My 9th great grandfather, John MacCoone (1630-1705), was undoubtedly one of my very few ancestors if not my only ancestor, who came to America from England against his wishes. He was, along with many other Scottish soldiers who were prisoners, forced onto a crowded ship in the year 1651 or early 1652 which then sailed to America where they, the prisoners, were all forced to work as unpaid servants for a period of up to six to eight years to help pay for their unwanted voyage. John was a young boy, barely 21 years old, when he joined a Scottish military army. He was undoubtedly soon forced to engage in a battle that was quickly lost by his side wherein thousands of his fellow soldiers were killed in action, and hundreds more died when they were forced to march south in England as prisoners. There they soon boarded a ship headed for America where again dozens more died during their crowded voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Not a good beginning for anyone much less one of my great grandfathers. At least he survived.
|English Civil Wars|
Rendering of Cambridge around year 1650
Harvard in bottom of rendering
Almost all family trees and stories about our great grandfather John MacCoone report that he was married three times, first in 1656 to a girl named Deborah Bush, second in 1665 to a girl named Sarah Ford or Wood, and then after Sarah's death, he married in 1668 my 9th great grandmother, a girl named Mary (last name unknown). While at first we had no reason to question these three marriages, we were a little confused later after reviewing his final Will written just before his death in 1705 wherein he wrote ". . . that all the amongst all rest of my Estate shalbe Equally divided my children both by my former & Latter wife, .." This statement in his will seems to imply that he had only two wives, a former wife who died and his current wife Mary whom he mentions in his will and who was living at the time of his death. His will also gives us the names of only two of his children, his first or possibly his second oldest daughter Deborah and his oldest son John. While he clearly states in his will that there are other children, their names are not provided including the name of my 8th great grandfather and the son of his wife Mary, Peter MacCoon (1673-1759) who was born on 21 February 1673. Many of the family trees imply that with Mary he had at least seven or eight additional children including his last child, a son named Joseph who was born in 1683 when John was 52 years old and Mary probably not that much younger. What this implies is that we really do not have a lot of proven accurate details about the marriages of John MacCoone and the number and names of his children. Fortunately almost everyone states that one of his children was named Peter MacCoon.
Considering the controversy regarding the number and names of his wives, it is also not surprising that we could learn little about the life of our John MacCoone. We spent almost an hour looking through a book titled "History of Cambridge, Massachusetts" written by a man named Lucius R. Paige back in 1877, and we found no mention of a man named John MacCoone. It is possible of course, that we may have missed seeing his name but in either case it is clear that our John MacCoone was not a major leader within his community. This fact should not be surprising considering that he was a Scotsman and not an English Puritan. In various other sites we found references to his land purchases in Cambridge beginning as early as 1665 as well as in 1676, 1683, and 1688. The 1676 land purchase was made from the wife of the late Richard Wood, a woman named Sarah Wood, who some family historians suggest was either the second wife of our John MacCoone or her daughter Sarah was John's second wife. Who knows? There is also a family historian who reports that our John MacCoone was a juryman in Cambridge in 1681 and on the Cambridge tax rolls in the year 1688.
What is perhaps more interesting and perhaps more confusing was to read that our John MacCoone was an early landowner and some suggest even an early resident in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island located almost 100 miles southwest of Cambridge on the Atlantic coastline. These historians claim that as early as 1661 he took an Oath of Allegiance in Westerly and agreed to purchase land and that by 1669 he was actually listed as an inhabitant. Considering that he was not a Puritan but was living in the largely Puritan community of Cambridge, moving out of Cambridge during this time period was not that unusual. However, considering the subsequent land purchases that he made in Cambridge that we previously mentioned and considering the fact that all of his many children were born in Cambridge, a large family move to the remote and faraway settlement of Westerly, Rhode Island would seem highly unlikely. On the other hand, both of his two older sons eventually moved to and later married women in Westerly suggesting that it is entirely possible that their father had indeed purchased land in Westerly which he eventually years later turned over to his sons. It is possible of course, that if our John MacCoone had indeed had plans to move to Westerly, after considering his large family, the wilderness of the area, and the King Philip's War against the Indians that took place between 1675 and 1678, he was soon convinced to remain in Cambridge with his large family. Our John MacCoone did in fact remain in Cambridge until his death on 8 October 1705 at the age of 74 years old. Strangely perhaps, there are no records that we could uncover that tell us when my great grandmother Mary died although it is generally assumed that she outlived her husband and undoubtedly they are both buried side by side in a cemetery near their hometown.
