(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Story of John Kane of Dutchess County, New York"

UNIVERSITY 
OF PITTSBURGH 

SmM"^ Vault 
>.' A\ks -» CT 
%'yiM"-^ K1537K1 

LIBRARY 








ELIZABETH DENNISTOUN KANE 
May 12, 1836— May 25, 1909 



STORY OF JOHN KANE 

OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, NEW YORK 



BY 

ELIZABETH DENNISTOUN KANE 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 



PRINTED BY THE 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

FOR PRIVATE DISTRIBUTION 
I92I 



BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR 

ELIZABETH DENNISTOUN KANE 

May 12, 1836 — May 25, 1909 



ELIZABETH DENNISTOUN KANE 

Elizabeth Dennistoun (Wood) Kane was bom 
at Bootle, a suburb of Liverpool, England, May 12, 
1836. William Wood, her father, was a young Scotch- 
man connected with the banking house of Dennistoun, 
Wood & Co. Her mother, Harriet Amelia Kane, was 
a beautiful American of the New York branch of the 
family of the founder of the town of Kane, Pennsyl- 
vania. She was the third of six children. When she 
was six years old, she found her ideal in the gallant 
young cousin, Thomas Leiper Kane (later General 
Kane, Commander of the Famous Bucktail Regiment 
of the Civil War), who, wounded in France's Revolu- 
tion against Louis Philippe, found welcome and healing 
in her father's house. His kindnesses won her childish 
heart; and the French doll he gave her was never for- 
gotten. August 12, 1844, she landed with her parents 
in New York to make America their future home. Two 
years later her mother died. 

For seven lonely years, she found comfort and com- 
panionship with her studies and poets, brightened by 
occasional glimpses of her idolized cousin, Tom. At 
twelve she said once to her sister, " Why, I thought 
you all knew I intend to marry Cousin Tom Kane ! " 
On April 21, 1853, in Dr. Potts' Presbyterian church in 
New York, he placed on her finger the band of gold 
which she carried to her grave, prized more than any 
other earthly treasure. Then followed four years of 
tranquil happiness in Philadelphia, during which time 
her husband in his indignation over the " fugitive slave 

3 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

law," sacrificed one of his salaried positions; and, soon 
after, laid down the other to go on a special commission 
from President Buchanan to Utah and avert an impend- 
ing rebellion and massacre of the earnest but mis- 
guided Mormons. 

On his return, his fortune and positions gone, she 
uncomplainingly took her two babes with him to seek 
a new home and employment in the then wilderness of 
McKean and Elk counties. Eight months in each year 
were spent among the mountaineers at Upland, a farm 
on the McKean county line near Rasselas. The remain- 
ing months were spent in Philadelphia preparing 
reports and prospectuses to induce railroads and other 
industries to develop that mountain region. When he 
enlisted as the " first volunteer soldier of Pennsylvania," 
to quote Governor Curtin's words, for the suppression 
of the rebellion, she and her two children, Harriet and 
Elisha, were cared for by his aunt, Ann Gray Thomas, 
on her farm at Kingsessing, now part of Philadelphia, 
Her third child, Evan, was born there. 

The elder children long remembered those days 
when for supper they could have bread and molasses 
or bread and butter, but not both. For Uncle Sam paid 
his soldiers in money worth less than fifty cents on the 
dollar. Even for her children, the soldier's wife was 
frugal in using the charity of his kind relative. Not 
having money to give to the hospital of the Sanitary 
Commission, she solicited among the neighboring far- 
mers fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk; and many a 
wounded soldier blessed the kind hands that prepared 
the delicacies, and the sweet voice that spoke hope and 
consolation. Each sufiferer reminded her of her own 
beloved soldier, whose rare furloughs occasionally 

4 



ELIZABETH DENNISTOUN KANE 

brightened her days of anxiety. In 1863 baby Willie, 
who in manhood adopted his father's name, was born. 
In 1864, too broken by wounds, imprisonment and 
disease for army service, her husband was restored to 
her. Once more he took the agency for the McKean & 
Elk Land and Improvement Company, and repaired 
to the forest-clad hills to found the town of Kane. Until 
a house could be built, the wife and children stopped 
at the old Barrett (now Comes) farm on Marvin Creek. 
The difficulty of obtaining carpenters in that wilder- 
ness, or the money to pay them, delayed the house build- 
ing. So she took her children to dwell with him that 
autumn and winter in a new stable, cradling in a manger 
wee Willie. In the winter, wolves howled around the 
door and sprang against the walls; provisions often ran 
short; and once, while she lay helpless with erysipelas, 
the roof took fire above her head. She kept house, taught 
the children their lessons, nursed her husband's sick- 
nesses, and, at the same time, was his secretary and book- 
keeper for his lumbering and land business. In the 
first years of Kane, no doctors were nearer than Wilcox 
and St. Marys; so she and the General ministered to 
many sick, who love her to this day. Hope of financial 
prosperity was beginning when exhaustion from his 
congressional campaign in 1872 made his wounds break 
out afresh; and the doctors ordered him West lest he 
die. Business was hastily closed out and the home 
broken up, sending the two elder children to relatives, 
while the two little boys went with their parents to 
Utah. Kind care by the grateful Mormons brought 
back the husband to comparative health. In her book 
" Twelve Mormon Homes " she relates her experiences 
among these kind-hearted heretics. Some one in Kane, 

5 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

having previously abstracted from the mails a large 
check, changed its date, forged an endorsement, drew 
out all their money, and created a large bank overdraft. 
Hastily they returned for another struggle with poverty. 
She pawned her silver to make good the overdraft. The 
panic of 1873 made their railroad and coal lands unmar- 
ketable, and left them without income, burdened by a 
large debt incurred in cheap currency, and, by the law 
of ^"ji^^ made payable in gold, five dollars for two. Six 
years more of toil and self-denial brought them out of 
the most pressing debt and placed them once more in 
control of Kane and some timber tracts. One son was 
through college and able to help a little. 

She heartily endorsed her husband's proposal to 
resume the attempt to exclude the liquor traffic from 
new parts of Kane by restrictions more effective than 
those which they had been compelled to abandon in 
1867. An attempt on the son's life, which an anonymous 
threat showed to be a lawless protest, did not weaken 
either parent's determination. For many years the 
validity of the restrictions was unquestioned, and, as a 
consequence, the people who came to dwell in Kane 
were of the temperate and moral kind, who valued 
their lots none the less because under prohibition. Such 
settlers made Kane a city of virtuous, happy homes, 
and the resulting thrift and industry brought prosperity 
and profit in place of the loss which both she and the 
General expected to follow their adherence to the path 
of righteousness. 

During these years the dear old Aunt Thomas — 
General Kane having refused to let her leave her for- 
tune to him — built the Presbyterian church, wherein 
they and their children might worship. A touching in- 

6 



ELIZABETH DENNISTOUN KANE 

scription on the memorial tablet alludes to this choice, 
not of Mammon, one of the gods of the world in which 
we dwell, but of the service of the Lord. In the roof, 
the General placed a window to commemorate the 
text, " Consider the Lillies How They Grow," with 
which Mrs. Kane comforted him through the dark days 
of adversity. Then, slowly, began the return of pros- 
perity. They brought new settlers to the vicinity in 
1876 to 1879. Timber lands were sold to lumbermen; 
and the Erie railroad took part of the abandoned rail- 
road and coal lands. Another aunt, Mrs. Constable, 
left them her Philadelphia house. It seemed like a 
return of youth to her who was once a city-bred student. 
With her daughter as a schoolmate, in 188 1, she resumed 
her course in the Woman's Medical College, and gradu- 
ated as a physician in 1883. Her younger sons later 
passed through the Jefiferson Medical College. 

Again she suffered the keenest of grief, for pneu- 
monia from one of his wounds took her husband to a 
better home in December, 1883. The Philadelphia 
house was sold, and a new life began; a life in which 
the spirit of her husband, his aims and aspirations, took 
his place as the object of her love and care. She under- 
took a class in the Presbyterian Sunday School. The 
effort to protect Kane against more saloons expanded 
into license-fighting and prohibition campaigns. In 
one of these campaigns, her son was abused because the 
lessee of her Thomson House had a license. Next year 
she stipulated for no license, although advised) that 
financial ruin would result. Even the old wines, stored 
in time past in the cellar for medicinal uses, were 
quietly brought out and destroyed. Her membership 
in the W.C.T.U. became the delight of her life. She 

7 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

was chosen president of the local union, and then of the 
county union. She went as a delegate to State and 
National Conventions, both of the W.C.T.U. and of 
the Prohibition party. Everywhere at her side was her 
vivacious and high-spirited daughter, the white hair 
above whose youthful face told how she, too, was being 
purified through sufifering. The contemplated sacri- 
fice of revenue from the Thomson House was less than 
had been anticipated, Mr. Kemp coming back from 
Ebensburg to run it successfully as a temperance house. 

From unexpected quarters money began to pour in. 
Industries which she had helped to foster made Kane to 
grow marvellously; and oil was struck near Mt. Jewett 
on her lands. 

Next to the loss of her husband she felt the death of 
her father October i, 1894. Ever since marriage they 
had exchanged weekly letters, each telling the other 
not merely of daily happenings, but also of hopes and 
fears, trials and victories, and innermost workings of 
the heart and soul. 

In 1896 she was again bereaved, the only daughter 
falling dead in church while leading a prayer meeting 
and singing the missionary hymn "Speed Away!" 
Temperance and philanthropic work became still 
dearer to her. Her three daughters-in-law with one 
accord strove to perform the work of the absent one. 

The Woodside Hospital, undertaken by her son 
Evan in memory of his father's wounds and suffering, 
had been moved into Kane and much enlarged, partly 
by her assistance. It became an incorporated institu- 
tion under the name of Kane Summit Hospital Asso- 
ciation. Its benevolent efficiency was largely increased 
by the adoption of non-alcoholic medication as a rule 



ELIZABETH DENNISTOUN KANE 

of the institution. This radical departure was far in 
advance of the times, but is now in line with the best of 
practice and highest medical authorities. When 
patients became too many for even its enlarged accom- 
modations, she donated to it the Thomson House. 
There it still continues the work of healing. She was 
its treasurer and most active member of the board 
of managers. 

During the last five years of her life her health 
began to fail ; and the sons compelled her successively to 
abandon her Sunday School class, the National and 
State Conventions, and finally her official relations with 
the hospital. Winters had been spent in Florida and 
California, each of which places had reminded her of 
the rest and beauty of Heaven. To the last she retained 
in full possession all her faculties, her love of study, and 
her keen interest in philanthropy and social reforms. 
She was studying Spanish during the last winter of her 
life. She was an expert at fancy-work, and had some 
skill in wood-carving. Her literary works were prin- 
cipally essays on politico-economic reforms, far in ad- 
vance of the times. To train her children, she and her 
husband followed the precepts of Jesus instead of Solo- 
mon. No blow from rod or hand nor lashing of tongue 
ever gave pain to the tender little beings whom God 
entrusted to their protection. So, in their family, love 
working no ill to the dear ones became the fulfilling 
of the law of the home. 

One bright spring morning, the 25th of May, 1909, 
after a night of happy visions of those she loved in the 
better world, she blessed her remaining children and 
grandchildren who were gathered around her bedside, 
in the home she had made dear to them, bade them 

9 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

good-bye, and fell into a tranquil sleep, from which she 
never waked again in this world — a sleep so gentle 
that no one could tell just when she passed from this 
life to the next. 

Mrs. Kane's youth was surrounded by the refinements 
of wealth, her married life by the perils and privations 
of the frontier, and her later years by the growing com- 
forts of one whom the Lord has blessed. Measured by 
her benefactions, her wealth in these later years has 
been placed high ; measured by her income, it was but 
moderate ; and, measured by her self-indulgences, very 
small. She possessed the pearl of great price, and had 
much wealth laid up " where moth and rust do not 
corrupt." Her friendships and associations, desires and 
ambitions were likewise of a permanent nature, being 
connected with her religious, philanthropic, and patriotic 
work. She prayed, waited, and worked for the coming 
of the Kingdom, when the Divine will shall be done on 
earth as it is in Heaven. She found God to be im- 
measurably pure, holy and loving; abhorrent of sin, and 
full of pity for the sinner; unwilling that one of these 
little ones should perish. She followed Him as a dear 
child, combating every form of evil, and tenderly pity- 
ing every evil-doer. She lived to see slavery abolished 
before the cannons of the North, and the gates of liquor- 
dom breaking down before the peaceful army of pro- 
hibition and the thunders of God's wrath. 





7ff^iam_ 



STORY OF JOHN KANE 
OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, NEW YORK 

" The book is completed and closed, like the day, 
And the hand that has written it lays it away. 
Dim grow its fancies, forgotten they lie. 
Like coals in the embers to darken and die." 

Should I not print this, I wish it be kept for my 
eldest grandson and beloved child, Elisha. 



SA^aJe/iy<z^^ mm^ 






WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES. 

At the beginning of this year of grace, 1901, I am 
left, the last of the descendants of our immigrating 
ancestor, John Kane, knowing anything whatever about 
our genealogy. I am linked through my own recol- 
lections, and my husband's books of notes and the let- 
ters of our predecessors, with old John Kane and his 
children, one of whom, James, I saw when a child. So, 
at the opening of the 20th century I will try to jot 
down what I know or remember hearing of our kindred 
who belonged to the 17th and i8th. I must ramble 
without much connection in my story, I fear. And, 
first, for my authorities. 

Somewhere about 1850 — half a century ago, when 
I was a girl of fourteen — my father, William Wood, my 
mother's cousin, the Hon. John K. Kane, of Philadel- 
phia, and his second son, afterwards my husband, 
Thomas L. Kane, were bestirring themselves actively 
about our family history. I think that my Cousin 
Tom, as I then called him, was the moving spirit in the 
matter. For him, his father wrote his autobiography, 
now in my possession. He persuaded his great-aunt, 
Mrs. Thomas Morris (who was born Sarah Kane), 
to write a charming narrative of her reminiscences. 
He induced Great-Uncle James Kane to write long 
letters to his niece, Mrs. John Constable, from which I 
subsequently extracted such passages as were reminis- 
cences of his father and mother, copying them out in 

13 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

a dark-blue covered book with gilt clasps, now in our 
library. He made my father give him such recollec- 
tions as he had of my mother's uncles. These are also 
repeated in my father's printed autobiography. He 
followed his own father's example by visiting the neigh- 
bourhood of the old Kane estate in Dutchess County, 
New York, and talking with those who still remem- 
bered (with hatred) the Tory Kanes. He had spent 
months at Eaton Hall in Norfolkshire, England, with 
our old kinsman, Archie Morrison, and heard his anec- 
dotes of his boyhood days at his Uncle Kane's. He 
gathered the recollections of Chancellor Kent and his 
son. Judge William Kent. He collected letters of the 
different children of old John, and preserved them in 
our Family Book. He made inquiries in Ireland, based 
upon the information he had gathered, and obtained an 
exceedingly interesting letter from Mr. John O'Hara, 
my great grandfather's nephew, as well as some infor- 
mation from the then Consul at Belfast, Mr. Valen- 
tine Holmes. The originals of these letters are in the 
Family Book. 

At the time of my husband's death he was corre- 
sponding with the head of the O'Kanes in Ireland, 
Francis de Vismes Kane, of Drumreaske, who, how- 
ever, could not afford much information of value to us. 
I helped him to the best of my ability by collecting 
genealogical tables of Kane and O'Neill descents. All 
these are copied in the Family Book. 

Lastly, from " The Annals of the Four Masters " 
and Burke's " Extinct Peerages " I picked up matter 
relating to the O'Neills and O'Kanes, as well as the 

14 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

O'Haras, and from Burke's " Landed Gentry " and 
other volumes in the old Philadelphia Library. Burke's 
Genealogies have been called the Bible of the English, 
but he is very inaccurate. As a sample, take the Rose 
Magennis, v^ho was daughter of Sir Arthur Magennis, 
first Viscount Iveagh, by his wife Sarah, daughter of 
the " Great Earl " Hugh of Tyrone. In the Magennis 
genealogy (Extinct Peerages, page 348) Rose is said to 
have married first Moelmurry Oge O'Reilly, and sec- 
ondly, Melaghlin O'Kelly. Yet, in the O'Neill Geneal- 
ogy (Extinct Peerages, page 607), she is given as 
the first wife of Sir Shane O'Neill and mother of his 
heir, Henry, through whom the estates passed to his 
only child, Rosa, who married Randal MacDonnell, 
ist Marquis of Antrim. Burke gives no other Sir 
Arthur Magennis who could have been the father of 
another Rose Magennis at that time. For O'Neill's 
wife. Rose Magennis, predeceased him, as he married 
a second time and died in 1617. Rose Magennis' eldest 
brother was born in 1599, so she must have been older 
than he to have married Sir Shane O'Neill, yet not 
old enough for Sir Shane to have been her third hus- 
band. The Rose Magennis who married O'Neill was 
the daughter of the first Viscount Iveagh — ^yet the same 
woman is set down as married to two other men, accord- 
ing to Burke. Where these great people who have title 
deeds, and charter-rooms to keep them in, and to whom 
a correct genealogy is so important, make mistakes so 
gross, it is no wonder that we cannot be sure of our 
descent, as no one knew or cared much about our ances- 
try until long after John O'Kane quitted Ireland. Fires 

15 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

of persecution had destroyed old parish churches with 
their records, and the laws that confiscated the property 
of Irish Catholics, especially those in rebellion, handed 
their lands over, either to the politicians of the ruling 
side, or to those members of the family who would for- 
swear the ancient religion and become Protestants. 

Consequently, when we go back into the 17th 
century, we pass from certainty into tradition respect- 
ing the descent of John Kane (of Sharvognes, Shar- 
vaugh, or Scharvaugh, Dutchess County, New York), 
from the O'Neills of Clanaboy. 

Who were the O'Neills, and why do the Kanes wish 
to claim descent from them? The O'Neill pedigree, 
which I have copied into the Family Book, goes back 
to a chief or king, monarch of Ireland at the close of 
the 4th century, the rule of whose dynasty was inter- 
rupted for a time by that of the usurper Brian Boru! 
When one comes down to comparatively modern times, 
say about 1215 A.D., we find two O'Neill brothers; one 
of whom, Prince O'Neill Roe (Roe means Red), be- 
came ancestor to the O'Neills of Tyrone; the other, 
Hugh Duff or Dubh (Black) was King of Ulster, sixth 
in descent from the monarch, Daniel Ardmach, and 
died in 1230. This Hugh Dufif was ancestor of the 
O'Neills of Clanaboy. His grandson, Aodh-Buidhe, 
Yellow-boy Hugh, King of Ulster in 1260, recovered 
from the English the territories in the provinces of 
Down and Ulster, called after him Clan-oadh-buidhe, 
anglice Clanaboy, and had, for his chief castle, Eden- 
dufT-carrig, now Shane's Castle. The last of this royal 

16 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

house, who bore the title of King of Ulster, was Donald 
O'Neill, who died in 1325. 

" Edan-dubh-cairge " was destroyed in the time of 
Henry VII of England, 1490. In the days of Queen 
Elizabeth it was owned by Bryan O'Neill, who was 
treacherously slain by Essex, and he was the last Lord 
of Clanaboy. Queen Elizabeth had granted half of 
Antrim to Essex, and in the endeavor to obtain pos- 
session of it he " lured Sir Brian O'Neil of Clanaboy 
into the Castle of Belfast — then, after a merrymaking, 
treacherously seized upon him, his wife, his brother 
and his retainers, and put them all to the sword, two 
hundred in number." (Walpole's " Kingdom of Ire- 
land.") Queen Elizabeth considered that Brian had 
been cruelly dealt by, and divided his property between 
his sons Conn and Shane. Sir Shane O'Neill was the 
eldest. He built Shane's Castle on the site of Eden- 
duff-carrig. Sir Shane had joined Hugh, Earl of 
Tyrone, in rebellion, but submitted in 1586, and died 
in 1617. 

Although the Clanaboy O'Neills are thus shown 
to be the older and legitimate branch of the O'Neills, 
they are overshadowed by Hugh O'Neill, Earl of 
Tyrone, known as the Great Earl. He was the second 
Earl, but when he went into rebellion against Eliza- 
beth, though brought up in her court, he repudiated 
the title, claiming that of The O'Neill as the greater 
one. He was, however, the grandson of an illegitimate 
O'Neill, Matthew, son of Con Baccach O'Neill, the 
first Earl of Tyrone. This Matthew was created Baron 
Dungannon, 1542. 

