Saturday, January 25, 2014

Eliakim Winchell Sr.'s Second Wife

I’ve wondered why I came to the conclusion several years ago that my ancestor Eliakim Winchell Sr. had two wives.  Today I found those notes. 

I traced Eliakim through the U. S. census records.  I haven’t worked with the early census records very much, so it’s possible my logic is faulty. 

1790 federal census, Berkshire County,
Eliakim Winchell, Town of Egremont
2 white males over 16 (Eliakim and 1 son ready to leave home)
4 white males under 16
5 females

It appears that Eliakim had four sons and four daughters in 1790, allowing for one of the females as his wife.  I have documentation of only four children—Chillup, Rachel, Charlotte and David—all baptized 19 June 1782 in the Town of Egremont, Berkshire Co., Mass.  I don’t have definite birth dates for son Eliakim and daughter Deborah.  I’m also missing the names of two children completely.

1800 federal census, Berkshire County
Eliakim Winchell, Town of Mount Washington
1 male 45 years of age or older (Eliakim)
1 female under ten
1 female 16-25 (either a daughter or a new wife)

There isn’t a female the approximate age of the head of household.  The female between 16 and 25 is either a daughter or a younger wife.  There are six children no longer living at home. 

1810 federal census
Eliakim Winchell
Town of Mount Washington
2 males under 10
1 male over 45 (Eliakim)
2 females under 10
1 female over 26 and under 45

In 1810 Eliakim has four small children under ten years of age.  There is a female between 26 and 45 in the household.  Since she’s the only adult, she’s probably his wife and the mother of his children.  I know who these children were:  George, Margaret, Elizabeth and Clarissa.  His daughter Almira was born about 1814.  The mother died before April 1818 when Eliakim died.  There's no mention of her in the probate records.

I’ve never found a marriage record for Eliakim.  The Town of Egremont records burned in the 1830s.  I looked through the vital records for the town of Mount Washington and the town records.  There was no mention there.  A local researcher, a federal ranger and past president of the Great Barrington Historical Society said that was probably because the second wife was Native American.  Two of Eliakim’s grandsons, Milton and John Winchell, seemed to be noted as Native American on the 1870 U.S. census.  I will have to see if I can find any trace of a married Winchell woman who died in the town of Mountain Washington between 1814 and 1818. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Education of John Konkapot, Junior

My posts have been a little scarce lately since I've started two new jobs this month.  The first one was temporary and the second one hopefully will be full-time, permanent with full benefits.  I just have to pass the training, and the company tries hard to help you pass.  Wish me luck!

Colleague Drew Blattner found the below yesterday about the education of John Konkapot, junior.  I'm not sure why he's called an Oneida Indian since John Konkapot was the Mohican chief of Stockbridge, NY.  At this time the main council fire of the Mohicans had moved to the Oneida territory, so perhaps the reference was geographical and not political.  I have seen that in past documents.

The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania.
Whereas, on the twenty-fourth of March, one thousand seven
hundred and ninety-seven, the leghslature granted the sum of
two hundred dollars for the education of John Konkapot, junior.
And whereas it is judged expedient to complete the education
of the said John Konkapot. Therefore:
[Section 1.] (Section I, P. L.) Be it enacted by the Senate
and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by
the authority of the same, That the governor of this commonwealth
be enabled to provide for completing the education of
John Konkapot, junior, one of the Oneida Indians, at the public
expense, provided the whole sum to be expended shall not exceed
the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars, to be paid from time
to time, as the same may be necessary for completing the education
of the said John Konkapot, junior, to be paid, by warrant
drawn by the governor, out of any money that may be in the

Passed April 11, 1799. Recorded L. B. No. 7, p. 9.

