Johannes DeWitt

TGE 25. xii. Family 16.
March 26, 1701 - July 21, 1776
baptized in Kingston, New York; living in Marbletown when he marries
buried at Old Dutch [Reformed] Church, Kingston, New York

Mary Brodhead

August 6, 1699 [?] - died before 17 April 1774
When her brother Charles writes his will in 1774, he describes Mary as deceased

Charles DeWitt

MVDW 137
TGE 120. ii. Family 45.
1727 - August 2, 1787
Buried in Old Hurley Burial Ground, Hurley, New York
(see photo below)
His 7 July 1776 will is written “at my house in Marbletown.” (Full extracted text from Anjou is below.)

Blandina DuBois

Married December 20, 1754, in Kingston Old Dutch Church (New York)
Charles de Wit, “merchant,” and Blandina du Bois, both residing in Mormel (Marbletown). Married on the presentation of a license.
1731 - November 4, 1765
daughter of Gerritt DuBois and Margaret Elmendorf
Buried in Old Hurley Burial Ground, Hurley, New York

John Charles DeWitt

MVDW 381
TGE 309. i.
October 22, 1755 - December 31, 1833
baptized 2 November 1755 as Johannes in Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York
parents: Charles de Wit, Blandina Dubois
witnesses: Johannes De Wit, Conrad Nieuwkerk, and his wife Anne de Wit
married 15 November 1778 Cornelia Cantine (1757-1814) at location
burial location
Evans, p. 3, says died “circ. 1832, at Windham, Greene Co., N.Y.”

Margaret (Marguerite?) DeWitt

MVDW 382
TGE 310. ii.
July 2, 1758 - September 26, 1827 (source?)
baptized 9 July 1758 as Margrietje in Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York
parents: Charles De Wit, Blandina Dubois
witnesses: Gerret Dubois, and his wife Margrietje Elmendorf

married 10 April 1783 Johannes Bruyn (1750?-1814) in Old Dutch Church:
Johannes Bruin, born and residing “under the jurisdiction of” Shawangunk, and Margritje DeWitt, born and residing “under the jurisdiction of” Hurley. First marriage for both.

Margaret and her sister Maria got married on the same day in 1783, possibly to cousins (both had parents who were Bruyns)

see Wikipedia page on their son Charles DeWitt Bruyn (12 December 1784 - 9 February 1849, died Shawangunk buried Bruynswick Rural Cemetery), with considerable additional family notes. He married his cousin Maria Hasbrouck (1793-1851), daughter of James Hasbrouck and Polly DeWitt Hasbrouck (MVDW 0383), and they had four children, listed in the Wikipedia entry.

burial location

Mary (Maria? “Polly”) DeWitt

MVDW 383
TGE 311. iii.
September 22, 1760 - July 18, 1798
(Evans, p. 3, says born 28 September)
baptized 12 October 1760 as Maria in Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York
parents: Charles de Wit, Blandina Dubois
witnesses: Andreas de Wit, and his wife Blandina Teneik

married 10 April 1783 Jacobus Hasbrouck (1753-1819) in Old Dutch Church:
Jacobus Haasbrough, born and residing in Kingston, and Maria DeWitt, born and residing “under the jurisdiction of” Hurley. First marriage for both.

Maria and her sister Margaret got married on the same day in 1783, possibly to cousins (both had parents who were Bruyns)

Jacobus “James” Hasbrouck is described in Wikipedia as “a prominent Kingston merchant.”
their daughter Maria married her cousin Charles DeWitt Bruyn; see entry above under Margaret (MVDW 0382)

See on the DeWitt-Bruyn-Hasbrouck-Kellogg family of New York politics

burial location

Gerritt (Garret?) DeWitt

MVDW 384
TGE 312. iv.
August 8, 1762 - February 5, 1846
baptized 15 August 1762 as Gerret in Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York
parents: Charles Dewit, Blandina Dubois
witnesses: Coenrad Dubois, Gerretje Dubois
married 15 November 1786 Catharine Ten Eyck (1765-1840) at Kingston, New York
Buried in Old Hurley Burying Ground, Hurley, New York

Ann DeWitt

MVDW 385
TGE 313. v.
November 11, 1764 - death date
baptized 18 November 1764 as Ann in Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York
parents: Charles de Witt, Blandina du Bois
witnesses: Coenraad Nieuwkerk, Ann de Witt
married 16 February 1786 Peter Tappen (1764-1846), in Old Dutch Church: Peter Tappen, Jr., born in Kingston, residing in New Paltz, and Ann DeWitt, born and residing under the jurisdiction of Hurley. First marriage for both.
burial location: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, per Find-A-Grave. See her page for more details, and more links


Charles was an enslaver. He initially helped manage Livingston Manor across the Hudson from Kingston, then became a merchant for many years, then inherited a mill and grounds from his uncle Charles Brodhead, and subsequently was involved in the creation of an independent New York and eventually an independent United States.

