ALBERT and AELTJE GYSBERTSEN
Albert Gysbertsen immigrated from the Netherlands to America in the mid-1600s. (1)
Married Aeltje Wygert, who was born in Heerde, Gelderland, Netherlands. When she married Albert, she was the widow of Lubbert Jansen and had children named Aeltje and Jan. Aeltje and Albert probably married in the Netherlands. There is no record of their marriage in America and their earliest American records mention that Albert had a wife and four children, probably including the stepchildren. (2)
Gysbert Albertsen van Garden.
Before immigrating to America, the family appears to have lived in or near the town of Heerde, in the Dutch province of Gelderland. In addition to mentioning that Aeltje was born in “Herden,” Dutch Reformed Church records from what is now Kingston, N.Y., state that her daughter, Aeltje Lubberts, was born in Elburg, about 10 miles away. (4) Also, in a 1999 article in “New Netherland Connections,” Mary E. Van Gorden quotes a 1657 list of Staten Island settlers who survived attacks by Native Americans in September 1655. The translation of the “List of the farmers, men, women, children, male and females servants sent by Yoncker Henrick van der Capellen toe Ryssel to Staten-Island in New-Netherland in West-India since May 1650 and of those who were alive after the dreadful and bloody massacre by the savages in September 1655,” includes: “Albert Gysbertsen of Heerde with his wife and four children and one man servant, dwelling at Fort Orange.” (5)
The article in “New Netherland Connections” also describes research by the Dutch genealogist Peter Nouwt, who examined church, tax and court records from the area. Unfortunately, the town’s church records don’t begin until 1658, which is after the family had emigrated. However, court records mention the testimony of a 28-year-old Aeltken Wichgers on Oct. 21, 1650. In addition, brothers Gerrit and Aert Gijsbertsen – possibly brothers of Albert – appear in the town’s records. By 1658, Gerrit had immigrated to Fort Orange, the settlement where Albert lived at the time. Gerrit and Aert were the sons of Gijsbert Ariensen and Kerstgen Everts. (6)
The survivor list mentioned above indicates that the family arrived in America sometime between May 1650 and September 1655. The list was developed after a series of raids by Native Americans in mid-September 1655. The attacks were provoked when a Dutch settler shot a Native American woman who was taking some peaches. The attacks were alarmingly successful because a large percentage of New Netherland’s men were on an expedition to drive the Swedes out of their settlement near what is now Philadelphia.
Less than a year after the attacks, Albert and Aeltje moved north to Fort Orange and Beverwyck, which became Albany after the English acquired the colony in 1664. The article in “New Netherland Connections” states: “Recently translated deacons’ accounts from the Dutch Reformed Church at Beverwyck show that on 22 May and 1 July 1656, ‘Albert Gisbertsen de Ramaker’ (the wheelwright) was advanced a small amount of money by the church deacons, possibly as a loan.” (7)
On Dec. 5, 1656, Albert makes his first appearance in the court records from Fort Orange, which state: “Albert Gysbertsen, wheelwright, requests a certain lot for a garden.” (8)
This was just the first of many court appearances for Albert. The Dutch settlers were very litigious and all sorts of disputes, debts, insults and crimes led to action in court. Most involved debt collections or disputes over commercial transactions. Since currency – in the form of Dutch guilders, or “heavy money” – was in short supply, payments tended to be in grain, beaver pelts or “seawan,” a Native American currency consisting of strung beads.
Following are some the cases involving Albert in the court records from Fort Orange (a list of all of his cases can be found in “Van Gorder Sources”): (9)
+ July 4, 1657: “Albert, the wheelwright, appearing before the court, complains that Harmen Jacobsen Bambus, who owes him 20 beavers and fl. 150: - in seawan, absents himself from here and keeps himself in hiding in the Esopus. He requests that the said Harman Jacobsen be brought hither at the expense of the party who shall prove to be in the wrong. Fait.”
+ Albert served as a witness in a case heard at Fort Orange on Sept. 5, 1657, in which Ulderick Kleyn claimed that Eldert Gerbertsen “called his wife a woman who had been flogged and branded on the scaffold at Amsterdam and said that she had committed adultery with the crazy farmer and hageboom [probably indicating a vagabond] named Jacob Klomp. The defendant answers that the plaintiff’s wife first called him a rascal and a thief and his wife a whore.” Kleyn produced four women as witnesses to support his case. “The defendant in rebuttal produces Albert Gysbertsen, wheelwright, who, appearing before the court, declares that last Wednesday, being the 29th of August, Eldert Gerbertsen being at his house to settle accounts with him, there came to the said house Baefien Pietersen, the wife of Ulderick Kleyn, who dunned him about some debts in such a way that a dispute arose between them and the said Baefin Pietersen took hold of the said Eldert and called him a rascal.” This case seems to have continued for several months as Baefin Pietersen brought suit against Albert and a number of others, including “the wife of Albert, the wheelwright.” The final resolution of the case, if there ever was one, does not appear in the records of the Fort Orange Court.
+ On Feb. 19, 1658, the parties involved in July’s dispute returned to court. “Harmen Jacobsen, plaintiff, against Albert Gysbertsen, defendant. The plaintiff demands payment of the balance of the purchase price of a house and lot which he sold to the defendant. The defendant says that the plaintiff did not deliver the whole of the lot. The court orders that the lot shall be viewed by their honors.”
+ On May 14, 1658: “Jan van Hoesem, plaintiff, against Albert, the wheelwright, defendant. The plaintiff demands payment of the balance of 113 schepels of wheat, according to a contract which they had with each other at the rate of 3 schepels of wheat for one beaver, of which 75 shepels have been paid for, so that there is still due the plaintiff 38 schepels of wheat. The defendant not being able to deny his signature, he, the defendant, is ordered by the court to pay the plaintiff the remaining 38 schepels of wheat within the space of six weeks.”
The quirkiest case involving Albert began on June 8, 1660, when he filed a slander suit against Maria Goosens, claiming that she had called him a “thief.” The case dragged on for six months and often sounded like a schoolyard spat. Here’s how it unfolded: (10)
+ June 8, 1660: “Albert Gysbertsen, plaintiff, against Maria Goosens, defendant. The plaintiff says that the defendant called him a thief and demands reparation of honor. The defendant denies that she said it. The parties are ordered to appear on the next court day.”
+ June 30, 1660: “Albert Gysbertsen, plaintiff, against Maria Goosens, defendant. The plaintiff demands reparation of character as the defendant called the plaintiff a thief. The defendant denies that she said it, as far as she knows, but on the contrary alleges that the plaintiff called her a whore, a pig and a church thief. The plaintiff produces an affidavit of two witnesses. The honorable court orders the defendant to produce her witnesses on the next court day.”
+ On July 13, 1660, Maria Goosens defaulted. “The honorable court having seen that the defendant does not appear, orders the defendant to produce her evidence on the next court day on pain of being deprived of her right.”
+ On Aug. 3, 1660, Maria Goosens defaulted a second time.
+ Dec. 21, 1660: “Albert Gysbertsen, plaintiff, against Maria Goosens, defendant. The plaintiff demands reparation of honor for slander, to wit, because the defendant said that he had stolen a chest with goods at the Manhattans. The defendant denies that she said this and declares that she has nothing to say against the plaintiff’s honor or virtue, although the plaintiff called her a whore. The honorable court, having heard the parties and seeing that the defendant can not prove her accusations against the plaintiff and declares that she has nothing to say against the plaintiff, condemns the defendant for her abuse to pay a fine of six guilders for the benefit of the poor and the costs of the trial, forbidding her to utter slander again, on pain of greater fine.”
