My 6th great grandfather, Matthes Baker, was born in his parent’s home near the village of Maidenhead, New Jersey in the year 1710. The small rural agricultural community of Maidenhead was founded only a few years earlier in 1697 and while still sparely populated compared with its neighboring communities of Trenton (then called “The Falls of the Delaware”) located about 10 miles to the south and Princeton located about five miles to the northeast, by the time of Matthes’ birth the area had grown significantly since its founding only 13 years earlier. Maidenhead’s location on the “King’s Highway” midway between Philadelphia and New York meant that overland travelers passing between these two major capitals in our country’s early history would have passed through Maidenhead. Despite the town’s location, Maidenhead, that was later renamed Lawrenceville in 1816, still remains to this day a relatively small town and it is generally considered a bedroom community for both Trenton and Princeton. During Matthes Baker’s life, George Washington and his army marched through Maidenhead chasing the British following the Battle of Trenton that was fought on 26 December 1776 and then once again on 2 January 1777 following the Second Battle of Trenton when Washington marched to meet the British at the Battle of Princeton fought on 3 January 1777. Lawrenceville is noted today primarily as the location of the Lawrenceville School, one of the largest, oldest, and most exclusive preparatory schools in the United States. The school was founded in 1816 only six years following the death of Matthes Baker.
Thanks to the efforts of professional genealogist Fred Sisser III who has extensively researched our Baker family in New Jersey, we have a pretty good outline of Matthes Bakers’ life at least with respect to what information is available from the public records such as land purchases, court cases and the like. Matthes was the third born child of Timothy and Susannah Matthews Baker. It is impossible to know whether his name was originally intended to be Matthew after his mother’s maiden name, Matthews, and it was just a misspelling of the name, or the family intended it to be an abbreviation of the name. Whatever the original intent it is known that Matthes himself in later life wrote his name as “Matthes”. Public records on the other hand spelled the name in many variations including Mathias, Mathis, Matthew, Mathes, and Matthis. Spelling was not one of the strengths of our early countrymen as unfortunately they lacked a workable “spell check” system or perhaps a good education.
The young Matthes undoubtedly worked on his family’s farm almost from the day he learned to walk. He also at a young age would have attended school probably during the winter months when his services were not as frequently required on the farm. While clearly he had learned to write as he signed his name on documents instead of making his “mark” as did so many others of his time, it is probable that he was not highly educated. We learned from the public records that his occupation was that of a “Cordwinder” or shoemaker. It was not unusual for fathers during this period of our country’s history to arrange for their sons, particularly their younger sons, an apprenticeship with a local tradesman so that their son could learn a skilled trade. In some cases this meant that the son would actually live with the tradesman during the period of their apprenticeship which we learned was the case with my great grandfather Samuel Harpending who learned the trade of “Hatter” or making hats as I described in this family history blog in Chapter 9. An apprentice was similar in nature to an indentured servant although there was no forced employment contract as was the case of the indentured servant. The tradesman in lieu of not having to pay the apprentice was expected to teach him his trade. The indentured servant was in reality a slave with a predetermined freedom date. The apprentice was an unpaid employee who could leave at any time. While it is likely that Matthes served as an unpaid apprentice for a period, just when he completed his training is unknown although it was undoubtedly completed well before his 28th year when he married Judith Wood on 28 August 1738.
Judith Wood, my 6th great grandmother, is a mystery woman in our Baker family line particularly with respect to her ancestry which is unproven. There is also the mystery as to just how she came about meeting and marrying Matthes Baker. At first glance I thought that it would be relatively easy to uncover Judith’s ancestors. Not only were members of the Wood family numerous and prominent on Long Island in the late 1600s, but Matthes’ grandmother, Susannah Strickland, married a Timothy Wood in 1651 prior to her marrying Matthes’ grandfather, Samuel Matthews, after Timothy Wood’s early death in 1659. Not only that, but Susannah’s sister, Elizabeth Strickland, my 8th great aunt, married Timothy Wood’s older brother Jonas Wood. The Wood brothers’ father was Edmund Wood, a Puritan, who with his three sons and two daughters immigrated to America on the ship James that landed in Boston in August of 1635. The family lived in Massachusetts before moving to Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1637 and later to Stamford, Connecticut in 1641. In 1644 the Wood family with a group of other settlers from Stamford crossed the Long Island Sound to establish a new Presbyterian community on the north shore of Long Island. They named their new community Hempstead. Joining the Wood family in the new community was John Strickland who was to be Matthes Baker’s great grandfather (and my 9th great grandfather) and his family. Despite the close connection between the Strickland family and the Wood family and the marriage of Matthes Baker’s grandmother Susannah Strickland to Timothy Wood, after many hours of research of the descendants of Edmund Wood, I was unable to confirm that Judith Wood was a descendant of Edmund Wood.
