Friday, May 25, 2012

The Origin of the Van Guilders

Recently the Associated Press published an article by Travis Loller saying that DNA study seeks the origin of Appalachia's Melungeons. In a excerpt Mr. Loller wrote:
In recent years, it has become a catchall term for people of mixed-race ancestry and has been applied to about 200 communities in the eastern U.S. — from New York to Louisiana.
Among them were the Montauks, the Mantinecocks, Van Guilders, the Clappers, the Shinnecocks and others in New York. Pennsylvania had the Pools; North Carolina the Lumbees, Waccamaws and Haliwas and South Carolina the Redbones, Buckheads, Yellowhammers, Creels and others. In Louisiana, which somewhat resembled a Latin American nation with its racial mixing, there were Creoles of the Cane River region and the Redbones of western Louisiana, among others.
As a result of researching the Van Guilders for over fifteen years, I know that the Van Gilders/Van Guilders from western Massachusetts, upstate New York and Vermont are not Melungeon.   The founder of the family was Jan Van Gelder, a Mohican-Wappinger man who married the German Palatine woman Anna Maria Koerner in Kingston, New York, in 1719.  They lived in what is now present day Berkshire County on the west bank of the Green River, southwest of Great Barrington.  Additionally, a Y-DNA test comparison between Jacob Van Gilder who died 14 July 1846 in Marion County, WV, and a documented descendant of John Van Gilder from upstate New York shows the Y-DNA to be identical and that Jacob was a descendant of the Mohican-Wappinger man John Van Gilder I.

A representation of John Van Gilder's signature embroidered in buttons
on reproduction 18th century matchcoat by blog author.
On August 2, 1762, New York Attorney General John Tabor Kempe (1759-1777) reported to Governor Monckton that
Awansous a Wappingoe Indian Grandfather to the Complainant on the mother’s side, was possessed of a certain Tract of Land lying on the East side of Hudson’s River, beginning at the mouth of the Fish kills called in the Indian language Nataowawmungh thence running down Hudsons River southerly to Anthony’s Nose called in the same language Wacoghquanuk, and Eastward into the woods as far as the Oblong croping the Peeks kill.
Further,
 Awansous died leaving behind him two Sons Tawanaut otherwise called John Van Gilder and Sancoolakheekhing, to whom the Body of the Nation solemnly confirmed their Fathers Land according to the Custom of their Nation at a publick Toast & sacrifice [sealing their Grant]. Sancoolakheekhing Died without any Children and on his Death the Nation confirmed the whole of the Lands to John Van Gilder who was Uncle to the Complainant, being his Mothers Brother & he [John Van Gilder] in the year of the Defeat at Ticonderoga hath since given the whole of these Lands to... Danl. Nimham
 However, John Van Gilder was regarded as a member of the Mohican Nation that lived north of the Wappingers.   In a letter written to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs William Johnson on December 16, 1756, the chief of the Mohicans stated that he belonged to the Mohican Nation.  The Mohicans are a matrilineal people and it seems logical that Van Gilder's mother came from the Catskill band of  Mohicans.  In October 1768 Richard Moore was interviewed in regard to a property dispute between the patroons Van Rensselaer and Livingston.  Moore testified:

He is Sixty one Years of age  he has known Joseph Van Gelder he is Christian and baptized by a high Dutch Minister  Joseph Van Gelder’s Father’s Children was baptized and he himself  That he was Married by a Minister.  Joseph Van Gelder lives at Egremont on this side Howsitenack River to the Eastward of Tackannick Mountains  he his [sic] known him from a Child  he always bears a good Character  he would Venture to take his Oath at any time for the truth  The General Reputation is that he is a Christian.  He believes His father belonged to the Catt’s Kills  [band of  Mohicans]

In regard to John's wife, in the marriage bann it was stated that Anna Maria, later known as Mary Karner, was born in Germany.  Her parents were Jan Nicholas and Anna Magdalena Koerner.  They and their family were among the thousands refugees of the wars in the German Palatinate and were among the families sent to New York State to become indentured servants to the patroon Robert Livingston.  Mary's brothers Andrew and Lodowick escaped that fate and lived in the Town of Egremont near her and her husband.  The Mohicans leased land to Andrew and John deeded some of his land to Lodowick.

John and Mary had several children.  The ones documented by land records and John's will are:
Nicholas Van Gelder, born 1720.  Married(2) Elizabeth and(3) Mary Welch
 Joseph Van Gelder, born July 14, 1722, baptized November 21, 1722 in Dutch Reformed Church, Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, N.Y., baptismal sponsors Joseph and Anna Reichard.  Married Mary Holly Winchell, also known as Molly (daughter of David Winchell), May 23, 1748 ).
John Van Gelder Jr., also known as Johannes Van Gelder, Hannes Van Geldern, baptized May 23, 1725 in Linlithgow Reformed Church, Columbia Co., N.Y., baptismal sponsors Johannes Spoor and Maria Singer.  John married  (1) Catrite Karner, married October 27, 1747,  (2) Geetruyd.
Matthew Van Gelder Sr., baptized September 1, 1728 in Kingston, Ulster Co., N.Y., baptismal sponsors Matheus Slegt, Catalyntjen Kip.
Catharine Van Gelder, also known as Catalyntje Van Gelder, Cartrite, Garthiat, who married Hezekiah Winchell Sr., (son of Samuel Winchell Sr. and Hannah Parsons (my ancestors).