A few months later, the family moved from Fort Orange to Wildwyck – which became Kingston, N.Y., after the British acquired the colony in 1664. The article in “New Netherland Connections” states: “In 1661, there were 45 dwellings at Wiltwyck; Albert Gysbertsen’s house lot was #27. That same year residents, including Albert, were taxed for funds to build a house for the minister, Dominie Blom. That dwelling also was used as a church for several years. Wiltwyck church records tell us that Albert and Aeltje transferred their church membership for Beverwyck to Wiltwyck on 15 April 1661.” The article suggests that Albert may have decided to move because Wiltwyck provided opportunities to own land. (11)
When money was being raised to cover the minister’s salary in 1661, Albert apparently agreed to cover the amount owed by several others. However, when officials moved to collect outstanding debts in 1664, Albert had still not paid the money that he had agreed to pay on the behalf of Jan Jansen van Oosterhout and Jan Broersen. The court ordered them to pay and said they could sue Albert to collect the money. (12)
Within a few months of the move, Albert began appearing in cases brought before the court in Wildwyck. A large number involved debts or disputes over payment. The first two cases are good examples. On Feb. 7, 1662, “Henrick Cornelissen, plaintiff, demands from Albert Gysbertsen payment of the quantity of four and half schepels of oats for wages earned. The defendant admits owing the amount sued for, and promises to pay within fourteen days, at the option of the plaintiff.” Then, on Feb. 14, “Albert Gysbertsen, plaintiff, demands from Aert Jacobsen payment of the value of three beavers, wages earned for making a plough. The defendant answers he owes no more than two beavers and half. The Commissaries find that plaintiff is entitled to his full wages, and thereupon defendant is ordered to satisfy the plaintiff.” (13)
On April 18, 1662, Albert was called before the court by the “Schout,” the officer who usually filed lawsuits or charges on behalf of the government. In some records, it’s translated as “sheriff.” Albert failed to appear and the case does not seem to have been brought up again, so the nature of the matter is not described. (14)
The summons must have been for a relatively minor matter because, less than two weeks later, Albert was appointed to be one of the town’s commissaries. On April 27, the colony’s director general, Pieter Stuyvesant, approved his appointment and Albert was sworn in on May 3. Albert sat as a commissary on the town’s court until June 1664. (15) Albert appears to have been unable to write because he always marked, rather than signed, the court documents. His mark was a stylized “A.” Interestingly, later documents bear the signature of his wife, Aeltje.
In the fall of 1662, Albert must have suffered some sort of economic setback. A wage-collection lawsuit was filed against him on Nov. 14. On Nov. 28, Albert was sued to collect wages, over an unspecified debt and over a debt he had agreed to pay on behalf of Mathy Roeloofsen for an “anker of brandy.” In each case, Albert acknowledged the debt and was ordered to pay it, usually within six weeks. (16)
At some point, Albert also became a deacon for Wildwyck. On March 6, 1663, Evert Pels appeared before “Albert Gysberse, Commissary and Deacon of said village” and another commissary when he borrowed 1,000 guilders in corn. (17)
At this time, the family was again affected by war with the Native Americans. Dutch officials planned to renew their peace agreements with surrounding tribes but the arrangements had not been concluded before Wildwyck was attacked on June 7, 1663. On June 20, members of the town’s court, including Albert Gysbertsen, described the attack. (18)
The Native Americans “surprised and attacked us between the hours of 11 and 12 o’clock in the forenoon on Thursday the 7th instant. Entering in bands through all the gates, they divided and scattered themselves among all the houses and dwellings in a friendly manner, having with them a little maize and some few beans to sell to our Inhabitants, by which means they kept them within their houses, and thus went from place to place as spies to discovered our strength in men. After they had been about a short quarter of an hour within this place, some people on horseback rushed through the Mill gate from the New Village, crying out – ‘The Indians have destroyed the New Village!’ And with these words, the Indians here in this Village immediately fired a shot and made a general attack on our village from the rear, murdering our people in their houses with their axes and tomahawks, and firing on them with guns and pistols; they seized whatever women and children they could catch and carried them prisoners outside the gates, plundered the houses and set the village on fire to windward, it blowing at the time from the South. The remaining Indians commanded all the streets, firing from the corner houses which they occupied and through the curtains outside along the highways, so that some of our inhabitants, on their way to their houses to get their arms, were wounded and slain. When the flames were at their height the wind changed to the west, were it not for the which the fire would have been much more destructive. So rapidly and silently did Murder do his work that those in different parts of the village were not aware of it until those who had been wounded happened to meet each other, in which way the most of the others also had warning. The greater portion of our men were abroad at their field labors, and but few in the village. Near the mill gate were Albert Gysbertsen with two servants, and Tjerck Claesen de Witt … By these aforesaid men, most of whom had neither guns nor side arms, were the Indians, through God’s mercy, chased and put to flight on the alarm being given by the Sheriff. Capt. Thomas Chambers, who was wounded on coming in from without, issued immediate orders (with the Sheriff and Commissaries,) to secure the gates; to clear the gun and to drive out the Savages, who were still about half an hour in the village aiming at their persons, which was accordingly done. The burning of the houses, the murder and carrying off of women and children is here omitted, as these have been already communicated to your Honors on the 10th June. After these few men had been collected against the Barbarians, by degrees the others arrived who it has been stated, were abroad at their field labors, and we found ourselves when mustered in the evening, including those from the new village who took refuge amongst us, in number 69 efficient men, both qualified and unqualified. The burnt palisades were immediately replaced by new ones, and the people distributed, during the night, along the bastions and curtains to keep watch.”
The list of those killed at Wildwyck contains 12 men, four women and two children. Four women and five children were taken prisoner. Eight men were wounded, including one who died nine days later. A dozen houses were burned. In the “New Village,” which was “entirely destroyed except a new uncovered barn, one rick and a little stack of reed,” three men were listed as killed while one man, eight women and 26 children were taken prisoner. (19)
Despite this havoc, the courtroom squabbles continued. On July 24, Albert Gysbertsen sued Aert Martensen Doorn over a dead pig. “Albert Gysbertsen says that defendant caused plaintiff’s pig to be killed, and presents a certificate to this effect. Defendant answers that he does not know whether it was plaintiff’s pig, and offers to pay the owner therefor. The Commissaries, having heard defendant’s confession, order him to deposit with the Court the quantity of six schepels of wheat, for the benefit of him who shall be found to be the lawful owner, or otherwise the Court will dispose of it as it may see fit.” The case does not appear in the records again. (19a)
On Sept. 18, 1663, Albert was appointed to be one of the administrators for the estates of Willem Jansen Seba, Hendrick Jansen Looman and Dirrick Willemsen, “who were killed during the troubles on June 7th last, which persons had no relatives.” (20)
In the wake of the attacks, it seems that some residents of Wildwyck took their frustrations out on the town’s officials.
