Thursday, January 8, 2015

Freer/Schoonmaker Families

The Freer/Schoonmaker Families

      We are very fortunate to have a piece of our history in the stone houses of Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) in New Paltz, NY. Hugo Freer was one of the original Patentees of the settlement, with Hendrick Jochemsz coming to the area a little later, in about 1653. The Freer House on Huguenot Street holds the Schoonmaker Library, the Schoonmaker Family Association having affiliated with Huguenot Street in the 1970s and deciding to work on a project to benefit as many people as possible. The history of the family was written in multiple parts over a number of years by Ruth Heidgerd: The Schoonmaker Family: Descendants of Hendrick Jochemsz Schoonmaker, 1624-1683. It was published by the Schoonmaker Family Association and the Huguenot Historical Society in 1974.

      Ruth Heidgerd also did the research for The Freer Family: The Descendants of Hugo Freer, Patentee of New Paltz, published by the Huguenot Historical Society in 1968.

      This document relies on those printed histories, as well as the documentation in the website for the Freer-Low Family Association ( The website indicates that Hugo Freer, although born in Herly-en-Boulonais, Normandy, Fr was later a resident of Manheim, Germany belonging to a French Congregation there. It also indicates that he was a baptismal sponsor for a child of Jean Hasbrouck while his second wife, Jeanne was a sponsor to a child of Martin DuBois in 1674, his first wife, Maria de la Haye died in 1666 of the plague). As that was the last mention of them in Germany, he probably came with or about the same time as Hasbrouck and Du Bois, probably on the Spotted Cow around 1675/76. Our line is descended from a son of Hugo's first marriage, also named Hugo.
From the Wikipedia article on Huguenots: “French Protestants were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530s, and they were called Huguenots by the end of the 16th century. By the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century, roughly 500,000 Huguenots had fled France during a series of religious persecutions.” (
     It doesn't appear that Hendrick Schoonmaker immigrated due to religious persecution. In the Abraham Hasbrouck Diary written by the grandson of Hendrick Schoonmaker, he reports that “Hendrick Jochemsz Schoonmaker was a native of Hamburg, a Hanse town in Germany and was one of the first settlers or planters in this country. He entered the Dutch service and came to America in the Dutch time or Dutch government of New Netherlands.” Although, not absolutely conclusive a later inquiry into the Hamburg records elicted the response that this man was probably the Hein Schomaker who was baptized in 1624, a son of Jochim Schomaker (Heidgerd, Ruth: The Schoonmaker Family: Descendants of Hendrick Jochemsz Schoonmaker, 1624-1683, Part I, Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, NY, 1974).
     In 1653 we first hear of Hendrick in the court records of Fort Orange (Albany) (the first of numerous mentions of his name in court records! ), when he was given some land. That same year he was also the defendant in a case of assault against a man who had beaten Hendrick's wife. More humorous was the mention of his smuggling in a half barrel of beer. He hadn't been able to leave the house as his wife was having a baby. He was excused this time, but told not to repeat the offense. He apparently was an inkeeper because he was later found guilty of entertaining in his inn on a Sunday.

      Hendrick was also politically active with mention of him in various proceedings, including one where he, as a lieutenant of the burgher guard accompanied a Maqua Indian who was showing the guard how his colleagues had obtained brandy illegally at a house in 1657. Because of troubles like this with the Indians, the settlement at Wiltwyck (Kingston) asked for help to build a stockade and Hendrick assisted. There is a report of the Massacre of Wiltwyck in The History of Kingston by Marius Schoonmaker and also in the Documentary History of the State of New York, Vol IV, pp37ff. The massacre occurred on 7 June 1677 when Hendrick was twice wounded. By 15 September peace had been regained and land at New Paltz was purchased from the Indians, with Hendrick being one of the original signers of the deed. An interesting and more detailed account of some of the Indian troubles is at Hendrick held various offices and continued to be mentioned in court records. He dictated his will while ill in 1681/2and died in 1684. The first part of the Schoonmaker history has much more information in narrative form that makes interesting reading:

      So, as of 1675, both men were in the area around New Paltz, Hugo Freer, one of the original patentees of New Paltz, and Hendrick Jochemsz Schoonmaker as an earlier settler buying land nearby.

      Hendrick's oldest son, Jochem Hendrick Schoonmaker was himself a colorful character. From the Schoonmaker history: “Family tradition says that at the time of the massacre of Wiltwyck, 7 June 1663, he was on his way to visit his maternal uncle, Volckert Jansen Douwe at the New Village (Hurley), when he was captured by a Wappinger Indian named Wamassaun. During his captivity he suffered from the brutality of the Indians who amused themselves by throwing burning coals and ashes from their pipes upon his head, thereby scarring it in many places so it was his practice always thereafter to wear a red stocking cap.” (Heidgerd, Ruth: The Schoonmaker Family: Descendants of Hendrick Jochemsz Schoonmaker, 1624-1683, Part I, Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, NY, 1974). He became one of the original trustees of the Rochester Patent issued by Queen Anne. That patent is reproduced in its entirety in the Schoonmaker history, pages 7-9 (pages16-18 from the lds website listed above).

