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Category Archives: Immigrant Stories

Abraham Pieterse Vosburgh (1620-1659) and Geertruy Pieterse Coeymans (c1632-1689)

Abraham Pieterse Vosburgh and Geertruy Pieterse Coeymans are the 9th great-grandparents of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy; and 10th great-grandparents of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Emily, Jack, Jill, Jordan, Mike and Brian.

Abraham Pieterse Vosburgh was born in Brabant, Holland, in 1620, the son of Pieter Jacobse Vosburgh. His mother’s name is unknown.

Abraham was trained as a carpenter and emigrated to New Netherland in 1649 and settled in Rensselaerswyck. Initially, he was engaged to perform renovations on the Patroon’s house. In April 1651 he leased a house and lot north of the Patroon’s house for 16 florins a year.

That same year Abraham married Geertruy Pieterse Kuijemans (AKA Coeymans), born c1632 in Utrecht and a 1639 emigrant to New Netherland with her parents, Pieter and Jannetje Kuijemans and six siblings (one of whom, Barent, went on to become the first settler of present-day Coeymans, New York, a suburb of Albany). Abraham and Geertruy had five known children: Maretje (our ancestor; born 1656), Peter, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.

In the “Oath to the Patroon taken by all the householders and free men of the Colonie, November 23, 1651,” is found the name Abraham Pietersz Vosburg. On April 15, 1652, Abraham and another man, Derrick Janssen, were appointed surveyors of buildings: they were sworn in two days later.

On March 17, 1654, a warrant was issued to the treasurer, “in favor of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh, carpenter,” for the amount of 200 florins for building two bridges. On May 19, 1654, he was fined for not finishing the bridge over the Second Kil. That he experienced difficulty in completing his contract is shown in the Court Minutes, for on May 30, 1654, he stated that work on the bridge over the Third Kil would be begun in eight days. Further difficulties in the completion of the work took place in June, and he was compelled to employ Andries De Vos as his attorney to protect his interests. On September 2, 1654, a warrant was issued to the treasurer, “in favor of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh for his work on the two bridges in Beverwyck.”  But this evidently did not settle the matter, because as late as May 1, 1655, the Court granted him a delay in paying his fines for not completing the work on time.

On September 30, 1656, Hans Jansz and Abraham Pietersz Vosburch obtained a lease of the water power on the creek south of the farm of Jan Barentsz Wemp.  The lease commenced January 1, 1657, and ran for six successive years; rent was set at 100 guilders or 100 good merchantable boards and two pair of fowl each year. A condition of the lease was that the lessees were not to sell liquor to the Indians. A sawmill was erected on the creek, which was in later years known as Wynant’s Kil. Hans Jansz was more or less of a silent partner in this enterprise; at least his name never appears again in the records in connection with it.

After hostilities by the local Esopus Indians, the Dutch colonial Director-General Pieter Stuyvesant visited Rensselaerswyck in June 1658. The following is from Stuyvesant’s journal: “Four carpenters came also on the 18th engaged by Mrs. de Hulter to remove her house, barns and sheds (within the stockade) and on the 19th three more, whom I had asked and engaged at Fort Orange to make a bridge over the Kil. They were also to help the others remove their buildings, for which they had asked me before my departure for Fort Orange.” Abraham Pieterse Vosburgh was one of the carpenters engaged by Stuyvesant.

The outlying settlers withdrew within the stockade for better protection, and no further encounters with the Indians took place until a fateful day in September 1659.

A 17th century Dutch settler dealing with Esopus Indians

A 17th century Dutch settler dealing with Esopus Indians

A man named Thomas Chambers engaged eight Esopus Indians to break off corn-ears for him while he was gathering his crops for the winter. On a Saturday evening, after the day’s work, Chambers gave the Indians a quantity of brandy. After drinking the brandy the Indians became noisy and quarrelsome; when the brandy was exhausted, they tried to obtain more from Chambers, who refused. After a time soldiers were sent out from the fort to ascertain the cause of the disturbance. The nervous soldiers fired upon the drunk and disorderly Indians, killing one.

