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Schermerhorn Genealogy and Family Chronicles:
Chapter I: General History (Part 1 of 2)

Go back to: Introduction | ahead to: part 2 of Chapter 1

[This information is from pp. 9-27 of Schermerhorn Genealogy and Family Chronicles by Richard Schermerhorn, Jr. (New York: Tobias A. Wright, Publisher, 1914).]

The Village of Schermerhorn, Holland

The very earliest records of the Schermerhorn family were obtained at the village of Schermerhorn, Holland. Owing to the destruction of a greater portion of the village in 1699 by fire, and the burning of the parsonage where the village archives were kept, the latter were lost, and thus opportunity for thorough historical research in connection with the village of Schermerhorn has been impossible.

[View of Schermerhorn Village: original size (10K) | 16x enlarged (79K)]

Schermerhorn is the most important town in the north part of the province of North Friesland, Holland. Geographically it is situated on the north east corner of what was known as Schermer Eiland*, from which position it derived its name, "Horn," "Hock," meaning peak or point. The level of that part of the country on which the village was built, is rather high, surrounded as it is by the two immense "polders" (areas of reclaimed land, formerly seas), called the "Schermer" and the "Beemster." The village and the church tower are thus seen from a great distance.

In former days there was only a chapel at Schermerhorn. After the decay of the church of North Schermer, a handsome church was built in Schermerhorn, which was in every respect proportionate to the numbers and wealth of the inhabitants. For Schermerhorn was, at that time, (1634), a very prosperous place, the number of its inhabitants being estimated at 1500. Among these were twenty-five captains of large coasting vessels, which traded in the Baltic, France, Spain and in other countries. Little by little the number has diminished and finally they (the sea captains) have all disappeared. This has impoverished the village a great deal. Another cause for its decline was a fire, which, in 1699, burned down sixty-three houses in three days' time. The village, however, has still retained some life and prosperity, owing to the passing to Alkmaar and back. All shipments from and to the "Beemster" are made through Schermerhorn, from which a wide canal runs through the Schermer to Alkmaar.

* Schermer, properly called Schermermeer, and usually called Schermeer, is a very considerable enclosure (by dykes), in that part of North Holland which is called the Bailiwick of the Niewburgen. It is bounded on the north by the Meer-Huigemoard; on the west by the district of Alkmaar. Until 1631, Schermermeer was, like many other sections of this part of Holland, which are now very fertile, an extensive sheet of water.

Schermer Groot (Great), also called South Schermer, and Schermer Noord (North), are both in the same Bailiwick, but outside of the Schemermeer.

Schermer Eiland (Island) is the name given to a certain district in which are situated, among others, the two well-known villages, Ryp and Graft. When the three lakes (now drained), the Beemster, Schermer, and Stermeer, were still large sheets of water, this was dry land. They gave it the name of Island, because it could only be reached in boats. Now, although the lakes have been drained, it has still kept the old name.

Schermer Eiland is bounded on the north and west by the Schermer; on the east by the Beemster, and on the south by the Stermeer.

Interpretation of the Name of Schermerhorn

The old Saxon word Skir became changed in the Middle Dutch period of the language, to Scher, and means clear, pure, bright. The designation Scher Mer was probably given to the lake from the clearness, purity, or brightness of its waters. The word Meer, or Mer, means lake, and the word Hooren, a point, hook, or cape of land. The name Scher-Mer-Horn is simply a compound of these three words, and, like the majority of Holland family names, is of geographical origin. In the early Dutch colonial records, the name appears as Schermerhooren, and was so written by the first generation in this country. The proper pronunciation of the name is Scare-Mer-Horn. (Louis Y. Schermerhorn.)

Scare-mer-horn is the nearest proper Dutch pronunciation of the name that an American could approach. The English pronounciation of the name is Sker-mer-horn. Only if the name were German, instead of Dutch, would it be pronounced Sher-mer-horn. In pronouncing Scare-mer-horn, it is natural to somewhat slur over the first syllable, and Skem-erhorn or Skam-erhorn results. The pronunciation of the name varies in the many localities where it is encountered, many Schermerhorn families themselves using an entirely incorrect pronunciation.