     Hendrick had 6 children, Jochem (about 1655) being the oldest, then Egbert (1658), Engeltje (1663), Volckerte (1665), Hendrick Hendrick (1665-1712) and Hillitje (1669). Jochem's daughter Tryntje married Jacobus Bruyn and he left in his will a total of over 100000 acres of land, plus several lots in Newburgh and 1 in New York City- in addition to other bequests of land and goods! His son Frederick inherited a lot of land, and did very well for himself until he donated an estimated $50-60000 to the Revolutionary War cause, including a good part of the cost of the chain across the Hudson (Heidgerd, Ruth: The Schoonmaker Family: Descendants of Hendrick Jochemsz Schoonmaker, 1624-1683, Part I, Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, NY, 1974). He built a stone house in the Stone Ridge area around 1760 and that stands today as Captain Schoonmaker's Bed and Breakfast (
     Our line, however, stems not from Jochem, the eldest, but from Hendrick Hendrick Schoonmaker. He married Geertruye De Witt on 24 March 1688 and they proceeded to have 14 children, including our ancestor, Johannes Hendricks Schoonmaker (1697). Johannes married Aryantje van Hoghteling and they had 7 children: Phillipus, Geertruy, Henrikus, Petrus Johannes, Samuel, Wilhelmus and Johannes. Petrus Johannes is our ancestor. He married Rachel Van Wagenen, daughter of Johannes Van Wagenen and Elizabeth Freer and they had 5 children: Phillipus (who married Rachel Freer, a daughter of Jonas and Magdalena Bevier Freer, Abraham (who married Catarina Freer, another daughter of Jonas and Magdalena Bevier Freer,),
     Benjamin, Rachel (she married Joshua Freer, a son of Jonas and Magdalena Bevier Freer) and Petrus.
You can begin to see why this is the Freer/Schoonmaker chapter!
     Our line comes from Petrus, one of the children that did not marry a Freer. He married Elsie Terwilliger, and they had 9 children, including John P., born in 1808. died in 1880, my 3rd great grandfather. He married Mary Auchmoody and they had 6 children. Mary Catherine, born in 1849 married Andrew Keator. And their daughter Flossie is Betty Fox's mother, hence our “cousinship”. Another child, Nelson married Elizabeth Freer (daughter of Jonathan Freer and Magdalena Deyo). Their daughter Martha Jane married Willis Polhamus, Earl's father. And there we are with the Schoonmaker line.
      At the beginning of this chapter Hugo Freer the patentee was introduced. We are descended from his son Hugo, whose mother was Hugo's first wife. They had 3 children together and with his second wife there were 8 more children, some born in Germany, others in America. Hugo and Jeanne came to New Paltz with the other Huguenots they knew in Manheim.
     His son Hugo, born in 1666 would have been about 10 years ago when he arrived in New Amsterdam. He married Maria Anna LeRoy in New Paltz in 1690. They had 15 children, including our ancestor, Hugo Freer Jr. and Jonas, the father of the Jonas whose 3 children married the Schoonmakers above. Hugo, Jr. married Brejen Terpenning of Minisink and they had 10 children, including another Hugo. This Hugo married Hester Deyo (9 children) and their son Benjamin (1754-1809), who married Elizabeth Winfield had only 3 children, including another Hugo (1787-1853). This Hugo married Elizabeth Freer, daughter of Jonathan Freer and Magdalena Deyo. Their daughter Elizabeth Freer (1843-1902) married Nelson Schoonmaker, and they were the parents of and therefore bring us back to Martha Jane Schoonmaker Polhamus, Earl's mother.


Monday, September 9, 2013


      First, some Rhodes family general history: It is reported that the British Rhodes family came into being when William the Conqueror came to England. Nelson Osgood Rhodes, in his book, The Family of Rhodes (1919), indicated that the de Rhodes came to England with the Earl of Flanders to assist William The
Conqueror (Volume I, page 121). The Domesday book names Willemus and Hugh and that they were given the “Moiety of Rhodes” which is in Chester. Presumably Hugh returned to France, and Willemus remained in England. Willemus had a son who became Michael de Rodes, whose heritage can be traced in English documents. There were various family seats until Judge Francis Rodes built Barlborough Hall, which is now a prep school.

I would love to start our Rhodes family with Walter, supposedly Zachariah Rodes' father, but I have no documentation that they are related, even though you will find this on most every tree in that has Rhodes family members. I will report that there was a Walter Rhodes in Rhode Island at the same time that Zachariah was there, but there's still a question in my mind about them being related. There is documentation of Walter that indicates that he was in contact with people who were also involved with Zachariah in early Rhode Island. The Early Records of the Town of Providence (Vol. XIV, index to deeds, 1906, Providence, Snow and Farnham) shows deeds of Walter transacting business in the same area as Zachariah as well. On another page Walter Rhodes is listed as having signed an affidavit on 6 July, 1674. So there may have been a relationship between Walter and Zachariah. The family tree constructed by Nelson Osgood Rhodes indicates that Walter was the father of Zachariah and Henry Rhodes and, as a son of the youngest of 3 sons, Walter may have felt that emigration to the New World would be beneficial to him. But it is only conjecture that this lineage is correct.

We do know that Zachariah Rhodes came to Massachusetts in 1642. He's listed in the Founders of Early American Families, emigrants from Europe, 1607-1657 (Cleveland: General Court of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, 1975, p 242). He is listed as having been born in Leamington, Warwickshire, England according to the American Genealogical-Biographical Index. This would make him 39 when he arrived in America, still a single man at that time. There are numerous records available that make it easy to follow much of Zachariah's life in America. He was listed in Rehoboth, Massachusetts through 1644. Rehoboth at that time counted part of Rhode Island as some of its territory. Zacharaiah was evidently brought up Baptist and following that faith first became punishable by banishment and later by the assignment of a fine, one of the reasons that Roger Williams and Zachariah wanted to leave Massachusetts to set up a new colony. Zachariah was banished, for stating that "the court has naught to do in matters of religion"

The reason for this trouble was that he refused to comply with Massachusetts law compelling support of preachers of the “official” Congregational church. Zacharaiah was part of the group that wanted the territory to leave Massachusetts.

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation (Cutter, William Richard, Lewis Historical Publishing Co, NY, 1914, Vol. 1, pgs 510-511) has a page on Zachariah, summarizing his early life in America:
He was one of 58 inhabitants of Rehoboth from about 1643 to 1650, having received land in the division of lands there. In 1650 he was in Providence, and by 1688 he was on a committee to ask to be released from Massachusetts. He was a constable, a commissioner, on a committee to run the Plymouth Colony line and was also on a committee to agree with the Indians on previous purchases from them, which, from later events, seemed to have had a profound effect on his life. He also owned considerable land as well as a grist mill. The picture is from the location of the grist mill in Pawtuxet.