Judith Wood is believed to have been born in Newtown, Long Island (later renamed Elmhurst) around 1710. The names of her parents have not been identified although there were many families with the surname of Wood during the time period of her birth who were members of the Presbyterian Church of Newtown. One family stands out as likely parents: a Timothy Wood (who died in 1763) and his wife Judith (who died in 1751). Timothy is a very common name in the family line of Edmund Wood and Judith Wood might very well have been named after her mother Judith. Even if these individuals are Judith Wood’s parents, I still could find no clear connection to Edmund Wood although it is a fact that many of Edmund Wood’s descendants settled in the western Long Island communities of Newtown and Jamaica.
Another Judith Wood mystery has yet to be solved. How did Matthes Baker, a young man living and working in Maidenhead, New Jersey meet and marry the young Judith Wood living in Newtown, Long Island? Even with today’s modern highway system the two communities are 70 miles and 1-1/2 hours apart by car and in 1738 it is unlikely that Matthes would have had any reason to have been in Newtown. Despite the fact that his mother, Susannah Matthews, was born in Jamaica, New York located only a few miles from Newtown, she had moved to Maidenhead when she was still young and it is doubtful that she was still close to any relatives living in Newtown or Jamaica. On the other hand, there were Wood families living in the area of Maidenhead in 1638 and it is possible that they made Matthes’ parents or Matthes himself aware of the availability of Miss Judith Wood in Newtown and a marriage may have been arranged. However Matthes and Judith met, the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown recorded the marriage of Matthes Baker to Judith Wood on 27 August 1738.
There is still however another small mystery. The New York State records show that a marriage license was issued on 24 August 1738 to Matthew Baker of Maidenhead and Judah Wood of Newtown. It would be hard to argue that this is not our family’s marriage license especially since their marriage occurred only three days after the license was issued (although their names were spelled as Matthis and Judith in the church records.) But then in these same New York State records it shows another marriage license issued on 11 October 1738 to a Samuel Gosline and a Judah Wood of Newtown who was listed as born in 1707. Further research revealed that this same Samuel Gosline of Newtown died on 23 December 1738, a little over two months after the issuing of the marriage license between himself and “Judah” Wood. I have no idea if the two Judah Woods were the same Judith Wood although it is hard to believe that there were two Judah Woods about the same age, both living in Newtown at the same time, and both applying for marriage licenses less than two months apart. If they are the same person and I believe that they are, the only explanation that I can offer is that the recorded dates were wrong with respect to the actual date of the application and that a marriage was arranged between Matthes Baker of Maidenhead and Judith Wood of Newtown after her expected marriage to Samuel Gosline feel through. It is possible of course that Samuel had been ill for a long period prior to his death which resulted in his marriage to Judith Wood being delayed and then cancelled. If only we could go back in time and find out what really happened and who arranged the marriage.
Matthes and Judith returned to Maidenhead shortly after their marriage and their first child, a daughter Judith, was born about one year later. It is not known where Matthes and his wife and child were living in Maidenhead when their child was born although it may have been at his parent’s home, not an uncommon practice in this period of history. What is known is that Matthes Baker purchased seven acres of land just south of Maidenhead in 1740 and obtained a mortgage from the “Hunterdon County Loan Office” in Maidenhead Township to cover part of the purchase cost. Unlike mortgages in the present day, mortgages in the early 1700s (and as late as the early 1900s) were usually for a short period of time, typically between five years to ten years, and covered no more than about 50% of the purchase cost. Also unlike today, the amount of the mortgage and the annual payments was determined by the estimated income expected from the property. Since agriculture was the common source of income, what the lender was willing to lend was determined by estimating what the borrower could generate in income from the sale of crops and livestock. With only seven acres Matthes would not have expected to earn much income from agricultural pursuits so it is not surprising to discover that he applied for a license to operate a tavern in May of 1741. He operated the tavern from 1741 until around 1749 at which time he sold his property and probably the tavern business, paid off his mortgage, and with his family moved to Hopewell Township adjacent and to the northwest of his birth home in Maidenhead Township.
