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Guide to the Van Steenwyk Family Papers, 1828-1972 MSS G

Guide to the Van Steenwyk Family Papers, 1828-1972


Summary Information

Papers of an early La Crosse, Wisconsin, banker and mayor, and of his family. Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr. (1814-1902), who founded the Batavian Bank in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and was active in state and local politics. Van Steenwyk, a Dutch immigrant, served a term in 1873 as mayor of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and also served in the Wisconsin state legislature as assemblyman in 1859 and senator 1879-1880. Other family members represented in the collection include Mariette Nichols van Steenwyk, their son, Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr., banker and businessman of La Crosse, Wisconsin; the son's wife Grace Pettinhill Hogan van Steenwyk; and Ella May van Steenwyk Cassels, daughter of Gysbert Sr. and Mariette van Steenwyk. The collection includes personal and business correspondence together with business and organization financial records, legal documents and genealogical information, papers and records relating to the estate of Cadwallader C. Washburn and miscellaneous materials. Among the business interests of his son Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr., were the La Crosse Trust Co., Machine Products Co., La Crosse Rubber Mills, and La Crosse Floral Co. Apart from their business activities, the van Steenwyks were involved with the La Crosse Theater Co., and the Home for the Friendless. Some materials are in the Dutch language.
Collection Title
Van Steenwyk Family Papers
Date of Materials
Van Steenwyk family
Call Number
6.0 cubic feet
Physical Description
12 archives boxes
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Van Steenwyk Family Papers, MSS G, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

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Biographical Note

Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr., was born in Utrecht, Holland, on January 30, 1814. At the age of sixteen years, he served as a volunteer in the army of the Netherlands for two years. From 1838 to 1849, he was a commissioned officer in the Netherlands National Guard. A well educated man, van Steenwyk attended the University of Utrecht, taking degrees in philosophy and philology. He also studied law but did not practice it. In the winter of 1848, he decided to come to the United States with a friend, and they sailed to this country in May 1849. After touring the Midwest in September, they visited Milwaukee and other Wisconsin towns, finally deciding to settle in Milwaukee where van Steenwyk received his first appointment as Notary Public from Governor Nelson Dewey. Soon after, he received a commission from the Hague as Consul of the Netherlands for Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. During 1852-1853, van Steenwyk served as Wisconsin Commissioner of Immigration and lived in New York. Returning to Wisconsin in 1853, van Steenwyk moved to Newport, on the Wisconsin River, where the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad was expected to cross. The proposed route altered, however, and most of Newport's resident moved to Kilbourn City (later called the Wisconsin Dells) in 1858, along the new route.

Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr. was commissioned Brigadier-General of Wisconsin State troops in 1857, and in 1859 was elected to the State Assembly from Columbia County. The following year he was a delegate to the Republican State Convention and was elected Bank Comptroller. Upon the expiration of his term in 1862, van Steenwyk, Sr. moved to La Crosse and opened the Batavian Bank (later renamed First Bank, now called U.S. Bank). He entered politics again in 1873, serving one term as mayor of the city of La Crosse. He was elected to the State Senate in 1879.

Van Steenwyk, Sr. was one of the executors of the former Governor Cadwallader C. Washburn's will, and vice president of the board of trustees of the La Crosse Public Library. Apart from the Batavian Bank, his business interests included the Victor Flouring Mill, La Crosse Linseed Oil Mill, La Crosse Street Railway Co, Edison and Brush Electric Light and Power Cos., La Crosse Tannery, and East Bank Improvement Co.

Gysbert van Steenwyk married Mariette Nichols in May 1875 in Berne, Switzerland. Mariette Nichols was born Sept. 8, 1848, in Danbury, Connecticut, to David Philip and Matilda (Averill) Nichols. She was active on the Board of the Home for the Friendless (also called the Home for Friendless Women & Children, later called La Crosse Home for Children; now called Family & Children's Center). The van Steenwyks were the parents of three children: Gysbert Jr., Ella May, and Walter Charles who died at the age of eight years. Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr. died Sunday, April 13, 1902. His wife, Mariette, died in La Crosse October 14, 1930.

