Hendrick "Old Henry" Francisco

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Henry (Hendrick) Francisco

Also Known As: "Old Henry", "Hendrick "Old Henry" Francisco"
Birthplace: of, France
Death: Died in Salem, NY, USA
Cause of death: Believed to be malaria
Place of Burial: Whitehall, Washington, New York, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of John Francisco Fransoy and Grietje Fransoy (Buijs)
Husband of Leventje Francisco (Vandercook) and Ruth Francisco
Father of Michael Francosco; Johannis Hendricks (John Henry) Francisco; Sara Francosco; Abraham Francosco; Barnet Francosco and 13 others
Brother of Peter Francisco

Occupation: Soldier, farmer, weaver
Managed by: Scott C. Rich
Last Updated:

About Hendrick "Old Henry" Francisco

His father fled France to Holland in 1681 in the latter part of Louis XIV's reign, during the persecution of the Huguenots. There he married a Dutch woman in Amsterdam. He then returned to France, where Henry was born.

In the winter of 1691, the family fled back to Holland, and then to England.

Henry was present, and was a drummer, at Queen Anne's Coronation in 1702.

He fought in Queen Anne's Wars, where he fought in numerous battles and was wounded many times. He served under the Duke of Marlborough at the battles of Blenheim and Ramillies.

He came to New York early in the 18th century with his father.

Henry fought in the French and Indian War at Niagara and Oswego, and on the Ohio during Braddock's defeat in 1755, where he was wounded.

He kept a tavern at Fort Edward, New York until the Tories burned his house, barn, and 400 barrels of grain in 1777.

At the age of 91, he served in Colonel Phillip Van Cortlandt's 2nd Regt, New York Line, Albany County Militia during the Revolutionary War. He served as a soldier during 1777-1778 and was captured and taken to Quebec. Henry was the oldest man to enlist in the American Revolution.

In the Granville section of the History of Washington County: "Andrew Wilson, of North Granville, relates that he saw Henry Francisco, the centenarian, plowing when he was from one hundred and ten to one hundred and fifteen years of age; two yoke of oxen driving, a boy holding a plow. At North Granville the presses taken from a very old cidermill are still in use by J.H. Kincaid."

When he was interviewed by Professor Sillman in the autumn of 1819, Henry lived two miles from Whitehall, New York, on the Salem road to Albany.

He had two wives and 21 children.

Active all of his life. However, he drank heavily when he was younger. When he was older, he ate little and abstained almost entirely from animal food (favorite foods being tea, bread and butter, and baked apples- which he ate three times a day whenever possible).

In 1818, he was placed on the pension roll for his services as a soldier during 1777-1778.

Henry died after an illness of 44 days brought on by an attack of fever and ague (fever, chills of malaria). When he died, he is alleged to have grandchildren older than his youngest child.


The following is taken from the 3rd volume of the Western Review, published in Lexington, Kentucky, by William Gibbs Hunt, in 1821, and is an abstract from remarks made on a short tour between Hartford and Quebec in the Autumn of 1819, by the author, Professor Sillman, of a journal of travels in England, Holland, and Scotland. New Haven printed and published by S. Converse, 1820, Pp. 407, 12 mo.

-- Sillman -- The old man of the age of Louis XIV, whom Mr. Sillman interviewed, has very recently died on October 25, 1820. The longevity is so remarkable and the circumstances so striking that we shall be excused for copying the statement of our author:

Two miles from Whitehall, on the Salem road to Albany, lives Henry Francisco, a native of France and of a place which he pronounced Essex, but doubtless not the orthography, and the place was probably some obscure village which may not be noticed in maps and gazetteers.

Having a few hours to spare before the departure of the steamboat for St. John's, Canada, we rode out to see probably the oldest man in America.

He believes himself to be 134 years old, and the country around believe him to be of this great age. When we arrived at his Residence, a plain farmer's house, not painted, rather out of repair and much open to the wind, he was upstairs at his daily work of spooling and winding yarn.

This occupation is auxiliary to that of his wife who is a weaver, and although more than 80 years old, she weaves six yards a day, and the old man can supply her with more yarn than she can weave.

Supposing he must be very feeble, we offered to go upstairs to him, but he soon came down, walking somewhat stooped, and supported by a staff, but with less apparent inconvenience than most persons exhibit at 85 or 90.

His stature is of middle size, and though he is rather delicate and slender, he stoops but little even when unsupported.

