Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Godfather of Easton, PA, and Friend of Ben Franklin


     The wife of John Smith was Elizabeth Parsons, born May 4, 1785 in Buckhannon Settlement of Virginia (now West Virginia).  Her marriage record of August 31, 1804 in Harrison County states that her father is Charles Parsons.  Her mother, Elizabeth Chestnut Parsons, had died in 1797, when Elizabeth was only 12 years old.  She and John Smith had at least nine children.

     Charles Parsons, her father, was a Revolutionary War veteran.  He was born in 1745 and joined with Captain John Harness’s Virginia Rangers on October 1, 1775.  He served as a scout.  He had established a “settlement right” of 1400 acres on Elk Creek in Harrison County in 1773 and in 1787, surveyed a road from Randolph County to the Buckhannon Settlement.  He moved his family to Jackson County about 1792, and his wife, Elizabeth Chestnut Parsons died there about 1797.  Charles died in 1823 and was buried in the Baptist Grove Cemetery, which is located right off US Route 33, about five miles east of Ripley, WV.
 

     Charles’ father was William Parsons.  There is much confusion about two William Parsons, who are thought to be father and son, but both worked as surveyors, and both had important accomplishments in their careers.  The son died before the father, which adds to the confusion.  There are many surveys signed by William Parsons, and there are two distinct signatures.  To the best of my knowledge at this point, here is what I know about them. 

     William Parsons, Jr. was born 1722- 1724, probably in Pennsylvania and married Martha Hughes in Pennsylvania on December 5, 1744.  He was probably trained as a surveyor by his father.  He is thought to be the William Parsons that surveyed the “Transpeninsular Line,” which established the east-west boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland.
 

     William Parsons, Sr. is thought to have been born in England (although some sources say Prussia) on May 6, 1701.  He came to America around 1725.  He was trained as a shoemaker, but was a voracious reader and taught himself mathematics to a remarkable level, which led to his second career as a surveyor.  He caught the attention of Benjamin Franklin, and was asked to join the JUNTO, a “club of mutual improvement,” which was the precursor to the American Philosophical Society.  He served as the first librarian of the JUNTO’s subscription library, the first in the colonies. 

     William Sr. was appointed Surveyor General in 1741, and in 1749 was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1749 in Lancaster County, PA.  In 1752, he was commissioned to lay out the town of Easton, PA and became known as the “Godfather of Easton,” having laid out its streets and town square, building a jail and school, digging a well and laying out a cemetery.  It is difficult for us to understand what a hard, physical job being a surveyor was.  It involved hiking through wilderness, living in the wilds, and it took its toll on William, forcing him to give up his lucrative career after less than ten years.  In 1755, after hearing of the Indian massacre at nearby Gnaden Hutten, most of the citizens of Easton fled.  William wrote to Governor Morris asking him to provide arms, ammunition, and soldiers to defend the town.  He could not afford to send any of the young men with the message, needing them for defense, so he sent his daughter, Grace.  One account says she went on horseback, making the trip in two days.  Another account says William sent her in a wagon which would return with the needed supplies, and that she would stay in Philadelphia for her safety. 

     As successful as William Sr. was in his career, he was not successful in marriage.  He married a German woman, Johanna Christiana Zeidig in 1722.  She became very active in the Moravian Church, of which William was opposed.  He told her she had to leave the church, or he would leave her.  She would not, and in 1745, he left her, taking their two youngest children with him.  He is supposed to have sent for Johanna when he knew he was dying in 1757, and she left to go to his side, but he died before she arrived.  Benjamin Franklin was in London when he heard of William’s death.  In a letter to Hugh Roberts, Franklin described William as “an odd character,” “a wise man that often acted foolishly,” as someone who “even when prosperous, was always fretting” and “had always the means of happiness without ever enjoying the thing.”

