Early Dutch Settlers

The Original Jacob VanDorn and His Estate

He owned Six Hundred and Seventy - Five Acres of Land in What is Now Holmdel and Marlboro Townships-Some of His Descendants

Between 1697 and 1701, Jacob VanDorn became the sole owner in fee of 675 acres of land in what is now Holmdel and Marlboro townships. This tract lies west of Pleasant Valley, and was joined on the east by lands of Jan Schenck and on the west by part of lands of Albert Couwenhoven. It runs from the southwest corner of Pleasant Valley over to what is now called Hillsdale, near Bradevelt station and the Brick church. This is a small valley running west from Pleasant Valley. Jacob VanDorn's land included all this valley and ran up into the hills on each side. It was covered with the primeval forests and undrained swamps when he settled there. At the northwest corner of the original 675 acres is a tract of woodland now (1898) owned by Hon. Daniel P. VanDorn of Freehold, which has come down to him by descent from the first Jacob VanDorn, the pioneer settler.

Jacob VanDorn erected his first dwelling, probably a log cabin, on the rising ground or knoll where the residence of the late Thomas Ely stands, just west of the mill pond, and on the north side of the road from Holmdel to the Brick church. Over this road the VanDorns, Schencks, Couwenhovens and Hendricksons of Pleasant Valley and vicinity traveled every Sunday to attend services at the First Dutch church for over one hundred years. After a few years the VanDorn log house gave way to a more substantial and convenient dwelling on the same site. Here Jacob VanDorn lived and died.

On the stream which flows down from the hills, only a stone's throw east from his residence, Jacob VanDorn built a dam and erected a grist mill as early as 1714, if not earlier. This mill was a great convenience to the settlers for four or five miles around, and it shows that Jacob VanDorn was a practical, energetic man, who understood the needs of that community. This mill remained on the same site until 1829, when Sheriff John J. Ely, who was then the owner, erected a new mill about 200 yards further down the stream, where it still remains and is now known as Ely's mill, near Holmdel village.

Jacob VanDorn died between April 24th, 1719 and March 21st, 1720. I do not know where he is buried, unless on his farm, as was then the custom. He was quite young at the time of his death, and most of his children were minors. His wife, Marytje Bennett, survived him many years, and is said to have been an excellent woman and a most devoted mother.

Jacob VanDorn left a will, which was executed in 1749. He gave half his lands and half of his mill to his eldest son, Aure, or Arie, and the other half to his fourth son, Jacob. He also directed them to pay 75 pounds to each of his other children, except Isaac, his youngest son, who was to have 37 pounds more than the others. Aure and Jacob VanDorn, sons of the original Jacob, and the owners by will of the original Jacob VanDorn's real estate, married sisters, daughters of their nearest neighbors Jan Schenck. Aure and Jacob ran the mill together.

After Aure's death in 1748 or '49, his only son, Jacob, occupied his part of the mill and the lands. He died unmarried September 9th, 1785, and then Jacob Couwenhoven, son of his sister, Mary VanDorn, who married John Jacobse Couwenhoven of Middletown village, came into the ownership of it. Jacob Couvenhoven erected a large and commodious dwelling on the site where Jacob VanDorn had erected his log house and his second dwelling. This house, although remodeled and altered, is still standing and bids fair to outlast many of the showy and flimsy buildings of today.

Jacob Couwenhoven died April 28th, 1815, and left the real estate to his sons, Aaron, Rudolph and Isaac, who lost it, and in the year 1822, it was bought by Sheriff John J. Ely, and has been since occupied by his two sons, William and Thomas Ely, and their heirs. Under the original Jacob VanDorn's will, the western half of the 675 acres adjacent to Hillsdale was assigned to and occupied by his fourth son, Jacob VanDorn, and on this he lived and brought up his family.

The first Jacob VanDorn, by his wife, Marytje Bennett, had ten children, all of whom were reared on the homestead at Holmdel. Arie or Aure (sometimes confounded with and spelled Aaron in English) his oldest son, was born about 1695 in Gowanus (Brooklyn). He married about 1730, Antje, daughter of Jan Schenck and Sara Couwenhoven, his wife, and died September 4th, 1748, and is buried in the Schenck-Couwenhoven graveyard. His tombstone gives his age as 52 years and 8 months. His wife survived him for a number of years. He had one son Jacob, who was baptized January 1st, 1734, and died September 9th, 1785, unmarried, aged 52 years 9 months and 9 days. He was interred by his father. Aaure had four daughters who were:

    Mary, baptized March 31st, 1731, married John Jacobse Couwenhoven of Middletown village.
    Sarah, born about 1736, died unmarried.
    Ann, baptized March 25th, 1738, married Cyrenius VanMater, who lived near Stone Hill, north of Colt's Neck.
    Neeltje, or Eleanor, baptized May 16th, 1742, married first Hendrick Smock of Freehold township, and second Garret Hendrickson of Middletown township. She was interred in the Schenck-Couwenhoven graveyard. She died February 13th, 1834, aged 90 years, 10 months and 8 days.

