Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Talking with my sister Trude the other from Amsterdam, she asked about our Dutch ancestry so I thought I would share some information about the Van Valkenburg(h) surname. Translated from the Dutch, the surname means from the castle of the falcons (The image above of the ruined castle above Valkenburg is from google earth).  Valkenburg is near Maastrict in the Limburg Province of the Netherlands. This territory has been the property of Holland, Germany, Belgium, and Spain but our ancestors identified themselves as Dutch. No direct connection has been established between our Van Valkenburg ancestors and the Dukes of Brabrant who owned and still own the castle. I expect it was the most famous area in the region of their birth so they adopted it as there surname.
    My 11th great grandfather, Andries Van Valkenburg died in Millen, Limburg Province, Netherlands in October of 1609. Today Millen is across the border in Germany. His grandson, Lambert Jochemse (means son of Jochem) Van Valkenberg married Annetie Jacobs in Amsterdam in 1642. Record of the marriage is translated on the National Association of the Van Valkenburg(h) Family's website; "Appeared (before the marriage council of Amsterdam) as before (on the 4th of January, 1642) Lambert Van Valckenburgh, from Millen, 26 years old, having no parents (anymore) living on the Boomstraat, and Annatje Jacobs, from Tonningen (Schleswig Holstein) living as before, having no parents, 20 hears old, requesting to have their three Sundays banns proclaimed, in order to have their marriage solemnized and celebrated, insofar no legal impediments occur. And after their having declared to each other in blood, which would prevent a Christian marriage, their bans have been granted." Note; this translation of the banns of marriage was furnished to The National Association of the Van Valkenburg Family in America by Dr. Kenneth L. Marsi of Long Beach, California.
    Boomstraat (meaning tree street) is in the Jordaan (or garden) area of old Amsterdam not far off the Prinsengracht (most visitors to Amsterdam know the Prinsengracht because it is the location of the Anne Frank House). Trude lived in this area when she first came to Amsterdam. She always said that she felt as if she had lived there before... perhaps that feeling was genetic memory from her 9 times great grandparents.
    I have not found an immigration record for Lambert and Annetje but it must have been before 24 Jan 1644 when Lambert van Valckenborch is cited in a declaration regarding the propert of Peter Livesen found in the Register of the Provinicial Secretary, Vol. II. According to the Van Valkenburg(h) Family Association website (, Lambert purchased a house and 25 morgens or acres from Cornelis Jacobsen Van Vreelandt on the west side of the Bowery from Canal to Broome Streets on July 29, 1644. On Febrauary 16, 1647, he acquires a grant from the Dutch West India Company to a lot south of the fort next to Jan Evertsen. He continues to prosper in New Amsterdam (now New York) and on May 15, 1649, Director General of the New Netherland Colony, Peter Stuyvesant, grants Lambert 50 acres of land embracing what today would be nine city blocks in New York City (on the west side of Lexington Avenue from 29th to 35th Streets extending west across Park and Madison Avenue beyond 5th Avenue from 31st to 33rd Street including the site of the Empire State Building. One can only imagine the comparative wealth of the Van Valkenburg's if he and his descendants had held on to the property.
    Lambert moved onto Beverwyck now Albany, New York selling his property to Claes Martensen van Rosenvelt, the ancestor of both Teddy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
   Our descent from Lambert is as follows: Cecily; daughter of Betty Lorraine Werst; daughter of Ada Grace Colby; daughter of Mamie Elizabeth Hugunin; daughter of Van Eps Hugunin; son of Richard Hugunin; son of David Huguenin and his wife Christina Van Valkenburg; daughter of Pieter Van Valkenburg, Son of Lambert Jochemse Van Valkenburg; son of Jochem Lambertse Van Valkenburg; son of Lambert Lochemse Van Valkenburg; son of Lambert Andrieskense Van Valkenburg; son of
Andries Van Valkenburg.
    By the way, the National Association of the Van Valkenburg(h) Family will be holding it 42nd annual reunion in Chicago at the Key Lime Cove Family Resort Aug. 9-11th. Next year the reunion will be in Lake Tahoe. It would be fun to meet other descendants of Lambert and company.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Womens' History Month Part II

After my earlier post this week, I finally was able to wish Aunt Helen "Happy Birthday" by phone today. Our discussion turned to family and she asked if I had made any head way on finding the parents of her great-grandfather William Henry Colby (1830 NH- 03 Jan 1911 Ivanhoe, IL - one of my most frustrating brickwalls). She spoke of her grandfather William Wallace Colby and of family who would visit and call him Uncle Wallace. The name was always interesting to her and Grampa Colby was known throughout the Newberg community as "W. W." She remembered the names of Angie and Clarence Armstrong and that Angie died around 1950 and was buried at the Friends' Cemetery in Newberg. She wondered if Angie was a Colby family connection. This information sent me off researching that side of the family again after a two year hiatus.

Angie's maiden name was McNay, also the surname of W.W. Colby's second wife. There seem to be family connections in Kansas, Iowa and Illinois. There was a good deal of inter-marrying between the Colby, Hunnewell, Edgerton, McNay, Sawyer, Lord families and I'm afraid that it will take more than a few hours to sort it all out. However, my search today did yield great information.

