Rensselaerswyck-My Dutch ancestors’ “Ellis Island”

A short history (not too dry!)–In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the river which today bears his name.  Records indicate his ship, The Half Moon, reached an island at the mouth of the Mohawk River where it joins the Hudson River.  That island is now known as Van Schaick Island and bears the name of my 2nd Dutch immigrant to arrive in New Netherland, Goosen Gerrittsen Van Schaick in 1637.  He was granted a patroon or estate land grant by the Dutch over that area in the 1600s.  It was a descendant of his that built the Van Schaick mansion that still remains on the island to this day.

My first ancestor to arrive on the continent of North America was Cornelis Maes Van Buren.  He arrived in 1631 and settled briefly in the Fort Orange area.

The reasons my Dutch ancestors sailed across the vast Atlantic Ocean to an unknown future is lost in the mists of time.  Thankfully, records exist from the 1600s that track the Van Schaick and Van Buren men who arrived in Rensselaerswyck.

First of all there must be a reason to motivate these men to leave a certain lifestyle in The Netherlands and venture to a “promised land” known as Rensselaerswyck.

The Dutch claimed the region after Henry Hudson’s discovery and set up forts in the (Albany, New York) area.  Fort Nassau, built in 1614–predates the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock in 1620–and later Fort Orange in 1624–which grew into the state capital city of Albany.

The Dutch West India Company was established in 1620 by the States-General and given enormous governing powers over the region known as New Netherland.  In 1630, the managers of the Dutch West India Company offered certain exclusive privileges to the members of the company.  A charter was issued that stated any member who founded a colony of fifty (50) adults in New Netherland within four years of the charter’s writing would be a patroon (feudal chief) of the territory to be colonized. The colony had to be established outside of the island of Manhattan.

Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was one of the original directors of the West India Company.  One of the first to take advantage of the charter’s broad opportunities to own large tracts of land in New Netherland, he sent men to the region even before the 1630 charter was ratified. In April of 1630, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer’s agents secured land for the settlement and colonizing of Rensselaerswyck.

The main purpose was to establish an agricultural colony on the Dutch-claimed American Province.  Lands for this colony could extend 16 miles in length if confined to one side of the Hudson River or 8 miles in length if both sides of the river were occupied.  Lands could also extend into the countryside and be enlarged if the patroon settled more immigrants on his land.  Each patroon settled with the Indians in place on the land by purchasing the land and not by forceable removal.  The land was bought or bartered with the Indians of the area.

The tract of land that agents purchased for Van Rensselaer extended from the west side of the Hudson River, adjacent to Fort Orange, upriver to Havers Island, which is my ancestral island of Van Schaick Island and extended two day’s journey into the interior.

So, there it was–a vast empire to be known as Rensselaerswyck, just waiting for emigrants from the homeland to arrive and colonize the area. My information is in no way complete or detailed.  I list my sources for this blog as: Manor of Rensselaerswyck – Wikipedia and Cornelis Maes Van Buren from the website:

But knowing what I do now about the first of my lineage to arrive in America, I read both histories with an excitement within to realize this 400 year old history has relevance to my personal life.  I exist due to the fact that a director of the Dutch West India Company was one of the first members to act on the 1630 charter to settle lands in the Hudson River valley and arrange for colonists to move to America.

Cornelis Maes Van Buren was born around 1610? 1616 in Buurmalsem, Gelderland, Netherlands.  He was reportedly an only child.  Records state he was one of the first group of emigrants to sail to New Netherland and became a farmer.  He arrived at Rensselaerswyck in 1631 and served a three-year contract to Kiliaen Van Rensselaer.  These pioneers of the patroon lands embarked in the ship Eendragt (or Unity)   When they arrived, the actual settlement of Rensselaerswyck began.

My Dutch ancestor was probably on the first ship to arrive and was undoubtedly one of the original colonists to begin farming the land in Rensselaerswyck.  I try to imagine him as a young man. If he was born in 1616 and sailed to America in 1631, then he was around 15 years old.??  (I also have notes that he was born in 1610, which would make him a young adult of 21). I don’t know if he sailed alone on the ship or if he came to Rensselaerswyck with family.

His requirement of service to Kiliaen Van Rensselaer lasted three years.  He was a farmer and served a contract from 1631-1634.  Then records indicate he returned to The Netherlands and married Catalyntje in 1635.  Cornelis Van Buren’s second contract of service at Rensselaerswyck began in 1637-1640.

The final return to Rensselaerswyck–to occupy a farm on or near Papscanee Island–began with a sea voyage from the Netherlands in 1636.  I have to go back nine generations to Hendrick Van Buren, my Dutch ancestor, who was born at sea in January, 1637.  Cornelis and Catalyntje Van Buren arrived at Rensselaerswyck around April, 1637 to settle as a family in America and tend to the farm.

Research for yourself–the patroon lands that Kiliaen Van Rensselaer purchased in 1631 and following years through his agents became a vast empire surrounding today’s Albany, New York area.  He probably never sailed to America to view his empire, but his son and grandson and descendants settled and governed Rensselaerswyck into the 19th century.

I appreciate his determination to establish a Dutch colony in 1630 and wonder what was the incentive to encourage Cornelis Van Buren to become one of the first settlers to leave his home and sail across the Atlantic Ocean to live in an unknown wilderness.  It must have agreed with Cornelis, because after his three years were over, he returned home to marry and bring his wife and newborn son back to Rensselaerswyck and a farm on Papscanee Island.

My other Dutch ancestor, Goosen Gerritts Van Schaick arrived at Rensselaerswyck a few years later.  He emigrated from Utrecht to the Dutch colony in 1637.  He was a brewer by trade and became quite prominent in the area.  Records indicate Goosen Gerritts Van Schaick was granted his own patroon lands in 1665 by the Indians. The lands were located at the mouth of the Mohawk River (present day Van Schaick Island, Cohoes Island and Waterford).

In an earlier blog post, I recalled my July, 2002 visit to the Van Schaick mansion and talking to a direct descendant of the ancestor who built the house and once owned the island.  He didn’t acknowledge my Van Schaick lineage as direct to the family that built the mansion.  I left bitterly disappointed that Saturday morning.  After more research, I feel vindicated, because the original owner of Van Schaick Island was Kiliaen Van Rensselaer in 1630.  by 1665, Goosen Gerritts Van Schaick was prominent and financially successful enough to purchase the lands around the Mohawk River.  Van Schaick called his patroon “Half Moon”, after Henry Hudson’s exploration ship that stopped near the island in 1609.

I do have a photograph of the plaque that states that information–taken on my 2002 vacation to New York.  I wish I knew then what I know now.  How thrilling it would have been to stand on the very land that my Dutch ancestor, Van Schaick, owned.  My great-grandmother, Elsie Van Schaick, was the last to carry his illustrious surname until she married my great-grandfather, Frank Ellsworth.

Generations of Americans trace the beginning of their ancestors to ships arriving from Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s and disembarking their immigrant passengers on Ellis Island in New York. Surnames were anglicized and family histories are sometimes difficult to trace back to the country of origin.

Wars, famine, poverty and a list of multiple reasons account for the journey to leave a homeland to emigrate to the unknown land of America. I’m grateful that the first wave of my ancestors made their “beachhead” at Rensselaerswyck in the early 1600s.  The Dutch kept detailed records and as patroon, Kiliaen Van Rensselaer demanded a loyalty oath from the colonists who settled his lands.  I have a document that shows Goosen Gerrittsen Van Schaick signed a required oath in 1651.

I’m glad I traveled to the area and stood on the east bank of the Hudson River looking West toward Albany’s skyline.  In the 1630s, it was a wilderness inhabited by local Indian tribes.  A man with foresight purchased the land and determined to settle it with brave colonists from The Netherlands.  I got the chance to stand on ground that was once a part of Rensselaerswyck.  I returned to the “Ellis Island” of Cornelis Van Buren and Goosen Gerrittsen Van Schaick.

