Tag Archives: VanHook

Finding Deborah VanHook’s Father in New Jersey

Eighteenth century genealogy research is always exciting and challenging due to the disparity (and often lack of) public records.  I’ve always been intrigued by the David VanHook / Thankful Williams family in southern New Jersey in trying to sort out the various Van Hook families of that period.  Some believe Thankful Williams to be the daughter of John Williams and Thankful Barlow – but I’m not sure this has ever been proven. This post examines this family – and what I believe is Thankful Williams earlier marriage and first family.  (I apologize in advance if this blog entry is well known information to those that have researched these lines).

The item that started this thinking is the “well known” genealogy of Joseph Cramer (1782-1846), who married Deborah Van Hook, the daughter of David Van Hook and Thankful Williams of Port Elizabeth, NJ.  This family “fact” and connection appears widely across the Internet.  Probably the earliest source of this was on page 758 of The History of Camden County, New Jersey, published in 1886 by George Reeser Prowell.  It notes in that book that David Van Hook was the owner of a mill at Schooner Landing where he and his wife died, each at the advanced age of nearly one hundred years (seems a bit of an exaggeration).  This information is basically repeated in Genealogical and Memorial History of the State of New Jersey : a Book of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1910., Page 136.

Many genealogies show David Van Hook and Thankful Williams (no marriage record located) had 5 children – the above Deborah, followed by Sophia (1795), William (1798), Henry (1800) and Isaac (1806) – birth years approximate.  The inconsistency that triggered my curiosity on this family is that from the records Deborah appears to have a birth date much earlier than the rest of the children – probably earlier than 1780.  It would be very odd for a family to have a gap of 15 years between the first and second child.  After investigation – it seems Deborah Van Hook might have been a step-daughter of David Van Hook, and actually a daughter of Thankful Williams and a first husband.

From New Jersey marriage records we find a William Crandle (or Crandel/Crandall/Crandol) and Thankful Williams marriage dated 22 Dec 1777 (apparently in Cape May County).  John Foster was the surety on this marriage bond, and the witnesses were Daniel and Hannah Smith.

Most genealogies show a single daughter of this union – a Rachel Crandall, born about 1778 in Leesburg, Cumberland Co., NJ – died 10 Aug 1860 in Millville, NJ. Rachel married 23 Jan 1799 in Cumberland County, John Donnelly(1774-1857).  On Rachel Donnelly’s death record – it shows a “father’s name” as “Thankful Crandle”.

Now back to Deborah.  She married Joseph Cramer on 23 Apr 1805 in Port Elizabeth, NJ.  Joseph died in 1846.  So where was Deborah in the 1850 federal census?  She is found living (as Deborah Crammer) with John and Rachel Crandall Donnelly in Maurice River, Cumberland, NJ.  Deborah’s age is given as 72 at this time, and Rachel is shown age 70.

It is known that Joseph and Deborah Cramer had a daughter named “Rachel Donnelly Cramer” (1807-1857) – apparently named for the Rachel Donnelly in the above census record.  This looks like Deborah Van Hook Cramer is in all likelihood the older sister of Rachel Crandall Donnelly.  If this is the case – Deborah Van Hook Cramer is really the first child of William Crandall and Thankful Williams.  This is further supported by the information that William Crandall’s parents were William Edwin Crandall and Deborah, making this child Deborah likely named for her paternal grandmother.  It looks like after this first marriage ended (presumably William Cramer died), Thankful Williams married second David Van Hook.

Now – was there also a third daughter?  In New Jersey marriage records, a John Lee married a Jemimah Crandall 10 Nov 1798.  This Jemimah was living with (presumably) a son, also named John Lee, in 1850 and 1860 (from census records) in Maurice River, NJ.  We find a New Jersey death record dated 8 Feb 1870 for a Jemimah Lee – born in Cape May County, NJ – showing parents names of William Crandel and Thankful Crandel.  It sure looks like there were 3 daughters – Jemimah, Deborah and Rachel from this first marriage of Thankful Williams.