Matthes and Judith Wood Baker are known to have had only four children: Judith born in 1739, John born in 1741, my 4th great grandfather, Timothy Baker born in 1742, and William born about 1745. Timothy Baker, Matthes’ father, died in 1747 and per the terms of his last will and testament that he had been written earlier in 1639, he left his son Matthes some of his valuables including money. It was probably his inheritance that allowed Matthes to pay off his mortgage on his land in Maidenhead and purchase 147 acres in Hopewell Township where he moved his family and built a home and farm around the year 1749. Having sold his tavern, Matthes renewed his career as a shoemaker in Hopewell. His name is mentioned at least twice that I could find in the church records of the First Presbyterian Church of Hopewell. In both instances once in 1753 and again in 1769 his name was included in a list of donors to the church fund. It is not surprising to learn that in both instances the amount of his donation was modest but probably very generous when we take into account that his income as a tradesman shoemaker and small farmer was also modest. For example, in the 1769 list we find the name of John Hart who along with other families including Matthes’ parents and the Hunt family had immigrated to West New Jersey from Western Long Island in the 1690s. John Hart was recorded as having donated 15 English pounds to the church in 1769 whereas Matthes Baker donated only one English pound. We are not related to John Hart but we know that Matthes and Judith Wood Baker’s daughter, Judith Baker, married a Robert Lanning whose mother Martha Hart, was the first cousin of John Hart. It seems that the Bakers and the Harts would have known each other. Why is this worth mentioning? John Hart from Hopewell, New Jersey was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and during the Revolutionary War on June 22nd and 23rd in 1778, George Washington and 12,000 of his troops camped on his land.
Matthes Baker was 68 years old in 1778 and therefore it is unlikely that he physically participated with the local militia during the Revolutionary War. Nevertheless he and his family were close to the war activities in New Jersey including the two battles of Trenton and the nearby Battle of Princeton fought in 1777. Furthermore their family was subjected to the almost continuous movements of both British and American troops nearby their home and church throughout much of the war. Matthes Baker is on record as having sold linen and “stockens” to the Hunterdon County Commissioner of Clothing in December of 1777 and offering wheat towards the war effort in April of 1780. The sale of linen and stockings suggests that Matthes’ shoemaker business may have expanded to include other mercantile goods and the offer of wheat obviously suggests that his farm was in operation during the war unlike the farm of his neighbor John Hart whose farm is known to have been burned by the British.
Matthes Baker died in October 1788 at the age of 78. The fact that he died intestate, or without a written will, suggests that he may have died unexpectedly. His wife Judith and his youngest son William were appointed as the administrators of his estate. The list of some of his assets at the time of his death paints an interesting picture of the times. This list includes “Andirons [with] brass tops”, a gun, “Tobacco”, “Cyder & Whiskey, and a “Negro Girl.” As a descendant of Matthes Baker, I certainly hope that there items were not his most treasured possessions. Judith Wood outlived her husband but the date of her death and where she and Matthes are buried is unknown.
My 5th great grandfather Timothy Baker was born at his parent’s home near Maidenhead in Hunterdon County, in Western New Jersey on the 8th day of December in the year 1742. We know nothing about the early life of Timothy although we can assume that he worked on his family’s farm in Hopewell Township when he was young. We also know that he married a local girl when he was around 30 years old in the year 1733 who we know only by the name of Deborah. In an assessment of the Hopewell district taken in 1781 he is listed in the assessment along with his brother William and his father. Based on the list we assume that he was either still living at his parent’s home at the time or was living nearby. We also know that by 1786 following the Revolutionary War, Timothy and his family had moved east to the adjacent County of Somerset and then a few unknown years later probably following the death of his father in 1788, Timothy purchased 126 acres of land in Readington Township located about 30 miles north of his birth home in Maidenhead. There they built a new home and farm and worked and lived for the remainder of their lives. Based on a listing of Timothy’s assets at the time of his death in 1810, mostly farming equipment, crops, and animals, he spent his adult life as a “husbandman”, an old English term that defines the occupation as one of a farmer.
