Dirk Vanderheyden's Dream.
A STORY OF THE LAST CENTURY.
William E. Hagan read the following original poem, "Dirk Vanderheyden's Dream:"
There stood in Albany, in old colonial days,
Two hundred years ago, or more, as tells tradition,
A stately inn that towered above the buildings of the place
With all the seeming pride of its condition.
'T was built of brick and fronted with its gable on the street;
Its dormer-window roof in gambrel tapered down.
While port-holes and Dutch windows made the front and sides complete
In the quaint elements of its Holland finish shown.
Right opposite the inn, and at its tapering front, uprose
A leaning inn-post, from whose inclination
The passing traveler fairly might suppose,
It advertised, or hinted of, inebriation
Before and right beside the door were sundry resting places,
Seats that were worn quite smooth, on which suggestive fancy
Hinted that leather breeches there had left their traces,
In the glossed polish shown by the hard work of occupancy.
There was a generous and cheerful measure seen within the door,
In the quite large and easy chairs, with arms extended,
Which seemed to welcome such as entered on the sanded floor,
And told of rest and creature comfort blended.
Within the public room upon a shelf were sundry empty flagons,
Of bright and shining pewter, that were quite suggestive,
So were the fire-dogs on the hearth, whose brazen dragons
Hinted of toddy, flip, and other fluids just as festive.
[...] ing post
Roughly portrayed a bunch of grapes in purple color laden,
And told the traveler in Dutch letters that within "Mine Host"
Bore the cognomen of Dirk Van Der Hey Den.
This inn was popular, and in old colonial measure,
Furnished a pleasant rendezvous, or place of meeting.
Where the Dutch burghers, when in search of news or pleasure,
Could o'er a mug or glass exchange their daily greeting.
Some years before, as history tells, the good ship "Spotted Cow,"
To cross the Atlantic, had sailed forth from Leyden,
And 'mongst her passengers, the old records show,
Was a tall, stalwart youth, yclept Dirk Van Der Heyden.
By a patient industry and steady, slow, accumulation,
Dirk had become a wealthy publican, and sold at pleasure
Beer, schnapps and rum, without restraint or legal reservation,
And, as it suited him, in any kind of way or measure.
Money was not abundant then, and in colonial days
Trade was a kind of barter to a large extent,
Where then, as now, the unlucky debtor always pays
The pressing creditor a largess, at each settlement.
Now there were certain worthy burghers of this ancient town
Whom Dirk would trust for drink, and in his credit round
Would with a piece of chalk or charcoal mark it down,
Until each festive patron's credit reached one pound.
Each money credit of a pound was duly represented,
By marking a stone of a certain color and dimensions;
A way of keeping books Dirk's genius had invented
To aid him in his hoarding, saving-up intentions.
In liquidation of accounts, so many stones would buy a debtor's cow;
So many more his horse, or chance his negro slave;
But in each settlement, which ever way 't was made, some how,
Dirk in the deal would always the advantage have.
Amongst the many lovers of the inn's conviviality,
And who patronized it with a constant thirsty measure,
Was Peter Van Woggelum, who came to know in a reality
How fast a debt may grow indeed, when made for drink or pleasure.
For several years he had been running up a steady score,
Even without a question as to its accumulation;
Dirk never dunned or importuned him, as he more and more
Kept adding to its growth by constant aggregation.
One day, however, Peter, quite astonished, found himself confronted
With the large debt of quite two hundred pounds;
There were the stones, Dirk said; were they not fairly counted
and he was told the means of payment must be found
Dirk strongly hinted unto Peter, startled with alarm,
When face to face with the strange presentation,
There was upon the Hudson Peter's well known farm,
The "Posten Bowerie," that could apply in liquidation
Peter demurred at first, but finally, when pressed, consented,
And for the drink he'd swallowed gave the lands
In Dutch history called "Parfraets Dael," or lateness contended
Where modern Troy in all its present vigor stands
Amongst the old Dutch families and then direct succession
'T was an oft-told story how to Dirk there came
The very day the deed was signed, that gave to him possession
A strange and fearful warning in a dream.
The time was summer, and the month of June;
'T was a warm day, and in the afternoon,
When in a room from off the public one
Dirk Van Der Hey Den sat, and all alone,
Spread out before him was the title real
To his great farm at Parfraets Dael;
This day it had been signed and sealed,
And as he [?] it over its words revealed
That Peter Van Woggelum had that day conveyed
To him all right and title that he had
Unto the lands twixt Hudson's river and the [?]
South of the Piscawan and north of the Poesten kill,
And as the deed did together on express
Of land so many morgens, be it more or less.
Dirk now indeed was really a patroon,
And happy was he on that afternoon,
When in the contemplative measure of his joys,
He of his children though, his three small boys,
And how he would, should they to manhood come,
By fair allotment give to each a farm and home;
So through the measure of his new estate
He would in time his name perpetuate.
On all Dirk's thoughts a genial pleasure beamed,
And thinking thus he fell asleep and dreamed.
Wrapped in his dreamy mood he did not hear
The mutterings of a thunder storm draw near;
But he slept on, while fancy lent him wings
To fly away in thought with fair conditionings
In mid-air poised the dream saw below,
Rich in its summer green and beauteous glow,
The fairest part of favored "lubbered land,"
That now was all his own, at his command.