There have been other versions of the origin of the family name of Schermerhorn. One which seemed quite plausible was to the effect that the name was a compound formed as a result of the marriage of a member of the De Schermer family with one of the family of Hoorn, both of which families are old Holland families and are said to be descended from the nobility. This theory was advanced by the Rev. John F. Schermerhorn, who prepared a Schermerhorn Genealogy in the 1840's, and he possibly obtained it from data noticed in the Herald's office in Paris, France. It is thought that John Jones Schermerhorn, who lived for some time in Paris, was in some way responsible for this statement on record. It was determined, however, to be entirely incorrect during the course of the researches of William C. Schermerhorn and Louis Y. Schermerhorn. The following is quoted from a letter of Dr. Wertheim, who conducted the search for W. C. Schermerhorn. "Let me tell you that the third account (as above) is entirely erroneous, and of no value at all. Hoorn is an extinguished family, by death, and has never been related in any way with the Antwerp family of Schermer."

The Old Church in Schermerhorn

[View of the Old Church: original size (12K) | 16x enlarged (93K)]

[View of Interior of Old Church: original size (27K) | 4x enlarged (84K)]

The old church in the Village of Schermerhorn, is the most important object of interest in the community. Though not very old, comparatively speaking, it is from an architectural point of view one of the most remarkable monuments in the Netherlands. It was built by a Protestant congregation about 1634, in a pure Gothic style, and such being the case, both of the theories that the Gothic style never was followed on the continent in the 17th century, and that it was to be considered as a style exclusively in possession of the Roman Catholics, are entirely condemned.

The church is of brick and terminates on the east in a semidecagon. On the south side of the choir is a lobby. An elegant weathervane, in the shape of a ship placed upon a finely forged cross, surmounts the choir-roof. The outside stone supports are very plain. On the west side, is a brick steeple with wooden point, partly built into the church. The steeple is ornamented by niches and crowned by a railing in Renaissance style.

On a stone above the steeple door one reads: "In the year 1624, the 12th of June, the corner stone of this church was laid." In the steeple are hung two bells. Lower stands the coat of arms of Schermerhorn and in a rosette:

"I call all men to God's knowledge,
I divide day and night properly,
I thunder joy with my ringing,
In sadness I cry plaintively."

The choir of the church has no wings, but the body has. Between the wings are circular columns, the lower part of which, the octagon bases, gives a suggestion of the fashion of the middle ages.

The wooden vaults are painted in a peculiar manner. In the middle wing, one perceives blue ornaments on a white ground; in the choir polygon are also seen flowers and fruits. In the side wings the vaults are painted with a representation of vines, running upward along the ribs, and between these have been placed stemmed flowers according to the monogram M. F. and the year 1701. The original painter seems to have taken his inspiration from mediaeval examples. Another monogram shows H. H. H. T., and on one of the beams of the vault appears the coat of arms of Edam, on an oval shield, and the inscription: Jan Janz Vyselaer van Edam, 1634, and C. W. G., 1767, L. C. W. H.

The pulpit is of oak, has Corinthian columns and bears a 17th century character. The baptisimal pews, and five pews around the column, seem to date from the same period as the pulpit.

Against the eastern steeple wall we observe an oaken portico, in the style of 1630, with Doric pillars. In the front the shepherds of Bethlehem have been painted. In the frieze we read:

"Shepherds, fear not, for behold, I bring
You good tidings of great joy, which shall be to
All people, for unto you a Saviour is born."

Above this is hung a board, upon which two churches have been painted, and a scene representing the laying out of a building and the driving of piles; also the following lines:

"The blind Papists proclaim unjustly
That they are, of all God's temples,
The founders, but, behold, this church
Impedes their glory somewhat, and also praises the work
Of the Reformed, for note
What has been, under the Popes, accomplished
On this spot. It is long ago that

ANNO 1636.

Over this board is a clock dial of 1636, which also shows the date, and the position of the heavenly bodies. Next to the steeple, to the north, an overhanging room has been built, on which we read:

"I care for the community, for the Church, and Christ's love."

On a board on the east side of the northern wing, appear the ten commandments, and the year 1622.