The Revolutionary War had a profound impact on American families beyond just the obvious loss of husbands, sons, and brothers. Before the war, the “West” was considered to be almost everywhere other than the immediate coastal colonies. Central and western New York and Pennsylvania and the future states of Ohio and Michigan were mostly Indian occupied lands or lands loosely controlled by the British military. The Revolutionary War changed everything. Suddenly inexpensive and fertile land became available and by the early 1800s thousands of settlers from all of the colonies flooded west to buy up this new land now considered part of the new United States of America. What this meant to families, families like the New Jersey Bakers, was that sons, daughters, and cousins moved away from where their families had lived for generations. Timothy and Deborah Baker had eight children born between the years of 1776 and 1796 including my 4th great grandfather and their 5th child, Francis Baker who was born in 1787. Of their eight children at least four of them left New Jersey and probably never returned. Their second son John after his wife died moved to Ohio with his son Timothy and then later to Indiana. Their 3rd son Matthes moved to Seneca County for a short period before returning with his family back to New Jersey. Elizabeth Baker, their first daughter moved to Ohio with her husband Cornelius Low. Their 5th child, Francis Baker, my 4th great grandfather, moved to Seneca County, New York with his wife Sarah and their newborn son Elijah. The youngest child of Timothy and Deborah Baker, William, moved to Ohio with his wife and children. This mass migration was happening to families throughout the new United States but fortunately for Timothy Baker, most of his children moved away after his death at the age of 67 in 1810. Timothy is buried in the cemetery behind the Reformed Church of Readington. Deborah Baker who died in 1817 lies in her grave next to her husband.
While Revolutionary War battles took place in all of the original thirteen colonies, the future State of New Jersey had more than its share of battles that totaled by some estimates more than 100. If skirmishes are also counted, the number of war battles and skirmishes would number in the hundreds. Some historians write that one of these many battles in New Jersey was a major turning point in the war. This relatively small encounter known as the Battle of Trenton fought on 26 December 1776 was a major victory for the Americans after a long string of major defeats. American patriots prior to the Battle of Trenton knew only that their General Washington was good at retreating but on the day after Christmas in 1776 everything changed. The prelude to this Battle of Trenton is known to every American school child. George Washington and his army had to cross a cold and icy Delaware River in the late night hours before their early morning surprise attack on the sleeping Hessian soldiers stationed in Trenton. The surprise attack resulted in a decisive victory for the Continental Army. As a result of this victory and Washington’s attacks on the British that followed shortly after the Battle of Trenton both at Maidenhead and the surrounding area and at the Battle of Princeton fought on 3 January 1777, the morale of the American soldiers as well as the local population and later the country, rose dramatically. Before Trenton, Washington was very concerned that many of his men were not going to re-enlist but following the victories everything changed, enlistments increased, and there was new hope in our country of an ultimate American victory.
Washington’s army crossed the Delaware River and landed near the village of Titusville in Hopewell Township located a short distance from the homes of Matthes and Judith Wood Baker and their son and daughter-in-law Timothy and Deborah Baker. While Timothy was in his early 30s at the time of the Battle of Trenton and he might very well have already been training with the Hunterdon militia during that period as were most men his age, it is unlikely that he was involved in any way with the battle at Trenton or any of the battles and skirmishes leading up to the Battle of Princeton on January 3rd. Washington army was composed primarily of men who were not a part of the state militias who Washington and his officers considered mostly untrained, undisciplined, and unreliable as soldiers. We know that some New Jersey militia were present at the important Battle at Monmouth (New Jersey) fought on June 28th in 1778 and even at the Battle of Princeton, but Washington made sure that they were never placed in significant positions that would place his fulltime army at risk. Nevertheless, the New Jersey militia played a major role in the Revolutionary War especially in New Jersey. While Washington’s army fought the battles, it was the men of the New Jersey’s militia who made the British troops’ lives a misery. They were like mosquitoes in the woods. Every time that a group of British soldiers was sent out to forage for food or to find wood for their fires, they were ambushed by small groups of militia soldiers. It was impossible for the British to maintain small outposts within the state for they were constantly harassed by members of the state militia who would strike fast and then depart equally as fast. These were the types of actions that were particularly suited for the “wing-it” style of the state militias who soon became hated by the British but appreciated by George Washington who knew that the local militia were keeping the British constantly on edge thereby lowering the British army’s morale.