Charles DeWitt was praised as a U.S. Revolutionary War figure, with many achievements supporting the war that ended with Britain’s acknowledgement of the independence of the United States. (Many DeWitts were involved supporting the Revolution in various ways. DeWitts let the army use their farms in distant valleys to store arms and supplies, and DeWitts provided some of those arms and supplies too.) Charles DeWitt ran a mill that may have been working since the days of his great-grandfather Tjerck, and Martha Washington apparently preferred flour from the DeWitt mills, specifying it when a contractor sent a letter asking for more flour for the troops at Valley Forge. Charles also served in various legislatures on both state and continental levels.

A much richer rumination on Charles DeWitt, his place in his world, and some of his social and family connections, can be studied here.

Evans, p. 13, says: “Charles De Witt was one of the most prominent men of Ulster County in the political events which preceded and accompanied the war of the Revolution. From 1768 to 1775 he was a member of the Colonial Assembly, ‘and as a member of the last legislative body which sat under royal authority, was one of the nine resolute and patriotic men who voted to approve of the proceedings of the Continental Congress, then recently organized in Philadelphia.’ [This quotation and the one that follows are from the source Evans cites below.] He was a member of the Provincial Convention of April, 1775, and of the third and fourth Provincial Congresses, where he was associated with John Jay, William Duer, and others on the committee ‘for detecting and defeating conspiracies, etc.’ On December 21, 1775, he was commissioned colonel of a regiment of minute men. When the State Government was organized, Colonel De Witt was made a member of the committee to draft a Constitution; and from 1781 to 1785 he sat in the State Assembly. A sketch of Colonel De Witt, from which the above facts are mainly taken, may be found in the Ulster County Historical Collections.” (See Sources below.)

Olde Ulster, Vol. V, No. 7 (July 1909), has a long and only mostly turgid encomium for Charles DeWitt, pp. 193-206, including photos of Charles’s newly upgraded grave marker as well as that of Blandina Du Bois. (Letters of Charles DeWitt also appear in this volume, although many of them are letters addressed to the Colonel, rather than written by him.) The article (drawn from a “eulogy” of sorts given by Benjamin Myer Brink, editor of Olde Ulster, at the dedication of his new grave marker) describes how, after the Stamp Act of 1764 (and after his wife died at 34 in 1765), Charles was elected a representative of Ulster County in the Colonial Assembly in 1768, together with George Clinton. The eulogist waxes on about Charles’s “love of liberty,” and quotes an entire article from the original Constitution of New York that cites “the benevolent principles of rational liberty.”

Charles also was an owner of slaves, as were other DeWitts in the same area, and many of the businessmen with whom Charles interacted. We can guess that Charles’s well known mill used enslaved labor to run. When Charles rushes off to join the Revolutionary War days after the Declaration of Independence is signed in 1776, he dashes off a quick will (see full text below), noting that he may lose his life fighting for liberty, and leaving his eldest son John a “Negro Servant” of his choice. When Charles’s uncle Charles Brodhead died in 1774, Charles inherited 4 enslaved workers together with the mill. Multiple generations of DeWitts owned slaves right up to 1827, when New York State finally abolished the practice. This is not the space for a longer and well deserved discussion of the history of slavery in Ulster County and North America, and its lasting impact on individuals and instituions down to the present day, but much more can be said and learned and considered. Understanding the interconnection between enslaved people and the governing class gives us a richer, clearer picture of the past, and of the people who took part.

Two pages after the Olde Ulster mini-biography describes Charles’s contributions to freedom (“Never before, in the history of the race, were such words embodied in fundamental law”), the author also mentions Charles’s “negro slave, ‘Pete.’” The irony appears unintentional.

The context of the mention also offers a more complex understanding of the man who is almost invariably called “Colonel”: “One of the incidents in the career of Colonel DeWitt which aroused great interest at the time was his arrest for neglect of military service.” Charles had been in charge of a group of Minute Men at the start of the Revolutionary War. (Ranks were often handed out, at the time, based on a landowner’s wealth and status in the community, rather than based on any measure of capability or experience. A man of a certain stature was expected to raise a certain number of volunteers for the militia, make sure they were properly outfitted, and lead them.) As “the long contest developed into a question of endurance,” Brinks notes, the excitement that fed the start of the war waned: “It dampened enthusiasm to lie in leaky tents awaiting an enemy who never came.” Troops stopped showing up for muster. So the local commander decided to make an example of some prominent members of the community who had gone AWOL. “Among those arrested were Colonel DeWitt and his negro slave, ‘Pete.’”