On Oct. 9, 1663, the Wildwyck officials looked into insults that were hurled at them by a disgruntled citizen. The record states: “Roelof Swartwout, Schout, plaintiff, vs. Aert Jacbosen, defendant. Plaintiff complains to this Court that defendant said that the Lord God would some time avenge himself upon the Lords who are here on the bench. Defendant does not deny having said so, and the Commissaries Albert Gysbertsen and Gysbert van Imborch also confirm that they heard him say so, once at the house of Schout Roelof Swartwout, and once at the bridge. The Court of this place orders defendant to submit, at its next session, his reasons for saying that revenge should be called down upon it.” This case falls between two others in which the schout, Swartwout, brought charges against Jacobsen. In the first, Jacobsen and his family were fined for violating the order “that no one should venture out to mow without consent and a proper convoy,” which was designed to protect workers from attack by Native Americans. In the third case, Jacobsen was charged with “being a desecrater of the Sabbath, he having on that day taken a load of beer, and that, not withstanding the seizure, the defendants fetched the wagon and beer to his house.” It seems likely that the insults stemmed from one, or both, of these incidents. (21)
On Oct. 23, 1663, a second citizen was charged with insulting the court. The records states: “Roelof Swartwout, Schout, plaintiff, vs. Albert Heymans, defendant. Plaintiff enters suit against defendant on a complaint of the Commissaries, Tjerck Claesen, Albert Guysbertsen and Gysbert van Imbroch, that defendant publicly accused them of being deceitful in carrying out their ordinances, and that they did not do justice in accordance therewith. Defendant says, that the Court did not act in accordance with the wording of the ordinance, and demands a copy of the record herein. The Honorable Court orders Tjerck Claesen, Albert Gysbertsen and Gysbert van Imbroch, at its next session, to furnish proof of the foregoing complaint, in conformity with their own statement.” In the next case heard on Oct. 23, Heymans was accused of giving a commissary trouble when asked to provide a horse for “the expedition against the savages.” It’s likely the insult mentioned in the first case was prompted by the horse incident. (22)
About a month later, a rather dramatic dispute erupted involving Albert and fellow commissary Tjerck Claesen de Wit. The court records from Nov. 20, 1663, report: “The Schout, Roelof Swartwout, presents this complaint against Tjerck Claesen de Wit, reading, according to his understanding, as follows: Whereas, Aeltje Wygerts and Albert Gysbertsen having complained to me that on November 13, Tjerck Claesen, armed with a drawn knife, openly quarreled in his house, acting as if he wished to kill every man, woman and child, I therefore, on this complaint, inform the Court of the matter, and also decide to exclude him for the present from the Bench, until he shall have cleared himself of the charge, and shall have been declared cleared by the Honorable Court. The advice of the Commissaries is requested herein. The Honorable Court orders that, whereas, Tjerck Claesen de Wit has already amicably settled the above matter with his accuser. Albert Gysbertsen, and they have come to an agreement regarding it, he shall remain away from the Bench until he shall have settled and adjusted this matter with the Schout.” (23)
Later in the same session, the pair are mentioned again in a case concerning a property transaction. “Tjerck Claesen de Wit, plaintiff, vs. Albert Gysbertsen, defendant. Plaintiff demands that defendant, on his default of payment for land sold him, return the land, the time for payment having expired in the month of April, 1663. Defendant replies that plaintiff has not delivered a deed of land to him, and that he will pay plaintiff after the deed has been executed to him, as he has made part payment thereon to the plaintiff. The Honorable Court orders defendant to pay plaintiff the remainder of the money due for the land, plaintiff to deliver to defendant a perfect deed and conveyance of the land.” It’s possible that this dispute prompted the behavior mentioned in the first case. (24)
The knife incident was brought up again at the court’s next session, on Dec. 4. The schout, Roelof Swartwout, submitted a complaint concerning the Nov. 13 incident and demanded that de Wit “be punished by banishment and confiscation of his estate.” Roelof provided a certification signed by two witnesses, Lambert Huybertsen and Pieter Hillebrants. De Wit demanded that the certificate be sworn to in court, but then stated that Hillebrants was actually his witness and, therefore, could not swear to the certificate. The witnesses were summoned, in accordance with de Wit’s demand, but then prevented from swearing based on de Wit’s objections. De Wit then requested a delay of four days to sort the matter out. The court granted the delay but was obviously irked by this maneuvering. Later in the day’s session, de Wit again addressed the property dispute with Albert, but was firmly rebuffed by the court. The record states that de Wit “requests that justice be done him in his case against Albert Gysbertsen, and that therefore his appeal from the said judgment rendered November 20, last, be entered. The Honorable Court resolves … that plaintiff’s request be refused, for the reasons heretofore mentioned, in that he is not willing to do the proper thing about the Court room, for which he himself voted, and that he has forbidden several parties summoned by him, to appear with him before the Honorable Court, and also because he himself has neglected the appeal.” (25)
The matter was quickly resolved and de Wit returned to his seat on the town court later in the month. In addition, the tension between Albert and de Wit seems to have evaporated because Albert gave surety to cover de Wit’s purchase of a horse in the spring.
That winter, Albert seems to have encountered more financial difficulty. The situation was probably caused by Indian war that followed the June 7 attack. The conflict is mentioned by several defendants in debt cases from that time. Two cases were filed against Albert to collect debts and back wages. He was sued by Gysbert van Imborch, another of the commissaries, on Dec. 4 and by Hendrick Jochemsen on Dec. 18. In those two cases, Albert admitted the debts and was ordered to satisfy them. In addition, his previously mentioned failure to cover the debts related to the minister’s salary in 1661 were noted on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12. Albert filed his own suit against Coenrad Ham on Feb. 26. The defendant was absent and the case fails to appear in subsequent records, so its nature is unknown. However, it seems likely that it, too, was prompted by a debt. (26)
Also mentioned in the Feb. 26 court records is “Blackie” – or “het Swartje” in Dutch – an unfortunate horse that was going to play a role in Albert’s and his heirs’ lives in coming months. In the case, Gysbert van Imborch demanded that Annetje Tacks pay 234 guilders, 8 stivers, in beavers and that “the horse called ‘Blackie’ [het Swartje] be sold, at her expense under execution.” The widow admitted the debt, which was more than a year old, but said she was unable to pay “as she already lacks bread, pork, meat, etc., in her household, and further, that most of her crops were left in the field last harvest because of the war.” (27) On April 7, officials auctioned off the property of Aert Pietersen Tack, Annetje’s husband, in the presence of Albert Gysbertsen and Tjerck Clasesen De Wit, commissaries. When Blackie came up for sale, the horse was bought by de Wit for 200 guilders in wheat, with surety furnished by Albert Gysbertsen and Mattys Roelofsen. Then next day, Albert bought the horse from de Wit for 200 guilders in wheat. (28)
On May 9, town officials auctioned off “all kinds of farming implements and some furniture of Cornelis Barentsen Slecht.” Albert purchased “two old scythes, a pivot, a horse collar, 3 gldrs, 10 st. … five halters, 3 gldrs.” De Wit furnished sureties for Albert’s purchases and, vice versa. (29)
On June 24, Albert was pitted against de Wit when he was called to testify concerning an agreement to pasture of cattle. Roelof Swartwout requested that Albert testify “with reference to the differences between plaintiff and Tjerck Claesen deWit, regarding the pasturing of plaintiff’s cows, concerning which defendant testifies and declares that he knows that Tjerck Claesen deWit promised to pasture two cows for plaintiff, for which plaintiff was not to advance Tjerck Claesen any money.” (30)
The very next case in the record was a request by Albert for permission to dig a saw pit. It was granted, which is no surprise since Albert had just delivered testimony favorable to Swartwout, who was still the town’s schout. The record states: “Albert Gysbertsen requests that he be permitted to dig a saw pit in front of his lot. The Honorable Court grants petitioner’s request, upon condition that he cover the saw-pit every evening so that no accident may occur therefrom to man or beast, and that he fill it up before harvest time.” (31)
Albert next appeared before the court on July 22. In one case, he and de Wit addressed a debt due to Juriaen Westphael from the estate of Henderick Jansen Looman, one of the men killed in the June 7 attack. In a second case, Albert faced a fine “for violating the ordinance with reference to not going out to plough or work without a convoy,” a security precaution instituted following the attack. The record states: “Defendant says he is ready to prove that he asked Ensign Niessen for a convoy, which the latter promised but did not send. The case is adjourned to the next session.” However, it was not brought up again. (32)
On Oct. 7, Albert attended another auction selling the goods of Aert Pietersen Tack – this time for his estate. Albert offered 100 guilders for a young mare, but his was not the highest bid. However, he did make the winning bid of 100 guilders for a 2½-year-old heifer. This heifer would join Blackie in drawing Albert’s heirs into court in coming months. (33)
Albert died sometime during the next few weeks. On Nov. 18, 1664, Tjerck Claesen De Wit filed a suit against Aeltje Wygerts seeking payment for Blackie the horse. The record states: “Plaintiff shows a bill of sale of a horse bought by her husband, Albert Gysbertsen, during his lifetime from plaintiff for 200 gldrs. in wheat to be paid at such times and in such payments to the vendue-master as he has bought it by Lord’s execution on April 7, 1664. Defendant admits the debt and offers to pay 100 sch. of oats, provisionally, and the balance from the future next year’s (1665) crop, or else to return the horse, and is willing to pay plaintiff for the use of said horse. Plaintiff replies not to be satisfied with aforementioned offer.” The court ordered Aeltje to pay Tjerck as per the contract. (34) The fact that de Wit sued Albert’s widow so soon after his death suggests that the bad blood that erupted a year earlier was simply lying dormant below the surface, or perhaps he was irked by Albert’s testimony in the lawsuit over the pasturing of cattle.