     William died December 22, 1757 at the age of 57.  He is buried in the German Reformed Cemetery in Easton.  The inscription on his marker reads “He rocked Easton in her cradle and watch of her infant footsteps with paternal solicitude.”

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

More Questions Than Answers

     Jeff and I went to Meigs County last week to do some family tree research.  I thought I had prepared very well for the trip:  I had my laptop with ancestry.com and Family Tree Maker, had all my paper files, had looked up where county records were kept and hours for each of those facilities. Our campground had no internet access, and when we were told that, I thought, "No problem.  I have everything on my phone I need."  Well, there wasn't even cell phone service at the campground unless we went up on the hill with the groundskeeper goat.  Again, I thought, "No problem.  There will be wireless at the library and historical society."  The library was undergoing a huge renovation, which looks like it's going to be lovely, but all the records I wanted to look at were in storage.  There was no wireless access.  So we went on to the historical society, which was supposed to hold the earliest public records of Meigs County.  The historical society was supposed to open at 10 a.m. according to their web page, but the sign on the door said they were closed until 1 p.m.  So we went cemetery hunting and returned at 1.  The research room was tiny, with 6 or 8 of the huge record books strewn across the table, so very little room to work, and there was no wireless.  It turns out the only original records the historical society had were estate records.  There were photocopies of other records, which had been made several years ago and shrunk down to 8.5x11 pages from books that were originally about 30x22 inches.  Come to find out, the original records are still at the Court House, and of course, by the time I figured this out it was time for the Court House to close on a Friday afternoon.  So, it was a rather frustrating research trip, but a wonderful camping trip!

     Some of the information I did find led to more questions than answers.  First, I found a book called Meigs County History Book, copyright 1979, by the Meigs County Pioneer and Historical Society.  Many counties made these history books when genealogy research became much more popular with the advent of software programs like Family Tree Maker.  The books contain narratives written by family members  who tell what they know about their family's history.  The narratives contain no source information, and are usually just retelling of family tradition.  The Meigs County History Book contains an article on the Ashworth Family which begins: "The ancestors of the Ashworth family came from Ireland to the United States during the Irish potato famine of 1845-56."  It goes on to state that "James Ashworth was born 1759, died January 8, 1844.  His son Thomas Ashworth, born 1789, died November 25, 1857, married Nancy Ashworth, died July 1, 1876."  The birth and death dates matched what I had, but the rest of the story did not add up.  I felt quite sure I had correct information for the family arriving in 1812, but set out to make sure I had reliable sources.  It is possible that there was another family arriving during the War of 1812 with the same names.  However, I have 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850 U.S. Census Records showing Thomas Ashcraft living in Meigs County, Ohio.  His marriage to Nancy Blain is recorded on July 1, 1824 in Meigs County.  Although I have not yet found a birth record for his son, John, born in 1828, the 1860 Census tell us that he was born in Ohio.  I feel quite confident that my dates and information on the Ashworth Family shared in an earlier post are correct.

 
John Ashworth, Died Feb 19, 1898, Aged 69 Years, 2 Months, 1 Day
Carleton Cemetery 
 

Thomas Ashworth, Died Nov.  26, 1857, Aged 68 Years
Chester Cemetery
 

Nancy Blain, Wife of Thomas Ashworth
July 1, 1876
Chester Cemetery
 

     Another question was raised when I read through John Ashworth's will.  He left all his property both real and personal to his wife (Caroline) and at her death "to be divided between my heirs--giving to my oldest daughter the sum of five dollars the residue to be equally divided amongst the remaining heirs."  Why was Mary singled out to receive exactly five dollars?  Was it a slight because of her illegitimate son (Clarence Goldsberry)?  Or a smaller amount because she was married to an older, established farmer?  I haven't found the answer to this question yet!

     A third question arose when we were visiting the Smith Cemetery.  Findagrave states that John Smith and his wife, Elizabeth Parsons Smith, are buried in the Smith Cemetery in Bedford Township, Meigs County.  John was a veteran of the War of 1812.  We found Smith Cemetery on the top of a large hill, and it is one of the prettiest cemeteries I have ever visited. 



