The Van Etten Family: A Paper Read before the Monroe County Historical Society, January 15th, 1925.
By Lila Van Etten Huddy.
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: no publisher, 1925.
Because no story is quite so thrilling, quite so romantic, quite so mysterious—really quite so exciting and entertaining, unless it begins “years and years ago,” so my story of the Van Etten family must begin. “Years and years ago,” as in truth and reality the story did.
Mark Twain has warned us not to be too eager to delve into the past or one might come to the horse thief.
We have thus far escaped finding any distinguished ancestor of that kilt, but the names are so old now that it seems quite safe, horse thief or not, as my cousin the Rev. Edwin J. Van Etten, who has given me the benefit of his travel and research, assures me.
John G. Saxe warns us in poetic meter of the same climax:
Depend upon it, my snobbish friend,
If your family line you try to ascend,
You will find it waxed at the farther end,
With some plebeian vocation,
Or worse than that, a stronger twine,
That plagued some worthy relation.
The scene of our family beginnings, in so far as they have been traced, was in a small agriculture town of Etten, Holland, eight miles from Breda, a prominent city of Holland, and the scene of much conflict between the Spanish and Dutch.
 The little town of Etten was many times destroyed and is fairly new as to historical interest.
It is in the province of Noord Brabant, the most southern of eleven Dutch provinces and entirely Flemish in its characteristics—I presume because Belgium was a part of the Netherlands until 1830.
Etten is on the railroad running from Flushing to Germany, between the important towns of Rosendale and Breda, and thirty miles from Antwerp. It reminds me of Milford, Port Jervis being Breda, and Stroudsburg being Antwerp. The roads are of rough cobble-stones, built there in Napoleon’s time, and run for miles in a straight line, shaded by Linden trees. There are many monasteries and convents there, wonderful buildings proclaiming Roman Catholicism; and many monks and nuns are seen everywhere.
If any of you are thinking of taking a trip, I am told the “Golden Crown,” at Breda, is an excellent hostelry, and best of all to my mind, there is a fellow there who speaks English, so at least one’s creature comforts would be assured. I am sure other diversions would crowd themselves upon our attention—so picturesque and quaint is this waterland and its people.
Breda is interesting to us, because it was the scene of strategy by the Van Etten ancestors.
It is strongly fortified in times of danger by submerging the surrounding marshes, making it impossible to reach the city except by water-ways. It was besieged and taken, back and forth, several times during the Wars of the Reformation between the Spanish and Dutch, and once, tradition has it, that our ancestors hid themselves in [2/3] a barge of peat and thus gained admittance to the city and threw the gates open to admit their countrymen, who rushed in and captured the city.
Valasquez, painter for the Spanish Court in 1590, used this occasion for the subject of his famous picture “The Surrender of Breda,” which hangs in the gallery at Madrid.
The records of those times were in the churches only and our earliest history of the Van Etten family begins March 23th, 1597, when Johannes Marinessen Adriense, the son of Marinus Adriense or Adriensen and Maria Hendricksen, was baptised.
Our next record shows Jacob Jensen, the son of Johannes Marinessen and Wilhelmina Johannes, was born in 1632 and baptised October 22nd, 1634, at Etten, North Brabant, Holland, and to this adventurous young man, we must make our bow, for he came to America.
Have you wondered what Jacob Jensen looked like? Well, let me draw for you a composite portrait of the Van Ettens as I have known them; and as we may assume, he looked. Tall, broad shouldered, blue eyed, auburn hair (quite red if you like, and curley); all John or Jan or Jacob Va Ettens have had auburn hair, there is one in every generation and every branch. There are descendants here who can attest to the truth of this statement. He must have been more than ordinarily of powerful build, and commanding appearance. He was pure Holland Dutch.
Now let us picture the America, as Jacob Jensen the courageous young man from Etten, found it.
Henry Hudson had sailed down from New England and entered the Hudson River in 1609, [3/4] going up to what is now Albany, and he writes that it was “As fair a land as ever was trodden by the foot of man.” A little later Hudson sailed into Delaware Bay, and thus the Dutch claimed all of this land between—calling it New Netherland.
Champlain was about this same time discovering the beautiful lake and John Smith was bartering with the Indians for Virginia.
When Jacob Jensen was born in 1632 in Holland, Peter Minuet, the first governor of New Amsterdam, had just built a fort on the present site of New York City and called it Nieu Amsterdam; now, when Jacob Jensen came to America and married Antje Adrianse, Peter Stuyvesant was governor of New Amsterdam, and this same year 1664, the Dutch New Amsterdam became English New York, and why Peter Stuyvesant quietly surrendered, no one knows. I have rector that Antje’s father was a very rich man and was appointed to high office by Governor Stuyvesant, and he was an Elder in the Old Dutch Church at Kingston.