Even if we did not have documentation, we could assume that Timothy Baker and his brothers served as militia soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Unless one were a Loyalist or a Quaker which the Bakers were not, it was the absolute duty of every young man to fight for his country against the hated British. They fought not so much against the British Empire since England was their mother country, but against the arrogance of the British in America and in particular the arrogance of the British leadership and military in America.
The only official record of Timothy Baker’s Revolutionary War service was for the period of 4 October 1777 through 31 October 1977 when he served as a Private in the First Regiment of the Hunterdon County Militia under Capt. William Tucker and under Capt Israel’s Troop of Horses that mustered on 6 October 1777. This was enough for the Daughters of the American Revolution to accept Timothy as a Revolutionary War Patriot, their number 501487. It is likely and even probable that he served on other occasions possibly with his brothers and male cousins and he may have even be present at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Thanks to the recent efforts on the part of Frederick L. Baker III and his late grandfather Frederick Baker (1874-1957), a great, great grandson of Timothy Baker, was I made aware of Timothy Baker’s involvement in the War. Frederick Baker obtained back in 1948 a letter from the State of New Jersey, Department of Defense certifying as to Timothy’s war service in October of 1777 based no doubt on war records on file in their New Jersey office. The full extent of Timothy Baker’s war service may never be known although as purely antidotal evidence I offer this observation. The birth of the first child of Timothy and Deborah was in 1776 (before the Battle of Trenton) and their second child was not born until late 1779. The lag time between the two births could very well suggest that Timothy was preoccupied with matters of the war.
My 4th great grandfather, Francis Baker, was born at his parent’s home in Readington Township, New Jersey in the year 1787. Based on our knowledge that he was a shoemaker as an adult, he was, like his grandfather, probably trained as a shoemaker through the apprenticeship program during his teenager years. Francis at the age of 24 married 18 year old Sarah Bogart, daughter of John M. Bogart and Sarah Ann Schenck, sometime during the year of 1811 and in December of 1812 their first child, Elijah, was born. Elijah, my 3rd great grandfather, was named after his Uncle Elijah, his father’s older brother. The exact year that Francis Baker and his wife and child left Readington Township, New Jersey for a new home in Seneca County, New York is not known although on 11 February 1814, the records of Seneca County show that a mortgage was taken out by Francis Baker for 100 acres of land, Lot 80, in Ovid Township in Seneca County. Obviously the family had arrived into the area sometime earlier, possibly by mid-1813. Seneca County, located in the Finger Lakes Region in Central New York, had been first settled beginning around 1790 and many of its earliest settlers were of Dutch ancestry who had migrated from New Jersey. Clearly Francis was familiar with the opportunities available in this still relatively new community. Land was less expensive than in New Jersey and the need for trained tradesmen like shoemakers was greater. Furthermore Francis was not the only member of his family to recognize the advantages of relocating to Seneca County. Francis’ and Matthes’ older brother John Baker appears in the 1800 Census records in Seneca County and according to the county’s historical records John Baker sold his land in Seneca County to his brother Matthes Baker around 1814 and presumably John immediately returned to New Jersey. It would seem likely that Francis Baker and his wife and child and Matthes Baker and his wife and children moved to Seneca County from Readington in New Jersey together along with Francis’ in-laws and Sarah’s parents, John M. Bogart and Ann Schenck Bogart and all of her brothers and sisters. The Bogart family is listed in the 1820 US Census in Seneca County as are the Francis and Matthes Baker families. For whatever reason and it may have been related to his financial difficulties which hounded with him for most of his life, Matthes Baker sold his land in Seneca County in 1824 and returned to New Jersey.