17 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Hugh, the Great Earl, after many vicissitudes of 
fortune, fied to Rome in 1607, where he died in 16 17. 
He had sons who distinguished themselves in exile; 
but two of his daughters, of whom he had four, interest 
us. His first wife was a daughter of Sir Brian Mac- 
Phelim O'Neill, from whom he was divorced. By his 
second wife, Judith, daughter of Magnus, and sister 
of Red Hugh O'Donnell, he had, among others, a 
daughter Sarah, who married Sir Arthur Magennis, the 
first Viscount Iveagh, and she had a daughter Rose, 
who married (as his first wife) Sir Shane O'Neill of 
Shane's Castle, thus uniting the two families. Earl 
Hugh's second daughter was the first wife of Sir Donal 
Ballagh O'Kane, who divorced her when he quarrelled 
with her father. Her name is left blank by Burke, 
but Francis de Vismes Kane, who claims to be his direct 
descendant, wrote to us in 1883, that it was either Rose 
or Una. As her niece (who married Shane O'Neill) 
was also named Rose, this is quite probable. But it 
must be borne in mind that, among the rebel Irish, 
Ireland was spoken of as " The Little Black Rose," or 
" Dark Rosaleen," and therefore the great frequency 
of the name Rose may have had some patriotic meaning. 

We have a family tradition that Evanne O'Kane 
was descended from Sir Donal Ballagh O'Kane, but we 
have no legal proof. I observe that Francis de Vismes 
O'Kane's pedigree, drawn up in 1715, starts from " a 
son " of Donald Ballagh, giving no name, so perhaps 
we have as much right as he to claim our descent from 
another son of Sir Donal. 

The arms we use are gules, three salmon fishes 
18 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

hauriant, argent, with three mullets in the corners. In 
heraldry these mark a third son. The crest is an arm 
embowed, holding a sword proper. The motto : " Fide 
et amino." 

These we derive from a cornelian seal which was 
the property of Capt. Bernard Kane, brother of our 
immigrating ancestor John, and a bookplate, also his, 
which was brought to America by my Great-Uncle 
Charles Kane, on his return from a visit to England and 
Ireland in 1784 or 1785. Bernard Kane will be spoken 
of further on. The seal and bookplate passed to Judge 
John K. Kane ; were given by him to Dr. Elisha Kent 
Kane when he went to China and the Philippines. Be- 
fore he left, Robert P. Kane, his brother, had the book- 
plate copied by Mason, a Philadelphia engraver. 
Elisha lost the originals. 

Francis de Vismes O'Kane says that these are pre- 
cisely the arms of his family, only that, finding a still 
older coat in a MS. of 1584, he discarded the mullets, 
or as he thinks they should be, " estoiles," or stars, but 
wishes he had not done so. He carries them as a descend- 
ant of Sir Donal Ballagh. These are the arms borne, 
with slight variations, by all of the O'Cahans, Keanes, 
Kanes, and so forth, descended from the ancient race. 
He says that these simple arms are old, and stigmatizes 
as " barbarous " those modern ones on the cenotaph of 
Sir Richard Kane in Westminster Abbey. 

Quoy (pronounced Covey) O'Cahan, from whom 
I believe Sir Richard to have been descended, was the 
third son of Shane (John) O'Cahan, chief of the Sept, 
and grandson of Donal O'Cahan of Coleraine, in Lon- 

19 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

donderry. His arms were three salmon hauriant, one 
argent and two or, crest a mountain cat, saliant proper; 
Motto : " Inclytus virtute." I learn from all authorities 
that the genealogies given are unreliable, and I incline 
to believe that Sir Richard was a connection of ours, 
though most certainly not the near connection of John 
and Bernard, as claimed by Bernard. Sir Richard was 
born at Duncane in the Barony of Toom, Co. Antrim, 
Dec. 20, 1666; died Dec. 19, 1736, and was buried in 
the citadel (or capital) of the Balearic Isles. John 
O'Kane, our emigrating ancestor, was only two years 
old at this time, and by no possibility could his younger 
brother Bernard have held the conversations with him 
which he, " Uncle Barney," repeated to Uncle James 
Kane. Sir Richard's father and grandfather were each 
Thomas O'Kane. Bernard called Sir Richard his 
" uncle " : if so, his father's name would have been 
Evanne, not Thomas. His bust is on the cenotaph, 
and the features strongly resemble several of the Kanes, 
while his character resembles those of Elisha K. Kane 
and Thomas L. Kane. He was born in the immediate 
neighborhood of John Kane's birthplace, so that there 
is a likelihood that they were akin. The coat of arms 
carried on the cenotaph is the same attributed by Burke 
to the O'Kanes, Chiefs of The Route and Limavaddy, 
who were represented by Sir Donal Ballagh O'Kane, 
but are said somewhere to have been borne by an O'Kane 
who became a Conde of Spain. Quite probably. Sir 
Richard, during his Governorship of Minorca, obtained 
these arms himself from Spain. They are: 

Azure, on a fess per pale gules and argent between 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

in chief out of the horns of a crescent a dexter hand 
couped at the wrist and apaume, surmounted by an 
estoile, between on the dexter a horse counter saliant, 
and on the sinister a lion rampant, each also surmounted 
by an estoile, and in base a salmon naiant all argent; on 
the dexter side three lizards passant, bend sinisterways 
gules and on the sinister an oak tree eradicated vert; 
over all an escutcheon argent charged with a cross cal- 
vary on three grieces proper. Crest, a cat-a-mountain 
rampant proper. Motto : " Felis demulcta mitis." 

It was this crest and motto that General Thomas L. 
Kane suggested that his sons should adopt, as an emblem 
of his having founded the new House of Kane in the 
so-called " Wild-Cat Country " of the Pennsylvania 
Mountains. It was, therefore, only a fancy of his own, 
not an inherited crest. 

The explanation of the curious coat-of-arms is 
as follows: 

" Derry," in Irish, means an oak wood, and the " oak 
tree eradicated vert " shows that the shield-bearer was 
of the dispossessed O'Kanes of Derry. The three croco- 
diles refer to his descent from the Egyptian princess 
Scota (and therefore also from the O'Kanes of Antrim) , 
through Ir, the third son of Scota and Milesius. The 
three mullets in heraldry indicate a third son, and the 
mullets and estoiles look so like each other that they are 
sometimes mistaken for one another. The centre of the 
shield carries " over all " an escutcheon of pretence, 
which is borne by a man who marries an heiress. In 
this case it is a cross calvary on three grieces, that is, 
a cross on three steps. If one could find out what family 

21 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

carried the arms of this heiress it would show some 
indication of the personality of the owner of the shield. 
The moon with the cusps turned up indicates a fight 
with the Moors. The " hand apaume," or palm for- 
ward, is the Red Hand of Ireland which is borne by the 
O'Neills, but I also think indicates a baronet. The 
swimming fish refers to the fisheries from which the 
O'Kanes derived revenue. 

Sir Walter Scott says that many clans descended 
from the great Clan Chattan (Chathain, Cahan) bore 
the Mountain Cat as their emblem. 

Returning to Sir Donal Ballagh O'Kane, husband 
of Rose or Una O'Neill, daughter of the great Earl of 
Tyrone, his genealogy runs thus : Magnus, Chief of the 
Sept, killed in 1548, was succeeded by Roderick, who 
died in 1598. This Roderick married Mary, daughter 
of The O'Donnell, and their son was Sir Donal the 
" Ballagh," or '' Freckled." He became chief of the 
clan in 1602, succeeding Shane, after three other chiefs 
who intervened, Donogh, Manus, and Roderick, his 
own, i.e., Sir Donal's, father. 

Sir Donal was imprisoned in the Tower of London 
in 1608, although he had made his submission to the 
Crown. I tell farther on how he got there. He had 
received knighthood at the hands of Sir Arthur Chi- 
chester, the Lord Deputy, 28th June, 1607. His estates 
were confiscated and he died, it is stated, in the Tower; 
another authority says, in Dublin Castle. I have often 
heard Judge Kane tell the story that our ancestor, The 
O'Kane, humorously remarked that he would be the 
first of the family not to die of gout in the head. This 

22 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

he said when imprisoned in the Tower; and this would 
of course apply to Sir Donal's anticipation of his prob- 
able fate. 

We have, or rather had, for I fail to find it just now, 
a paper in Latin drawn up by some priest, which states 
that Evanne O'Kane's grandmother was Mary O'Don- 
nell, great-grandniece of Owen Roe O'Donnell. This 
Owen Roe O'Donnell could not have been the cele- 
brated Owen Roe, for he only died in 1629. But the 
paper gives an incidental corroboration of our claim 
to be descended from Sir Donal O'Kane, since his 
mother and Evanne's grandmother were both Mary 
O'Donnell. Query: Were they the same woman? 

The similarity of the coats-of-arms borne by Francis 
de Vismes Kane of Drumreaske, claiming to be de- 
scended from Sir Donal, is another coincidence. 

We can, however, prove nothing; but for that mat- 
ter I find that Burke merely states Kane of Drum- 
reaske's claim, so that the one is no more authentic than 
the other. 

The O'Cahans were a powerful and very ancient 
tribe, fighting under the suzerainty of the O'Neill 
Kings of Ulster, and their chiefsoftenintermarryingwith 
the O'Neills. Their territory extended from Lough 
Foyle to the River Bann, and they possessed several 
strongholds — the most noted of which were the castles of 
Limavaddy and Dungiven, County Derry, and Dunse- 
verick in County Antrim. I used to hear when I was 
young that we were " O'Kanes of the Routes." But the 
O'Kanes do not seem to have held the Routes long 

23 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

They captured and held them at times from their 
hereditary enemies, the MacQuillans. " The Routes " 
in Antrim comprehended the Baronies of Dunluce and 
Kilconway: the chief's seat being at Dunluce. The 
O'Kane chiefs of the Route mentioned in The Annals 
of the Four Masters had among their names one of fre- 
quent occurrence, " Aibhne," which was pronounced 
Ayevnee, and is anglicized into Evanne. A feminine 
form of the name occurs in 1508 as Aibhilin (Eveline). 
She was the daughter of Thomas O'Kane and wife of 
Owen Roe O'Neill. 

Dunseverick (of which Dr. Evan O.N. Kane made 
a rough water colour drawing, from a photograph 
brought from Ireland by Helen Shields Stockton) is 
described as on a bold rock projecting into the sea, 
near the Giants' Causeway. Traces of the old fortifi- 
cations still remain. 

In the blue-bound book to which I have formerly 
referred will be found extracts from the Four Masters, 
containing every reference to the O'Kanes in their long 
Annals of Ireland. They show perpetual fights and 
marriages among the O'Cahans and with the O'Neills, 
O'Donnells and MacQuillans. They also show that the 
O'Kanes' country formerly included Derry, Coleraine 
and part of Antrim. It was nearly all confiscated by 
Queen Elizabeth's commissioners, and those of James I 
finished the work. But the O'Kane chiefs, though be- 
coming outlaws, did not sink into " common men." 

Among King James the First's efforts for the 
" pacification " of Ireland was the destruction of the 

24 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

old system of holding land. The old Brehon laws were 
to be abolished, and the English system introduced. 
" Accordingly, when Tyrone and the other chiefs of 
Ulster renewed their submission to James and received 
their letters-patent, he compelled them to accept as 
defined freehold estates their own demesne-lands only, 
and to give up all claim to the rest of the tribal land, 
otherwise occupied, only reserving to them a fixed rent- 
charge out of these lands, for which their irregular 
' cosherings ' were committed. The sub-chiefs were 
confirmed in the land occupied by them, which 
was defined in the same manner, and accepted as an 
estate in fee subject to the payment of the rent- 
charge." — ^Walpole. 

" A decision of the Queen's Bench in Dublin in an 
ejectment suit ruled that the law of Tanistry and Gavel- 
kind was nothing but 'a lewd and damnable custom'; 
and that land was descendible only according to the 
limitations of English law. The immediate result of 
this was that the northern chiefs found themselves 
plunged in litigation. Tyrone had a lawsuit with 
O'Kane in respect of his seignorial rights over O'Kane's 
territory; and, on the case being tried by the Council, 
it was conveniently discovered that neither party had 
any right to the subject matter in dispute, but that it had 
been vested in the Crown since 1570! 

" Sir John Davis had instituted a galling system of 
espionage over Ulster, so that Tyrone complained that 
' he could not even drink a full carouse of sack, but the 
State was within a few hours advertised thereof.' In- 

25 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

suited by the King's officers, he appears to have dropped 
some incautious words to Lord Kelvin, and the latter 
seems to have had some secret conversation with Tyr- 
connell. There is no reason to suppose that this vague 
talk was in any way serious ; but, whatever it was, Lord 
Howth, who was admitted by the government to be 
unworthy of credit, managed to obtain an inkling of it, 
developed it into a cut-and-dried plot to seize the Castle 
and murder the Deputy, and embodied it in a letter, 
which he purposely dropped at the door of the council- 
chamber. Tyrone, who was shortly to appear in Lon- 
don, on the hearing of the appeal in the suit of O'Kane, 
received information that it was the intention of the 
government to arrest him on his arrival in England." 
He and Tyrconnell fled with their families to the con- 
tinent, eventually reaching Rome. Tyrconnell died 
there the following year, and Tyrone, broken and blind, 
in 1617. " In the meantime, O'Kane had been put on 
his trial for treason, a charge for which there does not 
seem to be a shadow of foundation. But, as a Donegal 
Jury had recently acquitted Sir Neal O'Donnel, it 
was considered unsafe to try to obtain a legal conviction 
in Ulster, and he was forwarded to the Tower, where 
he afterwards died." — Walpole's Kingdom of Ireland. 

The Act of Attainder passed Anno 11, 12, 13 Jacobi, 
included O'Kane among the list of conspirators men- 
tioned in the letter of March 19, 1607. 

The Annals of the Four Masters give the year 1608 
as that of O'Kane's imprisonment in the Tower. 
Docwra says that he submitted to the English in 1602. 

26 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

He was knighted by Sir Arthur Chichester, the English 
Lord Deputy, on June 27, 1607, and died in 1627. Sir 
Donal's eldest son died without issue in 1642 at Clones, 
" foully murdered by an English officer to whom he 
had surrendered." He had been surprised by an am- 
bush while reconnoitering. His name was " Donal 
Givelach of the chains." A daughter, Margaret, mar- 
ried a son of Quoy Ballach O'Cahan, the same whose 
arms so nearly resemble ours. Our ancestor Evanne 
may have been Margaret O'Cahan's son. At any rate, 
as children say, we are "warm" when we hunt for our 
ancestry in the family of Sir Donal " the freckled." 
As the Kanes of Drumreaske start their genealogy from 
an unnamed son of Sir Donal, and as our arms bear the 
mark of the third son, we may choose, with equal plausi- 
bility, to consider ourselves descended from a third son 
of Sir Donal. As thus : 

Sir Donal O'Cahan married Rose or Una O'Neill 
3d son or daughter Margaret m. son of Quoy 

O'Cahan 
Evanne O'Kane 

Bernard O'Kane m. Martha O'Hara 
John, born 1734, m. Sybil Kent 

Sir Donal's ancestry goes back to 1349. In our 
Family Book I copied it out, together with the gene- 
alogies of O'Neill, O'Donnell and MacDonnell, show- 
ing the family alliances with the O'Kanes. 

I do not think we shall ever obtain any more light on 
our ancestry than I have written out. The history of 

27 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

the chiefs of the clans really ends with the flight of the 
Earls and the imprisonment of the O'Kane and other 
chiefs in the Tower. Walpole gives a dismal picture of 
the wholesale confiscations in Ulster by Arthur, Lord 
Chichester, the King's Deputy. Disheartened and dis- 
possessed, refused the exercise of their religion, forbid- 
den to marry Protestants, the men capable of bearing 
arms went by hundreds to the continent, where they 
became distinguished in the armies of France, Spain 
and The Netherlands. Those who remained occasion- 
ally rose in revolt, as in 1642, and were as brutal to 
the settlers who occupied their old lands, as the English 
were to them. One Manus O'Kane was especially noted 
for his cruelty. The strife became puzzling, as the 
Catholic Irish in many instances stood by the Catholic 
Kings, Charles II or James II, whose predecessors had 
so cruelly oppressed them. Some of the Anglo-Irish 
threw in their lot with them; others with the English 
under Cromwell or under William III after him. 
Whichever way the fighting went the land was ravaged. 
"When the rebellion of 1642 was put down and the 
land confiscated, re-divided and colonized," says Wal- 
pole, " it was found impossible to expel a nation, root 
and branch. In spite of all that persecution could do, 
the old proprietors still clung, in numbers of cases, to 
their old country, and wandered about their old do- 
mains as vagrants, or were admitted by the new owners 
as tenants at will. The younger fled to the bogs and 
swamps and swelled the ranks of the Tories. There 
they lived a lawless life of brigandage, robbing and 

28 



WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THE KANES 

murdering the settlers and destroying their property. 
Stern measures were adopted to put them down. They 
were stalked by regular parties of armed men, smoked 
out of their caves, and killed without mercy. A price 
was set upon their heads, as upon those of the 
wolves; but the wild country was too difficult of 
access for the government to succeed in exterminating 
them."— Walpole. 

Such was the condition of Ulster when Evanne 
O'Kane, John's grandsire, was born. We shall never 
know more of him, I fear, but he was probably one of 
those tenants at will, of whom Walpole speaks. 

I will now turn to John Kane's father, Bernard, of 
whom we have a glimpse in a tradition that has some 
truth in it. In the year 1842, a drayman named Hugh 
O'Neill, who claimed to know about the family, " hav- 
ing been bred up in those parts," told Judge Kane that 
" Bernard Kane of Sharvaugh, County Antrim, was of 
the most ancient family of Ireland, not the' Derry 
family. He was a Catholic, and his estates, which 
extended from the sea to the River Bann, including 
Upper Mullin, Dunloy, Isteburn, etc., were confiscated 
on account of his religion. His castle at Sharvaugh is 
now in the possession of a Captain Lang. To the day 
of his death he kept a Catholic chaplain. He married 
Martha O'Hara of the Crebelly (or Craighbelleugh) 
family. His children were John, Barney, Mary and 
Martha, of whom one married beneath her and was dis- 
owned, Hugh thought." 

The mention of Martha's marrying beneath her, 
29 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

recalls to my mind a story of an ancestress of mine whose 
disowned daughter crept back into the house to see her 
dying mother, who raised herself on her pillows to 
curse her. It seems to me that her offence was marrying 
a Protestant. Later on I shall speak of her and of 
Sharvaugh, for, now, I am going to speak of John 
Kane's maternal ancestry. But I must first say that the 
confiscated estates must have belonged to the clan of 
the O'Kanes of the Routes in Antrim, not to Bernard 
personally. As I have quoted from Walpole, the land- 
owners had all been dispossessed of their great estates 
before his day. 



30 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY. 

In the preceding pages I have spoken of the two 
great branches of the O'Neills, and told how Sir Donal 
O'Cahan was son-in-law to Hugh, the second and last 
Earl of Tyrone, of the old creation. The closing years 
of their tragic lives were from 1608 to 1627. In 1617 
died the head of the other, and thereafter prosperous, 
branch of the O'Neills, Sir Shane (Shane means John) . 
It was he to whom Elizabeth, the English Queen, 
granted part of the lands of his father, Brian, the last 
Lord of Clanaboy, and upon the ruins of the old castle 
of Eden-duff-cairgh, burnt by Essex, Sir Shane built 
Shane's Castle — a place more than once destroyed by 
fire and rebuilt, but still in the possession of descendants 
of his in the female line, to whom permission was 
granted to assume the name and arms of O'Neill. How 
the O'Neills of 1600 would have raged could they have 
foreseen that these descendants would also be descend- 
ants of the hated Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester! 
Sir Shane's first wife was a grand-daughter of Earl 
Hugh O'Neill, and niece by marriage of Donal Ballach 
O'Kane. Her only son left an only daughter Rose, who 
became Marchioness of Antrim. At her death in 1709 
the estates reverted to the descendants of Sir Shane's 
second wife, Anne O'Neill, daughter of Bryan Carragh 
O'Neill of Loughinsholin. By her he had two sons, 
Arthur and Phelim. The two brothers married two 
sisters. The elder, Arthur, married Grace, daughter of 

31 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Cathal O'Hara of Crebilly, and Phelim married her 
sister Shela (Anglice Cecilia). 

