|Early map of fortified village of Sluis|
|Early Dutch settlements in America|
Why Guilliam Bertholf is sometimes referred to as a Huguenot is possibly because he and his family eventually settled is an area known as Hackensack in the present day county of Bergen in New Jersey. Hackensack is considered to have been the first permeant Huguenot settlement in New Jersey beginning in 1677. In 1685 however, shortly following the arrival of the Bertholf family in America, the Edict of Nantes was revoked in France. This edict had originally granted the Huguenots the right to practice their religion without persecution, but when this right was totally revoked what followed was a large influx of French Protestants, the Huguenots, into America with large numbers ultimately settling in New Jersey, the new home of our great grandparents, the Bertholfs.
What is known is that at some point probably around 1692, Guilliam Bertholf was offered a job as the voorlezer in a small local church in Hackensack located just north of Bergen where he soon relocated, purchased land, began operating a farm (for needed income of course), and worked for their small local Dutch Reformed church. Shortly following his recent hiring by the church in Hackensack, a new church opened in nearby Acquackanonk (later Passaic) where he also was soon employed as their voorlezer. This position beside being responsible for keeping the church records and leading prayers, etc. in the absence of the traveling minister, also included teaching school to the young local children. Apparently my great-grandfather was more educated than the vast majority of the local residents and as it quickly turned out he soon became a highly respected leader in his community and in the local churches.
Understandably the local people of Hackensack were not at all pleased with their church being run by an out-of-town, non-Dutch speaking, and mostly absent minister especially now that Guilliam Bertholf was there as their voorlezer and whose theology and politics were both congenial to them. Unfortunately the only way for Guilliam to be ordained as a minister was for him to be ordained by the Dutch Reformed Church back in Amsterdam. This issue was so important to the locals that they funded a trip for Guilliam back to Amsterdam where in September of 1693 he was quickly ordained as a full minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. Guilliam Bertholf returned to Hackensack on 24 February 1694 and his life soon changed.
|Sleepy Hollow Church|
Considering Guilliam's active role within the church we were a little surprised to discover that the exact number of children born to the Bertholf family is unknown. Considering however, that if a child died at birth and before they could be baptized, then a record of their birth could easily have been lost particularly since no birth records, only baptismal records, were being kept during this period of history. What is known is that Guilliam and Martina (Martyntje) had at least eight children including two sons who were both my 8th great grandfathers, Hendrick Bertholf, who was baptized on 6 April 1686 at the church in Bergen, and Corynus (Quirinus) Bertholf, who was also baptized at the church in Bergen on the 4th of May in 1688. There are some sources that state that Corynus was born in New York City although this would seem unlikely if the family was at the time still living in Bergen. The last child of Guilliam and Martina, a daughter, was born in 1714 when Guilliam was 42 years old. The exact date and the burial locations of both Guilliam Bertholf and his wife are unknown although it is believed that Guilliam died in 1726 at the age of 69, two years following his retirement. He is believed to have been buried under the pulpit of the original Reformed Church in Hackensack. Considering his highly respected role in his church as well as in his community, his honorable burial within his church should not be at all surprising.
|Schraalenburgh Dutch Reformed Church 1728|
Corynus Bertholf, also my 8th great grandfather, is known by a number of names in the course of history most likely because accurate or consistent spelling was not common during this time in our country's history. We have seen his name spelled as Corymus, Cryn, Crynis, and Coynius, and there are probable more variations although we are going to stay with Corynus. We know that on 30 August 1718 Corynus was married in his father's church (like his brother) to a young 19-year old girl by the name of Annetje (Anna) Ryerson whose parents had moved to Hackensack from Brooklyn around the year 1707 when Annetje was only 9 years old. We have to believe that Corynus and Annetje obviously met each other in the church although since he was 10 years older than his future wife, it is certainly possible that their marriage may have been an arranged marriage possibly set up by her parents. Just a guess.
While reviewing the history of Annetje Ryerson's family tree, I discovered that her great grandfather was none other than Joris Janseen Rapalje (1604-1662) [see Chapter 1 of this blog- The Rappleye Family] who just happens to be my 8th great grandfather through another entirely different line of my family tree. What I also discovered that I had not known previously, was that four of Joris Jansen Rapalje's children, Sarah (1625-1685), Jannetje (1629-1699), Jeronimus (1643-1690), and Annetje, Annetje Ryerson's grandmother (1646-1692) were all my great grandparents through entirely different family lines. Wow, we guess we should not be surprised that my DNA reflects 63% Western European ancestry.