The following morning, Sunday, The next day the Indians returned with hundreds of reinforcements, and destroyed crops, killed livestock, and burned buildings. A dispatch was sent up the river by boat to Albany to summon assistance. As the dispatch party returned, they were captured by the Indians.

Among the thirteen men captured was “a carpenter, Abraham by name.”  In a letter from Vice-Director La Montagne to Director-General Stuyvesant, dated September 26, 1659, he states that the capture took place “at the Esopus last Sunday the 21st inst. about two o’clock the afternoon,” and in the list of those captured the name Abraham Vosburgh appears.

The next day, one captive was exchanged for an Indian prisoner, while another escaped during the night, leaving ten in captivity. A letter to Director Stuyvesant from Ensign Smidt of the Dutch garrison at Esopus, dated November 1, 1659, states that as a result of the good efforts of two “Mahikander” Indians, two prisoners were returned to the Fort “on the first of this month.” In a subsequent letter from Ensign Smidt to Vice-Director La Montagne, dated November 13, 1659, he writes:  “it is true we have got back two prisoners, but they keep [one] yet and have killed all the others.” The surviving captive, Evert Pels, was still in captivity as late as February 24, 1660. According to contemporary accounts, Pels’ life was saved by an Indian maiden whom he afterwards married.

With the death of Abraham, Geertruy Pieterse carried on raising her children, all of whom were under ten, alone. Her story can be pieced together from the Fort Orange Court records. Her name appears before the Court many times, both as plaintiff and defendant. Geertruy was zealous in preserving her rights; she was clearly a fighter and possessed of sharp wits.

Geertruy did not remarry within a year or two as was usually the custom with the early settlers, but remained a widow for nearly ten years and fought her battles unaided. Her second marriage, with Albert Andriessen Bratt in 1669, was short-lived (perhaps 18 months) and ended in divorce. After her divorce, Geertruy continued to use the name Vosburgh; in fact, from the evidence in the records, it is probable that she never used the name Bratt at any time.

Geertruj sold the mill in 1674. The final years of Geertruy Vosburgh’s life were spent in Kinderhook, New York, surrounded by the families of her sons, all of whom became prominent citizens in that community. Geertruy died in February 1689.

The sole daughter of Abraham and Geertruy, our ancestor Maretje, married Isaac Janse Van Alstyne in the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany on October 20, 1689.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2013 in Biographies, Immigrant Stories

 

William King (1595-1650), Religious Rebel, Progenitor of Presidents

William King and Dorothy Hayne are the 10th great-grandparents of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy; and 11th great-grandparents of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Emily, Jack, Jill, Jordan, Mike and Brian.

William King is believed to have been born in England in 1595. His parentage is unconfirmed, although he may have been the son of William King (1565-1625) and Ann Bowditch (1573-c1625) of Weymouth, Dorset. William married Dorothy Hayne in Sherbourne Abbey Church of Saint Mary in Sherbourne, Dorset, on February 17, 1617.

Found among the records of the Hull Company as passengers aboard the “Abigail” sailing for Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony on March 20, 1635, are the following:

60.  William Kinge, aged 40 years.
61.  Dorothy, his wife, aged 34 years.
62.  Mary Kinge, his daughter, aged 12 years.
63.  Katheryne Kinge, his daughter, aged 10 years.
64.  William Kinge, his son, aged 8 years.
65.  Hanna Kinge, his daughter, aged 6 years.

Another child, Samuel, who would have been two in 1635, is absent from this list, but appears later in Salem. William and Dorothy had three additional children in Salem: Mehitable (1636), John (1638) and Deliverance (1641).

William was a member of the First Church at Salem but joined the Antinomians in 1637. Antinomianism literally means being “against or opposed to the law”, and was a term used by critics of those Massachusetts colonists who advocated the preaching of “free grace” (i.e.  the belief that divine grace, and not earthly deeds, is the only means to salvation) as opposed to “legal” preaching. Antinomians were also called Anabaptists and Familists, and were considered seriously heretic in early New England. William was ordered by the authorities in Salem to sever his connections with the Antinomians but he refused and was forced to surrender his gun.