Arthur's three sons died, leaving no children. One 
son died in 1716. The estate then passed to the de- 
scendants of his brother, Phelim Dufif, and his wife, 
Shela O'Hara, the other daughter of Cathal O'Hara 
of Crebilly. I want particular attention paid to this title, 
O'Hara of Crebilly. The O'Haras are not an old family 
in Antrim (old, that is, in the Irish sense of a thousand 
years' residence in a place). They belong, I believe, 
to Sligo. A certain daughter of Cormac O'Hara, of 
Coolany and Annaghmore, Co. Sligo, married a 
husband who took her name and arms. Their son 
Charles O'Hara, of O'Hara Brook in Antrim, was 
High Sherifif of that County in 1752, and was probably 
of the same family as the O'Haras of Crebelly. They 
are the only O'Haras of Antrim mentioned in Walford's 
" County Families of the United Kingdom," or Burke's 
" Landed Gentry." Crebelly is an estate within two 
miles of Ballymena, and, like Shane's Castle, is in the 
hands of heritors in the female line who took the name 
and arms of O'Hara on succeeding to the estate. These 
O'Haras have several times intermarried with the 
Shane's Castle O'Neills. 

Phelim Duff O'Neill and Shela O'Hara had four 
daughters (according to Burke's Peerage and Baronet- 
age), Rose, Sarah, Maria and Eleanora, and two sons — 
Brian, from whom the Viscounts O'Neill are de- 
scended, and Arthur, who married Eleanor O'Neill, 
daughter of Henry O'Neill of Ballynisneleary, and had 
two sons, Felix and Daniel, and two daughters, Kather- 

32 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

ine (Mrs. O'Hara) and Rose. Here, then, are two 
Rose O'Neills, daughter and grand-daughter of Cecilia 
O'Hara of Crebelly. The younger has a sister Kather- 
ine, who is a Mrs. O'Hara. One of these Rose O'Neills 
I believe to have been the ancestress of John Kane. The 
brother, Brian, of the first Rose, had a son, " French 
John," who died in 1739, leaving a disinherited son, 
Henry, and a second son, Charles, whose son, John 
O'Neill, was the first Viscount. This Right Hon. John 
O'Neill was the kinsman whom John Kane visited at 
Shane's Castle in 1784 or 1785. My aunt, Charlotte 
(Kane) Heyworth, visiting John Kane's nephew by 
marriage, Archibald Morrison, was told by him at 
Eton Hall in England, Feb. 6, 1838, that "When our 
grandfather was last in England, I suppose some fifty 
years ago, he went over to see his mother — then a very 
old lady of 82, who lived at that time with her rela- 
tive. Lord O'Neill, at Shane's Castle." My great 
uncle, James Kane, writes, "Albany, Sept. 6, 1842," 
speaking of his father, John, our immigrating ancestor, 
" In one of his visits to Ireland with his brother. Captain 
Kane from London, to see old maiden sister Mary, 
who, it appears, at that time occupied one of the wings 
of Shane's Castle, which was owned and occupied by 
her nephew or grand-nephew, John O'Neale." In my 
father's (William Wood's) diary of his wedding jour- 
ney, under the date of October 6, 1830, he writes : " Mr. 
Oliver Kane" (of Albany, N. Y.) "seemed to be a 
very pleasant old gentleman, who told me that his 
father (John K.) was next heir but one to the Shane's 
Castle Estate (Lord O'Neill's) in Ireland, and came 

33 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

out to America very young, having been sent out of the 
way by the other claimants of the Shane's Castle prop- 
erty." Under date of 1831, my father says in his Auto- 
biography that Malcolm Morrison, who married Mary 
Kent, " had an estate in the Dover Valley, contiguous 
to John Kane's, which latter was called Sharvognes, 
after a place his father, Bernard Kane, had in Ireland, 
now forming part of Lord O'Neill's Shane's Castle 
property." Mr. John O'Hara, Mrs. Bernard Kane's 
grandson and John Kane's nephew, writes, he being 
about seventy at the time. May 31, 1852: " I am old 
enough to remember him and his younger brother, 
Bernard O'Kane, coming to visit their mother at 
Crebelly, about 1784, or 1785." He continues, " Mrs. 
O'Kane (John's mother) died at Crebelly in the year 
1802 or 1803, and was buried in a vault at Kells, built 
by her only brother, Charles O'Hara of Sharvognes, 
and Oliver O'Hara of Leminary, the uncle of Colonel 
O'Hara, who was then the proprietor of the Crebelly 
estate." This vault at Kells was in existence in 1883, 
when a relation of Sabina Wood's, a Mr. Young of 
Kilgorm Castle, wrote that it merely bore the inscrip- 
tion on the door of the old vault, " Many of the O'Hara 
family are buried here." Kells is a small place in 
Antrim, four miles from Ballymena, Sharvognes is four 
miles from Ballymena and five from Randalstown. 
Crebelly is about two miles from Ballymena, and Mr. 
Redmond, Sabina Wood's father, told me that when he 
was a boy he had been to Crebelly to see the young 
O'Haras mounting in the court to go on a fox-hunt. 

34 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

These were probably some of the Hamilton O'Haras, 
the old line having died out. 

I think the extracts I have given sufficiently prove 
that Martha O'Kane, John's mother, wife of Bernard, 
born Martha O'Hara, was of the O'Haras of Crebelly. 
(I may add that Judge Kane encountered in the year 
1842 a drayman named Hugh O'Neill, who claimed to 
know all about the family, and certainly knew their 
names. He said that Bernard O'Kane married Martha 
O'Hara of the Craighbelieugh — Crebelly — family.) 
Particularly the fact of her burial in a vault built by 
her brother Charles O'Hara, and Oliver O'Hara of 
Leminary, uncle of the Colonel O'Hara, who was then 
owner of Crebilly. Martha O'Hara, above named, was 
the daughter of Captain O'Hara and of Martha Kane. 
Her father was probably a younger brother of the 
owner of Crebelly, since a younger brother's portion 
was often " the price of a pair of colours," and his son, 
Charles, was of Sharvognes, not Crebelly. Martha 
O'Hara, who married Bernard Kane, was herself the 
daughter of Captain O'Hara and of Martha Kane. 
Martha O'Kane's father was O Kane, " and her mother 
was Rose O'Neill of the Shane's Castle family, or 
rather of the O'Neills of Tyrone," according to John 
O'Hara's letter. 

Now, Mrs. Bernard O'Kane was born about 1704, 
and her date corresponded with that of French John 
O'Neill who died in 1739, when her son John was five 
years old. French John's first cousin was Rose O'Neill, 
whose sister Katherine became a Mrs. O'Hara. These 
ladies had an Aunt Rose, daughter of Shela O'Hara 

35 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

of Crebilly and Phelim dubh O'Neill. It is this Rose 
whom I take to be thq Rose O'Neill who married 
O'Kane in our genealogy. She corresponds chronologi- 
cally ^ with our ancestors. She also was a descendant 
of the Crebeliy O'Haras, and her niece Katherine is 
said to have married an O'Hara, probably again of the 
Crebeliy stem. Her brother Brian was the heir to the 
Shane's Castle estate. His son, French John, disin- 
herited his elder son Henry, and if there is any truth 
whatever in the story that John Kane was sent ofif by 
the other claimants of the O'Neill estate in 1754, it 
could only have been if there had been a possibility of 
French John's second son Charles dying childless, in 
which case, as he had disinherited his elder son, the title 
to the estates would have reverted to the other descend- 
ants of his, i.e., French John's grandfather, Phelim dubh 
O'Neill and Shela O'Hara. Of these there were the 
four daughters. Rose, Sarah, Maria and Eleanora, and 
a son Arthur. As Arthur had two sons, Daniel and 
Felix, as well as two daughters. Rose and Katherine 
(Mrs. O'Hara) , I do not know why a descendant in the 
female line should have been considered worth getting 
out of the way. As it turned out, Charles, French 
John's son, did have a son John, born in 1740, who was 
created first Viscount O'Neill. It was he who received 
Great-Grandfather John Kane as his kinsman at 

^ Corresponding chronologically is a very rough way of estimating the 
parallelism of generations. For Martha O'Hara O'Kane is said to have 
been eighty-two in 1785. So that she must have been nearly a hundred 
when she died in 1802, only six years before her son, John Kane. How 
easily one might feel that in compiling a pedigree one must err in con- 
sidering a woman who died in 1802 as of a generation earlier than a man 
who died in 1808. 

36 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Shane's Castle in 1784 or 1785, and, if my extracts tell 
the truth, had Mrs. Bernard O'Kane living there at 
that time. I may remark incidentally that it is he of 
whom we have an engraving, from a portrait taken in 
1778, said to resemble some of our Kanes, and who was 
killed by the " rebels" in 1798. (Charles also had a 
daughter, Mary, who was married to John Hamilton 
O'Hara of Crebelly, according to Burke. As she was 
of the same generation as our ancestor, John Kane, it 
shows that the O'Haras of Crebelly were already extinct 
in the male line, the Hamiltons being descendants in 
the female line who took the name of O'Hara with the 
property. This Mrs. O'Hara being a sister of Hon. 
John O'Neill makes the tie of kindred between John 
Kane as a descendant of an O'Hara Crebelly still more 
likely.) This first Viscount had two sons who suc- 
ceeded him in turn, but the last one died in 1855, when 
the estates passed to the descendants of the disinherited 
son of French John, one of whom, also descendant of 
Sir Arthur Chichester, took the name of O'Neill and 
was created Baron O'Neill. The descent from Henry 
the disinherited twice comes down in the female line. 
John Kane had a kinsman, Daniel O'Hara, who 
emigrated to Charleston, S. C, about the time of the 
Revolutionary War, and had a son or grandson, Oliver, 
living there. I note that in the O'Neill pedigree Mrs. 
Katherine O'Neill O'Hara is mentioned as having a 
brother Daniel. She may have named a son of hers 
after this brother, and he would have been living at 
the same time as John O'Kane. Note also the rather 
unusual name, Oliver. 

37 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

I do not myself think that the story relative to John 
Kane's being sent out of the way as a possible claimant 
of the O'Neill estates has a foundation in fact. I have 
heard that he came out, possessed of a ship-load of 
linens, and as Ballymena is renowned for its linens, it 
may very well be true.^ He certainly did not come out 
as a pauper, for he stepped at once into good social 
standing, of which more hereafter. I have thought 
that he may have received the linens, or the money to 
buy them, in some compromise of the lawsuit between 
the widow of Charles O'Hara of Sharvognes and his 
sister, Mrs. Bernard O'Kane (John's mother) and Mrs. 
Archibald MacNeill. There certainly was such a law- 
suit. Mr. O'Hara writes : "Charles O'Hara, the brother 
of Mrs. (Bernard) O'Kane, and of Mrs. Archibald 
MacNeill, lived at a place called Sharvognes . . . 
He was married, but had no issue, and died possessed 
of considerable wealth, but he dying intestate, his 
widow by law got the greatest part of it, and his two 
sisters, being then both widows, got the smallest share, 
after spending a good deal at law." 

Why did they go to law if there was no land in- 
volved? If English law prevailed at the time, I sup- 
pose the division of personal property would not have 
been difficult enough to create a lawsuit. The two 
widows plainly got something, and as Charles Mac- 
Neill, the son of one of them, came out to America at 
the same time as did Bernard, the son of the other, they 

* I have been given since this writing a scrap of fine linen edged with 
lace, which is part of a handkerchief given by Martha Kane Livingston, 
John's eldest daughter, to her daughter as having been brought out from 
Ireland by John Kane. 

38 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

may have equipped them and John from the proceeds 
of their shares of Charles O'Hara's estate. My great- 
great-grandfather, Bernard O'Kane, must have died 
when his children were too young to be under his con- 
trol. He is said, both by John O'Hara, his grandson, 
James Kane, his grandson, his grandson Elisha's son 
Judge Kane, and " the drayman Hugh O'Neill," to 
have been an ardent Catholic. His son John was a 
High Church Episcopalian, loving everything English 
and hating everything Irish. He had had a college 
education; is said to have been in an English college. 
It certainly was not in Trinity College, Dublin, for T 
wrote to the authorities there and ascertained that no 
John Kane or John O'Kane was on the books between 
1740 and 1754. Judge Kane in his Autobiography says 
that " his grandfather certainly spoke English." I do 
not know whether he meant that he did not have an 
Irish accent, or simply a jest as to his speaking the 
English and not the Irish language. But the facts of 
his religion being Protestant and his prejudices Eng- 
lish, point to his having been brought up under other 
influences than his father's. That he named his Ameri- 
can estate Sharvognes, intimates that he loved the Irish 
Sharvognes, his Uncle Charles' home. That Mrs. 
O'Kane adhered to the ties of her own blood is shown 
by her dying at the O'Hara place, Crebelly, and being 
buried in the O'Hara vault, instead of beside her hus- 
band, wherever he was laid. 

She was poor, or she would have been living in a 
house of her own. Her son, Bernard, who held a gov- 
ernment place in London after his return from America 

39 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

in 1783, is said by Jolin O'Hara to have remitted money 
to her annually. I am assuming that she died in the 
O'Hara Estate house at Crebelly, but there is the possi- 
bility that she had sunk to be a dependent in the house 
of the daughter who, according to Drayman Hugh 
O'Neill, married beneath her. This daughter, the third 
Martha in the descent, is said by her son John to have 
married "John O'Hara near Crebilly, v^ho died about 
1790." He does not say that his grandmother died there, 
but says '' at Crebelly." One must vs^atch for small 
indications on these letters, and I think that if Mrs. 
O'Kane had died in her daughter's house Mr. O'Hara 
v^ould have said so. Speaking of his Aunt Mary, the 
one unmarried sister of John Kane, he says she died 
" at or near " Crebilly in 1823, vs^hich does not imply 
a residence in the O'Hara Crebilly Estate House. By 
that time Crebilly (spelled by old John Kane " Craigh- 
belleigh ") had passed into the hands of the Hamiltons. 
In the two letters which we possess of John Kane's, 
addressed to his sister, we have interesting items of 
family history, bearing upon and corroborating John 
O'Hara's statements. One very curious circumstance — 
curious at least to us who correspond with such ease 
and cheapness and so frequently — is that John, writing 
in 1804 to his sister, had evidently known nothing of 
family affairs in Ireland. He writes, " My dear Sister, 
I received yours of the 8th July, wherein you inform 
me that you had wrote to me twice before. I assure 
you I never received a line before the one I now 
acknowledge, nor have had any direct information of 
the death of my dear Mother, till my nephew Wm. 

40 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

O'Hara told my son (who he saw in Philadelphia) that 
the Dear Woman was no more." This letter gives the 
history of his own family life in a way that shows his 
sister had been in total ignorance of it. 

Reverting to the mention of Sharvognes, Hugh 
O'Neill the drayman, and James Kane, son of John, 
both speak of it as having been the property of Bernard 
O'Kane, yet after his death it certainly was in the pos- 
session of his brother-in-law, Charles O'Hara. I 
often wish we could ascertain from the brief-of-title, 
which I suppose the Shane's Castle people possess, 
whether O'Hara succeeded O'Kane in the ownership of 
Sharvognes, or whether it was a mistake in transmitting 
family history. T. L. Kane wrote to Johns, Hewitt 
and Johns, lawyers of Belfast, in 1882, and received the 
following reply: 

Re O'Hara's Estate. 
" The registry of deeds office for this country is in 
Dublin where the records of all deeds and mortgages 
affecting property in this country can be seen from early 
last century. The record of wills admitted to probate 
is also kept in Dublin, where all such wills can be in- 
spected for about the last three centuries. 

" There was no official registry of births, deaths 
and marriages in this country until recent years. Be- 
fore then registries were kept in the places of worship 
belonging to the different parishes, but these were only 
irregularly kept, and there would be very little hope of 
obtaining information from these registries during a 
period extending back beyond the present century. 

" We know, ourselves, by repute, the O'Hara family 
41 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

who live near Ballymena, but they have long since 
parted with all their property in that district. 

" Sharvognes is now, and has been for a long time, 
the property of Lord O'Neill. 

" Liminary is now, and has been for a long time, the 
property of the Wardlaw family. 

'' No doubt there was a lawsuit with reference to 
the O'Hara Estate, although we do not think it was so 
far as the date you mention, 1794 " (the suit the lawyer 
refers to must be a different one. I fancy Charles 
O'Hara died about 1754. E. D. K.), "in which the 
O'Hara family were successful, and of course the rec- 
ords of this suit could be hunted up in the Courts in 
Dublin. We have not been able to ascertain any further 
particulars with reference to the O'Hara family than 
the above, and if we were to undertake to make the 
enquiries mentioned in your letter, the expense would, 
we fear, be exceedingly heavy." 

This letter deterred us from proceeding any farther. 
If we knew the date of the death of Bernard O'Kane 
we might incur the expense of a search to find whether a 
will of his was admitted to probate ; or if we knew when 
Charles O'Hara died we might have the records of the 
suit against his widow hunted up. But, knowing 
neither, we could not afford a search over the great 
time involved. 

I fancied at one time that Charles O'Hara, as 
Protestant, might have held the title to Sharvognes for 
his (deceased or living) Catholic brother-in-law, Ber- 
nard O'Kane, and that, acting as a trustee for the widow 
and children, he had brought up the orphans: that at 

42 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

his death, this having to be a secret trust, and he dying 
intestate, his widow would not recognize the trust. The 
pretty speculation fell to the ground when I remem- 
bered that Charles O'Hara's other sister, Mrs. Mac- 
Neill, was with Mrs. O'Kane in the suit. Mrs. 
MacNeill could have had no interest in Bernard 
O'Kane's affairs. 

So the question of John Kane's heirship of anything 
is likely to remain unanswered. 

We now come to what we know of John Kane's per- 
sonal history. He was born Dec. 12, 1734. He arrived 
in America the 8th of November, 1752, and in 1756 
married Sybil Kent, at the mature age of twenty-two, 
she being then eighteen years old. What took him to 
Dutchess County instead of remaining at the port of 
New York? We have no clue. There was no large 
city in the neighborhood, and he did not even settle 
on the banks of the Hudson, then the highway of com- 
merce. I find the birthplace of their eldest and of their 
youngest daughter spoken of as Fredericksburg, and it 
is no longer on the maps. I found it, however, on an old 
engraved map in Spark's Life and Letters of Wash- 
ington, and it is plainly the same place that Judge Kane 
and Thomas L. Kane visited in turn when they were 
young men, and that Katharine Livingston Schuyler 
visited in 1897. The present house is now a pretty, com- 
monplace modern dwelling, but Mrs. Schuyler says 
that the kitchen is evidently very old: that there are 
large old worn flagstones and an immense horse-block. 
It is now occupied by a family named Chapman, and 
is near Pawling Station of the New York and Harlem 

43 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Railroad, is in Pawling Township (formerly Pawling 
Patent) , 65 miles N. E. of New York City and about 
fourteen east of the Hudson River. Fredericksburg 
was so called in honor of Frederick Philipse (father, 
probably, of Washington's sweetheart, Mary Philipse), 
from whom the region round took the name of Philippi. 
The Philipse Manor was thereabouts. The land is 
high: it is the region of the Hudson Highlands, and 
the headwaters of the Croton are in the valley. " It 
would appear that the country side, embracing Pater- 
son, Southeast and Carmel (townships) was in the ear- 
liest times called ' Woostershire.' It was also called 
Philipse Precinct. There was also a still further dis- 
tinction of the churches by their geographical relation 
to each other, Paterson being known as the North, 
South-East as the East, and Carmel as the West 
Church." " The early churches in this region were 
Calvinistic in doctrine and Congregational in polity, 
although all eventually became Presbyterian. It was 
natural that the people should appeal to the ecclesiasti- 
cal bodies in the adjoining State of Connecticut, and 
that the Congregational bodies should come westward 
and foster the feeble bodies that sought their aid." 
Therefore, the people of " Woostershire " " applied to 
the Eastern Association of Fairfield County for a minis- 
ter," and accordingly the Rev. Elisha Kent was sent to 
them in 1742. He preached at first for both the Eastern 
and Western congregations. Mr. Kent resided near the 
Eastern church. It was a small log building, and stood 
a mile east of Dykeman station on the New England 
Railroad. It was probably built about 1745, at the 

44 



JOHN PCANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

same time as the Western church, which noble edifice 
" was thirty-four feet long by twenty-four feet wide, 
with one door on the long side overlooking the Croton 
Valley. The seats were of slabs, into which sticks were 
fastened for supports, and were without backs. A plain 
box formed the desk for the minister, and the pulpit 
seats were like the others." Rev. Elisha Kent's connec- 
tion with the West Philippi Church was severed about 
1750, and his labors were confined to the East Church, 
where he ministered for thirty-three years. He died in 
South East, July 17, 1776, in his seventy-second year. 
He and his first wife, Abigail Moss, are buried in the 
old grave-yard at South East, hers being the oldest 
stone there. His second wife, Mrs. Raymond, sister 
of Governor Fitch, the last royalist governor of Con- 
necticut, survived him. They had no children. Some 
idea of the salary that the Rev. Elisha received in 1750 
may be gathered from the fact that in 1804 the salary 
in the West Philippi Church was $130 a year. In the , , ^^^ 
Carmel Church on October 27, 1844, Rev. Henry G. r^^ 
Livingston preached his first sermon. He was fifth in 
descent from Rev. Elisha, being (I suppose) son of 
Rev. Gilbert, who was son of Gilbert R. Livingston and 
Martha Kane. I have not the date when the (South 
East) Philippi Church became a Presbyterian one, 
but in October, 1763, Messrs. Kent, Mead and Peck, 
pastors of South East, Salem and Patterson, met at the 
house of Mr. Kent and resolved to form themselves 
into the Presbytery of Dutchess. The little tract from 
which I gathered these facts speaks of the earliest set- 
tlers having come to that community about 1740, and 

45 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

one of the pastors, Mr. Knibloe, speaks of the region as 
infested by wild beasts in 1752. This same tract men- 
tions Lucy Cullen, daughter of Rev. Elisha Kent and 
widow of Charles Cullen, as living on Seminary Hill 
in 1792. 