|Gravestone of Thomas Coon (1700-1761)|
Old map showing location of Gravesend on
southwestern end of Long Island
His son Jan Emans married not long after his family's arrival in America a girl by the name of Sarah Antonise van Salee (1636-1715), my 9th great grandmother. Normally we may not have spent a large amount of time researching Sarah's ancestry as her parents had arrived from Amsterdam, Holland in the year 1630 and normally we would expect that very little would be known about her ancestry. We were amazed however, to discover that both her father and her grandfather had separate and very detailed stories about their lives on Wikipedia and multiple other websites. Her father's name and my 10th great grandfather was Anthony Janszoon van Salee (1607-1676), and her grandfather's name and my 11th great grandfather was Jan Janszoon van Haarlem (abt. 1570- abt. 1641). It would be foolish to simply copy what is written on these Wikipedia websites so we will only summarize the stories about each of their lives. We do strongly suggest however, that anyone interested in their ancestry should read these very interesting and detailed family histories on Wikipedia or one of the other many websites.
|Pirate Jan Janszoon|
Jan Janszoon is known to have married a Dutch girl named Soutgen Cave around the year 1595 and they are believed to have had at least one child and possibly two before Jan deserted his family in the year 1600. What he apparently did at that point was to become a Dutch privateer who then sailed on ships that attacked Spanish ships, all part of the long lasting war that had been taking place between these two counties during the past 30 plus years. Very surprisingly, Jan is believed to have soon married or at least became very involved with a dark skinned Moorish woman believed to be named Margarita, my 11th great grandmother, whom he meet in Cartagena, Spain sometime in the later part of the year 1600. With Margarita he is believed to have had four children born between the years 1602 and 1608 including my 10th great grandfather, Anthony Janszoon van Salee, their third child, whom we mentioned above.
Map showing location of Sale in Morocco
on the western coastline of Africa.
Jan's son Anthony was around 22 years old when he made the decision to move to America. Undoubtedly he had his father's approval as the numerous biographies about the life of my 10th great grandfather report that he was quite wealthy as a new resident in New Amsterdam in the year of his arrival in 1630. Obviously at this young age he had obtained his wealth from his pirate father and perhaps from his own services as a pirate. Most historical records tell us that Anthony Janszoon van Salee married a German girl named Grietse (or Grietje) Reyniers (1602-1669), my 10th great grandmother) in Amsterdam either shortly before he departed for America or onboard the ship headed to America. She was older than Anthony by five years and it was her second marriage as her first husband had apparently died. New Amsterdam had only been settled six years before their arrival in 1630 and the small fort that served as the trading center within the small village had only been constructed two years earlier in 1628. Almost all of the residents of New Amsterdam at this point were Dutch so Anthony with his dark skin and Moorish appearance and his German wife, immediately stood out in a very negative way. It also did not help Anthony one bit when the local residents soon discovered that Anthony was not brought up as a Christian.
Here again, much has been written about the life of Anthony Janszoon van Salee and his wife and the stories are easily found online. For that reason we do not believe it necessary to send a lot of time trying to describe his life in America. We need to point out however, that neither he nor his wife were readily accepted in New Amsterdam. One of the reasons was due to the simple fact that neither he nor his wife were considered to be Dutch and also he was not a born as a Christian despite the fact that he tried to attend the local Dutch Reformed Church. In fact, it was the local church minister who was one of our ancestors' biggest critics. Grietse was accused by the church leader of having wild sexual ways and even being a whore. Anthony was taken to court multiple times with accusations such as pointing a gun at slave overseers, stealing wood, slandering multiple people, and allowing his dog to kill a neighbor's dog. It is written that during the short period that Anthony and Grietse lived in New Amsterdam, Anthony was taken to court more than any of the other local citizens and thus by the year 1638, they were both ordered to leave New Amsterdam. After fighting this issue in court for a year or so, they were allowed to move south of New Amsterdam where they eventually settling in the southwest corner of Long Island in a settlement later to be known as Gravesend located at the southern end of the future borough of Brooklyn. Here they purchased a large amount of land, over 200 acres, and raised their family which consisted of four daughters including my 9th great grandmother, Sarah Antonise Jansen van Salee (1635-1715), future wife of Jan Emans as we previously mentioned. My great grandmother Grietse Reyniers died in the year 1669. Anthony, perhaps just to show that he was still an important man, returned to New Amsterdam after his wife's death, and there he soon married for a second time. He eventually died in the year 1676 and is buried in New Amsterdam. Anthony and his father have to be among the most strange and unusual of all of my family ancestors and if they are your ancestors as well, we strongly recommend that you read more online about their very unusual lives.