Several of the church windows have stained burnt panes. We will begin our description on the north side. The Western window contains at the top, a flower-vase and the fragments of rosettes, surrounded by flowers, all executed in colors. Each of these rosettes seems to have a symbolical representation. In the second rosette we read:

"As fire and the hammer knead the iron,
So works in us God's word and spirit."
— Jacob Lammerts Terbrugge.

With this is a wheel of a clock, so this Jacob Lammerts may have been the maker of the timepiece.

The next window going east, contains a fragment of a large scene, executed in colors, representing Solomon's first judgment. Only the lower part of the throne can be seen; two soldiers stand beside it, with the dead child before them. An almost naked man holds the living child by the leg, to cut it apart. A woman in blue approaches the throne. Lower are the monogram coats-of-arms of Cornelis Janszoon Meechiesz and Steengraft, Secretary, with anno 1631. In the next window we see the coat of arms of de Schermer (representing a man with a pair of wings, carrying a shield on which is painted a windmill), with two dolphins beside it and the inscription "Schermers Protector, 1636." To the left stands a fisherman, in the midst of his fishing apparatus, under which a garland of flounders is suspended; to the right stands a peasant woman, and a cow in the rear.

The fourth window contains the coat-of-arms of Holland and West Friesland, and the inscriptions, "Hollandis, 1636 and Westfriestlandia, 1636." Lower down is a rosette, surrounded by dolphins and fishes, containing three stone gates, rising from a water in which swans are swimming. (The coat of arms of the Waterschap de Uit, Waterende Sluisen in Kennemerland and Westfriesland.) Under this is a scene representing the apostles, and the legend:

"First council of the apostles."

Below, the whole is terminated by five beautiful coats of arms, like the rest, worked in colors.

The choir windows are evidently presents of different North Holland cities.

We begin at the Northwest choir window. This contains the coat of arms of Medemblick, held by two lions. Lower is a gray rosette containing a view of Medemblick.

The next window, to the East, contains the coat of arms of Edam, held by two lions, and above which a flower vase is placed.

The next window shows the coat of arms of Hoorn, with draperies over it, held by Angels, and with the figures of wealth and navigation beside it, all in colors. Below it is a frame, in which the Battle of the Zuidersee is represented.

The eastern choir window contains the coat of arms of Alkmaar in colors, held by two lions, in a rosette, in which we read "Alckmaar." Lower is a rosette with "1635."

Next is a window with the coat of arms of Enkhuisen, as mate to that of Hoorn, but this one held by the figures of peace and navigation. Below, in a rosette, is a sea with ships. The inscription reads: "The inhabitants of Enkhuisen support themselves by the herring catch. This salt herring is prepared into… (inscription destroyed)."

The last choir window contained the coat of arms of "Monnickedam, Anno, 1635."

The brass work of the church consists of three chandeliers of six candles each, with the coats of arms of Haarlem, Hoogwoud (?) and Schermerhorn, four chandeliers of four candles each, a pulpit reading desk and two wall brackets.

Two little ships hang from the vault. On the one, a deer is painted on the stern and on the other one reads:

"Jacob Simons, Anno 1663."

NOTE — The description of the old Schermerhorn church was rendered previous to the renovation of the church, which was accomplished in 1894 through the very material assistance of W. C. Schermerhorn, of New York City. The windows had been in very bad shape, from the stress of years, and in fact the entire building was pretty well delapitated. The entire restoration was carried out under the direction of the architect, L. Beizer, of Amsterdam, and the renovation of the painted windows was executed by Mr. Nicola, of Roermond. The restoration of the church was celebrated on Sunday, May 10, 1896, in the presence of his Excellency, the Commissary of the Queen in North Holland, Nobleman Schorer, Mr. Ferf, member of the 2nd Chamber, and other notable personages.

Historical Foreword

The first settlers of America may be divided into three classes, i.e., refugees from religious persecution, political exiles, and the Dutch. Many others of varying stations in life also sought harbor in this country — captive soldiers of the wars, refugees from overthrown governments and outcasts of similar situations, all of whom looked to America as a land of promise for the future and where at least a greater peace could be found. Often however, the overflow from European prisons were dumped on American shores, and fugitives from justice not too infrequently found in this country a safe refuge. Thus emigrants of good standing were not always sure of being able to choose their company, and many undesirable characters found their way to the New World and mixed with those who could not avoid receiving them. So the hopes of a greater peace were not always realized.

