FAMILY OF LYDIG
The founder of the American family of this name was Philip Lydig, who was born at Schwab Hall, in Germany, 1723. He came to America about 1750, settling first in Philadelphia, where he engaged in business as a grain merchant. In 1760 he removed to New York. His children were: Philip, born 1745; Margaret; Frans; and two daughters whose names are unknown.
Philip Lydig, the son, came to New York in 1760, and was apprenticed to Peter Grim, a leather merchant and well known citizen, whose daughter he married in 1763. Her brother, David Grim, was a man to whose knowledge of early New York every historian and antiquarian is most deeply indebted. The early residence of Philip Lydig was at the southeast corner of Ferry and Gold streets. The house was standing until recent times, an interesting relic of the past. A narrator of the events of the past describes Mrs. Lydig as "a fair faced, healthy, handsome old lady, with her plain cap, scrupulously neat dress, and of distinguished manner, sitting in the summer afternoon on the old Dutch stoop in front of her house." Her husband was one of the leading members of the Lutheran church, which stood in "Skinners street" (now a part of Cliff street). This edifice became too small for the increasing membership, and in 1766 Mr. Lydig, with Jacob Grim, purchased lots on the corner of Frankfort and William streets, and here was erected that quaint edifice known as the "Swamp Church," views of which are given in most histories of the city. During the Revolution this church was attended by the Hessian soldiers, and their liberal contributions were of the greatest assistance in maintaining its service. Some of the officers of the Hessions who died in the city were buried in the graveyard attached to the church, and in later years their remains were discovered as they were laid to rest, "in all the panoply of war." When the church was build it is said that Mr. Lydig, its principal founder, went to Germany and was successful in obtaining pecuniary assistance for the purpose.
Mr. Lydig quietly continued his business during the war, and supplied the British army with bread, and accumulated a substantial fortune. He died before the close of the Revolution, and was buried in the church which he founded. His widow survived him many years. They were the parents of two children, one of whom, David Lydig, was in later years one the most prominent and prosperous citizens of New York. He was very faithfully described as "a man of good education, carefully brought up, handsome in person, of good sense and judgment, refined and courteous in manner." He was a leading member of The Club, which consisted of about thirty prominent citizens, which met at the houses of the members in succession. Among the portions of his extended estate were mills situated at Buttermilk Falls. This property he sold at the time of the completion of the Erie Canal, as he foresaw the competition of the western part of the state, and by this he saved a large amount. In New York he was a director of the Merchants' Bank, which was incorporated in 1805. At various times he became the owner of many pieces of real estate. At the beginning of his career as a merchant he resided at No. 21 Peck Slip, living over his store, as was the custom of those days. From thence he removed to 55 Beckman street. In the days of his well merited prosperity his home was at No. 225 Broadway, being the second house from Barclay street. This house and lot her purchased from Jonathan Fisk in 1818. The price was $25, 250. When John Jacob Astor was planning to erect the Astor House, in 1831, he purchased the house and lot of Mr. Lydig for $32, 500. Mr. Lydig then purchased the house No. 34 Leight street, which was then an aristocratic neighborhood, and here he continued for the remainder of his life. The newspapers of the time contained the following notice: "Died, on Tuesday morning, May the 16, 1840, in the 76th year of his age, David Lydig, an old and respectable merchant of this city."
We cannot better chronicle this sketch than by giving extended extracts from the diary of Philip Hone, the "Gentleman Mayor" of New York:
"June 18, 1839. I went out yesterday with my wife and daughter to dine with my old friends, the Lydigs, at West Farms, and had a truly delightful day. The beautiful grounds on Bronx river are in fine order, and such a profusion of roses and other flowers I have scarcely ever seen. We had an excellent dinner, Lydig's fine old wines, and abundance of delicious strawberries, and a welcome hearty as the one and unstinted as the other. Mr. and Mrs. Livingston with some of their family were of the party. Lydig and Suydam (Mr. Lydig's father-in-law) are both in indifferent health, and the latter dreadfully hipped and prone to water drinking. But our gossiping about old times, the good cheer and lovely scenery set the old gentlemen on their legs for time being, and both, I am persuaded, went to bed much better than they have been for a twelvemonth. So much for the innocent enjoyments which this world, bad as we think it, affords.