Exactly a month later, Aeltje was dragged into court concerning the heifer Albert purchased in October. The court record for Dec. 18 states: “there appeared before us the worthy Aeltje Wygerts, widow of Albert Gysbertsen, deceased, who declares that her husband Albert Gysbertsen, deceased, bought during his lifetime from the estate of Aert Pietersen Tack, a heifer for the amount of 100 aldrs. heavy money, for which amount of 100 gldrs. heavy money the appearer has been referred to and promises to pay to Swerus Teunissen, inhabitant of the colony of Rensselaerswyck.” To secure the debt, Aeltje mortgaged “the crop of all the corn which, by God’s blessing, shall, in the coming year 1665, be brought in from her land, and further in general her person and further goods, personal and real estate.” (35)
At some point before the spring, Aeltje entered into a relationship with Pieter Hillebrants and the two married. Pieter had probably been a friend of the family because he seems to have been present when de Wit pulled the knife on Albert. The church record of his marriage notes that he was born in New Amsterdam and that he had not been married before. Court records mention that Pieter was the son of Femmetje Alberts. This was almost certainly the Femmetje Alberts who was the widow Hendrick Jansen Westercamp. If this was the case, Pieter was born to a previous husband, whose first named was obviously Hillebrant. Femmetje was an interesting character who ran her deceased husband’s bakery and appears in numerous court disputes in the records of several towns in New Netherland.
On March 9, 1665, Pieter Hillebrants sued Tjerck Claesen De Wit, presumably on Aeltje’s behalf. Roelof Swartwout acted as the attorney in Aeltje’s suit to acquire “20 morgens of arable land sold to the aforesaid widow’s late husband Albert Gysbertsen.” De Wit said he would record the deed once the river had become navigable, probably indicating that it was iced over at the time. De Wit then requested the 100 guilders still outstanding on the purchase of Blackie the horse, plus 14 schepels of wheat for “damage sustained through the attachment of his horse.” The plaintiffs replied that the payment was being withheld until the deed was recorded. De Wit said he was satisfied with that but still wanted his 14 schepels of wheat “for costs.” The court, apparently a bit exasperated with both parties, ordered de Wit to file the deed, Aeltje to pay for the horse and both to split the costs of 14 schepels of wheat because the “parties have been mutually negligent in living up to their contracts.” (36)
Interestingly, the March 9 court record describes Aeltje as “last widow of Albert Gysbertsen, deceased, and at present wife of the aforesaid Pieter Hillebrants.” However, the Reformed Church records of Kingston state that Pieter Hillerbrantsen married Aeltje Wiggers on April 3, 1665. The marriage record indicates that banns were published on March 22, March 29 and April 3. It seems certain that the two were already seen as a very close couple by March 9. (37)
Before they were actually wed, Aeltje and Pieter signed a prenuptial agreement for the protection of Aeltje’s children. On March 20, the town secretary recorded that Pieter appeared with his mother, Femmetje Alberts, and Aeltje appeared with her son-in-law Roeloff Hendericks, who was the husband of Aeltje Lubberts. They agreed “that for the glory of God said Pieter Hillebrants and Aeltje Wygerts shall be obliged to conclude their respective marriage here in accordance with the canons of the reformed religion.” They also agreed to share all of their property, apart from 50 guilders set aside from each of Aeltje’s children, who are identified as “Aeltje and Jan, children of Lubbert Jansen, and for Lysbet and Gysbert, children of Albert Gysbertsen.” To accomplish this, “Aeltje Wygerts, mortgages her house and land situated under [the jurisdiction of] the village of Wildwyck.” Additionally, “It was also stipulated that the aforesaid bride shall have her children instructed in reading and writing, and, if possible, shall have them learn a trade.” (38) Again, this record refers to Pieter and Aeltje as the “aforesaid respective married people” even though it appears to be a prenuptial agreement, which includes a stipulation about how they were to conclude their marriage.
The heifer that Albert purchased from the Tack estate appears in the court records again on Feb. 27, 1666. Pieter Hillebrants agreed to pay 100 guilders in wheat to satisfy the debt before that October. (39)
On Feb. 18, 1672/3, Aeltje and Pieter apparently hired Willem Montagne to defend them against a lawsuit filed by Cornelis Wynkoop. The plaintiff was demanding payments and interest due on a mortgage given to Albert Gysbertsen on May 1, 1664. Neither Pieter, nor Aeltje, are named but the record mentions that Montagne was acting “by virtue of a power of attorney.” He pointed out that the mortgage was for only four years and that Wynkoop had missed his chance to enforce it. The court decided in favor of the defendants. (40)
On March 8, 1674/5, Aeltje and the guardians of Albert’s children, Roelof Swartwout and Jan Willemsen, asked to apportion the children’s inheritance, noting “the same have attained their majority except Jan, who is one year short of it.” The court allowed the apportionment. However, the mention of a son named “Jan” should be discussed. It seems almost certain that this is a mistaken reference to Gysbert. The only Jan mentioned in connection with Aeltje is the son of her first husband Lubbert Jansen. Since it had been less than 10 years since Albert’s death, this second “Jan” must have been his youngest child. Since Gysbert is listed as the fourth of Aeltje’s four children in the prenuptial agreement mentioned above, it seems likely that he was the son who was one year short of majority. (41)
Aeltje lived at least until Nov. 1, 1684, when she and Pieter are listed as the sponsors of Pieter, son of Aeltje’s son Gysbert. (42)
(1) Albert’s farther was certainly named Gysbert and Albert took his surname from his father’s first name, following the Dutch custom of the time. Albert appears in numerous cases mentioned in ““Minutes of the Court of Fort Orange and Beverwyck,” translated and edited by A.J.F. Van Laer, The University of the State of New York, 1920-1923.