(The arrest of a slave for not voluntarily showing up to fight for freedom raises a rich set of questions. N.B. also that the British had offered freedom to slaves if the war went their way.)

Did the man who proudly claimed the title Colonel say there had been a misunderstanding, and that he had meant to serve all along? No, actually, “Colonel DeWitt claimed his prerogative as a Member of the Assembly to be secure both from arrest and from military service.” (It is not clear whether this would also exempt “Pete.”) As it happens, Colonel Snyder, who was the guy trying to get soldiers back to the battle, was himself a Member of the Assembly, but he was claiming no such exemption. (Snyder was likely a distant cousin of Charles DeWitt; one source says his mother was a Hoffman.) Governor Clinton, who had served with DeWitt in the Assembly, supported Snyder, but the legislature agreed with DeWitt. He might be called Colonel, but that did not mean he had to serve in war. Or, as his eulogist writes, “his service was not to be a military one.” Everyone seemed to agree that the mill that had been left to Charles made really top-notch flour.

I have not checked any of the Olde Ulster account against primary sources, which often reveal further nuance. Olde Ulster does not give a date for the arrest, but Brink’s description makes it sound as if it happened later in the war, after the 17 October 1777 burning of Kingston (when the town was burned—at the time the state capital—but not Charles’s mill). The same episode is referred to in Collections of the Ulster Historical Society, Vol. 1, p. 165, without much further illumination, and again without giving a specific date for his arrest. The account does note that the “question of privilege” was discussed in the Provincial Convention, which may lean toward an earlier date for the incident. (The New York Provincial Congress was around from 1775-1777; it was the Fourth Provincial Congress, convened in White Plains on July 9, 1776, that started calling itself the Convention of Representatives of the State of New York. After it adopted the Constitution of the State of New York, on April 20, 1777, in Kingston, presumably the new Assembly and Senate were in charge.) Secondary sources may not always be exact in their descriptions or terminology. Brink’s celebration of Charles’s life, for example, describes how his commitment to religious tolerance came from “his ancestors among the dykes of the Netherlands, who fought for eighty long years for religious freedom and then bestowed it unreservedly upon all.” In point of fact, Charles’s first ancestor to come to North America was from a German province, not the Netherlands, and he was a staunch Lutheran, not a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, and the Dutch Governor, rather than magnanimously bestowing religious freedom upon him, fined him for leading Lutheran services. So Brink’s description of Charles’s illustrious service in the Provincial Congress, and the timing of his arrest for desertion, is probably worth double-checking against some original sources.

DeWitt Mill ca. 1913 (colorized). From the New York State Archives Digital Collections. See also the uncolorized version.

For more on the DeWitt mills (text and pictures), click here. I’m not 100% certain, but I believe Charles’ second son Gerritt took over the mill Charles ran on the Green Kill, a bit south of Kingston on the west side of the Hudson (close to DeWitt Lake, on DeWitt Mills Road, if you’re looking for it in Google Maps). Charles’ eldest son, John Charles, if I understand correctly, went across to the east side of the Hudson, in Dutchess County, and established a similar mill operation there. See his page (linked above) for more details. The town historian over there says Charles helped finance the launch of the operation on the east side of the Hudson (which also supplied Washington’s troops during the Revolution).

Charles DeWitt in his mid-20s served as manager for Livingston Manor, the estate of the noted Livingston family, which included signers of the Declaration of Independence, various statesmen, a long network of business associations, and the sponsors of Robert Fulton’s development of steam-propelled ships that revolutionized navigation. Charles kept a sporadic journal of accounts during that time and the following years. The journal can be found in the library of the New-York Historical Society. Its card reads as follows:

December 15, 1749 - June 12, 1780, but mostly 1751-54 when 
he was the manager of Livingston Manor. The entries for this 
period include store and mill accounts, as well as those of 
the Ancram ironworks. Scattered entries after 1754, mostly 
concerning his activities as a farmer in Hurley, Ulster Co. 
Also included are recipes, formulas, etc. 4x8, 127 pp.

