Early Dutch Settlers

Chrineyonce Schenck And His Descendants

Anecdotes of the Probasco and Polhumus Families - Sufferings of Prisoners During the Revolutionary War

Chrineyonce Schenck was a man well known throughout Monmouth county in his day. Many anecdotes are told of his peculiarities, of his grim ways, and of his great physical strength. His voice was very deep and gruff, and when angry or in earnest, it deepened into a roar, or as an enemy remarked, "Like the savage growl of a bear with a sore head." He was very bluff and open in the expression of his opinions, and in his likes and dislikes. His grim manner and gruff words were, however, wholly superficial, for no man was more kind and considerate to his wife, children and friends than he.

A well authenticated story is told of him by a lawyer who was an eye-witness of the incident. He was foreman of a jury impaneled in a very important civil case tried at the Freehold court house. Among the prominent lawyers employed by the plaintiff was one of the Stocktons from Trenton or Princeton. The defendant was a poor man and had some unknown and young attorney to represent him. The plaintiff was a man of great wealth, and notorious for his shrewd and unscrupulous methods of getting other people's property. Mr. Stockton was selected to sum up the case and had, of course, the closing speech. After speaking an hour with great ability and eloquence, tearing the arguments of his young opponent all to tatters, he noticed that the foreman of the jury was leaning over in his chair with his arm upraised and his head resting on his open hand with his eyes closed. Thinking he was asleep, and provoked by his supposed inattention, he abruptly stopped. Turning to the court , he pointed his finger at Mr. Schenck and said in an angry tone, " May it please the court, there is but little use to argue this case to a sleeping juror." In an instant Chrineyonce Schenck sprang to his feet. Raising himself to his full height he thundered out in his deep gruff voice, "I am not asleep. I have heard all the evidence and have made up my mind from it as my oath requires, and I want you all to understand that no lawyer by his smooth gab can persuade me to find a verdict for a scoundrel." Angry and disconcerted by this vehement explosion, Mr. Stockton not only lost his temper but the thread of his argument and after stumbling along for a few minutes in an incoherent manner he sat down.

Another anecdote is related of Chrineyonce which shows his great bodily strength and the mighty grip of his right hand. He was attacked by a large and savage bull dog. As the brute sprang at him he seized him by the throat, and lifting him clear of the ground held him out at arm's length and choked him to death.

As the family records show, Chrineyonce Schenck and his son, John C. Schenck, married Polhemus wives. This family is also of Dutch descent, although like Lupardus, Antonides, etc., they bear a Latin name. In that case you can generally find that the family is descended from a clergyman of the Dutch church sent out in early times by the Classis of Amsterdam. It was quite common for scholars in that age to select a Latin name, which expressed what their surname meant in Dutch.

The Polhemus family in Monmouth and Somerset counties are descendants of Rev. Johannes Theodorus Polhemus, who had been a minister at Itamaca in Brazil before coming to the New Netherlands in 1651. He preached at Flatbush in the morning and at Brooklyn and Flatlands in the afternoon of each Sunday until 1660. When Brooklyn obtained a minister in 1665 Dominie Polhemus ceased to be connected with the church at Flatbush, and moved to Brooklyn, where he died June 9th, 1675, the worthy and beloved pastor of that church.

Among the freeholders and residents of Flatbush, L. I., published on page 147, Vol. III of O'Callagan's Documentary History of New York, we find in the year 1698 the name of Daniel Polhemus, who is credited with six children; and Stoffel or Christopher Probasco, who also had six children. These two names, Probasco and Polhemus, have long been identified with the agricultural progress of that territory now included in Atlantic township, this county. They have stood in the front ranks of the successful and prosperous farmers of this county in the years gone by. The appearance of the buildings and orchards on the old Polhemus homesteads at Scobeyville and the Phalanx to-day, bear silent but indisputable testimony to their industry, economy and intelligence. Generally speaking, the past generations of this family have been zealous and consistent church members. As I understand, a son of Daniel Polhemus above mentioned at Flatlands, named Johannes, married in Brooklyn, Annatie, daughter of Tobias TenEyck, and settled on a tract of land at what is now Scobeyville. Their names appear among the early communicants of the Marlboro Brick church. They had three sons-Daniel, Tobias and John. Tobias removed to and settled in Upper Freehold township and is the ancestor of all now bearing this name in that part of our county.

Daniel married Margaret, daughter of Albert Couwenhoven and Neeltje, his wife, hereinbefore mentioned, and had three sons, John, Albert and Tobias. John Polhemus married Mary, daughter of Cyrenius VanMater and Abigail Leffet, his wife, and one of their daughters, Margaret, married the Chrineyonce Schanck above mentioned. She lived to a great age, and was very fond of talking about her youthful days. She would often tell how she and her sister went to church. She said they "rode and tied" and "tied and rode."

"What is that, grandma?" Her little grandchildren would ask.

"Well, my dears," she would say, "we all liked to go to church, but the roads were poor and roundabout; there were no bridges over the streams and swamps and the roads were mere bridle paths. Father let my sister and myself have a horse to ride. One would mount and ride about a mile, while the other walked. Then she would dismount and tie the horse to a tree and walk on. When the other sister came up to the horse she would untie him, get on and ride on a mile ahead of the sister who was walking, then dismount, tie the horse and walk on. So, alternately walking and riding, we reached the church, and in the same way returning home. This was to ride and tie."