. See pages references below. When Albert’s widow, Aeltje Wiggers, or Wygert, remarried in 1665, her place of residence was listed as Wiltwyck, which is now Kingston. See “Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York, 1660-1809,” transcribed and edited by Roswell R. Hoes, 1891, page 501. (2) Her place of birth is recorded as “Herden” in the “Old Dutch Church” records, page 501. “Ulster County, N.Y., Probate Records,” by Gustave Anjou, page 29, records the marriage agreement between Aeltje Wygert and Pieter Hillebrants in 1665. It mentioned that she was the widow of Albert Gysbertsen but also mentioned that she had two children with Lubbert Jansen. Their names were Aeltje and Jan. The daughter – listed as Aeltje Lubbers – married Roeloff Hendricksen on Nov. 30, 1664, according to “Old Dutch Records,” also page 501. In addition, Roeloff Hendericks is listed as the elder Aeltje’s son-in-law in “Probate Records,” page 29. So far, I have found only one reference to a Jan Lubbertsen after the marriage agreement. He is listed as a sponsor at the baptism of Thomas and Cathryntje Clercks, children of William Clercks and Hilletje in t’Veld on June 25, 1699. See “Old Dutch Church, page 56. (3) “New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch; Kingston Papers,” translated by Dingman Versteeg, edited by Peter R. Christoph, Kenneith Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda, 1976, vol. 2, pages 557-558. Lysbet and Gysbert – as well as Jan and Aeltje – are mentioned in the agreement recorded March 20, 1665, when their mother planned to remarry. It should be noted that there’s a confusing record that mentions a younger son named Jan. “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, page 528, contains this record from March, 8, 1674/5: “Roelof Swartwout and Jan Willemsen, guardians of the children of Albert Gysbertsen, deceased, besides the mother of the children, request to be permitted to apportion to the children their patrimonial inheritance, because the same have attained their majority except Jan, who is one year short of it. The hon. court allows the same to take place.” This would seem to indicate that Albert had a son named Jan. However, all other records indicate that Albert had only two children and two step-children, both of whom were certainly older than his own children. It would seem most likely that this young “Jan” was actually Gysbert. (4) “Old Dutch Church”, page 501. The link to Heerde is also mentioned in “The Rosenkrans Family in Europe and America,” published in 1900 by Allen Rosenkrans, page 54. I do not know where Rosenkrans got this information from, but it may have been based on family tradition since he doesn’t cite a source. (5) “New Netherland Connections,” Vol. 4, No. 3, July 1999, pages 59, which states that the list appears in “Documents Relating to the Colonial History of New York,” vol. 13, page 74. (6) “New Netherland Connections,” page 58-59. (7) “New Netherland Connections,” page 59. (8“Minutes of the Court of Fort Orange and Beverwyck,” translated and edited by A.J.F. Van Laer, The University of the State of New York, 1920-1923, vol. 1, page 305 for Dec. 5, 1656. (9) The mentions of Albert, in order, are from “Court of Fort Orange,” vol. 2, page 52 for July 5, 1657; 75-76, 98, 101 and 102, for the Baefin Pietersen cases; 102-103 for the case from Feb. 19, 1658; 112 for May 14, 1658. (10) “Court of Fort Orange,” vol. 2, pages 259, 271, 274, 288 and 307. (11) “New Netherland Connections,” page 60. (12) “Kingston Papers,” page 119 for the first case and 124-125 for the second. (13) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 16-17, 19. (14) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 30. (15) “Kingston Papers,” page 32. (16) “Kingston Papers,” pages 42, 44, 45 and 46. (17) “Kingston Papers,” page 64. (18) “The Documentary History of the State of New York,” by E.B. O’Callaghan, 1849, vol. 4, “Journal of the Second Esopus War,” pages 39-42. (19) “Documentary History,” pages 42-44. (19a) “Kingston Papers,” Vol. 1, pages 71-72. (20) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 74. Subsequent records of Albert’s administration of the estates appear on page 91, Oct. 23, 1663; page 158, July 22, 1664; and pages 214-215, Feb. 17, 1665, when DeWit asked to be relieved of his responsibilities after Albert’s death. (21) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 79. (22) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 92. (23) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 103. (24) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 104. (25) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, pages 106-107. (26) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 105 for the van Imbroch case; pages 110 and 122 for the Jochemsen case; pages 119, 124-125 for the cases related to the minister’s salary; and page 128 for the Ham case. (27) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, pages 128-129. (28) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, pages 536-538. (29) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, pages 538-540. (30) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, pages 154-155. (31) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 155. (32) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, pages 158-159 concerning the estate and 159 for the other case. (33) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, page 544. (34) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 175. (35) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 191. (36) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 1, page 282. (37) “Old Dutch Church,” page 501. (38) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, pages 557-558. (38) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, page 589. (40) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, pages 492-493. (41) “Kingston Papers,” vol. 2, page 528.
(42) “Old Dutch Church,” page 23.
GYSBERT ALBERTSEN and RACHEL VAN GARDEN
Gysbert Albertsen van Garden was the son of Albert Gysbertsen and Aeltje Wygert, probably born in what is now New York State. (1)
Married Rachel Roosekrans sometime before November 1682. Rachel was the daughter of Harmen Hendricksen (Rosenkrans) and Maddeleen Dircks. She was baptized Oct. 21, 1663 in what is now Kingston, N.Y. (2)
Harman van Garden, baptized Nov. 26, 1682.
Pieter van Garden, baptized Nov. 1, 1684.
Magdalena van Garden, baptized Aug. 29, 1686.
Geysberth van Garden, baptized Dec. 9, 1688.
Henderik van Garden, baptized Jan. 28, 1692.
Heroman van Garden, baptized July 12, 1696.
Alexander van Garden, baptized May 29, 1698.
Aaltje van Garden, baptized Oct. 13, 1700.
Sara van Garden, baptized Jan. 31, 1703. Died young.
Sara van Garden, baptized Sept. 22, 1705.
Christina van Garden, baptized Sept. 18, 1709.
Following the Dutch custom of the time, Gysbert was usually identified as Albertsen, or Albertse, which indicates he was the son of Albert. However, the surname van Garden appears in several records, starting in the 1680s, and became the standard family name in the next generation.
Gysbert’s father died when he was young. Court records list his mother as a widow on Dec. 18, 1664. (4)
“The Rosenkrans Family in Europe and America,” published in 1900, contains a brief description of Gysbert. Rachel Rosenkrans “married Gysbert Van Garden, who settled about 1684 on a farm in Rochester, on the Rondout. … Gysbert’s name previous to 1684 is found in the records as Gysbert Alberts, but in a petition to the Governor, 1684, he signed his name Gysbert VanGarden, and since then he and his descendants have had the family name of VanGarden, now usually spelled VanGorden. Gysbert is said to have been a large land owner in Rochester, and as before mentioned owned, in company with Alexander Rosenkrans, a mill property on the Peterskill. He was a Trustee of Rochester 1713-16, and died prior to 1720.” (5)
There are at least two problems with this account. One is that Gysbert didn’t consistently use the surname van Garden after 1684. The second problem is that the above account is followed by a list of children that doesn’t match the church records. It adds the name Albert and a younger Herman (or “Heroman,” as the church records states). It also leaves out Alexander and Aaltje. And in a typographical error, it refers to Christina as Christian.
Gysbert first appears in the Reformed Church records of Kingston as the sponsor at the baptism of Heiltie, daughter of Jacob Jansse Van Etten and Annetie Gelvins, who was baptized April 20, 1679 in Marbletown, N.Y. (6)
Gysbert and Rachel’s last appearance in the church records is on Nov. 5, 1699, when they served as sponsors at the baptism of Lysbet, daughter of Juriaan Lootman and Annetje Tyssen. (7)
Gysbert appears to have died before 1720, according to the Rosenkrans genealogy. Rachel’s date of death also is unknown.
(1) “Ulster County, N.Y., Probate Records,” by Gustave Anjou, page 29, contains the marriage agreement between Pieter Hillebrants and Aelitje Wygerts, widow of Albert Gysbertsen. It mentions Lysbet and Gysbert, children of Albert Gysbertsen. The surname “van Garden” appears infrequently until the next generation. (2) “Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York, 1660-1809,” transcribed and edited by Roswell R. Hoes, 1891, page 18. Rachel’s baptism is listed on page 3. Interestingly, Page 37 lists her surname as Harmensen. (3) “Old Dutch Church,” pages18, 23, 32, 37, 47, 53, 60, 68, 74, 87, (4) “Probate Records,” page 22. (5) “The Rosenkrans Family in Europe and America,” published in 1900 by Allen Rosenkrans, page 54. The book cites “Church Life,” by Wm. H. Nearpass of Port Jervis, N.Y. I have not yet been able to check any of the primary sources concerning this matter. (6) “Old Dutch Church,” page 12. (7) “Old Dutch Church,” page 57.
HENDRIK and ELEONORA VAN GARDEN
Hendrik van Garden was born in Rochester, N.Y., to Gysbert Albertsen van Garden and his wife Rachel Harmensen Rosekrans. He was baptized Jan. 28, 1692. (1)
Hendrick married Marretjen Middag on Dec. 4, 1718. Marretje was born in Napanoch, N.Y. She died sometime before Aug. 28, 1720, when banns were published for Hendrick’s marriage to his second wife. On Sept. 15, 1720, Henrick Van Garden, widower of Marretje Middag, married Elionora Dekker. Eleonora – as her name was usually spelled – was born in Rochester to Hermanus Decker and Rachel Montagne. She was baptized Aug. 13, 1699. (2)
Jan van Garden, baptized Sept. 23, 1722.
Marretjen van Garden, baptized Aug. 22, 1725.
Johanna van Garden, baptized Oct. 22, 1727.
Lena van Garden, baptized May 29, 1739.
Catharina van Garden, baptized July 5, 1742. Probably died before 1747.
Catharina van Garden, baptized July 12, 1747.