How do you begin to describe the emotion of being where your lineage in America began?  So many people wonder about who they are–where they came from–and it’s turned the real Ellis Island into a museum.  American descendants can stand in a vast hall and imagine their ancestors’ first glimpse of a new promise–to live a better life that what they left behind.

And isn’t that what all Americans hope for and strive for in this country of open opportunity?  A chance–a chance to live a better life that what was left behind.  For my Dutch side of the family, it began due to the opportunity of Rensselaerswyck.

Thank you.  Cornelis and Goosen.

Sources: Manor of Rensselaerwyck-Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.                

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My earliest ancestor in New Netherland – 1631-Cornelis Maessen Van Buren

Discovered an amazing history on my maternal side of the family going back over ten generations to my Dutch ancestor, Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick, who settled in Rensselaerwyck near Fort Orange in 1637.

I didn’t travel to Albany, New York to look for the other side of my Dutch lineage — the Van Buren side of the family tree.  I knew that my great-great-great grandfather, William Van Schaick, married Eunice Van Buren.  Her name comes up researching the Van Schaick lineage.  The interesting fact is that I have TWO Van Buren “grandmothers” in my family tree.  Two Van Burens married two Van Schaicks in different generations.

More out of curiosity than a specific need to know, I traced the Van Buren lineage  back to Holland in the early 1600s and discovered some interesting facts about these ancestors.  It also answers a family rumor that we are related to Martin Van Buren of Kinderhook, New York.  He was the eighth President of the United States (1837-1841).  YES–I am a descendant of common Dutch ancestors from both sides of the Van Buren “grandmothers”.

How am I connected?  Garrett’s grandfather, Jacob Van Schaick (1740-1795), who is mentioned as Elsie’s great-grandfather on her family tree comments, married Maritje Van Buren (1743-1814) around 1765. Their son, William Van Schaick married Eunice Van Buren (1793-1854).

Maritje was Eunice’s mother-in-law, about fifty years older, and distant cousins through the common Dutch ancestor, Cornelis Maessen Van Buren,  who came to New Netherland in 1631.

All this time I thought Eunice Van Buren was the link to Martin Van Buren, the US President.  It’s not.  The more direct link was with Maritje Van Buren.  Her sibling, Abraham Van Buren, was the father of Martin Van Buren.  This makes Maritje, Martin Van Buren’s aunt.  Still not a direct lineage, but this makes William Van Schaick (her son), first cousin to the eighth President of the United States. Eunice Van Buren is more of a distant cousin to the famous Van Buren in the family.

Now I have documentation that links my Van Buren ancestors with Martin Van Buren.

Because two branches of Van Burens exist in the lineage, I’ll record both sides here.  The thing to remember is that they go back several generations in New York and link up with  Cornelis.  Proof that my Van Buren family tree branches trace back to the same person.  In reality, I have two direct lines back to our first Dutch settler in New Netherland.  You tell me–which branch of the family is the most direct line?

A bit of background on the Van Buren who emigrated from Holland.  Cornelis lived near Buurmalsem, Gelderland, Holland.  He came to New Netherland twice under 3-year contracts to Kiliaen van Rensselaer.  He emigrated in 1631 as a young man on the Holland ship “d’Eendracht” (The Unity) and settled in Rensselaerwyck, near Fort Orange.  When his contract was over in 1634, Cornelis sailed back to Holland.

He returned to Fort Orange, New Netherland a second time, permanently, on the ship “Rensselaerwyck” in 1636 with his wife.  Catalyntje Marense Van Alstyne (1619-1648) gave birth on January 30, 1637 to a son, Hendrick Cornelisse Van Buren, onboard ship at sea before arriving in New Netherland in April, 1637.  A second son, Marten Cornelissen Van Buren, was born in 1638.

Both of these brothers grew up, married, and raised children that eventually married into the Van Schaick line.

On a sad note, Cornelis and his wife, Catalyntje, both died in 1648.  He farmed on Papsknee, an island near Fort Orange, New Netherland.  They were buried on the same day.  Their cause of death and burial location is lost in time. The children were young and raised by guardians in Rensselaerwyck.

My records indicate that Hendrick Van Buren remained around the Albany, New York area.  Most of his descendants are listed in Albany.  Marten Van Buren settled further south on the Hudson River around Kinderhook, New York.  This is where Martin Van Buren (the US President) was born and raised.

FIRST GENERATION:                                                                                                                 Cornelis Maessen Van Buren (1612-1648)                                                                                   both were born in Holland/died in Papsknee, New Netherland                                           married around 1635 in Utrecht area-Holland                                                                         Catalyntje Martense Van Alstyne (1614-1648)

SECOND GENERATION:                                                                                                                     (1) Hendrick Cornelisse Van Buren (1637-1703)                                                                          married around 1663 to Elizabeth Van Slyck (1639-1683)

(2) Marten Cornelissen Van Buren (1638-1703)                                                                              married around 1662 to Maritje Quackenbos (1646-1683)

THIRD GENERATION:                                                                                                                         (1) Cornelis Hendricksen Van Buren (1672?-1678)                                                                    married Hendrickje Van Nes (??)

(2) Pieter Martense Van Buren (1670-1755)                                                                                married abound 1693 to Adriaantje Barentse Meindersen

FOURTH GENERATION:                                                                                                           Willem Cornelisse Van Buren (1706-1752)-died at Papsknee, NY                                   married around 1735 to Teuntje Vandenberg (1712)

(2) Marten Pieterse Van Buren (1701-1741)-died at Kinderhook, NY                                married around 1729 to Dirckje Van Alstyne (1710-1741)

FIFTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                           (1) Hendrick Van Buren (1750-1814)  This “Hendrick” is mentioned on my great-grandmother’s Van Schaick family tree list as her great-grandfather.                               married to Maria Van Den Berg

(2) Maritje Van Buren (1743-1814)                                                                                         married around 1765 to Jacob Van Schaick (1740-1795)                                                 Abraham Van Buren (1737-??)-father to Martin Van Buren

SIXTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                   (1) Eunice Van Buren (1793-1854)                                                                                                  married  (2) William Van Schaick (1785-1870)

This is where two branches of the Van Buren family tree are joined together through marriage.

SEVENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                               Garrett Van Schaick (1823-1902)                                                                                                    married to Hannah Watkins (1825-1885)

EIGHTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                   Elsie Van Schaick (1866-1956)                                                                                                      married to Frank Ellsworth (1866-1928)

NINTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                      Vera Ellsworth (1889-1983)                                                                                                                married to Warren Zollars (1889-1980)

TENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                  Mildred Zollars (1916-1992)                                                                                                             married to Blanchard Hindman (1901-1983)

ELEVENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                       Diana Hindman (1952-)

I traced my Van Schaick lineage back an additional three generations to the oldest known ancestor born in Holland in the 1500s.  I could investigate further with my Van Buren side of the family, since there’s a possibility the family name is linked to the royal line of King William of Orange.  Isn’t that why we Americans are so diligent in researching our family lineage?  Wouldn’t we be thrilled to discover that our ancestry does indeed go back far enough to be of royal blood?

That’s not my intention of going on the road trip to Albany, New York.  I wanted to settle family rumors and questions that drove a childhood curiosity to the land my forebears settled.  I was there.  Knowing more about the family tree and that my Dutch ancestor, Cornelis Van Buren, arrived at Fort Orange several years before my other Dutch ancestor, Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick, came to New Netherland in 1636 is a revelation.

I was all about finding documentation regarding the Van Schaick family.  Only I know now that in 1850, most of them left New York and moved to Wisconsin.  Perhaps I should have studied up on the Van Buren side of the family and been ready to gather any documentation about that side of the family.

Sure, the Van Buren side can claim a President of the United States, but my Van Schaick ancestor actually owned the island in the 1600s that bears his name to this day.  And I drove to that island in the middle of the Hudson River on July 5-6, 2002.  I walked on the island that once belonged to my family–350 years earlier.