Jacob Van Gelder Sr., died before June 12, 1787.  He married Mercy (von Sahler, p. 292)
Andrew Van Gelder.
Henry Van Gelder, died before May 1758
Magdalena Van Gelder, also known as Martaliner.  She married Pelatiah Winchell, son of David Winchell Jr. and Mary and a cousin to Hezekiah Winchell.  Pelatiah was found to be living in Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County, N.Y. in 1775.

At least twenty men in the combined Van Gilder and Winchell families served on the Patriot side of the American Revolution.  Three are documented to have been with the Green Mountain Boys when Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga.  Twelve served in the Continental Army.  One stayed the winter at Valley Forge.  Two died in service.

The Van Gilders and Indian Winchells suffered the fate of many of the Mohican families after the war.  They steadily lost their land in Berkshire County.  My ancestor Eliakim Winchell was the only grandchild to retain his land.  However it was sold to pay debts after his death.  Many of his relatives moved to Vermont.  Some of their descendants moved to places in Washington County in New York State.  The fates of fourteen grandchildren of John and Mary Van Gilder remain undocumented and unknown.

17 comments:

  1. The names van Guilder, van Gilder, van Gelder, Hannes, Catelyntje, Johannes Spoor all sound like Dutch names; is there a Dutch (the Netherlands) link in all this?

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    1. yes, the first north american Van Gilder's came with the first settlement in New Amsterdam from Holland in the early 1600's

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    2. (=New York was first colonized by the DUTCH and called New Netherlands. There were DUTCH Van Gelders who came to New Netherlands, but Jan Van Gelder has been definitely proved to be 100 percent Native American. The Dutch connection is that John's band of Mohicans in Catskill sold their land to Dutch from Gelderland and then moved across the river to present-day Columbia County, NY, then later to present-day Litchfield County, CT. In the early and middle 1700s John and his wife had neighbors in Berkshire County, MA, who were German, English, Dutch, and Native American.

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  2. The only found Dutch link is that the Van Gelders were living among Dutch people. Hannes and Catelyntje is the Dutch version of the given names. Johannes Spoor was a member of the congregation and presumably a friend. The only Van Gelder found living in the area was Elizabeth Van Gelder who appeared in the records of the Reformed Dutch Church of Albany about the time John Van Gilder was born. One branch of the New York Van Gelder family moved to the Catskill, Green County area about the time of the American Revolution, but my family had already been well established.
    Native people created last names out of necessity. John probably wanted to be like his in-laws and friends. Sometimes they adopted the last name of someone they like to honor them, sometimes it comes from a physical description or occupation. People from Gelderland bought the land from the band John came from. Maybe the last name Van Gelder was John's way of reminding his family of what happened to the ancestral land.

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    1. In any of your search of Van Gilder have you came across a Henrick he came from Amsterdam in 1650 to New Amsterdam (America) then moved to Long Island. OR Parents of RANSOM Van Gilder born NOV.9,1795 in VERMONT. then in ONONDAGA NY MARRIED
      AZUBA VAN TASSELL They had 14 children all in NEW YORK?
      Any information on this family would be helpful.

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  3. The only thing I can tell you is that there were Van Gilders from Berkshire County who moved to Vermont after the American Revolution. Some of the next generation moved west, to Washington, NY, or even further. Others settled around Ludlow, VT.

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  4. I am descended from John and Anna Maria Koerner through their son Andrew. My ancestor, Maria Gilder Gifford, wife of Reuben Gifford, all wound up in Georgia Plains, Vermont. I am happy with the news about having Mohican descent,but was saddened to hear that my collection of Dutch things was all in vain. Anyhoo, this is a great article! The stones of the above mentioned are at Georgia Plains Cemetery, and Maria and her father Ezekiel went by Gilder, but the Jacob and Andrew's stones are still Van Gelder.

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  5. Are there any descendants of Jan Van Gilder still living in Berkshire County or nearby NY/VT?

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    1. There certainly are! I grew up on the other side of the mountains in New York State. I have cousins living in the Hudson Valley. There are descendants in Vermont and Washington County, New York still.

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  6. My GG Grandmother was Rosetta Von Gelder Mahlon was born in Hopkinton, St Lawerence Co. NY about 1807. Rosetta Van Gelder was born about 1810, in New York. She married Mahlon Daniels in 1833 in New York, New York. They had 11 children during their marriage. She died on December 24, 1874, in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, at the age of 64.
    When Mahlon Daniels was born in 1807 in New York, New York, his father, Samuel, was 45 and his mother, Lydia, was 44. He married Rosetta Von Gelder in 1833 in his hometown. They had 11 children during their marriage. He died on August 21, 1871, in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, at the age of 64, and was buried in Hawick, Minnesota.