Zachariah went to Rhode Island where he, with Roger Williams, his future father-in-law William Arnold, William Harris and William Carpenter formed one of the Plantations of Rhode Island. Rhode Island's actual name is The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Zachariah married William Arnold's daughter, Joanna on March 9, 1646. (The Arnold family was also well respected- for the most part- and has a long history in England which will be discussed later). Zachariah was active in the civil and political life of the area as seen above. He was close to the Indians and from the above mentioned letter from Roger Williams it appeared that both Williams and he were upset that some other members of the group were trying to cheat the Indians. It appears in most of his genealogies that he was “drowned off the Pawtuxet” in 1666. This letter indicated that he was very upset and makes you wonder about the drowning. As written it states: “I loue & honour ye memorie of Zach: Rodes as much as any: Yet I belieue he had dolefull thoughts, when God was pleased so suddenly so wonderfully & dreadfully to driue him off from Pawtuxet shoare: O how terrible must ye sight of this monster, & his unchristjan Contentjons (& Law vexatjons about jt) be to his dying Thoughts and Spirits? Thinck what you please & dare: For myselfe I dare not but hope yt he was resolued if God would once haue pleased to suffer his foote on Pawtuxet Land again he would have endeauoured to dash out ye Brains of this dreadful monster.” (Google books: Rhode Island Historical Tracts, No. 13, Sidney S. Rider, 1881). I recently visited Pawtuxet and saw the falls where Zachariah had a grist mill. Also there is a special event venue, Rhodes on the River, started by a descendant of Zachariah and remaining today. There are Rhodes houses, and streets throughout the village.

Zachariah and Joanna had numerous children as listed in the excerpt above. The children for the most part were also well respected and active in the life of their community. Daughter Rebecca married (2nd) Roger Williams' son Daniel. Mary married John Low, and it's through this connection that we are reportedly related to the George Bush family.
We are often indebted to others for the research that they have done. There was a court case that involved 
Jeriah Rhodes and some land in Rhode Island that proved that he was a descendant of Zachariah Rhodes (Zachariah-Jeremiah-John-John-Jeriah). This was published in the American Genealogist (Vol 35, No. 2, April 1959). It was an article written by Charles W. Farnham entitled The Ancestry of Jeriah Rhodes of Ulster Co., NY. Jeriah was born in Rhode Island about 1735 and died in Ulster County, NY in 1812. He came to New York about 1768, first being mentioned then in the records of Lattintown, Marlborough. Jeriah signed the pledge of loyalty to the Continental Congress. He was married twice, first to Rebecca Lewis ( January 1757 in Rhode Island). It appears that her family also came to New York from Rhode Island. His second marriage was to Sophronia Ayers, Rebecca Lewis having died in 1779. He had 9 children with Rebecca and 10 children with Sophronia. Our line stems from his son John (with Rebecca Lewis) and the name Lewis/Louis is prominent in the family. John had a son Lewis, born in 1799 who married Susan Meriah Winne (Winne was another very early family name in the area, but I have not been able to find out which line she was from). They are listed at the top of the journal that started my genealogy trip. It seems that in general the children Jeriah had with Rebecca were respectable, but a history of Marlborough reports that some other Rhodes, I believe those with his second wife, were not so respectable, but have horse thieves among them! Lewis' son, Leander Rhodes, my great great grandfather had a brother, Aaron who is listed in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, New York. We have a postcard of the house he built. Another brother, Theodore died in the Civil War. He is buried with his parents in the little cemetery at the Lattintown Baptist Church.

Leander and his wife Mary J. Westcott (another early Ulster family) had a son named Eugene Lewis (my great grandfather-1869-1948) who married Edith Cosman, the lady holding me in this picture of 4 generations. Their daughter Mary Edna married Earl Polhamus and they had two daughters, Ethel, my mother and Elsie. Their son, Lewis Eugene was cousin Estelle Warren's father and later married Vi Hull.

Four generations:
L-Ethel Polhamus Stoehr
R-Edna Rhodes Polhamus
Seated: Edith Cosman Rhodes holding Judi Stoehr

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Addendum to the Stoehr/Kaberich lines

I belong to the Clay County Genealogy Group, and thanks to one of my friends in that group I was able to contact a German friend of hers.  He is a retired archivist and enjoys researching, even for others.  Using church and civil records, he was able to extend our Stoehr and Kaberich lines well beyond my great great grandparents, Christian and Anna Maria (Kaberich) Stoehr.  They emigrated to the US in 1856 and I knew only their parents' names from their death certificates.  Eberhard confirmed that Christian was a miller and Anna Maria was the daughter of a miller.  He even found a living cousin on the Kaberich side.  I've written to her, but haven't yet received a reply.  Both families seemed to have remained in a small area of Germany which helped. 

On the Stoehr side, Christian's father was Andreas, which I knew from Christian's death certificate.  What I didn't know was that he had 9 children!  Christian had 8 siblings, from oldest to youngest:  Heinrich, Anna Martha, Lorenz (died young), Lorenz, Karl, a stillborn child, Elise, and Johann August. Christian was born in 1821, behind Anna Martha.  Andreas' father was another Andreas and his father was Michael Stohr, born about 1720 in Bergheim.  His son, the first Andreas was also born in Bergheim, but died in Spangenberg, where the family remained.

Not only did Eberhard find the history of the Stoehr family, but , beginning with Andreas' wife Anna Elisabeth HeuBner, he found HeuBners back to Johann Christian HeuBner, born 1675, and his father Valentin HeuBner, who died in 1679!  Anna Elisabeth HeuBner's mother was a Schade and he followed this family as well back to Johann Henrich Schade, born 1691 and his father Lorentz Schade.  Seeing any familial names in these lines? 