I traced my family roots and history back to their home locations in Holland and know which Dutch ancestors settled at Fort Orange in New Netherland.  Cornelis Maessen Van Buren arrived in 1631 and Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick arrived in 1636.

I believe most, if not all, of my family tree branches came to America long before the Revolutionary War.  I’ll be surprised if any other ancestors settled that far back in the early 1600s.  My quest to document the arrival of the Dutch emigrants who settled at Fort Orange is accomplished.  I know who, I know when, I know where they lived in Holland and I know where they settled in what later became New York.

The common factor is the Patroonship that Kiliaen van Rensselaer established with the help of emigrants like Van Buren and Van Schaick.  Next blog I’ll put their arrivals in context.  A bit more of the history of Rensselaerwyck.  I was in the area where my Dutch ancestors settled in 2002.  To me it is a turning point in American History, because it’s the origins of my family–they established themselves here.  I can’t visit Ellis Island and know my grandparents came over as immigrants on a ship around the turn of the century.

Albany and Rensselaer Counties, along the Hudson River in upper New York state is my “Ellis Island”.  I found the pieces of a missing family puzzle.  Even today, I’m glad I traveled there on my road trip.  It’s almost a primordial impression to know I was there–where it began for my ancestors on American soil.

Next,  I’ll research the settlement of Rensselaerwyck.  First home of the Van Burens and Van Schaick families.

Credit sources:            cornelis00peckgoogle – book about Cornelis Maessen Van Buren

Google search: Martin Van Buren, Abraham Van Buren, Hendrick Van Buren

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Our Family Tree – Every Life Tells a Story

My last blog entry carried my genealogy findings from as far back as fourteen generations to Holland and discovered the actual first ancestor who left Holland in 1633 and settled in Fort Orange, New Netherland.  From that point, his descendants are documented and I was able to link my great-great-grandfather, Garrett Van Schaick, to his earlier grandparents, etc.

This blog is about taking my recent family relatives by generation and working backwards to meet the Van Schaick family I wondered so much about growing up.  I now know why I couldn’t uncover any cemetary records for Garrett, his wife Hannah Van Schaick or their parents in Rensselaer County, New York on July 6, 2002.  They didn’t live there since 1852–or earlier.

Studying names and dates and piecing together a patchwork quilt of trivia about one’s family brings them more true to life somehow.  Even though I never knew them or only glimpsed their images through faded photographs, their lives tell a story.  Within me is a growing curiousity to understand the reasons they moved and feel sorrow to learn of children’s deaths.

Let me start with my mother, Mildred Zollars.  She was born in 1916 and grew up in Bratenahl, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland).  She was the middle child of two brothers.  Her older brother, Harry Zollars and his wife lost a son to polio in the early 1950s.  He was only four years old when he died.

Mildred’s parents were Vera Ellsworth Zollars and Warren Zollars–my grandparents.  After having three children, they were blessed with a fourth, another daughter.  Edna was born in 1926 and died of pneumonia at six months old.

Vera’s parents were Elsie Van Schaick Ellsworth and Frank Ellsworth–my great-grandparents.  They had four daughters.  As a child, my grandmother mentioned having a baby brother, Clarence Ellsworth, who died either as an infant or very early in childhood.  I’ve not been able to find any record of his existence.

In the 1930 US Census records, Elsie Ellsworth is listed as living with Vera and Warren in their home as a widow.  Frank Ellsworth died in 1928.  Vera was eighteen years older than her youngest sister, Elsie Ellsworth, born in 1907.  In the 1920 US Census, she lived with Vera and Warren in their home.  As a young girl of twelve or thirteen, I wonder what circumstances led her to live with her married sister and not her parents?  Great-grandmother Elsie was 40 or 41 years old when her youngest daughter was born–odd circumstances in the early twentieth century.  It’s still a big deal today if a woman gives birth after forty, imagine going through that around the turn of the century!

My grandmother Vera would remember her grandfather, Garrett Van Schaick.  She was born in 1889.  According to the 1900 US Census, Garrett Van Schaick was a 79 year old widower who lived with his youngest daughter, Elsie Ellsworth, in Ohio. He died in 1902 when Vera was thirteen.

My grandmother kept his obituary newspaper clipping in her house in a drawer in the living room of her house in Bratenahl.  I used to read it, very young, and thought his name was the most unusual and remarkable name I’d ever heard!  Garrett Van Schaick–I loved speaking his name.  I think that’s why I was so interested in knowing about him as I grew up.  Having a copy of his daughter’s recollections about the Dutch side of his family gave it more energy and meaning.

So I went looking for him–in New York.  What I didn’t know then that I know now are some very different facts than what I imagined all these years.  Yes, he and the majority of his twelve siblings were born around Albany, New York in the early half of the 1800s; the others were born in the same state.  As he grew up, he apparently moved around quite a bit with his parents and family.

I’m not certain when they married (March 18th, 18xx), but Garrett and Hannah Watkins Van Schaick had six children.  The two oldest were sons and the four others were daughters.  The youngest, my great-grandmother, recorded her immediate family and penned some tragic facts.

William Van Schaick  1847-1915                                                                                                Alonzo Van Schaick 1849-1890                                                                                                    Euphemia Van Schaick (she died of scarlet fever at 10 years old) 1852-1863                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ella Van Schaick 1857-18??                                                                                                           Anna Van Schaick 1861-18??                                                                                                         (both girls died on August 15th. Anna in the morning and Ella in the evening–not mentioned was cause of death or their   ages.)

Elsie Van Schaick 1866-1956

Not only did Garrett outlive his wife, Hannah,  by seventeen years; he also outlived four of his six children.

I did find Garrett’s brother’s last will and testament at the Rensselaer Historical Society in Troy, New York.  William Van Schaick, Jr. died May 21, 1852 in Troy, New York. His older brother, Cornelius Van Schaick was executor of the will in Surrogate’s Court.  William died without surviving widow or children.  The will then lists remaining heirs–both parents and his siblings as follows:

Jacob Van Schaick of Brunswick, NY, Jeremiah Van Schaick of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Garrett Van Schaick of the same place, Mary Alicia Van Schaick of the same place, Elizabeth Van Schaick of the same place, Jane Van Schaick of the same place & Stephen Henry Van Schaick of the same place.

In light of new-found information, I now believe the wording of this will states that the Van Schaick parents and siblings also lived with Jeremiah in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1852.  All this time, I thought Garrett and his brothers and sisters married and settled around Albany, New York.  Yes, seven of the twelve children were born in Renssealaer county, and they were all born in the state of New York.

I have a copy of the 1850 US Census record that blows my theory out of the water.  Trying for  quite a while to track down Garrett Van Schaick proved futile–until I targeted the younger brother who moved west to Wisconsin.  Why couldn’t I find any cemetary records for my Van Schaick ancestors?  They did NOT live in Rensselaer County, New York and they did NOT die there.  The oldest brother, Jacob, is listed as living in the region when William, Jr died in 1852 and Cornelius lived there also to be executor of the will.

According to the 1850 US Census, in the household of  one Jeremiah Van Schaick of Mukwonago, Waukesha, Wisconsin the members are listed:

Wm Van Schaick, age 65 (Father)                                                                                              Eunice Van Schaick, age 58 (Mother)                                                                                              Wm Van Schaick, age 28 (He returned to Troy, NY by 1852)                                                    Garrett Van Schaick, age 27 (my great-great-grandfather)                                                     Jeremiah Van Schaick, age 25                                                                                                  Harriet (Henrietta?) Van Schaick, age 24                                                                                  Mary Van Schaick, age 21

I study this 1850 report and have a question–if Garrett lived in Wisconsin with his parents and four of his siblings–WHERE were Hannah, his wife, and his two children?

The occupation given for Jeremiah and his father is ‘farmers”.  When they moved to Wisconsin, did they own land and farmed? I found a “Henry Van Schaick” in the 1880 US Census, also living in Wisconsin.  Born around 1816 and lists himself and both parents’ birthplace as New York.  Could this be the older brother?