Pages 336-7.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Still Educating

I have just spent some time on Genforum and Rootsweb message boards, reading posts about the Brazie families.  Some descendants know about their Native American ancestry, but unfortunately they think it's Mohawk!  My work educating people about the Mohicans in Berkshire County is not done, I can see.  I wrote a couple replies informing people that descendants of Andrew Brazie and Clara Winchell and Anthony/Tunis Brazie and Debrah Winchell mostly likely had Eliakim Winchell Sr. as an ancestor and Mohican-Wappinger ancestry.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Van Gilder Branch Confirmed by Y-DNA Testing

This post is written by Drew Blattner, a newly found Van Gilder cousin.

DNA Testing: The Genealogical Game Changer and
What it Means for the Van Gilder Family.

By Drew Blattner

My straight maternal great grandmother, that is my mother’s mother’s mother, was Nora Acenith Van Gilder.  She was the daughter of William Jefferson Van Gilder and Anna Rebecca Graves.  William was the son of James Van Gilder and Asenith Masterson.  James was the son of John Van Gilder and Sarah who I now believe was a Masterson.  That is all the information I had on the Van Gilder family for quite a few years.  We all thought that at some point a Van Gilder had emigrated from Holland, and that we all descend from that Dutch immigrant.  It was presumed to be the father of my fourth great grandfather John Van Gilder.  If you look at census records and death certificates for John’s children, you see that John was born in Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, or Holland, depending on which one you look at.

Seven or eight years ago, while searching for information on any Van Gilders that were in the Virginia area, that my John may be related to, I stumbled upon a website of a lady named Linda Hughes Hiser who was descended from a Jacob Van Gilder and an Anna Margaret Gibler of Monongalia and Marion County, Virginia, now West Virginia. Jacob and Anna Margaret had a son named John the approximate age of my John who left the family and went west.  Four and half years ago I contacted her, and she sent me some information and told me to check out her blog where she had just written an article about the possibilities of the Cape Girardeau John being the same as her West Virginia John.  After reading through the information, and then backing it up with more information from the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center, it was quite clear to me that our families had to be connected. 

John Van Gilder, along with a man named Frederick Gibler, disappear from the Fairmont and Morgantown area of present day West Virginia after 1806.  Both show up in present day Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1808 where they signed their names one below the other on a petition regarding the city limits.  The Frederick Gibler of Morgantown had a tannery, as did the one in Cape Girardeau.  There were many other bits of supporting evidence proving that the two Johns and two Fredericks were the same.  Given that John’s mother was Anna Margaret Gibler, I am certain that Frederick Gibler is a relative of John, perhaps his uncle. 

This past July, my wife and I drove to West Virginia to visit the graves of my fifth great grandparents Jacob Van Gilder and his wife Anna Margaret Gibler, and to search for the family farm.  I found the Zion Methodist Church Cemetery that their son had donated the land for, and their graves.  Every mailbox for two miles was either a Van Gilder or someone who had married a Van Gilder. 
I spent two days visiting distant cousins up and down the road and hiked back to the location of the original Van Gilder homestead.  The cabin was long gone, but part of the massive stone chimney still stood on land still owned by a Van Gilder.  It was nice to see that most of the family farm was still rural and owned by descendants, although it had been split up numerous times over the last couple hundred years.  The land was actually owned by one of Jacob and Anna Margaret’s sons but it is presumed that they lived there as well.  While in West Virginia, we spent time in the Marion County Courthouse in Fairmont and the Monongalia County Courthouse in Morgantown as well as libraries in both towns. 

Fireplace of Jacob Van Gilder's home
Returning home from the trip, very satisfied, but yet yearning for more information that I did not find, I turned back to the internet looking for immigration and other early records for Jacob.  Somehow I came across where one of his descendants, John William Van Gilder of Maryland, had done Y-DNA testing and his results came back with a Native American Haplogroup. 

For those unfamiliar with DNA testing in genealogy, there are three types of testing.  Y-DNA testing can only be done by males and follows your straight paternal side.  It his inherited from father to son.  Tracing back from one man, it only shows his father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s side.  Going back to your fifth great grandfather this test would only tell you about part of one out of 128 ancestors in that generation. 

mtDNA, or Mitochondrial DNA, is the exact opposite.  Testing can be done by either males or females but then it only follows the straight maternal side and is inherited from mother to child.  Tracing back from one person it only shows their mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s side.  Going back to your fifth great grandmother this test would only tell you about part of one out of 128 ancestors in that generation.