Hon. Daniel Polhemus VanDorn whose mother was a daughter of Daniel Polhemus, who owned and lived on the homestead at the Phalanx, in Atlantic township, says he often heard his grandfather tell the story of his father, Tobias Polhemus's incarceration in the old sugar-house prison during our Revolutionary war. It happened that Garret Wyckoff of this county was a prisoner at the same time. He was a warm friend of Tobias Polhemus. It happened that he had often entertained at his home a peddler who lived in New York city. This man, hearing of their wretched situation, managed to introduce from time to time provisions to Garret Wyckoff, who generously shared them with Mr. Polhemus. This timely supply barely saved them from starvation. So emaciated did they become that Mr. Polhemus, when released, could span his waist with his two hands. He said more Americans were killed by disease and starvation in this prison and the prison ships than fell in battle from bullets of the enemy.

Among the citizens of this county who have borne the Polhemus name, were two who commanded extraordinary respect and regard-Dr. Daniel Polhemus, who practiced medicine at Englishtown and died there March 1st, 1858; and Henry D. Polhemus, who was surrogate of this county from 1833 to 1848. David S. Crater, our present surrogate, told the writer that the records show that he was strict, accurate and methodical; in short, one of the best surrogates the county ever had. He was a man of fine appearance, very pleasant and gentlemanly, and almost idolized by the people of Monmouth county. He belonged however, to the Somerset branch.

The reader will notice how the names "Tobias" and "Daniel" appear from generation to generation as Christian names. This fact was noticed over a century ago by some unknown rhymster (sic), who put his observations into the following doggerel, which has been remembered because it expresses a truth, although the poet's name is forgotten:

    By Koert or Ruliff, a Schenck you may know,
    Chrineyonce or Cyrenius with Vanmater doth go,
    Garrett or Jacob is a Couwenhoven name,
    From generation to generation always the same.

    Tobias or Daniel, without feathers or fuss,
    Marks the kind and gentle Polhemus,
    Simon and Peter a Wyckoff does show,
    Nor will they deny 'till a rooster doth crow.

Whether the present and future generations will continue to use those old names is uncertain, for we are living in a transition age when change seems to be in the very air. Old customs and well established principles are overturned for the mere sake of change or something new. 'Chrineyonce, son of John Schenck and Neeltje Bennett, his wife, married November 20, 1793, Margaret Polhemus, who was born March 11th, 1766 and died January 13th, 1857. Their children were:

      Mariah, born February 2d, 1795, married Garrett Rezo Conover, a well known farmer who lived near Edinburgh is what is now Atlantic township. She died December 5th, 1830.
      John C., born June 2d, 1797, died August 22d, 1799.
      Ellen and Eliza were twins, born March 2d, 1799. Eliza died in infancy. Ellen married Jonathan I. Holmes and died September 17th, 1877.
      Margaret, born May 12th, 1800, died March 10th, 1835, unmarried.
      John C., born June 6th, 1803, married Margaret Polhemus and died August 13th, 1858.
      Daniel Polhemus, born May 12th, 1805, married first, November 30, 1831, Lydia H. Longstreet, who was born December 18th, 1809, and died April 7th, 1838; married second, Mary Conover, October 10th, 1843. She was born June 8th, 1822, died April 4th, 1890. He died December 29th, 1864.
      Abigail, born April 28th, 1808, died May 30th, 1825, unmarried.

Daniel Polhemus Schenck and Lydia H. Longstreet, his first wife, had a daughter, Ellen L. She was born November 2d, 1832 and married July 3d, 1860, Stacy P. Conover, and died without children, August 18th, 1890. Her husband was born June 5th, 1828, and died on his farm near Wickatunk station, Marlboro township, August 18th, 1896. He was a man of fine presence, commanding stature, with pleasant, genial manners, and was well know throughout New Jersey and New York city. He was deeply interested in and always attended the meetings of the New York Holland society.

The couple also had a son Chrineyonce, born February 21st, 1838 and died February 17th, 1839.

By his second wife, Mary Conover, he had the following children:

      Lydia Hendrickson, born July 30th, 1846, married December 6th, 1870, Dr. Charles A. Conover, a physician who settled at Marlboro. He was born February 18th, 1842, and died November 2d, 1882, without children.
      John C., born February 21st, 1848, married December 6th, 1871, Charlotte L. Conover, who was born September 28th, 1849.
      Eliza V., born January 5th, 1850, married January 7th, 1874, Henry D. VanMater, who was born August 11th, 1851.
      Margaret Polhemus, born March 27th, 1854, married December 20, 1875, William H., son of the late Tunis Vanderveer DuBois, who was one of the most successful and prosperous farmers in the township of Marlboro during the greater part of his life. William H. Dubois was born February 9th, 1851, and has two children, Jennie S. and Daniel Schenck.

John C. Schenck and Charlotte L. Conover, his wife, have had the following children:

      Mary C., born October 26th, 1872, married August 7th, 1896, William Lefferts Brown.
      John L. C., born May 14th, 1874, married November 23d, 1897, Matilda Carson.
      Nellie L., born October 18th, 1875.
      Abbie M., born January 9th, 1879.
      LuEtta H., born July 30th, 1883, died July 21st, 1885.
      Florence A., born September 7th, 1887.

So far as this branch of the family is concerned we find no divorces, scandals or grass widows. Neither do we find any member but what has been a producer and helped build up farms, making many blades of grass grow where few had grown; nor one who has lived out of public office by politics, but all by the sweat of their brow as tillers of the soil.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, April 13, 1898

More Early Dutch Settlers

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 1 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 2 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 3 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 4 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 6 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 7 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 8 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 9 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 10 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 11 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 12 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 13 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 14 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 15 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 5 Red Bank Register