Hendrik appears in records from both Kingston. N.Y., and the Minisink region, where New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey meet. In 1718, he appears in church records from both Kingston and the Minisink-Machackemeck area, which is now western Orange County, N.Y. (4) From 1722 to 1727, he appears in Kingston records. In 1739, he again appears in the Minisink-Machackemeck area. In 1742 and 1747, he appears in church records from Walpeck in Sussex County, N.J.
The Minisink area was traversed by a road built in the 1600s by Dutch miners connecting Kingston and the Delaware River. Many Dutch families moved from Kingston down the road into New Jersey. (5)
Hendrick appears to have settled in New Jersey by the 1730s. “Oct. 1, 1736, Hendrick Van Gorder located a survey of 100 acres on the Delaware River below Flat Rock. He was living on this land in 1743, when John Lawrence, in running the partition line between East and West Jersey, took an offset from his house,” according to the 1881 “History of Warren and Sussex Counties, New Jersey.” (6)
Hendrick died before Aug. 23, 1764, when Leonora Van Gorden was named administrator of his estate in Sussex County. (7).
(1) “Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York, 1660-1809,” transcribed and edited by Roswell R. Hoes, 1891, page 37. In Hendrick’s baptismal record and most other church records, Gysbert used the traditional Dutch naming system, taking his father’s first name for his last name. However, in other records, he used the surname “van Garden,” which became his descendants’ family name, although spelled in a variety of ways. The same switch occurred in Rachel’s surname. Hendrik’s birthplace is mention in his marriage records on pages 535 and 538. (2) “Old Dutch Church,” pages 535 and 538. Also, “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Vol. V: Minisink Valley Reformed Dutch Church Records,” edited by Royden W. Vosburgh, page 97, lists Hendrick Van Garden and Malletje Middagh as sponsors of Abraham, son of Jan Middagh and Geertje Kearwater on Jan. 29, 1718. Elenora’s baptism is recorded in “Old Dutch Church,” page 56. (3) “Old Dutch Church” contains records of the baptisms of Jan, page 143; Marretjen, page 158; and Johanna, page 171. “Collections” lists the baptisms of Lena, page 100; and the Catharines, pages 2 and 6. It appears likely that Johanna married a man named Edward Johnston, or Johnson. The marriage of a Johanna Van Garden to Edward Johnston on May 16, 1749, is recorded in “Collections,” page 93. The record states that Johanna was born in “Metshepeconk.” In 1751, Hendrik van Garden and Eleonora Decker were witnesses at the baptism of Henry, son of Edward Johnson and Johanna van Garden, on page 10. (4) Hendrick Van Garden and “Malletje Middagh” appear as witnesses at the baptism of Abraham Middagh, son of Jan Middagh, on Jan. 29, 1718 in Minisink-Machackemeck. See “Collections,” page 97. (5) “History of Warren and Sussex Counties, New Jersey,” by James P. Snell, 1881, page 314. (6) “Warren and Sussex,” page 317. (7) Sussex County Book 12, page 233, as abstracted in “Documents Related to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey,” First Series, vol. 33, page 448.
JAN and LISABETH VAN GARDEN
Jan van Garden was born in Rochester, N.Y., to Hendrick and Eleonora (Dekker) van Garden. He was baptized on Sept. 23, 1722. (1)
Jan married Lisabeth van der Mercken on May 16, 1749. Lisabeth was born in Rochester, N.Y., and baptized there – as “Elisabeth” – on Sept. 17, 1732. Her parents were Jeremiah van der Merken and Lea Keyser. Their surname is spelled various ways, including vander Mark and van der Merckel. (2)
Lea van Garden, baptized in 1750. Married Jacobus van Gorden.
Hendrick van Garden, baptized March 22, 1752.
Marya van Garden, baptized June 30, 1754. Possibly married Preserve Coolly.
Jacob VanGorden, about 1761.
Jeremiah van Garden.
John van Garden, baptized April 1, 1764.
Catrina van Garden, baptized Aug. 18, 1766.
Abraham van Garden.
Isaac van Garden.
Peter van Garden.
Elias VanGorden, baptized Feb. 10, 1773.
Sometime before 1739, Jan’s family appears to have moved from the Rochester area to the Minisink region, where Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York meet. Jan’s sister Lena was baptized in that year at the Dutch Reformed Church in the Minisink-Machackemeck area, which is now western Orange County, N.Y. In 1742, Jan’s sister Catharine was baptized at the Dutch Reformed Church in Walpeck, Sussex County, N.J. (4) Jan’s marriage record states that both he and Lisabeth lived in “Walpack” at the time of their wedding.
It appears that John, as he’s listed in most civil records, served as a ranger on the frontiers of New Jersey during the French and Indian War. (5) “The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey” states: “The outbreak of the French & Indian War was heralded in New Jersey by several Indian forays into Sussex County and adjacent areas of Pennsylvania and New York. Governor Jonathan Belcher received a series of reports of settlers being killed or captured and their homesteads burned. …
“On 3 June 1757 the Legislature passed ‘An Act for the raising and maintaining One Hundred and Twenty effective men, for the Defense of the Frontiers of the Colony of New Jersey.’ … It was commanded by Capt. Richard Gardiner, a Justice of Sussex County and Agent for the East Jersey Board of Proprietors in the County. He had for some time previously been Commander of the Forces on the Frontier.”
John Vangarden appears on the “Muster Ross of the Provincial Forces Commanded by Capt. Richard Gardiner on the Frontiers of New Jersey for the 8th of June to the 20th day of July 1757.” He also appears on the five muster rolls of Gardiner’s company that cover service from July 20, 1757, to April 6, 1758.
Following the war, it’s possible that the family temporarily moved from Walpack. Several of the Van Garden children who were born around 1760 are missing from the church baptismal records. The baptisms resume again in 1764.
Tax records for 1773 and 1774 list John Van Gardon and John Vangordor in Walpack Township. He was taxed for 30 acres of land and three head of livestock. (6)
During the Revolutionary War, a John Van Gorden from Sussex County served in Capt. Harker’s company in the 2nd Regiment. Since two John’s lived in Sussex county in the 1770s, further research will be required before a positive identification for this soldier is made. (7)
The family lived in Sandyston, Sussex County, in 1777, according to John’s will. The area is near the Delaware River, which forms the boarder with Pennsylvania.
John died before May 25, 1778, when his will was filed. (8)
(1) Jan’s baptism is recorded in “Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York, 1660-1809,” transcribed and edited by Roswell R. Hoes, 1891, page 143. Place of birth is also listed in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Vol. V: Minisink Valley Reformed Dutch Church Records,” edited by Royden Woodward Vosburgh, page 93. (2) The marriage is recorded in “Collections,” page 93, mentions her maiden name. The baptism appears in “Old Dutch Church,” page 191. The will of Jeremiah van de Mark of Hurley and also of Wallpack, Sussex County, N.J., mentions a daughter named Elizabeth. The will was written Sept. 5, 1756, and proved Nov. 21, 1760. (3) The children for whom precise baptismal dates are listed appear in “Collections,” pages 11, 14, 18, 20, 162, respectively. Lea’s baptism year is listed on page 14 of “Records of the Old Dutch Reformed Church, Walpack Township, Sussex Co., N.J.,” microfilmed church records provided by Patricia Stavovy of Washington, Pa. Jan’s will appears in Sussex County Will Book 20, page 301, and is abstracted in “Documents Relating to the Colonial and Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey,” First Series, vol. 34, page 543-544. The will, which calls him John Van Gorden, lists the children as Hendrick, Lea (listed as the wife of Jacobus Van Gorden), a daughter who is the wife of Preserve Coolly, Jeremiah, Jacob, Abraham, Isaac, Peter and Elias. The wife of Preserve Coolly was probably Marya, unless the van Gardens had other daughters who were not baptized, which is possible since that was the case with several of their sons. Catrina’s baptism date is listed as Aug. 14 in the printed transcript. However, it’s listed as 18 in a photocopy of the original records. (4) “Collections,” page 100 for Lena and 2 for Catharine. (5) “The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey,” vol., 62, January 1987, pages 15 and 19. I have not seen other Johns appear in the records during this period so it seems certain that the man who served as a ranger was the son of Hendrick. (6) The tax lists appears in “The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey,” vol. XL, 1965, page 143. Also, “New Jersey Tax Lists 1722-1822,” Vol. 4, edited by Ronald Vern Jackson, pages 3339 and 3415. However, the second source is less detailed. A second John appears in the 1773 tax list. He was taxed for one head of livestock. On Feb. 10, 1773, Jan and Elizabeth’s son Elias was baptized by the pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Minisink-Machackemeck area, which is now western Orange County, N.Y. However, this probably doesn’t reflect a move since the family appears in Walpeck tax records in 1773 and 1774. Since a large number of children were baptized on one day, it seems likely that the pastor traveled to New Jersey for the purpose. See “Collections,” page 162. (7) “Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War,” compiled by order of William S. Stryker, republished by the Genealogical Publishing Co. in 1967, page 799. (8) “Documents Relating to the Colonial and Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey,” First Series, vol. 34, page 543-544. There appears to be some discrepancy here because the will was supposedly proved May 24, 1778, but the inventory was taken March 8, 1777. It seems likely that one of these references is incorrect.