Their son, Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr., was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, about 1876. He graduated from Yale University in 1897 and attended the University of Wisconsin Law School. He began working at the Batavian Bank during the summers of 1893 to 1897. He was named to the Bank's board of directors in 1904, serving until his retirement in January 1961. Van Steenwyk also served as chairman of the board for the La Crosse Trust Co., which he founded, was director emeritus of the National Guardian Life Insurance Co. of Madison, and chairman of the board for the Spence-McCord Drug Co. He was elected to the La Crosse Public Library board in 1914 and served on the boards of the La Crosse Rubber Mills, Machine Products Co., and La Crosse Floral Co. Van Steenwyk, Jr. married Grace Pettingill Hogan in 1927. He died on June 14, 1967.

His wife, Grace, was born Nov. 23, 1879, to Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Pettingill of La Crosse. She first married James C. Hogan of La Crosse May 31, 1905. Hogan died in Europe May 9, 1925. Grace died June 10, 1978.

Ella May van Steenwyk, daughter of Gysbert Sr. and Mariette van Steenwyk, was married to Edwin H. Cassels of Glencoe, Illinois.

------------------------ References:

Men of Progress. Wisconsin: A Selected List of Biographical Sketches and Portraits of the Leaders in Businesses... (Milwaukee, WI: Evening Wisconsin Co.), 1897, p337-9.

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Scope and Contents

The van Steenwyk family papers follow the business interests and personal lives of an early La Crosse banker and mayor, and his family. The papers are categorized into six series, each corresponding to an individual family member: Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr., his wife Mariette (Nichols) van Steenwyk, their son Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr. and his wife Grace (Pettingill) Hogan van Steenwyk, and Ella May (van Steenwyk) Cassels, daughter of Gysbert, Sr. and Mariette van Steenwyk. A few miscellaneous items are included in a final series.

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Arranged in six series:

Series 1: Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr.

Series 2: Mariette (Nichols) van Steenwyk

Series 3: Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr.

Series 4: Grace (Pettingill) Hogan van Steenwyk

Series 5: Ella May (van Steenwky) Cassels

Series 6: Miscellaneous Records

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 1998 October

800 Main St.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601
(608) 789-7136

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

Donated by Grace van Steenwyk estate, La Crosse, WI.

(Accession no. x.007)

Processing Information

Processed by Amy Groskopf, October 1984; Refoldered and reboxed by Jaime Dechant; register rewritten by Anita Taylor Doering, October 1998

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Related Materials

Related Materials

(MSS 011)
 Family & Children's Center Records

Separated Materials

Photographs from this collection were numerous and have been donated to the Special Collections Department at Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Photographs include many portraits and several photographs of Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr.'s days at Yale University.

Duplicates of some of these photographs are present in this collection (MSS G).

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Batavian National Bank (La Crosse, Wis.).
  • La Crosse Boot & Shoe Manufacturing Company.
  • La Crosse Home for Friendless Women and Children (La Crosse, Wis.).
  • La Crosse Rubber Mills Co. (La Crosse, Wis.).

Family Name(s)

  • Pettingill family
  • Van Steenwyk family

Geographic Name(s)

  • La Crosse (Wis.)--Politics and government
  • Wisconsin--Politics and government

Personal Name(s)

  • Cassels, Ella May van Steenwyk
  • Van Steenwyk, Grace Pettingill Hogan, 1879-1978
  • Van Steenwyk, Gysbert, 1814-1902
  • Van Steenwyk, Gysbert, ca. 1876-1967
  • Van Steenwyk, Mariette Nichols, 1848-1930
  • Washburn, C. C., (Cadwallader Colden), 1818-1882


  • Bankers--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Banks and banking--Wisconsin--La Crosse--History
  • Industries--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Mayors--Wisconsin--La Crosse

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OCLC Number


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Collection Inventory

 (Series 1) Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr. 

Scope and Contents

The Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr. Materials contain correspondence, financial records, C.C. Washburn estate, organizations, and legal documents. The correspondence includes business as well as personal correspondence particularly from van Steenwyk's nephew Ernest F. C. Klokke. The business correspondence dates from 1863-1902 and includes letters to and from van Steenwyk. Among the people with whom van Steenwyk corresponded are U. S. Congressman Jeremiah M. Rusk and Wisconsin governors Edward Salomon and Cadwallader C. Washburn. Much of the correspondence from the three men mentioned deals with the construction of a railroad bridge at La Crosse.

The financial records of Gysbert van Steenwyk, Sr. date from 1850-1903, the year of the final distribution of his estate. With the exception of a list of Batavian Bank depositors and La Crosse Lumber Co. tax book, the records document his personal finances, including land purchases and stocks, bonds, and rental property records.