Corynus and Annetje Bertholf were to have six children including their fifth child, my 7th great grandmother, Elizabeth Bertholf, who was born on 26 June 1726. Her father Corynus died at the relatively young age of 45 in the year 1733. Most historical writings also report that her mother, Annetje, may have also died in the same year 1733, and assuming that this is accurate, we might conclude that their death may have been the result of a epidemic that hit both of them around the same time. Unfortunately these causes of deaths were very common during this period of our country's history. When Corynus and Annetje died their six children ranged in ages from 5 years old to 14 years old and obviously following their parents deaths, the children must have been sent to live with some of theirs and their parent's relatives. Exactly which relative or relatives accepted the children is unknown but we suspect that their daughter Elizabeth, then only 7 years old, may have gone to live with her Uncle and Aunt Hendrick and Marritje Bertholf despite the fact that this family already had many children. The reason that we suspect that Elizabeth went to live with her aunt and uncle is that nine years later in 1742 she ended up marrying her cousin Jacobus Bertholf, son of Hendrick and Marritje Bertholf. She was only 16 when she married her 24 year old cousin Jacobus. They must have been awfully close friends but at least it was not until she was 20 years old that her first son was born, my 6th great grandfather, Petrus "Peter" Bertholf (1746-1801). Prior to Petrus' birth two daughters were born, one in 1743 and one in 1744.
|Gravestones of Jacobus and Elizabeth Bertholf|
My 6th great grandfather Peter Bertholf married my 6th great grandmother, Angenietje (Agnes) Vander Bogart, but there is much confusion as to when and where they were married, how old she was when they married, and when their first child was born, my 5th great grandmother, Elizabeth Bertholf. While the exact dates are not really that important, we find it interesting that there is so much confusion. Grandma Angenietje is often shown as born in 1757 and married in 1768 which would made her only 11 years old when she married, which is ridiculous. Other writings show their marriage in the year 1775 which is more realistic but then they show their daughter Elizabeth born in 1770, which is again ridiculous. What is probably most accurate is that their marriage occurred around 1775 and Elizabeth was born in early 1776. Considering that their second child, Doortje Bertholf, was born in September of 1777, Elizabeth's birth a year or so earlier makes more sense. We did find one source that reported that their marriage took place in Pompton Plain, New Jersey in 1776 although this is very unlikely considering that by 1775 or 76, the Bertholf family was living in or near Warwick, in Orange County, New York and that shortly following their marriage, Peter Bertholf enlisted as a soldier in the local militia preparing for battle in the Revolutionary War. On the other hand, there is another record showing the baptism of second daughter Doortje Bertholf in the Dutch Reformed Church in Pompton Plains so who knows. Pompton Plains and Warwick are around 28 miles apart, a rather long distance in 1777.
Gravestone Peter Bertholf
While we do not know the exact birth year of Elizabeth Bertholf we do know that she married John Wisner on 16 May 1790 and 14 months later their first child was born at their home in Minisink, located near the homes of both her in-laws and her parents. Her father-in-law was Henry Wisner who was not only one of the leaders of her father's Revolutionary War militia unit but he and his wife, Susannah Goldsmith Wisner, my 6th great grandparents, were also most likely good friends of both of Elizabeth's parents. John and Elizabeth Wisner had nine children together all of whom were born in Minisink in Orange County. Unfortunately we uncovered almost nothing about John's and Elizabeth's life other than John was reported to be a farmer and that he died at the relatively young age of 40 in the year 1811. Elizabeth died in 1843 outliving her husband by 32 years. Their sixth son and my 4th great grandfather was Henry Wisner. Chapter 12 of this blog continues the story of this line of my family tree forward:
4th Great Grandparents: Henry Wisner m Maria Smith
3rd Great Grandparents: Henry C. Spaulding m Clara A. Wisner
2nd Great Grandparents: Charles H. Spaulding m Mary Catherine Sly
Great Grandparents: Henry C. Spaulding m Ella McBlain Reynolds
Grandparents: Charles S. Baker m Helen Mary Spaulding
Parents: Charles A. Baker m Marian C. Patterson
Living Generation: Charles Asbury Baker Jr. (1942- )
Anne Baker Fanton (1943- )
Joan Baker (1950- )
And so ends another family history story . . . .