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.