Hendrik de Clercq, ancestor of the American branch
A more elaborate biographical sketch of Hendrik has yet to be written.
For now, we will use the short account of his life, that was written by his daughter Rebecca de Clercq (1817-1881).
Cazenovia, June 15, 1878
Hendrik de Clercq, son of Peter de Clercq, was born in Amsterdam, Holland, October 30th 1776. His mother died when he was quite young. The earliest incident he related concerning himself, was that one of his limbs was by nature a little shorter than the other. This was remedied by cutting the cords of the shorter limb and drawing it out, by putting in an iron boot. A nurse took him to the seashore and laid him in the warm sand during the day. We can see by this the desire that the Dutch have for perfection.
He spoke of attending Sunday School and of being told to turn to Genesis. He did not know where to find it, so they requested him to go home and immediately learn the names of the books in the Bible in their order, which he did. He was taught the French as well as the Dutch language.
Hendrik used to speak of going on the boats out into the country and seeing the farmers with such neat kitchens and utensils, the horses and cows, and neat stables, kept in such good order. Seeing this, he wanted to be a farmer. None of his relatives had ever been farmers and they, thinking to change his purpose, permitted him to go and spend the summers with a farmer who kept forty cows, where he learned to milk. But it did not have the desired effect. Therefore his Father concluded to let him follow his chosen occupation. Hendrik was sent with his cousin, Mr. John Huidekoper, who was coming to America to the care of Mr. Lincklaen, Agent of the Holland Land Company.
They left at 21 Oct. 1793 and visited London, where they spent some time, stopping at the Royal Exchange Hotel. Hendrik used to speak of the remarkable wine there. It was delicious and not at all stimulating. Everyone was allowed a bottle for dinner, and although a boy and not accustomed to drinking wine, he could drink a bottle every day and feel no effects from it.
Then they crossed the ocean on the Kings Packet and arrived at Halifax [on the peninsula of Nova Scotia], after a voyage of six weeks, amid storms and calms and freezing cold weather. While there, they went on the ocean for a pleasure excursion and there came up a violent storm; they barely escaped with their lives. This altogether gave him a dislike to the ocean, and he used to say he would not cross it again for all Holland. Also, while at Halifax, they were invited to dine with the Governor, which they did, spending three hours at the table. The wine was very different from that which they had had in London. Although it was very smooth and mild to taste, it was so powerful that it took one man down and laid him under the table.
Next, they came to New York and then to Cazenovia, arriving there in the spring of 1794.
He was clerk for some time in the store of General Foreman, before taking up his farm. Mr. Lincklaen would not, at that time, sell any land within two miles of the village. This caused Hendrik to go two miles through the woods when there was but one clearing. He hired men and they went to work: clearing the land, building a log kitchen and an oven outdoors. They also built the large barn, which is still standing, as well as the northern part of the house.
February 10th 1799, Hendrik married Mary, the daughter of Ledyard of Groton, Connecticut, with whom he lived for almost 52 years.