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Genealogies of the Descendants of the First Settlers of Schenectadypure stretch cap wig2

[This information is from Contributions for the Genealogies of the Descendants of the First Settlers of the Patent and City of Schenectady, from 1662 to 1800 by Jonathan Pearson (Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1873). It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 929.1 P36c, and copies are also available for borrowing.]

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The First Settlers of Schenectady were citizens of Beverwyck. In 1661 Arent Van Curler extinguished the Indian title to lands at this place, and the following spring, with a little company of pioneers, commenced the first settlement. Two years later the lands were surveyed, allotted and patented to fifteen persons, a portion of whom being non-residents sold out their rights to permanent settlers.

For mutual safety they erected their cottages on the plat lying west of Ferry Street, which was fortified with stockadoes. Their farming lands, embracing the islands, and rich flats lying on both sides of the Mohawk, produced bountiful crops of maize and wheat: a church was early formed under the occasional ministry of Dominie Schaets of the mother church at Albany: and in spite of its exposed position as the frontier settlement, the little hamlet prospered and grew in numbers and comforts until 1690, when in one night, the 8th of February, the entire village was destroyed and the inhabitants scattered or slain. Nothing better shows the hardihood and pluck of the survivors than the fact that few if any of them abandoned the settlement; they returned in the spring, rebuilt their cottages and the little church, cast the seed into the earth, and amid many alarms awaited the harvest. Though often threatened the place was never again attacked.

It is to this little band of hardy pioneers and their descendants that the following pages are mainly devoted. The sources of this compilation are chiefly the Doop and Trouw Boeken of the First Reformed church of this city. These registers of baptisms and marriages are nearly entire from the year 1691 to this date: those of the first 30 years after the settlement were probably burned in Dominie Thesschenmaecker's parsonage in 1690.

These entire records to 1800, and in a few cases later, have been copied and posted into families in this work. The records of the venerable mother church in Albany have also been carefully searched, and whenever entries have been found relating to Schenectady families, they have been inserted herein. Large additions have likewise been made to the above sources of information from the records of the secretary of state, of the clerks of the city and county of Albany, clerk of the court of appeals; surrogate of the county of Albany; from Munsell's Annals and Collections of Albany; from family records and papers, and from gravestone inscriptions. Doubtless there is much additional information to be found by the patient and careful gleaner, especially such as relates to the later generations. In regard to the first two or three generations of descendants from the First Settlers, it is believed they will be found as completely set forth in these pages as they are likely ever to be from authentic sources.

The territory covered by this work is nearly that of the present county of Schenectady, extending about 22 miles along the Mohawk, and 4 miles on each side of that river. For the first hundred years after Schenectady was begun, the settlements were mainly confined to the river flats, gradually advancing westward, and consisted chiefly of descendants from the old Holland families of Albany and Schenectady, the Palatines being still farther west.

But after the French war and more especially after the Revolutionary war, New Englanders and Scotchmen immigrated largely to the high lands lying back from the river, which had hitherto been regarded as of little or no value.

All these new and foreign settlers, until they had churches of their own, brought their children either to Albany or Schenectady to be christened. Hence there will be found in this work many names of families then residing as far west as Caughnawaga and Canajoharie, south to the Helderberg and Schoharie, and north to Galway and Kayaderosseras patent.

The arrangement of these genealogies is simple and easily to be understood: — the tribal names are arranged alphabetically, and the families under each name are placed nearly in chronological order, and for divers reasons, are made to end with those which began to be entered in the church registers before 1800. Persons interested will find little difficulty in tracing back their pedigrees to the First Settlers, by keeping in mind the following facts. The names of all sons who subsequently became heads of families (so far as the compiler could find), are printed in italics: the husbands of daughters and the parents of both husbands and wives are in all cases mentioned when discoverable. It should also be borne in mind that inasmuch as Schenectady was originally but an offshoot from Albany, the families of both places frequently intermarrying, in making up a pedigree of any old family of Albany County as anciently constituted, this work must be regarded as a complement of the Genealogies of the First Settlers of Albany, and that both works should be carefully consulted and compared.

The Vrooman arms [small view | large view] facing page 276 was copied from an ancient painting long in possession of that family, and contributed by Doctor A. G. Brower of Utica.

J. P., Union College, Nov. 12, 1873.

Abbreviations used in the following pages: Ch: children; b., born; bp., baptized; m., married; a., aged; d., died.

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