Here’s a surprising bit of family history I happened to stumble across while researching Margaret Teller. It concerns another relative named Rebecca Watson who married Dr. Abraham Stoutenburg in 1784 and then later took their son and left the man. I was incredibly surprised by the openly judgmental attitude of the author of this piece. It’s one thing to know intellectually that women used to be viewed and treated differently than now, but quite another to have it expressed so blatantly in a published magazine. The statement that her leaving him was a “rash act” is a ludicrous assumption to make when the author admits that “all who knew the circumstances have long since passed away.”
A ROMANCE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, NEW YORK
THE “OLD NORTHWEST” GENEALOGICAL QUARTERLY
ON October 17th, 1784, Rebecca Watson and Dr. Abraham Stoutenburg were married in a little Baptist Church at Bangal, Dutchess County, N.Y. It is believed that the bride came from Maine or Vermont, but the exact locality is not known.
The groom was the son of Col. Tobias Stoutenburg, of Hyde Park and New York City, and of Catharine Van Vleck, daughter of Abram Van Vleck. He was the grandson of Judge Jacobus Stoutenburg, of New York City, Philipsburg Manor and Stoutenburg (Hyde Park), his wife being Margaret Teller, of Teller’s Point, the daughter of William Teller and her grandmother was Sarah Radoff, the official interpreter of the Algonquin Indians.
The father of Judge Jacobus was Pieter Van Stoutenburg, gentleman of New Amsterdam, born in Holland in 1618. Pieter was the rich treasurer of the colony and was one of the prominent burgesses of New Amsterdam.
Thus we see that the bride entered a prominent family and was no doubt envied by the fair maidens of Hyde Park, where she went to reside with her distinguished husband. A son was born to this couple and was named Abram for his distinguished father.
Some months later when the physician was away from home attending to his practice, Rebecca Watson Stoutenburg disappeared from her home taking with her the infant son, and rumor said that she was jealous of one of the doctor’s fair patients. Search was made for the missing ones without avail, and a few years later the physician married again, supposing his first wife dead.
Years passed and Rebecca Watson also married again, as her husband, Abram Stoutenburg died in 1794. Her second husband was a Chitister and of his parentage nothing is known. Within a few years he died and when we hear of Rebecca Watson again she is known as the "Widow Chitister" and lived with her son, Abram Stoutenburg and his wife, Mary Mitchell, near Schuyler’s Lake, N.Y.
Many children came to call her grandmother and to them she told of their prominent ancestors and that their father should be a wealthy man instead of a poor carpenter, never seeming to blame herself for the trouble that had come to the family.
In 1834, Abram Stoutenburg died and was buried at Havana, N. Y., and Rebecca disappeared again. Her grandchildren were small and they only knew it was supposed she returned to her girlhood home. She took with her the family Bible which contained very valuable records both in Dutch and English. Where she died and was buried not one of her descendants knows.
Search has been made for the lost Bible without avail.
A large reward would be given for its recovery could it be found. Some old papers published at the time Rebecca Watson’s leaving Hyde Park may contain a key to unlock the mystery surrounding this romance, but if so it is hidden away where no one will see it and all who knew the circumstances have long since passed away. Yet the consequences of the rash act of one woman has clouded the lives of more than fifty of her descendants.