My 4th great grandmother, Sarah Bogart, was a descendant of many prominent Dutch American families whose lineage could be traced back to early Dutch immigrants who arrived in New Amsterdam in the early to mid-1600s. Sarah’s mother, Ann Schenck, was the great, great granddaughter of Jan Martense Schenck (1631-1687) who arrived in New Amsterdam from the Netherlands in the year 1650 at the age of 19 along with his brother and sister. Jan Martense was granted land in 1660 in Amersfoort on Long Island (later renamed “Flatlands” and now part of Brooklyn, New York). Shortly after his marriage in 1672 to Jannetjie van Voorhees, he purchased land with a crist mill where in 1675 he built a new home for his family. It is this house for which Jan Martense Schenck is most remembered. The land and home remained in the Schenck family until 1784 at which time it was sold by Ann Schenck’s grandfather and my 7th great grandfather, John Schenck (1705-1784). The home remained standing until 1950 at which time the home was scheduled to be demolished to make way for a new school. The Brooklyn Museum recognized the historical significance of this almost 300 year old Schenck House, one of the oldest standing houses in the New York City area, and in 1952 they dismantled the home and later reassembled the original sections of the house on the 4th floor of their museum where it is still exhibited to this day. The 1891 photo of the Schenck House shown above shows a relatively small home particularly when we note that Jan Martense Schenck and his wife raised eight children in this house.
We also find in Sarah Bogart’s and Ann Schenck’s ancestry the names of Joris Janssen Rapalje and his wife, Catalyntje Trico, who arrived on the first ship of new immigrants to New Amsterdam in the year 1624. Chapter 1 of this Baker Family History Blog tells the story of my Rapalje ancestors. What is most interesting about discovering that Sarah Bogart was a descendant of Joris Rapalje and his wife is that I first researched the Rapaljes after learning that my great grandmother, Helen Ely Rappleye, wife of Asbury Harpending Baker, was a descendant of Joris and Catalyntje. What I have now learned is that her husband Asbury, who was the great grandson of Sarah Bogart, was also a descendant of the Rapalje family which would make my great grandparents “kissing” cousins of sorts. I suspect that for many Americans today who have ancestry lines back to early America, overlapping family trees are not that uncommon. Joris Janseen Rapalje and his wife Catalyntje Trico are both my 9th as well as my 10th great grandparents.
The earliest immigrant to arrive in America in my Bogart family line was a Cornelius Corneliszen Bogaert who arrived in New Amsterdam on or before 1640. While there is plenty of genealogical and history websites that cover Cornelius, most of the information furnished on these sites are all over the place and contradictory with respect to the “facts”. For example, his birth year is reported as being as early as 1617 to as late as 1637 and the date and location of his marriage varies considerably. Some family trees have him married in Holland, some in America. Some family histories list his oldest son born in Holland despite the fact that the son was born in the early 1650s well after his reported 1640 immigration date. What these disparities reflect is the terrible recordkeeping on the part of the Dutch authorities as well as the fact that typically the early Dutch immigrants arrived in America without surnames thereby making it more difficult to trace them in the early historical records. We have discussed this situation in other chapters. Unlike the English who very early on in history had adopted the custom of using surnames such that we know that the sons of Timothy Baker were all named Baker, and their sons also carried the name Baker, the Dutch on the other hand used a “last” name that was a variation of the father’s proper name. For example, Cornelius Corneliszen Bogaert was really named Cornelius Corneliszen after his father Cornelius Theuiszen. His grandfather’s name in turn was Teunis Gijsbertiszen after his father Gijsbert, and so forth. This is just an assumption but the name Bogaert was added as a surname after the Dutch immigrant arrived in America and then adopted the English custom of using surnames to identify the family. Often the new Dutch surnames had an historical basis for the family. It is believed for example that Cornelius’ grandfather was called Teunis Gijsbertiszen in Den Boogaertman which literally interpreted from Dutch means Teunis, son of Gijsbert, “Man in the Orchard” which I guess identified where he lived or grew up. Whatever really happened, what we find in history is that numerous new Dutch immigrants into New Amsterdam used the surname Bogaert and many of them had common first names which obviously has lead to trouble when researching our Dutch ancestors. Combine this with the terrible recording keeping, no ship’s passenger lists, and lost church records, it is no wonder why no one knows for certain the actual birth year of Cornelius Bogaert or the date of his arrival. This is all quite in contrast to the English custom of keeping detailed civil and church records beginning in America with the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1620.