A lot can happen in ten years.  Between the 1850 and 1860 US Census, I noted the following facts about Garrett Van Schaick and his family.

William Van Schaick, Jr left Wisconsin after 1850 and moved back to Troy, New York. If he was 28 in 1850, then he died as a young man around 30 years of age–without a wife or children.

Their mother, Eunice Van Buren Van Schaick died in 1854. ( 1850 Census doesn’t agree with Elsie Ellsworth’s notes.  She wrote, “Gran Van–was 59 when she died. If 58 in 1850, Eunice would have been 62 four years later?)

Garrett and Hannah Van Schaick lived in New York before 1850 and had their first two sons in that state.

William Van Schaick b. 1847 in New York                                                                                Alonzo Van Schaick b. 1849 in New York

At some point after 1850, when Garrett shows up in the 1850 Wisconsin US Census recording and after the May, 1852 death of his older brother, William Van Schaick, Jr., Garrett and Hannah moved to Ohio.

In the 1860 US Census, Garrett Van Schaick is listed as head of household and lives in Independence, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  His occupation is “carpenter”.

Garrett Van Schaick, age 38                                                                                                              Hannah Van Schaick, age 35                                                                                                                Wm Van Schaick, age 13                                                                                                                      Alonzo Van Schaick, age 11                                                                                                              Euphemia Van Schaick, age 7                                                                                                                 Ella Van Schaick, age 3

The two youngest daughters have yet to be born.   Euphemia’s birthdate is August 28, 1852, which was three months after the death of William, Jr. I can’t prove the family lived in Rensselaer County, New York in 1852, but sometime after 1849, they moved out of state.  The 1860 US Census notes that Euphemia and Ella were born in Ohio.

So that means my great-grandmother, Elsie Van Schaick, was born in Ohio in 1866.  I calculated the birthdates of their family.  Seems to be a gap between Anna (1861) and  Elsie(1866).  Also noted was Hannah being eight months pregnant when Civil War was declared in the United States. Anna was born on May 17, 1861.  Then there’s a five year gap between Anna and Elsie.  I’m still trying to determine if Garrett was a Union soldier in any Civil War battles (1861-1865).

The other interesting fact is that Elsie’s mother was around 40-41 when she had her youngest child.  To be forty in the 1860s and still having babies!  Like mother–like daughter!

There’s still so much to learn about those generations.  I have a document regarding William Van Schaick, Sr.  He died at Arcadia, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin in 1870, aged 87.  Garrett Van Schaick died at Bedford, Cuyahoga County, Ohio in 1902, aged 82.

That’s why I found very little information on my family tree in Rensselaer County, New York.  They died and were buried in Ohio and Wisconsin cemetaries.  Their last wills and testaments are in courthouse archives in those states.  Which seems amazing to me now, when I pause to think about it, how fortunate I was to discover the will of one of Garrett’s brothers, who happened to die in the “old homeland” of his Dutch ancestors.

Amazing luck!

The Van Schaick name is fairly common, especially in the Albany and eastern New York area.  Not only did I do some digging to glean information on Garrett Van Schaick and his family, I uncovered more details about his brothers and their lives.

Which leads me to tell about the “black sheep” in our family tree. If notoriety makes for a colorful addition to family history, then we have a distant relative with a tragic event in his life.  I came across his name when I Googled  “Van Schaick-New York”.  I went to the link and read about one William Van Schaick and what happened in New York City in 1904.

It was a tragedy of epic proportions.  There are many articles of this event on the Web. www.brimstonevs.comEncyclopedia/VanSchaick.html

William Van Schaick was Captain of a side-paddle wheel boat that caught fire in 1904 while carrying a capacity group of mostly women and children on a church outing.  Going up the East River, the boat quickly became engulfed in flames and over 1,000 people died in the fire on the boat or drowned in the river.

It was the single most loss of lives in New York City history until September 11, 2001.

Captain William Van Schaick was found guilty for the negligence that led to the deaths of so many.  He spent time in Sing Sing Prison.  President Taft pardoned him due to Van Schaick’s old age.   He died in obscurity and was buried in Troy, New York.

Ok-now for the family connection.  William Van Schaick (1837-1927) – his father was Jacob Van Schaick, the eldest brother of Garrett and the firstborn son of William and Eunice Van Schaick.  This makes him Garrett’s nephew.  He was also my great-grandmother Elsie’s first cousin.

I don’t know if Elsie ever met her cousin, who lived in New York.  He was about thirty years older.  Garrett had passed away in 1902, two years before the time of this horrible tragedy in 1904.  But I’m sure they all heard about the New York City excursion boat that burned on the river and killed over a thousand women and children on a Sunday outing.

Some families have outlaws and criminals and scoundrels hidden away as a “skeleton in the closet”.  I shake my head in amazement that the captain of that boat was a relative only four generations removed from me.

I found the immediate answers to my questions regarding Elsie Van Schaick and her family.  Of course, tracing one’s family lineage is like pulling a loose thread on a knit sweater–a firm tug just unravels more and more.  I still have many questions about Garrett and William Van Schaick, his father.  He’s noted on great-grandmother papers of being a soldier in the War of 1812.  With so many brothers, why can’t I find documentation of Van Schaicks serving during the Civil War 1861-1865?  Lots of threads to unravel.

For now, I’ve chipped away at the branches of the family tree–as far as the Van Schaick lineage goes–all the way back to Holland in the 1500s.  For the purposes of my 2002 road trip, I’m not planning to track down Hannah Watkins (English) side of the family.  Not this “trip”.  And I’m merely curious about the Van Buren side of the family.  That would be Elsie’s grandmother, Eunice Van Buren Van Schaick.  Garrett’s mother.

Since the “Van Buren” Dutch name is also a family name of distinction, I have some interest and can at least add the information to the Dutch family tree.  This will also “prove” two family rumors–that our family is related to Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the United States and the Van Buren family is connected to the Royal lineage of Netherland–the House of Orange/Nassau.

Bring out a new knit sweater–new facts to unravel——

Credit sources:

US Census 1850-1860-1870-1900-1920-1930

Jeremiah Van Schaick (Wisconsin), Garrett Van Schaick (Ohio), William Van Schaick , Elsie Ellsworth (Ohio)

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1633 – Dutch ancestor arrives in New Netherland – Ten Generations Back

It’s been a whirlwind online search session this weekend but I’m confident (about 90% certainty) that I can trace my Dutch family lineage to the first arrival of my Dutch ancestor.  Not only that, I came across a listing that supposedly “starts” the first generation of documentation back in Holland around 1535.

There is a bit of background I needed to understand first that enabled me to quickly trace the correct lineage once I applied it to the lists I searched.  To explain the way Dutch family names are given to children should make sense when you read them.

The origin of surname: Van Schaick (Schaijk)

Habitational name for someone from Schaijk in North Brabant, an area south of Utrecht.  van means: from   van Schaick = “from Schaijk”

Surnames were uncommon in the middle ages. Early Dutch settlers had no surnames.  Naming children was prefixing the child’s given name to the father’s first name, then adding the letters “se”, “sen”, “sz”, “en” “je”. The meaning is “child of–”

Tracing the direct line of my Van Schaick family tree I found the right ancestor had the middle name of his father with the additional endings.  In order to track the next generation with common names, I looked for the child having his father’s first name as his middle name.  Add “Van Schaick”  — from Schaijk — and I have my family tree!

If you’ve followed my blog since early July, my visit to Albany, New York on July 5th and 6th of 2002 was to verify if I was related somehow to the Van Schaick Island and the Van Schaick Mansion.  I met with Walt, the family historian, who determined my great-grandmother’s papers weren’t a match to his family tree.  My Van Schaick ancestors were NOT directly related to his side of the family, therefore not connected to the Van Schaick Mansion.

