Biography of Theodore V. Van Heusen


THEODORE V. Van Heusen was born in 1818, in the city of Albany, N. Y. He is descended from the German and Scotch on his mother’s side and from the Holland Dutch on his father’s side. In this blending of lineage he inherits those leading qualities of intellect and heart, which have exerted such a powerful influence in the civilization, progress, intelligence and refinement of past and present generations.

His paternal ancestors, the Van Heusens, were early settled along the borders of the Hudson river, especially in the region now known as Columbia county, where they owned a large and valuable estate.

The life of Theodore V. Van Heusen has been spent thus far in his native city. He has been a constant witness of its steady growth and its increasing prosperity. In his youth he played upon its rude, unpaved streets and looked upon its old houses with their striking gable-ends. He was a small boy when the grand celebration of the completion of the Erie canal took place in the city of Albany, during the governorship of De Witt Clinton, the projector and earnest advocate of that great enterprise.

In 1828 Mr. Van Heusen lost his father, and thus, at the early age of ten, was thrown mostly on his own resources, his father having died poor. But he began early to lay a substantial foundation for future usefulness, in the acquisition of knowledge of the elementary principles of education. For several years he attended the best private schools of Albany, and when thirteen years of age was sent to the old Lancaster school, an excellent institution of learning in its day. This school building was long ago converted into the Albany Medical College, from which so many physicians of our times have graduated. So well grounded in the elementary branches of education was young Van Heusen when he entered the Lancaster school, where the average attendance was three hundred pupils, that he always maintained his rank as the foremost scholar in the school, and even assumed the responsibility of an assistant teacher of the younger pupils.

At the age of fifteen he completed his school education, when he found it necessary, and entered upon the arena of an active business life to earn his own living. Entering the crockery store of the Messrs. Mcintosh as an errand boy, he soon rose to be head clerk of the concern. It would seem that about this time, when he had reached his twentieth year, he was urged by some of his friends to study for the ministry, but lack of pecuniary means and an affection of the throat rendered this impracticable.

In 1843 Mr. Van Heusen entered into partnership with Mr. Charles in the crockery, china and silver ware business; and thus found his life-long occupation. He was then but twenty-five years of age, and the business thus established has been continued with increasing volume during a period of forty-seven years, until it has attained its present ample, flourishing proportions.

Though not an active politician, Mr. Van Heusen was unanimously nominated by the republicans of the Sixteenth congressional district, in 1882, for representative in congress. He is a ready writer and debater, and has written and lectured on several subjects, such as ancient and modern pottery, porcelains, etc.

In a letter to the Albany Evening Journal dated October 31, 1888, Mr. Van Heusen states his views on the tariff and political matters.

” I had this in mind, viz., that there is in the minds of our people a feeling of discontent against the present tariff, which was enacted to meet a condition of affairs not now existing, producing a larger revenue than is required for the administration of our government and a provocative to prodigal legislation of more than doubtful propriety, such as the river and harbor bill, uncalled for and unwise pension bills and the like, none of which would be thought of except for the fact that the treasury is overflowing. To remedy this evil the time has come to adjust matters to meet the present condition of affairs and lift from the people every burden possible in connection with the tariff and internal revenue finances. Now how to do this is taxing the best thought of our legislators, most of whom, I prefer to believe, are honest and really desirous to promote the best interests of our country. It is a subject too complex, intricate and far-reaching to be easily understood or fairly comprehended by even the wisest of our people. A perfect tariff bill has never existed, and never can exist, until a body of perfect men can be brought together to draft it, hence we will never have one. To come as near to this as possible to conserve and preserve the best interests of all concerned with ‘ malice toward none and charity for all ‘ – to harmonize the diverse and conflicting interests of our vast country so as to do the most good and the least harm – to any and all of our people, this is the task that confronts us, and it cannot be shirked. Now who shall do this? For myself, I say that the Republican Party is the best qualified for the work by reason of intelligence and patriotism. Both of these qualities have been amply shown in the history of this party during its existence, and its mission is not ended. I do not favor the Mills bill altogether, neither do I the senate bill. My hope is that out of both will be solved a wise and just tariff, which will insure our present and future prosperity. With the poetic idea of free trade I have no sympathy and dismiss it by saying he cannot afford it. I am in cordial affiliation with the Republican Party. My first vote was given in 1840, to Gen. Harrison, with the enthusiastic ardor of young manhood, and I served in the ranks with song and speech to secure his election. And now, after the interim of so many years, I expect to vote for his grandson, for whom I feel great respect and confidence, with assurance also that the government will be well and truly administered by him. If there is a cleaner, more judicious man; one more entitled to implicit confidence than Gen. Harrison in all our country, I do not know him, neither have I heard of him. The republican ticket in this state and in the nation is worthy the support of every right-minded citizen. If it was an honor and pride to be a Roman citizen, how much greater to be able to say I am a republican of the greatest republic that has ever existed.”

Theo. V. Van Heusen.

In 1863, Mr. Van Heusen married Miss Arabella J. Manning of Jamaica Plain, Mass. The fruits of this union were four sons, William Manning Van Heusen, Charles Manning Van Heusen, Richard Fletcher Van Heusen and John Manning Van Heusen.

William Manning Van Heusen graduated from the Albany-academy in 1884; studied three years at Harvard University, received the degree of Ph. B. from the Columbia University School of Political Science, studied two years at the Columbia Law School, received the degree of LL. B. from the Albany Law School, and was admitted to the bar of this state in 1890.

Charles M. Van Heusen has chosen as his occupation the crockery, china and silverware business, and is now engaged in the house established by his father and Mr. Charles forty-seven years ago.

Richard Fletcher Van Heusen studied chemistry and pharmacy at Cornell and at the University of Michigan. For some time he was connected with the large house of Burroughs & Wellcome, manufacturing chemists, London, and he is now with Messrs. Fairchild Bros. & Foster, of New York City.

John M. Van Heusen has been in the employ of the First National bank, served as assistant book-keeper in the National Commercial bank, and recently accepted a position of responsibility with the T. T. Haydock Carriage Manufacturing Co., which he was obliged to abandon owing to ill-health.

A man of broad intelligence and enlightened understanding on all the principal subjects of literature and art, of untiring industry and perseverance, of strict integrity and fine social qualities, Theodore V. Van Heusen is still pursuing the “even tenor of his way,” attending to his extensive commercial interests, and rounding out a long, useful, active and honorable life.

Van Heusen,


Noted living Albanians and state officials , A series of biographical sketches. 1891.

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