East River docks, which served as a point of entry and departure for all manner of domestic and foreign commerce. As John Lampert saw in the first decade of the nineteenth century, just before the Embargo of 1807:

The Tontine Coffee-House was filled with underwriters, brokers, merchants, traders and politicians; selling, purchasing, trafficking, or insuring; some reading, others eagerly inquiring the news.… The coffee-house slip, and the corners of Wall and Pearl-streets were jammed up with carts, drays, and wheel-barrows; horses and men were huddled promiscuously together, leaving little or no room for passengers to pass.… Everything was in motion; all was life, bustle, and activity. The people were scampering in all directions to trade with each other, and to ship their purchases for European, Asian, African and West Indian Markets. Every word, thought, look and action of the multitude seemed to be absorbed by commerce.[99]

Schieffelin married into a prominent Quaker family, albeit without parental or religious permission. Even though his wife never sought reinstatement in the Quaker Meeting House and worshipped together with her husband and children in the Episcopal churches in the city, the two families became and remained close. Her family, his in-laws, played critical roles in his business interests as a merchant and a real-estate investor.

Although Quakers were fierce abolitionists, as was Schieffelin’s friend Alexander Hamilton, there is clear evidence of Schieffelin’s ownership of slaves through 1810 and beyond.[100] Schieffelin certified on September 3, 1800 that “a certain Negro child named George was born on the 29th day of June 1800 of my Negro woman slave named Betty, which child I abandon according to Law.”[101] This legal statement was part of the process of gradual abolition, freeing the owner from support of young slaves who were expected to be freed in the near future. The 1800 federal census shows five slaves in the Schieffelin household. The 1810 census lists one household slave and the 1820 census lists none.

Schieffelin’s investments in real estate in northern Manhattan reflected an effort on his part to create a vibrant community on a part of Manhattan Island that many thought would not be developed for centuries. In Manhattanville, he not only purchased land as an investment but also developed properties on the land, in effect creating one of the earliest planned residential and industrial developments in the Early Republic. Situated at approximately the same latitude, Harlem and Manhattanville flourished together throughout the nineteenth century as the two most prominent villages in Upper Manhattan. [102]

Shortly after Manhattanville was formed, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on Ninety-Ninth Street was consecrated. Schieffelin served as a vestryman for this church. At the time, this was the only Episcopal church between St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie and St. John’s in Yonkers. In 1820 the Reverend William Richmond began holding services in Thomas Finley’s schoolhouse, a building which had offered a meeting place for various religious groups. Ultimately, Schiefffelin donated a plot of land on which St. Mary’s Episcopal Church stands. The church was constructed between1824 and 1826 and, when the first frame church burned at the turn of the twentieth century, was replaced by the neo-Gothic structure that stands today.[103] The church established the first free school of New York, opening in 1824 to children of all denominations. Schieffelin and Valentine Nutter served as wardens initially, and Schieffelin’s son Richard L. was one of the first vestrymen.[104] Congregants of the church included veteran Patriots and Loyalists, Alexander Hamilton’s widow, African-American abolitionists, and Mayor Daniel F. Tiemann who owned the D. F. Tiemann & Co. Color Works which relocated uptown in 1832.[105]

Schieffelin’s business network developed in large part from his neighboring business associates and his in-laws, Hannah’s brothers, and the husbands of her sisters and cousins. Although his brothers Jonathan and Thomas resided in the city from at least 1804, and his mother, who had remarried an R.M. Gordon, died in New York City in 1816, there is little indication of business relationships between Jacob and his brothers.[106] Jonathan’s involvement with a major plan to purchase the Lower Michigan Peninsula through bribes to the U.S Senate, Thomas’s involvement with a major failed water scheme in Montreal, and Thomas’s insolvency in New York City may reflect serious shortcomings in their business acumen that Jacob recognized and sought to avoid.[107] In any event, despite close blood ties, there appears no evidence of a strong role of these relatives in his business life. Social relationships with Jacob’s mother or brothers do not appear in the family papers or other records, but it is possible that they maintained an active social life.


Although Jacob Schieffelin was born in Philadelphia to a German immigrant, his formative years in Montreal and service in the Canadian militia alongside the British Army made him comfortable operating in a transnational business and social environment. The fact that he was a Loyalist appears to have been founded more on his father’s immigration to the British colony of Pennsylvania and subsequent removal to Montreal, where he was enrolled in military service at age eighteen, rather than from a specific decision to oppose the American revolutionaries.[108] Although he joined the German Society shortly after arriving in New York City and surely benefitted from the connections it fostered with others of German ancestry, he did not demonstrate much interest in his German forebears.[109] His business interests were with European countries, chiefly England, but also France, the Netherlands, and the German states. He and his brothers serve as examples of German immigrant children who integrated successfully into the fabric of American life. Schieffelin’s experience also reflects the broader story of New York City during and after the American Revolution. It illustrates the rebuilding of the city after the war through mercantile and shipping business by former Patriots and Loyalists through import and export trade activities. The fate of his shipping business is but one example of the commercial problems that merchants had to deal with as the U.S. became ensnared in the conflict between Britain and France. His real estate dealings and community development efforts offer testament to the rapid physical expansion of New York City, and westward expansion of the nation, after the Revolutionary War.

