Early Dutch Settlers

Jan Couwenhoven And His Six Children

Their Descendants, Traced Down to the Present Day-Many of Descendants Still Occupying the Farms of the Original Settlers

Jan Couwenhoven was the youngest of the six Conover brothers, who removed from Flatlands, Long Island, to Monmouth county.

In Book G of Deeds, page 162, Monmouth county clerk's office, is the record of a deed dated October 3d, 1705, from John Bowne, merchant, of Middletown township, to John Couwenhoven, yeoman, of Flatlands, Kings county, Long Island, for the consideration of 300 pounds, for two tracts of land, one containing 94 acres and the other 215 acres, in the township of Freehold now Marlboro. In the description it is stated that these two tracts be together and are bounded on the east by lands of Jacob VanDorn and Aria (Adrian) Bennett. On page 165 of the same book of deeds is the record of a deed dated October 15th, 1709, from Jacob VanDorn of Freehold township to John Couwenhoven of the same place, for a tract of 38 acres adjacent to the two tracts above-mentioned and between them and other lands of said VanDorn. These two deeds show that John Couwenhoven had removed from Long island and was actually settled in Monmouth county some time between 1705 and 1709. The lands described in the above deeds, or the greater part of them, have been continuously in the possession of the descendants of Jan Couwenhoven from that date to the present year of our Lord, 1898.

Peter G. Conover, the well known farmer of Marlboro township, was born, lived and died on this homestead. He was a grandson of the said Jan Couwenhoven. John Lyall Conover, who now owns and occupies these lands, and who is one of the first farmers of Monmouth county, is a son of the late Peter G. Conover. Lafayette Conover and Stacy P. Conover, lately deceased, who owned and occupied valuable farms in the same vicinity, were also sons of Peter G. Conover and great-grandsons of the original settler, Jan Couwenhoven. Jan Couwenhoven made his will November 23d, 1758, and it was proved a month later. He named in this will seven sons, viz-William, Garrett, Cornelius, Peter, John, Jacob and Dominicus. He appointed as executors his son Garrett, his cousin Roelof Schenck (Black Roelof), and his cousin Garrett, son of Koert Schenck; his son Garrett was the only one who qualified. This will was witnessed by David Williamson, Cornelius Couwenhoven and Elbert Williamson.

All of Jan Couwenhoven's sons except Garrett moved from Monmouth county to Penn's Neck, and from there his sons Cornelius, Peter and Jacob emigrated to the state of Kentucky. Peter is said to have moved from Kentucky to the state of Illinois. It is also said that he had a daughter Tryntje, who moved with her three brothers to Kentucky. Dominicus married Mary Updyke. His will, dated January 23d, 1778, at Princeton, N. J,, is recorded at Trenton. He names in this will the following sons: John, William, Garrett, Levi, and Peter. He devised his farm at Penn's Neck to his sons Levi and Peter.

The records of Marlboro Brick church show only the following children of Jan Couwenhoven baptized: Trinke, baptized October 30th, 1709: Cornelius, baptized April 6th, 1712: Peter, baptized December 5th, 1714: Jan, baptized April 12th, 1719: child unnamed, baptized June 7th, 1721.

Garrett, Jan Couwenhoven's youngest son, as supposed, was born on the old homestead in Marlboro township April 27th, 1726, and lived there until his death, November 1st, 1812. He was buried in the yard of the Marlboro Brick church, and his age, inscribed on his tombstone, was 86 years and 6 months. He married first Neeltje, daughter of Benjamin VanMater and Elizabeth Laen, his wife, and had by her five children. His second wife was Antje, daughter of Peter Janse Schenck and Jannetje Hendrickson, his wife. She died April 5th, 1803, aged 49 years, 7 months and 2 days. By his second wife he had the following children:

    Eleanor, born December 13th, 1787, married Lafayette Schenck.

    Jane, born November 9th, 1789.

    Ann, born September, 1790, married first, William Schenck; second, Theodore Rue.

    John, born December 17th, 1791, married Ann Smock.

    Peter G., born January 2d, 1797, married November 10th, 1 819, Charlotte, daughter of John Lyall and died May 21st, 1886.

Lafayette Schanck, who married Eleanor, the daughter of Garrett Couwenhoven and granddaughter of Jan Couwenhoven, at one time represented Monmouth county in the New Jersey assembly. He lived and died on the farm now (1898) occupied by his youngest son, Lafayette Schenck, in the township of Atlantic. The present Lafayette Schanck is the father of Henry I. Schanck, who has attained local celebrity as an inventor. The original Lafayette Schanck, who married Eleanor Couwenhoven (or Conover) was also the father of the late Garrett Conover Schenck, the well known clergyman of the Dutch church, who died only a few years ago. As Eleanor Conover was, on her mother's side, a descendant of Jan Schanck, and as her husband, Lafayette Schanck, was a descendant of Garrett Schanck, Dominie Schanck was a lineal descendant of the two Schanck brothers who first settled in this county.