What we do know about Cornelius Corneliszen in den Boogaertman, my 9th great grandfather, is that he eventually settled in what is today Albany, New York where he married and raised a family. His death is clearly established as 25 July 1665. His grandson, Cornelius Bogaert (1682-1728), moved to the area of Readington, New Jersey in the early 1700s with his wife and stepsister, Cornelia Delamater (daughter of his father’s second wife), and their two young children. Cornelius Bogaert, my 7th great grandfather, is included in a list of early church elders and deacons of the Reformed Church of Readington in the years 1719, 1721, 1724, and 1727. He died in 1728 after fathering eleven children including my 6th great grandfather, Jacob Bogaert (1720-1777) who was born in 1720 in Readington, New Jersey. In the History of the Reformed Church at Readington, NJ 1719-1881 three generations of my Bogart ancestors are mentioned, Cornelius as mentioned above, his son Jacob who joined the church in 1774 and was an Elder in 1775, and John Bogart (1752-1836) and his wife Ann Schenck who joined the church in 1794. It would appear that some of the Bogart family trees both on the Web and on Ancestry.com that list both Jacob and John as living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania may be incorrect.
The vast majority of the church members listed in the History of the [Dutch] Reformed Church Readington would appear to be of Dutch heritage and it would not surprise me that the services at least in the early years of the church were in Dutch and most of the members of the church spoke Dutch as their primary language. In the 1930 book “Memories” written by my great grandfather about his ancestors and his own life, he describes his great grandmother as speaking English with an accent that he believed was a German accent. He also thought that his great grandfather’s name was John. We know today that his great grandmother’s name was Sarah and Sarah was the daughter of Ann Schenck and John M. Bogart. My great grandfather, Asbury H. Baker, was probably correct that his great grandmother Sarah Bogart spoke English with an accent although the accent was Dutch and not German. Where Asbury was incorrect was that his great grandfather’s name was Francis and not John although in his defense he may very well have been recalling the name of John because John Bogart was his great, great grandfather.
It was not unheard of or forbidden, but in 1812 it was probably not that common for a Presbyterian man of English descent to marry a Dutch girl whose family were members of a Dutch Reformed Church. That fact that the Bogart and Schenck families had been in America for at least five generations but still spoke Dutch as their primary language strongly suggests that the Dutch in America during this period in American history had not lost their Dutch identity in American. It is unlikely that Francis Baker and Sarah Bogart were introduced to one another by their parents nor did they meet in church. I believe that Francis’ education which consisted mostly of his vocational training in shoemaking as well as their age difference of six years makes it doubtful that they attended school together as youngsters. When and how they met and fell in love is unknown. What we do know is that they were married in late 1811 or early 1812 in Readington Township, New Jersey and they gave birth to their first child, my 3rd great grandfather, Elijah Baker in December of 1812.
Their departure from Readington to their new home in Lodi in Seneca County probably began in the spring or early summer of 1813. They were most likely accompanied by a group of other settlers including Francis Baker’s brother Matthes and his family and Sarah Bogart Baker’s parents, John and Ann Schenck Bogart as well as a guide and other settlers from the Readington area and maybe other towns in New Jersey. The exact path of their travel to upstate New York is subject to speculation but it is very possible that they traveled the same route that General John Sullivan and his army took during the Revolutionary War when he was sent to the area of the Finger Lakes by General Washington to destroy the Indians and their villages centered around Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. These Indians supported by Loyalist troops had been terrorizing the American settlers in north central Pennsylvania and southeastern New York State. Basically the trip was about 300 miles long and followed old Indian trails that began on the Delaware River at Easton, Pennsylvania and traveled westerly to the Wyoming Valley near the present day city of Wilkes-Barre on the Susquehanna River. Their caravan of wagons then followed the Susquehanna River north to its intersection with the Chemung River where they continued west along the Chemung until they arrived at the present day city of Elmira. From Elmira they followed the same trail travelled by General Sullivan and his troops northward along the Catherine Creek until they reached Seneca Lake and their new home on its eastern shore.
