Family Tree Tuesday – Herman Melville
Author Herman Melville is perhaps best known for his novel, Moby-Dick. Although he achieved some notoriety during his lifetime, Melville’s fame had waned by the time of his death. It was not until after his death that Melville’s work was recognized once again and today, Moby-Dick is considered one of the greatest master pieces of American literature.
Melville came from a well-to-do family, with roots that date back to the early history of the United States. He was born on August 1, 1819 in New York to Maria Gansevoort and Allan Melville. His father was a successful merchant and importer of French goods.
Melville’s maternal grandfather, Peter Gansevoort, was a colonel for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He is best remembered in history for leading the resistance at the Siege of Fort Stanwix in 1777. His family roots in Albany, New York date back to the 17th century when it was still a Dutch colony. In fact, Melville’s fourth great grandfather Jeremias van Rensselaer, the third director of Rensselaerwyck, a patroonship in the Dutch Colony, was the head of the family’s extensive holdings in America.
Other’s in Melville’s family also followed suit into the military. His first cousin, Guert Gansevoort, had a long military career as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War.
In 1847, Melville married Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter Lemuel Shaw, who served as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court and for several years as senator. Together, Elizabeth and Herman had four children.
Check out Herman Melville’s family tree on Geni and see how you’re related!