Early Dutch Settlers

Cornelius Couwenhoven Of Pleasant Valley

He Was One of the Sons of William Gerritse Couwenhoven and Was the Father of Thirteen Children - The Family Record

Cornelius Couwenhoven, one of the sons of William Gerritse Couwenhoven of Brooklyn, seems to have been the first one of this name who actually settled in Monmouth county, but there is evidence that one or more of this family had long been familiar with the territory and the Indian inhabitants. As early as 1663 we hear of a Jacob Couwenhoven, who owned a small sloop and who traded with the Indians for venison and furs. The trade with the Indians for peltries and furs was very profitable and was extensively carried on by the early Dutch settlers.

The Albany records contain an account of an attempt made in 1663 by certain of the English people at Gravesend and other Long Island towns to purchase lands of the Indians, known as the Navesinks, and who occupied part of what is now Monmouth county. The Dutch authorities, hearing of this, sent an officer and a few soldiers in a vessel to prevent it. When the boat reached the southern point of Staten island, opposite the mouth of the Raritan river, they met Jacob Couwenhoven in a small sloop. He informed them that he had been out trading for venison, also that a number of the Navesink and Raritan Indians had gathered at a place about three miles up the Raritan, and that the day previous the English, in an open sloop, had gone up the river to meet them.

From this it appears that Jacob Couwenhoven had made former trips across the bay and was well enough acquainted with the Indian inhabitants to distinguish those who lived in what is now Monmouth county from those who lived on the Raritan river. It is more than probable that the ownership of vessel property and the continuance of this traffic with the Indians remained in the family. The emigration of the Dutch people from Kings county, Long Island, to Somerset, Middlesex and Monmouth counties between 1695 and 1730 was quite large. Several vessels must have been employed to transport their household effects, agricultural implements and stock over the water.

Cornelius Couwenhoven, it is said, owned a sloop which he named the Carroway. It sailed between the East River and some landing, either up Matawan or Waycake creek. His son William afterward owned the boat and no doubt made trips from the Monmouth shore to New York and Kings county whenever there was a necessity for it. In this way an intercourse was kept up with the old people and goods and passengers transported back and forth.

I think it likely that sometimes the first settlers, prior to 1709, may have had some of their children baptized in the Dutch churches of Kings county. There was no regular Dutch church minister in Monmouth county until 1709, and although there may have been an occasional visit by a licensed clergyman, there was no such thing as regular services.

It is to be remembered that our early Dutch settlers lived on isolated clearings with the primeval forest all around them. There were no schools for their children. They learned to speak the Dutch language from family intercourse. The children also would hear the uncouth talk of the negro slaves, the broken English of the wild Indians, and the talk of the ignorant Englishman or Frenchman who occasionally visited their home. Thus they gradually fell into a dialect which was impure Dutch, mingled with many English words wrongly pronounced and wrongly spelled. Take the christian names of the children born after 1700 as spelled in their wills or private family records, and you can see how far they had drifted away from the correct Dutch spelling of their own names. We can hardly conceive to-day of the many disadvantages our pioneer settlers labored under.

Cornelius Couwenhoven, by his wife, Margaretta Schenck, had thirteen children, all of whom are named below in this article. (For convenience of reference, the names of the children, date of baptism, names of wives or husbands, etc., are set in small type, and this is followed by facts gleaned from the records of wills, transfers of real estate, etc.)

    William, first son of William Gerritse Couwenhoven, was born July 20th, 1709, married first Jannetje, daughter of Peter Wyckoff, and his wife Williampe Schenck. His second wife was Antje, daughter of Daniel Hendrickson and his wife, Catharine VanDyke, and widow of William, son of Jacob Couwenhoven.

William Couwenhoven died November 10th, 1755, leaving a will dated September 29th, 1755, and recorded in Book F of Wills, page 305, etc., in the secretary of state's office at Trenton. He appointed his brother Roliph and his son-in-law Matthias "Cownover," as he spells the name in the will, executors. He speaks in this will of his father-in-law, Peter Wyckoff. He signs the will "Wiliiam C. Kouwenhoven" and describes himself as of Carroway, Middletown township. As stated before, "Carroway" was the name of his sloop and he called his place by the same name. He names only one son, Cornelius, and two daughters, Williamtie and Catharine, in this will.

Roelof, second son of William Gerritse Couwenhoven, was born April 12th, 1710. He married Sarah, daughter of Cornelius Voorhees, and Maritje Ditmars, his wife, and died December 12th, 1789.

In Book G of Deeds, page 31, Monmouth clerk's office, is a record of a deed from Alexander Laing of Scotland, Great Britain, to Hendrick VanVoorhies of Flatlands, Kings county, Nassau Island, for such was then the name of Long Island. A tract of land at Topanemes, Freehold township, containing 250 acres is conveyed by this deed. I think this Cornelius Voorhees was a brother of the Hendrick VanVoorhies named in the deed and actually settled on this land, but I am not certain.

Annetje.
Jannetje, married in 1731, Aris, son of John Vanderbilt and Ida Suydam, his wife.