One further note – John Lee and Jemimah Crandall’s had a son, Edward Lee, born about 1811 in New Jersey. He was married (much later in life – probably not a first marriage) 27 Sep 1888 in Dallas County, Iowa, to a Lorisa J. Clark.  On that marriage record, Edward Lee gives his parents as John Lee and Jemima Crandle.

Therefore – I believe Thankful Williams married William Crandle (Crandall, etc.) in 1777 and had 3 daughters – Jemimah, Deborah and Rachel.  William died sometime in the 1780’s, and Thankful remarried to David VanHook – probably in the early 1790’s – and had 4 more children – Sophia, William, Henry and Isaac.  David died 8 Aug 1839 and Thankful died 19 May 1843 – both in Cumberland County, NJ.

 

 

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Finding James Henry VanHook (1838-1906)

1-James Henry VanHook 1838-1906I was recently contacted by a descendent of James Henry VanHook (1838-1906) and Zerelda Ashcraft (1837-1910) who kindly shared this photo of James and Zerelda (with one of their younger daughters) taken in Cynthiana, Kentucky (probably in the 1890’s).  I’ve long known about this man and his descendants in the Harrison County, Kentucky area  – but I never knew who his parents were.  This photo, and the personal contact from his descendants, made me want to do a little research on him to see if I could place him in the broader VanHook family tree.

From his burial record in Battle Grove Cemetery in Cynthiana, we find his birth date of 1838.  Interestingly, the record also mentions he was a veteran of the Civil War – on the Confederate side.  In both the 1880 and 1900 United States census, his birthplace is given as “Indiana”  – and his birth date in the 1900 census is shown as May 1838.  I’ve been unable to locate him in the 1850, 1860 or 1870 census.

I knew his marriage to Zerelda Ashcraft was 27 November 1856 in Nicholas County, Kentucky.  Perhaps there was additional detail in that marriage record that could help.  And so there was.  In the marriage record it shows James VanHook, resident of Harrison County, age 19, with a birthplace of “Boon Co., IN.”  That was the clue we needed.  Now the question was “was there an VanHook family in Boone County, Indiana in the 1838 time frame that would indicate parentage for James Henry VanHook?”

In checking the 1840 US census for Boone County, Indiana, we find one VanHook family there – that of Elkanah VanHook.  And the family shows a single son – under 5 years old – the right age to be James.  Elkanah was one of 11 children of the famous Archelaus VanHook and Jemimah Whaley – early settlers of Harrison County, KY.  Elkanah married a Nancy Ann Blair on 10 Jan 1832 in Harrison County, then relocated to Boone County, Indiana in 1835.  That county was being subdivided and settled at the time, and was attracting people interested in cheap land (somewhat on the frontier).  Elkanah moved there (to Lebanon, IN), and stayed in the area for more than 10 years.  From that 1840 census, we know the family had 3 daughters and a son.

It is believed Nancy Ann Blair, Elkanah’s wife, died in the 1840’s and we know Elkanah ended up in Cincinnati where he died in 1849.  This information comes from a biographical narrative of their oldest daughter Sarah Elwyn VanHook (see the notes section on this link).  The names and fate of the other 2 daughters is unknown.

It’s always wonderful to make another family connection – both personally as well as tying the lines together.  Regarding James’ Civil War activity for the Confederacy – he was a corporal in Company A of the 1st Battalion Kentucky Mounted Rifles.  This group was mustered in Prestonburg, KY and fought from 1861 to 1863 in Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. Being a border state, Kentucky contributed soldiers to both sides of that war.

