Derick Lane
Derick Lane

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880. Many thanks to Bob McConihe for typing this biography.

DERICK LANE, the founder of the Lane family in Troy, was the son of Matthias Lane, and was born at Bedminster, in Somerset Co., N. J., on April 30, 1755. Of his early youth but little is known. On the breaking out of the war of the Revolution, he enlisted as a private before he had reached the age of twenty-one. On July 5, 1776, he was appointed and commissioned by the provincial congress of New Jersey as a second lieutenant in Capt. Stiles's company, which was a part of a five-months' regiment, commanded by Col. Stephen Hunt. On October 25, of the same year, he was engaged in the battle of White Plains, on which occasion the British, under Gen. Howe, attacked the Americans in camp, Washington being present. The loss was generally supposed to have been about equal on both sides. His first term of enlistment having expired, Lieut. Lane again entered the service, and on Jan. 1, 1777, was commissioned as second lieutenant of a company in the Second New Jersey Regiment, of which Israel Shreve was colonel, receiving his commission on this occasion from his excellency John Hancock, the President of the Congress of the United States. In the battle at the head of the Elk, in Pennsylvania, which was fought Sept. 3, 1777, Lieut. Lane acted in the light infantry. He was engaged in the battle of Brandywine, which took place on the eleventh of the last-named month, and was also a participant in the battle of Monmouth, on Sunday, June 28, 1778, when the American forces were commanded by Maj.-Gen. Charles Lee and the Marquis de Lafayette, and were supervised by Gen. Washington in person.

The labors of Lieut. Lane were increased by his acceptance, in 1779, of the additional duty of regimental quartermaster in the Second New Jersey Regiment. He was made first lieutenant on March 12th of the same year, receiving his commission from his excellency John Jay, the President of the Congress of the United States, but still continued his quartermaster duties. A conflict between the Americans under General Sullivan and the Indians and Tories under Brant and Sir John Johnson took place at Newtown, near the present city of Elmira, on Aug. 29, 1779. In the exploits of this occasion, and in the raid through the fertile valleys of Western New York which followed, Lieut. Lane participated. He was also engaged in the battles of Long Island, Ash Swamp, or Short Hills, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Iron Hill, or Couch's Mills, Brandywine, Haddlesfield, Chemung, and Yorktown, and in a number of skirmishes and conflicts of less notoriety. On June 3, 1783, he was promoted to a captaincy, with rank from Feb. 11, 1783. Thenceforward he continued doing duty in his regiment until it was reduced to a battalion, when he became a supernumerary captain, and retired, having served for more than seven years in the armies of his country, during which time, though often under fire and exposed in other ways, he never received a wound. Amid all the temptations of camp life his conduct was without reproach, and the sufferings and hardships he endured seemed only to fit him more completely to meet with and overcome difficulty, in whatever form it might arise before him. His career in behalf of the establishment of the United States was regarded by him as a patriotic episode of his life, and the memory of it was strengthened by his connection with the Society of the Cincinnati, of which he became a member on May 5, 1784.

Soon after leaving the army he removed to Lansingburgh, where he became engaged in mercantile business, and with his brother Aaron composed the firm of A. & D. Lane. Although prosperity attended their efforts in this village, yet the importance of Troy as a commercial centre began during the latter part of the last century to attract attention. The brothers Lane remained for many years true to the interests of the place in which they had at first cast their lot, but they at length yielded to the enticing influence of the increasing importance of the neighboring settlement, and on Nov. 3, 1798, became the owners, by a conveyance from Albert Pawling, of a prominent piece of land situated at the junction of Front and River Streets, in the village of Troy, and extending northerly from the point of intersection about one hundred and fifty-five feet on Front Street, and about two hundred feet on River Street. Here they erected a number of buildings for mercantile purposes, one of which they occupied in prosecuting their business as merchants. In speaking of their advent a writer has commented as follows:

"Among the last of the oldest firms of Lansingburgh to remove to Troy was that of Aaron and Derick Lane, in 1799. As were all the others, so were they also, compelled to acknowledge that the site of Troy possessed local advantages which the former village could never secure, and that all the past predictions relative to the business success of the latter, made by observant travelers and by other unbiased and discriminating persons, had been gradually, and at the same time rapidly, verified. The members of this notable firm, immediately on their arrival, enlisted themselves in an active participation with all the other enterprising merchants for the furtherance of Troy's political and commercial interests, and for many years they were honored with public trusts, which they never debased."

