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The Schoonmakers of New Amsterdam


"Although he was born in the Hanseatic town of Hamburg in Germany, Hendrick Jochemsen Schoonmaker was undoubtedly from the family of a Dutch merchant who had taken up residence in that great port city. His father's name was Jochim, hence his middle name, according to Dutch custom, was son of Jochim/Jochem."  It is not known exactly when Hendrick Jochemsen (sometimes shown as Jochemsz) arrived in America, but he is acknowledged to be one of the first settlers or planters in the Dutch area of New York (Hamburg Archives - Dec. 29, 1927).  He also kept an inn.  Hendrick married in 1653, when he was twenty-nine years of age, to Elsie Janse who had been born in Breestede, Schlewswig, Denmark (Court Minutes for Oct. 14, 1653).  She was the widow of Adriaen Pieterse Van Alcmaer."  (Mary Blair Immel)

The History of Ulster County states that Hendrick arrived previous to 1655 to serve in the military defense of New Amsterdam.  "The inhabitants of Esopus celebrated the New Year, 1661, by firing guns and a muster of the militia . . . . There were at the time fifteen farmers in the settlement, who cultivated about five hundred morgan, or eleven hundred acres of land.  There were also some twenty families of laborers and artisans.  As land was then cultivated, it took many hands to work a farm of fifty acres.  This drew around the boors' hearths young men, bachelors without a home, adventurers who had nothing to lose and all to gain.  The Dutch military service contained much of this element, who, when they wished, left it; for Stuyvesant was very willing they should take this course, for the good of the colony.  In this manner, Jonas Rantzou, Jacob Burbans, Jan Laquire, Jacob Van Campen, Peter Lomberts, Micheal Verre, Wallerand Duimont, Jochem Hendrix (Schoonmaker), Han Van Amesfort, Gerret Van Campen, Jan Vandebush and others located there."

The family of Cornelis Barensten Slecht was destined to become allied by marriage to the Schoonmakers.  "Slecht translated is plain, but although hot-headed, quick, and resentful, Cornelius Barensten Slecht, though troublesome to the civil authorites, was not a bad man.  He emigrated from Woerden province of South Holland, and settled in Esopus quite early.  His wife, Trynje Tysen Bos, was midwife there in 1655, duly licensed by Stuyvesant.  He occupied an honorable position in society until his death in 1671.  His children were two sons: Hendrick, married in 1666; Alstjen Barents Mattys married Maria Crispell - and three daughters: Jacomyntje married first, J. B. Kunst; second, Garret Foecken; and third, Jan Eltinge; Anneje married Cornelius Hoogenboon; and Petronella, was the wife of Jochem Hendrix Schoonmaker, the Progenitor of the Rochester family of that name."  (The History of Ulster County, Chapter XII)

The little settlement at "Esopus" (this was the name of a region and the Indians who inhabited the region) was named Wiltwyck in 1661 by Governor Peter Stuyvesant,   "Governor and Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant, commissioned and authorized in the control of all affairs falling to the public good of all the country of New Netherland, and all by power and permission of the Honorable Lords, the Directors of the Privileged West India Company; therefore, the aforesaid, valiant Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant, observing the situation and condition of the place named "Esopus" now inhabited six or seven years, and pleased thereat, hath in consideration of the state of population of the same, created this place into a village, and honored it with the name Wiltwyck, by which it shall be called from now henceforth."  Wiltwyck, when translated from Dutch, could mean Indian Retreat, Indian Refuge, or Indian Village.  It seems that this small settlement of Dutch colonists was within, or adjacent to, an Esopus Indian village.

Wiltwyck's governmental structures were established: a charter was written; a Justices' Court was established; a sheriff was appointed; Schepens were named; and Court at Wiltwyck held its first session on July 12, 1661.  Jochem Hendrix Schoonmaker was a schepen, or justice, at Wiltwyck.

In 1660, there had been an Indian war in and around the place called Esopus.  Although a treaty of peace had been concluded with the Esopus Indians at the close of the first Esopus Indian war . . . . the Indians were still discontented.  They had objected strenuously to the bulding of a fort at the new village . . ."  There were complaints between the Mohawk and the Esopus Indians.  However, the policy of the New Holland goverment instructed that affairs with the Indians should be adjudicated within the established court of the colonists.  About this Indian dispute, the Court at Wyltwick would not rule.  In addition, at Wiltwyck, rum flowed freely to the Indians as well as to the settlers.  By 1662, alarmed that war with the Indians was imminent, the people of Wyltwick asked for a gaurd.  A militia was organized and Hendrick Jochems was appointed lieutenant.