Peter G. Conover, who lived to be nearly eighty years old, lived in peace with all men and was respected by everybody for his integrity. His name is mentioned in a case decided by the supreme court of New Jersey in the year 1825. His name is brought in through his marriage in the Lyall family, and in a brief account of this family and some of their connections. It seems to have been an important case, for the decision fills 36 pages of this book. Four of the greatest lawyers of that day in New Jersey appear for the parties. Robert Stockton and George Wood represented the plaintiff and Garrett D. Wall and L. H. Stockton represented the defendant. George Wood subsequently attained a national reputation as a lawyer.

This case turned upon the construction of the will of Eleanor Lyall, who had bequeathed a farm of 108 acres at Nut Swamp, in Middletown township, to Fenwick Lyall. Fenwick Lyall sold and conveyed this farm to Richard Crawford for the sum of $1,399. After Fenwick's death it was claimed that he had only a life right under his mother's will. The supreme court, in their long opinion sustained this construction. Fenwick Lyall and John Lyall are buried in the Lippit burying ground at Middletown village.

Peter G. Conover, by his wife, Charlotte Lyall had the following children:

John Lyall Conover, who married Abbie M. Bishop and now occupies the old homestead.

Lafayette Conover, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Schenck and Abbey Polhemus, his wife.

Stacy P. Conover, who married Ellen L., daughter of Daniel P. Schenck.

Garrett Conover, who married Mary L. Hulse (formerly Hulshart).

Charles Conover, who died young.

Ann Eliza, who married David Baird.

Eleanor, who married Alfred Conover. They are the parents of the well-known lawyer, John L. Conover of this county.

Emma, who married Ferdinand Hyers.

Three other children, Amanda, Jane and Eugene, died young.

William Schenck, the father of Lafayette Conover's wife, was a son of Roelof P. Schenck, or "Long Ruly," as he was called, and was a brother of Antje Schenck, who married Garrett Conover above-mentioned, the grandfather of Lafayette Conover.

In this connection I might say that Garrett Conover, by his first wife, Neeltje VanMater, had a son named Garrett, who married Mary, daughter of the third Garrett Schenck. He owned and lived on the farm where the late John W. Herbert lived at Wickatunk, in Marlboro township, and where John W. Herbert's son, Richard W. Herbert, now lives: adjacent I think to the farm of the late Stacy P. Conover. He built the brick house yet standing where Judge John W. Herber, lived until his death. Another Garrett H. Conover, son of Hendrick P. and Ghacey Conover, his wife, owned and occupied the adjacent farm, where Joshua Smith now lives: and a Garrett I. Conover owned and occupied the farm where Gideon C. McDowell resides. This Garrett I. Conover was a son of John G. Conover (a brother of Farmer Jacob Couwenhoven). He was born May 23d, 1760, and married August 22d, 1778, Jane, daughter of Garrett Koertse Schenck and Nelly Voorhees, his wife, and died May 10th, 1802. Garrett I., the son, was born March 31st, 1786. He married a daughter of Ruliff H. Schenck and died May 12th, 1829. His brother Elias, born August 10th, 1779, was the father of Hendrick E. Conover, so well known to the people of Freehold, who died only a few years since, and who has been hereinbefore mentioned with his brothers, John E. and Ruliff E. Conover.

These three farmers all had the same walnut tree for a beginning corner. The people of this vicinity, in speaking of these three Garrett Conovers, made up a simple little rhyme which serves to identify and distinguish them. It ran thus:

    The farms of the Garrett Conovers three;
    Garrett H, Garrett I., and Garrett G.,
    All butted up to a walnut tree.

The walnut tree, I understand, was cut down a few years ago and a slab from it was presented as a relic to all the descendants of the three Garretts who could be reached.

Jacoba Vanderveer, the wife of Jan Couwenhoven and the ancestress of this Conover line, was born at Flatbush, L. I. She was baptized April 29th, 1686, and was a daughter of Cornelius Janse Vanderveer and his wife, Trintje, daughter of Gillis DeMandeville. Cornelius Janse Vanderveer came from Holland to America in the ship Otter, in February, 1659. In 1677-78 he bought a farm at Flatlands, L. I., where he settled. One of his daughters, Neeltje, married Daniel Polhemus. He also had a son Dominicus, who was baptized November 16th, 1679. This Dominicus Vanderveer was associated with Daniel and Johannes Polhemus, Auke Lefferts or Leffertson, Ryck Hendrickson Suydam, Jacob Hendrickson Suydam and Stephen Coerten in the purchase of a tract known as the 1,500-acre tract on Swimming river, from Lewis Morris, in 1709.

