|Hannah Cozad Harpending|
There have been many historical writings about our American Cossart family including some that trace their ancestry as far back as the 12th century. While the Cossart family name may have been recorded in ancient records it is still very presumptuous to assume that a 12th century man bearing the surname Cossart automatically must be one of our ancestors. One of the best known books that traces the various Cossart families was The Early Generations of the DuPont and Allied Families written by Col. Henry Algernon DuPont and published in 1923. In his extensive book Mr. DuPont uses dozens of pages to describe in detail the various early Cossart families including the wealthy "bourgeoisie" Cossart family line from Rouen, France and the various other early and unrelated Cossart families from Northern France including Picardy, Normandy, and Paris. Despite his extensive research, Mr. DuPont readily admitted that he was unable to definitively identify any of these families as being the ancestors of our Cossart great grandfather, Jacques Cossart, who immigrated to America in 1662. It is hard not to agree with Mr. DuPont's conclusions, although in lots of subsequent writings about the ancient Cossart origins as well is in many of the Cossart family trees on Ancestry.com, his conclusion that we simply do not know the family's origins, is being ignored. In this chapter of our Blog we are going to begin with the earliest known and documented of our Cossart ancestors, the father of emigrant Jacques Cossart, Jacques Cossart Sr.
It is generally accepted that Jacques Cossart was born around 1595 although there is no evidence to confirm that his birth location was Picardy in France. Many of the writings suggest that he was a French Huguenot, a Protestant, and that his family had left France to escape the persecution of Protestants by the predominant Roman Catholic government and population of France. This may very well be correct although around the time of Jacques' birth, there was somewhat of a lull in attacks on Protestants in France and in 1598 the French King Henry IV actually signed a document known as the Edict of Nantes which essentially restored civil rights back to the Huguenots. Another possibility is that Jacques Cossart's parents were actually French-speaking people living in either the southern or eastern part of Belgium who were Protestants known as Walloons. The general consensus seems to be that the family lived in Liege in present day Belgium before they moved eastward into Holland. Whether the family was living in France or in the Spanish controlled Belgium during Jacques's youth, when the French King Henry IV was murdered in 1610, attacks on Protestants in both countries dramatically increased which probably caused the Cossart family to quickly relocate to Amsterdam in Holland where there was a greater degree of religious tolerance.
|Leiden around 1620|
My 8th great grandfather, Jacques Cossart, married my 8th great grandmother, Lea Villeman on the 14th of August in 1656 in the Walloons Church (Dutch Reformed) in Leiden when he was only 17 and she was around 18. There are some writings, notably author J.A. Cossairt, that claim that their marriage took place in Frankenthal, Germany although one has to be skeptical that at such a young age they would have relocated such a far distance to end up getting married alone and probably without family and friends present. The argument however, is bolstered by the records that show that their first three children were baptized in Frankenthal: three daughters born in the years 1657, 1658, and 1661. While in the late 1500s Frankenthal was a prosperous town inhabited largely by Dutch Protestants, in 1621 the Spanish besieged the town during the Thirty Years War followed with subsequent troop occupation by both sides, which resulted in the trade and industry and the town itself pretty much destroyed. What would have attracted the young newlyweds to relocate over 300 miles into Germany is a complete mystery especially since there were numerous jobs available in Leiden. It is possible that Jacques had gotten into some kind of trouble in Leiden or perhaps their parents were opposed to the marriage and they fled to Germany to get away, or perhaps as some believe, they never when to Frankenthal in the first place. We do not know. What is know however, is that the young couple and their family returned to Leiden by around 1661 assuming of course that they had left in the first place. They did not remain in Leiden for long.