Livingston Manor, and the Ancram ironworks, were on the east shore of the Hudson, in Dutchess and Columbia counties. Other DeWitts lived over there, and other DeWitts were also involved with the Livingstons in various ways. I won’t go into further detail here, but there are rich stories if you start looking. Notably see Charles’s cousins John and Petrus, MVDW 100 and 101, 1717-1749 and 1722-1790, who worked successively at Livingston Manor and in other exploits with the Livingstons. John sailed to the Caribbean and back on business for the Livingstons, as well as the Reades and Yateses of New York City; when he died in Bermuda, it was Henry Livingston who sent word back to John’s father, Captain Tjerck, in Ulster County. That was just before Charles began his stint at Livingston Manor. (Olde Ulster says he was appointed “to succeed his cousin, Colonel Petrus DeWitt,” which may be true.)

Charles, at Livingston Manor, worked for Robert Livingston Jr., whose father was Robert Livingston the Elder and whose son was Robert Livingston also. Robert Jr. had been educated in Scotland and in London. The Livingston family story is intertwined with American history through several generations. Robert the Elder was born in Ancrum, in Scotland (near Jedburgh), and when he was nine years old his family was exiled for religious reasons; they resettled in Rotterdam, where he became fluent in Dutch.

Perhaps inspired by his employer’s education, in his early days at the manor Charles made a list of books he owned, a library of notable size for the time. (Below is just the first page; the list is sorted from largest volumes to smallest, as was typical in those days.)

(He repeats the list on June 30, 1752, with prices of each book added.)

I saw Charles’s frail little jounal on February 5, 2000. It’s written in English, and the handwriting is not too difficult. Many entries were rather mundane, a recipe for ink or indigo dye (or two other blue dyes, one a “never fading blue”), or beer with molasses and ginger (on the same page with a list of his children’s birth dates), another recipe for Spruce Beer, or the following tidbit:

A cord of wood is

8 foot long
4 high &
4 broad

2 cords wood yields about a load of coal or 100 B[???]

[Before you ask: The first use of BTU probably is in the mid-1800s.]

There seem to be at least two types of ink used in the journal (perhaps originally one was red?), and one has faded considerably more than the other. They are each used intermittently, often in sequence on the same page.

Much of the book consists of accounting entries, indicating when a list of people had been paid their wages, or tabulating a set of purchases, or noting some other debt incurred or paid. Some of the book notes agreements made or events taking place on particular days, contracts with workers who agree to be wagon drivers or furnace tenders or who don’t show up as agreed, and other business miscellany. He writes down instructions he is given by Mr. Livingston, other business arrangements, visitors who bring news. He sets out a method for calculating the diameter of a cog wheel if it is supoosed to have 84 cogs spaced 4 inches from each other. (He knows the number 3.1416, though he does not call it π.)

There were no computers then, no credit card receipts and bank statements, no checkbooks. People who did business were expected to keep an account book like this, which could be presented to a court if there were a disagreement, as evidence that an agreement had been made on a particular day, with particular terms. One of the values of being able to read and write was that you could keep a written record of business transactions. If you did business with someone who did not write down the terms of an agreement, it was your written word against his oath and memory (which, in courts at the time, were considered legitimate proof too).

Charles records what the preacher talked about in his Sunday sermon:

Other entries are more mundane notes: “Feb 14, 1750/1, Lon went to work with the forgeman at Anchoram.”

Charles writes a few notes about the harsh winter of 1763 as well as a storm on 22 January 1750/1 and the resulting high water that threatened the goods in a Livingston warehouse.

And there are more interesting entries. For example, the following, from January 30, 1754:

            January 30, 1754. Then I
            signified to Mr. Robert Li-
            vingston Junr. that I intend-
            ed to leave him in the
            Spring. He ask’d me whether
            I could not stay with him
            one Year Longer. I told him
            that I had not intended to
            & that I had also thought
            he had Expected it for that
            I had told him so, last Spring
            when we agreed. He said
            it was true, but he thought
            I was not in Earnest, and
            that he would be glad if
            I stay’d another year, with
            Note. he had offer’d
            me last Spring when I
            told him I would Go away
            this Spring, to put in
            a Joint Stock with me
            if I set up at a place
            so that admitting that
            I should Go away this
            Spring we made the
            following considerations
            and Conclusions—

Livingston was in fact as good as his word. (The original discussion referred to was May 16, 1652: “Then I asked Mr. Robert Livingston Junr. what he would Give me the Ensuing Year he told me if I thought £50 was Not Enough he would Give me £60 for which I intend to stay & to serve him faithfully if God pleases to let Me keep my health. I also spoke to him concerning Trading with him in Company when I am able to put in a stock sufficient for a Country Store, which he is willing to do & said that he would Do it.”) The journal goes on to detail the arrangements by which he invested in Charles’s further career in Ulster County: Charles will have a house by himself, and a horse and wagon; Livingston will put up £300 and Charles will put up £300 for a joint stock; the house rent will be paid from this stock; the store will furnish “My Dick” and “a Negro boy & Girl of mine” with clothes and other needs; Charles will run the business. Livingston pays £25 down on his £300 commitment.