Their daughter Sarah married Jan (or later known as John) Emans shortly following his arrival in America and his eventually settlement in Gravesend sometime after the year 1661. They were both in their mid to late 20s at the time of their marriage and we have to believe that it was possibly an arranged marriage as they obviously had known each other for only a short period. Nevertheless, Jan Emans eventually became a fairly important individual in their town of Gravesend. Historical records list him as a town clerk, deputy mayor, constable, clerk of the courts, court juror, as well as his fulltime job as a master cooper over the numerous years he resided in Gravesend up until his eventual death at the age of around 76 in the year 1715. My 9th great grandmother, Sarah van Salee, on the other hand was very busy as a mother having at least seven children born between the years 1665 and 1677 including my 8th great grandfather Abraham Emans (1670-1756). Unfortunately it is written that Sarah died not long after the birth of her last child at the fairly young age of only 45 years old. Obviously almost continuous childbirth and constant child care was a lot of hard work especially in the 1600s. It is written that Jan Emans married shortly following my grandmother's early death and had a least one more child with his second wife.
Around the time of the marriage of my 8th great grandfather, Abraham Emans, to my 8th great grandmother, Rebecca Stillwell (1675-1702) that took place in Gravesend on 20 October 1693, the population of what was then called Kings County in the western end of Long Island had grown to around 2,000 people. About half of these settlers were still Dutch and the others came from Germany, England, France, and Scandinavia. Also a large portion of the population were black African slaves and many of the farmers in the area including possibly our Emans ancestors were slave holders and used their slaves to work on their farm lands. In the year 1700 the greater New York area with its population of almost 5,000 people was considering to be the second largest city in America, second only to Boston with its population of around 6,700.
Rebecca's grandfather and my 10th great grandfather was a man named Nicholas Stillwell (Abt.1603-1671) who is recorded as being among the earliest settlers of Gravesend arriving sometime around the late 1630s. He traveled with his family including his son, my 9th great grandfather, Nicholas Stillwell (Jr.) (1636-1715) who obviously was still a baby when they arrived in America. Nicholas Sr was apparently a Protestant and thus to escape religious persecution in England which at that point in the late 16th century was under the control of a Roman Catholic king, he, like the many English "Puritans" who had also left England, moved with his family to Holland. There in Holland he apparently offered his services as a soldier to Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, and her husband King Frederick V and then he fought in what is now known as the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) which consisted of many battles between the various Protestant and Catholic states in Europe. The Thirty Years War continued until the year 1648, so obviously our Nicholas Stillwell was tired of fighting or perhaps losing battles including the Battle of White Mountain which took place in 1620 and he eventually left Europe and immigrated to America. Most likely a very wise decision.
As we previously mentioned, Nicholas Stillwell was a very early settler in Gravesend where he owned a considerable amount of land and operated a farm as did many of the original settlers. It is also written that he did not give up his role as a soldier as he fought and commanded soldiers both in a war against the Indians in Virginia and later he served as a commander and lieutenant in charge of the expedition against the Indians in what is now known as the Esopus War which took place on Long Island in the year 1660 and again in 1663. Our great grandfather was apparently a well known and probably a highly respected individual and it is said that he was a friend and confident of the then Governor of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, a man named Peter Stuyvesant. Nicholas Stillwell Sr. died on 28 December 1671.