The old town of Troy included within its limits the village of Lansingburgh. On April 4, 1791, a town-meeting was held, and the first town officers were elected. Of the five assessors then chosen, Derick Lane was the first named on the list. From this time forward his name occurs frequently in connection with enterprises of varied character. His life in the army had rendered him an able soldier, and by reason of his proficiency in the military art he was made colonel of the regiment formed in this section of the State. When, on April 9, 1804, a bill was passed by the Legislature authorizing the building of a bridge across the Hudson River at Troy, from the foot of Ferry Street, he was constituted one of the directors of the company upon whom the honor of constructing it was conferred.

Being a Federalist in politics, he was mainly instrumental in organizing in Troy the Washington Benevolent Society, which was instituted there on June 9, 1810, and was chosen as its first president. He was interested in supplying the village of Troy with wholesome water, and in the act passed by the Legislature June 16, 1812, he was named as one of the trustees of the "Earthen Conduit Company of Troy." Although, as has been seen, he was named as a corporator in a company authorized to construct a bridge at Troy (which bridge was never built), yet when, ten years later, Albany gave notice that the Legislature would be asked to grant to that city the privilege of bridging the Hudson at Albany, Col. Lane, at a meeting of the citizens of Troy, held Jan. 11, 1814, was designated as chairman of a committee appointed to prepare a remonstrance to the Legislature, stating the objections of Troy to the erection of the proposed bridge. He was one of the original directors of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Insurance Company, incorporated in April, 1814; was the first treasurer of the Bible Society of the county of Rensselaer, organized July 11, 1815; and was second on the list in the board designated by the Legislature, in the act of incorporation passed April 23, 1823, as managers of the Troy Savings-Bank.

Col. Lane had served with Gen. LaFayette at Monmouth, Brandywine, and Yorktown. Nothing could be more proper then, than that he should be prominent on the occasion of the visit of the renowned general to Troy, on Sept. 18, 1824. Having been designated by the common council of the city as one of the committee of reception, Col. Lane met Gen. LaFayette at King Street as he entered the city, and rode with him in the procession formed in his honor and presented to him those who desired to show him respect and attention. Though by no means an ambitious man, and never seeking for office, yet Col. Lane did not refuse to serve his fellow-citizens in any honorable capacity wherein his services were desired. He was a fire-warden of the village in 1801, 1803-5, 1807, 1809-11, and assessor in 1807; a representative in the Assembly in 1809; first assistant engineer of the fire department from 1809 to 1812; president of the village in 1814-15; an alderman of the city in 1822; and a loan commissioner for the county of Rensselaer.

Col. Lane was a Hollander by extraction, and spoke Dutch and English with equal fluency. In person he was of the average height; his manners were affable and courteous, and his whole bearing was dignified and gracious. He was noted for his punctuality, and was rarely known to fail either in keeping any appointment he had made, or in being present at the precise moment when he was expected. His was a high Christian character, and the developments resulting therefrom were in full accordance with it. His physical organization was sturdy, and he rarely suffered from illness during his long life. Three days before his death he was at work in his garden, and on that occasion contracted a cold, which proved a mortal illness, He died on Saturday, March 26, 1831.

He married for his first wife Maria Lansing, who was born June 27, 1773, and died Dec. 12, 1802. Their marriage took place Jan. 26, 1789. Their children were Elizabeth, born Feb. 16, 1790; Jacob Lansing, born June 24, 1794; Aaron D., born Jan. 29, 1797; Matthew, born April 17, 1799; Alida M., born April 4, 1802. For his second wife he married Angelica Van Rensselaer, daughter of Henry I. Van Rensselaer, who was born July 21, 1770, and died March 28, 1833. Their marriage took place July 14, 1805. Their children were Henry Van Rensselaer, born May 11, 1806, and died Oct.18, 1807; Angelica Rachel Douw, born Jan. 5, 1809; Henry Richard, born July 5, 1812.

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