Becker, Maria
Manuscript Diaries of Maria Becker, of “Becker’s Corner,” Bethlehem, Albany County, New York, 1854-1855 and 1860

Three manuscript diaries, totaling 208 manuscript pp., dated 1854-1855, and 1860, as follows: 1854; 52 manuscript pp., measures 2 ½” x 4”, bound in limp leather, pocket diary binding, 3 days entries per page; 143 days of entries; written in pencil in a legible hand, wear to binding, otherwise good. 1855; 58 manuscript pp., measures 3” x 5”, bound in limp leather, pocket diary binding, 3 days entries per page; 128 days of entries; 1 pp. entry for cash accounts; written in pencil, legible hand, wear to binding, otherwise good. 1860; 98 manuscript pp., measures 2 ½” x 4”, bound in limp leather, pocket diary binding, 3 days entries per page; 245 days of entries; 2 pp. memorandum notes; written in pencil, legible hand, wear to binding, otherwise good.

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The diaries are written by Maria Becker, she was16 when she kept her 1854 diary and 17 in 1855, and a 22 year old in 1860. The earlier diaries contain the type of entries one might expect from a young girl, house work, school, friends, socials, etc. In the 1860 diary she appears to have a man in her life who was then away traveling in Indiana, Illinois, and elsewhere. There is much commentary on the family social and domestic life, the Bethlehem community, etc.

Becker Family

Albertus Becker was a native of Holland. He immigrated as early as 1767 and lived along the old road from the Onesquethaw Creek to the Hudson River, just south of Albany, New York. He married Helen Van Derzee and together they had at least one son, Wouter, or Walter Becker. Walter was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, having served as a 2nd Lieut in Capt. Gerritt Vandenberg’s Company of Foot, 3rd Battalion, Regt. of Militia, in the Manor of Rensselaerwyck. It is unclear who Walter married, but he and his wife had at least at least one son, Albertus W. Becker, 1st (1772-1815). Albert, first married Polly Vander Heyden, about the year 1800, and built the substantial brick house at “Becker’s Corner. He and his wife had five children (two sons and three daughters).

One of Albert’s sons was Walter Becker. He was born about 1806 and listed as a “gentleman” on the 1855 NY State Census and on the 1860 Federal Census was listed as farmer with $8000 real estate and $1000 personal estate.

Walter married Maria Van Derzee about 1831. She was born about 1813 in New York; and was widowed on 11 March 1864. She was the daughter of Cornelius Van Derzee. Walter and Maria Becker had at least three children: Albertus W. Becker, 2nd (1834-1917); Maria Becker (1838-); and Mary Ann Becker (1841-).  The diaries were kept by Maria Becker, daughter of Walter and Maria Becker. Maria mentions her sister, Mary Ann, mother, and brother Albertus in the diary. The front fly leaf has the name “Maria Becker” inscribed on it. In 1860 Maria has a boyfriend, or fiancé named Charles M. Rowley.

After the death of Walter Becker, Maria’s son Albert took over the family home and farm and she remained living at the homestead. Albert married in 1858 Anna Haswell (1836-1924), daughter of Joseph Haswell. He and his wife had at least three children: Anna Becker, who married Spencer Gallup, whose brother Isaac Gallup ran the hotel at Becker’s Corner; Ida Becker; and Walter Becker.

Albertus W. Becker, was a prominent Bethlehem citizen. He attended school at the Troy Conference Academy at West Poultney, Vermont, and later in life was president, and a stockholder, of the South Bethlehem Plank Road Company, which was organized in 1851. He was president of the Bethlehem Mutual Insurance Co., and was elected (as a Republican) Supervisor of the Town of Bethlehem in 1862 and by virtue of his office was responsible for raising men for the Civil War, these men became part of the 43rd Regt. NYS Volunteers. He was again elected the town’s Supervisor in 1871, 1872, 1873, and 1874.

The Becker’s Corner farm and homestead remained in the family possession till the end of the century and Albert raised his children in the home. The Becker family owned slaves decades before the Civil War; and the slaves and family were buried in the family burial ground on their farm, which was later removed for highway purposes to Elmwood Cemetery. At the time of his death in 1917, Albert was living at Slingerlands with his son Walter.

Becker’s Corner was located six miles from Albany, on the Albany and South Bethlehem plank road. It was a hamlet that contained 6 houses, a tavern, and a fine building owned by the Grangers. Albertus W. Becker, served as postmaster for a time. The Becker house and farm were located on Route 396, near Alfred E. Perlman Railroad Yards. In 1880, when Albert owned the property, it consisted of 263 acres.

      Sample Quotations:

“April 23, 1855

Very pleasant. Washed this morning with a machine, like it very much, think we will purchase one. Aunt Catherine and Cousin Maria & Hessy L. was visiting here. Mary Ann gone to school.”

“April 24, 1855

Warm and pleasant, Angelica come here this morning, I went visiting to Mr. Veederz today. Heard that William Leedings was dead. He died at the asylum at Utica, after suffering with these fits”

“May 13, 1855

A beautiful day, went to church in the morning, in the afternoon went to a colored child’s funeral with Christian Veeder & wife”

“June 3, 1855

Very rainy, Communion in our church, Ma, Burt & Mary went, Pa and me staid home, as I was not very well. Edith & Elizabeth Veedor were here in afternoon, had meant to gone to Sabbath School at the school house, but was rainy.”


“September 25, 1855

Today the county fair commences at Washington Parade Ground Albany. Albertus takes his colt, he went this morning, Cousin Maria Vanderzee went to Albany to stay until Saturday.”

“September 26, 1855

Windy & Dusty, went to Albany to the fair, stay with Margaret Vanderzee, tonight at the Orphan Asylum as she is teacher there, Mr. William Jones superintendent.”

“September 27, 1855

Pleasant went about 11 o’clock to the fair ground it was very full met a great many acquaintances, became acquainted with a Mr. Schemerhorn, clerk at a paper store.”

“October 14, 1855

A sultry day, Albertus, Sam Jolly, H.G. [Shimmer], M. Vanderzee went to day to the Shakers, did not get back until 8 o’clock at night…”

“January 31, 1860

Wrote to ‘Charlie M.R.” he is far, far, away from me & I must wait until I am 23 years old before I can go to Warsaw.”

“February 1, 1860

Very very often I think of ‘Charlie’ so far away. Len my dearest friend came.”

“February 2, 1860

Received two letters from Charlie M.R. & so good I am so happy to hear from him again.”

“February 17, 1860

Mother, Mate, Angelica & me went to a Donation for Garrett Nott, colored man. 12 of us took tea there. I received a letter from ‘Charlie’ by his picture taken with his partner Mr. Frasier.”

“June 25, 1860

Mother & me brought Charlie to Albany this morning. He is going home & in July going back to his home in Indiana. It is very lonely here without him.”

“August 8, 1860

Tonight, father received a letter from John H. Becker saying that he was married to my only & dear sister Matie, oh why is it that we did not know she wanted him. We are all sad. I wrote to Charlie…”

“September 11, 1860

I received a note from Mate Van Antwerp tonight. Amelia Vanderzee here to tea. Bert, Anna & the baby gone to Albany tonight to see the torch light procession 4,000 wide awakes will turn out.”

“November 3, 1860

Lottie started home 9 am. I cam home from Albany with Jacob & Mrs. Soop. The Little Giants were to have a torch light procession but it is to rainy. Miller here tonight.”

“November 6, 1860

Today is election at Leedings. Mr. Veeder came here & took father to vote for Lincoln. Mr. Miller & Will Niven called. I took tea to Aunt Hestand.”