But the incentive of the Dutch for emigration was of a far different character from that of most of the other nationalities, and their settlements were more independent. They came of their own free will and choice, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure predominant, and they brought with them the sturdy qualifications of their race — qualifications which had safely borne them through the particularly severe struggles and trials of earlier years. They were a broad minded people in every sense of the word and enterprising to the extreme. They were industrious, honest, frugal and particularly respectable. The majority were of small means at the time of their arrival, but on the other hand, many were possessors of considerable property and even brought servants with them. Others were youths still in their teens. They were, throughout, of a superior class of people in matters of enterprise, intellect, principle and birth, and this explains the fact that their influence, predominant in the beginning, lasted so long after the rule of the land was taken from them, and even in spite of their assimilation with later emigrants of other nationalities far exceeding them in numbers. The majority of the original Dutch settlers were farmers and mechanics, but many were well educated. Public schools had existed in Holland since the middle ages, and in this respect Holland took the lead among European countries. One of the first provisions, when the West India Company was formed, was for Ministers and Schoolmasters for New Netherland. To maintain a learned clergy was regarded by the Dutch as one of the chief functions of general education. Thus with the physical vigor, inherited and maintained through their almost continual strife against the contending elements and obstacles in Holland, and a mental training resulting from strictly applied courses of education, it is no wonder that the Dutchmen came to America well endowed to struggle successfully with all of the problems they must necessarily encounter in the task of developing a new country.

To go back to the early events leading to the settlement of New York, the story begins with Hendrick Hudson, who sailed for America in 1609, his expedition being fitted out by a company of Amsterdam merchants. Though he did not discover the north-east passage to India, what he did discover proved of far greater significance. In 1612 Adrian Block and Hendrick Christiansen sailed from Holland to America, Christiansen making at least ten voyages between 1612 and 1621. It is recorded that in 1613, Sir John Argall, with a semi-piratical squadron under English colors, entered New York harbor, and found a few dwellings in the southern extremity of Manhattan Island, probably those erected by Block, while rebuilding his burned vessel. In 1614, a number of ships were sent out by a company of Holland merchants, and it is said that a fort was erected on the lower end of Manhattan Island, and the next year a fort and trading station was built on Castle Island, just below Albany. This latter was swept away in 1617 by a freshet and the site was abandoned, a new fort being erected on an eminence at the mouth of the Normanskill. In June, 1621, the West India Company was formed, with a sovereign power of trade and government in connection with all of the Dutch foreign possessions, the East Indies excluded. As a matter of fact, the first object of this company was war with Spain, and the population of the American lands was wholly incidental. But arrangements to form settlements in New Netherland were nevertheless soon projected.

There were many foreigners in Holland who had taken up their temporary residence there to escape religious persecution. The first actual emigrants to New Netherland consisted chiefly of these families, French Protestants or Walloons, from the Belgic Netherlands, who sailed from Amsterdam in March, 1623. Though most of the elders of this party were not of Dutch extraction, it might be said that the young people were, as they had mostly been born in Leyden, and elsewhere in Holland, had attended Dutch schools and were loyal to the country of their birth. Eighteen of these families settled at what is now Albany. Eight passengers were left at Manhattan Island, four with eight seamen were sent to New Jersey, where they formed a settlement, and the remainder became the earliest settlers of Connecticut. The settlers who had disembarked up the Hudson, soon built a fort, which they called Fort Orange, about four miles above an earlier fort called Fort Nassau. This settlement at Fort Orange, however, was practically abandoned in 1628, owing to the desire to concentrate all agricultural settlers at Manhattan. The real permanent settlement was made at Manhattan in 1625, and in 1626 a much larger body of emigrants joined the earliest arrivals. In this same year a return ship from New Amsterdam to Holland, carried a cargo Of 7246 beaver skins and more than 1000 peltries of other kinds, valued at 45,000 guilders (18,000 dollars, American money). This gives an idea of the extent of the New World commerce at this period, bearing in mind that the value of coin in those days was many times higher than an equal amount in these days.