These Antinomians are scathingly depicted by a contemporary Puritan critic as engaging in such "sinful" acts as enjoying food and music, dancing naked and "loving" one another's buttocks.

These Antinomians are scathingly depicted by a contemporary Puritan critic as engaging in such “sinful” acts as enjoying food and music, dancing naked and “loving” one another’s buttocks.

Sometime later William was banished temporarily from Salem for sheltering persecuted Quakers. One of William and Dorothy’s children, Katherine, married a staunch Quaker, John Swezey.

William died in 1650 in Salem, after which his widow and children left Salem for the more religiously tolerant Southold, Long Island. Dorothy died at Southold in 1684.

Curiously, not one but two of William and Dorothy’s daughters are our direct ancestors. Hannah (1629-1688), who married Richard Brown (c1629-c1687) in Salem in 1650, is 9th great-grandmother to Richard, et al. Deliverance (1641-1689), who married John Tuthill (1635-1717) in Southold in 1657, is another 9th great-grandmother. Hannah’s and Richard’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Brown, married her first cousin, John Tuthill, grandson of Deliverance and John, in 1707.

Another of Deliverance’s and John’s children, Henry, would become the great-grandfather of Anna Tuthill Symmes, First Lady of the United States and wife of President William Henry Harrison. Anna’s grandson, Benjamin, also became President of the United States.

One of Hannah’s and Richard’s children, Hannah, would become the 4th great-grandmother of President Warren Harding.

Not to be outdone by his siblings, John King, brother to Hannah and Deliverance, is the 5th great-grandfather of President William Howard Taft.

Presidential family reunion

Presidential family reunion

 

Richard Hartshorne (1641-1722), Settler of the Jersey Shore

Richard Hartshorne is the 10th great-grandfather of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy; and 11th great-grandfather of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Emily, Jack, Jill, Jordan, Mike and Brian.

Richard Hartshorne was born the son of William and Anne (maiden name unknown) Hartshorne in 1641 in Hathearne, Leicestershire, England.

Richard, a Quaker, was educated as a lawyer and emigrated to the Rhode Island Colony c1669. He married Margaret Carr on April 27, 1670, in Newport, Rhode Island. The newlyweds received a partially fenced piece of land from Margaret’s father, Robert, upon which Richard had a house built.

Richard and Margaret had eleven children, beginning with Robert, born December 5, 1671. The others included Hugh (May 15, 1673, died before 1685), Thomas (October 14, 1674), Mary (August 14, 1676), William (January 22, 1678), Richard (February 17, 1681, died before 1689), Katherine (our ancestor; March 2, 1682), Hugh (June 21, 1685), Sarah (July 3, 1687), Richard (December 15, 1689), and Mercy (May 12, 1693).

Shortly after the Dutch surrender of the New Netherland Colony to the English in 1664 a large tract of land known as the Navesink Patent or Monmouth Tract was granted to Quaker settlers from Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which soon thereafter became the townships of Middletown and Shrewsbury. By 1674 Richard and Margaret had left Rhode Island for New Jersey, where Richard purchased land along the river and bay at present-day Navesink from Vowavapon and Tocus, chieftains of the Lenape.

"A Mapp of New Jarsey", 1677

“A Mapp of New Jarsey”, 1677

In 1677 Richard believed he had purchased present-day Sandy Hook from the Lenape, although there ensued a dispute about whether the Lenape intended to sell the land or just the fishing rights. “The Indians came to my house,” wrote Richard in 1678, “and laid their hands on the post and frame of the house and said the house was theirs, that they had never had anything for it and they told me if I would not buy the land I must be gone…. They at last told me that they would kill my cattle and burn my hay if I would not buy the land or be gone. Then I went to the Patentee office; they told me that it was never bought nor had the Indians anything for it.” Richard negotiated a settlement with the Lenape on August 8, 1678, in the amount of thirteen shillings for full title to the land.

