I have volunteered for AFS Intercultural Programs (www.afsusa.org) for a number of years. They are headquartered in New York City. A few years ago they moved into new offices at 120 Wall Street, a building at the far eastern end of Wall Street. As they are on the 3rd and 4th floors, they are just high enough to see across the FDR Expressway and have a magnificent view of the East River and Brooklyn on the other side. With the Brooklyn Bridge just a few blocks to the north, the part of Brooklyn that they can see is called Brooklyn Heights. With many of the buildings at the edge of the river being older much shorter brownstone houses, a very prominent building that is quite visible is One Pierrepont Plaza which is easily distinguishable due to the triangular-shaped white portion at the top (see http://www.emporis.com/images/show/668745-Large-top-view-from-the-west.jpg for a good picture of it). At 20 stories it is easily recognizable.
In April of 2015, Hillary Clinton chose One Pierrepont Plaza as her campaign headquarters. It occupies two full floors of that building. The name of the building prompted me to do some investigation into the name Pierrepont as my mother’s maiden name is Pierpont and Pierrepont is the original French spelling of the name. Here is what I found.
The Pierrepont family began in France about 980. A branch of it went to England in 1066 as part of William the Conqueror’s army. In 1640 one of the Pierreponts came to the “New World” as part of the Puritan migration and settled outside of Boston. It was there that they anglicized their name to Pierpont. James Pierpont (1659-1714) was born in Roxbury MA, was educated at Roxbury Latin School, then Harvard, and moved to New Haven CT in 1684 where as the pastor of the 1st Congregational Church he was one of the founders of Yale University (then the Collegiate School) in 1701. James Pierpont is my great*7 grandfather.
James’ youngest son (he had 9 children) was Hezekiah Pierpont (1712-1805). One of Hezekiah’s grandsons, also named Hezekiah (1768-1838) was born in New Haven (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezekiah_Pierrepont). Hezekiah (the younger) is my 2nd cousin, six times removed. This story is primarily about him.
Hezekiah moved to New York City (i.e. Manhattan) in 1790 and then in 1801 moved across the river to the farming area which later became known as Brooklyn. Sometime in this period he also decided to begin using the French spelling of his last name. In 1802, he married Anna Marie Constable. In 1814 she/they inherited 150,000 acres in upstate NY from Anna’s father. As a now wealthy landowner, Henry had purchased about 60 acres in Brooklyn Heights. Recognizing the need for good ferry service to New York City, Hezekiah backed the new steam ferry invention of Robert Fulton in 1814. In 1816, Hezekiah and others received a charter for the new village of Brooklyn. In 1823, Hezekiah submitted plans for developing the 60 acres that he owned becoming one of the first subdivision developers in the US. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooklyn_Heights).
While Hezekiah did not live to see the eventual outcome of his decisions, his son, Henry (1808-1888) carried on his father’s work, seeing the building of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 which had its eastern terminus right at northern end of Brooklyn Heights. In 1898, Brooklyn became part of the merger that created the current New York City as it became one of the five boroughs (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Greater_New_York).
I’ve always enjoyed exploring the intersection of geography, politics, and genealogy. Thus, it is interesting for me to have the view from the AFS office, one of the current presidential nominees, and my family history all tied together in this fashion.