"My Canadian Cousin" by Pete Bennett
It was about two years after I had married my wife Ursula and moved to Canada as a "Landed Immigrant" that she & I were visiting a friend in Hamilton that she had known for over 25 years.
Her friend, Walker Everett Tisdale and I were discussing genealogy (family history) when I mentioned that Ursula & I had just been to New York City and that while there we had visited the oldest house in New York State that had belonged to my seventh great grandfather Pieter Claesen Wyckoff from whom I have descended. It's known as the "Wyckoff House" and is now operated as a Museum in Brooklyn being the oldest house in New York City and New York State.
"Boots" as we call him, immediately said that he had Wyckoff's in his genealogy and I responded that I didn't think that could be possible as all Wyckoff's, regardless of the spelling, had descended from this one person, Pieter Claesen Wyckoff and that the name was American in origin. He got out a Tisdale genealogy book he owns and proceeded to show me that his great grandmother was indeed a Wyckoff, as was mine!
It seems that a Peter Wyckoff who was a United Empire Loyalist, left Long Island, (Brooklyn) NY at the time of the Revolutionary War and came to Canada .
My wife and I using information from his book and online information from Norfolk County, Ontario actually connected up our two lines and as it turns out, he and I are are eighth cousins once removed!
If you think genealogy really is exciting, just find someone who is connected to you with those odds.
It is truly amazing and I am still reeling from learning all of this information. Boots' Tisdale line begins in America in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, his Wyckoff line began in Kings County, Long Island , NY.
Peter Wyckoff who’s line Boots descended from was a United Empire Loyalist who immigrated from Long Island, NY to the foot of the escarpment at St. Catharines, ON during the time of the American Revolutionary War. Actually lived in Louth Township Lincoln County.
Peter who was born in 1765, had married a Catherine Plato at Long Island, NY and they had three children who were born to them after their arrival in Canada. A son John, a daughter Margaret and another son Peter Jr..
Then problems befell the family when Peter returned to Long Island in 1794 to settle some business matters there. He never returned. Some believe he met with fowl play because of his loyalty to the British.
Peter & Catherine’s son, Peter Wyckoff Jr. (1794-1881), was a child when his mother and step-father John Clendenning whom she married after Peter’s demise, brought him from Niagara to Woodhouse Township, Norfolk County, ON. Here he settled and married Abigail Gilbert. Abigail was the daughter of Isaac Gilbert & Mary Rowland of New Haven, CT. Abigail & Peter Jr. had eight children, one of them they named Mary Wyckoff who married a Samuel Colwell Wood. Samuel & Mary later had a daughter and named her Abigail Wood, who turned out to be the link we were looking for and the connection was made between my Wyckoff and his Wyckoff lines.
Here is some information on our amazing patriarch ancestor that we and all Wyckoff's have in common:
Pieter Claesen Wyckoff was born 6 Jan 1625 in Oland Island, Sweden, Friesland, Holland and came to America in 1636 at 11 years of age, he was indentured assigned to Simone Waischez as a farm labourer for six years at Albany, later marrying and moving to Flatlands (Brooklyn, NY) where he was a magistrate-landowner and became the manager for the bowery (farm) of Gov. Peter Stuyvesant.
Pieter Claesen prospered and became one of the most influential citizens of the little frontier settlement. He had bought land in that section in 1652 and continued to buy land from time to time, but he never owned the house in which he lived. He became a local judge, something like our own justice of the peace, and was influential in establishing the Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church at the juncture of Flatbush Avenue and King's Highway. His remains are said to have been buried in land now covered by the altar of this church. The Wyckoff Association in America, on May 22, 1938, planted a tree in the churchyard of this edifice in memory of Pieter Claesen and his descendants. On 26 May 1940, the same Association unveiled a bronze tablet inside the church, suitably inscribed in honour of Pieter Claesen Wyckoff.
When the British took over the Dutch colony, they had difficulty with the Dutch names and demanded that the Dutch families take surnames by which could be identified. It was then that the name Wyckoff first came into use. In a roll of those who took the oath of allegiance in King's County in 1687, the names of Pieter Claesen and his six sons appear with the surname Wyckoff.
The origin of the name is as follows: Pieter Claesen had been a local judge and the name came from this fact, the "Wyk" meaning a parish and "hof" meaning a court or house, thus making every Wyckoff, Wikoff, Wykoff in the Canada, the USA or world for that matter descend back to this one individual who immigrated at age 11 to America and "worked hard" raising 11 children and found his "American Dream" although he never had two cars in the garage. He left us all a great legacy in the name "WYCKOFF"!
For more information on Pieter Claesen Wyckoff you can visit the Wyckoff House & Association's website: http://wyckoffmuseum.org/
This stuff we do called "genealogy" is truly amazing!
Footnote: Unfortunately my wonderful 1st Canadian Cousin passed away to his final reward on June 24, 2005 at 76 years of age. You'll always be in our hearts "Boots"!
A picture of "Boots" & Pete in August 2004 at the Dofosco Senior Retirees Picnic
See my Wyckoff/Wykoff line.
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