Published December 17, 2017

Ice hockey is believed to have common roots with the sport of golf: they may both descend from an old Dutch game called “kolf” or “colf”. The summer version of kolf was played outdoors on the grass or streets, with players competing to hit a distant target (a stick or…

Read More Ice hockey in the new world

Published August 21, 2017

My paternal grandmother’s father was called Christopher Scaife Betterton. A carriage striper by profession, he came with his family to the US from England at age five. His father William Frank Betterton was a shoemaker in Sheffield who brought his young family to Rhinebeck NY in 1841. Christopher’s middle name was…

Read More Nice digs!

Published March 16, 2016

Among the many Palatine Germans in my family tree was a man named Jury William Dederich (1711-1786). He lived in Ulster County, NY, in a Palatine settlement called West Camp, located in the Hudson River Valley. Through ancestry.com, I recently found a copy of his will written in 1786. In…

Read More Hobnobbing with the Rockefellers

Published December 20, 2015

My Brewster tree goes back to the earliest New Netherlands settlers of the Hudson River Valley. One branch comes down from Pieter Janse Loockermans, an immigrant from Turnhout, a city in the Flemish section of Belgium. Pieter came to New Netherlands in about 1640 and settled in Beverwyck in present-day…

Read More First appearance of Santa Claus in the US – 1675

Published September 29, 2015

Great Britain in the early 18th century was becoming a naval superpower, with colonies that spanned the globe. They wanted to take advantage of the natural resources provided by these colonies, in order to supply their ever growing need for shipping capacity. The Palatine Germans of the Hudson River Valley…

Read More Immigrants, monopolies, and labor disputes – 18th century style

Published March 1, 2015

As the northeast United States experiences record cold temperatures this winter, I have been reading about how the brutally freezing European winter of 1709 led to the immigration of a number of my ancestors from the southwest area of Germany known as the Palatine region. The surnames of Palatine Germans…

Read More Cold enough for you?

Published February 10, 2015

Known for beautiful scenery and stately mansions, the Hudson River was once home to some pretty radical thoughts and actions. Among my paternal ancestors in this area was a family of 18th century Dutch settlers called Dederick. Jury William Dederick lived in Saugerties, NY, and was active in local politics…

Read More Hudson River Valley – radical hotbed?

Published January 2, 2015

In today’s atmosphere of polarization in U.S. politics, it’s hard to imagine Democrats and Republicans on the same side of an issue as controversial as war. While reading period newspaper articles on members of my family tree, I recently came across an article about a NY state resident from the…

Read More NY at the start of the Civil War – Strange bedfellows

Published November 29, 2014

I just learned that there was a custom in the US of dressing up in costumes on Thanksgiving. This practice seems to have been popular in some areas of the country from the 19th century until the early 1950s. This solves a mystery about a photo of my grandparents, labeled…

Read More That explains it! Thanksgiving masquerade

Published November 1, 2014

I’m having trouble finding much information about my great grandmother Katherine. She died young in 1913, at age 40, and there isn’t a long life’s worth of documentation on her. Family lore was that she was from County Tyrone, Ireland, from the area of the “Tyrone Trenches”. It’s now looking…

Read More Consumption – a romanticized death