This weekend I’ve been able to document that the first settler of our Dutch lineage to arrive from Holland was Goosen Gerritse(n) Van Schaick.  He was born (1616-1676) in Westerbroeck, Utrecht, Holland.  He sailed to America in 1633.  He settled in Rensselaerwyck and lived in or around Fort Orange.

My great-grandmother, Elsie Ellsworth, was half right on her genealogy comment.  She wrote at the bottom of the first page, “My ancesters(sic) imegrated(sic) from Holland in 1614 and settled at Fort Orange, now Albany.”  They did NOT arrive in 1614.  Those original emigrants were fur traders and established Fort Nassau.  Fort Orange was built about two miles up the Hudson River and settled in 1624.  Kiliaen Van Rensselaer established his patroonship with a vast land patent and purchased title to the land surrounding Fort Orange from the native Indian tribes in 1630.  My ancestor arrived three years later.

There’s a lot of exciting details to share, but that’s a future blog!  I’m satisfied that my research has given me definite documentation of each generation that goes back ten generations in America. Plus I have an additional three generations of ancestors in Holland before Goosen Gerritse(n) Van Schaick was born.

Without further delay, here’s my family tree, tracing back through the maternal line and the Dutch side.

In the beginning:

FIRST GENERATION:                                                                                                                        Teunis van Schaick b. 1535 (estimated) married Gijsbertgen ??

SECOND GENERATION:                                                                                                                 Goosen Teunize van Schaick b. 1560 (estimated) married  N/K

THIRD GENERATION:                                                                                                                Gerrit Goosen van Schaick  1590-1630 married Marrigje Barends b. 1590 (estimated)  They lived in Westbroeck, Utrecht, Holland

FOURTH GENERATION:                                                                                                      *****Goosen Gerritsen van Schaick 1616-1676                                                                               Settled at Fort Orange in Rensselaerwyck – 1633 (Known to travel back to Holland several times before his death in 1676).  Married Geertje Brantse Peelen van Nieukerke 1623-1656

FIFTH GENERATION:                                                                                                               Sybrant Goosense Van Schaick 1653-1686 married Elizabeth van der Poel 1658-1690

SIXTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                Gerrit Sybrantse Van Schaick 1685-1750 married Sara Goeway b.1683?? 1685??

SEVENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                        Johannes Gerritse Van Schaick 1712-?? married Alida Jacobse Bogart 1713-??

EIGHTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                 Jacob Johannesse Van Schaick 1740-1795 married Maritje Van Buren 1743-1814           (This Jacob Van Schaick is mentioned on my great-grandmother’s family list as HER great-grandfather).

NINTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                    William Van Schaick 1785-1870 married Eunice Van Buren 1793? 1795?-1854

TENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                                     Garrett Van Schaick 1820?-1823? – 1903 married Hannah Watkins 1825-1885

ELEVENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                         Elsie Van Schaick 1866-1956 married Frank Ellsworth 1866-1928

TWELFTH GENERATION:                                                                                                               Vera Ellsworth 1889-1983 married Warren Zollars 1889-1980

THIRTEENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                      Mildred Zollars 1916-1992 married Blanchard Hindman 1901-1983

FOURTEENTH GENERATION:                                                                                                       Diana Hindman 1952—-

There it is! I am a 14th generation descendant of Dutch ancestors that have been documented and recorded since the 1500s.  I was married and have four children, they are fifteenth generation and their children (my grandchildren) stand at being the sixteenth generation of Dutch descendants from Holland.

I bit the bullet and signed up for access to the records at In doing so, I was surprised and delighted to discover that my living cousins are out there and also interested in genealogy research on tracing complete family trees.  This weekend I  corresponded with several long-lost relatives.  Together, we are filling in the blanks of missing information on our common Dutch ancestors.

There is so much more that I know today.  I wish I had this knowledge when I traveled on my vacation road trip in July of 2002.  I have answers to the questions that followed me on my journey to Albany, New York.  Childhood curiousity about the family tree list of my great-grandmother, Elsie Van Schaick Ellsworth, led me to seek out the area settled by our forebear, Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick, in 1633.

The generations that preceded us are not just some names and dates on a piece of paper.  They were born, grew into adulthood, married, had children, raised a family and then died.  From this ancestor and his marriages (he married again after Geertje Van Niewkerke died in 1656), his progeny number in the thousands and are scattered all over America.

The arrival of Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick to Fort Orange, New Netherland in 1633 is a great turning point in American History because it’s the beginning of my family history too.  He was just a drop in the vast ocean of westward exploration and settlement of the New World in the 1600s. What Goosen and Geertje began in this country continues today.

I believe that’s why I journeyed to the land around Albany, New York in July of 2002.  To actually walk in the area and view the Hudson River that was their highway in those earlier times.  To honor the Dutch who first risked everything to come to New Netherland when it was still wilderness and populated by Native American Indian tribes.

I live such an incredible life in America.  And it began with Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick.  As far as I know right now, this is the earliest arrival of my family lineage.  Someday I’ll trace all lines–the Scot/Irish, the English, and the German sides of my ancestors. Tracing your entire family tree could be a lifetime pursuit.  And it turns out everybody is related! At least it seems that way if you dig deep enough and keep working your way back to earlier generations.

I have more interesting details to write about.  For now, I’m content to share the direct Dutch line that leads to me.  Coming up?  Next blog–I plan to take the generations and work my way back in time.  And I’m telling the stories of life and death, family tragedies and even a “black sheep” in the Van Schaick family tree.   Life was full of sacrifices and suffering.  We think we got it rough in our times?

Stay tuned———

Credit sources:

Google Search: Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick, William Van Schaick, Dutch history NY




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Dutch Ancestors – What I do know about the Van Schaick lineage

If you are somewhat intriqued with searching for long dead relatives, who’ve been reduced to a name and a few dates, then this blog may be of some interest.  Unless you enjoy genealogy as a family history project or spare time on your hands hobby–this story may be boring.

As I’ve mentioned, one of the purposes of my July, 2002 vacation road trip was to travel from Ohio to upper New York state.  My great-grandmother at one point in her life sat down and wrote out on three pieces of stationery the family tree of her parents and grandparents–going back to earlier generations as she remembered.  She also made brief comments regarding specific individuals that I believe she heard about growing up.

My quest and reason to drive to the Albany area and traipse around Rensselaer County was to verify the Dutch family information.  Every family has an historian.  It’s the grandmother or old uncle who keeps track of the family history through the years.

America is a vast land of space and time.  Since its earliest settlements, people and families moved West.  The questions we want to ask are lost in the mists of time: Where did our first ancestors come from?  Where did they settle in America? What made them move from their homes?  Who are we now?

Unless the family lineage is documented (and you know where the bodies are buried!), only fragments of a family tree may exist in the present time.  My mother’s older brother, Harry Zollars, was keeper of the family names and dates and lists.  However, his primary research was on the paternal side of the family.  I’ve seen the book and research he kept on the origin and history of the German side of the family – Zollars.  And that’s a different time for me to document.

He died in 1988 in California.  I lived in Ohio.  And I don’t know what happened to his family tree documents and research.  I’ve asked my cousins and they couldn’t give me any answers.  I spoke with my cousins in 2002 before I set off on my solitary woman’s adventure to New York.  My uncle’s daughter, Gloria, didn’t realize I had any information on the Dutch side of the family. And I was surprised she didn’t know what I knew from reading great-grandmother’s genealogy letters.

I actually have one vague memory of Elsie Van Schaick Ellsworth, my great-grandmother.  I was born in 1952.  She died in 1956.  I was about four years old then.  I remember being at a family gathering with a lot of grownups, aunts and uncles and grandparents.  One of the grownups, could have been my grandmother or mother, urged me to go into the house and say hello to Grandma Ellsworth.

I then remember being inside the house in the living room.  I sat on the floor with several of my fellow cousins.  We surrounded an old, frail woman with white hair who sat in a rocking chair.  I don’t know if she spoke to us or not.  I just recall being very young and sitting on the floor staring up at an old woman.  At that age, I had no clue what a “great-grandmother” was.