This Auke, or Aukey, Lefferts was the progenitor of the Leffertson or Lefferts family in Monmouth county. He was born April 4th, 1678, and on May 29th, 1703, he married Marytje Ten Eyck, a sister, I think, of Johannes Polhemus's wife. He died November 26th, 1769, and is interred in the Polhemus family burying ground at Scobeyville. Of the purchases of this 1,500-acre tract on Swimming river only Johannes Polhemus and Auke Leffertson actually settled. The old deeds for the purchase and subsequent transfer from Daniel Polhemus to Johannes Polhemus are still in the possession of the Polhemus family at the Phalanx in Atlantic township. In Book I of Deeds, pages 450, Monmouth county clerk's office, is the record of a deed from Cornelius Vanderveer of Middletown township to John Covenhoven of Freehold township, dated September 18th, 1789. In this deed Cornelius Vanderveer states that he is the son of Dominicus Vanderveer, and for the consideration of 1,332 pounds he conveys a tract of 330 acres in Shrewsbury township, lying on both sides of the public road leading from Tinton Falls to Colt's Neck, and between Swimming river and Fall river or brook. This was part of the Manor of Tinton, conveyed by Edward Antill and Anne, his wife, to Cornelius Vanderveer, March 27th, 1744. This earliest Cornelius Vanderveer was the grandfather of the Cornelius who bought the land in 1741.

There is also a record of a deed dated June 2d, 1742, in the Monmouth county clerk's office. This deed was from Stephen Warne of Middlesex county to Tunis Vanderveer and Cornelius Vanderveer of Flatbush, Kings county, Long Island, for a tract of 350 acres in Freehold township. The Middle brook of Topanemes, the South brook of Topanemes, and the line of John Baird's lands are mentioned in the description. Tunis and Cornelius Vanderveer, who bought this property, were sons of Dominicus Vanderveer. These deeds show when and how the Vanderveers first came into Monmouth county.

Tunis Vanderveer, who bought the property at Freehold from Stephen Warne, married Aeltje, daughter of Garrett Schenck of Pleasant Valley, about 1723, and settled on part of the Freehold tract. It has been in this family ever since. David Arthur Vanderveer, who now owns and occupies it, is a lineal descendant of Tunis VanDerveer and Aeltje Schenck, his wife. They had a son Tunis, born April 4th, 1729. He had a son John, born April 4th, 1763, and who married Anna Bowne February 18th, 1789. They were the parents of ten children. Among them were Joseph I., born January 9th, 1790, who married Jane Smock, and David I., born April 19th, 1806 who married February 13th, 1828, Mary, daughter of William Covenhoven and Janet Davis, his wife. Joseph I. Vanderveer was a very popular man through Monmouth county, and was generally known as "Uncle Josey Vanderveer." He had two or three horses stolen one night from his stable. Single-handed, and in his everyday clothes, he started out the next morning to find them. His pursuit led him through the state of New Jersey, city of Philadelphia, lower counties of Pennsylvania into the state of Maryland, where he found and captured the thieves and brought his horses back home. The courage, perseverance and determination shown in this adventure was talked of for many years afterward. His brother, David I. Vanderveer, lived and died on the old homestead in Freehold township. His death occurred July 23d, 1884. David I Vanderveer left four children.

Hannah Matilda, the oldest of the children of David I. Vanderveer, married David Clark Perrine, on February 5th, 1851. Mr. Perrine was born at Clarksburg in Millstone township, on October 20th, 1816. He was the well known merchant of Freehold who made the "Big Red Store," famous in that part of the county. His only son, David Vanderveer Perrine, the leading merchant of Freehold, has deepened and widened the business his father established. The second child of David I. Vanderveer was William Conover Vanderveer, who was born July 22d, 1831. He moved to Ohio, where he settled and where he still lives.

John D. Vanderveer was David I. Vanderveer's third child and second son. He was born September 28th, 1836, and married Jane Ann, daughter of John Henry Vanderveer and Jane Smock, on November 30th, 1859.

The fourth child of David I. Vanderveer was David Arthur, who was born June 23d, 1844, and who married November 2d, 1865, Eleanor G., daughter of Tunis Vanderveer Schenck.

David Arthur Vanderveer lives on the old homestead where his forefathers settled nearly two centuries ago. Thus both in the history of Jan Couwenhoven and of the Vanderveer family in which he married, we find they have held to the present day the lands in Monmouth county on which they first setted (settled). This speaks well for their stability, conservatism and contentment with things as found. No family in Monmouth can show a better record in this respect. In this connection I may add that the late Col. Elias Conover of Middletown; and Joseph Conover, father of the late William W. Conover of Red Bank, and of Sidney Conover, who is still living, were descendants of the above-named Jan Couwenhoven and Jocoba Vanderveer, his wife. G. C. B.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, June 15, 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 5 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 14 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 15 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 13 Red Bank Register