In 1630, the West India Company decided upon a plan to increase the population of New Netherland, and offered certain privileges allowing private persons to take up stretches of land 16 miles long, facing a navigable river, or eight miles on either side of one, extending as far back in the country as might be. If such a person should, within four years, form a colony of at least 50 people over 15 years old, he would be patroon of a manor, having feudal rights. Several of these patroonships were awarded but only one was a success, this being the one founded by Kilaen Van Rensselaer, a wealthy diamond merchant of Amsterdam. This estate was known as the Manor of Rensselaerswyck and covered about 1000 square miles, including territory which is now the greater part of Albany and Rensselaer Counties, and a part of Columbia County. This colony from the beginning was prosperous, and it is said that this was the case on account of the high character of the people who settled there.

From this on, the settlement of New Netherland advanced substantially. In 1658, Esopus (now Kingston) was founded, and this became the next place of importance to Manhattan and Fort Orange (Albany). In 1662, Schenectady was laid out and settled, and in 1686, the Rhinebeck Precinct was purchased from the Indians and a settlement established. The towns of Brooklyn, Flatlands, Bushwick, Gravesend, Flatbush and New Utrecht on Long Island, were all settled before 1660 and Bergen and Hackensack, in New Jersey, were settled before 1670. In upper New York, Bethlehem, Hurley, New Paltz and Kinderhook were all settled before 1680, as were Tappan, Harlem, Fordham and Tarrytown nearer to New Amsterdam. Claverack, Catskill, Niskayuna, Coxsackie, Germantown, Schodack, Linlithgo, Loonenberg (Athens), Schachticoke, all Hudson River towns, were all settled at a very early date. Kinderhook, Esopus and Rhinebeck are mentioned as early as 1651, and Schodack in 1671, though it is doubtful if any permanent settlements of extent existed there at these dates.

The next land grant of importance following Van Rensselaer's, was the Manor of Livingston, which was purchased from the Indians in 1683 by Robert Livingston, and a patent was granted to him by Governor Dongan in 1684. This territory began about 5 miles below the City of Hudson, extending 12 miles down the river and back to the Massachusetts line. On this land a large number of Palatines, natives of Germany, near the Rhine, settled in 1710, on a tract known as the German Flatts. From this place they gradually scattered to other parts of the State and country, many of them locating in Schoharie County. These Palatine families frequently intermarried with the Dutch, the latter seeming to prefer them to the English.

New Netherlands changed from Dutch to English rule in 1664, when New Amsterdam surrendered to the Duke of York's emissary, Colonel Nicolls. On July 29, 1673, a Dutch fleet appeared in the Harbor and regained the City for Holland, but on Feb. 9, 1674, when a treaty of peace was signed between England and Holland, who had been at war for several years, New Netherland was ceded to England as one of the provisions of the treaty, though the final surrender was not completed until November 20th. It was not that Holland did not realize the value of her American possessions at this time, in giving up this territory so readily, but circumstances actually forced this move, England at this time having the balance of power. In spite of the change of dominion, the land tenures remained practically the same, and new patents were issued by the English to the respective proprietors for the lands they had held under the Dutch.

Emigration from Holland to America practically ceased in 1664, and thereafter New York changed from a distinctly Dutch town to one of a more cosmopolitan nature, with the English influence in the ascendency. But with the other Hudson River towns, the change was much more gradual, most of them retaining their Dutch characteristics until the beginning of the 19th century. Schenectady, indeed, was one of the last to part with its early distinctive features, and until as late as 1850 and even later, when the large manufacturing industries began to add to its population, it was known as "The Old Dutch Town." Albany adhered to its Holland traditions until a late day and Kingston still retains a superabundance of Dutch names among its residents, Kinderhook, Claverack, Schodack, Coxsackie, Catskill and other sleepy little villages, set apart from the main highways of state traffic and commerce, also continue to bear the decided impress of Dutch inheritance.

