Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Catherine Schuyler – The Morning Star

A member of the privileged Van Rensselaer family, Catherine married Philip Schuyler in 1755. For much of the early part of her marriage, Catherine Schuyler seemed content to manage the household and take care of her children (She would have 15 in all.). 
During the French and Indian War, she distinguished herself by taking care of the sick and wounded. Philip Schuyler, serving in the military under General John Bradstreet, was called upon by Bradstreet to go to England in his stead (There has been much speculation over the years of a romantic entanglement between the much older Gen. Bradstreet and Catherine Schuyler during this time.)
While Philip Schuyler was away, it became evident that Catherine was completely capable of managing the business of the family’s estates. She arranged and oversaw the building of a pretentious residence in Albany. 
The Schuylers had a second home in Saratoga, and during the American Revolution as General Burgoyne advanced into this area, Philip Schuyler sent word that the wheat fields around the Saratoga house must be destroyed to prevent the British from harvesting it for their own use. Catherine Schuyler immediately left Albany for Saratoga although she was advised against travel after word reached them of the murder of Jane McCrea. Catherine personally set fire to the wheat fields. This act was immortalized in a painting by Emanuel Leuzte.
Catherine and Philip Schuyler’s daughters were not wallflowers, either. Four of the five arranged their own marriages–not at all usual for the time–with several of them eloping much to the dismay of their parents. The fifth daughter, Elizabeth, married Alexander Hamilton.
Catherine Schuyler spent her later years tending her homes and family, dying in 1803 of apoplexy.

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