My other cousin, Carol, had a more direct connection to Elsie Ellsworth.  You see, in my grandmother’s family there was a wide gap between the four daughters.  My grandmother, Vera Ellsworth Zollars, was second oldest of four daughters.  Carol’s mother, also named Elsie, was the youngest girl in the family. Eighteen years separated the sisters.  My great-grandmother, Elsie, lived with her youngest daughter, Elsie, and her family until her death. Carol was my mother’s first cousin, so she’s my second cousin.

I called her in 2002 and low and behold! Her mother, my great-aunt Elsie, was still alive!  I so wanted to meet with her and glean her thoughts and memories about her mother and possibly any family stories about the Van Schaick grandparents. Unfortunately, the arrangements could not be made at that time and she passed away a few years later.

I’ll admit to a childhood curiousity about the family stories.  My grandmother encouraged that interest.  That’s why I received the handwritten genealogy papers from her when I was older.  She knew I would respect and handle with care the treasure of family information.  I wish now that I’d been more eager to ask questions.  The important family members with memories that go back many generations are long gone–and I can’t ask.

Imagine active minds contained in our elderly grandparents.  Them, being raised as children, giving their insight into earlier times and who your great-grandparents were.  Those names and dates and places.  Suppose your still alive and active grandparents remember THEIR grandparents.  Now you could hear stories about ancestors going back five generations–or earlier!  I regret I didn’t care more then, because it’s too late now.

I can only utilize online genealogy research at this point.  A good starting point is searching the US Census Bureau.  Beginning in 1790 through 1930, those surviving records of the American people are available to review.  Every ten years, the US Census documents are released to the public that date back 72 years.  In 2012,  extensive data will  released to the public for the 1940 US Census records.

Another good online search is the Social Security Death Data Index.  If a relative died in the 1900s after being issued a Social Security card or received SS benefits, the names and information will (it should) be accessible.

The unchallenged leader in online genealogy research is

I was able to find a great deal of information regarding the Van Schaick family tree.  They have US Census records, military records, church records, obituaries, newpsper articles, courthouse records, land deeds, the list is extensive.  There is a fee to subscribe to their search access to the vast amount of records, however, a free 14 day trial is a good way to get started on surnames research.

So, I still haven’t positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, been able to trace the Van Schaick ancestors in Renssealer County, New York.

But this is what I have, according to my great-grandmother.

(Starting with me)  Diana Hindman b. 1952 Ohio

Parents:                                                                                                                                      mother      Mildred Zollars Hindman 1916-1992 Ohio                                                   father         Blanchard Hindman          1901-1983 b. PA d. Ohio

Grandparents:                                                                                                                        grandmother  Vera Ellsworth Zollars 1889-1983 Ohio                                                 grandfather  Warren Zollars 1889-1980 Ohio

Great-grandparents:                                                                                                                        great-grandmother  Elsie Van Schaick Ellsworth 1866-1956 Ohio *                                       great-grandfather Frank Ellsworth 1866-1928 b. NY d. Ohio                                                         *(I came across information that Elsie Van Schaick was in fact born in Doylestown, Ohio–can’t verify yet)

Great-great-grandparents:                                                                                                                  gr-gr-grandfather  Garrett Van Schaick b. 1820 d. 1905 Ohio (aged 82 when he died) — New information lists him living with Elsie Ellsworth and her family in Ohio in the 1900 Census.                                                                                                                                                    gr-gr-grandmother Hannah Watkins Van Schaick 1825-1885 NY ??

Great-great-great-grandparents [Paternal side]:                                                                            gr-gr-gr-grandfather William Van Schaick, Sr. 1785-1870 NY ??                                                   gr-gr-gr-grandmother Eunice Van Buren Van Schaick 1795-1854 NY ??

This is where the paternal lineage splits into two Dutch surnames. This subject is about tracing the Van Schaick line.  I’ll cover the Van Buren lineage later.

Great-great-great-great grandfather (William’s father): Jacob Van Schaick 1740-1795     Great-great-great-great grandmother (William’s mother): Marije Van Buren 1743-1814

(5 Greats)-grandfather (Jacob’s father): Johannes Van Schaick b. ?? d. ??                              (5 Greats)-grandmother (Jacob’s mother): Alida Jacobse Bogart b. ?? d. ??

(6 Greats)-grandfather (Johannes’ father): Gerrit S. Van Schaick 1685-1750                           (6 Greats)-grandmother (Johannes’ mother): Sara Goeway 1683-1711

(7 Greats)-grandfather (Gerrit’s father): Sybrant G. Van Schaick 1653-1685                          (7 Greats)-grandmother (Gerrit’s mother): Elizabeth Vanderpoel 1656-1750

New information was found at a family tree site on  I bit the bullet and registered for the 2 weeks “free trial”.  I have to dig as deep as I can as fast as I can to glean as much documentation as I can.  Turns out, I’m not the only living relative in my family that’s doing genealogy research.  Reconnecting with distant cousins since we are on the same path.  I have to give credit to Holly Kelso for the additional lineage records.  I’m relying on her information until I either prove/disprove her facts.

So, with the additional lineage of my Dutch generations going back to the 1600s, now I CAN link our lineage to Goosen Gerrit Van Schaick.  This is the ancestor who emigrated from Holland and begat the progeny scattered throughout America to this day.

(8 Greats)-grandfather (Sybrant’s father): Goosen Gerrit Van Schaick 1633-1676                (8 Greats)-grandmother (Sybrant’s mother): Geertje Van Niewkerke 1624-1656

They were both born in Westerbroeck, Utrecht, Holland. He came to New Netherland about 1637.  A marriage date is given about 1645.  Either he returned to marry Gerrtje and they both sailed to the Albany area to settle or she came over and then they married.

I will save the Van Buren lineage for another blog, but I have additional names and dates to list here.                                                                                                                                               (4 Greats)-grandfather (Eunice’s father): Hendrick Van Buren 1750-1814                              (4 Greats)-grandmother (Eunice’s mother): Maria Van Den Burg

(5 Greats)-grandfather (Hendrick’s father): Willem Van Buren b. ?? d. ??                              (5 Greats)-grandmother (Hendrick’s mother): T. Vandenburgh b. ?? d. ??

(6 Greats)-grandfather (Willem’s father): Cornelis Van Buren b. 1678 — ??                              (6 Greats)-grandmother (Willem’s mother): Hendrickje Van Nes

(7 Greats)-grandfather (Cornelis’ father): Hendrick C. Van Buren b. ?? – d. ??                        (7 Greats)-grandmother (Cornelis’ mother): Elizabeth Van Slyck b. ?? – d. ??

(8 Greats)-grandfather (Hendrick’s father): Cornelissen Maessen Van Buren b. 1616         (8 Greats)-grandmother (Hendrick’s mother): Catalyntje Martense

This the earliest ancestor on the Van Buren side of my Dutch lineage that can be traced from Holland.  Cornelissen Maessen Van Buren came to New Netherland in 1631 from Burrmalsen, near Buren, Holland.  This is the connection to Martin Van Buren, another descendant.  So we ARE related to the 8th President of the United States!  Another quest when I research back to the Netherlands origins of the Van Burens is the connection between the Van Buren family lineage and its relation to the Dutch royal line.

It’s a “treasure hunt” to discover who the spouses and children were and how far back the lineage goes before my ancestors emigrated from Holland.

I’m assuming the family settled in the Albany, New York area for many generations.

Other tidbits of information may assist in my research, such as:                                             William Van Schaick, Sr. was a soldier in the War of 1812.                                                           If I can connect with a military database that might have his enlistment documents, I’ll have more verification of his life and residence.

Those are the recollections of my great-grandmother, Elsie.  I printed other documents from the genealogy websites that may prove a connection further back.  Also listed on her family tree page is a notation, “Great-Great-Great-Grandfather who died before the Revolutionary War”. No name or dates, but it shows that either Van Schaick and/or Van Buren ancestors both settled in America before 1776.

