Pruyn Family History
Frans Jansen Pruyn, the first member of the family to come to America, arrived in Albany in the 1660s as one of the early Dutch settlers, and by 1683 they were members of the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany. The next several generations married into prominent local Dutch families such as the Lansings, Gansevoorts, VanZandts, Bogarts, TenEycks, Gerritses, VanBurens, VanSantvoordgs etc.
Casparus Francis Pruyn, sixth generation in America had this house built in 1830 as a country home for his family of several children and wife, Ann Hewson. One of their sons, Robert Hewson Pruyn, was educated at Albany Academy, Rutgers College, studied law and was later one of the founders of Albany Law School. In the mid 1800s, he served as envoy to Japan, appointed by President Lincoln.
Robert Dunbar, Casparus's uncle, was agent of the VanRensselaer Manor and probably gave Casparus the property as no deed is apparent until it was sold in 1848, two years after his death. It was purchased in 1848 by Alfred Mayell - 114 acres for $3800. Subsequently it was owned by several other families.
In 1893, the property was purchased from an Albany County land auction by John H. Henkes, Jr. and wife, Carrie who had lived on an adjoining farm. Their son, William, their two daughters Catherine and Mary, and later their husbands, Henry S. Bailley and Lloyd Haswell, used the then forty acre parcel as a working farm.
The family maintained a truck garden and raised horses and prize cattle. The outbuildings consisted of barns, a carriage house, stables, smokehouse, well-house, a combined storage and outhouse (privy), a potting shed and greenhouses where they started the summer crops from seedlings. The stables and a barn burned many years ago, and a summer kitchen at the rear of the house was removed to make way for a circular driveway. Very few structural changes have been made to the house.
The last owner, Henry ("Syd") Bailley, was superintendent of the Albany City Gardens and later was in charge of the house and grounds at the Executive Mansion from the time of Governor Franklin Roosevelt through Rockefeller's terms in office.
The house was acquired by the Town of Colonie, along with five and one half acres, in 1982, and has been restored. The cost of the house was financed by bond issue for $110,000 and $140,000 for first phase of the restoration including brick work, roof, plumbing, heating, windows, floors, some woodwork and kitchenette. Furnishings have been donated with some items on loan.
An inventory of the contents of the house and outbuildings was found, and has been of immense value in determining the manner in which the house would be furnished, up to the 1850s.
Compiled by Jean S. Olton, May 1992
To learn more about the Pruyn House timeline, click here.