|New Amsterdam 1660|
|City of New Amsterdam in the year 1660|
Jacques Cossart and his fellow emigrants must have been surprised when they first entered the village of New Amsterdam for it would have been totally unlike anything that they had encountered in the past. Besides the rundown condition of the buildings and the muddy streets, the population of the city unlike say Boston during the same time period, was very diverse. For one thing it is estimated that maybe 20% of the people in the village were black Africans who were mostly slaves. Most of them however, resided in a community just north of the wall. The rest of the population was a mixture of various cultures although most were French and Dutch with a few Germans, Swedish, and even English. Dutch however, was the predominant language. Incredibly many of the immigration records into New Amsterdam have survived and what we learn from these records is that the population of this small colony was growing rapidly during the time period of the Cossart's arrival. What is surprising is that they were able to absorb so many new arrivals into their small village. In March of 1663, Jacques and the other new immigrants petitioned the local Dutch government for grants of land as well as seed grains and provisions to cover a period of six months. It seems that their grants may have been awarded since there is a record of Jacques Cossart and his family living near the south end of present day Broadway Street on a parcel of land now occupied by the Produce Exchange Building which is bordered by present day Whitehall and Marketfield Streets and Bowling Green Park. On the above map, the location of his home was just east of Fort Amsterdam near a street identified as "Het Marckveit" or as later anglicized to Marketfield. Obviously, the public market in old New Amsterdam was a short walk from the new home of Jacques and Lea Cossart and their family.
Unfortunately from the existing historical records we are able to learn only bits and pieces about the life of Jacques Cossart. We know that he joined along with his wife, the Reformed Dutch Church in April of 1663. In October of 1664, following the takeover of New Amsterdam by the British in the prior month, he signed an oath of allegiance to England. Shortly thereafter he and his neighbors found themselves living in the newly named community of New York. There is another record dated the first of January in the year 1666 wherein Jacques Cossart was appointed as a "collector of revenue," or tax collector, in the village to help cover the cost of the clergy and the soldiers. He was to receive a 4% commission on everything that he collected. It was doubtful that his new position would have enhanced his position in the community. While still living in their home on Manhattan Island, Jacques and Lea were to have an additional four children born between the years 1665 and 1673 including TWO of my great grandfathers, David Cossart who was born in 1671 and Anthony Cossart who was born in 1673. While we have found fairly good records about the lives of their four children born in America, what is really strange is the total absence of any records about the two children that came with Jacques and Lea on the ship to America. They were both daughters and perhaps their early marriages combined with some lost records resulted in their both being lost in history.
|Early towns that were combined to form Brooklyn|
From this point forward until his death in 1685 at the relatively young age of 46 we know little about the life of Jacques Cossart. It is written that he was a miller by occupation although this fact could not be confirmed. In 1683 it was recorded that Jacques Cossart paid taxes on his land and personal property in the amount of 114 British Pounds and besides owning 18 acres at the time he also owned 2 horses, 5 cows, and 1 hog. He was not a wealthy man by any means but he obviously was relatively successful. A few years after Jacques's death my 8th great grandmother remarried a Frenchman named Charles de Niseau. The exact year of her death and the location of the graves of both Jacques and Lea Cossart is not known although their remains are undoubtedly somewhere buried under the buildings or roads of modern day Brooklyn, New York.
At the beginning of this story about our Cossart/Cozad ancestors we noted that Hannah Cozad and her husband Samuel Harpending, my 4th great grandparents, were distant cousins. David Cossart (1671-1740), son of Jacques and Lea Villeman Cossart, was the great, great grandfather of Samuel Harpending. David's daughter, Lea Cossart, married Samuel's great grandfather John Harpending. Information about the Harpending line of our family tree can be found in Chapter 9 of this blog.