We made the long trek to the top of the hill, and I was so excited to find this tombstone with a War of 1812 Veteran marker. 
 

     I thought I had found John Smith's grave!  However, on closer examination, I found it actually said John Smitley, not Smith.  Most of the other tombstones were clearly "Smiths," so could this tombstone have been carved incorrectly and used nonetheless?  I came home and did some internet searching for a War of 1812 Veteran John Smitley, and found his last name was correct.  I also discovered that a Smith female had married a Smitley, so there was a family connection.

     Several of the tombstones were completely devoid of their inscriptions.  I assume John and Elizabeth's tombstone engravings have succumbed to weathering.  I looked for a listing of Smith Cemetery transcriptions in the Historical Society, but did not find anything.  As I looked over my notes, I questioned why John and Elizabeth Smith would have been buried in Bedford Township when they had lived in Letart Township? Letart is the southernmost township, and Bedford is one of the most northern townships, and I would estimate it to be 30 miles away.  More research is needed to figure this riddle out!

     I wonder if I can talk Jeff into another few days in Meigs County?  It was a beautiful trip, in spite of the research frustrations!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Two Generations of Smith Soldiers, Revolutionary and War of 1812


     Phoebe Lovett Goldsberry’s mother was Mary Ann “Polly” Smith, daughter of an Ohio pioneer and granddaughter of a Revolutionary War veteran.  Mary Ann was born August 31, 1806 in Harrison County, Virginia, which is now West Virginia.  She died in 1891 and is buried in Zion Cemetery, close to Shade, Athens County, Ohio.
 
 
     Mary Ann's parents, John Smith and Elizabeth Parsons Smith, moved within a few years after her birth to the new state of Ohio.  John Smith took ownership of a plat of land in 1805, but Polly’s birth is recorded in Virginia in 1806.  They settled in Letart Township in Meigs County.  
John Smith's plat is in the upper left corner.
 
     John must have served in the War of 1812, because Elizabeth was paid a pension based on his service in Captain Walker’s Company. 
 
 
     John died in 1832, and Elizabeth in 1857.  Both are buried in the Smith Cemetery in rural Meigs County.  I hope to visit this cemetery soon!
 
 

     John was the son of a Revolutionary War soldier and Indian scout, Mark Smith.  Mark was born October 24, 1755 in Virginia.  A page in the Smith Family Bible, now owned by Mrs. M.T. Smith in Lost Creek, WV, states that Mark Smith “served under Col. George Washington in the battle that ended the Revolutionary War by the surrender of Cornwallis at York Town.”  He was approved for a pension in 1832 for two years’ service, but was dropped in 1835 when new legislation demanded proof of service, and he could not provide proof of more than six months’ service.  He stated he had worked as an Indian spy for two years, but he could not remember if it was during the dates of the Revolution or before. 
 
 
     He moved his family to Lewis County in 1805 to an area that became known as Smith’s Run.  He is buried, with a military marker, off Route 5 in Lewis County, WV.
 
 

     Mark’s father was Peter Smith II, born in Virginia about 1731.  Peter’s father was Peter Smith I, born in Germany July 14, 1706.  He arrived in America on a ship named the “Pennsylvania Merchant,” having boarded in the Netherlands.
 

 

 

Sources:
Descendants of Peter Smith, available on hackerscreek.com
Lewis County, Her People and Places 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

One Strong Lady and Her Quaker Ancestors


     Phoebe Lovett was the wife of John Van Buren, and grandmother to Clarence Goldsberry.  She was the daughter of William Lovett and Mary Ann “Polly” Smith, born March 24, 1839 in Racine, Lebanon Township, Meigs County, Ohio.  She married John Van Buren July 27, 1856 in Racine, when she was just 17 years old.  John Van Buren was ten years older than his wife.  She had a son, George, the next year, and another son, William David in 1859. George died as a young child.  John Van Buren left for the Civil War when Phoebe was four or five months pregnant with their daughter, Christine, who died when she was only 15 years old.  After John Van Buren returned from the war in 1865, they had four more children:  Francis Ellsworth (our direct line ancestor), Ella, Eva, and Charles Lewis.  Charles was only 10 years old when his father died.  Phoebe was left with four children to raise by herself, and then took custody of her grandson, Clarence.
 