Autosomal DNA testing can be done by anyone and shows a little bit about all of your ancestry.  It sounds like it would be the best, but as of now it only goes back so far where if you had one of your 512 seventh great grandparents that was Native American and all the rest were European it may not show up that you had any Native Blood because the percentage would be so small.  In the future this testing may be more useful with more scientific development. 

Back to John William Van Gilder’s results; I thought there was either a mistake or he wasn’t really a descendant of Jacob Van Gilder.  I contacted him and he said that he and his cousin, Cole Van Gilder both had testing done through the National Geographic Genographic Project.  John then had his results transferred to Family Tree DNA, where I had found his results under the American Indian Q1a3a1: the Q-M3 Haplogroub Project.  The results listed his earliest known paternal ancestor as Jacob Wilder Van Gilder.  Jacob is my fifth great grandfather, and I knew this was the same Jacob, as many descendants list Wilder as a part of his name although there is no proof that it is.  Jacob was known by all descendants as being the original Van Gilder immigrant from the Netherlands.  How could his DNA belong to a uniquely Native American Haplogroup that does not occur in Europe at all? 

I thought that there was a good chance that somewhere along the line one of John and Cole’s paternal grandfathers was not really their grandfather, and that their grandmother had conceived by a man other than her husband.  This was the only way to explain the situation because DNA does not lie.  The only other option was that Jacob was not pure Dutch as all descendents claim and that he was Native American at least in part.  I immediately thought back to my recent trip to West Virginia.  Almost all of the Van Gilders that I conversed with mentioned that they had Native ancestry along with the Dutch and German.  At the time, I had not given it any thought as there were many generations separating them and me, and that the Native ancestry could have come in at a later time after my John had came to Missouri.  After all, Jacob was said to have been born in Holland and Anna Margaret Gibler, his wife, was said to have been born in present day Germany.  Then I thought back to having previously read about the Van Gilders of New York and Vermont. 

I started reading all that I could about the Van Gilders.  Originally most early histories had claimed that a Dutchman by that name had taken up with an Indian woman and that they were descended from of that union.  That would not explain the Native Y-DNA which comes through the father.  Then I came across the research of Debra Winchell in her paper, “The Impact of John Van Gelder: Mohican, Husbandman and Historical Figure.”  Debra is a descendant and very thorough researcher of the Mohican Indian named Toanunck who was born to a Wappinger father and a Mohican mother.  He took the Dutch name Jan Van Gelder and married Anna Maria Koerner, a German immigrant from the Palatinate, and had nine documented children with her.  They lived in the Taconic Mountains near Egremont in Berskshire County, Massachusetts, fairly close to the New York border.  Some descendants of Jan, or John as he is normally called stayed near Egremont while others moved away, most notably those that moved north, to Guilder Hollow near Granville in Washington County, New York, close to the Vermont border.  I began to wonder if it was possible for my Jacob Van Gilder to be the grandson of Toanunck, aka John Van Gelder.

I knew what I had to do.  I had to find a male with the last name of Van Gilder more closely related to me to participate in the Y-DNA testing to see if the results matched the distant cousin in Maryland. With several Van Gilders and Gilders in the area I picked Scott Vangilder because he was one of the closest related to me and thus, leaving less generations for errs.  I sent Scott’s DNA sample back to Family Tree DNA and waited for the results.  About a month later, I got the results.  Out of all the thousands of people participating in DNA testing through Family Tree DNA, Scott Vangilder had one match, John William Van Gilder of Maryland.  This proved two huge things.  First, the Cape Girardeau Van Gilder family really is related to the Jacob Van Gilder family of Fairmont, West Virginia (because some had doubted me) and secondly, there was no Dutch Van Gilder immigrant forefather in our family; the name was taken by an Native American man and thus, all Cape Girardeau Van Gilder descendants have some degree of Native American blood in their veins.  Now I was convinced that our Jacob was a descendent of the Indian Tawanaut / Toanunck, later known as Jan / John Van Gelder, but I would need a known descendant of him to participate in DNA testing to prove a relationship.