On account of the Patroonship of the Van Rensselaers and the extensive rights granted to the Livingstons of Livingston Manor, the upper part of New York State was largely under the control of a few individual landowners until a late date. Schenectady was settled as a free village in 1662, but after the Dongan Patent of 1684, there also a monopoly of land proprietorship existed, and the direction of affairs was almost wholly in the hands of Ryer Schermerhorn until his death in 1719, and even after this a long drawn out litigation resulting from the contest over the Schermerhorn rights, led to much complication in land titles. The Schenectady Patent embraced about 80,000 acres. The lands in Livingston Manor and Rensselaerwyck were allotted to the various settlers subject to what were practically perpetual leases, with a nominal rental in farm produce, and a forfeiture of 1/4 of the selling price when disposed of. This situation led to what was known as the Anti-Rent War of 1840, at which time the various land-owners undertook to dispute the titles of the Patroons. When this controversy was finally adjusted, the privileges of the Patroons had practically ceased.

The Vanderheydens of Troy, also became wealthy landowners in the latter part of the 18th century, when they found themselves in possession of a large territory of valuable land about 5 miles above Albany, on the east bank of the Hudson, extending back for several miles. For a time they exercised practically the same rights as the Van Rensselaers and Livingstons and were called the Patroons of Troy. But they were gradually induced to dispose of their property and their monopoly ceased.

This, in brief, is a general account of the early Dutch settlements in the various localities of New York State. The Knickerbocker names are fast disappearing as they have become anglicized, submerged and lost among those of the countless hordes of newcomers and the descendants of early settlers of other nationalities. But the distinctive qualities of the Dutch, inherited by successive generations of descendants, are still in evidence, even though only occasionally encountered. The patriotism of the Dutch has always been ardent, and though they accepted the English rule because there was no chance of deliverance, and though they fought bravely on the English side through the early Colonial Wars, because the battles were wholly in their own interests, it was during the War of the Revolution that their patriotism and spirit of independence were fully illustrated. Many historians do not give the Dutch Americans proper credit for the part they played during the Revolution. The early Muster Rolls and other Revolutionary documents of New York State strongly substantiate the statement that the Dutch acted in no mean capacity as Revolutionary soldiers and adherents to the American Cause.

The regard for family and church were strong features of our early Dutch ancestors. The home life was quite simple, and unaffected, but most cheerful and quite comfortable as opportunities for nicer living progressed. Duty to the church was considered above almost everything. A trip of twenty miles to Sunday services was not an unusual occurrence in the pioneer days, and besides the religious instruction they afforded, these functions were important even then as now, for the opportunities they granted for social intercourse. The church records of baptisms and marriages on the whole were faithfully kept and to these musty manuscripts we are indebted for the connecting of many a link of past kinship. In certain cases the very early records of some of the first churches in the colony have been lost or destroyed, thus unfortunately embarassing many searches for genealogical data. This is the case of the first records of the churches at New York, Albany, Schenectady, Schodack, and the Dutch villages of Long Island, as well as those on the Delaware; but as a whole, the early Dutch Church records are unusually complete, considering the many vicissitudes through which the communities passed.

The basis of the Dutch education was the learning of a trade and each young man was supposed to have some thorough education in at least one particular line, though he did not always pursue the vocation in which he had become accomplished. The first business of importance was naturally the fur trade and he who was not a fur-trader, was a farmer, excepting in the fewer instances, where individuals found it profitable to become a freighter, run a saw or grist mill or keep a shop for blacksmithing, shoemaking, selling merchandise, or following similar vocations catering to the requirements of the community. The blacksmith was often a person of considerable importance, as he was responsible for all the iron work of the district, from the elaborately worked numerals on the front doors to the numerous pots and kettles which graced the family hearth. Shoemaking would be conducted by many individuals both as a means of providing for their own families and for working to advantage during the winter months when farm work was at a standstill. Breweries were not infrequent in olden times, and those who maintained them were quite of the substantial class, for beer was the common beverage in those days, the Dutch looking askance at water as possibly injurious to the health. Most of the Dutch settlers were proficient in carpentry, as it was quite necessary that they should be, in order to rear their homesteads and develop their properties. When taking up a new property the first thing to do was to build a saw-mill, if practicable, on a nearby stream, and apply this as means for preparing the timber cut from the land for commercial use. While the primitive type of house was the log cabin, this was not popular among the Dutch, who preferred the house of brick. The latter would generally consist of two brick walls, gabled and crow stepped, with the long sides of hewn timber. The farmers in those days were the men of means, and working on virgin soil, they lived particularly well and with a fair amount of comfort and luxury for the times.