"June 16, 1840. Another link is broken in the chain of social relations. Another warning given of the passing away of my generation. My old and valued friend, David Lydig, died this morning at 6 o'clock. He has been in bad health the last two years, but had rallied of late, and appeared to be gaining strength, until his last illness. He died in the seventy-sixth year of his age, much older than I, but an intimate friend and associate for nearly forty years. He was one of a set who, although my seniors, were very intimate companions about the time of my entrance into society, and with whom I continued in pleasant association until they drifted away one by one, and now I am about the only one left. How many good dinners I have eaten at poor Lydig's expense, and how many hours I have passed in his society. He was a just man, prudent and careful in the management of his affairs, unexceptionable in his deportment, with some old-fashioned aristocratic notions, as exceedingly good liver, fond of old wine, which, however, he drank in moderation, but less prudent in the enjoyment of the other pleasure of the table. He was, in short, a gentleman of the old school, a race which is nearly extinct, so,. as the old ones decay and die off, their places are supplied by an undergrowth less hardy, majestic and graceful."
Mr. Lydig married Catherine Mesier, a member of one of the oldest Dutch families of New York. Their only son was Philip Mesier Lydig, who in 1824 entered into partnership with his father under the firm name of David Lydig & Son, their place of business being at 160 South street. For nearly a half century he was connected with almost every bank and insurance company in the city, and he was recognized as one of the most prominent business men of his time. Among the various pieces of property owned by Mr. Lydig were the famous Lydig Mills, on the Bronx river. In 1680 the town of Westchester granted to William Richardson the privilege of erecting mills at this place. They afterwards passed into the hands of Everet Byvanck, and were known for long years as "Byvanck's Mills." His widow sold them to William Provost in 1711---"three grist mills and a saw mill." He sold them to Stephen de Lancey, and from his heirs they were purchased by Philip M. Lydig. Through the estate of Mr. Lydig the Bronx ran for nearly a mile, and it was one of the finest country residences in Westchester county. This tract is now included in Bronx Park and the Zoological Gardens.
Philip Mesier Lydig, the only son of David Lydig, married Katherine, eldest daughter of John Suydam, a member of one of the oldest Knickerbocker families. they were the parents of seven children: Philip, of whom a more extended notice will be given; David, who married Pauline Heckscher, and is now living in New York; Maria, who married Judge Charles P. Daly; Margaret Jane, wife of Carl Otto; has three children: Philip, Kate and Emma, wife of Henry Hoyt (who is now living at Sag Harbor, Long Island, having inherited the estate of Hon. Charles P. Daly); Katherine Matilda (who married Judge John R. Brady, and has children: May M., wife of Albert Stevens, deceased, of the famous family of Stevens Point, New Jersey, and Katherine, who married Sidney Harris, and has one child, who married Frank K. Sturgis, ex-president of the New York Stock Exchange.
Philip Mesier Lydig, the eldest son of Philip Mesier and Catherine (Suydam) Lydig, was born in New York city, 1837. Graduating from the Columbia Law School in 1861, he entered upon the practice of his profession, but the outbreak of the Civil war changed the tenor of his life. Among the first to enlist in the service of his country, he was commissioned captain and aide-de-camp, Untied States Volunteers, January 9, 1862, and served on the staff of Brigadier-General J. G. Parke, commanding the Third Brigade in Burnside's expedition, and was attached to the Third Division, Department of North Carolina. In this position he remained till July, 1862. He was then with the Third division of the Ninth Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac to September of the same year, and was with General Parke on the staff of General Burnside from September to November, 1862, and continued under the same commander until March, 1864. On March 18, 1864, he was commissioned major and assistant adjutant general, United States Volunteers, and served on the staff of General Burnside to August, 1864, and on the staff of General Parke to April, 1865. On August 1, 1864, he was brevetted lieutenant-colonel of United States Volunteers "for gallant and meritorious services in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania and Bethesda Church, and during the operations before Petersburg, " and for similar services before Fort Sedgwick, Virginia, he was brevetted colonel of volunteers, April 2, 1865.