Mary VanDorn, the eldest daughter of Aure, granddaughter of the original Jacob VanDorn, who married John Jacobse Couwenhoven of Middletown village, had the following children:

    Jacob, baptized January 19th, 1752.
    Antje, baptized January 18th, 1753.
    Saartje, baptized June 15th, 1755, married May 1st, 1779, Jeris Smock, who was born November 24th, 1754, and died December 7th, 1834. His wife died March 30th, 1794.
    Arie, baptized April 13th, 1760.
    Catrena, baptized April 30th, 1764.
    Antje, baptized September 5th, 1773.

Jacob Couwenhoven, the oldest son of Mary VanDorn and John Jacobse Couwenhoven, the grandson of Aure VanDorn, and the great-grandson of the original Jacob VanDorn, afterward owned and lived on the eastern half of the VanDorn homestead and ran the mills. He married three times and had fifteen children. His first wife, Arriantje Couwenhoven, was baptized September 25th, 1746, and was the daughter of Jacobse Couwenhoven and Margaret Couwenhoven, his wife, who was a daughter of William Couwenhoven and Arriantje Bennett. By this wife Jacob Couwenhoven, great grandson of the original Jacob VanDorn had these children:

    John, married November 25th, 1789, Ann VanBrunt.
    Jacob, married September 26th, 1799, Catharine Schenck.
    Margaret, married February 18th, 1798, Schuyler Schenck.
    Mary, who died unmarried, and always retained a room in the dwelling house where Thomas Ely lived, and where her father died.

Jacob Couwenhoven, by his second wife, Eleanor Smock, whom he married December 29th, 1782, had these children:

    Elizabeth, married February 9th, 1803, Daniel, a son of Dominie DuBois.
    Anne, married November 18th, 1806, Shiney Denise, who was baptized January 30th, 1788, and was a son of Judge Denyse Denyse and Catharine Schenck, his wife. This Catharine Schenck was a sister of Capt. John Schenck, the famous patriot soldier of Pleasant Valley.

By Jacob Couwenhoven's third wife, Nelly Schenck, whom he married December 10th, 1788, he had these children:

    Ellen, married April 3d, 1811, Peter Schenck.
    Ruliff, married first, Ellen VanCleaf; second Maria VanCleaf, daughters of Joseph VanCleaf and Neily Schenck, his wife.
    Anron, married a Miss Bray.
    Jane, married February 3d, 1820, Peter Garretson.
    Isaac, married Aiche Bennett, daughter of John W. Bennett and Elizabeth VanMater, his wife.
    Caty, married John Frost.
    Arinthia, died unmarried.
    Peter, died when a little child.

The second Jacob VanDorn, son of the original Jacob VanDorn, built a good and substantial dwelling on his half of his father's lands about 1753. When Jacob died, his son, Peter VanDorn lived there. He brought up a large family and died there. Then his son-in-law, Elisha Holmes, occupied the house and part of the 337 acres originally assigned to the second Jacob. Many of the old people now living remember Elisha Holmes.

Engeltje, (Angelina) the second child and oldest daughter of the original Jacob VanDorn, was born about 1697, and about 1718 married Roelof, son of the first Garret Schenck and Neeltje Voorhees, his wife. Angelina's husband was known as "Brewer Roelof" Schenck to distinguish him from his cousin, "Black Roelof" Schenck. He lived on a farm lying on the …thwest side of Pleasant Valley, adjoining that of his father-in-law to the north. This couple had eleven children. Some of them settled in Somerset and Hunterdon counties and there cleared farms and raised families. Some in each generation went further and further west, and ever opening up the wilderness for farm lands, until now their descendants are found in all the northern tier of states to the Pacific ocean. And wherever they settled in the West, if sufficiently numerous to control public sentiment, (and it did not take very many of them to do this) there are no cowardly and horrible tales of lynching helpless and lonely prisoners in jail, but the orderly administration of the law, that no one should suffer death unless first proved guilty before a fair jury.

Wherever they went they took their bibles, their homely virtues, their plain ways and their industrious habits. They never claimed any holiness and perfection from all sins, and never boasted of being Pilgrims or the sons of Pilgrims, but above earthly things with all their hopes they fixed on a crown of gold and harp in heaven. They tried to live without wronging other people in word or deed, to improve and buildup the country and start their children on an honest and industrious path in life.

Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, November 16, 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 13 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 14 Red Bank Register

  • Early Dutch Settlers Part 15 Red Bank Register