Angelica, New York – Angelica, New York - Atlas Obscura
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Angelica, New York

Angelica, New York

A quaint village in Western New York named after Alexander Hamilton's beloved sister-in-law. 

By many historical accounts Angelica Schuyler, the sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton, was a witty, flirtatious, intelligent and charming woman — characteristics that enchanted many influential men at the time of the American Revolution, not least, Hamilton himself. Indeed, Angelica was so beloved by friends and family there is an entire town named after her.

Angelica, New York is a small country town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Western New York. Dotted with century-old houses and a quaint downtown, it has a very old New England feel, but in fact it was laid out by her son Philip Schuyler Church to be reminiscent of Paris, where Angelica and her family lived for a time. In old Parisian fashion the circle at the center of town breaks off into five roads forming a star shape, with five churched situated around the circle and a park in the middle.

The land, not far from the Pennsylvania border, was given to Angelica’s husband John Barker Church, a rich merchant that helped fund the Revolutionary war. After the war, the fledgling (and nearly bankrupt) U.S. government repaid Church’s debt with 100,000 acres of land in the countryside. His oldest son settled the area in 1802, naming the village after his mother.

Angelica, New York still retains much of the original look of the early 1800s village. The town hall is housed in the historic Allegany County Courthouse, one of three buildings in town listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Philip, incidentally was married to the daughter of Walter Stewart, who founded the Erie Canal. Their mansion, Belvedere, still stands near Angelica.)

Angelica was the oldest daughter of  Philip Schuyler, a Revolutionary war general and prominent New York politician. Her younger sister Elizabeth married Alexander Hamilton, and the three were extremely close — so close, rumors persist that Hamilton and Angelica’s love extended beyond friendship, though there is no evidence backing that up. Still, it’s clear the young founding father was quite smitten with his sister-in-law. 

He wasn’t alone: Angelica had a close friendship with many prominent leaders of the Revolution. Today, some of her letters to and from Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette are preserved in the Library of Congress. And for many years, the pistols from the famous duel where Hamilton was shot by Aaron Burr were kept in the town of Angelica, whose motto rightly proclaims, “A town where history lives.”

Contributed by
Meg
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