Jane Purvis

I have been keeping profiles on all of the Purvis family members fro quite some time (since I descend from a member of this family) and continue to update these regularly so am attaching what I have so far on Jane Purvis for those who may be interested. It is interesting that the postcard (1905) was sent to 235 W. 14th St. yet a newspaper article (1907) gives her address as 270 W. 14th St. I suppose she might have moved!  I'll add the postcard to her file. (I wonder who Edith was??)

Susan B. Schock


Birth:            28 May 1831            Town of Rockland, Sullivan Co NY

Death:            2 Dec 1908            New York City NY

Burial:                        Livingston Manor NY, Sullivan Co Methodist  Cemetery

Father:            Samuel Purvis (1799-1876)

Mother:            Estella/Samantha ? (1806-1870)



Notes for Jane Purvis

 Jane was instrumental in the building of the Methodist Church in Livingston Manor NY.  The land in this area of the Catskills (and where the town of Purvis once stood-now Livingston Manor) was all owned by the Livingston family. In 1820 Edward Livingston came to this area (known then as Upper Westfield) on his father’s behalf, as his agent. Edward was married to a beautiful, talented and wealthy woman ( Sarah Suchley, daughter of George Suchley who dealt in marine insurance and marine banking). In 1822 though Edward’s wife was put into a mental institution. Edward was awarded a law degree from Columbia University in 1823 and expecting his wife to recover he built a lovely summer home in Upper Westfield NY in 1824. He was said to have been a gentleman and kind and considerate of his neighbors. The census of 1850 shows Edward living in the household with Samuel Purvis and his children of which, Jane was one. (Edward was 53 and Jane 19)

It is said that Samuel (Jane’s father) was a caretaker and her mother, Samantha (also referred to as Satilla and Estella), the housekeeper for the Livingston family in Claverack NY (near Albany) and at that time Jane taught at the Washington  Seminary where the Duanes, Livingstons, Beekmans, Van Rensselaers and Schuylers were taught.  (Lord of the Waughmaughkyll by John H. Sliter  1986) Edward’s wife did not improve so she remained in the institution. Some have speculated that Jane became Edward’s mistress but there really is no proof of this.

Mr. Sliter writes: “The initiative that brought the church into existence was motivated by two individuals: Dr. Edward R. Livingston L.L.D. and Miss Jane Purvis, the school teacher barely 20 years of age. To these two, single honor should be given for the success of their original undertaking. It appears that Miss Purvis had the necessity, combined with her unusual persistence and energy to see the project completed.

Dr. Livingston had two horses, Bolivia and Romanian. Being that Jane’s father Samuel was the caretaker of the Livingston estate and her mother, Samantha, was Edward’s housekeeper, it is more than probable that Miss Purvis not only had the use of a horse to make the rounds of collecting funds but a carriage as well.

Before the summer of 1856 was over, Miss Purvis had collected double of what Edward had stipulated. How thoroughly Jane Purvis canvassed the area can be determined by an examination of the names on the subscription list. Such study shows she covered all the Township of Rockland and beyond it.” 

In her later years Jane and her sister Emmalissa lived in New York City. Some have speculated that Edward Livingston left Jane some money when he died in 1864.

The Livingston Manor Times

August 8, 1884

The Misses Purvis are spending a few weeks with friends in this vicinity. They are now living in Brooklyn where they purchased a neat dwelling and like the place very much.

It is possible that Jane and Emmalissa had come up to Livingston Manor for the September 5 1884 wedding of James Ellis and Emmalina Mott since they were listed as guests at this wedding (The story of the occasion appeared in the September 12 1884 edition of the Livingston Manor Times) It is not clear yet as to the relationship of this wedding couple to the Purvis family but many Purvis family members attended.

 A year before Jane’s death the following appeared in The Walton Reporter. January 1, 1907:

Miss Jane Purvis, formerly of Livingston Manor, is badly off with rheumatism at her home, No. 270 W. 14th Street, New York. She has been nearly helpless for the past six years.

Jane’s obituary appeared in the Roscoe and Rockland Review on Dec. 10 1908 as follows:

“Miss Jane Purvis, a former resident of this place, died last Wednesday at her home in New York City aged 77 years. The remains were brought here for services and interment. The services were held in the M. E. Church Friday evening at 7PM, her pastor Rev. Downs of New York officiating, assisted by Rev. George Mead and Rev. A. Van Oeveren. Interment in the M. E. Cemetery.

Miss Purvis was connected with the early history of the M. E. Church of this place, in obtaining subscriptions and otherwise assisting in its erection.

She was a member of the firm of H.L. Sprague and Co.

W.E. and O.P. Sprague of Roscoe and Stanley Sprague of Livingston Manor were nephews of the deceased. She leaves besides one sister with whom she resided.”

The sister that this refers to was Emmalissa Purvis who also never married. Another sister, Mary Ann Purvis, married Erastus Sprague. Mary Ann had sons Warner Erastus Sprague, Orrin Purvis Sprague and Stanley H. Sprague who were living at the time of Jane’s death. The H.L. Sprague referred to was another of her nephews (Howard Lee Sprague) and brother of the others. Howard had owned a mercantile store called H.L. Sprague but had died young leaving one child.

Jane’s other sister Satilla Purvis who had married David Knapp was also deceased at this time as were apparently all of Satilla’s children or they would have been mentioned also as her nieces and nephews.

Jane’s grave is next to her parents in the Methodist Cemetery in Livingston Manor and inscribed with the following:

2 Dec 1908 77y 6m 23d

Edward Livingston is buried in the same Methodist cemetery in Livingston Manor NY, not far from Jane and her family. A large impressive monument marks his grave. (Some say that Edward ‘s body does not actually rest here but that the monument is only a memorial to him and he is buried elsewhere)

 Land records note that on 7 January 1880 land was transferred from Jane and Emmalissa Purvis to Mary E. Oatman  (B 78 p. 312) but this also notes that on that same day Mary E. Oatman transferred this same land to Philip H. Woolsey (B 78 p. 315)




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