One of the earliest records we have of the Suydams in Monmouth is in Book G of Deeds, page 74; a deed dated April 1st, 1729, from Thomas Williams to Hendrick Suydam of Flatbush on Long Island, for a tract of land in Freehold township. Then in the same book of deeds, pages 139-141, from Lewis Morris of Manor of Morrisania, in Province of New York, to Ryke Hendrickse, Dominicus Vanderveer, Daniel Polhemus, Jacob Hendrickse, Stephen Coerten, Auke Leffertse and Johannes Polhemus, all of Kings county on Long Island, for a tract of land known as "Fifteen hundred acre tract," bounded on one side by Swimming river, dated May 17th, 1709. This Jacob Hendrickse and Ryke Hendrickse were really Suydams, but in accordance with the Dutch custom, they were given their christian names and their father's christian name with "se" or "son" annexed. This clearly appears from a deed recorded in Book H of Deeds, page 211, Monmouth clerk's office, dated June 6, h, 1727, wherein Ryk Hendrickson Suydam of Flatbush, Kings county, L. I., conveys to John VanMeeteren (VanMater) of Middletown township, all that tract of land in Middletown township bounded west by Dominicus Vanderveer, east by Anken Leffertson, south by Swimming river and north by heirs of Quryn (Kriin) VanMeeteran (VanMater) and know as No. 4 containing 152 acres. Daniel Polhemus of Flatlands, L. I., by a separate deed conveyed his share to Johannes Polhemus.

Altje, married William, son of first Jacob VanDorn and Marritje Bennett, his wife.

In Book H of Deeds, page 325, we find record of a deed dated December 23d, 1689, from John Reid of Hortencia, Monmouth county to Richard Salter of the same county, for part of Hortencia. The tract begins where West Branch comes into Hop brook at a place called Promontoria; on page 327 of same book we find record of assignment of same deed from Richard Salter to Adrian Bennett and Jacob VanDorn of "Gawanus," Kings county, L. I. this is dated April 2d, 1697.

Again on page 329 of Book H of Deeds is record of a deed from Aria Bennett and Barbary, his wife, of Freehold township to Jacob VanDorn of same township, dated February 14th, 1707, and conveys the undivided one half of a 200-acre tract in Freehold township, beginning at a corner of Albert Cowenhoven's land and being the premises conveyed to said Bennett and VanDorn by John Bowne, May 17th, 1700. Also another tract adjacent to this also conveyed to them by John Bowne. I am not sure whether this Aria Bennett was the same person as Adrian Bennett or another. The above deeds, however, show the time when the VanDorns and Bennetts came into this county and the place they came from on Long Island.

    Leah.
    Sarah.
    Neeltje, married July 2d, 1741, Benjamin, son of Benjamin VanCleaf and "Hank" Suthpin, his wife.

In Book H of Deeds, page 222, is a record of a deed dated May 4th, 1725, from John Job of Freehold township to Lawrence VanCleve and Isaac VanCleve of Gravesend, L. I. On our old records the VanCleaf name is spelled many different ways-Van Cleaf, VanCleve, etc. This deed, however, shows about what time this family came into the county. In Book G of Deeds, page 50, is a record of a deed dated December 6th, 1718, from John Johnston of New York city, to Jacob Sutvan, (for so the name is spelled)., yeoman, of Kings county, L. I., for a tract of land contianing 333 acres at a place called "Wemcougak in Freehold township." Topanemus Brook, Middle Brook and John Craig line are called for as boundaries in the description. This "Sutvan" was no doubt a "VanSuthpen," for so the name is spelled in old records of Kings county, L. I.

    Mary, baptized December 24th, 1710.

The first Dutch church of Monmouth had been regularly organized with a stated pastor, one Joseph Morgan, in 1709, and so we have a record of the children baptized from this time.

    Rachel, baptized November 2d, 1712.
    Margaret, baptized December5th, 1714.
    Jacometje, baptized November 23d, 1717, married November 26th, 1741, Jan Roelefse Schenck.

The youngest child by this marriage was named Geesie, after her paternal grandmother, She married May 9th, 1765, Aurie, son of second Jacob VanDorn and Maria Schenck, his wife. Aurie VanDorn was born September 14th, 1744, died July 14th, 1830.

    Catarina, baptized June, 1720, married December 22d, 1741, Daniel Hendrickson.

Cornelius Couwenhoven, the father of these thirteen children, made his will November 22d, 1735. It was proved June 22d, 1736, and was recorded in the office of the secretary of state at Trenton in Book C of Wills, page 107. He mentions the names of all of the above children, but the spelling differs considerably from mine. For instance he spells Jacomintje as "Yacominsky," and Janetje as"Yannikie."

He devises to his son William the land sold to him by William Bowne by deeds dated March 1st, 1704, and January 20th, 1705, one for 94 acres and the other 62 acres, and also 120 acres released to him by Daniel Hendrickson, Garret Schenck, John Schenck and Peter Wyckoff, dated July 10th, 1716.

Cornelius Couwenhoven and his wife are buried in the Schenck-Couwenhoven burying ground. The inscription on his tombstone shows that he died May 16th, 1736, aged 64 years, 5 months and 17days. His wife, Margaretta Schenck, died December 6th, 1751, aged 73 years, 9 months and 27 days.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, May 18, 1898

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