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.

About onewomanamericanpilgrimage

In 2011, live in the tropical paradise of Maui, Hawaii. Author, published poet, award-winning speaker (Toastmasters-Kihei chapter), and photographer of Hawaii's inspirational scenery. In 2002, I was a divorced, single mother, living in rural Medina County, Ohio. Suffered from the big 3Ds--debt, divorce & depression. About to turn 50, I fantasized my life could be better, lived with a greater purpose. I was a writer in need of a lifestyle change. At a turning point in my life, July, 2002, I took a solitary road trip to visit important American locations that were also turning points in History. What I observed during my personal "odyssey" became an American Pilgrimage that changed my life. Delivered from the 3Ds--I now live an extraordinary life of purpose and joy. This blog is about my journey through Pennsylvania & New York history. It was also an awakening into my inner potential to have the courage and determination to "life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness" for the 2nd half of my life.
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6 Responses to Home of my Dutch Ancestors – Rensselaer County, New York

  1. Jude (JBM02) says:

    Hi! I found your blog and love it!! I’m working on a family genealogy of my husband’s family (Dutch, but not the Van Buren or Van Schaik families) and some of the information I’ve found is astounding. I think this treasure hunt is pretty addicting.
    As a native of Troy, NY, I can also tell you that “West Troy” is the old name for Watervliet, NY (just across the Hudson via the Green island Bridge).
    … Looking forward to your continuing installments!!

    • Thanks so much for reading! I have about 3 more blog entries to complete this section of my 2002 vacation. Thankfully, so much information is available on the Web and I’m sure you will uncover some marvelous history about the Dutch ancestors in your own family tree.

      • Amy says:

        I am a descendant of Jacob Van Schaick’s who lived in Easton, NY. I also grew in Easton with long term roots within our home that was built in 1826. My family has several books on the families from this area and the generations being talked about here. Is it possible to learn more from each other?

      • Hi Amy! Was your Jacob Van Schaick ancestor also my direct ancestor (maternal side)? My great-great grandfather, Garrett Van Schaick, parents moved throughout New York state which explains various birth places for the children in the 1800s. Who built the house in 1826? My information states the ancestors married other Dutch spouses until Garrett, who married Hannah Watkins – English? How far back do your records document? I’ve been to Van Schaick Island (Cohoes) and seen the Van Schaick historical plaque that states our first Dutch immigrant from The Netherlands, Goosen Garrett Van Schaick, once owned that land! Thanks for sharing-cousin!

  2. daphnecybele says:

    Jacob Van Schaick and his son Hendrick Van Schaick were from Easton, NY (not easttown). Hendrick is buried in the Greenwich, NY cemetery, plot F-8. He’s a veteran of Revolution (joined at 15 in the Albany 13th militia, his father Jacob was the major) and also in war of 1812. Hendrick’s son, John B. Van Schaick, is where my line and your line split.

  3. amyglover@aol.com says:

    I loved reading your story about your Dutch ancestors because I stumbled upon ours doing a project for my daughter when she was in first grade. I have to go look it all up again, but my family, Frank Van Buren (my great grandfather), can trace our ancestry back to Maas Cornelisse as well.
    My family is from Upstate NY – Kinderhook, Schenectady, Albany, etc.

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