Some of my genealogist friends remain somewhat sceptical about, but today I really hit pay dirt there. In searching for information on Samuel Bradley Hunnewell (my 3rd great-grandfather - Cecily-Betty-Grace-William Wallace Colby-Fannie Hunnewell Colby - Samuel Bradley Hunnewell), I found the image of a letter Samuel had written to his daughter Charlotte Hunnewell Bradley that had been contributed by another member.
The letter speaks about the challenges of living in a shanty and how hot it is in Illinois but most importantly, it explains where his mother Kezia Spear Hunnewell is living and it gives her name as Kezia Sawyer and that she is living with someone name Herrick on Bay Street in Boston.
The information made it easy to trace her in the census and in the Boston City Directory where she is listed as "Kezia Sawyer, widow, House 8 Bay Street in 1853).
It also helped me find the Revolutionary War Widow's Pension Certificate below at from her second husband Paul Sawyer who had served as a private in the Massachusetts Line.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March is Women's History Month

In the process of celebrating March as Women's History Month, attention turns toward one of my ancestors who, during the Revolutionary War, helped our fledgling country. Magdalena Dommain was the wife of Christian Schelchty (here is our descent - Betty Werst daughter of Cecil Werst, son of Lewis Werst, son of George Werst and Elizabeth Puderbaugh, daughter of Jacob Puderbaugh and Magdelene Schlechty, daughter of Christian Schlechty and Barbara Biery, son of Christian Schlecty and Magdalene Dommain).
The image at left is from the Baptismal and Marriage Records, Rev. John Waldschmidt: Cocalico, Moden Krick, Weisseichen Land and Seltenreich Gemeinde Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1752 - 1786.
Published in the Pennsylvania Archives; Sixth Series, Vol. VI, Edited by Thomas Lynch Montgomery, Harrisburg, PA, 1907.
At that time, Moden Krick or Muddy Creek was a German Reformed Congregation (German in terms of language usage as Germany did not yet exist as a nation).
Magdalene's husband Christian was born in either Switzerland or Germany. There is some doubt as to Magdalene's heritage. At least one researcher has a pedigree chart handed down from a great-aunt who identifies Magdalene as an "Indian girl".
Widowed in 1777, with at least one young son to support on the farm, Magdalene was also able to meet her financial obligations and support the Revolutionary cause by paying her supply taxes in both 1779 and 1789(PA ARCH, 3 Ser., vol. 18, P 175, 236).  She is DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Ancestor #A002160.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Aunt Helen

''It perhaps wasn't the most auspicious beginning. Her father Cecil Oscar Werst had died after a brief illness the previous October and her mother Grace Colby Werst was struggling to support herself and less than two year old daughter Betty Lorraine Werst. Grace and Cecil had been living in Spokane, Washington where they had married 8 Aug 1924.  Grace and Betty went to stay with her sister Madge and husband Hal Massey at their home in Pendleton, Oregon. This became the birthplace of Helen Louise Werst.
Happy Birthday, Aunt Helen pictured above holding chicken at Pine Lawn Farm, near Newberg, Oregon with sister Betty holding chicks. Circa 1935

Saturday, March 3, 2012

William Wallace Colby

Yesterday was the anniversary of my great-grandfather William Wallace Colby's death. There is some confusion about his name. Surviving papers bearing his signature, invariably are written W. W. Colby.
His youngest daughter Grace Colby stated William Wallace on his death certificate, however found in his papers are numerous letters addressed to Uncle Wallace.  The Colby side of the family lists him as Wallace William Colby. It's most likely that his staunchly Presbyterian Scots ancestry chose William Wallace as his name.
Things looked very bleak March 2, 1936. Widowed twice, W. W. Colby had provided a home at Pine Lawn Farm outside Newberg, Oregon for his widowed daughter Grace and her two daughters Betty and Helen Werst. They raised chickens and prunes on the 11 acre farm. The prune dryer on the property had burned down the year before so now he had to pay to have his prune crop dried. It was money that he did not have. Sometime that winter, W. W. cut a leg badly and knowing there were no funds to pay for a doctor, tried to take care of it himself not even seeking Grace's assistance. When he finally showed her the leg, gangrene had set in and it was too late to save him.
My mother remembers going with her Mom to Riverside Mausoleum in Portland when W. W. was taken their for cremation. His remains were then shipped to Kansas to be interred with the remains of his first wife Mamie Hugunin Colby.
W. W. Colby had died with just $12.00 in the bank and there were no funds to provide a headstone. My mother and I visited the cemetery in Phillipsburg, Kansas in 2000 and she made arrangements then for a headstone.
Her father's death was the second time my Grandmother Grace Colby Werst Branchflower had been left mostly penniless with two young daughters to support.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mamie Lizzie II

I realized after posting on Mamie's birthday Thursday that my sister had sent me another photo of Mamie from the Hugunin-Colby family Bible. I believe the photo was taken in Phillipsburg or Kirwin, Kansas about the time of her marriage to William Wallace Colby (1884). Kirwin was a small community about 10 miles from the County seat in Phillipsburg so it may be that the photographer was located in the more populous Phillipsburg.