    ANY INFO YOU MIGHT HAVE WOULD BE GREATLY Shannon Russ Kidd skidd16@cableone.net

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  7. Something seems amiss. I'm a descendant of the Jacob Van Gilder from Marion Co., WV, but according to the Ancestry.com DNA test, I don't have a drop of Native American blood.

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    1. I have not used AncestryDNA but if you are less than 1% Native American it will probably not show up because they only break down your ethnic origins as far as 1.0%. I have used Family Tree DNA's Family Finder Test & 23andMe extensively. All three of these are Autosomal DNA tests. The Mohican / Wappinger blood from the Van Gelder family is the only Native American blood that I know of in my genetic makeup. As it comes from my 7th great grandfather, I should be 1/512 Native American. My mother should be 1/256 Native American. I had my mother do a Family Tree DNA Family Finder test. No Native American showed up but that's no surprise considering Family Tree DNA only breaks down your DNA to 1.0%, the same as AncestryDNA, and my mother should be only 0.4% which isn't enough to show up. My grandmother being 1/128 would likely not show any either. It would likely take my great grandmother being 1/64 to show any Native American ancestry using either Family Tree DNA's Family Finder Test or AncestryDNA. For a better ethnicity breakdown, test with 23andMe. They break down your ethnicity to 0.1% as opposed to the 1.0% that the other two do. I tested using 23andMe and it estimated that I am 0.4% Native American. As far as I know, I should only be .2%. You inherit exactly 50% of your each of your parent's DNA, however after that the percentages are not exact. You may inherit say 24%26%,24.5%, and 25.5% from each of your four grandparents. As it goes back from there, the percentages can get slightly skewed. Therefore you may inherit more genes from one particular side of your family and less from another. If you have four full siblings test, they will likely all show slightly different percentages of genetic inheritance.

      Testers from each of the big three DNA testing companies can download their raw data and then upload it to GEDmatch. You can then run it through the Admixture Utilities. By selecting Eurogenes K13 for example, my mother shows 2.29% Amerindian which is way more than she should be but it shows you that there is some there. I had a Van Gilder cousin contact me about why they didn't show any Native ancestry on 23andMe when we should have been the same generation of descent. She ran it under Gedmatch and it showed up. It's all in how you inherit your genes.

      The individual who doubts Native blood in the West Virginia Van Gilders should have their closest male relative who carries the Van Gilder surname do a Y-DNA test through Family Tree DNA. Y-DNA changes very little over hundreds of years and the Haplogroup goes back thousands of years. If their Haplogroup comes back other than Q-M3, then there was apparently an out parenting event in their ancestry as two descendants of the West Virginia Van Gilders descended from separate sons of Jacob Van Gilder and Anna Margaret Gibler have matching Y-DNA results showing their haplogroup to be Q-M3 also known as Q1a3a1 which is a strictly Native American Haplogroup. Jacob Van Gilder was definitely of straight paternal Native American descent. Y-DNA is an exact science. It does not lie. To view Y-DNA results for the Van Gilder family, visit: https://www.familytreedna.com/public/vangilder?iframe=yresults The individuals at the top are from the Dutch Van Gelder family of New York and New Jersey who later spread throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. The individuals at the bottom are from the Mohican / Wappinger Van Gelder family of Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, who later spread to Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and beyond.
      -Drew Blattner

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  8. Hi, I am trying to do ancestry background for my family history, my grandfathers name was John VanGuilder in West Spring Creek, PA and I am wondering if there is a connection, back when my grandfather was alive, there was stories told, but never written of his Indian decent and of how his father had 3 brothers and they was adopted into a family and took on their last name, is there a DNA testing. Thank you.

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    1. There is a Van Gilder project started at FamilyTree. It only works with male Y-DNA.

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    2. Hope,
      Do you have a brother or male VanGuilder cousin that could have do a Y-DNA test? They could test and join the Van Gilder Surname Project if you are looking for confirmation: https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/vangilder/about
      -Drew Blattner

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  9. I can trace my Van guilder history back to Frederick Van Guilder who was born around 1788 in NY. In 1830 he was living in Crawford County PA. His wife was Sarah who has been said to be Native American, possibly Seneca. His son Solomon Danforth (unsure of spelling)was my three times great grandfather. I am unable to find any documentation of his death in PA. I had read online that he moved to Ashtabula, Ohio to live with his sister Polly. In an 1870 Ashtabula, Ohio census there is a Frederick Van Guilder living with a Polly Allen and her daughter. I have no idea if this is him. Does anyone have any information on these Van Guilders?

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  10. I belive that I am related to the Van Gelders of New York. Catherine Van Gelder married William Garrett Forbes in New York City in 1771. Her family had been in the area from late 1600s to early 1700s. Is it possible that these Van Gelders are related to Jan Van Gelder/Gilder? I have done the Ancestry DNA test, which shows no Native DNA, but am awaiting results from my mother, who is a Forbes. We have no males her generation or older surviving.

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