JACOB and MARGARET VANGORDER
Jacob VanGorder was born about 1761 in Sussex County, N.J., to Jan and Lisabeth (van der Merken) Van Garden. (1)
Jacob was married to a woman named Margaret, who was born about 1763. Some secondary sources indicate her surname as Beamer. (2)
Christina VanGorder, born April 8, 1789. Married William Wilson.
Elizabeth VanGorder, born about 1791. Married James Allen.
Sara VanGorder, born about 1795. Married Jonathan Houk.
Margaret (Peggy) VanGorder, born about 1800. Married Christopher Lesnett.
Jacob VanGorder, born about 1805.
Mary VanGorder. Married a man named Pollock, probably James.
Deborah VanGorder. Married a man named Morrison, probably David.
Very little can be written about Jacob’s early life with any degree of certainty. The earliest record that I’ve uncovered so far is the reference to his payment of taxes in Sussex County, N.J., in 1793. However, there are a number of secondary sources that try to fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, some are contradictory and some are obviously incorrect.
An entry from 1897’s “Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania” offers a very interesting account of Jacob’s early life. (4) In an item about Israel Van Gorder, the book says Israel was the “grandson of Jacob Van Gorder, Sr., who was born in Holland and came to American when a young man. Our subject’s grandfather was taken prisoner at the Massacre of Wyoming and was to be killed, but his life was providentially saved by one of the squaws adopting him as her son. He lived with the Indians some five years, and then making his escape went to Pittsburg, where he followed farming principally as a means of livelihood. Later on, he bought a small tract of new land in the southern part of Lawrence County, and built a log-house thereon, cleared the land, married and raised six children: Jacob, Betsy, Tena, Margaret, Sarah, and one whose name was not given. Two daughters married two brothers by the name of Allen.
“Jacob Van Gorder, the oldest child, and only son, cared for his parents, who died at quite and advanced age, the father when about eighty years old, and the mother when not quite so old by a few years.”
This account is fascinating, but close examination reveals some problems. First, Jacob wasn’t born in Holland. There’s no evidence indicating that two of his daughters married “brothers named Allen.” In fact, Jacob’s will lists all of his known children and only one daughter is listed as an Allen. And Jacob didn’t show up in western Pennsylvania until roughly 15 years after the 1778 Battle of Wyoming. With these problems, the account has to be treated with some degree of skepticism. We have to ask whether Jacob actually served in the Revolutionary War and captured by Native Americans. The questions become even sharper when this account is compared to the book’s entry for another of Jacob’s grandsons, Alvah S. Van Gorder, which makes no mention of Revolutionary service or Indian captivity. And a similar book published just 11 years latter includes three accounts of Jacob, none of which mentions these events.
However, we know that Jacob did, indeed, serve as a soldier during the Revolution. Unfortunately, we have no other details about his service. His name is among those on “an official list for the year 1836 of the Revolutionary pensioners” of Beaver County. (5) But no date or unit is listed in this source and no supporting documentation has turned up. In addition, his name doesn’t appear on any of the available military rosters from New Jersey or Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary era.
Proof of Jacob’s capture is even more elusive. Numerous family traditions have come down to us but it’s hard to determine their reliability since no written record of the event has turned up. In fact, there’s an indication that Jacob was never captured – at least at the Battle of Wyoming. The names of the Americans killed or captured in the battle that occurred near what is now Wilkes-Barre, Pa., are known and Jacob is not listed among them. And the earliest mention of the incident that I have uncovered is the 1897 item cited above. Since this source was compiled about 60 years after Jacob’s death, it’s possible Israel’s family members were confusing Jacob with another ancestor – a frequent problem in the family histories from the late 1800s.
On the other hand, the story can’t be dismissed out of hand. One family tradition says that Jacob was apprenticed to a tailor and went to battle in place of the tailor’s son. It’s possible that the records were incorrect because of a last-minute switch. Another possibility is that Jacob was staying with family at the time of the battle and was caught up in the action. Members of Jacob’s extended family lived in the Wyoming Valley and their names appear frequently in the militia records for Northampton County, which encompassed the Wilkes-Barre area at that time. And one of them – Abram VanGorder – was among those listed as killed in the Battle of Wyoming. (6) It’s possible that the 17-year-old Jacob was sent to live with his relatives after his father’s death the previous year. That could easily put him in the right place at the right time. It’s possible that Jacob simply answered an emergency call to arms to protect his new home and his relatives. However, these remain only possibilities. Unless additional records come to light, it’s impossible to say what actually occured.
No mattered what happened in the late 1770s, Jacob and his family lived in New Jersey until at least 1793. In that year, Jacob and his brother Elias appeared on the tax lists of Sussex County’s Walpack Township. (7) Census records indicate that Jacob’s daughter Sara was born in Pennsylvania in 1795. If that is correct, the family moved to the Keystone State between 1793 and 1795.
Since Jacob was a relatively early settler in what is now Lawrence County, Pa., his arrival is noted in local history books.
In 1897’s “Book of Biographies,” the item about Alvah S. Van Gorder provides the basic outline. (8) It reads: “ALVAH S. VAN GORDER is not only a prominent and well-to-do farmer of Perry township, Lawrence Co., Pa., but he is also a grandson of one of the men who, with brawny arm, ready axe and fixed resolve, came into the wilderness that once existed, where there are prosperous and productive farms to-day, to build homes and to found families. … The grandfather referred to above was the old and well-known pioneer, Jacob Van Gorder, Sr., who was born in the State of New Jersey, but at an early age came west and made his first stand in Washington County. About 1800, he removed into Perry township, and bought a small tract of land which his grandson, Alvah, owns to-day. On it he erected a small log cabin which he replaced later on with a large house. Jacob Van Gorder, Sr., departed this life at the age of seventy-seven.”
The 1908 book “20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, and Representative Citizens” echoes this passage from “Book of Biographies” in most cases. An entry covering James A. Van Gorder, a grandson of Jacob’s, gives this account: “Jacob Van Gorder, Sr., was born in New Jersey, and early in life moved west to Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he lived for a time. About the year 1800 he moved to Perry Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, and settled on a small farm which has since been known as the Van Gorder homestead, being at the present time owned by Alvi S. Van Gorder, grandson of the pioneer. The latter died on the place in the seventy-seventh year of his age.” (9)
The same book contains a biographical note on Jacob Evans Van Gorder, (10) which reads: “On the paternal side he is a descendant of one of the early settlers of this section, Jacob Van Gorder, who located at a very early date on the Slippery Rock Creek.”
The book also mentions Jacob in a section on the history of Perry Township. “Jacob Van Gorder came from New Jersey about 1806, and settled on Slippery Rock Creek. He built a sawmill some time after he came, and some time between 1845 and 1850 erected a grist mill, which was later operated by his sons.” (11) However, this account presents some problems. The migration date is off and Jacob could not have built the mill in 1845 since he died in 1836. (The same book, in its item on James Van Gorder, states that Jacob Jr. build the sawmill.)
