In 1775 James was one of a party of local people who sailed (possibly from Gatehouse of Fleet) on the adventure of a lifetime. They arrived safely in New York after a stormy sea passage, where they made their home. This is his story, and the story of some of his descendants. (Published in Hudson-Mohawk genealogical and family memoirs, Volume 1, 1911).

James Selkirk of Anwoth and Selkirk, Albany Country, New York.

James Selkirk was born in Kirkcudbright(shire), Scotland, November 1, 1757 (old style), and emigrated to America. He left Kirkcudbright early in March, 1775, and after a stormy passage of one hundred and six days, landed at the city of New York, the day after the battle of Bunker Hill, June 19th 1775. He remained there for a few days, and then went to Argyle, afterwards to what was then Albany county: but now within the limits of Saratoga county. Following a residence in Argyle for a few months, he enlisted in the provisional army, or forces of the struggling colony of New York, and served out his term of enlistment, when he returned to Albany.

There he remained for a few days, and then enlisted a second time, December 20, 1776, for the whole period of the war, serving to the end of the revolution. He had served under General Benedict Arnold in the fierce northern campaign of the Adirondack region, and was in the greatest of American revolutionary struggles, the battle of Saratoga, which, known as the battle of Bemis Heights, resulted in the surrender of General Burgoyne, October 17, 1777. Under General Greene, he was in the retreat through New Jersey, and endured the hardships of the winter quarters of the army at Valley Forge. Subsequently, under Gen. Horatio Gates, he was in the southern campaign until after that general’s defeat at Camden, and later with his regiment in the allied army at Yorktown, Virginia, when Cornwallis surrendered.

He received his certificate of service and discharge duly signed by George Washington, and this document is now in the Hall of Military Records in the Capitol of Albany, New York. His discharge was dated June 7, 1783, and he likewise received with it a paper setting forth “Reward of Merit.” His service was in battalion of force, commanded by Colonel James Livingston, Company Two, Dirk Hansen, captain, and was quartermaster-sergeant in that company.

James Selkirk married Elizabeth; daughter of William Henry, the ceremony taking place in February 1787, in the First Presbyterian Church of Albany, New York. They were the second couple ever married in that church. She was born April 12, 1766, and was a sister of William Henry, who was the father of Professor Joseph Henry, the inventor of the electro-magnet, while an instructor in the Albany Academy, he Joseph, having been born in the city of Albany, December 17, 1799, and as their parents had come over from Scotland on the same ship, the families were bound by ties of closest intimacy. Besides this, Professor Henry had taught school at Selkirk for two years when a young man, before his appointment to the Albany Academy, September 11, 1826.

James Selkirk died at Selkirk, Albany county, about 10 miles south of Albany, December 2, 1820. Elizabeth, his wife, died May 9, 1844. Both are buried in the family burying-ground of Colonel Francis Nicoll, at Cedar Hill, Albany county. (link) Children: 1. James, born August28, 1788; married Rachel Mull; died March 5, 1821. 2. Nancy, born May 18, 1791, died in infancy. 3. William, born July 24, 1792; married Matilda Hallenbeck. 4. John, born November 1, 1794; married Mary Gillman; died June 16, 1840. 5. Robert, born March 18, 1797; married, 1821, Maria Boucher. 6. Charles, born April 13, 1799, see forward. 7. Joseph, born October 1801. 8. Elizabeth, born April 7, 1804. 9. Francis Nicoll, born October 8, 1806. 10. Alexander, born April 16, 1809.

Charles, 5th son of James and Elizabeth (Henry) Selkirk, was born in Selkirk, Albany county, New York, April 13, 1799. He was for some time , in 1814-15, apprenticed as a silversmith under his brother William, then residing in Albany and foreman for John F. Doty, silversmith and watchmaker, doing business at No. 71 South Pearl street and with a factory at No. 7 Union street. He was a fellow apprentice with his first cousin, young Joseph Henry, and thus in the second generation preserved the family acquaintanceship.