Slavery was in force in the early times, as far back, at least, as 1628, and continued until 1824, when all slaves in New York were emancipated. But the slaves were well taken care of, and, comparatively speaking, lived as well as their masters. Their children were baptized in the churches just the same as those of the white people, and they were brought up in good habits and with good care. Large numbers of slaves, naturally, it was not the habit to maintain. Ten to fifteen would be held by the wealthy landowners, though the Livingstons held three or four times as many. They were always allowed to be present at weddings and festivities of like character. They were greatly attached to the families they served, as a rule, and took great pride in their names, which they adopted from their masters, and sometimes, as may be imagined these were of much length. It is thus not unusual, although often incongruous, to encounter a coal black negro with a Dutch name as long and as harsh sounding as could be imagined. The author's brother met one quite by accident in an obscure locality in Brooklyn. "Yes sah, my name is Schermerhorn and I'm proud to say so. Col. Cornelius Schermerhorn of Schodack was my daddy's massa, sah. He was a great man, Col. Cornelius."

The principal holidays of the olden time were Kerstyd (Christmas), Nieuwjaarsdag (New Year's), Paaschdag (Easter), Pinxsterfeest (Whitsuntide), Kermis and others. The greatest one of these was New Year's. This was spent, as in recent years, in making calls, and every house was open and sideboards and tables were loaded with cakes and wines. The following is quoted from an address (in 1888) of Judge John Fitch, formerly of Schodack.

"The Hollanders, in those early days of the settlement of the valley of the Hudson, did not have so many enjoyments. Christmas was a day of rest, as well of some hilarity. It was the custom of the country for some one of the neighbors to make pitchers of hot rum (in the later days called spiced rum), of which the visitors partook freely. The well-to-do families in those days had pitchers that would hold three gallons, which were used to hold milk, used with mush, for the evening meal called supper. Sometimes they used cracked corn called 'samp' and milk, and cold meats and vegetables. Cabbage was used to a very great extent. New Year's was very similar, roast goose then being the universal dish, accompanied with the neighborly drink of hot rum. 'Paas' was a day celebrated by eating hard eggs and drinking egg cider. The latter was made of sugar, eggs and cider, thoroughly beaten up together. At 'Pingster,' the young people met together and gathered large quantities of a delicious fruit called 'Pingster' apples, also squawberries and wintergreen berries with the young growing wintergreens. These, with egg-nog, made an enjoyable feast. The 'pingster' apple is a succulent, soft pulpy fruit, growing on a bush similar in size and appearance to the lilac."

Here we may rest. It is impossible to include in small space, what might fill a large volume, but there are many works, which treat well of the habits and customs of our Dutch ancestors, and these may be readily consulted. Perhaps those who read this book and study the genealogy it contains, may feel increased interest in learning about the times of our Dutch forefathers. It is due to the latter, for what they have accomplished, that the history and traditions of the olden time be kept alive. If this work helps to maintain such a sentiment, one of the writer's objects will have been realized.

The Schermerhorn Coat-of-Arms

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The coat-of-arms of the village of Schermerhorn, Holland, is of most simple design. Upon the shield appears nothing else but a mole (sable, on a field of natural color, presumably green) in his burrow in a mound of earth. This emblem was known as early as the beginning of the 15th century, but it was not until Oct. 1, 1817, that the "High Council of the Nobility" recognized the village of Schermerhorn as the possessor of this coat-of-arms, and included it on its Register. The origin of this use of the mole as an insignia of the village is interesting. It seems that early in the 16th century or late in the 15th century, before the Beemster and Schermeer lakes had been pumped dry, and when the inhabitants of Schermerhorn lived mainly by fishing, occasional disputes arose, presumably in connection with fishing rights, between the people of Schermerhorn village and those of villages situated on the other sides of the Lakes. Often these difficulties were amicably adjusted, but the townspeople of Schermerhorn were never satisfied until they had investigated every conceivably phase of the question, "burrowing" into matters connected with the arguments, sometimes long after the whole question had apparently been settled. On account of this characteristic, the term "wroeter" (burrower) was given to them by their neighbors, and they seemed not ill-pleased with it, as it served to indicate that they were not the kind of people who could easily be taken advantage of, or would forsake antagonizing any condition which might seem to bring injustice upon them. Thus for an emblem they took for themselves the representation of that very well known little "burrowing" animal, the mole. A tablet inserted in the front wall of the church building, when it was erected in 1634, showed the mole as the Coat-of-Arms of Schermerhorn.