Phoebe died February 22, 1925, almost 40 years after John Van Buren.  They are buried in the Zion Cemetery, outside of Shade.

 Phoebe’s father, William Lovett, was born in Ohio on June 4, 1804, the year after Ohio became a state.  He married Mary Smith on September 15, 1826. 
 
 William and Mary are enumerated in the 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870 census records.   Some interesting notes from the census records:  In 1850, they have seven children: Betsey, 17; Sarah, 14; Daniel, 13; Phoeba, 11; William, 9; Mary E.., 4; Eliza A., 2. In the 1860 census, Sarah, Daniel and Phoebe are not listed.  We know that Daniel and Phoebe are married and out on their own.  Sarah would be 24 years old, so is probably married.  Elizabeth is 27 and is marked as “idiotic,” as she is in 1870.  Also in 1860, there are two more children, Hiram, 9, and O. W., 6.  In 1870,  O.W.’s first name is Orange (?) even though in Phoebe’s obituary, he is named Owen.    Also in the 1870 census, we find that Hiram has married someone named Samaria and they are living with William and Mary.  William died on December 4, 1871 and is buried in Meigs County.

     William’s parents Daniel and Phoebe West were married January 1, 1798 in Ohio, one of the oldest recorded marriages in the state.  Daniel Lovett is listed as one of the early settlers of Meigs County in the book The Pioneer History of Meigs County.  He and Phoebe are enumerated in the 1820, 1830, and 1840 census of Letart Township, Meigs County, OH.  Daniel died December 4, 1840 in Meigs County, OH.

     Daniel’s father is Owen Lovett, born about 1755 in Bucks County, PA.  He married Mercy Stackhouse March 11, 1776 in Northampton Township, Bucks County, PA.  Both the Lovett and the Stackhouse families were Quakers.  The Quakers kept meticulous records of each meeting, which includes births, marriages, deaths, and church discipline.  Owen is listed in the PA military rosters for the Revolutionary War, but no other information about his service has been found yet.  It was unusual for Quakers to serve in the military.  He is enumerated in the 1790 census in Bucks County, PA.  He died in 1795, only about 40 years old. 

                Owen’s father was Edmund Lovett III, born December 20, 1720 in Bucks County, PA.  He married Phebe Hutchinson on March 3, 1750.  He died April 30, 1782.

                Edmund III’s father was Edmund Lovett II, born November 7, 1693 in Bucks County, PA.  He married Magdalen Gitten on November 6, 1717.  He died December 29, 1755 in Bristol, Bucks County, PA, and Magdalen died on July 4, 1755 in Bristol, Bucks County, PA.

                Edmund Lovett II’s father was Edmund Lovett, born in Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England on July 2, 1646.  He married Martha Stadham in England.  He was a “husbandman” (farmer) for William Penn and was in the first of William Penn’s boats to land in Bucks County, PA by July 2, 1690.  Martha died in Bristol, Bucks county, PA on October 30, 1716. He died July 11, 1732 in Bucks County, PA.  Accord  When they arrived in America, the exact location of Penn’s settlement had not yet been decided, and they needed shelter for the winter.  Edmund build a home into the side of a hill, a design that was soon copied by other settlers.  They settled close to the Delaware River in an area known as the Falls, and their Quaker church became known as Falls Meeting House.




                 

 

    

 

Friday, April 8, 2016

One of Pennsylvania's "Original 13"


     The first settlers of Germantown, PA are called the “Original 13.”  They were commemorated by  a special stamp on their 300th anniversary. 