Professor Henry, following his discovery of the principle of the electro-magnet, and demonstrating its practicability in the large room of the Academy, about 1829, was called to Princeton in November, 1832, as an instructor in the sciences, and was made the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, D.C., December 3, 1846, and died in that city, May 13, 1878.

On account of his poor health, Charles Selkirk did not continue this line of work, but returned to the homestead and became a carpenter. Following the death of his father, in 1820, with his brother, William, he took the old farm and turned his attention to agriculture. In January of 1845 he made a trip to Scotland, where he visited his relatives, travelled through England and Ireland, and returned to this country in September of the same year. He died July 26, 1866. Charles Selkirk married, September 10, 1829, Jane Elmendorf, born November 22, 1809, died January 26, 1845, daughter of Jacobus Elmendorf, who came to this country from Ghent, Holland, in the year 1649, and settled at Kingston, Dutchess county, New York. Children: Alexander, born in Selkirk, New York, July 18, 1830, see forward. Lewis McMullen, born August 14, 1832. Frances, born January 18, 1841.

Alexander, son of Charles and Jane (Elmendorf) Selkirk, was born on the homestead at Selkirk, Albany county, New York, July 18, 1830, died October 18, 1905. With his brothers, he received his education at district school No. 2, at Selkirk, his teachers being generally men from the eastern states who made school teaching a means to aid them in acquiring a collegiate education, and under this class of instructors he was educated in the highest English branches of that day. He removed to Albany in 1847, and at James Goold & Company's coach factory learned the art of coach ornamentation and heraldry, and was made foreman in that department in 1850. In 1849, with George H. Boughton, James McDougal Hart and James Williamson, he formed a class for the study of freehand drawing from models, with John E. Gavit, banknote engraver, as instructor. In the spring of 1853 he went into the business of carriage manufacturer, and continued in that until 1864, when he sold out to Shaw & Rose. He then entered the profession of solicitor of patents and attorney in patent cases, also that of mechanical expert, and continued in this profession with success that won recognition until his death. He was located at the start at No. 44 North Pearl street, and after 1885 at No. 31 North Pearl street. Being of an inventive turn of mind, he perfected several important and practical inventions.

In politics he voted first for Fremont and was always a Republican and protective tariff man. Although not in any sense a politician, he was frequently present at gatherings to advocate a cause or candidate, serving his party considerably in one way or another without thought or expectation of personal gain. When a new water supply for the city of Albany was being agitated with considerable fervor by the advocates of different methods to be pursued, and a scheme known as the "Kinderhook Water Supply" was being pressed, Mr. Selkirk gave such time and untiring effort in convincing the public of the enormous cost and impracticability of the proposed scheme that the promoters of the bill before the legislature decided not to call it up for a third reading. He drafted other bills relating to Albany's water supply, which passed both houses; but ended in a veto by the governor. In 1848 he united with the Wesleyan Church, and in 1864 with the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Albany.

In 1832 he joined Union Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and in 1857 Wadsworth Lodge, No. 417, Free and Accepted Masons. He married, at Albany, February 17, 1853, Elizabeth Jane Fee, born in Albany, February 18, 1835, died in the same city, December 27, 1904, daughter of Adam and Henrietta (Reid) Fee, both of Albany, New York. Children, born in Albany: Charles, February 23, 1855; see forward. William Fee, May 23, 1857, see forward. John Adam, March 16, 1864; in 1910 connected with the Delaware & Hudson railroad offices at Albany. Elizabeth Reid, August 19, 1866; residing at No. 284 Clinton avenue, Albany, in 1910. Alexander, February 2, 1868, see forward. Frank Elmendorf, March 10, 1871, see forward.