Richard held the office of town clerk of Middletown, New Jersey, was appointed a Justice in 1684 and elected a member of the Provincial Assembly in 1685. He held the position of Speaker of the Assembly from 1686 to 1693 and again from 1696 to 1698. Richard was also nominated for the office of High Sheriff of Monmouth County, a position he declined.

In 1704 Richard made a record of his marriage and the dates of birth of his children. He wrote instructions to his children on serving God, caring for their mother and the necessity of government while on earth.

Margaret died c1719. Richard wrote a will on May 14, 1722, in which he designated a legacy for the poor. Richard died shortly thereafter, on May 22, 1722.

Richard is memorialized today in the name of Hartshorne Woods Park in Middletown Township, New Jersey.

Hartshorne_MAP_Small

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Biographies, Immigrant Stories

 

Connection: HRH Prince George of Cambridge

Are we related to HRH Prince George of Cambridge, the world’s most publicized baby? But of course.

Actually, the Prince’s family and ours have many intertwined ancestral lines, but our most recent connection is through the family of Prince George’s paternal grandmother, HRH Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997), born Diana Spencer.

Lady Diana’s 16th great-grandfather, John Spencer, Esquire (c1418-c1477) of Hodnell, Warwickshire, is also the 16th great-grandfather of Robert, Warren and Elizabeth Riis and Judith Henken. John and his wife, whose surname was Wardell but whose first name is unknown, had four known sons: Henry, Thomas, John and William. Diana and her grandson George are descendants of William; our line descends from John.

The American branch of the Spencer family tree springs from Garrard Spencer, who was born April 25, 1614, in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, England, and came to America in 1630. After living in Cambridge Town, Massachusetts, he moved to Lynn with his brother Michael in 1638 and ran a ferry from Lynn to Saugus. In 1661 Garrard was one of the 28 purchasers of the town of Haddam, Connecticut, where he died on September 3, 1685.

Diana Spencer was 17th cousin to Robert, Warren, Betty and Judy, and 17th cousin once removed to Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy.

HRH William, Prince of Wales, is 18th cousin to Richard and his generation, while Prince George is 18th cousin once removed.

 

Captain Joseph Sill (1636-1696)

Joseph Sill is the 9th great-grandfather of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy; and 10th great-grandfather of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Emily, Jack, Jill, Jordan, Mike and Brian.

Joseph Sill's signature from 1685

Joseph Sill’s signature from 1685

Joseph Sill was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, England, in 1636. He came to America with his parents, John and Joanna Fillbrook Sill, and sister Judith in 1637. The Sills settled in Cambridge Town,  Massachusetts, where John had established a farm.

Joseph married Jemima  Belcher on December 5, 1660 in Cambridge Town. They had six children. Three of four sons died young; the fourth son, Thomas, survived, as did two daughters, Jemima and Elizabeth.

Joseph Sill devoted a large portion of his life to military service. On the roster of  officers of the first American army as organized for the Narragansett Colony, mustered at Pettaquamscutt, Rhode Island, December 19th, 1665, was the name of Captain Joseph Sill. Joseph served during the bloody King Philip’s War (1675-1678). In February 1676 Joseph and his men  captured 300 Indians. Another time Joseph, with a company of only fifty  troopers, conducted a long train of wagons from Groton, Connecticut, to Boston, successfully fending off attacks along the way.

At the close of King Philip’s war, Joseph petitioned the General Court,  assembled at Boston, for a grant of land in return for his service in the  military. Although he was awarded a tract of land, Joseph was convinced by friends, fearing  retaliation from the Indians, to move  away from the area. Joseph and his children – Jemima having died in 1675 – moved to an area north of Lyme, Connecticut, which came to be known as Silltown. His tract of land in Massachusetts was inherited by his daughter, Jemima.

On February 12, 1677, Joseph married his second wife, Sarah Clark Marvin (1644-1715), widow of Lieutenant Reinhold Marvin, in Lyme, Connecticut. Joseph and Sarah had two sons: Joseph (our ancestor), born January 6, 1678, and  Zechariah, born January 1, 1682.