 Notice the dwelling in the drawing above.



All three Op Den Graeff brothers' names are on this monument.

     These first settlers were mostly Quakers, and they were from a region on the lower Rhine where German and Dutch cultures blended.   William Penn had visited them in his effort to colonize Pennsylvania.  Pastorius, a German, was Penn’s land agent and said that the place was named Germantown, which means “Brother City of the Germans.”  
     We are related to three of the Original 13: Derick, Herman, and Abraham Op Den Graeff.  They were brothers who sailed together on the ship “Concorde,”, with their mother, Greitijen to the new colony, arriving in Philadelphia in October, 1683 after a 75-day journey.  Greitijen died shortly after arriving.  We are directly related to Abraham, the youngest of the three brothers.  Abraham’s daughter, Anneken, married Herman DeHaven (parents of the rabble-rouser, Abraham DeHaven).

     The first winter in Germantown was very difficult.  The Original 13 had hoped to arrive earlier in the year, but had met many delays with their passage.  They did not have time to erect cabins before winter set in, so they dug holes in the sides of hills to live in.  In the spring, they built log cabins, then later, stone houses. 

     Abraham Op Den Graeff and his brothers were weavers by trade, and helped establish the linen trade in Germantown, which became known as the best in the world.  Abraham won a prize given by the Governor for the finest linen woven in the state of Pennsylvania.  He was very active in the affairs of the settlement, serving as town burgess (delegate).  He was also a member of the Provincial Assembly of Pennsylvania for several years. 

     One of the most interesting pieces of legislation that Abraham and three other Germantown Quakers signed was the first formal protest against slavery.  The document was “tabled” because it was so controversial, but, almost 100 years later, Pennsylvania became the first state to pass a law to gradually abolish slavery. 
The Original Anti Slavery Document

The table on which the Anti Slavery Petition was signed, available to view at the
Old Mennonite Meeting House in Germantown
 
   
 
  In 1892, there was a parting of ways in the Quaker community, with some reverting back to Mennonite or Dutch Reformed teaching.  Abraham reverted back to the Mennonite roots of his family.  His grandfather, Herman Op Den Graeff, was a well-known Mennonite preacher and bishop in Krefeld, Germany.  Herman was a very prosperous linen weaver, as evidenced by the beautiful stained glass windows that were in his home.  Two of the windows have been preserved in the Kaiser-Wilhelm Museum in Berlin.
 
     Unfortunately, the Op Den Graeff family was also known for strong emotions, and Abraham had many court appearances.  In 1701, a man was fined 25 shillings for calling Abraham a name so indecent the clerk left a blank space in the court record.  In 1704, Abraham sued a neighbor for slander when a neighbor declared that "no honest man would be in Abraham's company" and lost the case (so the court agreed with the neighbor!)  After that, Abraham and his wife, Trintje, left Germantown and moved to a Mennonite settlement in the Skippack Region.  They were both buried in the Evansburg Mennonite Cemetery at Skippack. 
    


Monday, April 4, 2016

Mutiny, Moon Trees, and The Spotted Cow


     Henry Pawling’s wife was Neeltja Roosa (1653-1745).  Her parents left Holland to come to America on April 16, 1660 in the ship “The Spotted Cow.”  They landed in New Netherlands with their eight children, ages 17 to 2 and settled in Esopus (now Kingston), Ulster County, New York.  They participated in the first communion service held at the Old Dutch Church on December 25, 1660, and this is commemorated on a plaque on the front of the church to this day:
 

 

     In 1927, the Kingston Daily Freeman reported about an old oak chest being removed from the steeple of the Old Dutch Church.  It had been chained to the woodwork in the steeple by a hand-forged iron chain.  A former pastor remembered it being there, filled with old Dutch records and Dutch account books which were taken to the Kingston Archives, then in a vault at the Kingston Savings Bank.  When the chest was removed, it was found the front of the chest (which had not been visible while it was facing the woodwork) had the following carved inscription:  16 Feburwari 76 A.R.  Church historians believe the initials were for Aeldert Roosa, and the date February 1676.
 

