Last week, Cortland celebrated PorchFest on VanHoesen Street and we had a request to see what we could turn up on the origins of the street. Since we were there, it made sense to make Van Hoesen our next topic!
I spent all morning going through files, vital statistics, scrapbooks, and city directories to try to find out if the 1908 newspaper article I’ve been using to track down the names of streets was accurate this time. The story states that VanHoesen Street is named after Daniel VanHoesen. Seeing a name always makes me happy because it usually means the research is not going to be difficult, however, I was wrong this time! I quickly found that we had a successful attorney named D.W. VanHoesen who was a partner with O.U. Kellogg (see Kellogg Road story to learn more about O.U. Kellogg). I was confident that D.W. was our Daniel, but it turned out his name was David. There was a bunch of information about him on file, of course! There were notes in the family file that made it appear that the street was in fact named after David W. VanHoesen, but I really don’t think that’s accurate
That left the mysterious Daniel VanHoesen. I would like to tell you that eventually,I found a nice cache of information about him, but I did not. Using the maps of Cortland in 1888 and in 1876, I was able to determine that a D. VanHoesen owned property at 126 Adams Street, now Homer Avenue. Actually, some of the directories list him at #136, but when I used Google maps to find #126, the empty lot on the corner of North Main and Homer came up, which is where his lot is located on our maps. You can read more about Adams Street on our blog at www.cortlandhistory.org. City directories allowed me to learn that the owner of that property was Daniel VanHoesen and that he was a carpenter, joiner, and farmer. (Now I want to know what he built and where!) He was on that property as early as 1869 and he died in 1900. The 1900 directory does list him at that address. I used census records to see if I could find out anything about Daniel’s family life. He was married to Rachel (unknown maiden name) and they had no children. Rachel died on March 16, 1899, and Daniel followed her on July 11, 1900. If I spent a lot more time, I might have been able to figure out who Daniel’s parents were and if he had siblings. There was a fair amount of genealogical information in the family file, but the answers were not readily apparent while going over the pages.
This is a perfect example of how your perceptions can lead you down the wrong path while doing research on a topic. If I had read all of the information on D.W. VanHoesen because I was sure he was the right man, I would have spent even more time than I did, only to find my assumption was incorrect. Instead, I set aside all of the articles I found about D.W. VanHoesen and kept looking for information on Daniel. This saved me much time. If you come in to do research at CCHS, we will help you to navigate the files, books, and primary sources to try to help streamline your search and find the answers to your questions. We look forward to helping you with all of your historical questions!