Schieffelin was forced to liquidate many of his landholdings before his 1835 death in order to pay off the debts that he incurred as a result of ships and cargos lost to seizures at sea. However, the New York City medicinal drug business that he began in 1794 carried the Schieffelin name into the present era.[110] It is a testimony to his foresight and sound business practices that the business maintained a successful course for nearly 220 years. His descendants continued to serve New York City as lawyers and public servants, or by continuing the family entrepreneurial ways. His son Henry, following his father’s strong interest in increasing the purity of drugs and raising ethical standards, gave a great deal of time as secretary of the New York Druggists Association and played a leading role in the creation of the College of Pharmacy. [111] Jacob Jr., after an active business career in which he traveled extensively in South America, Mexico, and the West Indies, retired and moved to Tioga, Pennsylvania, presumably on some of the land purchased by his father in 1796. [112] Here he patented a machine for cutting straw in 1860.[113] In 1860, Schieffelin & Brothers, Co., then a partnership of Jacob’s four grandsons, persuaded Weston Howland, secretary of the New Bedford Coal Oil Company, to attempt refining oil from Schieffelin wells, and Howland’s success opened new business for the firm.[114] While the story of Jacob and Hannah highlights the permeability of the wartime boundaries and loyalties in greater New York City, and the country as a whole, and illustrates one way that Loyalists were reintegrated into the fabric of the new country, the story of Jacob, his forbearers, and his descendants also provides an example of the strong role that immigrants played in the early economic and social development of the United States. [115]


[1] Sources for Schieffelin genealogy include Maude Schuyler Clark, Schieffelin Genealogy, New York, 1934 (hereafter Clark 1) and Maude Schuyler Clark, Schieffelin Genealogy 2, New York, 1949 (hereafter Clark 2); Isaac J. Greenwood, “Jacob and Hannah (Lawrence) Schieffelin of New York,” New England Historic Genealogical Society Register, 51 (Oct. 1897): 449-453; Arthur Meredyth Burke, The Prominent Families of the United States of America, 1908; William S. Pelletreau, Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. 1, New York, 1907:112-115; Cuyler Reynolds, Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York and the Hudson River Valley, New York, 1914: 1296-97; Jane Thompson-Stahr, The Burling Books, Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling, Quakers [1600-2000], v 1, 2, Baltimore, 2001, 342-350; Schieffelin Family Papers, 1756-1907, The New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division (hereafter NYPL Family Papers) where there is material developed by Jacob’s son Richard L. (Box 22, Folder 1) and grandson George (Box 22, Folder 2). Documents collected by George include a number of official German Baptismal Certificates as well as a Historical and Biographical Sketch of the Schieffelin Family that details early family members. None of the above sources, with the exception of those in the NYPL Family Papers, provide a birth date for Jacob’s brother Thomas or death dates for his three brothers. Pedigree of the family of Schieffelin, NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1, provides Thomas’s birth date and death dates for Melchior (aka Michael), Jonathan, and Thomas. The death dates for Jonathan and Thomas have been confirmed by early-nineteenth-century newspaper death notices. Extract from a letter written in Montreal and dated 18 Dec 1802 to Robert Brown from Thomas Schieffelin, NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 2, provides information on the family of Regina Margretta Ritschaurin (also known as Regina Ritzchaur) although the date of arrival in Philadelphia (1690) is impossibly early for her documented marriage in 1756 and subsequent children; Clarke 1 and Clarke 2 give a birthdate for her of September 9, 1731. See Burke, Pelletreau and Reynolds for additional information on the family before they arrived in North America. NB: Maude Schuyler Clark, as noted on the chart Genealogy 2, is the great granddaughter of Henry Hamilton Schieffelin, Jacob’s son; she developed Genealogy 2 for the descendants of Jacob Jr.

[2] Clark 1 notes that Jacob (1) arrived on Sept. 26, 1743 on the ship Rossannah for a visit and then returned to settle in 1749.

[3] Jacob (2) and his brother George arrived in Philadelphia on September 29, 1750, on the ship Osgood, Clarke 2. For more on the eighteenth-century German immigration see: Marianne Wokeck, “The Flow and Composition of German Immigration to Philadelphia,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 105, 3 (July 1981): 249-278; Marianne Wokeck, “German Immigration to Colonial America: Prototype of a Transatlantic Mass Migration,” American and The Germans, An Assessment of a Three-Hundred-Year History, ed. Frank Trommler and Joseph McVeigh, Volume One (1985), 3-13; Marianne S. Wokeck, Trade in Strangers, The Beginnings of Mass Migration to North America, 1999; see especially Chapter Four, ”The Ordeal of Relocation” to appreciate the hardships of such a journey and consider the two trips of Jacob (1) and others who returned to the homeland to urge others to relocate.