The next historical record that exists that mentions Anthony Cossart is the 1701 Census of Brooklyn that lists Anthony with his wife, two children, an apprentice, and 10 slaves. The mention of the slaves and particularly the quantity of slaves came as quite a surprise. The Dutch were well known as slave owners but the real surprise in Anthony's case was that at only 28 years old he owned 10 slaves. This quantity would suggest that he was fairly well-off financially as slaves were expensive to both buy and maintain. He must have been quite an entrepreneur at a young age as there is no evidence to suggest that he would have inherited a lot of money from his parents especially considering that he had two older brothers. Furthermore an earlier census taken in 1698 shows Anthony living with his wife, 1 child, 1 apprentice, and no slaves showing that he must have purchased the slaves between 1698 and 1701. Anthony was a farmer and probably a large farmer, living in a community called Cripplebush or Cripple Creek that was near Bushwick (where his parents had settled) and according to some sources near where the Brooklyn Naval Yards were eventually built. Incidentally, my great grandparents Joris Janseen Rapalje and Catalyntje Trico owned land upon which the Brooklyn Naval Yards were later built and while they died before Anthony Cossart was living in Cripple Creek, it is entirely possible that Anthony may have known the Rapalje sons. The story of my Rapalje (Rappleye) ancestors is told in Chapter 1 of this blog.
There are also two additional records that place Anthony Cossart in Piscataway during the early 1700s. In 1715 he was listed as a militia soldier in the New Jersey militia in Colonel Thomas Farmer's regiment, 4th Company of "Woodbridge and Piscataway". A more interesting record shows the name of "Anthony Cozar" as a witness to the Will of Edward Doty of Piscataway, Middlesex County dated 18 October 1717. Here again we see the location as Piscataway but what we do know based again on baptismal records of Edward Doty's children, was that he was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church of Raritan (later Somerville) at least in 1712 and 1714. It would seem that he may have been a neighbor of our Cossart (Cozad, Cozar) family in an area later to be named Somerville. Even more interesting is that Edward Doty was the grandson of Edward Doty, one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620 and as it turns out my 9th great grandfather on my mother's side of my family. The Edward Doty who died in 1717 and was a friend of Anthony and Elizabeth Cossart (my father's side of my family) was my 1st cousin, 9 times removed. Wow. What a coincidence.
Anthony and Elizabeth were to have six children together including my 6th great grandfather and their oldest son, Jacob Cossart, who was born in Cripple Creek (Brooklyn) in 1701. Three of their children were born at their home in Somerville in New Jersey, the oldest being born in 1712. Unfortunately my 7th great grandmother died at the relatively young age of 46 in the year 1720. Anthony still a relatively young man at that point married for a second time a woman by the name of Judith Hendricks who was 24 years younger than Anthony and had lost her husband. Judith and Anthony had three children together. Anthony died at the age of 83 in 1756. We could not determine where he and his two wives are buried.
Jacob Cossart's life is a little confusing particularly when it comes to where he lived in New Jersey since based on the reported different birth locations of his many children he was on the move quite a bit. It is said that he was a minister during his adult life which if true might help explain his seemly frequent relocations. Whatever the circumstances, here is what we have to offer about the life of my 6th great grandparents. Jacob Cossart was only 21 years old when he married a young girl of English descent by the name of Hannah Cox on 19 April 1723. Hannah's father and my 7th great grandfather was a man named Phillip Cox who was born in England in 1677 and immigrated to America with his parents at the age of 13 in 1690. They settled in what was then known as Elizabethtown (now just Elizabeth, New Jersey) which was originally founded back in 1664 by English settlers. At some point in his early life probably around 20 years old, Phillip moved southward around 25 miles to where he met his future wife Hannah Trembly in Woodbridge, New Jersey. They married on the 24th of September in the year 1698. There is some controversy as to the names of Hannah Trembley's parents although it would seem based on her surname that at least her father was of English descent. We mention this because Hannah Cox was undoubtedly Presbyterian based on her parent's religion. On the other hand her new husband Jacob Cossart had been raised in a Dutch Protestant Church. This may have been a problem, at least for Hannah's father (her mother had died long before Hannah's marriage) and consequently Jacob Cossart may have agreed to change his religious faith to that of a Presbyterian to appease the family. This change was a very unusual move especially in the year 1723. What is even more unusual is that Jacob Cossart not only changed churches, but he may have became a Presbyterian minister. We were unable to confirm this possibility.