The coat-of-arms of the Schermerhorn family, as illustrated in this book, was obtained, it is said, by Capt. Joseph Marschalk (a Schermerhorn connection) in 1800, from a painted window of the church in the village of Schermerhorn, Holland. The following description of this coat-of-arms is contained in "Armorial General," par J. B. Rietsap, 1887:

"SCHERMERHORN: D'argent (ou d'azur) a un chene au naturel, pose sur un tertre de sinople, et une taupe de sable au pied de l'arbre. Casque Couronne, cimier le chene. Devise: Industria semper crescam. Translation. Silver (or azure) to an oak natural, placed on a mound, 'sinople;' and a mole, sable, placed at the foot of the tree. Crowned helmet above the oak.

Motto: 'By industry will I succeed' (increase, accumulate)."

This is the coat-of-arms that has been used by the Schermerhorn family as far back as the earliest recollection of any person living to-day, or as far back as any manuscripts or family papers will show. It has been used in various forms, but the illustration given has been the one to predominate, and is assumed to be the most nearly correct.

Another coat-of-arms has been used for a long period by some branches of the family, principally the Schenectady branch. This is a replica of a seal found on an old deed of land, in Albany, conveyed in 1700 by the Schermerhorn estate as a gift to the Dutch Church. The seal represents a bird with her wings outspread in the attitude of protecting her young and a carrier pigeon perched on a branch. Another seal is found on the will of Ryer Jacobse Schermerhorn, dated Apr. 5, 1717. The seal was evidently very finely engraved and consists of an armed griffin above a chevron carrying three birds; below the chevron are raised bosses. The crest of the seal is also an armed griffin. A thorough search was made among all the Herald's Colleges in an endeavor to trace the origin of this insignia, but no record or mention of it was found in any place.

Another distinctive seal is found on the will of Ryer Schermerhorn of Rhinebeck, made in 1759. This is a simple design, consisting of what appears to be a horse (a unicorn, perhaps) in the act of rising from the ground, under a tree with an outspreading limb. It may be intended to represent a griffin instead of a horse.

What connection any of these seals have to a coat-of-arms of the Schermerhorn family is a matter of conjecture, pure and simple.

Notes Relative to the Schermerhorn Family and Its Coat-of-Arms

Extract from a work entitled "Waterson's Antiqua Manhattanica," London, 1809 — Supplement, Page 134.

"In 1661, Petrus Schermerhorne, Burgher of Nieuw Amsterdam, having faithfully performed various services for the Governor (Stuyvesant), was upon his petition, rewarded for the same by a grant of all that land known as the Mole Tract, lying between what is now known as Kip's Bay and the Salt Meadows farther South — also to wear as Coat-of-Armor, in remembrance of and as an accompaniment to the grant, the following arms:

On a field of Blue, a Tree, on a Mount Vert, beneath which, a Mole, Argent, the whole in a Bordure Or.


A Tree, as in the Arms, rising out of a Ducal Coronet, Or: To this was afterwards added the Motto in the Latin tongue:

Industria semper crescam."

Petrus Schermerhorn died unmarried in 1671, having seen Nieuw Amsterdam pass from the hands of his master, Stuyvesant to the British. His property, the Mole Tract, passed into the hands of Isaac Keteltas, however, by deed, executed in his own hand, four years before his death, which occurred at (present) Rhinebeck, whither he had retired in his old age. As regards his resting place or other particulars with regard to descendents, I am uninformed, but in no work on record can I find any account of his marriage or other information."

Considerable effort was made covering a period of several years in the 1860s and 70s to trace the above "Antiqua Manhattanica," but without success.

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