Early Dutch Settlers

The Six Conover Brothers And Four Sisters

The Descendants of Two of the Brothers Treated of in the Present Article - Prominent in the Revolutionary War.

In one of my former articles I inadvertently stated that the three Conover brothers who married Schenck wives were the only original settlers of this name. I should have said that they were the only brothers who married in the Schenck family, and were likely the first ones to come here with the two Schenck brothers. As a fact there were six Conover brothers and four sisters, who were all born in Kings county, Nassau Island, as Long island was then called, and afterward moved to Monmouth county.

They were the children of William Gerritse Couwenhoven, who resided for a number of years in Brooklyn. He was a magistrate there in the years 1661-62-64, and a deacon of the Dutch church in 1663. From there he moved to Flatlands. His name appears as a resident and freeholder of that place, on the assessment rolls of 1675-83-93. He was also an elder of the Dutch church there in 1677. On November 1st, 1609 he sold his farm at Flatlands to his son William, and is supposed to have spent his declining years among his ten children in Monmouth county.

William Gerritse Couwenhoven was born in the year 1636. He married for his first wife Altje, daughter of Joris Dirckse Brinckerhoff. On the 12th of February, 1665, he married his second wife, Jannetje, daughter of Peter Monfoort. By his first wife he had two sons. They were Garrett and Joris, or George, who married Alletta Luyster, or, as spelled on the Brick church records, Altige Luyster, where they became communicants in 1731.

William Geritse Couwenhoven by his second wife had eleven children. They were:

    Altje, born December 14th, 1665, married Cornelius VanAertsdalen.

    Neeltje, born December 7th, 1667, married John Pieterese Wyckoff.

    Peter, born February 12th, 1671, married Patience, daughter of Elias Daws.

    Cornelius, born November 20th, 1672 (according to Teunis G. Bergen), married Margaretta Schenck, September 8th, 1700. According to the inscription on his tombstone in the Schenck-Couwenhoven burying ground at Pleasant Valley, he died May 16th, 1736, aged 64 years, 5 months and 17days. This would place his birthday back in 1671, there is a mistake either in Mr. Bergen's record or in the tombstone record. His wife, Maragreta, as spelled on her tombstone, died December 6th, 1751, aged 73 years, 9 months and 27 days.

    Sarah, born January 6th, 1675, married Jan Schenck.

    Albert, born December 7th, 1676, married Neeltje Schenck.

    Jacob, born January 29, 1679, married Sarah Schenck.

    Jan, born April 9th, 1681, married Jacoba VanDerveer.

    Annatje, born April 13th, 1683, married Aert Williamson.

    William, born March 7th, 1686, married Annatie Lucasse Voorhees.

    Jacomma, born December 28th, 1689, married Elbert Williamson.

Garrett, William and Altje were the only ones who did not come to Monmouth county. Corneliuis, Jacob and Albert came first, then Peter, Jan and Joris. Sarah and Neeltje, of the daughters, came first ,as their names appear among the communicants of the Brick church as early as 1709, while their sisters, Annatie and Jacomina, appear in 1717.

Joris or George Couwenhoven, who married Alletta or Altje Luyster, although the eldest of all the sons who came to Monmouth was the last one to come. He evidently had children born before he took up his residence in this county. The Brick church records show the baptism of the children of George Couwenhoven and his wife, Alletta Luyster. One of these children, Elizabeth, was born March 18th, 1725. She married May 7th, 1747, John Smock, and died May 7th, 1812. She and her husband are interred in the Smock burying ground, on the farm formerly owned by Peter R. Smock, the father of ex-Sheriff Ruliff P. Smock, in Holmdel township.

John Smock and Elizabeth Smock had the following children:

    Mary, born March 20th, 1748.
    Hendrick, born December 31st, 1749.
    Joris, born June 9th, 1751, died young.
    Joris, born December 22d, 1754.
    Neeltje, born November 21st, 1756
    Sara, born July 30th, 1758.
    Caterina, born April 27th, 1760.
    Johannes, born January, 19th, 1764.
    Roelilf, born November 20th, 1769.

In Book E. of deeds, page 226, Monmouth clerk's office, is the record of a deed dated December 9th, 1712, from Capt. John Brown, merchant, of Middletown township, to Johannes Smock, late of Staten Island, New York, for 230 acres in Middletown township and four acres of meadow aslt (salt?) at Shoal Harbor. Ramenessin brook is called for as one of the boundaries of the 230 acre tract.

Joris Couwenhoven had three other children, who were baptized after Elizabeth. They were Cornelius, who was baptized July 2nd, 1727; a daughter, not named, who was baptized January 1st, 1729; and Peter, who was baptized March 31st, 1731.

We also find in these records that a Garrett Couwenhoven and his wife, Sarah Traphagle (Traphagen), had a son named Joris baptized October 26th, 1746. Alleta Luyster appears as sponser (sic). As this Garrett Couwenhoven cannot be accounted for among the children of the other brothers, and the coincidence of name also agreeing with Joris Couwenhoven's family, we think it is reasonable to say that he was a son of Joris Couwenhoven and his wife, Alleta Luyster, born prior to their removal to Monmouth county.

In Book H of deeds, page 152, Monmouth clerk's office, is the record of a deed dated May 6th, 1729, from John Antonides, a miller, and Johanna, his wife, of Freehold township, to George Couwenhoven, yeoman, of Middletown township, for 105 acres in Freehold township. This (is) about all the definite information the writer has of Joris Couwenhoven.