Bright was the prospect to the dreamer's view
And fair the picture that his fancy drew,
But while the dreamer gazed upon the scene
A vale of mist spread out to intervene
Between the dreamer and the panoramic sight,
That served to hide, and to obscure it quite;
But ere a moment waned the mist had passed away,
And right in sight below the dreamer lay
A city, with its miles of streets and noisy strife,
Teeming with humming industry and busy life,
The dreamer was entranced; was this to be,
He thought, his little children's legacy
Long did he feast his eyes on the enchanting scene,
When, lo, another cloud comes up to intervene
No thin and mist-drawn veil this time appears,
But a cloud-goblin, that slowly as it nears,
Opens its monstrous hjaws, and swallows down,
At one great mouthful, both the farm and town
And then as if to finish up its horrid work,
It rises upward toward the dreaming Dirk;
Transfixed by fright, the dreamer cannot fly,
As nearer, nearer, comes the demon of the sky;
And when it opens wide its mouth to gulp him down,
As it before had swallowed up the farm and town
By a strong effort made, Dirk breaks the spell,
And he awakens, with a frightened yell.
Bewildered, startled, trembling and amazed,
He stands and stares as one with senses dazed.
When reason comes, he finds a thunder storm
Has filled his household with a wild alarm,
As flash and crash in quick succession come
To shake the strong foundations of the [?] home,
While standing thus bewildered in his sense,
There came a sudden glare and then a [?] intense,
And Dirk went down his length upon the floor,
Stunned by the shock, which in his descending tore
The inn-post into splinteres, are, and more,
It put its mark upon his children, too,
As if to keep the measure of its wrath in view
In a real welt upon the face that like a birthmark stayed,
Until they each of them within their graves were laid.
The inn-post thus torn down was not again restored;
Dutch sentiments toward Dirk grew hostile and aggressive,
It treated the Van Woggelum trade as fraudulent,
And Dirk's demand against him as dishonest and excessive.
The inn soon lost the measure of its popularity
And rival publicans took all its trade away,
But for a hundred years or more the building stood,
As a strange and quaint reminder of that early day.
Fair "Pafraets Dael" Dirk never visited again
He died, deserted, neglected and almost alone,
In Albany beside the old Dutch church, of him what does remain,
Lies in a grave marked by a time-worn crumbling stone.
The farm was parcelled out as Dirk had dreamed,
And his descendants, some of whom were worthy men,
Strove for the right but fate determined seemed,
To on his name bestow no kindly benison.
Years passed away, a city came to grow apace,
And occupy the lands Dirk has devised as stated,
But of Dirk's own male line direct there is not trace
That bears his name, it is, in fact, obliterated.
[missing lines and words to be transcribed hopefully soon]
Troy Daily Times. January 5, 1890: 2 cols 6-7.
Hagan is also said to have written a similarly lengthy poem titled "The Avenging Avalanche" (Mount Ida?) in which "names of many of the early settlers [of Troy] are interwoven with some of the epochal events of those days poetically expressed. The Poestenkill, Jans Coeymans, Jans Barrensten, Dirk Vanderheyden, 'Old Foretop Hans' and other celebrities of early Troy are resurrected and given leading roles in the drama" ("Looking Backward; Trojan's Collection of Scrapbooks of Historic Interest—Valuable in Research Work—Clippings of Early Period." Troy Times December 27, 1921: 7).
William E. Hagan, one of Troy's best known citizens, died at about 4 o'clock this morning at his home, 93 Fourth Street, after an illness dating back to last April. [...]
It was as a handwriting expert that Mr. Hagan was best known. He was engaged in some of the most celebrated cases in this country in which the identity of handwriting was in question, and his opinions on that subject were widely sought and greatly valued. [...] the Molay letter case, involving the forgery of President Garfield's name, and many others of national importance.
A few years ago Mr. Hagan published a book, "Hagan on Disputed Handwriting," and the book [see A Treatise on Disputed Handwriting and the Determination of Genuine from Forged Signatures at the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners] is considered an authority on the subject. [...]
Mr. Hagan was a close student of local history, and was familiar with many incidents contemporary with his early days in this city. He had a very retentive memory and could recall dates and occurrences after a moment's retrospection. He wrote many articles on various subjects, which were published in leading newspapers and periodicals, and was a frequent contributor to the columns of The Troy Times. [...]
Mr. Hagan was one of the early members of the Troy Fire Department and did much to bring it to a state of efficiency. he was a member of the old Washington Volunteer Company and was one of the charter members of the Arba Read Steamer Company, which he helped to organize. With John A. Griswold, Arba Read and Habbibal Green, he discussed the advisability of purchasing a steam fire engine for Troy. Contributions were made by each and by other citizens and Mr. Hagan was deputized to go to Cincinnati to inspect those in use there. The report was favorable to the acquirement of such an aid to fire fighting by Troy, and the steamer was bought.
At the time of the Civil War Mr. Hagan assisted in forming regiments to go to the front from this vicinity, and his efforts in that direction figured in the organization of the Second Regiment, the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth and the One Hundred and Sicty-ninth Regiments.
Mr. Hagan never held any political office, but was thoroughly in touch with events tending to high citizenship and was always ready to respond in aid of any deserving cause. He served for a time as honorary directory of the State Sanitary Commission, and was a member of the Troy Club and the Ionic Club. Mr. Hagan was married in 1855 to Lydia R. Covell, daughter of the late Stephen Covell of this city.
Mr. Hagan was a lifelong member of St. Paul's Church, and was born on the site of the church, at the corner of State and Third Streets, where his father's residence was located.
He is survived by his wife and three children, Mrs. W.B. M. Miller of Providence, R.I., and Mrs. Frederick F. Buell and Mrs. Rebecca Hagan DuBarry, of this city.
The funeral will be held from Holy Cross Church, as repairs are being made at St. Paul's Church, Sunday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock. Rev. Dr. E.A. Enos, who is out of the city on his vacation, will return to officiate. The interment will be in Oakwood Cemetery.
"Death of William E. Hagan—Prominent as a Handwriting Expert—Engaged in Many Noted Cases—Wrote a Book on the Subject—Incidents of a Long and Honorable Career." Troy Daily Times. August 29, 1902: 3 col 3.