I have a document that lists William Van Schaick marriage to Eunice Teuntje Van Buren.  It states her birthdate as 10/22/1793 in Saratoga Springs, New York.  My family list says she was born in 1795–close enough to be them?

Anyway, I’ve got a lot more work to do to verify names, dates, marriages, children, birth and death dates and where they lived and may be buried.

Not much can be done online unless you want to spring for the two weeks trial membership to  They dominate the web. I’m still trying to connect to the Van Schaicks of the Mansion family tree.   I believe having Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick as an ancestor makes that a documented fact.  Just working on definite verification before I whoop! for joy.  So far, I’m learning plenty about the area, but not hitting that golden vein yet with my pickaxe.

Continued –family hardships from the 1800s.

Credit sources:

Google Search: Other Dutch genealogy websites refer back to for info.

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Home of my Dutch Ancestors – Rensselaer County, New York

The records I have from my great-grandmother lists the Dutch side of the family on her father’s side.  She also recalls in writing much of her mother’s side of the family tree. Studying the early history of New Netherland and the British takeover in 1664, it’s easy to determine how English surnames became mingled with the Dutch surnames going forward into the 1700s and 1800s.

Intermarriage with the English side of the ancestors took place when my great-grandmother’s parents married.  I don’t know the date of their union; their firstborn child was born in 1847.  My great-grandmother was the baby of the family, born in 1866. She wrote some interesting comments about her mother’s family tree (All English names), but I’m not on a quest to tackle that lineage at this time.

No–I’m diving into the Dutch names of my maternal great-great-great grandparents.  William Van Schaick, Sr.  married Eunice Van Buren.  I’ve read a lot of information on both of those surnames.  Great-grandmother teases me with just a hint of information and scant dates that send me forward into my genealogy fact-finding.

What I do know is that Garrett and Hannah Van Schaick lived in Troy, New York in 1852.  The last will and testament of his older brother, William Van Schaick, Jr. gives a list of his surviving siblings and their residences at the time of his passing.  The brothers and sisters match the list my great-grandmother wrote on her family tree.

Troy, New York and the surrounding areas where Garrett and his family were born reside in Albany and Rensselaer Counties in upper New York State.  I may not be able to prove the claim that our Dutch ancestors emigrated from Holland and settled at Fort Orange in 1614 (doubtful).  There is an extensive list of settlers who arrived in New Netherland in the mid-1600s and several have the names of Van Schaick and Van Buren.

The adventure is to connect those names far back in history to the actual DNA lineage of me!  My mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother–are all recent relations.  I knew them, I remember their faces and how they sounded and the lives they had on this earth.  What I don’t know are the generations that came before. When I research the mid-1800s, I encounter two Dutch people, from Dutch stock, who married in the Albany area and raised a family in nearby Rensselaer County.

If you are keeping up with my “New York” blog, I wrote about the Dutch patroon system of land ownership. Kiliaen van Rensselaer was able to claim a vast territory of land in the upper Hudson River area in 1630.  The northern border of the land holdings documents Rensselaerwyck extending to “upriver to Haver Island at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers”.

I’m excited to read that because I was on that very island–it’s Van Schaick Island today! So Rensselaerwyck included the island with my family name as part of its patroon land patent.  The land was purchased from local Indian tribal chieftains.  The descendants of Kiliaen van Rensselaer arrived from Holland to establish their place as owners of the land and its unique feudal system of farmer-tenants.  There is no indication that the original patroon ever sailed from Holland to New Netherland to visit his land holdings.

After the English took over New Netherland in 1664, the region was renamed New York and Beverwyck became Albany.  Surrounding Albany was Rensselaerwyck, renamed the Manor of Rensselaerwyck under England’s colonial rule.  The patroonship, while under Dutch rule in the mid-1600s, enacted an “oath of fidelity” to the patroon.  A listing of men who took that oath November 28, 1651  in Rensselaerwyck is documented.

One of the men listed is–Goosen Gerritsz van Schaick.  My understanding is that this Van Schaick is the ancestor of Anthony Van Schaick who built the Mansion in 1735 on Van Schaick Island near Cohoes, New York.  I cannot prove that I am connected to this branch of the family.  But I can trace a Van Schaick name back to 1651.

By 1674, the sons of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer had settled within the Colony of Rensselaerwyck.  Jeremiah (aka: Jeremias) Van Rensselaer died in October of 1674. A list of those invited to the internment of said deceased included: Lieutenant Goosen Gerritse Van Schaick, Sybrant Gosen Van Schaick, as well as: Maas Cornelisse Van Buren, Marten Cornelisse Van Buren, and Hendrick Massen Van Buren.

Since my great-grandmother lists a “Hendrick Van Buren” as a relation, could this Hendrick Massen Van Buren be connected to my family tree?

The Colony of Rensselaerwyck was broken up and the land sold in 1840.  After the death of Stephan Van Rensselaer III in 1839, the will stated back rents of the farmer-tenants should be collected to pay off his debts.  Interesting news of the times–the tenants revolted and refused to pay the back rents.  Evictions and violence and legal action brought about the final dissolution of the once vast land holdings of the original Dutch family.

Garrett Van Schaick would have been alive in those turbulent times and who knows what part he and his family may have played in the circumstances.  His parents, William and Eunice Van Schaick moved several times as they had a large brood of babies.  It seems that each child was born in a different area of what is known today as Albany and Rensselaer Counties in New York.

List of my great-grandmother’s father and aunts and uncles and where they were born:

Jacob –  born Easttown, Washington Co., N.Y.                                                                                 I cannot find either a town called “Easttown” on my atlas map or with an online search.  There is a current town in Washington Co., called “Easton”.  Perhaps this is what she meant.

Henry – also born in Easttown, Washigton Co., N.Y.

Washington County is located a fair distance away from the Albany area. The next seven children were born in Rensselaer County, New York.

Cornelius – born in Greenbush                                                                                                    William, Jr. – born in Clyde, Seneca Co., Western N.Y. (and odd exception-why did the family move?)                                                                                                                                  Garrett – born in Greenbush (my great-great-grandfather)                                                     Steven – born on Hillhouse Island between Troy and Albany.                                            Jeremiah – born in West Troy                                                                                                             Mary – born in Watervliet                                                                                                              Elizabeth – also born in Watervliet

The last three siblings were born in Western New York state.  This indicates the family relocated from the Albany area. However, in 1852, most of the siblings were back in Rensselaer County as adults.

Henrietta – born in Batavia, Genesee Co., N.Y.                                                                           Jane – born in Lynden, Cattaraugus, Co., N.Y.                                                                              Steven Henry – also born in Lynden, Cattaraugus Co.

Now that I’ve established the Dutch settlement around the Albany area and the growth in the area of Rensselaerwyck in the 1600s through the 1800s, it’s given me a knowledgable background into the history and times of my ancestors.  It’s not enough to know the names and dates, but that is my ultimate quest. I would like answers to the questions I have in regards to the times in which they grew up and married and had their families.

It’s obvious that Garrett Van Schaick’s parents moved quite often and his mother had one or more babies in eight different towns in New York state.  I’m shaking my head over that fact–it’s puzzling.  Why did they move so much?  What kind of work did William Van Schaick, Sr. do?

That’s my next step.  It’s time to lay out the names and dates and places of my Dutch ancestors.  Hopefully, I can make a connection between the first settler to New Netherland and the place in Holland that he left to move to America.

Genealogy — shaping the branches of my family tree.

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1600s – Dutch Fort Orange Settlement becomes Albany under English Colonial Rule

The earliest Dutch settlement in the upper Hudson River region was Fort Nassau, built in 1614.  Home to fur traders, soldiers and support settlers, it often flooded and was eventually abandoned.