On the Kaberich side Anna Maria Stoehr's father was Nicolaus Kaberich.  We now have his father's line going back to Dietrich Kebberich, born probably in the late 1600s.  His son Johannes apparently had 2 sons named Johann Nicolaus, one born in 1758 (our line) and one born 1766 (the living cousin's line).  Our Johann had Nicolaus, born 1785, the father of Anna Maria, Christian's wife. 

Interestingly, another researcher on had posted information on a Vincent Kaberich, which Eberhard was able to confirm as a cousin to Christian who emigrated to the US in 1851.  He married into a Liebermann family.  Two Lieberman girls married two Bittlingmeyer boys and their father Christopher Bittlingmeyer married Marianna Kaberich, whose father was George.  Christopher and Marianna emigrated to the US in 1853.  Both they and Vincent seemed to have stayed in NYC.  I've asked Eberhard to look into this.

Eberhard sent me pictures of Spangenberg, home of the Stoehr family and Obergeis, beautiful spots!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Polhamus Family

      Why on earth would anyone want to travel from Holland to Brazil in 1636? Yet that is exactly what our first American Polhamus ancestor did. The answer lies partly in the Sugar War between Holland and Brazil. “Dutch merchants were already at Recife in Pernambuco, and in 1630 the Dutch fleet occupied Recife and Olinda. They conquered Arraial do Bom Jesus, Paraibe, and the Nazaré fort in 1635 during the Sugar War as the Portuguese Brazilians and the Dutch tried to destroy each other's sugar mills. Count Johan Maurits (Maurice) of Nassau arrived in 1637 and took over Pernambuco. “ (Beck, Sanderson: Ethics of Civilization, Volume 11, America to 1744, 2006).
      Johannes Theodorus Polhemus (born about 1598, probably in Bavaria) attended the University of Heidleberg, receiving a Divinity Degree and then served churches in both Germany and Holland. He applied for overseas missions and was accepted into Maurits' expedition that was then being prepared for travel to Brazil. He was originally to be in charge of the spiritual care of soldiers and settlers on the island of Recif, but after moving to Itamarca he also preached to the Indians in their own language.
     So how did this missionary, now in Brazil, end up in America? While in Brazil Rev. Polhemus married (there is evidence of an earlier marriage in Netherlands with a daughter baptized in 1629) and had several children. Although the Netherlands continued to rule in Brazil for some time, the rulers had become corrupt and inefficient to the point that when the Portuguese revolted in 1654, the Dutch were overcome and given 3 months to leave. Rev. Polhemus sent his wife and children on a ship back to Holland, and he took another ship which was hijacked by the Spanish, then captured by a French ship which landed him in New Amsterdam in September, 1654. He was about 56 years old at the time- no spring chicken- I can't even imagine going through that ordeal as a younger person, but to suffer the trip, the hijacking, the separation from family only to land in a strange land must have been quite an experience.
      It is presumed that Polhemus is the ancestor of all the Polhemus/Polhamus Americans in their various spellings because of how our name came about. Originally surnamed Polheim, Johannes Theodorus was entitled to add “ius” at the end of his name after his graduation from university. Eventually the Polheimius name lost an “i” or two and became Polhemus. Some of the lines, ours included, changed the long a sounding e to an actual a. As Rev. Polhemus worked for the church we've been fortunate to have numerous records about his work and life. Once in America, Johannes was the first regular minister to the Dutch: “In 1654 came Dominie Johannes Theodorus Polhemus from Brazil, now about 56 years old, to serve the churches then formed to Midwout and Amersfoort, continuing here till his death on June 8, (9) 1676; and serving also at Breuckelen (Brooklyn) 1656 to 1660 and again from 1664 till his death at the age of about 78 years." (S. J. Voorhies: Historical Handbook of the Van Voorhees Family in the Netherlands and America”, 1935). His wife was finally able to join him 2 years later and they raised their children on Long Island.
       Most of the residents of the western end of Long island had to attend church in New Amsterdam. One church had been organized at Midwout in 1654, but had no minister. It was agreed that Rev. Polhemus would preach there, provisions for housing and salary were begun. He also preached at times at New Amsterdam. As expenses were shared by the congregations at Breuckelen and Amersfoort, Rev. Polhemus was also expected to provide services for these communities. Rev Polhemus had to walk between the congregations. These were not his only difficulties.
       Having finally made the trip from Holland to join her husband, it was imperative that Mrs. Polhemus and family be adequately housed, but it seems nothing was done without a struggle. Mrs. Polhemus had great difficulty getting her husband's back pay while she resided in Holland, and now there was difficulty raising the monies for family housing. Mrs. Polhemus arrived in September, shortly after which the cold began to set in and the housing was not finished. In addition Rev. Polhemus was still having difficulty getting paid and sent a letter to church officials in Holland reporting the lack of payment and the lack of a carpenter, stating that he and his family were required to sleep on the bare ground!
       The next problem came in the form of a complaint from the congregation at Breuckelen. Their complaint was that they were slighted in the attentions of the minister. He offered a short prayer instead of a sermon. They were not wishing to be critical of the Dominie, but felt that his age and faculties were no longer sufficient to continue to serve multiple congregations, so they refused to add their financial support to his living. It was a two hour walk (each way) between two of the congregations (Midwout and Breuckelen) that Rev. Polhemus served when he turned 62, which could explain the Breuckelen congregations' complaints. He had a short reprieve when another pastor served Breuckelen from 1662-1664, but was given that congregation again when the new minister returned to Holland. During his final time of ministry there, in 1666, the first Reformed Church in Breuckelen was built, and continued to be in use for 100 years. Johannes Theodorus was 78 or 79 when he died in 1676, having served long and faithfully.
      Rev. Polhemus had, during the course of his time in the New World, been given a parcel of land, and had managed to purchase an adjacent lot. Unfortunately, after his death, there was a protracted dispute concerning the boundaries of this land. Mrs. Polhemus became quite angry, and refused to partake of communion. The new pastor was dragged into the controversy which took years to settle, it finally being resolved between 1681 and 1695. When Catharina Polhemus died in 1702, the heirs agreed that the land would be given to son Daniel Polhemus.