With help from Debra Winchell, we decided to start a Van Gilder Y-DNA Surname Project that would include all variations of surname.  After posting information about the project on various websites, we received some interest, but not from any known descendants of John Van Gelder bearing the surname.  I decided to start making phone calls.  I contacted Ricky VanGuilder of Granville, New York whom I had read acts as Assistant Chief of the Hudson River Band of Mahican.  Ricky agreed to the testing, so I ordered him a test and just received the results last week.  No surprise to me, Ricky VanGuilder of New York matched both John William Van Gilder of Maryland and Scott Vangilder of Missouri.  This proves that beyond any doubt, the Cape Girardeau County Van Gilder family is in fact related to the Mohican Van Gelder family. 

Given that I don’t have a lot of money to spend, the tests that I ordered for Scott and Ricky were entry level 12 marker tests that matched 100% with the first 12 markers of John William’s 37 marker test.  This means they are all related, but could be way back. All of these tests could be upgraded all the way to the 111 marker test which would narrow down how closely they are related.  With the highest level of testing, you can pretty much prove that two individuals are of a father and son, brothers, first cousins, or uncle & nephew type relationship.  If someone wants absolute proof, upgrades should be done to establish the proof.  That would run several hundred dollars for each test upgraded.  Meanwhile, I am content with the proof at hand. 

John Van Gelder was the first and only known Indian to change his Indian name to the Van Gelder surname.  All the other Mohicans and Wappingers were going by their Native names at the time.  It is possible that we don’t descend from him, but through a relative, but no other known Indians were taking the name.  Even John’s brother, who died without siring children, still went by Sancoolakheekhing.  I speculate that the name was taken to blend more with the Dutch settlers from Gelderland, Holland, who bought land from the band of Mohicans that John was born into.  When John married his German wife, he went on to live a very prosperous and well documented life, bridging the gap between the Natives and the European settlers.  I truly believe we are descended from John Van Gelder and his Wappinger father Awansous, although the connection could theoretically be through another Wappinger relative.

The main task now is to determine which son of John Van Gilder is the father of Jacob Van Gilder of Fairmont, West Virginia.  As usual, a fire is to blame for the missing generation of baptismal and marriage records for the town of Egremont, Massachusets.  Depending on whether Jacob’s mother was Native American or European, I would be between 1/256 and 1/512 Native American and 255/256 and 511/512 European.  A drop in the bucket you might say, but without that drop, I wouldn’t be here and neither would any other descendants.

Special thanks to John William Van Gilder, Scott Vangilder, and Ricky VanGuilder for donating their DNA, as well the others who have expressed interest in the project and some who are currently being tested such as Kurt Van Galder of Wisconsin.  Thanks also to Debra Winchell who has been the source of nearly all my information on John Van Gelder, and for all the in-depth research she has done.  Thanks also to Linda Hughes Hiser for her help in making the connection with the West Virginia Jacob Van Gilder family. 

For any upset Cape Girardeau “Dutch” Van Gilder descendants who just lost all their Dutch heritage, there is still hope.  We know that the John Van Gilder who came to Cape Girardeau had a wife named Sarah.  A few years ago David Conley shared a letter with me that was written to him by his grandfather about the Van Gilder family ancestry.  It stated that when John came to Cape he married a Masterson.  The only Masterson family here was William Masterson who married Anna Randol and their children, who were the same age as John.  Anna, or Antje, as she was baptized was almost half Dutch through her mother Sarah Van Gorden, who married Enos Randol.  Thus, all the Van Gilders here in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri would still have some Dutch blood.
For more information check out the following links:  Scroll to Chapter 10 of the Mohican Seminar 3, starting on page 127 and reading through page 144 for “The Impact of John Van Gelder, Mohican, Husbandman, and Historical Figure” by Debra Winchell in 2004  This is the website for the Y-DNA project so far.  Pending testing results will be added once they are completed.  You can also donate for further testing on the site. 
This blog by Linda Hughes Hiser helps make the West Virginia to Cape Girardeau, Missouri connection more clear.
Or contact me at with any questions you may have.