Upon the arrival of Jacob Jensen on this content, he settled at Esopus, now Kingston, on the Hudson, and on January 4, 1664, he married Antje Adrianse or “Adriansen” as the name sometimes has been recorded. She also came from Holland and was a widow. Some of the records described her as the widow of Art Peterson Tack. By her former marriage she had a son Cornelius, born in 1660, and who was baptised at Kingston Church. This name Adriense or Adriensen, as you will notice, is the same as the first ancestor of which we have record and no doubt was of the same [4/5] family as the ancestor who played the heroic part in the barge of peat of which I have spoken. It is also to be observed that Anatje and Jacob were probably distantly related.
When the banns were published December 25th, 1664, Jacob Jensen was described as a young man “von Etten,” in Brabant. A was common in those days, he assumed the name of his birthplace, as his name, and after the publishing of the banns, he was known as Jacob Jensen von Etten. Afterwards the name became Anglicised to Van, and thus the family acquired the name Van Etten.
All of the Van Ettens in this country are descendants from Jacob Jensen van Etten. [The coat of arms or crest of the Van Etten family is that of the Jensen family, and may be found described and depicted in the New York Public Library.]
The following children were born of this marriage: Jan, born January 3rd, 1666, Sytie, Adriaen, Petronella, Pieter, Heiltje, Emanuel, Tietje, Jacobus and Gessje. These names are most interesting and uncommon, and will afford a list to be chosen from for present and future generations of the Van Etten family in America.
Their eldest son Jan continues the line of descent that I have followed. He moved to Hurley and then Rochester, Ulster County, New York, where he always lived. Jan was married to Jannetja Roosa. They had nine children and their son Jacob, in whom we are especially interested, was baptized December 25th, 1696. Jacob was the young man who came to the Delaware Valley and lived at Namanoch, New [5/6] Jersey, and also acquired land in Pennsylvania, as in 1745, William Allen of Philadelphia, conveyed to him a tract of land in Delaware Township, then in Bucks County, and opposite Namanoch Island, in the Delaware River.
There is a legend told by a very old lady named Depuy and a direct descendant of the ancient Delaware Valley family by that name and closely connected with many of its historical events. She was a daughter of Nicholas Depuy.
One day a little child was loset in the woods near Rochester and searching parties were organized, one of which comprised a Depur ancestor and our ancestor Jacob van Etten. They either became lost or were left to wander until they reached the locality of the Delaware Valley. Being charmed with the country, they determined to settle here. This is the story as told of our Jacob comig here. Rather romantic and a pretty story departing from the stern and rigorous reason for so many of the actions of pioneer days.
Jacob married Antje Westbook. They had five children.
To prove to you that you do not know to whom you are related and that any or all of you may be relatives of mine, as we trace the many lines and numerous branches of the large families that were almost the invariable rule of the early settlers of this country, I want to tell two instances:
(Instance related of Mrs. Charles Bovey, Minneapolis, Minn.)
Also of Jacob Van Etten, bringing his sister Aeltje with him from Rochester to the [6/7] Delaware Valley, Jacob married Antje Westbrook as I have told you, and I find his sister Aeltje married Anthony Westbook, presumably brother and sister married sister and brother.
John Van Etten, the son of Jacob Van Etten, born in 1720, and Johannes Van Etten, born in 1730 near Namanoch, New Jersey, are the two brothers most interesting to us and to this narrative. Their lives seemed more prominently connected with our Delaware Valley and its outstanding events and they really added much historical value to this region.
From all my reading I must conclude, that John was the captain commanding the forts of Monroe and Northampton Counties in pre-revolutionary times, Fort Hyndshaw and Fort Hamilton, and the author of the interesting journal written in 1756 and 1757. In the Pennsylvania Archives, volume 2 page 720, he writes a letter to Governor Morris of Pennsylvania, in which he refers to Johannes his younger brother as a captain. The letter relates to interviewing a party of Indians concerning four murders of the previous week on the Minisink Road. Johannes did the interviewing and the result was one dead Indian and two injured.
In this same volume is a letter from Benjamin Franklin to Captain John Van Etten, of Upper Smithfield Township, dated January 12th, 1756, [7/8] instructing him to raise a company of thirty men etc., and to keep a journal of each day to show when required, which we know he did, as it is found in the history of Northampton, Lehigh, and Monroe Counties. The letter was a tabulated form of instructions, one of which I will quote:
“You are to take care that the men keep their arms clean and in good order and that their powder be always kept dry and fit for use.”
Also as this journal states John was one of the justices of Northampton County and formed one of the Court. On March 21st, 1756, we find the entry:
“I went on my journey to Easton in order to attend Court, leaving the charge of the company to the lieutenant. Being obliged to tarry by reason of the weather, I attended the whole term.
March 28th: “I returned home safe to the fort finding my men in health and all things in good order.”
March 29th: “Disciplined the men, hauled fire wood,” etc.
There are many entries of disciplining the men which I understand to mean drilling, and like a good officer should, he evidently thought always of his men—his men, and himself last.
His brother Johannes was a captain under General Anthony Wayne in the American Revolutionary War and also we find records of his military service in the Battle of Brandywine. The sword he [8/9] carried during the Revolution and the Testament which he carried in his saddle bags, and the saddles bags are in the possession of relatives. The Testament had become curved from the saddle bags strapped around the horse in its use during the war.