 

     Neeltja’s father, Aeldert Heijmans Roosa (1618-1679), assumed leadership positions in the settlement, serving in church, governmental, and military positions.  When the town of Hurley was established, Aeldert was assigned the task of laying out a border surrounded by palisades for protection.  The Indians in the area opposed the settlers, saying that their structure would be on land that was not included in the Treaty of 1600 and had not been paid for.  Aeldert requested that the leadership send gifts to the Indians immediately, but the action did not happen quickly enough.  The Indians attacked the town on June 7, 1663 and took 45 women and children captive.  Included in the captives were two of Aeldert’s children.  His oldest daughter was held until the end of the year, and I have not found evidence of what happened to the other child. 

     In 1665, England took control of New Netherlands, and tensions between the English soldiers and Dutch settlers were always high.  There are numerous records of Aeldert getting into disagreements with the English.  Captain Daniel Brodhead was in command and was known for being a tyrant and encouraging his soldiers to mistreat the Dutch settlers.  Some of the settlers, including Aeldert, petitioned the Governor to take action on the abuse the settlers were experiencing.  A riot ensued and Aeldert, one of his sons, and two other men were charged with mutiny and banished from the colony.  When tempers cooled, the men were pardoned. 

     There are many instances of Aeldert having further flare-ups and ending up in court, many times with the English soldiers.  The settlers were forced to “quarter” the English soldiers, and the lack of understanding each other’s languages, as well as the change in who was in control of the settlement, contributed to the hostilities.  There is one story of Aeldert going to a neighbor’s house to find the village blacksmith, and got in an altercation with several drunken soldiers.  Aeldert threw the coulter (cutting part of a plowshare) which he had brought to be repaired at one of the soldiers, and then fought the other soldiers off with a stick.
 

     An interesting endnote to the story is that Neeltja ended up marrying an English soldier, Henry Pawling.  What irony!

     A descendant of Aeldert (I guess a cousin of ours) was Stuart Roosa, an astronaut on Apollo 9 and Apollo 14.  He had experience with the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter and took tree seeds with him on the Apollo 14 mission to complete experiments on germination of seeds in orbit.  When he returned to earth, he planted the trees and distributed them around the U.S. during the Bicentennial celebration in 1976.  He planted one in Hurley, New York, along Route 209 with a plaque in memory of Aldert Roosa.
 


Tjerck (the Jerk?) Claussen DeWitt

     John Pawling's wife was Aagje DeWitt (1684-1725), whose family members were also early settlers in New Amsterdam (later to become New York).  Her father, Tjerck Claussen DeWitt came to America in 1653.  He married Barbara Andriessen, from Amsterdam, on April 24, 1656, as recorded in the Register of Marriages of the Reformed Dutch Church of New York City. Soon after his marriage, he moved to Albany, then Kingston, New York.  His oldest daughter, Taatje, was kidnapped by the Indians on June 7, 1663, when she was just four years old, but was later returned.  Aagje was one of Tjerck's younger children (he had 13!), born about 20 years after the kidnapping of her sister.  Aaghie's baptism is recorded on January 4, 1684 at the Reformed Dutch Church.

     Tjerck's home in Kingston was built in 1699 and is still used as a private residence:


     There are many court records to trace Tjerk's life in New York.  He served as a "commissary," which I understand to be like a court mediator, but he was in court more often for his own disagreements and lawsuits.  In the book Invading Paradise: Esopus Settlers at War with Natives, 1659, 1663 by Andrew Brink, many instances of Tjerk's disagreements are listed:

      February 1, 1656---Tjerk was fined sixty guilders for having fought last Sunday with Wille Tellier, and also for having killed a goat belonging to Sander Leendertsz.  Having confesser, Tjerck was fined two and a half beavers, plus expenses.  (Beaver pelts were one of the early settler's most profitable exports to Europe, where they were in high demand for felting and making into men's hats.