      As the Polhemus family became quite large, only the first generation of children will be listed individually here. The entire family is well documented in the work of I. Heyward Peck in The Rev. Johannes Theodorus Polhemius and Some of His Descendants. Christina, the child with the first unknown wife in Holland was baptized in 1629. The other children were: Adrianna, b Brazil about 1644; Theodorus, b Brazil about 1646; Lammetje b Brazil about 1648; Anna b Brazil about 1649; Maragrietje b about 1660, probably in Midwout; Elizabeth, b about 1661, probably in Midwout; and Daniel b about 1662, probably in Midwout. These children went on to live and serve in the New World, most joining in the Revolutionary War, serving in local offices and some going into the ministry. Some, including first born son Theodorus, bought land in New Jersey, where there are still numerous members of the Polhemus family.
      It's now time to introduce one of our line's “brick walls”. We can trace our line back to my great great grandfather Eldred Nelson Polhamus, with good documentation. Eldred died, based on census records somewhere between 1905 and 1910. As far as I know, no one has yet found any evidence of a death record for Eldred and his parents are not known. Why we can't find any evidence of his death at that late date is another mystery. Although good genealogy practice dictates moving from the known to the unknown, that has not proved successful in this case. Based on naming traditions, it appears that we should concern ourselves with the line stemming from Rev. Polhemus' oldest son, Theodorus, although this is not a certainty. 
      Theodorus was, according to Peck, a brewer, wheelwright and cooper, residing in Flatbush and then in  
 Jamaica on the land he had received from his father. Information comes from his time as a church elder and from court and tax records. He was an overseer in Flatbush and he was involved in land buying both on Long Island, and, together with some other Dutch natives, in New Jersey. Theodorus died about 1722, which would make him about 76. Two years before his death he began to dispose of some of his land, giving some to sons Teunis, Abraham and Johannes. Theodorus had 8 children with wife Aertje Bogert ( our one claim to a connection with Humphrey Bogart!). Johannes, baptized 20 July 1685, was in the middle of them. He remained in Jamaica, Long Island. He married twice, but the identity of the first wife is not certain. His second marriage was to Styntje/Marytje Bergen. She was a daughter of Hans and Antje Lucasse (Eldersen) Bergen (this appears to be the source of the name Eldred, which has led to the possibility that this is the line our Eldred stems from).
      When I tell my sons about their ancestors, they always ask me, “Where's the money?” This is the story I tell them. In 1761 Johannes sold to his two sons, John and Eldred, “for love and affection and five shillings”, a tract of land of about 150 acres in the west end of Jamaica according to Peck. This was in addition to some meadow and woodland acres that belonged to Theodorus and 10 acres of salt meadow in Jamaica and 22 acres of meadowland in Newtown. This appears to be shortly before Johannes' death. The same day Eldred sold his portion to his brother John and he later sold to John additional land that he had inherited upon his father's death. Interestingly, these are the two sons Johannes had with his second wife. He had 4 children with his first wife, although there is little record of the third and fourth children. The first two had further records, including marriage and children.
      Now here's what happened to the money: When the Revolutionary War came, John became a Loyalist, going to Novia Scotia, where he died in 1816. Before going to Nova Scotia he actively served in the war on the side of the British. He attempted to save some of his property by selling it before going to Canada, but much was forfeited to the government as the property of a Loyalist and sold. John was able to receive quite a bit of land through a land grant in Nova Scotia. Can you imagine what that land in present day Brooklyn would be worth today?
    Eldred, after selling his property to John moved to Dutchess County where he remained until about 1794 when he returned to New York City, being listed in directories as a carpenter and shipwright. He had married Sarah Carpenter who also moved to Dutchess County from Jamaica, Long Island with her family. While in Dutchess Eldred entered the Revolutionary War as a Patriot. In the 1790 census Eldred is in Dutchess County with 2 males over 16, 3 males under 16 and 4 females. This is interesting because Peck only reports 3 named children, John, who apparently never married, Mary and Eldert (we'll call him Eldred 2). Who the other people are in the census and what happened to them is unknown, but we have to wonder if any of these folks are the ones leading down the line to our Eldred. Eldred 2 married Ann __? , lived in New York City where they had a son (Eldred 3) who was living in New York City on the 1850 census at the same time great great grandfather Eldred was farming in Esopus in Ulster County. Cousins? Possibly.
      Now, when the first Eldred went to Dutchess County before the Revolutionary War, he was not the only Polhamus there! His cousins, Cornelius, Daniel and John, brothers and sons of Daniel Polhamus, grandsons of Daniel Polhamus (brother of Theodorus) were also there. This is another possible line for us to follow. Rev. Polhemus had a son, Daniel, who had a son Daniel 2. Daniel 2 had a son John who ended up in Marlboro, Ulster, New York, where our folks came from. He had an unnamed child who was baptized in the Marlboro Presbyterian Church in 1795. That child, if a boy, would be about the right age to have a child in 1820, so could possibly be the father of our Eldred. Another connection there is that a brother of the unnamed child was Jordan. Jordan's line led to Abraham Polhamus, who had the farm across the road from our Eldred for many years and there were marriages with the Relyea family on both sides of the road.
Willis Polhamus Family 1920
Bertha's wedding

So, whether we follow Theodorus' line through the first Eldred, and contend that our Eldred stems from one of the unnamed males from the 1790 census, or follow Daniel's line through John and his unnamed son, we are surmising. What is known is that there was an Eldred Polhamus, born 1820/21 who lived for most of his life in the town of Esopus in Ulster County, New York and he had a son Willis who also farmed in Ulster County. Willis married Martha Jane Schoonmaker, a descendant of one of the original Huguenots that came to New Paltz. They had 10 children, 6 boys and 4 girls, one of whom, Earl, was my grandfather. Eldred came from somewhere and the above scenarios appear to be
the most likely.
      Earl helped his father Willis farm in Marlboro until his marriage in 1920 to Mary Edna Rhodes. After their marriage they purchased a farm in the Town of Shawangunk, next to the current Magnanini Winery on Strawridge Rd, outside of Wallkill. They had 2 girls, Elsie and my mother Ethel. The girls attended the one room schoolhouse on Plains Road until eighth grade. Since a one room school was a little more flexible, they were able to skip a grade. As the one room school was located between Wallkill and Walden, the students had their choice of high school. Elsie chose Wallkill and Ethel chose Walden, where she graduated at age 16. She pursued a post high school secretarial course then worked as a secretary at the Walden School, boarding in Walden, until she married in 1947. 