Johannes Van Etten married Maria Gonzales at Napanoch, Ulster County, New York, in 1750. He settled in Pennsylvania and fount in the Indian troubles before the Revolution, in which he did effective service about 1756, which accounts for the reference to him in the letter written by Captain John Van Etten. We find he fought the Indians at the battle of Conashaugh in 1780.
Johannes and Maria had eleven children. One son was named Johannes, Jr. He was born in 1759. There were also Magdalena, Manuel, Rymerick, Elizabeth, James, Anthony, Catherine and Simeon. Two of these sons were wounded by Indians, and a son-in-law named Ennis was killed, probably at the battle of Conashaugh, in 1780.
Johannes Van Etten married again about 1778 or 1779 Rachel Williams, widow of Daniel Decker. By this marriage he had four children, Daniel Cornelius, Solomon and Dorothy, who married John Lattimore.
Cornelius Van Etten was born December 8th, 1782. I am following this line because these descendants are settled in this immediately locality. For data regarding other branches of the family, reference may be had to “Northeastern Pennsylvania” records of the First Reformed Church, Kingston, New York, the Deer Park Church of Port Jervis, Pennsylvania Archives, and the [9/10] History of Northampton, Lehigh, Monroe, Schuylkill and Carbon Counties, belonging to your society. I note that this volume was presented to Archibald C. Jensen, November 18, 1877 from Stogdell Stokes. Jensen is the Van Etten name and I wonder to what branch Archibald C. Jensen belonged as he seems to be a member of the family who has retained the original name.
Cornelius married Anna Smith in 1801. Their children were Rachel, Solomon, Amos, Mary, Catherine, Ann, Robert K., Margaret and Amanda. The three sons Solomon, Robert K., and Amos are the lines that bring us to the present members of the family residing still in the Delaware Valley.
Solomon was born May 18th, 1806. He married Hannah mettle in 1837. They had seven children, William M. Amos Smith, John Hixson, Matthias Mettler, Cornelius Smith, Benjamin F. and Anna Mary.
John Hixson Van Etten, born October 13th, 1843, in Delaware Township, Pike County, was my father, who was well known to most of you. He graduated at Williams College in 1866, read aw with the Hon. William Davis here in Stroudsburg, and was admitted to the Bar of Monroe County in 1869 and in Pike County in 1870. John Hixson Van Etten married Adelaide J. Kanouse, the daughter of the Rev. Peter and Amanda De Camp Kanouse. They resided in Milford, Pennsylvania and had the following children. Lila Barker, Elizabeth Hixson and John De Camp who has four sons John, Willett, Jansen and David.
Solomon’s son Cornelius was born in 1846. He graduated at the University of Pennsylvania and [10/11] was a practicing physician in Rhinebeck, New York. He married Sarah Hill. They had two sons, Royal, a physician in New York City and Edwin J. an Episcopal Clergyman in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Royal has one son.
Solomon’s son Matthias graduated at Williams College, practiced law in Milford, Pennsylvania, and now resides in Palo Alto, California. He has two sons and a daughter, Herbert, Percy and Iliza. Herbert has two sons.
We will now take up Solomon’s brother Robert K. Van Etten. Robert married Eliza Palmer at Stroudsburg in 1843. They had eight children, Emma, Lydia A., Cornelius, Mary, Hannah, John Palmer, James Pinchot and Margaret. Cornelius married Helen Gordon and resided in Stroudsburg. They had three sons, Harry, James and Frank. James Pinchot married Louise Weightman. They reside in Milford and have four children, one son George and three daughters.
John Palmer was twice married, his present wife is Alida Hillyer and they reside in Milford.
Amos Van Etten born in 1898, the other brother of Solomon and Robert, married Lydia Thrall of Milford, Pennsylvania, and resided in Port Jervis, New York. Their children are Edgar, Samuel S., John T., Emma, Amos and Anna Carolina.
Of course I find George Elting Van Etten in Susquehannah County, who belonged to a New York family at Deckertown, New Jersey, branches of which family married into the Gumaer and Van Inwegen families, or sometimes it is given in the records as Van Inwiggen. Also there was Dr. Solomon Van Etten, a [11/12] physician, who resided in Port Jervis and whose son Nat is a physician residing in New York City. Dr. Van Etten’s family is related to many Delaware Valley and New Jersey families.
As you see I have been compelled to ignore the daughters and many of the sons of the ancient and honorable Van Etten family, as I must trace the name down through the years, and had I allowed myself the pleasure of even glancing at the feminine side of our family, or the branches that did not grace the Delaware Valley, I should have been led into very interesting, but far too numerous by-paths. I assure you there is no more absorbing and enlightening subject than genealogy. If each of you just make a start, you will appreciate the difficulties one encounters, but also the satisfaction one finds, and the sidelights on character that are often the causes leading to the events that have proven history-making in our country.
And thus dear friends, should we, following the example of those friends who have gone before, “carry on” through the coming years, bringing aid to our country, keeping alive those ideals and institutions for which they who went before, so cheerfully gave their services and lives.