Inscription for Jacob Van Gilder on shared grave marker
Inscription for Anna Margaret Gibler on shared grave marker

Friday, January 3, 2014

Andrew Brazie and the Woodbecks

I've just realized there is another way to view Andrew Brazie's relationship with the family of John Woodbeck. His death record said his mother was Clara Winchell. Clara sounds similar to Clarissa, and was probably more common.  Is it possible that Clarissa was first married to Andrew Brazie Sr., he died and then she married John Woodbeck?  According to the 1850 census, Clarissa was born about 1806.  Andrew Jr. was born about 1825.  An age of 19 for the mother is perfectly in line with other mothers of the time period.  The first of John Woodbeck's children was born about 1832.   I have a few more items to add to my list of research for the Local History Room of the Berkshire Athenaeum when I finally go back.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Crack in the Livingston Brick Wall?

I wonder if I have a crack in my Livingston brick wall.  Genealogists look for patterns in relationships to give them clues.  I may have found one while taking advantage of free access to some of Ancestry’s records recently.

I have been stuck on the father of my great-great-grandmother Sarah Livingston. Her death record said she was born 5 June 1910 in Ancram, Columbia Co., NY, and that her parents were Daniel and Rachel Livingston. Rachel was the daughter of Thomas and Tryphenia Boyes.  I later found Rachel and her third husband Lawrence Vosburgh living with Sarah and her husband George Winchell.  Therefore I am certain of her first name.  I found a deed associated with a Daniel Livingston, but there was no more helpful information.

I was playing around in Ancestry again and I looked up Sarah.  What I found was a death record for Catherine Livingston. It said that she was born 1815 in Castleton, Rensselaer Co., NY and her parents were James and Rachel Livingston. Castleton is in the county north of Columbia. Catherine was around Sarah’s age, and her mother’s name was Rachel. Was this more than a coincidence?

Catherine was the first wife of John Surriner.  It just so happens that his brother Uriah married George Winchell and Sarah Livingston’s daughter Henrietta Winchell. They were married 12 January 1853 in the town of Great Barrington.  Catharine was still alive.  In 1855 she and her husband were living in Lee. George and Sarah were living about 11 miles away in the town of Great Barrington and Henrietta and her new husband were living next door. (In 1850 the Winchells had no Surriner neighbors, but John’s mother was Ann Eliza Van Deusen and there were many Van Deusen neighbors.)  In 1857 Catharine died in Tyringham, Berkshire County. In 1862 in Great Barrington her widower married Lois Ann Olds.  In 1865, John and Uriah’s sister Emily Suriner, her husband John Maston and their children were living next door to George and Sarah’s son John Winchell and his family. Next door to Emily and John were John Surriner and his second wife Lois Olds.  (Oh my gosh, I just realized three Johns living in a row!)  Two doors away on the other side of John Winchell was his sister Samantha and her husband Isaac Strong. Three doors down from John Surriner and Lois was the sister of Samantha and John Winchell, Julia, and her husband Asahel Warner.  At this time it seems like this was a close family and everyone got along well.

I looked to see if there are any other people in common between the people in question. I found a mother’s given name, a surname, a geographic region (the Hudson Valley) and a time period in common. Later on I found a general geographic area in Berkshire County in common. I found two brothers connected to Sarah Livingston’s family.  Then I found the Surriners and children of George Winchell and Sarah Livingston living together as close neighbors in Great Barrington!  It looks like I just might be onto something.  I think when I finally get to the Berkshire Athenaeum, Catharine Livingston and her parents will be the first people I look up.