His record during the war is a long and honorable list of faithful and meritorious services, of which the following are most conspicuous: Burnside's expedition to Hatteras Inlet and Roanoke Island, North Carolina, January, 1862; capture of Roanoke Island, February 7-8 (received special mention for gallantry); attack on Newberne, March 14 (again mentioned in General Parke's reports); attack on Camden, April 19; capture of Fort Macon, April 25; Maryland campaign, September, October; battles of South Mountain, September 14; Antietam, September 16-17; Fredericksburg, December 11-15 (received special mention in report of General Burnside for courage and efficiency) Burnside's second campaign, January 20-24, 1863 movement of Ninth Army Corps to Kentucky, March, 1863; member of the military commission to try Clement C. Vallandigham for treason, May, 1863; siege of Vicksburg, June 17 to July 4; siege of Jackson, July 10-17; East Tennessee campaign, August 22 to October 17; capture of Cumberland Gap, September 10; Knoxville campaign, November 4 to December 23. In all these important movements he was repeatedly mentioned for courage and efficiency. Rapidan, Virginia, May-June, 1864; battles of the Wilderness, may 5-7; Spottsylvania, May 8-11; Spottsylvania court House, May 12-21; cold Harbor, June 1-2; Bethesda Church, June 2-3; siege of Petersburg, June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865; Fort Stedman, March 25; fall of Petersburg, April 2; pursuit of Lee and his army, April 3-9. In these he was often mentioned in corps reports for courage and faithful service. On April 25, 1865, he resigned from the army and was honorably mustered out of the service. Colonel Lydig, after an honorable and useful life, died in New York, 1868.
Colonel Philip Mesier Lydig married, October, 1865, Pauline, daughter of Charles A. and Georgianna Louisa (Coster) Hecksher. Their only child was
Philip Mesier Lydig (the third of the name, born on the Lydig estate on Bronx river, August 16, 1867. he entered Harvard University, graduating in 1889. during the war with Spain he was commissioned captain by President McKinley, may 17, 1897, and served as chief commissary, artillery brigade, and as chief and purchasing commissary at Honolulu, Hawaii, and was sent, before his resignation took effect, to France to make a report, for which he received the thanks of the War Department. He resigned July 1, 1899.
Captain Lydig married, 1902, Ritta de Albay de Acosta, daughter of Ricardo de Acosta and Micaela Hernandez y de Alba. Her father is a well known merchant of Havanna and New York, and Mrs. Lydig is a descendant of the Alba family, famous in the history of Spain.
OBITUARY & NOTES
LYDIG, Philip M., died in New York City on the 20th February, in his 77th year, and was buried from St. Mark's. E. Church on the 23d of March, 1872. His father, David Lydig, was a distinguished merchant before him--a man who from the year 1800 on for forty years was prominent as a director in the leading banks and insurance companies of his time, and who was alluded to as "one of those bold old merchants" who built the trade of New York. Mr. Philip M. Lydig became in 1824 associated with his father in business, and followed faithfully and honorably in the footsteps of his predecessor. He took for a wife the daughter of another great merchant (one of a family that has become historical in our commerce), Mr. John Suydam, and in his own career worthily sustained the name and fame of both "houses." Latterly, as befitted the vicissitudes of age, he had retired from the activities of life, and devoted himself to those domestic and benevolent objects that were a source of agreeable employment, and enabled him peaceably and pleasantly to glide down the hill of life. He bore an honored name, and left it to those who will keep it untarnished. Of his five daughters, one is the wife of Judge Chas. P. Daly, of the Common Pleas; another the wife of Judge Brady, of the Supreme Court. The son, Mr. David Lydig, emulating the fame as well as the precise name of his grandfather, is now in active business in this city of his forefathers."