On Thursday, the 7th of June 1663, an atmosphere of peace permeated the village.  However, while the men were in the fields between eleven and twelve o'clock in the morning, an attack began.  There are various tales about the fight that day.  Cornelis Slecht is reported to have been one of few men within the stockade at the beginning of the attack.  He is said to have fought bravely while the other men, who had been working in the field, ran to assist.  Lieutenant Schoonmaker was among those running to the rescue.  He is reported to have been wounded twice, but fought on to defend the fort.  Though homes were burned and prisoners taken at Wiltwyck, the names of the Slecht and Schoonmaker families are not among them.  By the time of this attack, there were two villages at Esopus, Wiltwyck and Hurley. Hurley was destroyed except for an "unfinished barn and a rick". While Wiltwyck was damaged, it was not completely devastated because, though well planned, the attack did not accomplish attacking both villages simultaneously.  A treaty of peace was forged with the Indians in 1664.

The Dutch continued to prosper developing schools, churches, roads, etc.  In March 1664, the first popular election was held in Ulster County, New Netherland. Cornelis Berentsen Slecht and Hendrick Jochems Schoonmaker were among the first voters.  But, the day of the Dutch was near its end.

On September 8, 1664, Petrus Stuyvesant surrendered the region to the English crown.  When the English took possession of Esopus, its inhabitants numbered about two-hundred.  Time passed, but the area slowly was changing, On August 25, 1669, Wyltwick became Kingston after 'Kingston Lisle' in England.  Over the next five years or so, Kingston passed back to the Dutch and then back to the English again.  In January, 1675, the burghers of Kingston took the oath of allegiance, and George Hall was made lieutenant of militia; Hendrix Jochems, ensign; and Mattys Mattysen, Sr., sergeant.  According to the "Names of Male Inhabitants of Ulster County in 1689, Hendrix Jochems was no longer a resident of Kingston.  It is believed that he was dead by this time.  However, the name of his son, Jochijam (sic)Hendricks, Cornelius Sweitts (sic), and Thomas Quick are listed among the male inhabitants of Ulster County, New York.  It took over a century to anglicize the Dutch, but slowly their names changed and their customs only contained remnants of their Dutch heritage.

On August 31, 1679 in Esopus, Jochem Hendricks Schoonmaker, son of Hendricks Jochemsen Schoonmaker, married Petronella Slecht, daughter of Cornelius Slecht.  According to the records of the Old Dutch Church at Esopus, this Schoonmaker/Slecht marriage was blessed with five children - two sons and three daughters:  Cornelus B. Schoonmaker, about 1682; Hendrick Schoonmaker, August 7, 1683; Tryntje Schoonmaker, about 1684; Elsie Schoonmaker about 1685; and Jacomyntje Schoonmaker about 1687.

On November 25, 1704, Hendrick Schoonmaker married Heyltje Gerritse Decker at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, N.Y.  Their children included: Petronella Schoonmaker, born March 17, 1705; Gerrit Schoonmaker, born 1708; Henry Schoonmaker, born 1709; Helen Schoonmaker, born 1711; Jochem Schoonmaker, born 1712; Sarah Schoonmaker, born 1716; Benjamin, born 1719.  This family began to change their name to Shoemaker.

About 1732, Hendrick Schoonmaker went down the Old Mine Road along with Tom Quick, and purchased land along the Delaware River in the Minisink area.

The Old Mine Road was built by the Dutch.  It was about 100 miles in length and went from the Minisinks to Esopus.  Minerals had been discovered in the Minisink which is the area along the Delaware River in western New York and eastern Pennsylvania near what is now New Jersey.  A Dutch settlement was established at Minisink long before the Penns.  When the Penns sent someone to investigate the settlement, it was reported that, by the condition of the orchards and buildings, the area appeared to have been settled for about 100 years.

Dr. Joseph Wheeler came to the colonies and settled in Kingston sometime before 1724.  Again records of the Old Dutch Church bear this out: Marriage #527 "Joseph Wheeler, j.m. (young man - means never been married) born in Oud England (Old England) in Walsland (Wales) and Pieternelle Schoonmaker, j.d. (young woman - means never been married) born in Rayester - (Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church, Kingston, Ulster County, NY 1660-1809 Formerly known as Wiltwyck, and often called Esopus, pg 545).  Joseph and Petronella Wheeler moved their family to the Minisink area along with the Schoonmakers.

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Copyright  October 2000  Evelyn Smith