" Priest Kent," as he was called, was a power in his 
day. I suppose it is from him, or else his son Moss, that 
the townships of Kent, in West Connecticut, and Kent in 
Putnam County, New York, and the place, Kent Clififs, 
are named, although his grandfather, Samuel Kent, 
came from England to Suffield, Connecticut, in 1676. 
Suffield is a place on the northern border of Connecti- 
cut. There must be numbers of Kents left in that region, 
as Rev. Elisha was one of six brothers. Writing in 1853 
to Thomas L. Kane, Judge William Kent, son of the 
Chancellor, says : " You can go in two hours by rail 
(from New York) to Croton Falls, and thence by wagon 
in an hour's time to the pretty little valley among the 
hills of Putnam County, New York, where your great 
grandmother, Sybil Kent, was born. The house where 
old Elisha Kent lived is still standing, and a church 
is erected on the spot where the old gentleman preached 
for so many years. It is really a beautiful spot. Some 
twelve miles or more north of this spot, still in the 
State of New York, is the place where your great-grand- 
father John Kane lived before the Revolution. There 
were four children of the old clergyman living near him, 
viz., his son Moss Kent (my grandfather), his daugh- 
ters, Mrs. Kane, Mrs. Morrison and Mrs. Cullen. The 
Revolution drove them all away, although those valleys 

46 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

never saw an enemy's soldier.^ The European sons- 
in-law adhered to the Royalist cause, while Moss Kent 
was a Whig." Chancellor Kent writes, Dec. 13, 1841 : 
" I have always been deeply impressed with reverence 
for the talents, wit, piety and learning of my paternal 
grandfather. He brought up his daughters admirably. 
He removed from Newton in Connecticut into the town- 
ship of South East in the County of Dutchess and prov- 
ince of New York between 1742 and 1750, and there he 
reared up his family among the hills and valleys of the 
Eastern Highlands. He had a fine farm, and his 
superior girls attracted in succession three foreign mer- 
chants, John Kane, Malcolm Morrison, and Charles 
Cullen, and one Scotch officer, a Lieutenant in the 42d 
Highland Regiment (Grant). It was thought sur- 
prising in those days that these four handsome and gay 
Foreigners should marry the daughters of a plain and 
stern Presbyterian divine. These families, including 
my father's (he was a lawyer), formed an excellent 
family society, living in succession about two miles 
apart for twelve miles along the eastern borders of 
Dutchess County in New York — all prosperous and all 
genteel — and so they continued until they were dis- 
persed and the charm dissolved and their fortunes ship- 
wrecked by the American War. 

" I was placed, on the 28th of July, 1772, at a Latin 
School in the family of my Uncle Kane, and lived there 
until May, 1773, ^^^ formed the greatest intimacy with 
his children." 

' An incorrect statement. — E. D. K. 
47 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

The name of the resident tutor at that time was 
Mr. Kalna. I have heard that John Kane overcame 
the Rev. Elisha's objections to his marrying Sybil by a 
display of his Latinity, which I suppose counterbal- 
anced his being a strong Church-of-England Irishman. 
He seems to have been anxious to secure a fine education 
for his children, as he not only had this tutor, but his 
daughter, Mrs. Morris, speaks of their old tutor, Mr. 
"Stephen Camm " ("Kalna?"), following them to 
Nova Scotia. Archibald Morrison, son of Malcolm 
Morrison and one of Elisha Kent's daughters, gave to 
my husband the following description of those early 
happy pre-Revolutionary days (T. L. Kane was then 
residing with him at Eaton Hall, Norfolkshire, in the 
year 1840-41): Archibald Morrison "was sent to 
school with his cousins John, Charles, Elias and Oliver, 
to old Deacon Knapp's in Connecticut, where also he 
had for playmate his cousin Jim Kent (the Chancellor) 
and Moss Kent (second), his brother. Here he was 
more distinguished for mischief than study, being par- 
ticularly noted for a precocious kind feeling toward the 
fair Yankee girls which displayed itself in his carrying 
them all over the country on his pony, to the great 
dismay of the anxious matrons of the district, notwith- 
standing the entreaties of his father and mother that he 
would apply himself more to his books. He would 
return no other answer than by giving his cousin Jem 
Kent (who was the student of the family) ' a good lick- 
ing ' and reporting progress to assert his own cor- 
poreal superiority." 

48 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Our ancestors, John and Sybil, had a large number 
of children, born in the following order : 

Martha Born March 21, 1758 



John 




a 


Nov. 


1759 


Maria, or 


Mary 








Charles 




(( 


March 


31, 1762 


Abigail 




n 


Feb. 


I, 1765 


Oliver 




u 




1767 


Elisha 




11 


Dec. 


2, 1770 


James 




li 


May 


27, 1772 


Elias 




a 


April 


14, 1773 


Sybilla Adeline 








Archibald 










Sarah 




li 


Oct. 


3h ^77^ 


Susan 




11 




1780 



John Kane had an extensive business as a storekeeper. 
His grandson, John Kintzing Kane (afterwards Hon. 
John K. Kane of Philadelphia), writing to his father, 
Elisha Kane, says, under date of Aug. 14, 1820: " I went 
yesterday to Pawlingstown, and ate a bread-and-cheese 
luncheon at the house in which you were born. It is 
now a tavern and belongs to Gideon Slocum. His wife's 
maiden name was Cook, and her mother was an intimate 
friend of grandmother's. They treated me kindly and 
would take no pay. The house is ruinous, and Slocum 
intends pulling it down next year. I made a rough 
sketch of the front of it. The extreme buildings are of 
wood ; the connection stone ; the large building which 
was the dwelling house has never been painted ; the other 
is red. The yard in front is planted with poplar trees. 

49 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 









'^%. 



The range of buildings is near one hundred feet long." 

Extract from Judge Kane's Autobiography written 
in 1850: 

" While on my errand of survey and sale, I visited 
the house where my father was born, and where Grand- 
father lived before he abandoned the American cause. 
. . . There was a large stone building, which had 
been built for a storehouse, with family rooms above; 
and this connected by a stone-covered way with a dwell- 
ing at the distance of some fifty or sixty feet. This 
covered way was lighted by windows, and formed per- 
haps the principal feature of the series of buildings. 
The dwelling house was of frame, clapboarded, two 
stories high, and finished with some pretension to style. 
I found it somewhat decayed, in charge of a family, who 
carried me through it, and pointed out the room in 
which General Washington had slept when he was the 
guest (!) of my grandfather in 1778. The site was 
a pretty one, but there were no trees remaining on what 
had been the lawn, but some time-shattered poplars." 

Mrs. Katherine Livingston Schuyler, who visited it 
within the last few years, writes that she is sure that 
the house she has seen is the original one, because the 
people who live in it have given her many particulars of 
the old woodwork, etc. " I wish," she says, " you could 
see the kitchen. The horse-block behind the back hall 
door is a curiosity. I should say it must be six feet 
square. As far as I could see, the lower rooms seemed to 
be all parlours, and the halls are fine." " The front 
door is especially fine." 

The number of openings is not the same as those 
50 




^ 

fi 






^v 



?5s 






JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

in one of the buildings shown in Judge Kane's sketch, 
and the side building may be what he calls the stone 
passage-way. The people living there were confident 
that it was the old house. Judge Kane's first account 
describes both the end buildings as being of wood, it 
will be noticed. 

Now, my descendants may reconcile all discrepan- 
cies if they can. I cannot help believing that nothing 
of the old place remains but the stone passage-way, and 
that it is covered up by the present kitchen-wing. I 
have heard this passage-way spoken of as " the 
orangery," but cannot tell now who told me, probably 
my husband. 

Note June 22, 1904. In perusing John Kane's Me- 
morial petition to Parliament I see that he describes his 
house as " a large and commodious dwelling house, 
containing ten rooms, a large Storehouse 65 feet distant 
from the dwelling house, with a stone building of one 
story between, which joined each." He enumerates " a 
barn, barracks, stables, corn-house, shed, smoke-house, 
dairy, etc." The farm contained 351 acres, and had an 
orchard of 500 bearing apple trees, and 950 rods of 
stone wall. 

My husband, Thomas L. Kane, visited the spot in 
1 85 1. He made copious notes of his visit, which 1 
remember seeing, but they must have been destroyed 
when our house was burned. I have nothing but the 
short account given by Judge Kane in writing to his 
Aunt Morris of this visit. He says : " My son Tom has 
returned within a few days past from a pilgrimage to 
the old confiscated homestead in Dutchess County, and 

51 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

has brought with him anecdotes of your father and 
grandfather Kent. In the days of Revolutionary con- 
flict Grandfather Kane was not the popular man of his 
immediate region. There are still living there some of 
the men who hated and robbed him ; and they talk even 
now of his overbearing aristocracy of port, and the 
impudent daring of his elder sons, and the ardent jus- 
tice that visited the whole of them. It is not easy to 
believe in a personal hate still keeping up its bitterness 
through three-quarters of a century; but there is a ribald 
centenarian yet alive (I think this man's name was 
Sears. — E. K. D.) in that neighborhood, whose blood 
boils in triumph when he remembers the sacking of 
John Kane's household property. Great-grandfather 
Kent, your grandfather, has left a better, or at least 
more cherished, name behind him. He was a stern 
Old-School Presbyterian, and a sturdy Whig of the 
earliest period: he was the great man of his parish, 
the arbiter of all disputes, the controller of opinions. 
His son Moss, the Chancellor's father, was a Whig 
also, but of more plastic material than our ancestor, and 
sometimes a little suspected of trimming his bark to the 
wind that blew strongest for the time. In all this he was 
the very opposite of his brother-in-law Kane, who was 
ultra-Tory, ultra-Churchman, and not very moderate 
in anything at any time. It is remembered of him to 
this day, so Tom's letter tells me, that he could never be 
persuaded to go to his father-in-law's meeting." 

It is a curious commentary on this tradition that the 
only record that I have seen of any sermon of Rev. 
Elisha Kent's occurs in a letter of this same John Kane. 

52 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Writing to his son Elisha, 29th December, 1806, he says, 
" When your pious grandfather bestowed on me that 
excellent woman, your mother, he preached a sermon on 
the occasion from these words — ' For this reason shall 
a man leave his father and his mother and cleave to his 
wife, and they shall be no more twain but one flesh,' — 
and expatiated with uncommon power and persuasion 
on the sacredness of the Institution, and the right per- 
formance of the several duties enjoined on those who 
enter it. His excellent discourse and fervent prayer 
that we might walk like Zachary and Elizabeth in 
the statutes of the Lord blameless, are still fresh in 
my recollection." 

Possibly the infrequency of his attendance on the 
Rev. Elisha's ministrations kept John Kane from hav- 
ing his memory of them dulled by custom 1 

We know little of John Kane's prosperous days. His 
son Elias, born April 14, 1773, was named after his 
friend and business correspondent, Elias Desbrosses, of 
New York. If I can find out what Desbrosses' line of 
business was it will give us a clue to Kane's. Desbrosses 
was a prominent citizen, since a street and ferry bear 
his name still. 

John Kane's children's names show traces of family 
and friendly influences. Martha bore his mother's 
name, John his own, Maria was probably named after 
his sister Mary, Charles after his uncle O'Hara, or 
perhaps his wife's sister's husband, Charles Cullen, 
Abigail after his wife's mother, Oliver after an O'Hara 
or O'Neill relation, though some think he was called 

53 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

after Oliver De Lancey, with whom John Kane had 
political relations. 

Elisha was, of course, named after his grandfather 
Kent, James was probably after a relation on that side, 
as there was a Jem. Kent (the Chancellor), Elias after 
DesBrosses. Sybilla Adeline, I fancy, was sentimentally 
inclined, and adapted her mother's and grandmother's 
Sybil Abigail to the requirements of the romances of 
the day. She signed herself S. Adeline. Archibald 
bore the name of John Kane's uncle by marriage on the 
mother's side, Archibald MacNeill. Sarah I know 
nothing of, but suppose it was after her maternal aunt 
Sarah (Kent) Grant; Susan after Miss Susan De- 
Lancey, or more likely after some relation. John Kane's 
daughter Maria (who married Gov. Jos. C. Yates of 
New York) died in 1798. Her husband subsequently 
married Miss Ann Eliza DeLancey, and she was a kind 
stepmother to Maria's only child. 

When the political troubles began, which culmi- 
nated in the Revolutionary War, not only was there 
dissension between families, and individual members 
of families, but men had difficulty in deciding with 
which party to throw in their lot. 

John Kane was elected one of the deputies to repre- 
sent Dutchess County in the Provincial Congress of 
New York Colony, Nov. 8, 1775. 

Judge Kane, in his Autobiography, says, in speaking 
of his grandfather: " He was a Colonel of the American 
militia, became disgusted at an insult to his patriotism, 
abandoned his property to confiscation and moved into 
the British lines." 

54 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

My father, William Wood, in the journal of his 
wedding trip in the year 1830, writes that " Mr. Oliver 
Kane, Harriet's uncle, told me that his father, Har- 
riet's grandfather, was next heir to the Shane's Castle 
Estate in Ireland, and came over to America very 
young, having been sent out of the way by the other 
claimants of the Shane's Castle property; that when 
the American Revolution broke out he raised a regi- 
ment, and at first fought for a time against the English, 
but joined them when the Americans declared their 
entire independence of Great Britain, and so got his 
fine estate in Dutchess County, New York, confiscated 
by the Americans, but the British Government as a com- 
pensation gave him an annuity of five hundred dollars, 
which was continued to his widow." This is such a 
mixture of truth and untruth that one wonders how 
Uncle Oliver had got himself to believe it. I have 
shown how impossible it was that his father could have 
been " next heir " to the Shane's Castle Estate, and 
Uncle Oliver was grown up when his father went back 
to Ireland, and must have known the truth. The con- 
tinuance of the annuity to his widow is probably merely 
the statement that the annuity would have been contin- 
ued to his widow if she had survived him, as Captain 
Gilbert Livingston's was to his widow. 

Are we to believe that Great-Grandfather Kane did 
raise a regiment of American militia, and did any fight- 
ing? I have an impression that he was spoken of as 
" Colonel " Kane, but cannot verify it.* His brother 

* August, 1901. Since writing the above I have secured a copy of John 
Kane's petition to the British Government, which explains all this, and 
describes his house and property in detail. 

55 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Bernard was a Captain in the New York Volunteers, 
and served under Lord Rawdon. Bernard had settled 
over the line at Fairfield, Connecticut, Fairfield Town- 
ship, I suppose. 

The first authentic record of John Kane's doings is 
that " John Kaine," at an election held in Poughkeepsie 
in pursuance of a Resolution of the Provincial Congress 
of the Colony of New York, Oct. 27 last, 1775, was 
elected a deputy of the said County ^ to the Provincial 
Congress appointed to meet in the city of New York 
on the 14th of November. The other deputies were 
PetrusTen Broek, Beverley Robinson, Cornelius Hum- 
phreys, Henry Schenck, Gilbert Livingston, Jacob 
Everson, Morris Graham and Robert Gilbert Living- 
ston, Jr., Esquires. 

The number of deputies was shortly " reduced to 
three, so many failing to attend the meetings." John 
Kane was probably one of those who did not attend 
and were dropped. 

In Smith's History of Dutchess County, page 345, 
he says: " In the summer of 1776 an insurrection broke 
out in the county against the authority of the Provincial 
Congress. The insurgents went about in small num- 
bers and disarmed Whigs, and at one time the insur- 
rection was so formidable that militia came from 
Connecticut to assist in putting down the revolters. 
Many arrests were made, and the jail at Poughkeepsie 
being full, some were sent to the jail in the adjoining 
county of Litchfield." 

From American Archives, Fifth Series, Vol. II, 

° Dutchess. 

56 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

page 1546, I copy: " Committee appointed for the De- 
tection of Conspiracies, Oct. 22, 1776, for the purpose 
of inquiring into, detecting and defeating all conspira- 
cies formed in the said State against the laws of Amer- 
ica." Of this Committee both John Jay and his brother 
Sir James were at different times chairman, and my 
husband had so bitter a prejudice against the name of 
Jay that he even objected to my sisters' girlish friend- 
ships with John Jay's grandchildren. He considered 
that Jay had acted treacherously and ungratefully to 
John Kane, but in what particular respect I do not 
know. It is only at this time in their lives that I meet 
with their names in conjunction. Probably Sir James 
Jay was the hated brother. The Committee met at Fish- 
kill Landing on the Hudson, a place about fifteen or 
twenty miles from John Kane's house at Fredericks- 
burgh, but where John Kane also owned a property. 
Among the earliest entries on the minutes I find re- 
corded the receipt of a letter from one William Mac- 
Neill, dated Oct. 30, 1779, informing the Committee 
that John Kane refuses to accept Continental money in 
payment of a mortgage. MacNeill was an astute per- 
sonage. He informs the Committee that John Kane 
had loaned James Wiltsie £200 on his note: that 
Wiltsie being unable to pay had given the said Kane a 
mortgage on his farm. Subsequently he died and Mac- 
Neill, his nephew and heir, proposing to settle his estate, 
tendered £200 continental money to John Kane. Natur- 
ally, John Kane refused to accept the depreciated paper 
currency in return for his good money. No action is 
reported as having been taken on the letter by the Com- 

57 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

mittee. Probably Mr. MacNeill was known to them 
as a mean and grasping man, for he shortly afterwards 
reappears before the Committee, claiming money for 
salt taken from him without due payment by the Com- 
missary department. And, again, he wants a reward 
for having, with another person, apprehended a certain 
person who seemed to be a soldier, and who was offering 
a horse for sale, presumably not his own. MacNeill 
seems not to have received much credit or comfort from 
the Committee, and he only interests us as being the per- 
son who first brings our unfortunate ancestor's name 
before the Committee. 

Malcolm Morrison had married Mary Kent, 
Charles Cullen married Lucy Kent, Alexander Grant 
married Sarah Kent, and John Kane married Sybil 
Kent. These brothers-in-law now all figure before the 
Committee of Safety, and I shall copy the depositions 
recorded in the Minutes, as affording quaint glimpses of 
their family life. 

" On December 20, 1776, Malcolm Morrison appre- 
hended by Colonel Henry B. Livingston. 

" Malcolm Morrison appearing and being examined 
saith that last Tuesday week, one David Akens, one of 
his neighbors, gave him a paper, which he put in his 
pocket, and the next day or that evening read ; and that 
it was a protection from General Howe; that he never 
informed the Committee of his District, thereof, being 
diverted by private business; that he never asked the 
said Akens where he got it, or what induced him to give 
this paper to the said examinant; and that on the said 
paper's being demanded of him by Sloss Hobart, Esq., 

58 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

a member of the Convention of this State, the night 
before last, he gave it to him, and that the paper now 
shown him is the same; that the evening or the next 
day after he had received the said paper, he communi- 
cated the same to one Alexander Ridd, who had for- 
merly been of the District Committee ; also to one John 
Young, a saddler there, but to no other persons whatever. 