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Ellison E. WIlliams (1770-1850)

Lyman Copeland Draper was a nineteenth century historian who traveled extensively and interviewed many of the people involved in the settlement of the trans-Appalachian “west” of the late 1700’s.  His work remains today in almost 500 volumes of interviews, transcripts, etc. at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

In “Series S” of those notes, volume 3, is found a very interesting interview with a Mr. Ellison E. Williams.  Ellison Williams was born in Surry County, North Carolina on 19 April 1770 (more commonly his birth year is given as 1766, but in the interview with Lyman Draper, Williams states he was born in 1770).  As a young boy, in October of 1779, he traveled to Kentucky with his father and mother – Peter and Margaret Williams.  Ellison’s father, Peter Williams, died in August of 1783 (probably killed by Indians).

About a year later, Samuel VanHook (1733-abt 1809) returned from captivity by the British and married the widow, Margaret Williams.  The young Ellison Williams then had a new step-father.  Ellison Williams then went on to have quite a colorful military career – primarily as a spy.  He became a friend and companion to Daniel Boone – and served as a pallbearer at Boone’s funeral.  Williams died 11 August 1850 in Kenton County, Kentucky.

The Draper interview is very interesting and paints a detailed picture of life on the frontier in Kentucky in the 1780’s.  Click here to read a transcription of that interview.  I would like to thank Harry Enoch for uncovering this critically important document.

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The First Reading Room – Part 2

In part 1 of this post, we learned how Arondt Van Hook solicited member subscribers and opened the first Reading Room in America in October of 1797.  This opening was well-received, and thereafter Arondt was known as Proprietor of the Reading Room.  In 1798, with a membership list and a captive audience, Arondt decided to expand his literary business efforts and become a publisher himself.  What better opportunity than to come out with a compelling new book and sell directly to the literate membership of the Reading Room, or to those that know of its reputation?Appeal to Impartial Posterity

In February of 1798, Arondt began advertising in the newspapers of the era (the New York Daily Advertiser, the Newark, New Jersey Centinel of Freedom, the Boston Federal Gazette, and the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States), offering a new book for pre-sale – An Appeal to Impartial Posterity, by Madame Roland.  This book, a collection of the memoirs of Marie-Jeanne Philippon Roland, the wife of the minister of the interior of France’s King Louis XVI, may not sound exciting to modern ears.  However, with the ongoing French Revolution generating intense debate (and outright brawls) in the United States, this book was a hot topic.  Madame Roland was a forward-thinking supporter of the Revolution, and spent her last months in prison in Paris, and died November 8, 1793 by way of the guillotine (as her husband died a week later).

The citizens of the United States were keenly interested in thinking coming out of France at this time.  In 1798, the United States first funded a direct tax (based on real estate and slave ownership) mainly due to the threat of an upcoming war with France.  An Appeal to Impartial Posterity was printed in the late spring of 1798 by Robert Wilson for Arondt Van Hook.  It was published in 2 volumes, with buyers paying $1.50 for each volume.  Apparently it sold well.

It looked as if Arondt had found an exciting and profitable new career.  Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to pursue and enjoy it.  On Thursday, September 13th of 1798, the following notice appeared in the Daily Advertiser“On Monday evening, in the 49th year of his age, after a fevere and painful illness, which he bore with great fortitude, Mr. Arondt Van Hook. He was an affectionate husband, a tender parent, a true friend to his country, and to the poor a generous friend.”   Throughout the 1790’s, New York was suffering from periodic epidemics of yellow fever. The virus was spread by an urban dwelling mosquito (of course, no one at the time knew actually what caused the disease), and the symptoms were horrible and painful.  Arondt’s obituary was also mentioned in other United States newspapers.