Nicholas' son and my 9th great grandfather and the father of Rebecca Stillwell, Nicholas Stillwell (1636-1715), like his father was also a soldier and an important individual in the Gravesend community. He served as a justice and a constable for a number of years and from 1691 until 1698 he was a member of the colonial assemble from King's County which by that point was under the control of the English. In one story about his life they wrote that "he was a man who received many honors during his lifetime and he was also well educated which was an exception in the times in which he lived." Nicholas Stillwell Jr married a recent widow and my 9th great grandmother, Catherine (Catalyntje) Huyberts (1644?-1703) in the year 1671 and together they had around seven children including their second child and my great grandmother Rebecca Stillwell. We do need to point out that there is a lot of confusion about the birth and death dates of my great grandmother Catherine although considering the historical time period this is not all that unusual. Her death date of 1703 is probably correct in that many historical writings state that Nicholas married a woman named Elizabeth in 1703 and her name Elizabeth is mentioned in Nicholas' will dated 5 March 1715. Unfortunately not mentioned in Nicholas' will is his daughter Rebecca who had died a few years earlier than her father back in 1702. What is mentioned in his will however, is his granddaughter Catherine Emans, daughter of his daughter Rebecca and her husband and my 8th great grandfather Abraham Emans.
Abraham and Rebecca had five children together including their youngest child and only daughter, Catherine Emans (1701-1791), my 7th great grandmother. Unfortunately my great grandmother Rebecca died shortly following the birth of Catherine. She was only 24 years old at the time of her death. Abraham remarried shortly following Rebecca's death and had six additional children before his own death in 1756 at the age of 86 years old. It was somewhat fascinating to discover that Abraham's second wife, a woman named Grietje Willemsen, just happened to be one of my 7th great aunts as her parents Willem Willemsen (1653-1722) and Mayken Pieterse Wyckoff (1653-1721), also both residents of Gravesend, were my 7th great grandparents. Small world in the 17th century. It is written that in the year 1713 Abraham and his second wife and their children including his first daughter Catherine, moved to Colts Neck, Monmouth, New Jersey, a distance of around 50 miles. Catherine was only twelve years old at the time.
As we previously mentioned, Catherine Emans married Thomas Coon in the year 1720 in the town of Bound Brook, New Jersey. Unfortunately we uncovered very little information about the lives of my 7th great grandparents other than they lived their entire married lives in Bound Brook and together they had eight children, six boys and two girls including my 6th great grandfather Thomas Coon (1723-1785). Thomas Sr. undoubtedly was a farmer but as far as we could determine he did not participate in managing his community at least not to the extend that his services were ever recorded. Thomas also died at the fairly young age of only 61 and he was likely a Presbyterian as his burial and the burial of his wife Catherine are both listed as being in the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Bound Brook. One thing that we did find interesting while researching the life of Thomas Coon is that he mentioned three men in his final will all of whom are on my family tree on Ancestry.com: Jacob Cossart (1701-1772), my 6th great grandfather, and his son Anthony Cozad who married Katherine Coon (1746-1824) who was Catherine's and Thomas's granddaughter and my 5th great grandmother. He also named a man named Thomas Urmston who was one of their son-in-laws as he married their daughter Hanna (or Anna) Coon. Catherine Emans Coon outlived her husband by about thirty years finally dying in the year 1791 at the age of 90 years old. She undoubtedly was well taken care of by one of her children.
Unfortunately we also know very little about the second son of Thomas Sr and Catherine, my 6th great grandfather, a boy named Thomas Coon Jr. Thomas Jr was only 20 years old when he married a girl whose name is believed by many to be Elizabeth Bush. Elizabeth's age at the time of her marriage to Thomas is an even bigger mystery as she is reported to have died at the age of 67 years old in the year 1804 which would make her birth year in 1737. Their marriage year is thought to be around 1743 or 1744 based on the birth year of their first child which would have made her only seven years old when she married which is of course, ridiculous. Obviously not all of our ancestors have good surviving historical records. What is believed to be accurate however, is the claim that Thomas and Elizabeth had nine children together including my 5th great granddaughter, Katherine Coon (1746-1824). It is also well recorded that they spent their entire lives living in Broad Brook and based on Thomas Cook's final will and testament, he, like his father, was not a wealthy individual leaving very little money to his wife and children and to his two oldest sons his land and "the mill". Thomas died at the age of only 62 years old.
Gravestone of Katherine Coon
located in Starkey, Yates Co, NY
Katherine Coon m Anthony Cozad
Hannah Cozad m Samuel Harpending
Asbury Harpending m Mary Sayre
Hannah Harpending m Charles S. Baker
Asbury H. Baker m Helena Rappleye
Charles S. Baker m Helen M. Spaulding
Charles A. Baker m Marian C. Baker
Charles A. Baker Jr (1942- )
Anne Baker Fanton (1943- )
Joan P. Baker (1950- )
And so ends another ancestral story . . . . .