Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

John E. Van Etten

(1830- )
New York

--Kingston lawyer and poet; in the active practice of law for forty-eight years

[source: The Kingston Daily Freeman (New York), March 14, 1925, p. 6][The claim that Van Etten was a poet is set forth by Augustus H. Van Buren, in the Kingston Daily Freeman article, and that Van Etten had a sign at his house that said: "John E. Van Etten Lawyer and Poet"]

"JOHN E. VAN ETTEN, one of the prominent members of the Ulster County bar, was born April 2, 1830, in that part of the township of Kingston, Ulster Co., N.Y., which was, in the fall of 1879, annexed to the township of Woodstock. He is the second son of John Aaron and Rebecca Van Etten. On his father's side the family belongs to Knickerbocker stock; and came originally from Holland; on his mother's side, from Scotland.

. . . .

His education (except a year subsequently devoted to Latin and Greek) was completed in 1850, at Albany, under the distinguished author and professor of mathematics, George R. Perkins. Mr. Van Etten subsequently commenced the study of law in the office of Erastus Cooke, in the city of Kingston, and in 1856 was admitted to the bar of the State. Eleven years afterwards he was admitted to the bar of the United States.

In 1858, Mr. Van Etten married Adelaide, a daughter of Edward Green, a relative of Maj.-Gen Green, of Revolutionary fame.

The issue of this marriage are one daughter, Jessie, and two sons, John and Laurie.

Mr. Van Etten is devoted to his profession. Having a large and lucrative practice, he has had no time or inclination to engage in any business enterprises outside of his profession; nor has it been necessary for him to do so. The strifes for office have always been distasteful to him, and therefore he has uniformly declined political preferment.

During the civil war he supported the Union cause; voted for Abraham Lincoln twice, and voluntarily sent a substitute to the army. Since the close of the war he has acted with the Democratic party, because of the centralizing and wealth-monopolizing tendencies of the Republican party.

Mr. Van Etten was a warm friend of the late Hon. William H. Seward, and Mr. Seward, while Secretary of State under Lincoln, reciprocated this friendship by presenting Mr. Van Etten with an Arabian stallion of pure blood, imported direct from Arabia.

In 1872, Mr. Van Etten went to Europe on professional business, and after his professional engagements were ended traveled extensively, visiting many of the capitals, cities, and places of note in those countries.

He is a man of culture, and of extensive reading and information. As a lawyer he ranks high, and has been successfully employed in many difficult and intricate causes." [History of Ulster County, New York: with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers 116-117 (Philadelphia: Everts & Pec, 1880)(Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press, 1977)]