     November 20, 1663--neighbors reported that Tjerck, armed with a knife, openly quarreled in his house, acting as if he wished to kill every man, woman and child."

     In 1667, Tjerck opposed the British occupation of Kingston, he was beaten and threw him in prison for celebrating Christmas Day on the customary Dutch day instead of the English day.
  
     In 1668, Tjerck refused to take the British oath of allegiance.

    September 8, 1671--Tjerk was in a knife fight with Henry Pawling (one of the Henrys in his wife's family).  If I read the court account correctly, Tjerck accused Henry of shooting his pig, a knife fight ensued, which resulted in one of the men cutting at the other until his trousers came down!

     February 11, 1679--Tjerck was one of the signers of the Treaty with the Indians mentioned in an earlier post.

     Other court records tell of Tjerck killing a neighbor's pig, a neighbor's goat, and beating his employees.  The book states that "DeWitt was argumentative and stubborn, quick to differ with other settlers. 

   Many of Tjerck's descendants served in the Revolutionary War.  His great-grandson, Jacob, was a captain of a militia company who gave his stone house as a refuge for women and children during the battles in New York.  It later became known as Fort DeWitt, and is still standing, though not really recognizable.  It has been enclosed in  a wooden frame.  It is located on Highway 209, near the Never sink River, in Ulster County, New York.  Another descendant, Simeon DeWitt, marched with George Washington, serving as his topographic engineer and map-maker.

     Tjerck's will is dated March 4, 1698.  It is written in Dutch.  He left all his property to his wife, with it to be divided into 12 equal shares after her death, for all his surviving children. There is a tombstone in the Reformed Dutch Church cemetery that says Tjerck C DeWitt, but that is for our Tjerck's grandson:


Sources available on the internet for your reading pleasure:

The DeWitt Family of Ulster County, New York by Thomas Evans
Invading Paradise: Esopus Settlers at War with Natives, 1659, 1663 by Andrew Brink
The Westfall and Coleman Family History by Clarice Koester Coleman
Genealogies of the First Settlers of Albany by Peerson
History of Ulster County by N. Sylvester
First Record Book of The Society of the Daughters of Holland Dames

Saturday, April 2, 2016

From the Duke of York to Valley Forge


                Do you remember the children’s song “The Duke of York?”  The grand old Duke of York/He had ten thousand men/He marched to the top of the hill/Then he marched them down again/And when you’re up, you’re up/ And when you’re down, you’re down/And when you’re only halfway up, you’re neither up or down!

                Do you know what battle that song is about?  The Dutch established the first settlement in what is now New York, in the year 1617.  King Charles II of England decided that England had rights to the land, so in 1664 he sent four man-of-war ships, expecting a heavy battle to take Fort Amsterdam.  However, the fort was in a terrible state of disrepair, and the Dutch surrendered almost immediately.  The settlement was renamed New York, in honor of the king’s brother, the Duke of York.  It was a peaceful transition of power, and the Dutch were encouraged to stay and maintain their culture.

                How does this relate to our family?  One of the English soldiers in the Battle of New Amsterdam was our ancestor, Henry Pawling.  Henry was the grandfather of Rebecca Pawling, who married Abraham DeHaven, the rabble-rouser described in the previous post. 

                Henry was stationed at what is now Kingston, NY until 1670, when he was discharged as a Captain.  The soldiers were offered liberal land grants as an incentive to stay in the colony as private citizens.  Henry was also assigned by the governor to the job of laying out lots in the settlements of Esopus, Marbletown, and Hurley.  In 1676, there is record of Henry signing a petition for a minister to be sent to the settlement at Esopus, specifying that the minister should be able to preach in both English and Dutch. 