What happened to the Reading Room?  Advertisements appeared in the local newspapers in December of 1798 that a new Reading Room would be opening.  Then the Farmers’ Weekly Museum (a newspaper published in Walpole, NH), in its January 7, 1799 issue on page 3 covering “incidents at home” stated: “The late… and enterprizing Mr. Van Hook of Newyork, was the first, we believe, who established a Reading Room in America.  It was sufficiently encouraged during his lifetime, but, upon his unfortunate decease, it was closed, to the regret of lovers of literature. It is a pleasing and honorable circumstance to the inhabitants of Newyork, that an establishment, so useful, is revived.  Mr. G. Painter has issued his prospectus of an arrangement of this kind, and proposes, on the first of the present year, to greet the reader with every variety of literary and miscellaneous information…”   George Painter, a recent immigrant from London, opened the second Reading Room at 146 Water Street, across the street from Arondt’s closed establishment.  His subscription and visiting prices were 30%-50% higher than Arondt’s.

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The Van Hook “Coat of Arms”

Recently a number of people have asked me about the family “Coat of Arms” – either wanting history on it, how to validate it, or how to get a copy to hang on their wall.  Back in the 1960’s my father got a “VanHook Coat of Arms” color print from somewhere – and it is still hanging on my Mom’s wall in Kentucky.  More recently – thanks to the power of the Internet – the family “Coat of Arms” is making a bit of a comeback.  However, I’m quite skeptical of the current public information on this topic.  I find the historical explanations problematic, and even the idea that we know what it looked like a stretch.  In this blog post I decided to examine the current thinking.  The popular depiction (recently created) and narrative goes like this:

Coat of ArmsThe Van Hook coat of arms has a long history. Riestraps (sic) lists the family as “of Courlande, originally of Holland.” Courlande was a local district in Holland. This is where the family obtained the arms which means basically that the family owned land there in 1516. We know from James M. Van Hook of Charleston, Indiana (1899) that the motto was “Te Deus Defendet.” The arms show up again on July 4, 1750 when it was reconfirmed to the Van Hook family. Ten years later a “Coat of Arms” was mentioned in the inventory of Aaron Van Hook (d. 1760 in North Carolina).

The representation of the arms can change from generation to generation as long as it has the essential elements. The armorial representation found in Aaron’s inventory had the name “van Hoecks.” This probably means that Arent Isaacszen Van Hoeck brought it over from Europe. From records in the Hague in Holland, we know that Arent was born in Hooksiel in the county of Oldenburg (in modern Germany) in 1623, and this would account for the “s” in the Dutch transliteration of the surname on the arms. Added to this is the fact that after 1664, when the British took over the Dutch Colony, “Van Hoeck” quickly became “Van Hook.”

So, Arent would have given the arms to his son Lawrence Van Hook, of New York and New Jersey. Before he died in 1724, he would have given or willed the arms to his son Aaron. At this point some other family may have disputed the arms forcing each to go to court. The arms were reconfirmed (as previously stated) on July 4, 1750. Aaron moved to North Carolina in 1755 and died in 1760. The Coat of Arms was next given to Lloyd Van Hook who died in 1815 in New Jersey leaving it to his son Lawrence who died in 1847. His son, Marcus Aurelius Van Hook, had it when he lived in Jackson, Mississippi. It was he who corresponded with James M. Van Hook of Indiana and hence preserved the motto, date, and name on the arms in 1899. Marcus’s son, Henry Ware Van Hook, left it to his son Benjamin Ormond Van Hook. The last person ever to see the representation was Benjamin’s daughter, Alma Eugene. Supposedly, she took it to Power Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1934 where it was lost or stolen. Fortunately, she remembered enough of what it looked like for a rough sketch to be drawn. When later this was compared to Riestraps Armorial and what Bernice Keister knew, it was nearly identical.”

OK – sounds pretty impressive.  But let’s examine this description in the historical context.

  • The Van Hook coat of arms has a long history. Riestraps (sic) lists the family as “of Courlande, originally of Holland.” Courlande was a local district in Holland. This is where the family obtained the arms which means basically that the family owned land there in 1516″

“Rietstap’s” (not Riestraps) is Johannes Batista Rietstap, a Dutch genealogist and heraldist and best know for publishing his Armorial Général in 1861, containing about 50,000 blazons (formal shorthand for armorial descriptions in French) of the noble families of Europe.  In later editions, this grew to almost 130,000 blazons.  There is a blazon description in Rietstap’s that matches the Coat of Arms depiction shown above, and it does indicate the family is from “Courlande, originally from Holland.”  However, this blazon is for a family named “von Hoeck” – indicating German, rather than Dutch roots.

