Abram Van Kleeck (1871 - 1954)



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Abram Van Kleeck Biography & Family History

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in Samsonville, Ulster County, New York United States


on in Kingston, Ulster County, New York United States

Cause of death

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Tongore Cemetery, in Olivebridge, Ulster County, New York United States


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Father: David Van Kleeck
Mother: Rachel Emily Osterhout
Siblings: Henry Francis Van Kleeck

Wife: Bertha Barringer
Children with Bertha: Gordon Van Kleeck, Dorothy Emily (Van Kleeck) Smith, Roxy (Van Kleeck) Yerry, Everett Van Kleeck, Vera Mae (Van Kleeck) Winne, Freeman B. Van Kleeck, and Elta Ann (Van Kleeck) Rifenburg


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1871 - In the year that Abram Van Kleeck was born, on October 8th, 4 major fires started on the shores of Lake Michigan - in Chicago (Illinois), Peshtigo (Wisconsin), Holland (Michigan) and Manistee (Michigan). The Chicago fire is the most well known of them because it left almost 100,000 people homeless. But the Peshtigo Fire killed around 2,500 people. The casualty count made it the deadliest fire in US history.

1879 - By the time he was merely 8 years old, on October 22nd, Thomas Edison tested the first practical electric light bulb. Lasting 13½ hours before burning out, it used a "a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected to platina contact wires". He applied for a patent on November 4th, receiving the patent in January 1880.

1885 - At the age of only 14 years old, Abram was alive when on January 24th, the Fenians - Irish Nationalists - set off dynamite bombs in the House of Commons chamber, Westminster Hall, and the Tower of London. Four civilians and two policemen were injured.

1952 - Abram was 81 years old when on July 2, Dr. Jonas E. Salk tested the first dead-virus polio vaccine on 43 children. The worst epidemic of polio had broken out that year - in the U.S. there were 58,000 cases reported. Of these, 3,145 people had died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.

1954 - In the year of Abram Van Kleeck's passing, from April 22 through June 17th, the Army v. McCarthy hearings were held. The U.S. Army accused Roy Cohn (chief counsel to Senator McCarthy and later trusted mentor of Donald Trump) of blackmail. McCarthy and Cohn accused the U.S. Army of harboring communists. The Army allegations were found to be true. The U.S. Senate later censured McCarthy.

Abram Van Kleeck Family Tree

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Abram Van Kleeck

Funeral services for Abram Van Kleeck of 15 Apple street were held from the W. N. Conner Funeral Home Friday afternoon. The Rev. Arthur E. Oudemool officiated. The service was largely attended by his relatives and many friends. Floral tributes were numerous. Bearers were Edward Smith, Warren Van Kleeck, Robert Rifenburg, Donald Yerry and Burt Winne Jr., all grandsons of the deceased. Burial was in Tongore Cemetery, Olive Bridge.


Abram Van Kleeck

Abram Van Kleeck of 15 Apple street died at his home early this morning. Mr. Van Kleeck was a well known blacksmith for many years in the city of Kingston until his retirement about 10 years ago due to ill health. Surviving are four daughters, Mrs. Roxy Yerry of Shandaken, Mrs. Vera Winne of Mt. Tremper, Mrs. Etta (sic) Rifenburg and Mrs. Dorothy Smith of Kingston; three sons, Gordon of Kingston, Everett of the town of Ulster and Freeman Van Kleeck of New Smyrna, Florida; fifteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren; two brothers, Jerry Van Kleeck of Tobasco and George Van Kleeck of Samsonville; two sisters, Mrs. Phoebe Lawrence of Accord and Mrs. Rowena Barringer of Smasonville, several nieces and nephews. Friends may call at the W. N. Conner Funeral Home, Inc., any time after 10 a.m. Wednesday where funeral services will be held Friday at 1:30 p.m. Burial in Tongore Cemetery, Olive Bridge.


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My relative the late Warren S. Van Kleeck remembered the following stories about Abram and his blacksmith shop:

I remember many summer days playing in his blacksmith shop on Apple Street. I remember the time the owner of the airport just north of old Rt. 28 entrance to Kingston coming to the shop. He said "I hear that you can make a spring that won't break." Grandpa said "Yes, you got one I can use for a pattern?" He gave Grandpa a sample and sped off in his convertible. Later he came speeding back to pick up his new spring and again sped off in a cloud of dust. About an hour later he was back and said "That was great - my student pilots have been breaking tailskids as fast as my mechanic can install them. We put your spring on a plane and tried every way possible to break it, but it still is OK. Make me six more."

One incident in his shop I will always remember: I must have been about five years old at the time. A man brought a big Belgian draft horse to the shop to be shod. Grandpa checked the front shoes and made some measurements. As he was starting to check the rear shoes the man warned him that the horse would sit down if he tried to check his shoes. Grandpa said "He won't sit down on me!" He lifted one leg and placed the hoof in position to check it. The horse started setting down. Grandpa dropped his tools and held up the leg with both hands. Then he proceeded to lift the leg higher and higher until the horse was off balance and fell on the wooden floor of the shop. The horse got up again and Grandpa lifted his back leg again to measure the shoe. This time the horse was very cooperative.

The local National Guard brought riding horses to his shop to get new shoes. They usually brought several at a time and would tie some outside while grandpa worked on one inside. This was the only time I was not allowed in the shop. The Army considered the high strung horses too risky to allow a small child near. So the shop doors were closed and I was left outside with the other two horses that were tied under the big tree outside. Grandma was husking corn for dinner and I was given the chore of taking the husks to the garbage pile by the chicken coop. Seeing the horses under the tree, I decided to feed them instead. They really liked the hard ends that were broken off the corncob. I soon had them eating out of my hand. So much for spooky horses!
Oct 02, 2014 · Reply
My grandmother remembers the following story about her father:

My Dad, Abram Van Kleeck, was minus his index finger on one hand. It happened when I was very small, as I do not remember the time that it was removed. As I remember, he got an infection in his hand from shoeing a horse and, for a time, there was a possibility of his losing his arm, but we had a very good family doctor named Van Gaasbeck. He had but one arm himself, and realizing what a handicap it would be for a man in my Dad's occupation of blacksmith, to lose one arm, he really fought to save it.

He came daily to our house to dress the arm and, as it was very painful, he said that perhaps it would be better to give Dad a good drink of liquor about an hour before he was expected. Dad never drank, and it didn't take much liquor to have an effect on him. One day about an hour before the doctor was to come, my Mother gave Dad his drink, and went on about her work. A few minutes later, my oldest sister, Roxy, thinking Mother had forgotten to give Dad the drink, also came with one for him. Dad insisted he had taken one, but Roxy, knowing how Dad disliked the stuff, thought he was just trying to get out of taking it, and made him drink it.

It certainly had an effect on Dad, he was so happy. When the doctor came to dress the hand, Dad insisted that the doctor dance with him. The doctor laughed so hard he cried. Needless to say, he went on his way and came back later in the day to dress the hand. Guess after that, Dad didn't stand a chance of getting a second on his "medicine", as the folks checked with each other before giving it to him.
Oct 02, 2014 · Reply
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