Sarah Clark is another double ancestor, for we are also descended from a son, John Marvin (c1664), from her first marriage. So, let’s sort this out: Joseph Sill is our 9th great-grandfather, Reinhold Marvin our 10th great-grandfather, and Sarah Clark is both our 9th and 10th great-grandmother. Thank goodness for genealogical computer software to keep all this straight!

Joseph spent the remainder of his life as a  farmer and an elected official. He died August 6, 1696, at the age of 60 and was buried in the Duck River Cemetery in Lyme.

The grave of Captain Joseph Sill, Duck River Cemetery, Old Lyme, CT

The grave of Captain Joseph Sill, Duck River Cemetery, Old Lyme, CT

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in Biographies, Immigrant Stories

 

Our Kanien’keha:ke Heritage

Modern flag of the Mohawk Nation (left) and the flag of the Iroquois League of Five Nations (right)

Modern flag of the Mohawk Nation (left) and the flag of the Iroquois League of Five Nations (right)

Caniachkoo is the 11th great-grandfather of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy; and 12th great-grandfather of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Emily, Jack, Jill, Jordan, Mike and Brian.

Pieter Adriaense Van Woggelum and Lysbet are the 10th great-grandparents of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy; and 11th great-grandparents of Asher, Owen, Caitlyn, Becky, Emily, Jack, Jill, Jordan, Mike and Brian.

Of all the branches in our family tree there is but one that cannot be traced through to an ancestor leaving his or her home in Europe for a new life in the New World, for that branch was already here. That part of our family heritage has its roots in the Kanien’keha:ke tribe of Eastern New York.

Pieter Adriaense Van Woggelum (1613-?) and his brother Jacob left their native Woggelum in Noord-Holland with their widowed mother, Anna, to settle in Beverwijk (now Albany) in the Dutch colony of Nieuw Nederland. Both Pieter and Jacob set up shop as innkeepers.

17th century Mohawk village as recreated at the New York State Museum

17th century Mohawk village as recreated at the New York State Museum

Around 1641 Pieter married the daughter of Caniachkoo, the sachem of the Turtle Clan of the Kanien’keha:ke (Mohawk) tribe, who represented the Kanien’keha:ke in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) League of Five Nations as well as in the sale of land to a number of Dutch settlers. While the birth name of Caniachkoo’s daughter is unrecorded (some unsubstantiated sources give it as Ack-Toch), upon her marriage to Pieter she assumed the name Lysbet (AKA Lysette).

Pieter and Lysbet had three known children: Tryntje (1642), Jan (our ancestor; 1647) and Pieter.

In 1664 Pieter Sr. had a patent for a bowery or farm and home lot in Schenectady but sold it in 1670 to Helmar Otten for the price of 35 beavers.

Peter is last mentioned in records in June of 1681; there is no reliable record of when he died. Lysbet appears to have died in Schenectady in 1703.

The 1613 treaty between the Haudonosaunne and the Netherlands is still recognized by both governments 400 years later.

The 1613 treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Netherlands is still recognized by both governments 400 years later.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in Biographies, Immigrant Stories

 

Connection: President Barack Obama

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, is the 10th great-grandson of Quaker Edward FitzRandolph, born July 5, 1607, in Sutton-In-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England, and his wife, Elizabeth Blossom, born to expatriate English parents in Leiden, Holland, in 1620.

Edward and Elizabeth were married in Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1637. After 30 years in the Massachusetts Colony, Edward and his family moved to Piscataway, New Jersey. Edward’s and Elizabeth’s son, Nathaniel (1642-1713), settled in Woodbridge, New Jersey, with his wife, Mary Holley (or Holloway; 1638-1703). Of Nathaniel’s and Mary’s four children, one, Samuel (1668-1754), is the 8th great-grandfather of Barack Obama, while another, Edward (c1671-1760), is the 8th great-grandfather of Robert, Warren and Elizabeth Riis and Judith Henken.

President Obama is 10th cousin to Robert, Warren, Betty and Judy; and 10th cousin once removed to Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy.

Less closely related, Samuel and Edward’s first cousin, Nathaniel FitzRandolph, was the founder of Princeton University.

 
 
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