Although the Van Gorder family is mentioned frequently in Lawrence County records, the area was actually part of Beaver County until 13 years after Jacob’s death.
Jacob first appears in Beaver County in the 1800 Census, under Sewickley Township. His household contained one male 26-45, four females under 10, 2 females 10-16 and one female 26-45. In that year, he is also listed as a farmer in the list of taxable residents of Sewickley Township of Allegheny County, before the township was incorporated into the newly created Beaver County.
He appears in the tax records of Beaver County in 1803, which indicate that he owned 50 acres, two cows and a yoke of oxen. He was living in what was then North Sewickley Township. (12)
In the 1810 Census, Jacob’s household contained one male under age 10, one male age 45 or older, two females under 10, two females 10-16, one female 16-26, and one female age 45 or older.
In 1815, Jacob owned 76 acres, a horse and three cows in North Sewickley Township. (13)
In the 1820 Census, Jacob’s household appears in North Sewickley Township with one male under age 10, one male age 10-16, one male age 45 or older, one female 10-16, one female age 45 or older.
“20th Century History” mentions that Jacob’s brother Elias settled on Slippery Rock Creek in 1808. The account says that he “went to Erie in Captain Kildoo’s company, during the War of 1812, and died there.” Beaver County Orphans Court records say that Elias was 43 when he died and that he left behind Mary, his widow, and Susannah, John, David and Jane, his children, when he died Feb. 17, 1814, while part of the 138th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia. (14)
The Van Gorders attended Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church in what is now Wayne Township, Lawrence County. The church “is the oldest organization in the township, and takes its name from Slippery Rock Creek, on the banks of which it held its first meetings, in Allen’s old gristmill, as early as 1800, and possibly before. The congregation was organized about 1800, and some of the original members were … Jacob Van Gorder and Margaret, his wife (Van Gorder and wife later, about 1806).” (15)
The Presbyterian congregation built a log church after calling its first pastor in 1803. The building is described in a narrative compiled for the congregation’s 150th anniversary in 1951. “This church lacked many of the things which we now deem essential, and there were some features of this early building that are interesting. One of them is that the fireplace was in the center of the church and on the ground. … This building for a long time lacked seats, so that people were compelled to stand or sit upon the ground. But this condition was not to last for long, for soon one of the families worshipping here constructed for themselves a seat, being a split log with four sticks driven into the legs. It is interesting to know that some of those who did not have seats criticized this new departure severely, saying They want to be more aristocratic than the rest of us, and such like.” (16)
Margaret died June 9, 1827. That September, Jacob wrote his will, leaving his property to his children. The will contains his mark rather than a signature, probably indicating that Jacob could not write.
The 1830 Census lists a Jacob Vangorder in North Sewickley Township, but the information doesn’t match what’s known about our Jacob. The census indicates that the household contained 1 male under 5, 2 males 10-14, 1 males 40-49, 2 females 5-9, 1 female 15-19 and 1 female 40-49. The obvious problems are that Jacob would have been about 69 years old and the household contained far too many people. It seems likely that the census take made a few mistakes and relatives or another family had moved into the household.
Jacob died May 17, 1836. He and Margaret are buried at Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church.
(1) Birth year comes from “Lawrence County Cemeteries: Book 7: Wayne Township,” compiled by Dwight E. Copper, page 5. Jacob and his brother Elias are mentioned in their father’s will in the Calendar of Wills in the “New Jersey Archives,” First Series, Vol. 24, page 543-544. No record of Jacob’s birth has been found but Jan and Lisabeth appear in church records of the Walpack Reformed Church in Sussex County during the general time of Jacob’s birth. Elias’ baptism appears under Feb. 10, 1773, in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Vol. V: Minisink Valley Reformed Dutch Church Records,” page 162. Place of birth is mentioned in “20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, and Representative Citizens,” edited by Aaron L. Hazen, page 444. (2) Margaret is mentioned as his wife in “20th Century History,” page 359. She is buried next to Jacob, according to the cemetery book. Several late sources refer to her maiden name as Beamer or Beemer, but none of the readily available early sources state this. In the 1790s, several Beemer families lived in Newtown Township and one lived in Sandyston Township, where Jacob’s father resident at the time of his death in 1777. It’s possible she was related to one of these. (3) Names of the children and last names of the husbands are listed in Beaver County Will Book B, page 128. The daughter’s husbands are further identified in the death certificates of some of their children and their birth dates are indicated on their tombstones, which can be seen at Findagrave.com. Birth places are listed in census records as noted. Christina’s husband is identified through her daughter Christina Boother’s death certificate at “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates,” at Ancestry.com. Her birthplace is indicated in the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Wayne Township, Lawrence County. Elizabeth’s husband is identified on the death certificate of her son Jesse Allen, which is available at “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” at FamilySearch.org. Her birthplace in indicated in the 1860 Census of Union Township, Fayette County, Ohio. Sarah’s husband is identified through the Pennsylvania death certificate of her daughters Delilah Marshall. Margaret’s approximate birth year comes from her tombstone as recorded in “Lawrence County Cemeteries: Book 8: Perry and Washington Townships,” compiled by Dwight E. Cooper, page 15. Jacob Jr.’s birth year is provided by “20th Century History,” page 444. I have not found solid evidence for Deborah and Mary. Deborah’s husband is identified as David Morrison and her birth date as March 4, 1795, at Findagrave.com. Mary’s husband is identified as James Pollock and her birth date as June 3, 1785, at Findagrave.com. (4) Pages 12-13. (5) “History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania and Its Centennial Celebrations,” by the Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, page 477. This list of veterans was dated May 12, just a few days before Jacob’s death. A man listed variously as Jacob, James and Jacobus Vangarter appears on the muster rolls of the Capt. Andrew Moodie’s company in Continental Army’s 2nd Artillery Regiment. This man enlisted on Jan. 6, 1777 and was discharged Jan. 6, 1780. He served as a matross, a member of a cannon crew. However, since this man was discharged rather than captured, his service wouldn’t match the traditional accounts of our Jacob. It’s very possible that this Jacob was from the New York branch of the family. This information is found in “Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783,” at Ancestry.com, Roll 119, page 358 and following. (6) Abram Vangorder is listed in The Searcher, the newsletter of the Genealogical Research Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania in April 1996. Among the names of those living in the Wyoming Valley in 1784 are Samuel Vangorder, Samuel Van Gordon (probably the same man), Helmes Van Gordon, Leah Vangardner and Gisbert Vangorden. This information comes from “Documents Relating to the Connecticut Settlement in the Wyoming Valley,” edited by William H. Egle, pages 367-369. (7) “1793 Tax List – Sussex Co., N.J.,” at www.sussexcountyhistory.org. (8) “Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania,” published in 1897, pages 487-488. (9) “20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County,” page 444. (10) “20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County,” page 772. (11) Page 290. (12) “1803 Tax List, North Sewickley Township,” from Gleanings, Vol., XIV, No. 2/3, by the Beaver County Genealogical Society, as posted on the organization’s Internet site. (13) “North Sewickley Tax Lists, 1815,” from Gleanings, Vol., XV, No. 2, by the Beaver County Genealogical Society, as posted on the organization’s Internet site. (14) “Everyname Abstract of Vol. 1 Orphans’ Court Records, Beaver County, Pennsylvania,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, page 13. The records also say that Mary married John Morton, Esq. on July 15, 1819. The 1815 tax records, on page 290, list a “Widow Vangorder,” who paid taxes on 100 acres, a horse and a cow. Elias is listed as living in Cross Creek Township, Allegheny County, Pa., in the 1800 Census, with only himself and his wife. The 1810 Census finds him in Beaver County with a wife and two sons younger than 10. (15) “20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, and Representative Citizens,” page 359. (16) “Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church 1801-1951: Ellwood City, Lawrence County,” as transcribed on the USGENWeb Archives, Aug. 19, 2001.