Additional Reference:  Peck, I. Heyward:  The Rev. Johannes Theodorus Polhemius and Some of His Descendants  in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, July 1959-July 1961.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crans Family (and some related families)

I think a little history is appropriate for this family line. The German Palatinate (Pfalz) was a part of Germany (in fact two parts, Upper and Lower Palatinate) whose inhabitants suffered from a variety of ills. The Palatines became followers of Martin Luther's beliefs and then came under religious persecution from the Catholics. The area suffered from numerous wars as they were an area prone to plundering from the opposing armies. On top of religious persecution and the ravages of multiple wars, the people were heavily taxed. Then came the winter of 1708-09. It was reportedly the harshest winter seen in 100 years, with one source even reporting “birds freezing in mid-air”1. Many of these people fled the area, going on to England.

In addition to hardships imposed on the Palatines, several people, including William Penn had printed and distributed literature extolling the virtues of the colonies. Queen Anne, married to a Lutheran husband was open to the petitions asking her for relief for the refugees and so about 7000 Palatines were offered assistance in the spring of 1709. They were to be given passage and tools and in return were to reside in established work camps in America to produce naval stores for England. The destinations were primarily Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina. In New York two camps were established on opposite sides of the Hudson River, West Camp and East Camp.

Johannes Heinrich Krantz, reportedly a tailor, emigrated to New York, probably arriving 14 June 1710 on the ship Fame. This information has been gathered, not from passenger lists- which no longer exist, but from “Hunter's subsistence list”. Subsistence lists were logs that a designated passenger of a ship kept2. Johannes was part of the largest group of Palatine emigrants to arrive within a very short period of time. German records of his family were kept in the church at Unterreichenbach. He was listed as from the village of Fischborn. Johannes father is reportedly Ernst Krantz, a court servant at Unterreichenbach in 16643. The subsistence list reports that he was a widower, his wife having died before 1710. A sad but interesting note is that the emigrants in England were so numerous that many of them lived on the ships, boarding as early as December 1709, but not sailing until April, 1710. Many were in a weakened state by the time they sailed, with a number of them dying before reaching America. Johannes arrived with at least two children, Michael and Elizabetha, although the subsistence list also reports two younger children, Sebastian (4) and Johannes (1). Johannes settled in West Camp and once there, married a second time to Anna Schaurmann on 25 July 17104. Anna, the daughter of Henrich Schaurmann, was probably of the family listed as fellow passengers on the Fame. See Appendix for a copy of the list of heads of families in West Camp in the winter of 1710.

Johannes and Anna eventually had 5 children: Johann Heinrich (1712), Johann (1713), Maria Elizabetha (1715), Johann Wilhelm (1717) and Johann Heinrich (1720). The work camps were halted in 1712 because the products required by England were not suited to production in the area. The settlers then dispersed. Johannes and son Michael were naturalized on 8 and 9 September 1715 and Johannes is listed on the Ulster County tax list in 1718-19 and again in 1720-215. They were apparently still in Ulster County when son Michael married Charlotte Frolich, daughter of Valentin and Apolonia, on 12 Sept 17266. The Frolich family were also Palatine emigrants, arriving on 30 June, 17107.

The family moved once again to Hanover Township (now Montgomery) in Ulster (now Orange) County. A Palatinate settlement had sprung up at Germantown about 1727, south of the village on the Wallkill River, on the Harrison Patent8. Michael and Johannes, sons of the emigrant Johannes and half brothers are listed as 2 of the first members of the newly founded Brick Reformed Church, 1732. In fact the first marriage of the church on 23 October, 1734 was between Johannes Krans and Elizabeth Klaarwater. The same Johannes later married Christina Millspaugh as his second wife in 1742.

Our line is descended from Michael, Johannes' first son. Michael and Charlotte had 6 children that I have found beginning with Johannes, born 1728. His baptism is not found in the Kingston registers, and as the Brick Church was not yet founded he is not listed there either.9 The family may have been members of the Lutheran Church established at Germantown. That church blew down before the Revolutionary War and was not rebuilt.10All of Michael and Charlotte's subsequent children (Michael, bp 1735, Nicholas, bp 1736, Annatje, bp 1740, Geertrug, bp 1742, Lydia, bp 1744) were baptized in the Brick Reformed Church in Montgomery.11 Henry Jones lists three other children: Henrich, no dob; Jacob, bp 11 February, 1733 in Kingston and Valentin, bp 11 June 1739.

Michael's first born son, Johannes married Catherine Alsdorf in 175512 and they proceeded to have 11 children from 1756 to 1779. Catherine was the daughter and 1 of 8 children of Lorentz Alsdorf, also from Germany, first noted in 1733 in Kingston. Lorentz (Lawrance)and his wife are buried in the New Hurley Reformed Church Cemetery in the Town of Plattekill.13 14 Below are the pews of the Brick Reformed Church in 1760 with Johannes' and sons' pew circled. 15 A Jacob Crans also has a pew nearby, possibly the son of Michael's half brother, Johannes or possibly another son of Michael.