What we know about Francis and Sarah Bogart Baker from this point forward is based on a few recorded dates and a lot of conjecture. We know that Francis Baker obtained a mortgage on 11 February 1814 and paid the mortgage off on 4 October 1821. We also know that on 2 April 1820 Francis and Sarah sold a portion of their land that they had purchased in 1814. Presumably they constructed a home on their land, probably a log home, and they were living there when the US Census was taken on 7 August 1820. The census shows that by 1820 they had three young sons under the age of ten. One of these sons was Elijah Baker who we know was born in 1812. Another son we believe was Timothy Baker who was born in 1816 and later moved to Michigan. The only other son who we have identified and who may have been included in the 1820 census is a Schenck Baker. Unfortunately we have no information about Schenck other than his name was mentioned in my great grandfather’s book “Memories” along with a statement in the book that implied that Schenck later moved to Michigan. My great grandfather also wrote that his great grandparents had seven sons but under the circumstances that I will describe below only three of his sons have been identified and really only Elijah Baker is a for-certain child of Francis and Sarah other than a daughter Henrietta who died in infancy and is buried next to her parents. One other possible son has been identified by the name of Claudius Coan Baker who was born in 1822 in Seneca County and was named after a local doctor, Claudius Coan who lived near both Francis Baker and his brother Matthes. It is not clear, but some circumstantial evidence suggests that Claudius Coan Baker may have actually been a son of Matthes and his wife and therefore Francis’ nephew.
Unfortunately Sarah Bogart Baker died on 28 June 1827. She was only 33 years old when she unexpectedly passed away and the cause of her death is unknown. Her oldest child at the time of her death was only 15 years old and if she had seven children, which cannot be confirmed, Francis was left with a household of small children. Obviously he could not manage this situation by himself and still maintain his career as a “travelling shoemaker”. Typically we find under these circumstances that the surviving spouse soon remarries after the death, however despite his relatively young age of 40, there is no evidence that Francis ever remarried. Considering the relatively large size of families in the early 1800s and the fact that Francis was no doubt an established person after13 years in the community, it is surprising that he never remarried. If he were not my ancestor I might want to jump to the conclusion that he had a character flaw, perhaps an alcohol problem, a personality problem, or an appearance problem that might have made him a poor candidate as a husband for a young or recently widowed women. There is however no evidence whatsoever to support this type of conclusion. What we do know or believe is that Francis “farmed out” his children to other families in the community and as a result the names of his children other than Elijah and possibly Timothy have been lost in history. Were it not for the fact that both my grandfather and my 2nd great grandfather were both named Charles Schenck Baker which clearly identified my relationship to Francis’ mother-in-law, Ann Schenck Bogart, plus a recent DNA test that tied me to the Baker line back to Edward Baker, I might not have been able to confirm that Elijah Baker’s parents were Francis and Sarah Bogart Baker.
Hopefully, Francis Baker stayed in touch with his children at least while they continued to live in or near Seneca County. However strange, it appears that he never in his later life moved into the home of one of his children. In the 1850 and the 1860 US Census we find Francis Baker living with the Nevius family in Lodi Township in Seneca County. In the 1840 Census where only the name of the head of the household was identified in the census, we find a man living with the Nevius family who was of Francis’ age and older than both John and Rachael Nevius. This unidentified man was probably my 4th great grandfather, Francis Baker. There appears to be no close family relationship between the Nevius family and Francis Baker although John Nevius and his wife grew up in Readingtown Township in New Jersey and John Nevius who was only a few years younger than Francis may have known Francis or more likely Sarah Bogart when they were both younger. It still seems strange that Francis’ son Elijah Baker, who by 1850 was running a successful mercantile business in the nearby village of Burdett, did not provide a home for his retired father. Again in the 1860 census Francis remained with the Nevius family despite the fact that John Nevius had died and only Rachael was left to take care of the then 73 year old Francis. Honestly, based on the few facts that we have at hand, I must draw the conclusion that there may have been a strained relationship between Elijah and his father. Francis may have never shown much interest in his family after his wife died and most of his sons in their earlier years moved away from Seneca County to find new lives in the “West”. It is interesting however, that despite the possible “strained” relationship between Elijah and his father, Elijah named two of his children after his parents, one Francis and one Sarah.
Francis Baker died on 9 June 1876 and he is buried in the MacNeal Cemetery in Lodi Township alongside his wife Sarah and his in-laws John and Ann Schenck Bogart.
If you are interested in reading more about my Baker ancestors following Francis and Sarah Baker, I invite you to read Chapter 9 of this Baker Family History Blog.