His complexion is very fair and delicate, and his expression bright, cheerful, and intelligent; his features are handsome, and considering that they have endured through 1 1/3 part of a century, they are regular, comely, and wonderfully un-disfigured by the hand of time, his eyes are of a lively hue, his profile is Grecian and very fine, his head is completely covered with the most beautiful and delicate white locks imaginable - they are so long and abundant from the crown of his head, parting regularly from a central point, and reaching down to his shoulders.

His hair is perfectly snow white except where it is thick on his neck; when parted there shows some few dark shades, the remnants of a former century.

He still retains the front teeth of his upper jaw; his mouth is not fullen in like that of old people generally, and his lips, particularly are like those of middle life, his voice in a strong and sweet toned manner speaks, although a little tremulous, his hearing is very little impaired, so that a voice of usual strength, with distinct articulation, enables him to understand.

His eyesight is sufficient for his work, and he distinguishes large print, such as the title page of the Bible, without glasses. His health is good and has always been so; except that he has now a cough and expectoration. He informed us that his Father, driven out of France by religious persecution of the French Protestants or Huguenots in the latter part of the reign of Louis XIV, fled to Amsterdam. At Amsterdam his Father married his Mother, a Dutch Woman, five years before he was born, and before that event, returned with her to France.

When he was 5 years old, his Father again fled on account of de religion, as he expressed it, for his language although very intelligible English is marked by French peculiarities. He says he well remembers their flight, and that it was in the winter, for he recollects that as they were descending a little hill that was covered with snow, he cried out to this Father, O Fader, do go back and get my little earicle (sled).

From these dates we are able to fix the time of his birth, provided he is current in the main fact, for he says he was present at Queen Anne's Coronation, and was then 16 years old, the 2lst/3lst of May, Old Style.

His Father, as he asserts, after his return from Holland, had again been driven from France, by persecution, and the second time took refuge in Holland, and afterwards in England, where he resided with his Family.

At the time of the Coronation of Queen Anne in 1702, this shows Henry Francisco to have been born in 1686, to have been expelled from France in 1691, and therefore to have completed his 133rd year on the 11th day of June, 1819. Of course he is more than three months advanced in his 134th year.

It is notorious that about this time multitudes of French Protestants fled on account of the persecutions of Louis XIV, resulting from the revocation of the Edict of Hantes, which occurred on October 12, 1685, and notwithstanding the guards upon the frontiers and their methods of precaution or rigor to prevent emigration, it is well known that for years multitudes continued to make their escape, and that Louis lost 600,000 of his best and most useful subjects.

I asked Francisco if he saw Queen Anne crowned. He replied with great animation, and with an elevated voice, 'Ah, dat I did, and a fine looking woman she was, too, an any dat you will see now a days.' He said he fought in all Queen Anne's Wars, and was at many battles, and under many commanders, but his memory fails and he cannot remember their names, except the Duke of Marlborough, who was one of them. He has been much cut up by wounds, which he showed us, but cannot always give a very distinct account of his warfare.

He came out with his Father from England to New York, probably early in the last century, but cannot remember the date. He said, pathetically, when pressed for accounts of his military experience, 'O , I was in all Queen Anne's Wars, I was at Niagara, at Ostego, on the Ohio (in Braddock's defeat in 1755, where he was wounded,) I was carried prisoner to Quebec (in the Revolutionary War when he must have been 90 years old), I fight in all sorts of wars, all my life; I see dreadful trouble, and den I have thought our friends, turned Tories, and de British too, and fight ourselves. 0, dat was de worst of all. ' He here became much afflicted and almost too full for utterance. It seems that during the Revolutionary War he kept a tavern at Fort Edward, and he lamented in a very animated manner, that the Tories burnt his house and barn, 400 barrels of grain, that his wife said, was the same year Miss M'Crea was murdered.

He has had 2 wives, 21 children; the youngest child is the daughter in whose house he now lives, and she is 52 years old.

Of course he was 82 years old when she was born. They suppose several of the older children are still living at a very advanced age, beyond the Ohio, but they have not heard from them in several years.

The family were neighbors of Miss M'Crea, and were acquainted with the circumstances of her tragical death. They said the lover, Mr. Jones, vowed vengeance against the Indians, but on account of the cost, wisely gave it up.