Additionally, Courlande (the French spelling) is not in Holland, but rather refers to the Duchy of Courland, a region in Latvia.  It’s hard to see how this is connected to our lineage.

The statement “the faArmorialmily owned land there in 1516″ came from an assumptive leap from an old myth that we descended from a “Robert/Isaac van Hoeck, who was mayor of Amsterdam in 1516″.  Totally fabricated, and totally untrue – there is no basis for this.

In fact, in the Armorial Général, there are blazon descriptions for arms for 2 other “van Hoeck’s”, 2 “van Hoecke’s”, and even a “van Hoeckelum” (partial page from the Armorial shown).  Who’s to say that they are not our family?

  •  We know from James M. Van Hook of Charleston, Indiana (1899) that the motto was “Te Deus Defendet.”

The genealogical material distributed in 1899 by James M. Van Hook is loaded with myth, errors, false assumptions and very little source material.  While some “motto” (although most Coats of Arms had no mottoes) may have been “Te Deus Defendet” (a bit of awkward Latin that might mean Defender of God, or alternately, God will Protect You), there is no real way to know. But due to the profuse errors in the 1899 document – it is hard to trust anything from that writing.

  • The arms show up again on July 4, 1750 when it was reconfirmed to the Van Hook family.

This appears to be a misinterpretation of the blazon description in the Armorial.  There is a note on the blazon that says “(An., 4 julliet 1750.)”.  “An.” is an abbreviation of “anobli” (enobled) or “anoblissement” (knighted).  This indicates when the Arms were first granted to a “noble” person – it is not a record of “reconfirmation” to anyone.

  •  Ten years later a “Coat of Arms” was mentioned in the inventory of Aaron Van Hook (d. 1760 in North Carolina).

Ah, this is one point that can be proven!  Aaron’s inventory (filed in May 1763) indicates “one Coat of Arms”.  There is no description of what this looked like (was it a document?  was it a seal?), and it is not mentioned in his will.   Also, notably, no Coat of Arms is shown in his father’s estate (Lawrence Van Hook) in New Jersey in 1724.  But this proves Aaron possessed such a thing.

  • The representation of the arms can change from generation to generation as long as it has the essential elements. The armorial representation found in Aaron’s inventory had the name “van Hoecks.” This probably means that Arent Isaacszen Van Hoeck brought it over from Europe. From records in the Hague in Holland, we know that Arent was born in Hooksiel in the county of Oldenburg (in modern Germany) in 1623, and this would account for the “s” in the Dutch transliteration of the surname on the arms. Added to this is the fact that after 1664, when the British took over the Dutch Colony, “Van Hoeck” quickly became “Van Hook.”

OK – the tradition of heraldry operated differently in different countries.  For example, in English heraldry the arms were granted to an individual – not a family.  It could pass to the oldest son of the arms owner, but that son would have to reapply to use the arms.  This was a nice way for the herald authorities to make money. Additionally, the inheritor might alter the arms in some way to make them his own.

In other countries – anyone could make up their own Coat of Arms as a personal identification.  This was the model in the Netherlands – where they were known as burgher (citizen) armsFrom 1581 to 1795, the Dutch Republic existed and there was no monarchy or herald authority to grant or register arms.  Everyone, citizens, merchants, towns, etc. just created one.  Often the family of the arms creator would then use this creation as their collective Coat of Arms.