A third group of records relate to van Steenwyk's role as one of the executors of the Cadwallader Colden Washburn estate. C. C. Washburn was a Civil War general, governor of Wisconsin, lumber baron, and industrialist. The materials consist of correspondence, including some letters from Washburn's daughter, Jeanette (Washburn) Kelsey; financial records, including a general inventory of the estate and a summary of its assets; and legal documents produced in the course of settling the estate, especially relating to provisions made for Washburn's invalid wife, Jeanette.

Financial records of organizations in which van Steenwyk, Sr. was active make up another series. They consist of a treasurer's book from the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, and a cash book and ledger from the La Crosse Theater Co. A collection of legal documents, including van Steenwyk's commissions as Dutch Consul for Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, and warranty deeds make up a fifth series.

Finally, there are a number of miscellaneous items such as an 1841 journal written in Dutch with the translated title, "Writings About Diverse Subjects in Alphabetical Order," a speech given by van Steenwyk at the end of his term as mayor (1873), and minutes of transit railroad meetings. Sadly an undated travel diary is missing from the collection having never been returned from an exhibit loan.

 (Subseries 1.1) Correspondence 


Box Folder


1 1


1 2-10


1 11

Military, 1864 

1 12

Rusk, J. M., 1874 

1 13

Salomon, Edward P., 1863-1865 

1 14

Washburn, Cadwallader C., 1867-1874 

1 15


Box Folder


2 1-3


2 4-6

Klokke, Ernst C., 1863-1870 

2 7-11

 (Subseries 1.2) Financial Records 

Box Folder

Journal, 1850-1861 

2 12


Box Folder

General, 1854-1874 

2 13-15
Box Folder Box Folder

Land, 1854-1874 

2 16 3 1
Box Folder

Tax returns, 1864 

3 2

Batavian Bank depositors, 1873 

3 2

La Crosse Lumber Company tax book, 1879-1880 

3 3

Ledger, 1890 

3 4

Stocks, bonds & rental property records 

Box Folder


3 5


3 6
Box Folder

Estate account book, 1903 

3 7

Indexes to ledgers, undated 

3 8

 (Subseries 1.3) Washburn Estate 

Box Folder

Correspondence, 1883-1886 

3 9

Kelsey, Jeannette Washburn, 1872-1874 

3 10

Financial records 

Box Folder

Bank statements, 1882-1886 

3 11-12

Stocks and bonds, 1889-1892 

3 13

General inventory, 1887 

Box Folder

Summary of assets, 1888 

4 1

Report and final account, 1889 

4 2
Box Folder

Legal documents, 1873-1885 

4 3-4

Logging contracts, 1882-1885 

4 5

 (Subseries 1.4) Organizations 

Box Folder

Brotherhood of St. Andrew Treasurer's book, 1900-1902 

4 6

La Crosse Theater Company 

Box Folder

Cash book, 1889-1904 

4 7

Ledger, 1889-1904 

4 8

 (Subseries 1.5) Legal documents 

Box Folder Oversize Folder

Commissions from Dutch government, 1867-1868 

4 9 13 1

Warranty deeds, 1855-1884 

5 1 13 2

 (Subseries 1.6) Miscellaneous 

Box Folder

Writings About Diverse Subjects in Alphabetical Order lesson book, 1841 

5 2


5 3

Speech, 1873 

5 4

Transit railroad meeting minutes, 1873 

5 5

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 (Series 2) Mariette (Nichols) van Steenwyk 

Scope and Contents

The Mariette (Nichols) van Steenwyk series contain genealogy, correspondence, financial records, and records of the Home for the Friendless. The genealogy materials trace Mariette van Steenwyk's ancestors back to the Revolutionary War. The primary families involved are Averill, Nichols, and Whittlesey. There are also materials that relate specifically to Matilda Averill Nichols, Mariette van Steenwyk's mother, and to Chester Averill. The correspondence is almost entirely personal in nature. It consists of letters between Mariette's parents, Mathilda and David P. Nichols, and from other relatives, especially her brother Starr Nichols. There are two letters dated 1873 from the U.S. Ambassador to Russia that tell of his experience in being presented to the Russian Court. The correspondence dates from 1825-1927 and is in chronological order.

