« PreviousContinue »
THE FIRST SETTLERS AND THEIR ORIGIN
P TO the close of the Civil War family origin and lineage received but a small measure of attention in the United States. Here and there, along the line of the centuries, persons possessed of wealth and leisure had caught up and reunited the broken threads of kinship; but the great mass of the common people considered time thus spent as time squandered. In accounting for this it should be remembered that the early settlers of the country never expected to set foot again on European soil. Having deliberately severed all the ties that connected them with the past, they lived to remember only-and that with hatred-the tyranny, despotism, hardships, and persecutions of a church and state which had forced them from the land of their birth. Again, these pioneers of a new civilization had little time to think of remote family ties. With them "self preservation was the first law of nature." Boundless forests must be felled; lands must be cleared and tilled; crops must be reared, harvested, and protected; the savages must be watched, fought, and exterminated; civil government must be organized and maintained; highways, canals, churches, schools, court houses, and jails must be constructed and paid for; villages, towns, cities, counties, states, even a nation, must be built up; and, when, after long years of untold hardships, all these things had been accomplished, then came the great revolt from, and struggle with, the mother country for freedom and national independence.
After the republic, the War of 1812, then the war with Mexico, and, lastly, the Civil War, the great and final struggle for national life and perpetuity. This "building of the nation," and the wars incident thereto, did not stimulate genealogical research. The American Revolution arrayed the descendants of the early settlers against the descendants of their European oppressors, and the American Civil War arrayed father against father and brother against brother. Both of these conflicts tended to keep alive in the breasts of Americans the animosities kindled by wrongs committed on European soil several generations before.
But the surrender at Appomattox soon changed all this. The new nation had emerged triumphant from her great crucial struggle, freed from the curse of human slavery. Moreover, and quite as important, she had shown that she could and would maintain the integrity of the
She immediately took a commanding position among the nations of the earth, a position which has grown stronger and more commanding as time has rolled on, until at last the respect of Europe has been won. Equality breeds sociability. And now the descendants of the early emigrants to America hobnob with Europeans with as much freedom as if they were members of the same household.
All this has aroused a deep and abiding interest in family lineage, and this interest has been greatly intensified in the last decade by the organization of the Holland Society, the Huguenot Society, the
New England Society, the Colonial Dames, the Sons of the Revolution, the Daughters of the Revolution, and numerous societies of a similar character. The desire among all classes of the people to know something of their ancestry has been still further stimulated by
the numerous genealogical societies now established throughout the Union.
It is a source of deep regret that the early records of Northern New Jersey are so widely scattered-more so, perhaps, than those of any other section of the country. The historian and genealogist must find them at Albany, New York, Goshen, Richmond, and New City in New York State, and at Trenton, Perth Amboy, Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, and Hackensack in the State of New Jersey. Then, again, the chirography of the early records of this section is peculiar, and many of the documents and records are in a foreign language. Thousands of grants, deeds, wills, and other documents relative to Bergen County, all of the greatest importance to the searcher for knowledge, were never recorded and never even deposited in any public record office, owing to the bitter controversy between the Colonies of New York and New Jersey over the location of the boundary line between them, a controversy which lasted more than a century from the time the country began to be settled by Europeans. I am forced to the conclusion that he who would make a successful plotting of the early grants of land in Northern New Jersey would need to spend at least five years in a house-to-house hunt for the necessary data, in trunks and chests of the old pioneers, now hidden away and forgotten, in the garrets of their descendants. I have prepared this article from such data as I have been able to find, but for the reasons above stated the matter it contains must necessarily be replete with errors and important omissions. Nevertheless, I am not without strong hope that it may be of some assistance to the thousands of descendants of the sturdy men and women who settled the Counties of Bergen and Hudson. I have prepared and inserted four maps: No. 1, showing Bergen County as erected in 1693; No. 2, showing the greater part of the same county as re-erected in 1709-10; No. 3, showing Hudson County at the present time; and No. 4, showing the greater part of Bergen County as erected in 1709-10, and, as far as possible, the locations of the original land patents. In the text these are called and on map No. 4 are numbered "Sections." The outlines of these "sections" are, of course, only approximately correct, but they will be found useful to the reader in locating any particular settler. I have also set forth the counties into townships, boroughs, and other municipalities, and, lastly, I have given in tabulated form the surname of each of the principal settlers, his nationality, and, as far as possible, the name and domicile of his European ancestor.
FORMATION OF BERGEN AND HUDSON COUNTIES
The first municipality within the limits of New Jersey was erected by order of Director General Stuyvesant and his council on Septem