Charles, son of Alexander and Elizabeth Jane (Fee) Selkirk, was born in Albany, New York, February 23, 1855. He received his education at the local schools, and about 1870 commenced studying mechanical and art drawing under his father, who had studied with the celebrated artists, Boughton and Hart, at his father's office, then located at No. 44 North Pearl street. About 1885 both he and his father removed their separate offices to the suite at No. 31 North Pearl street, where he was located in 1910, as art designer, and had achieved success in his line. He is a Republican, an attendant of the Fourth Presbyterian Church, and resides at No. 113 South Lake avenue, Albany. He married, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 22, 1884, Lillian Plumly, born in that city February 17, 1860, daughter of Richard Bernard and Harriet Miller (Plumly) Connolly. Children, born in Albany, New York: Charles Richard, March 7, 1885; Harriet Connolly, January 16, 1891.

William Fee, son of Alexander and Elizabeth Jane (Fee) Selkirk, was born in Albany, New York, May 23, 1857, and resided at No. 291 First street, that city, in 1910, being connected with the printing establishment of Weed-Parsons & Company, of Albany. He married, in Albany, April 2, 1884, Mathilde, born in Albany, New York, August 29, 1860, daughter of August W. and Johanna (Koch) Koenig, who were married in Albany, June 5, 1858. Children: Augusta Louise, born December 4, 1886; died October 11, 1894; Alexander T., born in Norwalk, Ohio, May 24, 1889; Theodore Koenig, born in Albany, May 8, 1896; Catherine King, born in Norwalk, Ohio, April 9, 1895; adopted October 14, 1901. Alexander (2), son of Alexander and Elizabeth Jane (Fee) Selkirk, was born in Albany, New York, February 2, 1868. He was educated at the primary schools in his native city and is a graduate of the Albany high school, class of 1885. After leaving school, he entered the office of Franklin H. Jones, an architect of considerable prominence, then located at Albany, where he was a student at first, and remained there for eight years, being the head draughtsman. Between this time and the actual opening of an office for himself, about six months, he was engaged by George Westinghouse, Jr., in designing buildings for his country residence, "Erskine Park," Lenox, Massachusetts. Since then he has practiced his profession, meeting with abundant success, with his office at No. 31 North Pearl street, Albany, New York. In politics he has ever been a Republican, and is a member of the Fourth Presbyterian Church. He is a member of Masters Lodge, No. 5, Free and Accepted Masons, a charter member of the Aurania Club, and a member of Philip Livingston Chapter, Sons of the Revolution. His residence is No. 209 Lancaster street, Albany, New York. He married, in Coxsackie, New York, August 12, 1897, Clara Hartt, born at Indian Fields, New York, September 20, 1874, daughter of John McCarty Ver Planck, a descendant of the revolutionary general of that name, and his wife, Mary Eliza (Chapman) Ver Planck. Their other children were Robert Isaac and Louise Bosworth Ver Planck. Child: Helen Ver Planck, born in Albany, New York, December 24, 1899

Frank Elmendorf, son of Alexander and Elizabeth Jane (Fee) Selkirk, was born in Albany, New York, March 10, 1871. He was educated in the city schools and the Albany high school, and commenced his business career in the old Hoyt coal yard, first as a clerk, later as manager for John E. Rathbun, who succeeded to the business, and still later for Howell & Company. in the same business and yards. In 1905 he entered the employ of Simon Stahl, as superintendent in the millinery business, and was continued in that capacity when the business was sold to the present proprietor, Jonas Muhlfelder, where he was still employed in 1910. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, he enlisted May 2, 1898, as corporal in Company A, First New York Infantry Volunteers, was promoted sergeant, July 20, 1898, and served until the muster out, February 21, 1899. He served eleven and a half years in the New York State National Guard. He is a charter member of the Frank Rockwell Palmer Camp of Spanish War Veterans, and has filled the offices of junior vice-commander and senior vice-commander of that organization. He is also a member of the Old Guard, Company A, Albany Zouave Cadets, having served three years as secretary, and he is a member of Philip Livingston Chapter, Sons of the Revolution. He married, Albany, November 23, 1904, Bertha Elizabeth Riggs, born in Albany, New York, September 25, 1881, daughter of Frederick James and Emma Louise (Whiting) Riggs. Child: Elizabeth Whiting, born in Albany, New York, October 22, 1906.

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