As to the other five Couwenhoven brothers who took up their residence in Monmouth county, the records are clear and certain. I will take them up in the order of their respective ages.

Peter Couwenhoven married Patience, daughter of Elias Daws, and is said to have settled somewhere in what is now Manalapan township. His Dutch bible, a very precious book to him, is now in the possession of Mrs. Lydia H. S. Conover, who has kindly furnished me with names and dates of births of his children as follows:

    Hannah or Johannah, born September 26th, 1695, married John, a son of Rev. Vincentius Antonides, a Dutch clergyman, sent out by Classis of Amsterdam to supply the churches in Brooklyn, Flatbush and Flatlands. The quarrel between him and Rev. Bernardus Freeman, who had been commissioned by Lord Cornbury as pastor of these same churches, fills many pages of the early history of the Dutch churches in Kings county, Long Island.
    Jane, born July 28th, 1697, married ---------- Williamson.
    Alice, born September 28th, 1699, died young.
    Mary, born July 25th, 1701, married Koert Gerrese Schenck.
    William, born July 11th, 1703, married Mary Cavler or Colyer, and died May 3d, 1777. Mary, his wife , died January 30th, 1777, in her 70th year. Both are buried in Tennent church cemetery.
    Aeltje, born May 21st, 1705, married January 15th, 1730. Her cousin, William Williamson, who was born February 18th, 1709, died April 22d, 1788. He was the son of Aert Williamson and Annetje Couwenhoven, his wife.
    Elias, known in after life as "Ensign Elias," was born September 12th, 1707, married Williamse, daughter of John Wall, died December 25th, 1750. His wife died March 24th, 1759, aged about 58 years. Both are interred in the Schenck-Couwenhoven burying ground at Pleasant Valley.
    Neeltje, born September 2d, 1709.
    Peter, born June 27, 1712, married his cousin Leah Janse Schenck, and moved to New York state.
    Anney, born September 29th, 1714, married John Longstreet, son of Adriann Langstraat and Christina Janse, his wife. He was baptized January 13th 1712, and married Anne Couwenhoven December 17th, 1746.

Pieter Couwenhoven, the father of these ten children, made his will march 15th, 1743. It was proved April 23d, 1755, and is on record at Trenton, in Book F of Wills, page 259, etc. He names in this will his wife, Patience, his sons Peter, William and Elias, who he also appoints executors, and his daughters, Hannah Antnonides, Jane Williamson, Mary Schenck, Aeltje Williamson and Ann Longstreet. He was an active member of the Dutch church and served as elder in 1711-21. I do not know where he is buried.

His son Elias, called "Ensign Elias," who married Williamsee Wall, was the father of Col. John Couwenhoven, who was born March 82, 1734. This Col. John Couwenhoven married Eleanor Wyckoff, and died April 21st, 1803. He is interred in the yard of Marlboro Brick church. He represented Monmouth county in the Provincial Congress of this state and was a member of Council of Safety during the years of 1775-76. He seems to have been one of the trusted leaders of the people in Monmouth county, at the very beginning of the stormy days of our Revolutionary war. The following resolutions representing the views of the patriots in Freehold township are closely associated with his name, if indeed he was not the author and mover of them. It required great courage and devotion to the people's cause for a man at that time to speak out so plainly.

    At a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of the township of Lower Freehold, in the county of Monmouth, in New Jersey, on Monday, the 6th day of June, 1774, after notice given of the time, place and occasion of the meeting.

    RESOLVED, that it is the unanimous opinion of this meeting, that the cause in which the inhabitants of the town of Boston are now suffering, is the common cause of the whole continent of North America, and that unless some general and positive measures for the public safety be speedily entered into, there is just reason to fear that every province may in turn share the same fate with them; and that therefore it is highly incumbent on them all to unite in some effectual means to obtain a repeal of the Boston Port Bill, and any other that may follow it, which shall be deemed subversive of the rights and privileges of free born Americans. And that it is also the opinion of this meeting, that in case it shall appeal hereafter to be consistent with the general opinion of the trading towns and the commercial part of our countrymen, that an entire stoppage of importation and exportation from and to Great Britain and the West Indies, until the said Port Bill and other acts be repealed, will be really conducive to the safety and preservation of North America and her liberties, they will yield a cheerful acquiesence in the measure and earnestly recommend the same to all their brethren in this province.

    Resolved moreover, that the inhabitants of this township will join in an association with the several towns in the county and in conjunction with them, with the several counties in the province (if as we doubt not they see fit to accede to this proposal) in any measures that may appear best adapted to the weal and safety of North America and her loyal sons.

Then follows the names of the seven persons appointed as a committee of Freehold township to carry said resolutions into effect. Among them appears the names of Hendrick Smock and Capt. John Couwenhoven.

A month later still stronger resolutions were passed, and we find his name again among the committee. Also in the proceedings of the congress of New Jersey of the years 1775-76 we find his name prominent. He was the great-grandfather of the late Hon. Charles H. Conover, who was, during the seventies, one of the lay Judges of our county courts, and who lived on the old Couwenhoven homestead farm in Marlboro township, which is still (1898) in the family ownership. He was a gentleman of reserved and retiring manners, but upright and faithful in the discharge of private and public duties, and consistent and reliable in his business dealings. The writer for several years was brought in close contact with him, and learned to respect him for many excellent traits of mind and heart. G. C. B.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, May 4, 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 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 8 Red Bank Register