No more is heard of Michael, whose death date is not known by me. We will now follow his son Johannes, with the 11 children. Land records show that Johannes, John McHendry and Stephen Chrest (Crist) applied for “a grant of 1,000 acres of land in the county of Ulster, between the old and new north-west lines”.16 The boundaries between Orange and Ulster Counties changed several times, with the most significant change being in 1799 when Orange gained land that had been Ulster County, so you will see some ancestors born or marrying or buying land in Ulster and dying in Orange County.17 Michael (1756) married Hester Smith and had 10 children. Laurence is of the right age to be the husband of Hannah Smith with 7 children; There are several men named Jacob Crans(1765)-one was the right age to have married Hannah Wyant with a son, Jeremiah; there was also more than one Catharine Crans (1768) who married; it's not known if Annatjen, probably Catharine's twin, married; Eva Crans was the wife of Jacob Low with 9 children. Gertrude, possibly also called Charity has a couple of possibilities for husbands. Lea (1776) is the right age to be the wife of Robert Gillespie with 7 children; Rachel, probably Lea's twin (1776) does not have any records in the Montgomery Reformed Church, which is where the others' children were baptized, so no husband is noted. Elshe (1779) may have been married to Andrew Gillespie with 7 children.

The son that we are descended from is another Johannes, born 1 March 1761. He was also christened at the Montgomery Reformed Church, on 8 April, 1762. He is buried there as well. Notes from Elizabeth Horton at OCGS indicate that he married Christine Trumpour on 15 January, 1789 in Montgomery. The Trumpour family was another Palatine family. Niclaus Trumpour (Drumbaur) arrived in 1709. He married twice and his son Andreas, born 1725 was with his second wife, Elizabetha Krantz, daughter of Johannes Krantz and Elizabeth Clearwater. Andreas and Elizabetha had 5 children (he also had children by his first wife), which included Christine.

 Johannes and Christine had 11 children, although the first Hiram (1791) and Hannah
(1802) died in early childhood. Andrew has been reported to have died in
1820 in
Elizabeth Horton's notes, having had 3 children with wife, Nancy Ward. But, there's an
Andrew Crans who entered into land transactions with Hiram(2
nd) after 1820 and
reportedly had more than the three children and th
ere is a son Andrew baptized in
Montgomery in 1822, so the 1820 death date is doubtful. A family group sheet is
attached with the names and spouses of their children.

Johannes, by now also called John, and Christine's son Hiram (the second one)
was born on 20 January, 1799 and christened in the Montgomery Reformed Church.
Hiram married Christina Rainey on 15 March, 1824 according to the Crans Bible
18 Christina was the daughter of David Rainey and Susannah Yeckley. The
Rainey family will be covered in another chapter. By the 1830 census Hiram is
found in the Town of Wallkill with Chrissy and three children: Renwick, born 6
April 1825; Theodore, born 20 April 1827; and Susan Jane, born 24 May 1829.
He lived next to John Crans, pro
bably his father, looking at John's age. 19 By 1840
Hiram was now in the Town of Montgomery, his father having died in 1835. In 1836
Hiram is recorded as having purchased 3 separate land items in the Orange County
records.20 All the records are very close in date so he presumably was building
up his
farm land at this time. Listed on the 1840 census with him are Chrissy and
5 children, presumably Renwick, Theodore, John Knox, Susan, Mary Catherine.21
In 1849 Hiram purchased land from George Tears22and in the 1850 Census Hiram
is in the Town of Crawford.23He is listed with Chrissy, Susan, Mary, John, Elizabeth
and Sarah. The family is living next to the George Niver family, mentioned because the
Niver family comes into play soon. Sons Renwick and Theodore areno longer listed
with their parents. In 1850 the Federal government also took census information
other than population. In the 1
850 Agriculture census we can find information about
Hiram's land and farming. He is listed as having 250 improved acres at a value of
about $10000, and reported having livestock valued at about $
4500, including 28
milk cows, 30 sheep, 50 swine and a few oxen,horses and othercattle.24
As mentioned above Renwick is no longer listed with Hiram. On 20 December 1849 he married Letty Niver, daughter of George mentioned above25 (Niver family to be discussed later). In the 1850 census he is listed as living in the Town of New Windsor with Letty.26 Renwick is also listed in the 1850 Agriculture census with an impressive farm holding of 114 acres worth $20000 . He has less livestock than his father, valued at $725, but is producing a good amount of wheat, rye, corn and oats. Not seeing any land purchases for Renwick up to this point, I don't know how he had such an impressive holding at age 25 (could an extra zero have been added?). Hiram's brother Theodore was also married, in 1851 to Nancy Low.

By 1860 Hiram continues to farm, now in the Town of Montgomery, living with Chrissy, Elizabeth, Sarah, John and Susan Rainey (possibly the wife of David, Christina's brother).27Since borders changed, this doesn't necessarily mean Hiram moved, although he did purchase land again in 1858.28 Renwick has moved to the Town of Crawford, with a farm now worth $800, although n o land purchases are seen as yet in Orange County records (Did he move onto the land his father owned?). He and Letty now have Mary Irene, Emogene and Frances.29

In 1870 Hiram is still listed as being the head of household and a farmer, but he has his
son-in-law, Elmeron Decker (married to Sarah) and Elmeron's brother George helping
out on the farm. In addition, daughter Mary (Hunter) and her two children are living with
them.30 Hiram died in 1871. Theodore was named as his executor and his deposition
states that he is living in Newburgh in 1871. Christina died in 1873. Both Hiram and
Christina are buried in the Rainey Cemetery, betweenWalden and Pine Bush. There's no
evidence left of any graves, with only the gate remaining.