Mariette van Steenwyk's financial records date from 1902, after the death of her husband. They include a record of investments made from 1903-1905, records of another estate of which Mariette was a beneficiary (1906), and income tax records and returns from 1905-1926, with gaps. Materials from the Home for the Friendless are a treasurer's book from 1900-1907, and bills, receipts, and cancelled checks dated 1907-1909. Two miscellaneous items, a mission organization dues book (1896-1898) and an undated address book complete the materials pertaining to Mariette van Steenwyk.


Box Folder

Averill, Nichols and Whittlesey families 

5 7

Averill, Chester 

5 8-9

Averill, Matilda, 1838 

7 10


Box Folder


5 11-18


6 1-3

Financial records 

Box Folder

Investments, 1903-1905 

6 4

Benedict estate, 1906 

6 5
Oversize Folder Box Folder

Income tax records 1905, 1921-1927 

13 3 6 6

Home for the Friendless 

Box Folder

Treasurer's book, 1894-1907 

6 7

Bills and receipts, 1902-1909 

6 8

Cancelled checks, 1907-1909 

6 9-10
Box Folder

Church mission organization dues book, 1896-1898 

6 11

Address book, undated 

6 12

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 (Series 3) Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr. 

Scope and Contents

The Gysbert van Steenwyk, Jr. series relates almost entirely to his many business interests, in the form of correspondence; education; business interests; financial records; and miscellaneous. Correspondence has been divided into business correspondence, dating from 1909-1958, and personal correspondence, from 1895-1925. Personal correspondence consists mainly of letters from his mother Mariette van Steenwyk and from his college friends. The education subseries consists exclusively of class notes taken during 1893-1897 when he was attending Yale University. The subseries titled business interests contains financial records of the La Crosse Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Co. (1899-1925), balance sheets of the La Crosse Rubber Mills (1905-1929), and miscellaneous reports from other local and national companies from the era. Van Steenwyk's financial records include bank account records and a ledger from 1902-1905, income tax records (1915-1929), property tax records (1905-1930), and a record of his employees' wages and social security tax withheld from 1951-1962.


Box Folder

Business, 1909-1958 

7 1-8

Personal, 1895-1925 

7 9-12
Box Box Folder Box

Class notes, 1893-1897 

8 7 13-16 9

Business interests 

Box Folder

La Crosse Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Company 

10 1-2
Box Folder Oversize Folder

La Crosse Rubber Mills, 1905-1911 

10 3 13 4
Box Folder

Miscellaneous company reports 

10 4-5

Financial records 

Box Folder

Bank accounts, 1902-1905 

10 6

Ledger, 1902-1905 

10 7
Oversize Folder Box Folder

Income tax records, 1915-1929 

13 5 11 1
Box Folder

Property tax records, 1905-1930 

11 2-3

Record of employee wages and social security taxes, 1951-1962 

11 4
Box Folder


11 5


11 6

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 (Series 4) Grace (Pettingill) Hogan van Steenwyk 

Scope and Contents

The majority of the Grace (Pettingill) Hogan van Steenwyk series consists of a correspondence file that dates from 1922-1972. The letters are almost entirely personal. The bulk of the correspondence dates from 1922-1925, and consists of letters from her first husband, James C. Hogan. Included with them are letters and segments of letters by Grace in response which may have been drafts of her letters.

Other materials relating to Grace van Steenwyk include two account books dating from June-November 1916, and from 1949-1951; an undated address book, and two brief diaries, one dated 1918 and the other kept from Jan. 1-Feb. 10, 1923. Also available are Pettingill Family records (1802-1947) that were photocopied from the family Bible.

Correspondence, 1922-1972 


Account book, 1916, 1949-1951 

11 12-13

Address book, undated 

11 14


Box Folder


12 1

 1923 January-February 

12 2
Box Folder

Pettingill family records 

12 3
Oversize Folder

Hogan, James C. death certificate, 1925 

13 6
Box Folder


12 4

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 (Series 5) Ella May (van Steenwyk) Cassels 

Scope and Contents

The papers available that pertain to Ella May (van Steenwyk) Cassels are very limited and include brief correspondence from 1895; two cashbooks (1902-1903; 1903-1904); and a ledger from 1902-1903.

Box Folder

Correspondence, 1895 

12 5

Financial records 

Box Folder

Cashbook, 1902-1903 

12 6

Cashbook, 1903-1904 

Box Folder

Ledger, 1902-1903 

12 7

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 (Series 6) Miscellaneous Records 

Oversize Folder

Oversize materials 

13 7
Box Folder

Cookbook, undated 

12 8

Family portrait, undated 

12 9

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