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The Historical Society of Prattsburgh

Thomas Van Tuyl 1816-1888

As a young man, Thomas Van Tuyl was passing by a candle lit window and saw a beautiful young woman ironing. He fell in love with her and they were married in1840. She was Survina Stoddard daughter of Dr, Stoddard who was the dentist at this time. They then moved from Jerusalem to Prattsburgh. Their first home was a farm on what is now called Van Tuyl Hill. They raised cattle and sawed lumber. They had six children, John J., Benjamin s., Eva, Ella, Minnie and Ernest Hale. In 1858 when Eva was a small girl they moved into town. They had a nice surprise on February 10,1887 when Miss Minnie Van Tuyl gave them a party for their 47th wedding anniversary.

That Ernie was an odd duck. He would try to spoil his sister’s parties. When he saw the pie cut and put on plates, he would proceed to stick his finger into each piece, lick his finger and say: Me pie, Me pie! The three daughters were always dressed in the latest style and when Eva and Ella were married, red velvet carpet was spread from the house to the road. Minnie was the old maid, bless her heart, due to a tragedy that came into her life through the sudden death of a young Canadian medical student to whom she was betrothed and to whose memory she was ever faithful. So she clings to her house with all the fond memories of the gay parties and grand dinners, the beautiful house with its lovely carpeting, huge chandeliers, plush furniture and beautiful dishes, of which Minnie was so proud.

When the family moved into town, they purchased a house that was owned by Capt. Theodore Brown. That house was moved down on Howe Street and their house (which is the house there now) was built 1858/1860. E.Z. Terry and another carpenter worked for two years hand hewing the front stairs and trimmed the stair railing four times and it was steamed and re-curved until it fit the front staircase.

Thomas built three stores on Main Street. The small space between two of the stores is the result of a difference of opinion of where the line was. The middle store was run by Thomas, which was named EXCELSINO. It contained a general merchandise store with the post office in the back. He would go to New York City to trade twice a year by way of the Erie Canal. He was a shrew businessman and always paid his bills. He was always on the look out for a good deal. The library is located in his store now.

When the railroad was organized in 1888, he became vice president. Also in 1868, he was on the board of trustees of the Franklin Academy and Union Free School.

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