Malcolm Morrison. 
" Ordered that Malcolm Morrison be committed to the 
custody of the Guard, and by them confined in irons. 

"David Akins, of Fredericksburgh Precinct, Black- 
smith, swears that on the 29th of November last he 
set out from home with a pass from Colonel Lud- 
dington to go to Horse Neck to buy rum," — goes on to 
tell how failing in this, he went on to a relative's house 
" near Brunx River," was arrested by a British major, 
and asked how he could clear himself of having a 
Rebel's Pass: " said he had come down on a particular 
errand of Capt. Alexander Grant's wife to him, and 
that if the Major would send him to Capt. Grant's 
or Capt. Alexander Campbell's they were his old neigh- 
bors and would prove his character." He had then 
been sent under guard to Captain Campbell, whom he 
told that he was a prisoner — that Captain Campbell 
said he would discharge him if he carried certain 
papers and would be secret about it. Further that he, 
the deponent, understood that he had sent some a day 
or two before to Malcolm Morrison by Widow Hen- 
derson. That thereupon Captain Campbell gave him 
two printed papers, which he did not read, and protec- 

59 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

tions from Gen. Howe for Malcolm Morrison, John 
Kain, Alexander Shedd, Mathew Patterson, Charles 
Collins (Cullen — E. D. K.), and one for himself: that 
the said Campbell entered into free conversation with 
him, in the course of which he understood from the said 
Captain C. that M. Morrison had undertaken to raise 
a company of men for the enemy's service, and that he, 
the said Campbell, wished he would be speedy about it. 
And this deponent further saith that Barney Kane, a 
brother of John Kane, is a Lieutenant in the said Camp- 
bell's company, and that this deponent also understood 
from the said Campbell that Malcolm Morrison, after 
he raised his company, was to be under Governeur 
Brown. That this deponent made the best of his way 
home. That on his arrival there he delivered the pro- 
tection aforesaid directed to Malcolm Morrison to 
him; and that the said Morrison appeared much 
pleased, and gave this deponent two dollars for his 
trouble. That the Sunday after this deponent came 
home he saw John Kain, and told him he had a protec- 
tion for him, and asked if he would receive it; that the 
said John Kain appeared shy about it, and in the even- 
ing of the same day called at this deponent's house for 
it, and the deponent accordingly gave it to him; that 
the said John Kain asked the deponent where he got 
this protection, and this deponent said he got it from 
Captain Campbell. And this deponent further saith 
that some time after, the said John Kain came to his 
house and told him that Malcolm Morrison had 
divulged the affair of the protection, and that the said 
John Kain would fall out with this deponent and vilify 

60 



JOHN JCANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

him, but that he must not mind that. This deponent 
also said that he gave the said John Kain one of the 
printed papers above mentioned, and asked him what 
he should do with the other, and that the said John 
Kain advised him to burn them both, which he accord- 
ingly did. 

David Akin, Jr. 

" Ordered that the said David Akin be discharged on 
taking the oath of allegiance to this State." (The form 
of this oath was stringent: " I do solemnly and without 
any mental reservation or equivocation, whatever, 
swear and call God to witness That I do believe and 
acknowledge the State of New York to be of right a 
free and independent State. And that no authority or 
power, can, of right, be exercised in or over the said 
State, but what is or shall be granted or derived from 
the People thereof. And further, That as a good sub- 
ject of the said Free and Independent State of New 
York, I will, to the best of my knowledge and ability, 
faithfully do my duty, and as I shall keep or disregard 
this Oath, so help and deal with me, Almighty God." 
It was enacted " That if on the said Oath or Affirma- 
tion being tendered, the said Person or Persons shall 
refuse to take the same, the Commissioners do forthwith 
remove the said Person or Persons refusing, to any 
place within the Enemy's Lines.") 

Returning to the Minutes of the Committee on Con- 
spiracies, Dec. 20, 1776, we find — 

" Ordered that Colonel Ludinton be requested to 
apprehend and bring before this Committee John Kane 

61 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

of Pawling's Precinct, who stands charged with having 
received a Protection from General Howe. 

" Ordered that Charles Collins (Cullen— E. D. K.) 
be immediately committed to the Guard House. 

" Dec. 21, 1776. Present, Leonard Gausevoort, 
Chairman, Zephaniah Piatt, John Jay, William Duer, 
Esquires. 

" Ordered twelve pairs of manacles and handcuffs. 

" Dec. 22, 1776. Captain Hill appeared with John 
Kane, who was delivered to him by Colonel Ludinton. 

" John Kain appearing, and being examined saith, 
that this day a fortnight ago, he saw David Akins, who 
told him that he had something to communicate to him, 
and desired him to call at his house, which he did to- 
wards evening of the same day. When he arrived at 
the house, Akins delivered him a Protection from 
General Howe; that he inquired of the said Akins 
where he got the said protection; that he answered it 
was no matter; that when he returned home he showed 
the said protection to his wife and daughter, who were 
much dissatisfied with his having the said protection 
and that his wife burnt it.'* 

(Here we have, so far as I know, the only appear- 
ance in print of Sybil Kent Kane. The daughter, of 
course, was Martha, afterwards wife of Gilbert Living- 
ston. She must have been about eighteen or nineteen 
at this time.) 

" John Kain further says that the protection was 
never solicited by him, and supposes it was sent him by 
a brother, who, he thinks, is with the enemy, and de- 

62 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Clares he is friendly to the measures America is pur- 
suing; that he has never shown the protection to anyone 
else, and confesses that he has been remiss in not show- 
ing it to some member of the Committee of Dutchess 
County; and further says that he and the said Akins 
have been on very bad terms for a long time. 

John Kane. 

" Ordered That Col. Henry Ludinton appear before 
the Committee." 

" He swears that on Saturday morning about two 
o'clock he received orders from this Committee for the 
apprehension of John Kane ; that he called upon Cap- 
tain Hill and three others who he took with him, and 
repaired to the house of the said John Kane. When he 
arrived there he found the said John Kane in his shop, 
and immediately informed him that he was under the 
necessity of making him a prisoner. That Kane said 
he was surprised that he was ordered to be taken, and 
requested to see the orders that the deponent had for it. 
The deponent further says that upon Kane's reading 
the orders he declared that as God was his judge he 
had no such protection, and knew nothing about any 
such thing. The deponent further says that Kane run 
out very much against David Akins, that upon this de- 
ponent telling David Akins to-day that Kane had vili- 
fied ^ his character so much, Akins replied that he was 
not surprised, for it was agreed upon between him and 

' The use of the rather unusual word " vilified " in the testimony of 
both Akins and Luddington shows that Akins was repeating from Lud- 
dington and guarding against anything Kane might say to his prejudice 
by asserting beforehand that Kane had told him he would do so, as a blind. 

63 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Kane. The deponent further says that Kane and Akins 
had some conversation together at his house to-day, 
and further that he met the said David Akins and John 
Kane on the road together near the Long Bridge some 
time the week before last, and that they appeared very 
busy in conversation ; that Kane was leading his horse 
and Akins was afoot." (Akins was a blacksmith: their 
talk may have been about the horse John Kane was lead- 
ing! — E. D. K.). "As soon as he, the deponent, came 
up, they broke ofif. And the deponent further says that 
among the firm Whigs, the character of Kane has been 
suspicious (suspected?), and that he is in general re- 
puted an artful, subtle man. 

Henry Ludinton. 

" Ordered that John Kane be committed to the Guard 
and be put in irons. 

" Fishkill, Connor's Tavern, Dec. 30, 1776. 

" Mr. Jay communicated to the Committee a letter 
from Ebenezer Cornell and James V. Denbergh, of the 
27th of December, which was delivered to him by 
Martin Cornell, together with a certain John Maloyd, 
who they had sent to be examined respecting intimations 
that he had given in his cups of John Kane's enlisting 
men in the enemy's service. 

" A petition of Charles Cullen was read, also peti- 
tions from Caleb Archer, John Dickson and Samuel 
Wood." These begged for leniency. 

" Peter Noxon of Beekman's Precinct, in Dutchess 
County, being sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Al- 

64 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

mighty God, says that on or about last Wednesday 
se'nnight, John Maloyd came to this deponent's house 
in Beekman's Precinct; that he got a little in liquor, 
and taking a pot of cider to his lips, said. Here's a 
health to Captain Kane and his Company. Upon which 
this deponent's wife said, ' What! is John Kane raising 
a Company? ' Upon which the said Maloyd seemed to 
be a little embarrassed, and said he meant a Kane in 
some other County. That this deponent looks upon the 
said John Maloyd as disafifected to the American Cause. 
And further saith not. 

Peter Noxon. 
" Sworn in presence of Committee by me, John Jay. 

" Dec. 30. David Clarke, a Corporal in Captain 
Belknap's Company, being sworn, saith that he was 
yesterday in the Lower Barracks in which John Kane 
is confined; that Kane asked him what prisoners were 
in the Upper Barracks; the deponent said they had 
one Striker there ; that Kane asked if they had no others ; 
that deponent said they had another; that Kane was 
very anxious to know who it was ; deponent said it was 
a man that worked for him, the said Kane, on which 
Kane said, Maloyd? That Kane appeared very solici- 
tous to know whether he had said anything about him, 
to which deponent answered that he had not heard 
Maloyd mention his name. 

David Clarke. 
" Sworn in Committee by John Jay." 

John Kane passed seven weeks in Poughkeepsie Jail 
in irons. In his Memorial to Parliament he says that 

65 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

he was liberated on taking an oath not to hold any 
traitorous correspondence with the enemies of the State, 
and that he would appear when called upon. " That 
your memorialist's house being situated near the 
Theatre of the War, and in the great Route of the Con- 
gressional troops and militia in going to and returning 
from their Army, he was exposed to the frequent insults 
of a licentious soldiery, and having chosen a convenient 
time for the purpose he quitted his family and habita- 
tions, and effected his escape to New York, being accom- 
panied by two of his sons and a party of thirteen Loyal- 
ists, one of whom was killed by a patrolling party of 
the Rebels with whom they fell in at night, by which 
they were compelled to abandon their horses and every- 
thing they had with them, and with difficulty saved 
their lives." 

John Kane probably chose as a " convenient time " 
the latest date at which he could avoid taking the very 
stringent oath of allegiance passed June 30, 1778. He 
entered the British lines Aug. i, 1777. His dwelling- 
house was very conveniently situated as an officer's head- 
quarters. It had a large dwelling-house, connected by 
a stone-walled passage, sixty-five feet long, with a large 
store-house building with living rooms above. The 
Kane family under Sybil's charge remained at home 
for some time longer, but General Washington occu- 
pied a part of the house as headquarters for over two 
months. In a letter of Gov. George Clinton to Robert 
R. Livingston (Chancellor of the State of New York 
afterwards, in 1781), Clinton says under date of Sept. 
23, 1778, " Head Quarters was at John Kain's at Fred- 

66 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

ericksburg." Spark's Life of Washington shows a map 
with " Kingston " on it, and this was an older name for 
Fredericksburg. The dates of Washington's own let- 
ters show that his headquarters, with the exception of a 
day or two, were at Fredericksburg from September 25, 
1778, till November 29, and that John Kane's house 
was headquarters is also shown by an entry in Wash- 
ington's accounts of a payment for " use of his house " 
to John Kane, Nov, 28, 1778, of $144. A bronze tablet 
was put up Sept. 8th of 1905 upon the house in Pawling, 
stating that " The residence of John Kane on this 
Site was the Head Quarters of General George Wash- 
ington, September 25 to November 29, 1778, while 
his troops were encamped to the East and South." 
The reason for Washington's troops being quartered in 
this neighborhood was the position of the British troops. 
A letter of his, dated from Fredericksburg, says : "There 
are but two capital objects which they can have in view, 
except the defeat and dispersion of this army; and these 
are the possession of the fortifications in the Highlands, 
by which means the communication between the eastern 
and southern states would be cut off, and the destruction 
of the French fleet at Boston. These objects, being far 
apart, render it very difficult to secure the one effec- 
tually without exposing the other eminently. I have, 
therefore, in order to do the best the nature of the case 
will admit, strengthened the works and reinforced the 
garrison in the Highlands, and thrown the army into 
such position as to move eastward or westward as cir- 
cumstances may require. The place I now date from 
is about thirty miles from the fort on the North River 

67 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

(West Point) ; and I have some troops nearer, others 
farther off, but all on the road to Boston, if we should 
be dragged that way." In a letter to the President of 
Congress, dated Sept. 23d, he says : " The army marched 
from White Plains on the i6th, and is now encamped 
in different places. Three brigades, composed of Vir- 
ginia troops, part of the right wing, under command of 
General Putnam, are at Robinson, near West Point, and 
two brigades more, composing the remainder, are with 
Baron De Kalb at Fishkill Plains, about ten miles from 
the town on the road leading to Sharon. The second 
line with Lord Sterling is in the vicinity of Fredericks- 
burg; and the whole of the left wing at Danbury, under 
command of General Gates." 

It was either in this house or in its near vicinity that, 
at his own urgent request, the court-martial of General 
Schuyler for neglect of duty was held during the first 
three days of October. The accusation was that he was 
guilty of neglect of duty in not being present at Ticon- 
deroga. He was acquitted " with the highest honor," 
says the verdict. The verdict, with all the proceedings, 
was forwarded to Congress, then sitting in Philadel- 
phia, by Lafayette, who had gone to visit Washington 
in Fredericksburgh to secure his endorsement of an 
application for a furlough to visit France, and also, 
tradition says that Lafayette wished to fight a duel there. 
He seems to have lodged with one Reed Ferris, whose 
young daughter Molly was married to John Akin, prob- 
ably the son of the very blacksmith who had brought 
John Kane and his brothers-in-law those Protections 
from Lord Howe, whose possession landed them in 

68 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Poughkeepsie Jail. It is a curious thing that facts in 
the history of a commonplace family like ours should 
be revealed to us by the correspondence of the Father 
of his Country. Sybil Kane gave birth to her twelfth 
child, Sarah, known as " Sally Kane," and to us as 
"Aunt Morris," Oct. 31, 1778. Sybil used to say that 
she was always a Whig in feeling, and her brother, 
Moss Kent (father of the future Chancellor, James 
Kent) , had openly espoused the cause of the Rebellion. 
So I suppose that she quietly occupied one part of the 
big house and Washington the other. Aunt Morris 
speaks in her little memoir of Washington's headquar- 
ters being in the house the night she was born, which is 
a proof that Sybil, with her children, still remained at 
home. I daresay that the paternal absence was cause of 
rejoicing among the young people, for he seems to have 
been a stern disciplinarian. Aunt Morris speaks of an 
old Quaker saying to him, " Friend, thee must have 
worn out a deal of hickory on those boys." Judge Kane 
tells how, as a child receiving paternal chastisement, his 
grandfather Kane came into the room. Accustomed 
to the intercession of his grandfather Van Rensselaer, 
little John was horrified to hear his grandfather Kane 
say, " Lay it on well, Elisha, lay it on well. I'm sure 
the little rascal deserves it." His son, James, describing 
him in one of his letters to his Alida Van Rensselaer 
(Kane) Constable, says of his father that his character- 
istics were inflexibility and infallibility. 

The first marriage in the family took place on Sept. 
30, 1779, when the eldest daughter, Martha, then a girl 
of twenty, married Gilbert Robert Livingston, also a 

69 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

loyalist, whose father, Robert Gilbert, was a Whig. A 
few days later, Oct. 22, 1779, the Act of Attainder passed 
the Legislature of New York, at Kingston, in which 
" John Kane, Gentleman," with Beverley Robinson and 
a number of eminent Tories of the colony, were enumer- 
ated, and all their property confiscated. Of this Act 
Martha B. Flint, author of the " Early Long Island," 
says : " Nothing can be said in its defence. It was an 
ex-post facto law, while the names of the persons against 
whom it was aimed show that private jealousies, and the 
possession of large estates which could be turned to 
public uses, were the exciting cause of this legislation. 
By it were adjudged and declared guilty of felony, and 
to suffer Death as in cases of Felony ' without benefit 
of clergy for adherence to the enemies of the State,' 
fifty-eight of her best inhabitants — three were women — 
eminent for high official position, for private virtues 
and for distinguished ability." 

When the Act came before the Council of Revision 
— Chairman, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston — they 
declared it to be " repugnant to the plain and immutable 
laws of Justice; because obscure and contradictory." 

John Jay, Chairman of the Committee on Conspira- 
cies, before whom John Kane had been tried and com- 
mitted to Poughkeepsie Jail in December, 1776, was 
now Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. From Spain 
he wrote on May 6, 1780, to Governor Clinton: "An 
English paper contains what they call, but I can hardly 
believe to be, your Confiscation Act. If truly printed, 
New York is disgraced by injustice too palpable to 
admit even of palliation. I feel for the honour of my 

70 



JOHN JCANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Country, and therefore beg the favour of you to send 
me a true copy of it; that if the other be false, I may, 
by publishing yours, remove the prejudices against you, 
occasioned by the former." 

Sir James Jay, the elder brother of John, did use 
his influence to have the Act passed. 

No sales of confiscated property were to be made 
before the ist of October, 1780, and it would appear as 
if there had been delay, as An Act for the Speedy Sale 
of the Confiscated Lands was passed the 19th of May, 
1784. Abstracts of Sales were to be made every three 
months and filed and recorded in the office of the 
County Clerk. The Act contains fifty-eight sections, 
and made it impossible for the attainted Loyalist to 
profit by the conditions of the Treaty of Peace, to return 
to, or to re-purchase his own house or lands. 

Sybil Kane's sisters fared no better than she did. 
Alexander Grant, husband of Sarah Kent, a Lieutenant 
in the 42d Highlanders, was killed at the storming of 
Fort Montgomery. An Act passed April 23, 1785, de- 
clares that Alexander Grant took possession of B. Coe's 
farm in 1777, and that his family kept it till the peace. 
To repay Coe for the waste and injury, the State indem- 
nifies him from Grant's estate in New York, and allows 
him to file a declaration against Grant's heirs, as Grant 
had a large estate in New York. The widow Grant 
preceded her sister to Nova Scotia, and some of her 
descendants (Chandler by name) are still living there. 

In one of T. L. Kane's letters to his father. Judge 
John K. Kane, written in 1840 from Eaton Hall, near 
Norwich, the English home of Archibald Morrison, 

71 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

son of Malcolm Morrison and Mary Kent, he gives the 
following account of the confiscation of Malcolm Mor- 
rison's goods: "I have heard," he writes, "Cousin 
Archie describe the scene until his voice choked with 
sobs. His father, in heavy shackles, was tied against a 
cherry tree that stood before the main stoop, compelled, 
by a refinement of cruelty, to witness the beggaring of 
his house. The furniture, the books, the very hobby- 
horse which his little brother was clinging to, were 
dragged out into the lawn where the auctioneer was 
awaiting them. The bed on which his sick sister was 
lying was dragged from under her; the old family ser- 
vants were bid ofif to the highest bidder, and carried 
ofif, tied hand and foot, as he says, like pigs carted off 
to the butcher. One of them, * Old Violet,' who had 
suckled some of the children, was whipped till the blood 
ran down her back, because she clung to the doorpost. 
Poor Archie, who had seen everything else in sullen 
pride, could not stand this, but running up to her, burst 
into tears. * Don't cry for me,' said the poor thing, 
* don't ee cry for Violet. She not live long. See how 
white her head is. She die soon and go back to Guinea. 
Be a good boy. Take care of Mammy. Poor Missus, 
she want Massa Archie. Good-bye.' Just as she said 
this, one of the soldiers struck her a stunning blow over 
the mouth and carried her off." I think that Cousin 
Archie must have toned this story up a little as the years 
went by, but even so it was very hard to lose everything, 
even if Mr. Morrison was not in heavy shackles then. 
He was ironed when in Poughkeepsie Jail, and his boy's 
recollection of the two facts may have grown hazy under 

72 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

the combined influence of the lapse of sixty years and 
the after-dinner wine of " a good old English gentle- 
man, one of the olden time." 

Sybil Kent Kane and her children did not enter the 
British lines till some time in 1780. I cannot give the 
exact date, but it was probably early in the year. Helen 
Evertsen Smith, grand-daughter of Martha Living- 
ston's daughter Helen, writes to me that Mrs. Kane and 
her family left before the Morrison's house was harried. 
" They escaped by night to the banks of the Hudson, 
and embarked by night under cover of the darkness 
in a sloop which was waiting for them." . 