The next permanent fort was built approximately two miles north of the fort that was prone to flooding.  Fort Orange was built in 1624.  A 1628 publication described the fort surrounded by a wooden stockade enclosure and no families dwelling at Fort Orange.  Perhaps a few dozen persons lived there.  Mainly traders who purchased furs from the surrounding Native American tribes.  Later settlement outside the Fort Orange area came as Dutch emigrants purchased land from the Native Americans.

1629 – Dutch Charter of Privileges and Exemptions.  This established the Patroon system of land ownership in New Netherland. Patroon is a Dutch word meaning owner or head of a company.   The Dutch West India Company granted title and land to some of its invested members.  The Patroon would be a landowner of vast tracts of land in New Netherland and controlled manorial rights and privileges, not unlike a lord of the feudal system in Europe.  The Patroon could create civil and criminal courts, require one tenth payment of all farm crops and livestock from his tenants as well as receiving rent from those who settled on the land patent.

Patroonships were deeded tracts of land that required settlement of fifty families within four years.  The most successful land patent was issued to Kiliaen van Rennselaer, a diamond merchant and one of the principal investors in the Dutch West India Company.   His tract of land (Patroonship) surrounded Fort Orange and extended along 24 miles of Hudson River shoreline and 24 miles inland on both sides of the river, an extensive area that is current Albany and Rennselaer Counties in New York state.  Of all the land patents deeded in the early Dutch colonial period only van Rennselaer’s patroonship was marginally successful.  It lasted into the nineteenth century and passed down through generations of the Van Rennselaer family.

Known as Rennselaerwijck (wyck), the agent for Kiliaen van Rennselaer obtained title to most of the land surrounding Fort Orange.  However, the settlement that grew up around Fort Orange soon sparked conflict with the director-general of New Netherland. Peter Stuyvesant was the Company man also in charge of the successful fur trade operations at the settlement of Fort Orange. Stuyvesant objected to the continued growth and building of the community within shadow of the fort.

In 1652 the conflict came to a head.  The agent/director for Rennselaerwyck, Brant Van Slichtenhorst, ignored the authority of the director/general of the overall colony of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant.  Operating an autocratic, semi-private independent land tract enveloping Fort Orange was in defiance of his demands to submit to Dutch law.  Building a community on company property surrounding Fort Orange would have the settlement subject to laws not emanating from New Amsterdam, but from Rennselaerwyck’s agent.

After receiving authority from his superiors of the Dutch West India Company in Holland, Peter Stuyvesant sailed up river with a contingent of soldiers to declare the village would henchforth be within the jurisdiction of the director and council of New Netherland.  The village was now under the domain of the West India Company.

The village and surrounding area, including Fort Orange, was renamed Beverwyck in 1652.  Beverwyck grew into a lively trading town with a hundred or so houses scattered along a few dirt streets.  Rennselaerwyck developed on the east side of the Hudson River with Fort Orange and Beverwyck growing on the western shore.

For the next twelve years, three communities co-existed in the upper Hudson River region: Fort Orange, Rensselaerwyck and Beverwyck.  Beverwyck grew with the arrival of European tradesmen who settled the area and raised large families.  Most of the population was ethnically Dutch, but the influx of immigrants bewtween 1652 and 1664 were German, Swedes, French and Africans (brought over as the first slaves by the Dutch to New Netherland).  Fort Orange had fallen into disrepair.  It was built on the waterfront and like its predecessor from 1614, therefore prone to flooding.

Political and ruling country changes in 1664 turned ownership of the Dutch colony of New Netherland over to the English.  The war in Euope between England and Holland was settled and the increasing colonisation of New England to the north and Virgina and the Carolinas in the south forced the Dutch to relinquish its control of an area from Connecticut to New Jersey.  James, Duke of York, renamed the area New York.  New Amsterdam became Manhattan.  Beverwyck was renamed Albany.

In 1676,  the English government constructed a new English fort on higher ground, well away from the Hudson River. The strategic placement and fortunes of Albany, New York were due to it’s proximity to the junction of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers.  Not only would Albany continue to thrive and grow into a major trading post with access to Manhattan in the south, it had access into the heartland of the frontier and the Great Lakes region.  The fortunes of the city would be linked to the rest of the continent.

This is the history and background of settlement in the area that began in 1614 and with the building of Fort Orange in 1624.  Rennselaerwyck developed patroonship lands on the eastern side of the Hudson River. Fort Orange’s community was renamed Beverwyck in 1652.  It was a bustling town in 1664 when the English gained control and renamed the town, Albany.

Somewhere in that history of settling the area are the names of my Van Schaick ancestors.  A few are more prominent, taking on political status in the mid-seventeenth century.  In my research, I read a paragraph about a Van Schaick who had other branches of the family in the Kinderhook area.  That peeked my interest.  I have Van Buren ancestors to investigate while I trace my Dutch lineage.  Martin Van Buren was born and raised in Kinderhook, New York.  Now I DO have his family tree documented back to his ancestor who emigrated from the Netherlands.  Still trying to connect my great-great-grandmother, Eunice Van Buren Van Schaick, to Martin Van Buren’s branch of the family.

The reason I took the time to research the early settlement of the Albany area is because this is where my Dutch ancestors lived in the 1800s.  And yes–I would like to prove my ancestors arrived as early as the English who settled in New England around the same time.  I would like to know the definitive Van Schaick and Van Buren who emigrated from the Netherlands in the 1600s.  Am I also related to the prominent Van Schaicks of early Albany fame and fortune?

Of course, I would like to connect to the lineage of Anthony Van Schaick, who built the Van Schaick Mansion on the island near Cohoes, New York.  Maybe I’m not a direct descendant, but if they were cousins, eventually I’ll arrive at the common grandparents our lineage shares.

Another reason I’m digging into the history of the Dutch settlement of Albany is to “debunk” a long-standing idea that my great-grandmother wrote our ancestors emigrated from Holland in 1614.  The more I research the early settlement along the Hudson River, I now believe she wrote it as a general remark.  Such as telling someone, “My ancestors arrived from England and settled Massachusetts in 1620.”  It just means the English arrived in 1620 and began to populate Massachusetts, not specifically that I can trace my lineage to that first settlement.

I still want to dig a bit deeper into the Van Rennselaer patroonship lands of Rennselaerwyck.  Two reasons: one-the inheritance remained with the heirs for many generations.  The Crailo House Museum that I visited on my road trip on July 6, 2002 is in Rennselaer County and connected to the family. And two-I discovered my great-great-grandfather’s older brother, William Van Schaick, Jr died in 1852.  His will listed Garrett Van Schaick as living in Troy that year.

I have a direct connection to Rennselaer County, New York.  This is where they were born and lived and died in the 1800s.  When did they arrive?  1600s?  1700s?

What is it about searching for your distant relatives who are long dead and just names and dates on faded documents somewhere?  America can claim explorers trekked over its newly discovered lands going back to the 1500s.  500 years isn’t a very long time compared to the history of Europe or Africa or Asia, where history and kings date back thousands of years.  It’s one long leap.  To know their names and the dates when our earliest ancestors arrived from the “Old Country”.  Once we now who they were and where they came from, we can leap back in time and history to trace our origins.

To know who you are.  To realize what ethnic, cultural and native heritage you lay claim to from a long ago past.  It’s a treasure hunt.  Digging not for gold or buried pirates’ treasure, but digging for the jewels of those who came before.  Their DNA is within us.  We are all a sum measure of who came before us in time.

I may never glimpse a faded portrait of my ancestors.  I would like to open a window into the dates and times they once lived and loved and worked and married and raised children.  When I bring their memory alive once more, I’ll believe a warm wind will flow over the sod of their graves and honor them. I exist today due to their hardships and struggle to settle a new land.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I am sum of all those who came before me.  In a few day, I’ll have the Dutch background of the Albany, New York area complete.  Then I have the exciting task of documenting my family tree.  I’ll share what I learn.

Rennselaerwyck — the first settlement that became home to my family.

Credit sources:

(Google search) Fort Orange, Rennselaerwyck, Albany


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