This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, August 26, 2011

175th birthday celebration

This afternoon Rensselaer celebrated its 175th birthday, or rather the 175th anniversary of the first white settler in what is now Rensselaer. The celebration was a little early--the plaque on the Washington Street Bridge says that Joseph Yeoman and his wife built their cabin in December, 1836, but who wants to celebrate that in December?

I got to the Gazebo by the Court House after the official ceremony. I missed the St. Augustine students singing (but they probably sounded about the same as they sounded at the Amtrak platform dedication), and the mayor's reading of the proclamation. I did get there in time for some cake, and there was still plenty when I left.
Joseph Yeoman and his wife built a cabin near what is now the Washington Street bridge and cleared some land. They did not have a title, but not too long after they settled, a man name van Rensselaer showed up with a title and told them to leave. They did, moving a bit to the west. Their son, Thomas Jefferson Yeoman, was the first white person born in Jasper County. The Yeomans married into other early families, and as a result, there are many people in the area who can trace their family tree back to Joseph Yeoman. The early Yeomans are buried in the Sayler-Mckeever Cemetery. In contrast, van Rensselaer went back to New York and there seem to be no descendants of his in the area. (If I am wrong, correct me in the comments.) Should Rensselaer really be named Rensselaer? (Correction--James van Rensselaer, for whom Rensselaer is named, is buried next to the First Presbyterian Church.)

There were a number of descendants of Joseph Yeoman who came to the event, some from other counties, and they had a good time trying to figure out how they were related.

There was a video playing a film about Rensselaer from mid-20th century. It is on VHS tape, and several people commented that it needs to be put on DVD. The historical society may do that and then sell the DVDs. It gives a fascinating look at a version of Rensselear that has disappeared, and does it with a little story to connect people and places in an entertaining way.

2 comments:

Larry said...

I seem to remember that there was a Van Rensselaer buried in a church cemetery in town. I just can't remember where though.

Anonymous said...

The historical society did put Rensselaer Revisited on CD, and it is available on the first and third Saturdays of each month at the Museum, 479 N. Van Rensselaer from 10-1 pm. The CD's were created from the old Hal Grey produced video by Alan and Diana Fleming.
The wonderful singers from St. Augustine were enthusiastically led by their music teacher, Mrs. Florie.