There are some scraps of notes of a conversation in 
which Aunt Morris tells Thomas L. Kane that her 
mother queried whether she could keep her brown 
horses, and John's gray. Her negroes, Cato and John, 
each rode one of their horses into the lines. The Kane's 
slaves, the notes say, all ran away without exception 
from the people who bought them at the sale: would 
not understand that it could pass any right of property 
in them. 

Sybil and her children took up their abode in a 
house — an inn, I believe — belonging to a Mrs. Franklin, 
at Newtow^n Landing, Long Island. General Skinner 
had his headquarters there; Mrs. Morris thinks she 
remembers a sentry always standing before the door. 
Here in 1780 Sybil's last child was born, Susan, named 
after Miss Susan DeLancey. Here, too, the family is 
said to have been under the care of Captain Bernard 
Kane, John's younger brother. Of him Aunt Morris 
wrote that " he was a remarkably handsome man, who 

73 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

stuttered terribly, from whom we have all, more or 
less, inherited a hesitation in speech." We could hardly 
have inherited it from him, but the peculiarity certainly 
exists in many members of the family, as well as that of 
a slight obliquity in the eye. I hope that another trait 
of Captain Bernard's does not also belong to the family: 
it is he to whom we are indebted for the statement that 
" his uncle. Sir Richard Kane," told him that he could 
trace his ancestry back to Branno, King of Lough 
Neagh, who died in 272, and was the father-in-law of 
Ossian. Great-uncle James Kane, who reports this as 
having been told him by his father, John Kane, writes: 
" Surely, my father," says I, " it isn't possible, and you 
can't believe it; consider it is upward of 1500 years. 
My son, says he, I don't know, nor don't care, but your 
uncle Barney always insisted that it was true as the Book 
of Genesis. It would not do, my son, for any man to 
doubt or contradict your uncle, for he was not only con- 
sidered the handsomest but the most powerful man in 
Ireland, and he would make very little ceremony in 
knocking any man down who even hesitated to believe 
him. All I know, says he, my son, about these matters 
is that Shane's Castle on Lough Neagh is considered 
one of the oldest castles in Ireland, and is located on the 
very spot said to be occupied by King Branno, and the 
castle is enclosed with a high wall fourteen miles in 
length on that beautiful lake, and the stables, sir, says 
he, are equal to any palace you ever saw." 

I would not have copied out this highly imaginative 
statement, for, as I have previously said, " Uncle 
Barney " was John's younger brother, and Sir Richard 

74 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Kane died when John was only two years old, but John 
Kane speaks of Shane's Castle as if it had some connec- 
tion with Uncle Barney's rhodomontade. Why should 
he do so unless he had in mind a belief in the Kanes 
being descended from the Shane's Castle O'Neills? 

We do not know whether the Kanes remained at 
Newtown Landing long. General Kane's notes men- 
tion that John Kane, with the wreck of his fortune, 
established two stores in Brooklyn and New York, but 
the evacuation of the British Army forced him to leave. 
He sailed for England at the same time that his wife 
and children sailed for Nova Scotia. His object was 
to present his claims to Parliament for compensation 
for the confiscation of his property, and he had no time 
to lose, as the time for their presentation was to end in 
March, 1784. His final petition is dated in 1785. He 
does not seem to have remained all the time in England, 
but to have visited his family in Nova Scotia, and to 
have gone to Ireland more than once to see his mother. 
Of his experiences there Great-Uncle James writes : " In 
one of his visits to Ireland with his brother. Captain 
Kane, from London, to see his old maiden sister, who 
it appears at that time occupied one of the wings of 
Shane's Castle, which was owned and occupied at that 
time by her nephew or great-nephew, John O'Neill, my 
father, who was always distinguished for his remark- 
able neatness, as well as temperance, was completely 
overcome by the daily feasts and entertainments that 
were given to him and his brother while they remained 
in Ireland, and was rejoiced to get back once more to 
his own dear England. He always represented his 

75 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

friends and connections at the Castle and the country 
around as a set of semi-barbarians. He said by the 
fashion and rules of hospitality at that time among them 
each gentleman was compelled to make himself beastly 
drunk and to lay on the floor. He seldom spoke of it, 
but when he did, it was with perfect horror." 

John Kane's mother was living at this time, and his 
nephew, Mr. O'Hara, speaks of his having visited her 
at Crebelly, within his own recollection, about the year 
1784 or 1785. 

John Kane secured an annuity, he writes to his sister, 
under date of the loth of November, 1804, of £80 a 
year. At that date he says that he owns nothing else in 
his own right, so I suppose he did not receive any other 
compensation for his losses. Commissions in the army 
were offered to his sons, which they would not accept, 
although he urged them to do so. Mrs. Kane's nephew, 
Archibald Morrison, obtained both pension and 
commission, and married two rich English women 
in succession. 

The Compensation Act 23d George III, July, 1783, 
provided for the payment of £50 for every £100 of an- 
nual income. " Sir Guy Carleton is blamed for not 
having secured the payment of debts due the men at- 
tainted by the Act of Oct. 22, 1779. He appointed a 
committee to examine their claims, but in a sessions of 
seven months they did nothing. The failure therein 
weighed heavily on rich and poor, reducing many 
gentlemen from affluence to poverty, and those of more 
modest means to absolute want." The Commissioners 
of Parliament reported on the 6th of June, 1788, that 

76 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

pensions had been granted to two hundred and four 
loyalists, aggregating £25,784 per annum. 

Writing of the loyalists who sailed to Nova Scotia 
in the succe^ssive fleets that left New York from 1782 
to 1783 in the autumn, M. B. Flint's " Early Long 
Island " says: " England had meant to be generous in 
her provision for those cast upon her bounty. From 
three hundred to six hundred acres of land were as- 
signed to every family; a full supply of food for the 
first year; two-thirds for the second, and one-third for 
the third year. Warm clothing, medicines, ammuni- 
tion, seeds, farming implements, building materials and 
tools, millstones and other requirements for grist-mills 
and sawmills were granted, and given out with tolerable 
fairness, but there were many delays, much poor mate- 
rial, and errors in distribution which worked great 
individual suffering, enhanced by the unexpected rigour 
of the climate." " Official records show that fully 
35,000 Loyalists went to Nova Scotia. Beverley Rob- 
inson was President of the Board making arrangements 
for their transportation." He was one of those gentle- 
men named in the Act of Attainder, who remained in 
America, and whose family always remained friendly 
with the Kanes, but another, Oliver De Lancey, went 
back to England and died there Oct. 27, 1785, losing a 
large estate by his loyalty. 

Sybil Kane and her sisters had their full share of 
suffering. The Kanes " embarked," Aunt Sally Morris 
writes, " in a large vessel bound for Nova Scotia. My 
mother had with her thirteen children and one grand- 
child — my eldest sister, Mrs. Livingston and child, were 

77 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

of the number. We had a prosperous voyage as far as 
the Bay of Funda — when a terrible snowstorm com- 
menced and we were driven back to Cape Cod, and all 
expected to be lost. The livestock — some fine cows be- 
longing to my mother, and a superb gray horse of my 
brother John's — were thrown overboard! We, how- 
ever, arrived at last at Annapolis Royal, the ground and 
the mountains around were covered with snow, and the 
weather was intensely cold. My aunt, Mrs. Morrison, 
must have emigrated some time before, for we were 
all most hospitably received at her house. 

" The next step of my most judicious and active 
mother was to dispatch her two elder sons, John and 
Charles, into the country to look out for a temporary 
residence for her family. They succeeded in finding a 
large rough-looking frame house, some five miles up 
the Annapolis River. A gondola was hired and all our 
goods and chattels stowed on board. My two brothers 
and our two slaves (old Cato and young Cato by name) 
undertook with a strong flood tide to navigate the 
precious cargo to our new place of residence. When 
the ebb commenced they fastened their great clumsy 
boat to the shore, and went to a house nearby for a 
night's lodging. But in the morning neither boat nor 
cargo were to be seen. The frightened voyagers be- 
lieved they had floated out to sea. However, they 
divided into two parties, taking different sides of the 
river, and went carefully along its margin, examining 
every nook and inlet, and to their inexpressible joy the 
gondola and all its contents were found safely nestled 
in a sheltered little bay. How our good and pious 

78 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

mother praised and thanked Providence for this special 
mercy: all the provisions, clothing and money of the 
family had been embarked on board." 

The large empty house which formed so convenient 
a shelter for Sybil's numerous children had perhaps 
been the home of one of the dispossessed Acadian 
farmers, for Aunt Morris relates that in her childish 
rambles she frequently saw the ruins of old huts over- 
grown with weeds, and sometimes came across gnarly 
old apple trees, relics, she was told, of the old French 
settlers. Indeed, the reason why Great Britain sent so 
many of the loyalist families to Nova Scotia was to 
replace the disaffected Acadians, whose love and loyalty 
to France and hatred of the English, Longfellow has 
immortalized and idealized in " Evangeline." 

Sybil Kane remained in Nova Scotia with her family 
for several years. I quote again from Aunt Morris : 

" My next recollections are of a pleasant society, 
scattered within a few miles of us, consisting of edu- 
cated, respectable emigrant Tory families, ' poor and 
proud.' Aunt Morrison and Aunt Grant's families were 
in our neighborhood. Our young gentlemen used to 
build bush-houses or sunny or shaded lawns, where 
music and tea-drinkings appealed to my childish imagi- 
nation as the perfection of enjoyment. Our old tutor, 
Stephen Camm, joined us, and we used to meet in a 
small church or meeting-house to study or recite lessons. 
The boys studied Latin and read Chief Justice Smyth's 
History of New York ; the girls read The Spectator and 
The Rambler." 

" We became acquainted with Dr. (John Prescott) 
79 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Lawrence, a most amiable and excellent young Boston 
physician, who had served all through the war in the 
British Naval Hospital, and was an exile like ourselves. 
My sister Abby was an intelligent, cultivated young 
person, who sang ballads sweetly. They fell in love with 
each other and married." (This was in 1785.) " Within 
two or three years after our arrival in Nova Scotia oc- 
curred a domestic tragedy which in the 'dark backward 
and abyss of time' stands out in terrible relief. Mrs. 
Grant, my mother's youngest sister — the widow of 
Major Grant, who fell at the storming of Fort Mont- 
gomery — embarked with her only son (a handsome 
youth of fifteen or sixteen) and Mr. Chandelier, an old 
gentleman, his son and daughter, to cross the Bay of 
Funda — that terrible bay, whose tides rise sixty feet — 
to meet the British Commissioners to adjust with them 
their various claims on the British Government, for con- 
fiscation, losses and spoliations sustained by them as 
loyalists. During a tremendous snowstorm their vessel 
was driven on the clififs of the opposite shore, and the 
passengers escaped to land by climbing along a rope, 
stretched from the bowsprit to the shore, and after 
climbing up broken precipices they reached a table land. 
The two ladies were so exhausted that the men made 
them a bed of pine branches on the snow, covering them 
as well as they could with their coats, and then joined 
in tramping round them in a ring to keep themselves 
from freezing. When warm they would kneel down 
and put the poor ladies' feet in their bosoms; — thus 
they kept life in all till day broke ; — they then divided 
in parties — the strong ones taking the lead. Old Mr. 

80 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Chandelier and his daughter followed through the deep 
snow, piercing wind and bright sun (young Mr Chan- 
delier was drowned in attempting to land). Robert 
Grant and his mother travelled on all day together till 
she became so exhausted that she said, ' My son, I can 
go no further, I must lay down and die ! He had cheered 
and supported her as long as he was able. He then 
broke down branches of spruce and pine and made a sort 
of bed and laid her on it, took off his coat and covered 
her, placed himself by her side with her head on his 
arm, and both fell asleep. The baying of a wolf awak- 
ened him, and his mother lay dead in his arms! He 
roused himself, covered her with snow to protect her 
from wild beasts, marked the spot and set off alone, 
under a waning moon, to find his way to the nearest 
settlement. Within about two miles he met men with 
a sledge coming in quest of them. He was so frozen 
that he was placed in a bath of cold water and so his life 
was preserved. The men followed his track and first 
found Mrs. Grant; then at a little distance Miss Chan- 
delier — sitting up, dead, in the snow — they traced her 
steps to the brink of a precipice, down which her father 
had fallen, eighty feet — the birds of prey showing the 
spot. I shall never forget the Sunday morning when 
the news arrived. My mother took her sleigh and went 
first to tell the dreadful tale to the remaining Chandelier 
family: the daughter became, for a short time, insane, 
and my three young cousins, the Grants, were all but 
distracted. The finale of this family was that Helen, 
the eldest, became very religious, and after a time 
married a respectable young farmer, fell into consump- 

8i 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

tion and died. The second, Elizabeth (a very pretty- 
girl), married the only surviving son of the Chandeliers, 
and went with her husband and Miss Chandelier to 
Halifax, where Miss Chandelier (who was not young 
and had lost an eye) married Judge Haliburton. 
Robert, and Lucy Grant, his youngest sister, came back 
to this country. He graduated at Yale College about 
1792, went to Savannah, and died there of consumption. 
Lucy lived at Lansingburgh under the care of her 
uncle. Moss Kent. Thus I believe the whole family 
are extinct." 

Aunt Morris is mistaken in believing the descend- 

^ ants of Great-Aunt Grant to be extinct. Mrs. Kate 

; Beeckman Schuyler met some of the descendants of 

Elizabeth Grant Chandelier in Nova Scotia, in 1904, 

I think it was. 

The Kane family did not remain many years in 
Nova Scotia. John, my grandfather, who was the eldest 
son, was the first to return. Tradition has it that he one 
day finished hoeing the last potatoes of the last row, and 
throwing down the hoe declared that he had finished 
his last day's work in Nova Scotia. Aunt Morris, how- 
ever, gives Sybil the credit of sending her sons back to 
the United States. She says that their father wanted 
John and Charles to accept commissions in the British 
Army, to which their mother strongly objected. " One 
morning, after spending the night, as she has since said, 
in anxious thought and prayer, she sketched to them a 
plan of returning to New York. ' Go, my sons,' she 
said, ' to your father's old commercial friends — they 
know he was always an honest man — ask them to credit 

82 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

you to a small amount — look out for a good situation 
and commence business. I will draw on your father 
for a sufficient sum to fit you out for the enterprise.' The 
plan was adopted. They arrived in New York, called on 
Franklin Robinson & Co. and stated their views, were 
kindly treated — received credit to a limited extent, went 
into the country — to Fort Edward, I think, and in a 
quarter of the time granted them returned with the cash, 
paid ofif every shilling, and opened a large account with 
the house. They then wrote home the most encourag- 
ing letters, and requested that my brother James, then a 
fine, handsome lad of fourteen, should be sent to them." 
This fixes the date approximately, allowing a year to 
have passed in this adventure. James was born in 1772. 
Thirteen years would bring us to 1785. Then followed 
Elisha and Oliver. Elias remained at home some time 
longer. He was a " mighty hunter," as his mother 
called him, providing the table with moose and deer 
meat, wild geese, wild turkeys, pheasants and so forth. 

Elias and Archibald followed. Mrs. Livingston 
had already sailed, taking her sister Maria, afterwards 
Mrs. Yates. Then Elisha returned to escort his mother 
and the two youngest sisters, Sybil Adeline and Sarah, 
back to the United States. Sybil, the mother, exclaimed, 
*' It is enough, my sons are yet alive, I will go and see 
them before I die." Sarah Kane was then thirteen, and 
the year was 1792. 

Of the prosperous business established by Kane 
Brothers, Judge John K. Kane says in his MS. biog- 
raphy: "All the sons united to carry on business for the 
general support. John, the eldest, was planted at New 

83 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

York; Oliver, the fifth, sometimes in Europe, sometimes 
with John. Charles, the second, was picketed out at 
Fort Edward and Fort Anne: Elisha, my father, the 
third, — Elias, the fourth, — ^James, the sixth, — and 
Archibald, the seventh, — held a line of posts, beginning 
at Albany, and running west to Canajoharie and Whites- 
boro. My father was the pioneer. With Elias as his 
aid at first, he built a log store among the Oneidas, and 
afterwards brought up the boards from Cooperstown, 
and put together the first frame building west of 
Herkimer. It was at Whitesboro : I saw it yet standing, 
a very large structure, when I visited Utica after I 
came of age. 

" In 1793 my father was living in Albany, the owner 
of an immense storehouse and shop, in which he re- 
ceived all the wheat and furs and the potash that his 
brothers at the outposts could collect, and where he sold 
the crockery and the broadcloths and the groceries and 
ironmongery and everything else that Uncle Oliver had 
bought in Europe or Uncle John gathered in New York. 
The brothers were all partners, or rather there was a 
unity of interest among them that never imagined a 
separate property in anything. The sisters were part- 
ners also so far as they had wants ; and when they mar- 
ried, their outfits came from the general stock. For 
years after some of the brothers had been getting fami- 
lies about them, the partners of ' Kane & Brothers ' had 
the same form of will for each ; — an estimated but fixed 
amount was to go to the wife and children, but the rest 
was to remain without account or inquiry the property 
of the surviving firm." 

84 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

Maude, an English traveller, journeying in America 
in 1800, speaks of being hospitably entertained by Elias 
Kane, and of the great volume of business passing 
through Kane Brothers' hands, which was only rendered 
possible by their absolute trust in each other, and their 
possessing a chain of trading posts. 

Among the Oneidas of Western New York, James, 
the youngest, was adopted as a son of the old chief and 
called Young Skenadore; Elias was called Tanatolas, 
signifying Pine Knot, and Elisha, Caleotchico, "Great 
White Cloud that Obscures the Sun," from his quick, 
warm temper. 

Kane Brothers, John and Archibald, had a large 
brick building in Albany, a dwelling and storehouse 
on the east side of Old Market Street (now Broadway), 
(near what was the Exchange in 1857), says a writer in 
Harper's Magazine for March of that year. I think, 
however, that it was not John but Elisha who lived in 
this house. The anonymous writer goes on to say: 
" Archibald Kane had his hand very badly shattered 
by the discharge of a gun at Canajoharie, where it was 
amputated by Dr. Jonathan Eights. I remember seeing 
him frequently in his store after the accident with his 
arm in a sling made of a stuff resembling mohair." 
Judge Kane told me that he recollected him as wearing 
his ruffles drawn well over his wrists to hide the missing 
hand. In Lossing's Pictorial Field Book of the Revo- 
lution, Vol. I, p. 292, there is a woodcut of a large 
stone building with a hipped roof, backed by a hill, and 
having in front the small projecting building used as a 
shelter in stormy weather. The text says, " On the 

85 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

way to Canajoharie we passed an old stone house erected 
before the Revolution, which was used soon afterwards 
by the brothers Kane, then the most extensive traders 
west of Albany." 

The accident to Archibald Kane was, I think, a 
genuine one, but the brothers were fiery tempered and 
duellists. John became an elder in the Dutch Reformed 
Church at Harlem quite early in life, and there is a 
family legend that on one occasion as two of the brothers 
wended their way to an early rendezvous, they were 
aware of John, " Brother John " they always called him, 
striding swiftly over the hills with his stick tucked 
under his arm. He passed them by without stopping 
longer than to say, " For God's sake, Elisha, re- 
member that you have the honour of the family in 
your hands." I do not doubt that the " Great White 
Cloud " acquitted himself satisfactorily on the occa- 
sion! In 1861-62, during the Civil War, when Lieut. 
Col. Thomas L. Kane, Elisha's grandson, had to submit 
the sketch of a work he was writing on Skirmish- 
ing Tactics to Gen. Gilbert Totten of the Engineer 
Corps of the U. S. Regulars, the old gentleman 
greeted him most cordially as the descendant of 
one with whom he had had " an affair of honour " — 
to be recollected only in those later days with a feel- 
ing of affectionate remembrance of the happy past. It 
is well to remember the ardent, hot-tempered but gener- 
ous Elisha of those early days. He and his aunt, Mrs. 
Morrison, are said to have been the only ones who pos- 
sessed the Kent humourousness. He became later a 
pampered, rather lazy gourmand, I have heard, with a 

86 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

shrewd tongue that could cut like a lash, and an inordi- 
nate amount of family pride. But this I heard from 
another Philadelphian whose Virginian father deeply- 
resented Elisha Kane's *'Tory" exclusiveness. (Eliza- 
beth, daughter of Dr. Mitchell.) 