[4] See note 2.

[5] Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriage Records, 1700-1821 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. The family records, including Clarke’s genealogy charts and the publications of Burke, Pelletreau, and Reynolds (see note 1) refer to her as Regina Margretta Ritschaurin. The marriage record cited refers to Jacob as Jacob Scheuffelin and her as Regina Ritzhauer.

[6] The following details on these sons are provided in Annals of the Schieffelin Family, No. 1, by Richard L Schieffelin, handwritten document in NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1. This appears to be the only instance recording the death year of the second son. Melchior (also referred to as Michael), born in Philadelphia, August 16, 1759, died in 1769; Jonathan, born July 16, 1762, in Montreal, died March 7, 1837, in New York City, unmarried; and Thomas, born at Montreal, February 5, 1769, married Hannah Kessler, June 27, 1798, died May 20, 1828. Greenwood, The NEHG Register, 449, indicates two additional sons who apparently died young (Joseph on January 30, 1769, and Lawrence on June 5, 1769), the same year that Jacob (2) died. Current research has provided additional details or documents for proposed marriage and death dates:

1) the marriage of Thomas, June 27, 1798, Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Marriage Records, 1700-1821;

2) the deaths of Jonathan, Thomas, and Hannah Kessler Schieffelin (d. January 26, 1822 at age 41), Ancestry.com. New York, Death Newspaper Extracts, 1801-1890 (Barber Collection);

3) the death of the younger Thomas, on January 7, 1835, where additional information adds a brother of his, H. L. W. — the younger Thomas, by virtue of address, apparently living with his uncle Jonathan.

[7] For instance, the Bownes, Burlings, and Embrees families. Lawrence genealogy is detailed in Thomas Lawrence, Historical Genealogy of the Lawrence Family from their First landing in this country, A.D. 1635 to the present date, July 4th, 1858, New York, 1858, as well as in Jane Thompson-Stahr, The Burling Books, Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling, Quakers [1600-2000], v 1, 2, Baltimore, 2001. A chart in the Schieffelin Family Papers, Yale University Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale Collection of Western Americana (hereafter Yale Family Papers), Box 9, Folder 142, carries the ancestry of Hannah Lawrence and appears to have been created by Clark in 1951.

[8] For these details and more see Thompson-Stahr: 176, 342-350. Hannah’s father John, whose occupation was described variously as bolter, baker, merchant, and shopkeeper, was the son of William and Elizabeth (Smith) Lawrence, born January 22, 1731 and married, August 13, 1755, to Ann Burling, daughter of John and Ann (Dodson) Burling who was born September 24, 1835. John and Ann Lawrence had 12 children, four of whom died young. Of the remaining eight, five (including Hannah) had, or their husbands had, close relationships with Jacob Schieffelin. These five are: Hannah Lawrence (b. July 8, 1758); Effingham (b. June 6, 1760, married Elizabeth Watson, d. December 3, 1800); Mary (b., October 17, 1763, married her first cousin, a watchmaker, Effingham Embree for which she was dismissed by Friends but reinstated in 1815, d. 1831); Anna (b., May 22, 1772, married Thomas Buckley a Pearl Street merchant associated with the Bank of America); John Burling (b., Oct. 31, 1774, married Hannah Newbold). Sources: note 10.

[9] The seven children of Hannah and Jacob of who survived to adulthood are:

Edward Lawrence (b. 9/3/1781, m. 1/1/1802 (Susan Anna Stewart), d. 10/1/1850;

Henry Hamilton (b. 6/20/1783, m. 4/19/1806 (Maria Theresa Bradhurst), d. 10/14/1865);

Anna Marie (b. 4/11/1788, m 4/12/1808 (Benjamin Ferris), d. 10/24/1843);

Effingham (b. 2/21/1791, m. 9/9/1813 (Mary Samler), d. 7/14/1868);

Jacob (b. 4/20/1793, m. ? (Elizabeth Chapman), d. 12/27/1880);

John Lawrence (b. 2/25/1796, m. 4/19/1844 (Matilde Therese Bowne), d. 12/5/1856);

Richard Lawrence (b. 11/9/1801, m. 8/3/1835 (Margaret Helen McKay), d. 11/21/1889.

Sources: Clark Genealogy; Thompson-Stahr: 344-5. A member of Henry’s wife’s family also appears as the partner in Bradhurst & Schieffelin, in the City Directory listing of 1829-1830.

[10]Annals of the Schieffelin Family, No. 1, in NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1.

[11] Jacob (2)’s widow remarried R.M. Gordon and died in in New York City, July 21, 1816; she is buried in Trinity Churchyard: Family document, Schieffelin, NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 2.

[12] Schieffelin’s work as a clerk and his enlistment in the military are related by Richard L Schieffelin in a handwritten document, Annals of the Schieffelin Family, No. 1, in NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1. “In 1775, being 18 years old, he was enrolled in the military of Montreal and was called out to oppose the invasion of Ethan Allen.”

[13] Council Minutes at Quebec, July 14, 1789, show that surveys were ordered for a number of “reduced officers,” including Jacob Schieffelin, who had served at the conflict of Bennington, August 16, 1777, from which we can assume he served in this conflict. Greenwood, The NEHG Register, 449. “Reduced soldier” referred to soldiers not actively employed who receive reduced pay.

[14]Annals of the Schieffelin Family, No. 1, NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1.

[15] Randolph C. Downes, Council Fires on the Upper Ohio: A Narrative of Indian Affairs in the Upper Ohio Valley until 1795. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1940: 195.

[16]Annals of the Schieffelin Family, No. 1, NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1.

[17]Annals of the Schieffelin Family, No. 1, NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1. Schieffelin kept a small journal from 1778 to 1794 in which recorded significant events: marriage, purchase and sale of property and birth of children (here after Schieffelin Journal). A photostat copy of this journal is in the Yale Family papers, Box 1, Folder 6. Another photostat copy is held at the Clements Library, University of Michigan. A typed transcript of the journal is available in the NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 3. Thomas Smith is noted as business partner in Schieffelin Journal, 19, 20.

[18] The sale was recorded in the Register of Detroit, N.I. Folio 529 and 530, by L. Dejean, Notary. Schieffelin Journal, 6. Family notes indicate that he built several houses in Detroit (NYPL Family Papers: Box 22,Folder 2) and a letter, dated June 30, 1805, and published in the New-York Gazette describing a conflagration in Detroit, reports that fire “commenced in the large frame house built by Mr. Jacob Schieffelin, of your city, at 9 o’clock a.m.… The only building left standing is a stable of Mr. McIntosh’s and the black house over the western gate – fortunately the troops have Fort Lemoult, for their quarters.” The New-York Gazette, July 20, 1805. Whether he owned the house at the time or was simply remembered as having built it remains unclear.

[19] Greenwood, The NEHG Register, 450.

[20] All 2011 financial figures based on “Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, “Six Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.K. Dollar Amount, 1270 to present,” and Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2011 using the Retail Price Index and Consumer Price Index, respectively. These indexes offer the most conservative estimate of the contemporary value of the historical figures.

[21] Schieffelin Journal, 10.

[22] Greenwood, The NEHG Register, 450.

[23] Schieffelin Journal, 7.

[24] Gerald O. Haffner, “A British Prisoner of War in the American Revolution: The Experiences of Jacob Schieffelin from Vincennes to Williamsburg, 1779-1780,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 86, 1, (Jan. 1978): 17-25.

[25] It appears as the last of the Loose Notes of the Proceedings and Sufferings of Henry Hamilton Esq.,… first published in New York Royal Gazette, July 15, 1780, and then reprinted in The Magazine of American History, I (1877): 186-193, and most recently in Haffner cited above.

[26] Haffner, “British Prisoner,” 25.

[27] He notes this arrival as well: Schieffelin Journal, 11.

[28] Five versions, none original, of A Journal of Her Lady’s Courtship are available: 1) Yale Family Papers: Box 1, Folder 1 (carbon copy typescript); 2) NYPL Family Papers Box 1, Folder 3 (photocopy typescript); and 3), 4), 5) NYPL Family Papers Box 7, Folder 2 (three photocopies of handwritten text). See discussion in the next note regarding these documents and her marriage date.

[29] Four different dates for Hannah Lawrence’s marriage appear in the record and the various versions of A Journal of Her Lady’s Courtship (see note 31) suggest why. There is one carbon copy of a typescript of the journal at Yale; a photocopy of a different typescript is in the NYPL papers. Also in the NYPL papers are three handwritten copies, two seemingly by the same hand, one of which is marked “copied by [illegible] Pell.” The third, in a different hand, is annotated “copied by mother, H.” The copy with no indication of who copied has a pencil notation added: “(she was married Aug. 16)” which coincides with the marriage date that appears in the St. Nicholas Society (Genealogical Records of the St. Nicholas Society of the City of New York 2 (1916): 117). The handwritten version marked that it was “copied by mother” also carries along the left margin, vertically, the information that she was married by the Rev. John Walter by virtue of a license from the Governor. This marginal note appears just below the horizontally written date, of August 13. The confusion may well arise by the fact that the handwritten copies, while having dates in the left margin, are not broken into separate entries. This construct was inserted into the typescript copies. Hence when Hannah writes in an entry assumed to be written on August 13 that she will be married the next day, there is reason why some marriage dates reflect August 14, as indicated at the bottom of the Yale carbon copy typescript. The NYPL typescript copy carries the date of August 12, 1780, for the last entry. So far it is unclear where the date of August 16 arose and why it was published by the St. Nicholas Society. August 12, 1780, is the fourth date that appears. It comes from the records of marriage licenses and may well have been when Jacob intended the marriage. State of New York. Names of Persons for whom Marriage Licenses were Issued by the Secretary of the Province of New York, Previous to 1784. Albany, NY, USA: State of New York, 1860. Ultimately, Schieffelin himself gives the clearest account in his journal in which we read in his own hand: “New York August the 13th 1780 Sunday in the afternoon was married to Miss Lawrence, by Virtue of a License from Lieut General Robertson by Rev. W. John Walter from Boston at the House of Dr. Field.” This entry appears to settle the various dates and locations of marriage since some report they were married in Trinity Church. Hannah was dismissed by the Quakers for marrying a non-member as reported in William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 3 (1940).

[30] Schieffelin Journal, 14.

[31] Greenwood, The NEHG Register, 451.

[32] Schieffelin Journal, 15.

[33]Ibid., 19.

[34]Ibid., 19-28.

[35] Greenwood, The NEHG Register, 452.

[36] Schieffelin Journal, 39-41; Clarence Munroe Burton, The History of Wayne County and the City of Detroit Michigan, Chicago, 1930: 215-216.

[37] Greenwood, The NEHG Register, 452.

[38] NYPL Family Papers, Box 5, Folder 13.

[39] NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 1. Forty years later on May 22, 1831, John Shuter wrote to Schieffelin with language showing that their families had remained close. NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 2.

[40] Greenwood,The NEHG Register: 452.

[41] NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folders 1, 2.

[42] NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 1.

[43] See note 14; Jacob Schieffelin, Journal from Quebec to London, 1789-1790. NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 3.

[44] His plans appear in a letter written February 4, 1790, to his wife’s sister Jane. The letter and inventory are in NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 3.

[45] Judith L. Van Buskirk, Generous Enemies, Patriots and Loyalists in Revolutionary New York, (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 189.

[46] NYPL Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 3.

[47] After the British left New York City, Queen Street reverted to its first name Pearl Street. Pearl Street is an English translation of the Dutch Parelstraat, so named for the many oysters found in the river. See http://dictionary.sensagent.com/pearl+street+%28manhattan%29/en-en/ (accessed April 7, 2012).

[48] A page in Schieffelin’s journal records the first of a number of large payments to his brother-in-law Effingham Lawrence, suggesting March 1, 1794, as the beginning of his partnership with his brother-in-law John B. Lawrence. Schieffelin Journal, 59. For more information on the origins and geographic concentration of the pharmaceutical industry in the two separate centers of Philadelphia and New York City, see Maryann Feldman and Yda Schreuder, “Initial Advantage: the Origins of the Geographic Concentration of the Pharmaceutical Industry in the Mid-Atlantic Region,” Industrial and Corporate Change, 3,3 (1996), 839-861.

[49] Gregory J. Higby, Keys to the Medicine Chest, Meriwether Lewis’s Drug Purchases in Philadelphia, (accessed 3/15/2012). For more on the English pharmaceutical establishment and the Quaker role, see Roy Porter, “The Origins of the English Pharmaceutical Industry,” Bulletin of the Society of Social History of Medicine, No. 41 (1987): 64-65; George Urdang, “The Influence of the Quakers on Philadelphia Institutions,” American Journal of Pharmacy, 118 (1946): 81-88.

[50] Medicine chests were staples of the druggists’ trade from the late eighteenth century through much of the nineteenth century, owing much to an American law of 1790 that required every vessel over 150 tons, with a crew of ten or more, owned by an American citizen, and bound on a foreign voyage to have a medicine chest put together by someone of known reputation and containing instructions for administering. In 1805 the law was revised downward to a weight of 75 tons and a crew of six or more. Eleanora C. Gordon, “Sailors’ Physicians: Medical Guides for Merchant Ships and Whalers, 1774-1864,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 48, 2 (1993): 139-156. “[S]ome of the large chests, on big clipper ships, cost $300 to $400, with firkins of extras. Some were as low as $1.25.” ($400 in 2010$= $7,170). Schieffelin & Co., 150 Years Service to American Health, (New York, Schieffelin & Co., 1944), 12.

[51] Y. Schreuder, “The German-American pharmaceutical business establishment in the New York metropolitan region,” Environment and Planning A, 30 (10), 1998: 1743-56.

[52] Since it was common practice for merchants to live in the same building as their stores, it is likely that Effingham Lawrence and his family stayed in their residence and the new firm of Lawrence and Schieffelin occupied a nearby structure.

[53]New-York Daily Gazette, June 10, 1795.

[54]The Daily Advertiser, September 4, 1795.

[55] New York Tontine Association, The Constitution and Nomination of the Subscribers to the Tontine Coffee-House, 1795, 42.

[56]Mercantile Advertiser, November 26, 1799; Mercantile Advertiser, December 14, 1799.

[57] Schieffelin & Co., One hundred years of business life, 1794-1894, (New York, W. H. Schieffelin & Co., 1894), 12.

[58]New-York Price-Current, April 4, 1801.

[59]Commercial Advertiser, IV, May 1, 1801.

[60]Mercantile Advertiser, May 19, 1801.

[61]Morning Chronicle, October 6, 1802.

[62]Mercantile Advertiser, March 11, 1803. Daily Advertiser, July 28, 1803.

[63]The Evening Post, June 6, 1804.

[64]People’s Friend, June 29, 1807.

[65]Commercial Advertiser, June 1, 1805. Two weeks later, the partnership of his son Henry Warren Bracket as an attorney-at-law, was announced, with an office at 193 Pearl St. next door to Jacob. Commercial Advertiser, June 17, 1805.

[66]Evening Post, October 29, 1814.

[67] H. M. Schieffelin is presumably Henry Hamilton’s son, Henry Maunsell, born August 7, 1808. Records show that Theodore married Mrs. Sarah C. McCleave on November 19, 1852, and died in Nantucket on October 9, 1883, age 77. The first of the presumed sons of Thomas can be tied into the family directly because of the death notice of the younger Thomas that indicates H.L.W. is a brother. H.L.W. married Eliza Jane Ebbets, June 24, 1828. Ancestry.com, New York, Marriage Newspaper Extracts, 1801-1880 (Barber Collection).

[68] A notice in 1809 of the sale “on the premises, all the right, title and interest of Thomas Schieffelin, Jonathan Schieffelin, and Edward L. Schieffelin of” No. 197 Pearl St., presumably an attempt to ward off the insolvency, is followed by a notice in 1811 to any creditors of J. and E. Schieffelin to show cause, and then on in 1812 a notice indicating the assignment of Thomas’s estate and a request for creditors to come to the undersigned. American Citizen, June 27, 1809; The Shamrock, June 15, 1811; Columbian, July 20, 1812. It appears that Thomas Schieffelin had also experienced serious business difficulties previously in Montreal. On April8, 1801, [John] Gray, two North West Company fur-trade merchants, Joseph Frobisher and Daniel Sutherland, the lawyer Stephen Sewell, and Thomas Schieffelin had obtained a provincial charter to provide ‘good and wholesome water’ for the inhabitants of Montreal.… Trouble plagued operations from the beginning: in winter the wooden pipes froze and burst; in dry summers, such as that of 1806, the source failed, and the company was compelled to purchase another spring. The operation was offered for sale in April1816, and three years later it was sold at a loss for £5,000 (approximately £299,000 in 2011£ or $472,420 in 2011$) to a company under the direction of Thomas Porteous. From the entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online for John Gray, (accessed March 17, 2012).

[69] “Secretary Monroe later reported that from 1805 to 1808 the Royal Navy made prize of one American ship every two days. (An American living in England asserted at the time that the real rate was ten per week).” Bradford Perkins, Prologue to War, 1805-1812, (Berkeley, University of California Press, Fifth Printing, 1974), 73.

[70] John Lambert, Travels through Canada, and the United States of North America In the Years 1806, 1807, & 1808. To Which Are Added, Biographical Notices and Anecdotes of Some of the Leading Characters in the United States, (London, C. Cradock and W. Joy, Second Edition, 1814), vol. 2, 294-295.

[71] Handwritten notes on Rooka Hall, NYPL Family Papers: Box 22, Folder 1. Advertisements placed in 1810 to sell or exchange “Elegant Country Seat,” for example, Commercial Advertiser, August 31, 1810.

[72]Commercial Advertiser, January 22, 1811.

[73] NYPL Family Papers, Box 3, folder 1. See also Walter Lowrie and Walter S. Franklin, ed., American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive of the Congress of the United States, From the First Session of the First to the Second Session of the Seventeenth Congress, 1834: Claim No. 512, 696-9. Claim No 512 was reviewed in the 1st Session of the 16th Congress in January 1820.

[74] The real estate transactions of Schieffelin discussed here are based on documents in the NYPL Family Papers and Yale Family Papers. Deeds of this time for Upper Manhattan routinely carry the designation of Ward 7 and Ward 9, although within a short time these were designated as ward numbers in Lower Manhattan and contemporaneous deeds carry these numbers for Lower Manhattan as well. References here carry the actual language of the deeds, despite the confusion.

[75] Yale Family Papers, Box 1, Folder 3.

[76] Of the other five, four were relatives — three brothers-in-law (Effingham Embree, Effingham Lawrence, and Thomas Buckley) and Samuel Bowne, cousin of Schieffelin’s wife — and the fifth was a merchant, Edmund Prior, whose firm was located near Schieffelin’s. Edmund Prior is listed as a merchant at 193 Queen St. (later Pearl St.) in close proximity to Schieffelin’s father-in-law (#162), Effingham Embree (#185), and Effingham Lawrence (#227). In addition to his business in New York, Prior had purchased land as early as 1785 in St. Lawrence County and so would have been a natural choice to join this purchase in Pennsylvania. Thomas E.V. Smith, The History of the City of New York in the Year of Washington’s Inauguration 1789, (New York, Anson D.F. Randolph & Co.,1889), 30-31; Samuel W. Durant and Henry B. Peirce, History of St. Lawrence Co., New York with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches, (Philadelphia, L.H. Everts & Co.,1878): 75.

[77] NYPL Family Papers: Parchment Deeds.

[78] NYPL Family Papers, Box 5, Folder 10. New-York Historical Society Mss Collection(Misc. Mss. Schieffelin, Jacob Non-circulating). Letters donated in 1978 by great granddaughter, Sarah Schieffelin Wilbour.

[79] Donald C. Holtgrieve, “Land Speculation and other processes in American Historical Geography,” The Journal of Geography, January 1976, 75, 1, 53-64.

[80] NYPL Family Papers: Parchment Deeds.

[81] Schieffelin & Co., 1944, 13.

[82] Schieffelin’s son Henry married Maria Theresa Bradhurst, whose father was Samuel Bradhurst. Historical and Biographical Sketch of the Schieffelin Family: 3, a typescript document in the NYPL family papers, Box 22, Folder 2.NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 1.

[83] NYPL Family Papers, Box 4, Folder 5.

[84] NYPL Family Papers, Parchment Deeds. Property, purchased from Samuel Kelly and his wife Johanna, is where he built Rooka Hall, made possible by the money he received from shipping in 1795.

[85] Gill, Harlem, 74; also New York City document, Proposed Manhattanville in West Harlem Rezoning and Academic Mixed-Use Development FEIS, Chapter 8, Historic Resources: 7 (accessed 3/30/12).

[86]The Public Advertiser, June 9, 1807.

[87] See, for example, the following, all in the New-York Historical Society: A map of Manhattanville situated on York Island, created by Adolphus Loss, 1806 (M33.5.9); Map of the water lots of Harlem Cove on the Hudson River, eight miles from the City of New York, shewing the grant by the Corporation of New York to John B. Lawrence and part of the Village of Manhattanville, created by Thomas Sidell, January 15, 1834 (M.15.3.9); Map of the area later bounded by 125th and 137th Streets, Douglass Boulevard and Broadway, Manhattan, New York (N.Y.), publication date between 1815 and 1834 (M10.1.10d).

[88] Two such advertisements offer properties in what would become Manhattanville (“10 to 50 acres… the land is under good improvement having plenty of fruit and good meadows… commanding extensive views of the North [Hudson] and East rivers, joining the seats of the late Gen Hamilton and Jacob Schieffelin.” Morning Chronicle, April 6, 1805) and in lower Manhattan at Corlear’s Hook (“newly built and well finished, large, 2-story House and 6 lots of Ground… commanding an extensive view of the East-river, & c. The House and situation would suit for a large family, or an Academy. Commercial Advertiser, May 4, 1805.

[89]Commercial Advertiser, March 9, 1809.

[90]Commercial Advertiser, April 11, 1808.

[91]The New-York Columbian, March 13, 1818.

[92]Commercial Advertiser, August 31, 1810.

[93] NYPL Family Papers, Box 5, Folder 2.

[94] In the details of his inventory, we note that he values the country estate at $16,000 (approximately $283,000 in 2011$) although Hamilton’s Grange across Bloomingdale Road was valued at $25,000 (approximately $442,000 in 2011$) shortly after his death in 1804. Gill, Harlem:73.

[95] The details Schieffelin provided in this inventory (NYPL Family Papers, Box 5, Folder 2) for the losses speak to how business was carried out, his own business sense and his meticulous record keeping:

Cargo of Brunswick July 1809, now before the Administration Court in England, $20,000 (approximately $377,000 in 2011$), no insurance;

Cargo of ship Dean lost in Texel in 1810, under insurance by New York Insurance Co., $20,000 (approximately $377,000 in 2011$);

Brig Jane, freight and cargo

Commercial Insurance Co., vessel insured for $5822 (approximately $110,000 in 2011$), premium $883.55 (approximately $16,700 in 2011$); freight insured for $4706 (approximately $88,800 in 2011$), premium $707.15 (approximately $13,300 in 2011$).

Ocean Insurance Co., cargo of drugs insured for $21,258 (approximately $396,000 in 2011$), premium $3,721.40 (approximately $70,200 in 2011$), “Insured against seizure in Swedish and Russian ports!!!”

New York Fire Insurance Co., cargo of Annatto & Tobacco insured for $11,600 (approximately $219,000 in 2011$), premium $1741.25 (approximately $32,900 in 2011$).

Total Insurance $50,499.35 (approximately $953,000 in 2011$), premiums $7053.35 (approximately $133,000 in 2011$).

Brig Resort, drugs and medicine shipped 22 June 1809, seized by French in the Texel and sold by them without cause, $2,750 (approximately $51,900 in 2011$). NYPL Family Papers, Box 5, Folder 2.

[96] NYPL Family Papers, Box 11, Folder 2.

[97] Moses Yale Bench, Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of New York City, (New York, Sun Office, 6th Edition, 1845), 25-26. The publication also lists a Henry C. Schieffelin as a brother of Richard L. Schieffelin. This person does not appear in any compilation of Jacob’s sons and may be part of the Thomas family.

[98] Notice of Directors of the Washington Mutual Assurance Company, American Citizen, June 15, 1803.

[99] Lambert, Travels, vol. 2: 63-64.

[100] The collection NYPL Family Papers, Newspapers includes copies of contemporaneous newspapers that are marked and saved for various reasons. One is the 1804 paper marked for land purchases in Ohio (American Citizen, September 19, 1804). Another was marked in the same fashion for four advertisements for female slaves — The Daily Advertiser, June 6, 1797. In Montreal there is record that he purchased a female slave in 1785: William Renwick Riddell, “After the Peace,” The Journal of Negro History, 5, 3 (July 1920): 296. The 1800 and 1810 Federal Censuses each record five slaves and then one slave, respectively, in his household, and in 1810 his son Henry recorded three slaves. In 1813 he advertises, three weeks in a row, for a run-away slave, an eighteen-year-old Anthony Smith for whose return he offers a $10 reward. (2010$=$141). The 1820 and 1830 Censuses show no slaves in his or his sons’ households.

[101] Library of Congress, Jacob Schieffelin papers, 1780-1929. As David N. Gellman writes “Determining how much flexibility to build into the system of gradual abolition proved to be a major challenge bearing on public finance. The proposed second enacting clause would permit masters to renounce their rights to slave children within a year of their birth. These children were to become the wards of their local jurisdictions.” Emancipating New York, The Politics of Slavery and Freedom, 1777-1827, (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 2006), 176.

[102] Schieffelin’s development is in direct contrast to that of John Jacob Astor who purchased foreclosed buildings and property and leased his own property and expected the lessee to develop. He did not believe in building although the exception was the hotel, Astor House, and his own brownstone on Broadway at the corner of Prince. Axel Madsen, John Jacob Astor, America’s First Multimillionaire,(Wiley, New York, 2001), 250-251.

[103] St. Mary’s Church – Manhattanville, (accessed March 19, 2012). A sketch of the original church and a photograph of the current church are available on this web site.

[104] Nutter was a Loyalist sympathizer who sat out most of the war and returned to New York and built Nutter Farm, at the corner of Lenox Avenue and West 110th Street. He had a stationary and book store in Lower Manhattan. Gill, Harlem: 66. Historical Sketch of St. Mary’s Church, Manhattanville, (accessed March 19, 2012).

[105] Guides Association of New York City, Manhattanville/West Harlem, (accessed March 19, 2012)

[106] NYPL Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 2.

[107]Account of a Plot for Obtaining the Lower Peninsula of Michigan from the United States in 1795, Michigan State Historical Society Records, Volume 8, 1900-13: 407.

[108] Presumably Jacob (2) would have sworn an oath of allegiance to the laws of the province and to the English king within a day or two of arrival in Philadelphia, a requirement indicated in Wokeck, Trade, 116.

[109] See note 1.

[110] The firm changed its specific name as family members entered and left as partners. Today, Schieffelin & Sommerset Co. serves as an importer of wine and distilled beverages, a reorientation of the original drug import business that began during Prohibition when medicinal spirits were permitted with doctors’ prescriptions.

[111] Following the establishment of the first college of pharmacy in Philadelphia in 1821, New York followed and the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York, whose plans were initiated by a clerk in H. H. Schieffelin & Co., was founded in 1829, where one of the first three vice presidents and then subsequently president was Henry H. Schieffelin, son of Jacob. 150 Years Service: 27-28. The college was founded as “an association of pharmacists, druggists, and others interested in the progress of the profession, for the purposes of mutual instruction, protection and assistance in all matters pertaining to their professional welfare.” Curt Paul Wimmer, The College of pharmacy of the city of New York, included in Columbia University in 1904; a history, 1929: 5.

[112] Walter Barret, The Old Merchants of New York City, New York, 1863: 115.

[113] U.S. Patent No. 30,695, dated November 30, 1860. Ancestry.com. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patents, 1790-1909.

[114] Zeph. W. Pease and George A. Haugh, New Bedford, Massachusetts, Its Histories, Industries, Institutions, and Attractions, (New Bedford, Mercury Publishing Co., 1889). 177-8.

[115] For more on this subject, see for example, Van Buskirk, 165-195.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Jacob Schieffelin
  • Coverage 1757-1835
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date May 23, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018