Henry Francisco has been active all his life, energetic, although not a stout framed man. He was formerly fond of spirits and did, for a certain period, drink more than was proper, but that habit appears to have been long abandoned. In other respects he has been remarkably abstentious, eating but little and particularly abstaining almost entirely from animal food. His favorite articles being tea, bread, butter, and baked apples. His wife said that after such a breakfast, he would go out and work till Noon, and dine upon the same if he could get it, and then take the same at night, and particularly that he always drunk tea whenever he could obtain it, three cups at a time, three times a day.

The old man manifests a great deal of feeling, and even of tenderness, which increased as we treated him with respect and kindness. He often sheds tears, and particularly when, on coming away, we gave him money, he looked up to heaven and fervently thanked God, but did not thank us.

He however pressed our hands warmly, wept, and wished us every blessing, and expressed something serious with respect to our meeting in another world.

He appears to have religious impressions on his mind, notwithstanding his pretty frequent explanations, when animated, of 'Good God' 'Oh My God' which appeared, however, not to be used in levity, and were probably acquired in childhood from the almost colloquial 'Mon Dieu', etc., of the French. The oldest people in the vicinity remember Francisco as being always, from their earliest recollection, much older than themselves, and a Mr. Fuller, who recently died here between 80 and 90 years of age, thought Francisco was 140 years of age.

On the whole, although the evidence rests in a degree on his own credibility, still as many things corroborate it, and as his character appears remarkably sincere, guileless, and affectionate, I am inclined to believe that he is as old as he is stated to be.

He is really a most remarkable and interesting old man. There is nothing, either in his person or dress of the negligence or squalliness of extreme old age, especially when not in elevated circumstances. On the contrary, he is agreeable and attractive, and was he dressed in a superior manner, and placed in a handsome and well-furnished apartment, he would be a most beautiful old man.

Little could I have expected to converse and shake hands with a man who has been a soldier in most of the wars of this country, for 100 years, who, more than a century ago, fought under Duke Marlborough, in the wars of Queen Anne, and who (already grown to manhood) saw her crowned 117 years since.

Who, 128 years ago, and in the century before last, was driven from France by the proud, magnificent and intolerant Louis XIV, and who has lived a 44th part of all the time that the human race has occupied this globe.

What an interview! It is like seeing one back from the dead to relate the events of centuries now swallowed up in the abyss of time.

Except his cough, which they told us had not been of long standing, we saw nothing in Francisco's appearance that might indicate a speedy dissolution, and he seemed to have sufficient mental and bodily powers for years yet to come.


This might be a story of Old Henry - in the History of Early American Settlers and Prominent Descendants, tells of Hendrick Francisco of New Jersey and New York who built his ancestral home in Horseneck, New Jersey, on land purchased from the Indians. The family of Hendrick Franser and Leventie Cook left Horseneck prior to the Revolution, and settled at Pittstown in Albany County, New York, around 1700. They were the first Franciscos in the New York area. John and several of his brothers served in the Albany County Militia during the Revolution.


From materials on file at the Library in Whitehall, New York: "Henry Francisco fought the battle of Saratoga at the age of 91 years. After the campaign, Henry came to Whitehall and lived somewhere on the Comstock Road, south of present incorporation, by Sucker Brook, near the Blinn farmland. From there, he went to the Jackson Farm, on the Granville Road, on the South side of East Creek, or now the Metteeowe River. Lived with daughter Ruth Willson on this farm that included the land of the Allen and Foote Farms."


In the Granville section of the History of Washington County: "Andrew Wilson, of North Granville, relates that he saw Henry Francisco, the centenarian, plowing when he was from one hundred and ten to one hundred and fifteen years of age; two yoke of oxen driving, a boy holding a plow. At North Granville the presses taken from a very old cidermill are still in use by J.H. Kincaid."


From the Family Files of Denise Oberlies:

"Old Henry" of Whitehall is the first Francisco of record in Washington Co, N.Y. Where he lived prior to settling at Whitehall is not known, but he was there for several years prior to the American Revolution. In his interview of 1819, he told Professor Sillman that he was born in France, but that he lived in England as a boy, whither his father had fled following the Edict of Nantes. He was at the coronation of Queen Anne, and fought in the European wars under the Duke of Marlborough. He came to this Country with his father, landing in New York in the early part of the 18th century. He fought with the British against the French at Oswegom and against the Indians at Fort Duquesne, where he saw Braddock's choice troops ambushed and massacred, and where he himself was wounded. He fought with the patriots during the Revolution, was captured and carried off with other prisoner patriots to Quebec. He died at Whitehall 10 October, 1820.