During these years of prosperity the handsome Kane 
brothers and lovely sisters were marrying into the best 
families in the land. I have only a few dates, but it 
seems an odd thing that a family banished for their 
loyalty to King George in 1783 should ten years later 
be marrying the sons and daughters of distinguished 
patriots. As the Old Northern Farmer in Tennyson's 
ballad advised his son to do, " they did not marry for 
money, but went where money was." John married 
in 1793 the beautiful daughter of a rich New Yorii 
merchant, Christopher Codwise; Elisha and Adeline 
married the son and daughter of Gen. Robert Van 
Rensselaer of Claverack Manor on the Hudson; Maria 
married, as his second wife, the dull but prosperous 
Gov. Jos. C. Yates of New York. Elias married 
Deborah Van Schelluyne, a Dutch heiress. Charles 
married Maria Wray, the daughter of the colonel com- 
manding at Fort Edward. Oliver married Ann Eliza 
Clark, whose father was Governor of Rhode Island, 
and in 1799 Sally married Thomas Morris, son of the 
distinguished financier of the Revolution. She has 
given us a charming description of her marriage festivi- 
ties, and her trip to her future home in the wilds of 
Canandaigua, but as it is already in print I will not 
copy it here. She speaks of leaving her father's house 
in Schenectady in September, 1799, so I suppose that 

87 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

John Kane and Sybil had a house of their own at that 
date, but the few notices I have of their subsequent lives 
and deaths would seem to indicate that they made their 
home with their children. I cannot make up a con- 
nected narrative, but from letters of the various mem- 
bers of the family I will compile what will give us a 
pretty good idea of their life. I have four letters of 
old John's own. The first is addressed to his sister, 

Miss Mary Kane, In care of , Crebilly, 

Ireland, and seems to have been sent by hand. The 
second is postmarked Belfast, and addressed to Miss 
Mary Kane, Craighbelleigh, County Antrim, Ireland. 
How they got back so as to reach my husband's hands 
finally I do not know. The first is dated Albany, loth 
November, 1804, and begins: " My Dear Sister, I re- 
ceived yours of the 8th July wherein you inform me 
that you had wrote to me twice before. I assure you I 
never received a line before the one I now acknowledge, 
nor have I received any direct information of the death 
of my dear mother till my nephew Wm. O'Hara told 
my son (who he saw at Philadelphia) that the Dear 
Woman was no more. As to the favorable accounts you 
have had of my circumstances, they are unfounded. I can 
with the most solemn truth, assure you I have nothing 
in my own right to depend upon but £80 sterling, which 
I receive as a pension from the British Government 
quarterly. My family (thro' mercy) are in prosperous 
situations. I have seven sons, four are married, one a 
widower, and my two youngest single. I have had six 
Dauters (sic,E, D. K.) ; three are dead and three living; 
two were married women, and my youngest in her nth 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

year. My Dauters as well as my Sons formed very 
happy and honorable connexions {sic). One of my 
Dauters left seven children, was the wife of a very 
worthy man, a Dr. Lawrence, who was a surgeon in the 
British Navy Hospital seven years in our Revolutionary 
War. She died in childbed, about three years past; 
the Doctor is still a widower, and so much attatched 
(sic) to the memory of his departed consort and his 
children that I think he will never marry again. His 
son is now in his last year in college, and truly clever. 
She was every way amongst the first of her sex I ever 
knew. My dauter Mary, who I called after you, died 
also in childbed. She married a Mr. Yates, the Mayor 
of the city of Schenectady. She was also a fine woman ; 
has left one dauter now about six years of age, a promis- 
ing child. I have now 27 grandchildren; all promise 
flatteringly; none as yet married, but my Dauter Liv- 
ingston has two daughters and two sons, and my Dauter 
Lawrence has left a son and dauter grown up. Three 
of my sons have married wives, who, it's probable, will 
have from 30 to £59,000 fortune each. My eldest son 
John will have a very pretty one by his wife, who is one 
of the first women of the Age. In truth I coud (sic) not 
wish for more happy and honorable connexions than all 
my children have made. I now have moved to this city 
about a month past to live with my youngest son but one. 
My youngest is now gone supercargo of a vessel bound 
to the West Indies, partly owned by his brothers. Now 
I have given you a faithful account of my family. I 
am now a very old man. Should I live to the 12th of 
next month I shall be 70 years of age. Your sister was 

89 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

66 last July. I have reason to bless the Lord I have 
never had an hour's sickness since my first arrival in 
this country, vs^hich is 52 years the 8th inst., but I now 
feel the grasp of the Iron Hand of Age. As to my son 
Oliver's receiving money from Mr. Daniel O'Hara for 
my Brother's a/c, I believe the intelligence is incorrect, 
for I heard Oliver say Mr. O'Hara behaved very un- 
gratefully in that Business to his Uncle, having never 
paid anything. 

" I now send you my Dear Sister £20 Sterling One 
quarter of all the income I have on earth, and shall, so 
long as I continue to receive the same annually which 
will fail only by the Extinction of the British Govern- 
ment, the best now in Existence or that ever has existed. 
I have still a claim on it from which I hope to receive a 
considerable sum. Pray let me hear from you as soon 
as you can, and let me know what's become of Wm. 
O'Hara. I hope he's not laid up in Dry Dock, likewise 
who Mr. Henry O'Hara is who wrote me on the cover 
of your letter. I can hardly think he is my old friend 
of Leminary, whose life was so much above my own. 
You'll likewise give my love to all who you think I 
ought to recollect, and believe me to be with unal- 
tered affection 

" Your faithful friend and brother, Jno. Kane." 

At the time when the preceding letter was written, 
John and Sybil were residing with their son James, as 
he says. I do not know whether he was still living in 
the residence over the store in Market Street, Albany, 
or whether he was living in the beautiful home, which, 

90 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

I am told, his brother Oliver's wife purchased from 
James after the failure. I find it described in 1830 as 
" a splendid, old-fashioned house, called Kane's Place, 
or The Mansion, quite in the country apparently, al- 
though in the heart of Albany. There was a fine lawn 
in front of the house, and fine old trees, with lots of 
white-crested pet pigeons flying and strutting about. 
You entered from the lawn into quite a large room, with 
piano, chairs, sofas," etc., etc. This furniture, I may 
mention in passing, is the old gilded cane-backed furni- 
ture of which Dr. John K. Kane, of Delaware, and 
Thomas L. Kane, of Kane, each inherited a sofa and six 
chairs. How it became ours I will tell later on if I 
have time. 

In James Kane's old age he wrote many letters to 
his niece Alida, and filled many copy-books with ex- 
tracts from the books he had read, and with reminis- 
cences of former days. Being poor, he economized in 
paper, and wrote first in black ink along the paper in the 
ordinary way, and then across in red ink. He wrote a 
beautiful script, but it was so large as to nearly fill the 
space between the lines, so that the capitals were little 
larger than the small letters. Both inks have faded and 
the paper has yellowed. The dear old man wanted 
Aunt Alida to keep his MSS. and to turn them over 
to his much-admired great-nephews, Elisha K. and 
Thomas L. Kane. This is how they came into my pos- 
session, for, in the rush and hurry of life, no one else 
has had time to decipher them. I will copy now such 
extracts as set John and Sybil before us in these last 
years of their lives. There is necessarily some repetition. 

91 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

James Kane was thirty-two at this time. Speaking of 
the portrait of Sybil Kane (now in my possession), he 
writes to Alida V. R. Constable : " You can have but 
very little conception, my dear niece, what a treasure 
you have furnished me with in my sainted mother's pic- 
ture. It is placed alongside my bed and it appears con- 
stantly to be watching me ' with eyes that seem to love 
whate'er they look upon.' I consider it as my guardian 
angel by day and by night, and it appears to me as if I 
wanted no other society in my old age. 

" My dear old father often told me that he did not 
believe a purer spirit ever throbbed in a human bosom; 
in the later part of his life, particularly, it seemed as if 
he perfectly adored my mother. You know they were 
unfortunately antipodes in their religious tenets, my 
father being a high churchman of the strictest sect, and 
my mother a Presbyterian. The children all went with 
their mother, as her religion ' worked by love,' and 
my father did not object to it, although he honestly be- 
lieved that there was no salvation outside of the pale 
of the Episcopal Church. But he was so kind as to tell 
me more than once that my mother, he thought, would 
be an exception. * * * My dear mother appeared 
to be fully impressed with the idea that my father was a 
Romanist — at the same time wisely kept her impres- 
sions to herself." 

"Albany, Feb. 17, 1849. 

" My dear old father honestly believed that my 
dear mother was not only one of the finest, but one of 
the greatest women that this earth ever bore up, and 
strange as it may seem, he had taken it into his head that 

92 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

she was the very image of the King of Prussia in face 
and expression — the ' Great Frederick ' whom he ad- 
mired, if possible, more than I do Ossian. * * * 
But what used to amuse me more than all was to see my 
dear mother wince under all these high encomiums. 
She well knew that my dear father was scrupulously 
sincere in all he said concerning her, but you know 
' nothing wounds a feeling and delicate mind more than 
praise unjustly bestowed ' — such eminently was the case 
with my mother. 

" I recollect one summer afternoon my father came 
into the Store with a splendid new edition of the Life 
of Frederick the Great, which he had been purchasing 
from the bookstore of Backus & Whiting of this city. 
Says I, ' My dear Sir, I have got this work now in my 
library.' ' Not exactly, my son,' says he, ' this is a new 
edition, and is quite another afifair. I bought it purely 
and entirely on account of the likeness it contains of 
your mother.' 

" On looking at it I must confess I became a little 
frightened — I was apprehensive my dear old father 
had at last taken leave of his wits; there was old 
Frederick dressed in his royal robes — his gold-laced 
cocked hat, star and sword, with his sharp face, keen 
black eyes, &c. — and after looking at it for some time, 
* My son,' says he, ' What do you think of it? Did 
you ever see anything so striking? It is to me like the 
reflection of a mirror; it is as much like your mother 
as she is like herself; the face, character and expres- 
sion,' continued he, * is perfect — ain't it, my son? ' 

" ' My dear father,' says I, ' I am extremely sorry 
93 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

to differ with you in anything — but I must say the like- 
ness doesn't strike me by any means as it does you.' 

" I saw evidently that his countenance fell and that 
he was mortified. In order to ease off with as much 
delicacy as I conscientiously could, I told him, says I : 
* My father, if my mother was dressed as that picture 
represents, in the royal robes of his majesty, it would 
unquestionably make a material difference in her ap- 
pearance, and perhaps then there would be some 
resemblance.' 

" He appeared then to cheer up a little; the servant 
came to inform us that tea was ready, and as we arrived 
at home I found my dear mother sitting alone on the 
sofa to receive us, and as I discovered from her eyes 
that she was suffering from the ' hypo,' says I, ' My 
dear mother, my father has been buying your picture, 
and I am very sorry to say that the likeness don't strike 
me as perfect as it does him.' 

" ' My son,' says my father, ' I am very sorry to 
hear you say so : it is as much like your mother as she is 
like herself, it is like the reflection of a mirror; the face, 
character and expression,' says he, ' is perfect.' 

" ' Well,' says I, ' My dear father, if my mother 
was dressed as that picture represents — I doubt very 
much whether she would even know herself.' With 
that the dear old lady rolled up her eyes, and said, ' Pray 
let me see it.' Says I, ' My father, will you please to show 
it' With that he came forward and presented it. My 
mother at first turned pale, and I was apprehensive that 
she was going to faint. I was close by her side. She 

94 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

was soon relieved by a happy convulsion of laughter, 
and at last giving me a look that I never can forget, said : 

" 'My son, what will come next? ' Says I, ' My 
blessed mother, I told my father that it did not look 
like you.' 

" ' Did you, my son? Oh, Jemmy,' says she, ' How 
can you take pleasure in making such a fool of your 
old father? ' 

'* Says I, ' My beloved mother, you mistake en- 
tirely, and don't do me justice. My father well knows 
that I told him over and over again, that it did not 
resemble you.' 

'' ' Well,' says she, ' Jemmy, then I am satisfied.' 

" My poor old father appeared perfectly con- 
founded, and could not undertsand what it all meant; 
he never said one word. 

" The effect altogether was most salutary. It com- 
pletely drove away the hysterics from my mother, for 
that time, to say the least, and in some measure lessened 
my father's ideality. 

" I always made it a point after that, whenever I 
perceived my heavenly mother threatened with the 
' hypo,' to show her that picture ; it rarely, if ever, failed 
to dissipate it altogether." 

"Albany, March, 1849. 

" Now, what I want of you, my dear Alida, for 
your old uncle's sake, is to let the poor ' Pope and Polk ' 
alone. The latter it seems has at length got his quietus, 
and the former appears to be, at present, in trouble. I 
must confess I do feel a strong sympathy for both those 
gentlemen, and I cannot help feeling so, the former on 

95 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

my excellent, respected father's account, and the latter 
on my most estimable nephew's account, who is some- 
times designated with the cognomen ' Polk Kane,' which 
I am not ashamed, to say the least, always to recognize. 
I recollect my dear father asked me one day if I knew 
the etymology of the word Pope. I told him I did not. 
' It means. Sir,' says he, ' Father, he being the father of 
all Christians.' He firmly believed in the Pope's in- 
fallibility. You know his father, my grandfather, was 
a Romanist of the strictest sect, and if it had not been 
for my sainted mother, I do really believe I should have 
been a Romanist or at least an Episcopalian. 

" Our ancestry, according to Uncle Barney's inco- 
herent account, in which he had seen the very genea- 
logical tree, as shown to him by his uncle (Brig. Gen. 
Kane, governor of the Island of Minorca), was, it 
seems, traced to Branno, King of Lough, or ' Lego,' 
who was father-in-law of Ossian, and whose daughter 
it seems the beautiful Everallen it seems he fell in love 
with in one of his early journeys to Ireland. She was, 
it seems, the mother of Oscar, who was her only child, 
and both died before Ossian. 

" It is supposed that Shane's Castle on Lough Neagh 
occupies the very spot formerly occupied by Branno." 

" My dear old father used to be annoyed : (I always 
eat very quick when I was in business, and might be con- 
sidered a hearty eater). I well recollect how it used 
to annoy my dear old father, who was remarkably tem- 
perate both in eating and drinking, and was fond of 
sitting a good while at table and ate very slow. He 
used to say to me, ' My son, learn to eat slow, and all 

96 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

other graces will follow in their places,' and ' Let the 
appetite or desire be obedient to reason ' was another 
favorite maxim of his. I don't know as he had any 
particular favorites among his sons, but if he had it was 
certainly my dear brother Archy.' 

" Speaking of Ossian's poetry he writes: 

'' ' Where Ossian speaks of the death of his wife 
" Everallen," our ancestor, according to Uncle Barney, 
is quite poetic and fine. 

" ' Gale of the veedy Lego, now called Lough Neagh, 
on the borders of which stands Shane's Castle, still in 
the possession of some of my father's connections.' 

" My father, I think I told you, always invariably 
kept all the Romish saints' days — such as Michael- 
mas, Martinmas, Candlemas, Epiphany, Ash Wednes- 
day, Lent and Good Friday, &c., &c. I recollect he 
often said to me, ' My son, if you have any young friends 
that you would like to be civil to, I should wish you to 
invite (sic) them for such a day, say, for instance, the 
29th September — I have been purchasing to-day some 
fine young ducks, a green goose, pheasants, &c.' 

" * What day is the 29th, my father? ' ' Michael- 
mas, Sir,' says he. 

" * Will you be good enough, my father, to tell me 
the etymology of Michaelmas? ' 

" ' It is Michael and Mass, or, rather,' says he, 
* Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and 
the dragon fought and his angels, and were turned out 
of heaven and driven to the lower regions, where I trust 
they will always remain,' says he. 

97 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

" ' Did that war in heaven,' says I, ' my father, take 
place on the 29th of September? ' 

" ' Yes, my son, it did.' 

" * Where do you find that fact in the Bible, 
my father? ' 

" ' 1 2th Chapter of Revelations,' says he. 

" I can now see my mother rolling up her heavenly 
eyes, as she then did without uttering a word. 

" I recollect one day I said to my father, ' Is it 
possible, my dear Sir, that it is your deliberate opinion 
that there is no salvation out of the pale of the Epis- 
copal Church? ' 

" * My son,' says he, ' however painful it may be 
for me to express it, that is my deliberate opinion.' 

" ' Surely, my father, don't you believe my mother 
will go to heaven? ' 

" ' My son, I do believe she will be an exception, 
and " be saved so as by fire." As certain as there are 
saints and angels in heaven,' continued he, ' so certain 
your mother will be among them.' 

" I told my dear mother immediately after that I 
had some good news for her, and told her exactly what 
my father had said. She said she felt herself infinitely 
obliged at my father's good opinion of her, and that 
she most devoutly hoped that my dear father would 
go there, too. 

" Well,' says I, ' my blessed mother, after all, don't 
you believe he will?' 

" She looked at me, I thought, somewhat signifi- 
cantly — ' My son Jemmy,' said she, ' that is rather a 
hard question for me to answer, at the present time.' 

98 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

" It struck me at the time, I recollect, that my mother 
had not quite as much charity as my father had. With 
all my faults and imperfections, my beloved niece (and 
heaven knows they are neither few nor small), I think 
I can say with sincerity and truth that, during the whole 
course of my long, protracted life, I have always en- 
deavored to cultivate within my own bosom that charity 
which hopeth all things and thinketh no evil, and in 
some measure suffereth long and is kind, and that not 
altogether seeketh exclusively and entirely their own, 
and I trust I have found my account in it, by the tran- 
quillity, comfort and happiness it has always afiforded 
me in my various walks and vicissitudes of human life. 

" If I were to be asked what were the peculiar char- 
acteristics of my dear old father, I should say at once, 
* energy and infallibility ' — there certainly ' was no 
mistake about him,' at any rate, as far as I could ever 
discover. I doubt very much whether he ever believed 
that he ever committed one single fault during the 
whole course of his long life. He certainly was most 
singularly happy in that respect, and if it was my last 
words I would say he was about as faultless as any man 
that ever lived, and the only blemish about the dear old 
man was that he was too conscious of it himself: my dear 
old mother, on the other hand, was all ' meekness 
and humility.' 

" I recollect many, many years ago on Mohawk 
River he was giving me an account of an occurrence 
that took place between him and his only brother, my 
Uncle Barney Kane, which appeared to me at the time 
not a little marvellous. 

99 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

" Says I, * Is it possible, my father, can it be true? ' 

" I shall never forget the dignified look he gave 
me. * My son,' says he, ' do you suppose I should 
say so if it were not so? ' 

" ' By no means, my dear father, and I most humbly 
beg your pardon — -it only struck me as a little extraor- 
dinary,' says I, ' sir.' 

" After that I took special care never to doubt any- 
thing that came from his lips till the day of his death. 
He was a great lover and stickler (sic) for truth in 
every sense of the word, and with all his wonderful 
' ideality,' which certainly surpassed any man I ever 
knew, since the days of my early favorite ' Don Quixote.' 

" He never in a single instance ' mistook his imagi- 
nation for his memory.' I recollect he told me nearly 
sixty years ago, ' Always bear in mind " Paul's " recom- 
mendation to youth, which,' says he, ' is well worthy of 
being written in letters of gold. It comprehends every- 
thing, my son,' says he. 

" ' What are they, my father? ' says I. 

" ' Piety, modesty, truth, benevolence, temperance 
and industry.' 

" My father was a finished scholar, which none of 
his sons ever were. The reason why they were not so, 
no doubt, arose from the disturb'd {sic) state of the 
American Revolution. It appeared to me that he had 
all the classics perfectly by heart, and his memory was 
like brass. 

" Chancellor Kent and his brother, Moss Kent, told 
me that he was the best Latin scholar they knew of, but 
the Chancellor said he could beat him in Greek, and 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

I have no doubt he could, as my father never pretended 
to be much of a Greek scholar. His Latin quotations 
appeared to me to be almost innumerable, and he had 
them at all times in perfect command, and he never 
introduced them only when they were perfectly appro- 
priate for the occasion. For instance, when he thought 
he perceived the clergy were laying me under rather 
too heavy requisitions, he would say, 

" ' My son, I think it the duty of a good " Pastor " 
to shear his flock, but he must not skin them,' and then 
he always followed it in Latin, ' Boni pastores est tondere 
pecus non deglubere.' He unquestionably had more 
mind than any of his children, unless possibly it might 
have been Brother Archy, who, my father always said, 
had both mind and genius." 