Hiram's daughter Susan married John Nelson Crist and had two daughters, Linda and
Estelle and son John before her death in 1870. Their daughter Estelle married Ben
Odell, but she was killed in a steamboat accident in 1888. In 1891 Estelle's sister Linda
married Mr. Odell. In 1901 Benjamin Odell became Governor of New York. He served
through 1904. See the Appendix for a small part of Gov.
Odell's biography regarding his
Renwick is still in the Town of Crawford in 1870, farming on a holding worth $6000, living with Lettie, daughters Mary Irene, Emogene, Frances and sons George and Nelson; Alfred Niver (Letty's brother who helped with the farm- he died in 1878); and C. Faulkner (a female aged 48 listed without occupation??).31 Emogene, Frances and George have likely married by now. Nelson disappears with no evidence of a wife and may have died young. Mary Irene married William H. Owen before 1871. Their descendants have been discussed in the Owen posting. By 1880 we have some confusing land exchanges (probably due to Hiram's death) and Renwick has returned once more to the Town of Montgomery and is living with Letty, Frances and George.32 The agriculture census of that year indicates a much smaller farm, which is natural as Renwick is now 55 years old. His holdings consisted of 70 acres tilled and 8 acres woodland, valued at $3120. He only had 2 horses and only grew hay. The total value of farm products sold amounted to $645.33 Letty Niver Crans died on 30 May 1898 and is buried in the New Brick Reformed Church Cemetery in Montgomery, NY. By the time of the 1900 census Renwick was about 75 and was living with son George and his wife Julia (Eade)in Walden.34 By the 1910 census Renwick is back in the Town of Crawford, living with his sister Elizabeth Crans Ward, wife of James Ward. Elizabeth is 65, James is 75 and Renwick is now 85! The Ward family is also an old Montgomery family, for whom “Ward's Bridge”, the original name of Montomery is named. Renwick died on 28 February 1913 and is buried in the New Brick Reformed Church Cemetery in Montgomery.

Heads of Palatine Families in West Camp, 1710:

Excerpt from The New York Red Book
(Murlin, Edgar L, JB Lyon Co., Albany, NY, 1904)
"Mrs. Odell is a woman of charming manner. She is highly educated and has been conspicuous in the social and church life of Newburg for years. Mr. Odell's first wife was Miss Estelle Crist to whom he was married in 1877. His bride came, like himself from one of the old families of Newburg. They had three children, the eldest of whom, Walter, died in Washington, early in 1809. Mrs. Odell lost her life in an accident on the Hudson in June, 1888. A yacht in which she and a number of friends were sailing was struck by one of the Hudson river night boats. Mr. Odell married a second time. He chose as his bride Mrs. Linda C. Traphagen, a widowed sister of his first wife. Mrs. Odell is liked by every one for her many high qualities of heart and mind. She is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Newburg, at which Mr. Odell is a frequent attendant."

1 Causes of Palatine Emigration, excerpted from Early Palatine Emigrati

on, Walter Allen Knittle, Ph.D., Philadelphia, 1937 (

2 The Palatine Project, New York:

3Jones, Henry Z, Jr: The Palatine Families of New York- A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710: Universal City, California, 1985

4Jones, Henry Z, Jr: The Palatine Families of New York- A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710: Universal City, California, 1985

5Jones, Henry Z, Jr: The Palatine Families of New York- A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710: Universal City, California, 1985

6 Baptismal and marriage registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston : Ulster County, New York, 1660-1809 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

7Jones, Henry Z, Jr: The Palatine Families of New York- A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710: Universal City, California, 1985

8Locke, Emma K: A Short History of Montgomery, NY.

9Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

10 Walden and its environs : with pen and camera., Vol 2, Walden, N.Y.: Wallkill Valley Pub. Association, 1914.

11 Worden, Jean D, Brick Reformed Church, 1982

12 Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.


14 Jones, Henry Z, Jr: More Palatine Families, Universal City, California, 1991

15 Walden and its environs : with pen and camera., Vol 2,. Walden, N.Y.: Wallkill Valley Pub. Association, 1914.

16 Calendar of N. Y. colonial manuscripts - indorsed land papers ; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643 -1803 at The Internet Archive:

17 New York County Maps and Atlases:

18 Crans Bible record as reported by Elizabeth Horton at OCGS.

19 1830 US Federal Population Schedule, Wallkill, Orange, NY, image 25/48 Database:

20Deed from Andrew Crance & wife to Hiram Crans, 1836, Orange County Deed Book 57, p 347, Recorder’s Office, Goshen, Orange, New York; Deed from Wm. Bradford to Hiram Crans, 1836, Orange County Deed Book 57, p 348, Recorder’s Office, Goshen, Orange, New York; Deed from John Boak & wife to Hiram Crans, 1836, Orange County Deed Book 57, p 350, Recorder’s Office, Goshen, Orange, New York

21 1840 US Federal Population Schedule, Montgomery, Orange, NY, image 33/45 Database:

22Deed from George Tears to Hiram Crans, 1836, Orange County Deed Book 98, p 351, Recorder’s Office, Goshen, Orange, New York;

23 1850 US Federal Population Schedule, Crawford, Orange, NY, image 21/46 Database:

24 1850 US Federal Non-Population Schedule (Agriculture), Crawford, Orange, NY, image 2/5 Database:

25Crans Family Bible records in Elizabeth Horton Notes from Orange County Genealogical Society, Goshen, NY

26 1850 US Federal Population Schedule, New Windsor, Orange, NY, image 10/59 Database:

27 1860 US Federal Population Schedule, Montgomery, Orange, NY, image 31/100 Database:

28Deed from James C Bull & wife to Hiram Crans, 1858, Orange County Deed Book147, p 541, Recorder’s Office, Goshen, Orange, New York

29 1860 US Federal Population Schedule, Crawford, Orange, NY, image 47/51 Database:

30 1870 US Federal Population Schedule, Montgomery, Orange, NY, image 106/114 Database:

31 1870 US Federal Population Schedule, Crawford, Orange, NY, image 9/52. Database:

32 1880 US Federal Population Schedule, Montgomery, Orange, NY, District 42, image 37/42 Database:

33 1880 US Federal Non-Population Schedule (Agriculture), Montgomery, Orange, NY, image 15/33 Database:

34 1900 US Federal Population Schedule, Montgomery, Orange, NY, District 30 (Walden Village); image 60/63 Database: