Gravesend Characters Past: Richard Lawrence Van Kleek (1839-1896)

Continuing the challenge posed by my fellow members of the Society for One-Place Studies that we blog about 52 residents of our respective places in as many weeks, I turn my attention to Richard Lawrence Van Kleek with this excerpt from The Eagle and Brooklyn: The Record of the Progress of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Issued in Commemoration of its Semi-Centennial and Occupancy of its New Building; Together With the History of the City of Brooklyn From its Settlement to the Present Time, edited by Henry W. B. Howard (Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1893), vol. 2, page 1147:


Dr. Richard Lawrence Van Kleek (1839-1896)

Dr. R. L. VAN KLEEK, the present medical officer to the Gravesend board of health, has held that position ever since that body was organized in 1880. Dr. Van Kleek was born at Berne, Albany County, N.Y., on March 21, 1839, but when he was four years old his father and mother removed to Flatbush. There he became a pupil in the famous Erasmus Hall Academy. In September, 1855, he entered the New York University and was graduated in June, 1858; he was made Master of Arts in 1861. He began his medical studies at the New York University in 1859, and was graduated in 1862. The following twelve months he spent on the staff of the Kings County Hospital. Dr. Van Kleek left the hospital in August, 1863, and settled at Gravesend, where he began private practice as a physician and surgeon. From 1869 until 1889 Dr. Van Kleek was postmaster of Gravesend, and from 1889 until the present time has been physician to the Health Home at Coney Island.


A piece of Dr. Van Kleek’s stationery. [Collection of Joseph Ditta]

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Ditta (


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