The Kool Kas, a treasure at the Historical Society of Rockland County

The Historical Society of Rockland County owns and operates the historic Jacob Blauvelt House (on the National Register of Historic Places).  Inside this 1832 farmhouse are furniture and furnishings from the lower Hudson Valley that are treasures.  One such treasure is the KOOL KAS.  

A Kas is a massive wood Dutch cupboard or wardrobe, used for storing clothes and linen, often divided into several stackable parts, with two front doors; developed in 17th-century Holland, it was popular throughout the Low Countries, Germany and in American colonies with settlers from those areas, New York and New Jersey for example; originally containing shelves and drawers, it later developed hanging space for clothes, especially in American versions.

This particular Kas was acquired by the HSRC through the generosity of Mr. Leland R. Meyer’s heir, Lorraine (Mrs. Nelson) Loomis.  The handwritten genealogy of the kas, attached to the inside of the left door, has been noted below. The kas, of red gum, is, according to Mr. Stanley Jameson, William and Mary, c. 1700-1720.

History of the Kool Kas

The kas is believed to have been constructed some time between 1705 and 1715 for Jacob Jacobsen Kool, while living in or near Tappan. Jacob was baptized in New York City on Jan. 1, 1673. He married Barbara Hanse (Janse; Hansen) about 1694. They were received in the membership of the Tappan Church on Oct. 23, 1695. Jacob died shortly before Nov.  23, 1719. They had six children. The kas was inherited by their youngest child, Abraham Kool, baptized Nov. 2, 1707, recorded at Hackensack. He married Annetje Meyer, daughter of Ide Meyer and Geertmyt VanDalsen. Annetje was born at Tappan Nov. 18, 1711. They were members of the Tappan Church, having been received on Dec. 26, 1737.

The kas then went to Isaac Cole, born at Tappan Jan. 21, 1741. He married Catharine Serven on Oct. l5, 1764. She was born at Tappan Aug. 28, 1747. They lived near what is now New City. He was a miller. About 1794 they removed to Broadalbin, now in Fulton County, where he died on Oct. 21, 1800. There were 15 children. The younger children went with them to Broadalbin but several of the older ones remained in what is now Rockland County.

The kas remained in Rockland County and went to their sixth child, Anna, born Apr. 6, 1774. The baptism is recorded in the Clarkstown records under the date of Apr. 18, 1774 and her name is given as Annetje. She married (recorded in the Tappan records) June 22, 1791 Barent Forshee. He was born Apr. 15, 1768. They lived at Warwick, Orange County and the kas went with them. She belonged to the Old School Baptist Church there. Mr. Forshee died Apr. 21, 1843 and is buried at Monroe. They had eleven children.

The kas went to their fifth child, Isaac Forshee, who was born Apr. 1, 1798. He married on Sept. 9, 1819 Charlotte Decker. They lived in the vicinity of Warwick and Monroe. He died June 10, 1844. She died Sept. 24, 1864. They had eleven children.

The kas went to their second child, James  Wilkes  Forshee, whose birth is recorded at Monroe as of Apr. 8, 1822. He married Aug. 1, 1843 Mary E. Loomis. She was born July 1, 1822 and died Dec. 25, 1852. They had four children. The family moved to Unadilla, Mich. All four children were born in Michigan. Two married in Michigan and remained there; the other two married and returned to New York State.

The kas was eventually acquired by the third child, Emeline Forshee, who was born at Unadilla on July 22, 1849. On Jan. 3, 1871 she married Walter 0. Beebe, who was born at Belmont, Alleghany County, N.Y., Feb. 2, 1839. They lived at Belmont and the kas was moved there after 1852.

 Their oldest child, born at Bellmont Aug. 9, 1872 was Myrtle Eulella Beebe. She married in 1894 Jonathan Putnam. They lived on 13th Street, Olean, Cattaraugus County. In 1928 Mrs. Putnam sold the kas to E. W. West of West Ave., Canandaigua. Mr. West was an antique dealer and kept the kas in storage, bringing it out occasionally for display. During the winter of 1960-61 it was exhibited by the Garden Club of Rochester. The club borrowed furniture and artifacts to recreate a Hudson Valley parlor of the 18th Century. When the kas was returned to Mr. West he had it in his show, where Leland R. Meyer purchased it in Aug. 1961.

HSRC, South of the Mountains, Vol. 21; No. 4 (October - December 1977)