Who could ask for a more interesting ancestor? It seems that every time I learn something new about Staats Springsteen I’m as apt as not to find myself shaking my head and chuckling to myself in wonder.
I have been in communication this year with another Ron Springsteen, a resident of Colorado, who is a descendent of Staats Springsteen’s older brother Caspar. Ron took a research trip to Ontario this summer and discovered a little legal matter involving Staats. Ron sent me a transcription of a cover letter and depositions from Peter Yates of Albany, New York to a Dr. Carr at Niagara to establish the basis for legal action in British provincial courts. The cover letter begins as follows:
“Albany 14 June 1794
Inclosed I send you affidavits taken before Mr. Yates the mayor of the city in favor of a poor honest man Gerret J. Seeger against one Staats Springsteen, except two of them taken before two of our county justices. From all which the justice of Seegers demand against Springsteen will appear manifest as well as Springsteen’s unjust and iniquitous conduct.”
It seems that Staats Springsteen was somewhat enterprising but not particularly reliable. He took advantage of his connections in Albany County and his familiarity with the paths between Albany and Niagara to engage in the sale of New York livestock to buyers at Niagara. Gerret Seeger was a partner in this activity at least in part because the sellers in Albany County were uncomfortable doing business with Staats Springsteen. Gerret was reportedly required to pay for various expenses and credit extended to their partnership without receiving remuneration from the sales. It appears that he was seeking amends in this case.
Staats Springsteen’s mother was Maria Seger, whose family name was variously spelled as Zeger, Seeger, and Sager. Maria’s father Gerrit Seger apparently died while Staats Springsteen was a child, but Maria had a brother and at least one nephew named Gerrit Seger. One of these men was probably the partner in Staats Springsteen’s livestock business between Albany and Niagara. Among the men who gave depositions, Staats Bradt was almost certainly a close relative and Conradt Koon was probably related as well.
Notes from the depositions
- Dirk Van Der Willege of Albany County stated on 21 August 1793 that Staats Springsteen took a horse to sell sometime in 1785 and that Staats never returned with either payment for the horse or interest on the amount owed.
- Dirk Terwilliger, age 68, of Norman’s Kill in Albany County stated on 22 April 1794 that Staats Springsteen and Gerret Seeger borrowed money in May or June of 1785 to pay expenses for Staats to take cattle to Niagara. Gerret Seeger afterwards paid the money, being answerable for the loan “as the said Springsteen could not be trusted on his own credit.”
- Jacob Heller or Keller, age 66, of Nisenthaw in Albany County stated on 22 April 1794 that Gerret Seeger and Staats Springsteen bought a cow from him in May 1785 and that Gerret Seeger afterwards paid for the cow, being answerable as “the people would not sell any on the credit of the said Staats Springsteen.”
- Staats Bradt, age 44, of Niscuthaw stated on 22 April 1794 that Gerret Seeger and Staats Springsteen bought a cow from him in May 1785 to sell at Niagara. Gerret Seeger pawned his watch to Staats Bradt and afterwards redeemed the watch when he paid for the cow. Staats Bradt said that he would not have sold the cow on the credit of Staats Springsteen.
- Conradt Koon stated on 3 May 1794 that he furnished cheese to Staats Springsteen in the fall of 1785 for his trip to Niagara with cattle and horses and that afterwards Gerret Seeger paid for the cheese.
- John Erwin or Irwin, age 50, of New Scotland stated on 3 May 1794 that Gerret Seeger and Staats Springsteen bought two cows from him in the spring of 1785 and that afterwards Gerret Seeger paid him for the cows.
- Moses Hudson of Norman’s Kill stated on 3 May 1794 that in 1785 when Staats Springsteen was “confined in gaol at Albany on a charge for stealing horses of Jurian Hogan Esquire of Jericho” that he was prevailed upon by Gerret Seeger to serve as bail for the release of Staats Springsteen.
- Gerret Seeger of Norman’s Kill stated on 6 May 1794 that in the fall of 1785 Staats Springsteen took a horse to sell for Dirk Terwilliger at Niagara. When Gerret Seeger saw Staats Springsteen about three years later at Niagara, Staats confessed that he had sold the horse and that he would pay Terwilliger for it.
- Jurian Hogan Esquire of Jericho, Albany County stated on 6 May 1794 that Staats Springsteen had stolen two horses from his father during the late war between Great Britain and America. Upon learning in 1785 that Staats Springsteen was in Albany he had a warrant issued to apprehend Staats Springsteen, who offered to pay for the horses. Payment was made in part by a note from Staats Springsteen and his brother Garret Springsteen. The next fall Jurian Hogan issued a writ against Staats Springsteen for the money and Staats was imprisoned in the gaol until Moses Hudson bailed him out at the request of Gerret Seeger. Gerret Seeger paid the expenses of the suit. Staats Springsteen gave Jurian Hogan a new note, endorsed by Gerret Seeger, for the debt plus an additional five pounds for another horse purchased from Hogan’s father.
- Moses Hudson of Norman’s Kill stated on 9 May 1794 that after he bailed Staats Springsteen out of gaol in Albany in 1785 he delivered calf skins and tobacco to Staats Springsteen, on the credit of Gerret Seeger, to be sold at Niagara. Gerret Seeger paid Moses Hudson the amount due him from sales but the interest remained due.
Home District: King v Staats Springsteen
There’s nothing like legal action to generate paperwork. Ron Springsteen of Colorado informed me that there are more than forty pages of documents in the file for this case. It looks like another repository visit is in order.
Stay tuned, but please be patient.