|Counties of New Jersey|
Most of the Cossart family trees on Ancestry.com and many of the Cossart family histories report that of their children born between 1727 and 1742, they were all born down in Bound Brook, New Jersey or close by in Somerset County some 30 miles south of Succasunna. We believe however, that the Anthony Cossart family never left the Succasunna area until at least 1750. We also believe that all of their children with the exception of their first child were born on their family farm in Morris County. Unfortunately if there were any records of their children's births or baptisms other than the baptism of the last child, a daughter named Leah who was born in 1743, none of the records have survived. In Leah Cossart's case, her baptism is recorded at the First Presbyterian Church at Morristown. As of 1743 there was no Presbyterian church located in Succasunna. Incidentally, if there were no local churches in the area including the church in Morristown that was not established until 1742, it is kind of hard to see where some family historians credit Jacob Cossart with being a minister. He definitely was not listed as a minister or pastor at the Morristown church. Anyway, the additional evidence that the Jacob Cossart family remained in Morris County is that their first five children were all married in Morris County between the years 1742 and 1760. The marriage of their oldest son Jacob was recorded in Morris County in 1742, one year before his sister Leah was born. It is not clear what motivated Jacob Cossart to move his family back to Somerset County although possibly his father's death in 1756 may have been a factor. Whether or not Jacob inherited money with his father's death is not known but it is likely and possibly a motivator to relocate. As we have outlined below it is likely that Jacob with his family moved south into what is today part of Warren Township in northeast Somerset County.
|Old Presbyterian Graveyard Bound Brook, NJ|
Catherine Coon Cozad was only 17 years old when the first of her ten children was born. She was 41 years old when her last child was born and only 44 years old when her husband Anthony prematurely died in 1790 at the relatively young age of only 50. His will was written only two weeks before it was "proved" and the inventory of his assets compiled, which would imply that he had not anticipated his early death. He left to his wife Catherine in his will the right to use their home "to bring up my children, until they go to trades," and with four children under the age of ten when he died, Catherine was not about to move from the family home any time soon. Strangely, Catherine Coon Cozad never remarried and when one her young daughters, 24-year old Hannah Cozad, my 4th great grandmother, married my 4th great grandfather Samuel Harpending in 1806 and then in the Spring of 1807 headed by wagon to central New York, Hannah's mother, Catherine Coon Cozad, went with them. Catherine died in 1824 at the age of 78 having outliving her husband by 34 years. She is buried near Dundee, New York in the oldest cemetery in Yates County located behind The Starkey Methodist Church. Her name on her gravestone noted her as "Katherine Casad." My wife and I visited this cemetery around a decade ago with no idea that my 5th great grandmother was buried there alongside at least 216 other graves.
There is very little historical documentation about Anthony Cozad and the few times that the name is mentioned we have to wonder if the Anthony Cozad mentioned might actually be his cousin Anthony (1739-1800) who was about the same age as our grandfather but he lived over in Middlesex County as opposed to Somerset County. The mix up may have occurred when the Sons of the American Revolution in 1954 accepted our Anthony Cozad (1740-1790) as a Revolutionary War soldier and as a result granted membership to his descendant Charles C. Cosad. Only problem here was that he is listed as having been a Private in the Middlesex County Militia. One has to suspect that the Middlesex private was actually his cousin Anthony who lived in Middlesex. On the other hand our Anthony's father-in-law, Thomas Coon, was a private in Captain William Moffatt's Company, in Colonel Frederick Frelinghuysen's 1st Regiment of the Somerset County Militia, and if our Anthony Cozad was a soldier during the Revolution, this is likely the regiment in which he served. Unfortunately we could not find any records to support this belief. If our Anthony Cozad was in this regiment then he might have seen a lot of action during the American Revolution as there were many battles large and small fought within New Jersey including the nearby Battle of Bound Brook.
|Townships in Somerset County, New Jersey|
|Old Mount Bethel Church and Cemetery|