                Henry was appointed High Sheriff of Ulster County in 1685.  Esopus was governed by a group of men called the Board of Magistrates, and the High Sheriff was the presiding officer.  This board acted as a court, but also made decisions about public roads, and laws pertaining to the settlement.  In 1689, Henry was called back into military service along with 30 other men to handle problems with the French and Indians.  A peace treaty was made with the Indians, which was to be renewed each year.  The original treaty is in the Ulster County Clerk’s Office, and includes signatures of two of our ancestors, Henry Pawling and Tjrick De Witt.  The last known renewal was in 1745.

                In 1676, Henry married a Dutch woman, Neltje Roosa.  Neltje arrived in New Amsterdam in 1660 with her parents, a young child only seven years old.  Henry and Neltje had eight children.  Their son, John (or Jan, in Dutch) was baptized October 2, 1681, and is recorded in the baptismal register of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston.

                Henry built a stone house on the line between Marbletown and Hurley.  Since he had been hired to lay out the two towns, he built his house right on the boundary between the two towns “for the convenience of travelers and to make a nearer correspondence between the two towns,” according to the book Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776.  The home was added on to several times, but is still being lived in.  At one time, the north end of the house was in Hurley and the south end was in Marblehead.  Now it is all considered to be in Marblehead.
 

                Henry purchased a land patent from William Penn for land in Pennsylvania, but never moved to that area.  He made his will in 1691, and it was probated 1695.  The will is still in the New York City records, and states in part:

“I Henry Pauling, of Marbletown, in ye County of Ulster, being sick and weak in body but of sound and perfect memory, praise be to God for ye same and knowing ye uncertainty of this transitory life and being desirous to settle things in order to make this my last will and statement in manner and form following…”   It names his six living children, and states that “if my wife be now with child and bare a seventh, it shall have equal share.”  Indeed, Neltja was pregnant and Mary was born in 1692.

                Henry’s oldest son, Albert, stayed in the house in Marblehead and took care of his widowed mother.  John and Henry moved to Pennsylvania, settling in Germantown. 

                John married Aagje DeWitt, daughter of Tjerck Classen DeWitt, on August 23, 1712, before moving to Pennsylvania.  They had at least seven children, some born in New York and some born in Pennsylvania.  His daughter, Rebecca, married Abraham DeHaven and is our direct-line ancestor.

                John built a large and successful farm in the Schuylkill Valley, near the junction of the Perkiomen Creek and the Schuykill River, in Montgomery County, PA.  His brother, Henry, built close-by.  The brothers became early members of the St. James Church in Evansburg.  John’s daughter, Eleanor, married Henry’s son, Henry III (yes, they were first cousins).  John also had a son named Henry, so it is very difficult to trace which Henry is on the various land transfers.  John died in 1733 and his brother died in 1739.  The land that Henry III inherited from his father, plus other land he purchased, was developed into quite a plantation.  He operated a ford across the river called Pawling Ford, close to another ford called Fatland Ford.  He built a mill, which became later known as Pennybacker Mills.  An iron forge was built nearby called Valley Forge.  The Pawling Farm is now part of Valley Forge National Park, acquired in 1984.  Only a few ruins remain of the stone house, the oldest part of which was built by Henry Pawling.
 
 
The Pawling Farm is on the left side, close to the river.
Map from Valley Forge National Park
 
               John was buried on the family property.  The cemetery still exists, but has not been well-maintained.
 

 

Sources (all available on the internet): 

Untangling the History of the Pawling-Wetherill House by Thomas Clinton McGimsey.
Valley Forge National Park Information
Pawling Genealogy by Albert Schock Pawling
Henry Pawling and Some of His Descendants by Katherine Wallace Kitts
History of Montgomery County Within the Schuylkill Valley by William J. Buck
Dutch Houses of the Hudson Valley Before 1776 by Helen Wilkinson Reynolds