It’s possible that the immigrant ancestor, Arent Isaaczen van Hoeck, as a citizen of Amsterdam and a master shoemaker, created a Coat of Arms as a form of identification for himself and his trade.  It’s also possible that these arms were passed down to his descendants.  We don’t know – outside of that item in the inventory of his grandson’s estate. (I don’t know what to make of the “account for the “s” in the Dutch transliteration of the surname” comment.  It makes no sense).

The real problem we have here is the name “Van Hook”.  Arent Isaaczen, for the majority of his life, thought of “Isaaczen” as his surname.  The Dutch (and northern Germans) were using patronymic surnames during this period.  Indeed, this practice continued in the Netherlands until 1811 when legal and persistent surnames were required.  In all known records of Arent in the Netherlands, his name is succeeded by “van Hooksiel”, indicating his place of origin (not his name).

When he immigrated to New Amsterdam in 1655, the van Hooksiel was discarded, and he reverted to his Isaacszen surname. Over the next few years, at least 12 references in the extant record to Arent continued that name model.  The place or trade names in New Netherland were common, but sporadically used.  Finally, on 7 Jan 1662, the name Arent Isaackx van Hoeck finally appears.  The first actual record of the “van Hoeck” name for our family.   The vast majority of the records (even after the takeover of New Netherland by the English in 1664) still refer to Arent as Isaacszen (or some variation).  There are only 6 other known records where Arent has the “van Hoeck” tacked on the end.  After English law took hold in the colonies – the model for standardized and consistent inter-generational surnames was essentially set.

So – with the name “van Hoeck” (and later Van Hook) for our family first appearing in the late 1600’s in North America – it’s a far stretch to claim the Armorial record focused on Europe even contains any meaningful information for our family.

  • So, Arent would have given the arms to his son Lawrence Van Hook, of New York and New Jersey. Before he died in 1724, he would have given or willed the arms to his son Aaron.

Maybe… but there is no mention of arms in Lawrence’s will or estate.

  • At this point some other family may have disputed the arms forcing each to go to court. The arms were reconfirmed (as previously stated) on July 4, 1750.

This is a misinterpretation of a notation in a blazon in Rietstap’s.  In 1750, Arent was busy trying to figure out how to safely get out of New Jersey (after losing his farm and being involved in many court cases).

  • Aaron moved to North Carolina in 1755 and died in 1760. The Coat of Arms was next given to Lloyd Van Hook who died in 1815 in New Jersey…

Why wouldn’t it pass directly to Aaron’s son Lawrence (1723-1800)?  Why to his grandson Lloyd?

  • leaving it to his son Lawrence who died in 1847. His son, Marcus Aurelius Van Hook, had it when he lived in Jackson, Mississippi. It was he who corresponded with James M. Van Hook of Indiana and hence preserved the motto, date, and name on the arms in 1899. Marcus’s son, Henry Ware Van Hook, left it to his son Benjamin Ormond Van Hook. The last person ever to see the representation was Benjamin’s daughter, Alma Eugene. Supposedly, she took it to Power Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1934 where it was lost or stolen. Fortunately, she remembered enough of what it looked like for a rough sketch to be drawn. When later this was compared to Riestraps Armorial and what Bernice Keister knew, it was nearly identical.”

OK – as we get closer to current times, additional details emerge.  Is it possible that the family possessed (through oldest son of oldest son) a copy of the Coat of Arms mentioned in 1763 continuously until its loss in 1934?   Of course.  Is it possible that the Coat of Arms matches the one referenced in Rietstap’s Armorial?  I highly doubt that.   Is it possible that someone in the family in the late 1800’s purchased a “Van Hook” Coat of Arms from a scam artist peddling the description in Rietstap’s?  Yes – that’s possible also – much like Coats of Arms are available today on the Internet.

Will we ever know for sure?  Unlikely – but it is an interesting story!  There is nothing to indicate our family hails from “nobility” – but if you want to point to the Coat of Arms and claim it as your own, feel free to.  But know that it is probably a harmless form of genealogical myth and entertainment.

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