Eliza (Sanderson) Van Schaick

Eliza and Her Husband the Congressman

Eliza Sanderson was born on 9 Dec 1821 daughter of John and Margaret (Whitfield) Sanderson. In 1842 she married Isaac Whitbeck Van Schaick in Athens, Greene County, New York. Although there are no known children born to Eliza and Isaac we believe that the couple raised two of their nieces. Sarah Elizabeth Sanderson (married Charles Swan) and Margaret Pierce (who later married Franklin Rice).

Isaac was born in Coxsackie, Greene County, N.Y., Dec. 7, 1817; was brought up on a farm, and received his education in the common schools of Greene County. He worked on a farm until he was twenty-eight years old, then he was extensively engaged in the manufacture of glue. The couple lived in Athens in 1850. In 1857 he and Eliza moved to Chicago. In the fall of 1861 they removed to Milwaukee. (We believe Isaac to be a member of the Van Schaick family that emigrated to America from Holland circa 1649 or before. See more on the Van Schaick family)

After coming to Milwaukee, he was employed by his brothers-in-law Edward and William Sanderson at the Phoenix Flour Mill and in 1857. He later became a partner with Edward and William and also was partner with John Schoonmaker (another brother-in-law) in the limestone quarry business.

He began his Republican political life in 1870, when he was elected alderman in Milwaukee. He was state assemblyman (1873, 1875) and state senator (1877-1882). In 1884 he was elected to Congress, serving one term (Mar. 1885-Mar. 1887), but was not a candidate for re-election in 1886. Again elected to Congress in 1888, Isaac served from Mar., 1889, to Mar., 1891. In 1890 he was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the state senate.

Isaac was a very notable character. “Baby Mine” was the song that helped elect him to congress. In the outer wards of the city of Milwaukee-in thickly populated Polish districts-he visited humble homes and dandled the children on his knee, jollied the mothers and sang “Baby Mine” to the babies. He sang it at public meetings, he sang it on the floor of the chamber of commerce when trading was dull. Everywhere he went he was called upon for his favorite song and never failed to respond.

For any office that “Uncle Van” ran there was sure to be a lively campaign. He could not make a speech on any subject. On the other hand, he was a great “hustler” and could beat any one at a house to house canvass. Generous to a fault, he would go door to door and deliver bags of flour to the citizens, never stopping to inquire how the recipient was going to vote or what party he belonged. Everybody liked him, and in politics he never knew a Democrat from a Republican. One campaign they were making the tariff question the main issue. If they got into a crowd and the question was asked him how he stood on the tariff, he would turn to John Eldred and say, “I am all right on the tariff, ain’t I, John?” and the reply would be, “Yes, certainly, Van; you are always right,” and then he would say, “Come on boys, let’s have something.”[1]

In the 1893 the couple moved to Chicago. In 1894, Isaac and Eliza moved to Catonsville, Maryland and lived near Franklin C. Rice their brother-in-law. They owned Lot 19, block 4 in Layton Park (Greenfield) and sold that to J.H. Beyer et. al. circa December 18, 1897. They came back to Wisconsin relatively often to visit.

Isaac died on 22 Aug 1901 at the age of 83 in Cantonsville, Baltimore, Maryland. Eliza died on 6 Mar 1903 at the age of 81 after about three weeks illness at the home of her brother-in-law in Frank C. Rice They are buried at the Athens Rural Cemetery in Athens, Greene, New York.

[1] Chicago Tribune as reprinted in the Denton Journal, Denton, Maryland, Nov. 30, 1901

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