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Throughout the Ages
A Visual Document Resource

Questions: 1830s

Image. Erie Canal. Letter from Henry Van Patten.

Document 4. Letter from Henry Van Patten.

Henry Van Patten was angry. The Canal ran right through his farm, dividing his fields and making it much harder for him to plant and harvest his crops so he built a bridge across the Canal to reach his fields.

He wanted the State of New York to pay him back for the money he spent on the bridge. He also wanted money for his well, which was destroyed by the Canal.

What did Henry say?

Link to printable version of this document

"To the Canal board of the State of New York

The petition of the subscriber showist that he has been under the necessity of erecting a Bridge across the Erie Canal nearly opposite to his house in order to enable him to have access to his land on the other side of the Canal opposite to his lands. If this bridge had not been erected he would have been compelled to have traveled nearly one half mile to cross the Canal this Bridge has cost your petitioner $128.00 which he hopes the Canal Commissioners to pay him. The subscriber had his well destroyed by The Canal which rendered it necessary to conduct the water in logs from a spring for which he has expended $130.00 toward, which he has received $100.

Rotterdam, Schenectady Feb 11, 1829. Henry Van Patten"

  1. Who is Henry Van Patten writing to?
  2. Why did Henry Van Patten need to build a bridge across the Erie Canal?
  3. What does Henry Van Patten say the Canal destroyed?
  4. Based on the information in this letter, do you think Henry Van Patten is happy about the Erie Canal. Why?

Document 3 | Document 5