Old Henry was married twice and was reputed to the be father of 21 children. In the census of 1790 Henry's name was spelled as "Sisco" as indeed are several others of the New York family.

In 1876 Dr. George F. Horton published his "Chronicles of the Descendants of Barnabas Horton Of Southold, L.I., 1640. Therein is contained the family record of one Mary Emily, daughter of Erastus Horton, who married at Fort Atkinson, Wisc., on 5 January 1835, "Henry Francisco, sone of John Francisco, who came from France" (Literary illusion this Henry was son of Michael, who was a son of Levi, who was a son of John Francisco who was born at Horseneck, N. J. in 1724. Henry told his wife, who wrote to her son "...three brothers came as Huguenots to America from France, at the time of the Edict of Nantes" Which in someway supports the above. Also in the handwriting of another of their children is found a somewhat more specific statement : "We are descendants of Peter the Great, who held the plough on training day and ploughed the streets of Whitehall, New York State, at the age of 112 Years. Lived to the 116 years. There were three brothers that come from France, Peter, Michael and James Francisco".

As shown by matter of record, this is plainly a garbling of tradition. Peter the Great can surely be none other than the Virginia Giant. And he probably never heard of either Whitehall, N.Y. or "Old Henry" who, tradition says, visited an agricultural fair at Albany when over 100 years of age, and showed the young upstarts there how to handle a plow"

This information comes from Ben F. Dixon, 3711 47th st., San Deigo, CA and is dated 3/223/36. He sites the late Mrs. W.S Kyes of San Diego, formerly of Parker, S.D., and descendant of Abraham Francisco and Mrs. Lola Ashcraft of Thayer, Kansas, a descendant of Richard Francisco. The work they had hoped to publish was prevented by the untimely death in 1929 of Mrs. Kyes. U.S. Army Records list him a Revolutionary War private in the Company of Captain Jeremih Burroughs, Colonel Seth Warner's regiment, Continental Troops, ( very probably the New Hampshire Line - these were the "Green Mountain Boys") January 15th 1777 to April 20 1778, when he was "discharged by Doctor Washburn. His pension certificate number 5413 issued 1819 gave him $8 per month from 15 April 1818 under the act of 18 March 1818. The first published information concerning this aged veteran appeared in a book "Remarks on a short Tour between Hartford and Quebec in the Autumn of 1819" by Professor Benjamin Sillman, printed in New Haven, Conn. in 1824 by S. Converse. He writes he lived in a plain, unpainted farm house, out of repair and somewhat open to the wind. Here he spent his days spooling and winding yarn for his wife, a woman more than 80 years of age, who was active enough to weave about 6 yards of cloth a day. He was of medium height, slender and fragile, in 1819. His complexion was fair and his expression bright, his face "untransfigured by the hand of time and his profile Grecian." Long white hair fell to his shoulders and the lower part of his face was firm since he had retained many of his upper teeth. His voice was strong, his hearing good and his eyesight permitted him to carry on the work he did for his wife. He did not recall vividly all the events of his turbulent life in Europe but on major points was clear and definite. He said his father had fled France twice to escape persecutions of the Huguenots under Louis XIV. He went first to Amsterdam where he met and married a Dutch Woman. (Her name was not mentioned) months later they returned to France, where Henry was born. A 2nd flight took them to Amsterdam and then England, in winter when Henry was a small boy. As they left Henry called out "O fader, do go back and get my little cariole (sled or sleigh). In 1702, at Queen Anne's coronation he was 16 years old (old style). He served in Anne's War under many commanders, was most impressed with Marlborough. He served him in 1702/4 as a drummer at the battle of Blenheim. At the time of his pension application he was living with daughter and her husband Robert Willson in Whitehall. (Info from "National Republic" Vol XLV April 1958 No. 12 - Provided by Joanne Long.)

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Hendrick "Old Henry" Francisco's Timeline

May 31, 1686
Age 36
[object Object], NJ, USA
September 7, 1724
Age 38
Essex, Essex, NJ, USA
September 7, 1724
Age 38
Age 42
Age 44
Belleville, Essex, NJ, USA
Age 46
Belleville, Essex, NJ, USA
Age 48
Belleville, Essex, NJ, USA
Age 50
Age 52
Albany, Albany, NY, USA