Letter from John Kane to Miss Mary Kane, 
Crebilly, Ireland 

New York, 23 Febr. 1806. 
My Dear Sister, 

I don't know how to account for your omission to 
acknowledge the rect. of my Bill for £20 Sterling sent 
you last October. I have been afraid that either your 
death or its falling into other hands has been the cause 
(I wish you immediately on the rect. of this to write me 
and inform me of the rect. of my Bill and your rect. of 
its amount) . I of course wish to let you know the situa- 
tion of all the survivors of our family and their different 
branches. I am now a very disconsolate man, having 
lost my Dear Wife the 19th day of last June, lacking 
one month only of 68 years of age. She was carried off 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

by a parylitic (sic) stroke. We had lived together going 
on 50 years, had 13 children, of whom ten are living, 
viz. 7 Sons & 3 Daughters. I have lost 2 Daughters in 
child-bed. Mrs. Lawrence has left 7 children. Mrs. 
Yates, one, now in her 8th year. Mr. is again married, 
has 2 children by his present wife, by whom he got a 
fortune of £50,000 she being an only child. Dr. 
Lawrence will never marry again. If I had a predilec- 
tion for one Child more than another it was for her. 
She would gladly had your Company. She would have 
done all in her power to have made the eve of your life 
comfortable. Mrs. Livingston has 7 children, 3 Sons 
and 4 Daughters who are among the first belles of the 
State. My Son John has 7 children. Chas. 5, Oliver 2, 
Elias 5, Mrs. Van Rensselaer 5, Mrs. Morris my young- 
est child 4, Elisha Kane 3. He has been a widower 
on 7 (I say — A. V. K. C.) 8 years, lives in Philadelphia, 
and is a Bank Director there. My youngest Sons, James 
& Archy, still unmarried. I am happy in all the con- 
nections that my Sons and Daughters have made & all 
are as prosperous in theirs I could reasonably desire but 
nothing on this side time can now make me happy as 
I have lost the center of attraction round which my affec- 
tions hovered. I can emphatically feel what Dr. John- 
son said to a friend on the like occasion that the con- 
tinuing of Being was lacerated. I shall immediately 
on the receipt of yrs, or hearing from any other Channel 
that you are in the land of the living, send you my Bill. 
I am now an unhoused wanderer after having for 53 
years been master of my own fireside having broken up 
housekeeping. I live with my children by rotation, & 



JOHN JCANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

tho all are attentive & kind, I am still not in my own 
house. Should it please the Lord to continue my life 
till the 1 2th day of Dec. I shall be 72 years of age. 
Which, with the loss of my dear wife makes me weak 
indeed. My love and regards to all you think proper. 
Your affectionate Brother, 

Jno. Kane. 

New York, 31st August, 1806. 
Dear Elisha, 

It has pleased the Lord to remove to the Mansions 
of Bliss the immortal part of your precious Dear 
Mother. She departed this life on the 19th June at 
1 1 o'clock A.M. after having suffered for 3 weeks incon- 
ceivable distress. I know how all her children esti- 
mated her work, but when I take a retrospective view 
of it, I am quite unable to do it Justice. She possessed 
all the natural qualities of a very great woman. Her 
fortitude, perseverance and industry were almost un- 
paralleled, her just conception of the use of time made 
her hasten to perform the different duties of her station, 
not only with cheerfulness but an avidity which far 
surpassed any Being, I ever knew or could conceive of, 
had they not been daily practiced before me. She is 
now gone to receive the reward of her labors, in the 
possession of redeeming Love, the Consolations of which 
I have good reason to believe she had long enjoyed and 
justly appreciated, and has left me to lament the loss of 
that comfort and support her many excellencies afforded 
me and of which I'm sensible I was unworthy. Life 
now seems to be a dreary desert as I have lost the centre 

103 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

of attraction round which my affections hovered. No 
place can now be home to me as none contains my dearest 
wife, by whose superior judgement and understanding 
I have been ever aided in time of need going on 50 years. 
I'm not insensible of the goodness of the Lord in the 
continuance of her life so long, which some may think 
ought to reconcile me to her loss. This may be reason 
but not feeling which none can know but from such 
experience as I have. The above is merely a transcript 
of what I wrote yr Brother John the day on which yr 
mother died. I then felt my loss by anticipation only, 
but now realise it every day more than the preceding. 
I wish I could be reconciled to it from the well-founded 
belief that it is her gain, but I feel myself unequal and 
Nature prevails. You took notice in yrs of the super- 
intending care of Providence in preserving so many 
brothers from improper conduct. I have for some time 
flattered myself that the prayers of your pious Mother 
for her numerous offspring had been heard, and will 
after her sleeping in the dust. When I reflect on what 
she was and what capable of being and that had she 
enjoyed the kind attentions and indulgence that were 
her due she would have been blameless for with all their 
reverse she was nearly perfect. I hope the Lord will 
prepare me and thro' the merits of my Redeemer re- 
ceive me when I go hence into the society of the Just 
made perfect, where I am confident her happy Lot has 
fallen, and where if departed spirits recognize their 
quondam friends on earth it must add greatly (if any- 
thing can) to their felicity. I can now sincerely adopt 
a prayer I often heard made by your pious Grandfather 

104 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

that the Lord would not suffer him to live to become 
burdensome to his children and friends, for though 
Man is fond of Life, yet a long course burdened with 
infirmities is seldom desirable. My love to your dear 
Children. I hope the Lord will make them a comfort 
to you and a blessing to their other connections. 
Dear Elisha yr affectionate Father 

J no. Kane. 

Extract from a letter written to Elisha Kane, by his 
father and dated New York, Dec. 29th, 1806. 

" I purpose, God willing, to start with your Brother 
Charles tomorrow for Albany to arrange some little 
matters I have to settle there, and think it probable I 
sha'n't return for a month or six weeks. John is unwill- 
ing I should now go, but I think the present will be the 
most convenient time for me. He is truly a kind and 
af]fectionate son. I think it's not very probable I ever 
shall see you again. I was on the 12th inst. 72 years of 
age. I hope my children will do me the justice to be- 
lieve that few fathers of my ability wished to promote 
the respectability &c of their families more than myself, 
and what errors I committed proceeded more from 
wrong Judgment than improper Design." 
Dear Elisha, Sincerely yours 

Jno. Kane. 

These are the last written words that have been pre- 
served of our Ancestor. Great Grandmother Sybil had 
died at Red Hook Landing, at the home of her eldest 

105 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

child, Martha Livingston, on the 19th of June, 1806. 
John Kane died at the same place, March 13, 1808. It 
was not long after her death that he joined her, and I 
do not doubt that both were surprised to find how little 
their religious dififerences amounted to in the " undis- 
covered country." 

Their son James says that while John was a strict 
Episcopalian, their children all followed their Presby- 
terian mother, " whose religion worked by love." I am 
writing just a hundred years after her death, and, of all 
her many descendants, the families of Maria Wetherill 
Janeway, Dr. J. K. Livingston and Thomas L. Kane, 
which includes myself as a granddaughter of Sybil's 
eldest son, John, are the only ones who adhere to Pres- 
byterianism, all the rest having taken upon them the 
easy yoke of the Episcopalian Church. And Maria 
Wetherill married a Presbyterian minister, and Dr. 
Livingston was one, so that my children and myself may 
be said to be the only lay Presbyterians left. In the 
preceding generation there were many who were either 
Presbyterians or of the Dutch Reformed Church. 
Elizabeth Kane Shields' son James is also a member 
of the Presbyterian Church. 

John and Sybil Kane were buried in a lot belonging 
to their son James, in the old Presbyterian cemetery 
at Albany. He erected two neat Italian marble monu- 
ments to their memory, and by his own desire was buried 
beside them without any stone to mark the spot. I 
think that graves and tombstones were removed to a new 
cemetery some twenty years ago. 

106 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

The brothers went on prospering exceedingly for 
several years. From letters written by one brother to 
another, Archibald seems to have taken a new line of 
life. He had gone on voyages to the West Indies as 
supercargo on vessels owned by his brothers. August 
17, 1809, John Kane (my grandfather) wrote to his 
brother Elisha in Philadelphia, enclosing a Bill of Ex- 
change drawn by Armand, Paymaster of the Colony of 
St. Domingo, on Mr. Charles Bruce, agent of the Gov- 
ernment of St. Domingo, who resided in Philadelphia. 
The bill was brought by Robert Livingston (son of 
Martha Kane) . " He and CuUen have done very well, 
and Brother Archy is doing extremely well. He has 
had three ships arrived to him lately from London with 
large cargoes since he left." Archy himself wrote from 
Port au Prince, August 9, 1809, asking " Messrs. Elias 
Kane & Co., New York," to insure 60,000 pounds of 
cofifee, on board the Swedish schooner Emma, from Port 
au Prince, bound for New York. Archy seems to have 
made his home in St. Domingo. His loving brother 
James saw him for the last time in 18 15. My son. Dr. 
Thomas L. Kane, possesses a handsome old racing watch 
bearing the inscription, 

Archibald Kane to James Kane, 1795 

We know no more of this bright and beloved young- 
est son of John and Sybil than that a tradition exists that 
he married a daughter of Soulouque, the " Emperor " 
Faustin I. As this cruel savage was excessively black, 
I fancy that the Kane relations knew nothing of Mrs. 

107 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Archy, but gave her the highest title they could. Some- 
where about 1850 a gentlemanly young mulatto called 
at the residence in New York of Aunt Morris (Sarah 
Kane) , claiming to be a son of Archibald, and was coldly 
received. He disappeared without going to visit others 
of the family. Archibald died in 18 17 in St. Domingo. 

James was very well of]f. He had the fine house I 
have spoken of, and had invested in canals and roads, 
and was heavily interested in the Guelderland Glass 
Works, near Albany, founded by a Belgian emigre 
baron. I find them spoken of as belonging to James 
and Archibald Kane. They advertised " a very superior 
article of twenty different sizes." James had also in- 
vested largely in land. He was thought to be worth 
$500,000 — a very large sum for that time. But the mut- 
terings of the storm which was to engulf the Kane 
Brothers were already to be heard. 

President Thomas Jefferson, writing to Thomas 
Leiper, my husband's grandfather, under date of Jan. 
21, '09, says, "The House of Representatives passed 
last night a Bill for a meeting of Congress on the 22d 
of May: this substantially decides the course they mean 
to pursue, that is, to let the embargo continue till then, 
when it will cease, and letters of marque and reprisal be 
issued against such nations as shall not then have re- 
pealed their obnoxious edicts." He laments the policy 
of New England, whose " doctrine goes to the sacrific- 
ing agriculture and manufactures to commerce; to the 
calling all our people from the interior country to the 
seashore to turn merchants, and to convert this great 

108 



JOHN KANE'S MATERNAL ANCESTRY 

agricultural country into a City of Amsterdam, but I 
trust the good sense of our country will see that its 
greatest prosperity depends on a due balance between 
agriculture, manufactures and commerce, and not in 
this protuberant navigation which has kept us in hot 
water from the commencement of our government, and 
is now engaging us in war." 

Kane Brothers were in commerce, and Kane Brothers 
had privateers at sea. Judge Kane, speaking of his 
cousin Elias and himself at Yale College, says, " My 
cousin Elias left college without graduating. His 
father as well as mine had failed in business, or they 
were already involved in the vortex which carried them 
down soon after." John Kane, that is, the future Judge, 
wrote to his cousin Elias, under date of April 28, 18 14: 
" Elias, I have very bad news to communicate. Your 
father has failed, and mine has been obliged to follow 
him. I do not yet know for what sums, but evil report, 
ever magnifying, says that your father was indebted 
more than he could pay, five hundred thousand dollars. 
This, of course, is false, though the amount is undoubt- 
edly large." Aunt Morris attributes the failure to 
" commercial disasters brought on by the Embargo, 
Orders in Council, Berlin and Milan Decrees. " My 
husband (Thomas Morris, son of Robert) , was so mixed 
up with the Kanes that the ruin of one was the ruin of 
all." They were not all ruined. Some of the brothers, 
it is said by the descendants of others, accelerated the 
downfall by withdrawing their own shares, and their 
wives' property that had been invested in the business. 

109 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

John, my grandfather, went down with the ship, and 
was greatly blamed by the Codwises for not giving them 
warning, and for allowing his wife's fortune to be 
wrecked with his own. He subsequently went into busi- 
ness in a small way as an importer and auctioneer. He 
died April 22, 18 19. My mother, Harriet Amelia, was 
his youngest child, and when my father first met her, in 
the year 1829, she was living with her sister, Mrs. John 
Hone. I do not know when her mother died. 

This ends all that I know about my great-grand- 
father, John Kane. 



4^Ifzkji^ 



no 



I 



CHILDREN OF 
JOHN KANE AND SYBIL KENT 

THE ELDEST 

Martha, born at Fredericksburg, N. Y., March 21, 1758. 
Named for her paternal grandmother. 
Married Gilbert R. Livingston, September 30, 1779. 
Died April 17, 1843. 

They had children — 
Helen m. William Mather Smith. 
Catherine m. Henry Beekman. 
Susan m. John Constable, being his first wife. 
Martha m. David Codwise, brother to Mrs. John Kane, 2d. 
Robert died young of a heart affection, at Port-au-Prince, W. I. 
John McP. died young, after graduation at college. 
James Kane of Rochester m. Charlotte Landon. 

THE SECOND 

John, born November, 1759, died April 22, 1 819. 

Married September, 1794, Maria Codwise. They had ten 
children. 

On 15th of July, 1795, Cornelia Adeline, married ist Rev. 
Paschal Strong; married 2d Rev. John Smythe. 

On 31st March, 1797, Oliver Grenville, married Eliza de 
Gironcourt. 

On 22d May, 1798, Maria Antoinette, married ist John Hone; 
married 2d Frederic de Peyster. 

On 15th January, 1800, Elizabeth Caroline, married Philo J. 
Mills. 

On 20th December, 1801, John VanRensselaer, died unmarried 
in New Orleans. 

On 1 8th August, 1803, Emily Augusta, married James Van 
Home Lawrence. 

On . . . 1804, Georgiana Maria, married Charles F. 
Winthrop. 

On . . . 1807, Charlotte Matilda, married Lawrence 
Heyworth. 

On 13th April, 1809, Harriet Amelia, married William Wood. 

On . . . 181 1, James Archibald, died young. 
112 



CHILDREN OF JOHN KANE AND SYBIL KENT 

John Kane or his wife must have been great admirers of royalty, 
judging from their daughters' names, which follow after that of the 
unfortunate Marie Antoinette, those of the queen of George III and 
his daughters. 

THE THIRD 

Maria became the second wife of Gov. Joseph C. Yates, the fifth 
governor of New York. She died in 1798, aged about 21, leaving a 
daughter, who found a kind stepmother in Ann Eliza de Lancey, her 
father's third wife. 

This daughter married John Keyes Paige, at one time Mayor 
of Albany. 

THE FOURTH 

Charles, born March 31, 1762. 

Married Maria Wray, daughter of Col. Wray of Fort 
Anne, N. Y. 

Died August 31, 1834. 

Their children were, inter alia, 

John. 

Charles. 

Augusta (Mrs. Cobb). 

Jane (Mrs. Chace of Boston). 

THE FIFTH 

Abigail, born February i, 1765, died August, 1801. 
Married Dr. John Prescott Lawrence. Had seven children, 
of whom: 

John K., died young. 
Charles. 

Abby, married Hasbrouck. 

Maria, married John Price Wetherill of Philadelphia. 

John Prescott Lawrence, son of Rev. Wm. Lawrence of Lincoln, 
Mass., and Love-nee Adams. She was the only daughter of John and 
Love-nee Adams. Dr. Lawrence was a surgeon in the British Navy, 
and as such officiated on board the Jersey Prison Ships. He met his 
wife when both were in exile in Nova Scotia. 

THE SIXTH 

Oliver, born in 1767, died April 8, 1842. 

He married Ann Eliza, daughter of John Innes Clarke, Gover- 
nor of Rhode Island. 

"3 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Their children were — 

Harriet, 2d wife to Rev. James King, left four children. 

Anna, married William Russell, left two children. 

Lydia, died unmarried. 

Helen, married Samuel Nicholson. No children. 

Oliver de Lancey, married Louisa Dorothea Langdon. 

John Innes, married ist Clark, 2d Mary Kip, January 

2, 1848. 

THE SEVENTH 

Elisha, born December 2, 1770, died December 4, 1834. 

Married December i, 1793, Alida, daughter of Gen. Robert 
Van Rensselaer. 

She died in March, 1799, leaving three children. 

John (better known as Hon. John K. Kane), born i6th 
May, 1795, died 21st February, 1858. 

Robert Van R., born August 12, 1797, died in 1812. 

Alida Van Rensselaer, born March, 1799, married as his second 
wife John Constable, whose first wife was her cousin, Susan M. 
Livingston. Mrs, Constable died December 26, 1881, of apoplexy. 

Elisha Kane married 2d the 29th of January, 1807, Elizabeth, 
daughter of Abraham Kintzing. 

THE EIGHTH 

James, born May 27, 1772. 

Died in the American Hotel, Albany, April 2, 1851. 

THE NINTH 

Elias, born October 20, 1771, died in Washington, D. C, Octo- 
ber 3, 1840. 

By his first wife, a Miss Leavenworth, he had Elias, born 1794, 
who became distinguished as the first Senator from Illinois. 

By his second wife, a Dutch heiress, Deborah Van Schelluyne, 
he had — 

Elizabeth, a very fine woman, who died unmarried. 

Cornelius Van Schelluyne, died unmarried in 1851. 

Louisa, died unmarried. 

Sarah L., married Dr. Elisha Harris. 

Theodore, married Caroline Sperry. 

Mary, married Gov. Wm. Gibbs of Rhode Island. 

Julia, married John T. Gilchrist of New Jersey. 
114 



CHILDREN OF JOHN KANE AND SYBIL KENT 

THE TENTH 

Sybilla Adeline, married Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, whose sister 
Alida married Elisha Kane. 

Their children were — 

Robert, married Margaret Stuyvesant. 

Alida, married Chas. Carroll, and was great-grandmother to 
Virginia Wright Kane. 

Cornelia, married Francis Granger. 

Catherine. 

Archibald. 

Rutsen, married Virginia Hutchins.* 

James Carnahan. 

Jeremiah, married Sarah Hartwell. 

THE ELEVENTH 

Archibald, greatly beloved by his brother James, died in San 
Domingo, November i8, 1817. Maude's "Voyage to Albany" in 
1800 describes a visit to Archibald Kane in Canajoharie, where he had 
a house and had for five years been in partnership with his elder 
brothers, two of whom lived in New York, one at Fort Anne, and 
two in Albany. He must then have been about twenty-two years old. 
In the year 1804 his father writes of him as being then supercargo on 
a ship trading to the West Indies, owned by his brothers. There is a 
report that he married a West Indian woman. 

THE TWELFTH 

Sarah was born October 31, 1778. 

Married Thomas Morris, son of the great financier of the 
Revolution, Robert Morris. 

She died December 13, 1853. 

Sarah was married at her father's house in Schenectady, N. Y., 
May 27, 1799. Removed to their home in Canandaigua, then a new 
settlement, September, 1799. Their children were — 

Mary, born April 3, 1800, married C. A. Vanden Henvel. 

Sally, born March 6, 1802, died December 19, 1848. 

Robert Kane, died at Baton Rouge, June 6, 1833, of cholera, 
aged 30. 

* This lady, by her second marriage to Abraham Wright, the man from 
whom General Butler took the spoons, became the mother of Hamilton 
Mercer Wright. He married Anne Fitzhugh, daughter of Alida Carroll, 
and their eldest child is Virginia, wife of Dr. Thomas L. Kane. 

115 



STORY OF JOHN KANE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. 

Henry W., born 1805. Commander in U. S. Navy. Died 
August 14, 1863. 

Harriet, died November 7, 1882. 

Emily, died December 6, 1884. 

Archibald. 

William. 

Caroline, married John M. Stark. 

William White, born 181 7, died November 15, 1865. 

Charles Frederick (U. S. A.), born 18 19, died 1847. 

THE THIRTEENTH 

Susan was named after Miss Susan De Lancey. 

Born 1780 at Newtown Landing, Long Island, in a house used 
as a tavern, belonging to a Mr. Skinner. This was after John and 
Sybil's home was confiscated. After Susan's birth Sybil and her 
family sailed for Nova Scotia. Susan died at the age of ten years. 



John Kane sailed for England in November, 1783, to urge his 
claims on Parliament. 



116