Also note that Charles interested Livingston in co-investing in “a venture” with Charles’s brother Andries, sending flour to the West Indies:

It is not clear whether Livingston’s investments in the DeWitt enterprises continued after Charles inherited the mill and grounds from his uncle in 1774.

The journal is a remarkable personal record, including occasions when Charles’s father comes along to bargain with Livingston about Charles’s pay and other arrangements, as well as various other episodes of significance in Charles’s life. A year before Charles leaves Livingston, in January 1753, he describes riding all over Ulster County for a couple of days with a companion:

January 9th 1753 I went to Esopus with Mr. Dirck W. Ten Broeck, Being on Sunday. & Thursday We went to Rochester, Warwarsinck & [Naponack?] & New Canaan, as far as where John Brodhead lives. [Charles’s mother was a Brodhead.] Fryday we Returned as far as father’s. Saturday we went from there and Rid almost over the Bare Ground to Sagertjes, Sunday about 2 o’clock Got at the Manor house & [in emphatic Greek letters, with double underline] spent 2 nights with Ms. Blandina Du Bois.

In September 1754, after he leaves Livingston, he makes another entry in Greek letters (spelling out English words), again double-underlined:

            Being Sunday
            I signified to Mr. Du Bois
            that I intended to marry
            his Daughter, Blandina

Exciting times indeed. (As noted above, they were married December 20 of the same year.)

Around the time Charles gets married and returns to Ulster County, there is a gap of about 20 years in the journal. Note that when he gets married, he is described as a “merchant.”

Charles’s beloved Blandina dies in 1765. By 1768, Charles is involved in local government, being elected to the Colonial Assembly.

In September 1773, Charles DeWitt of Marbletown, Esq., is indicted in Kingston for assault on Robert Thompson, with Conrad Newkirk as a witness (National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 61, p. 301, “Ulster County, New York, Court Records, 1693-1775,” translated and edited by Kenneth Scott, F.A.S.G.). It is not clear what the altercation was, and it doesn’t seem to come up again.

In 1773, around the time Charles inherits the Green Kill flour mill and land from his uncle (1774; see below), he picks up his journal entries again with various notes about farming and the weather, this time managing his own land. (“1774 April 20: Sowed FLAX.” Barely two weeks later, on May 4th—a Wednesday—he woke up to find it had snowed “no less than 4 or 5 Inches.”)

“1776 April: The Wheat this spring looks very Dead on my field. promises to be a poor crop but Jehovah can make it Good if he pleases.”

It is in this period that Charles makes a concise list of the birth dates of his children:

Charles goes on recording recipes for remedies for udder sores, for fattening horses, for curing the “Pole Evil,” measures of how much Rye it take to make good flour. He sets out instructions for when to sow onion seed and corn, for when to inoculate peaches and apples.

“Feb 21 1775: it appeared by the thermometer in New York (as I was informed) that the weather there was as warm or warmer than all the month of April 1774 except only 6 days in that month. & the 22 Feb it seems to me to be yet warmer than yesterday.”

(This raises questions for the curious: The word thermometer first appears 150 years earlier in France, per Wikipedia. Ferdinand de Medici built a thermometer similar to modern glass thermometers in 1654; in 1714, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in the Netherlands used mercury in his thermometer and standardized a scale of measurement. In 1742 Anders Celsius proposed using exactly 100 degrees between water’s freezing and boiling points. From Charles’s description, a thermometer was not a household item in 1775. What kind of thermometer did they have in New York? He does not give a specific temperature from the thermomenter, just a comparison.)

In 1776, Charles writes his well as he dashes off to join the Revolution.

“1780 June 12. I sowed Hemp seed behind the Garden.”

On a final leaf or two are a couple of entries, in a different hand, from the early 1800s—one dated July 9, 1816, another sometime in February 1818, another March 12.

I have seen this book again, and taken pictures of every page in it. When I have free time (!), I have posted some here.

* * *

Full text of biographical sketch on pp. 165-166 (Appendix Note VIII) of the Ulster Historical Society Collections, Volume I, Part 1, 1860 (see Sources below)

“After Governor Clinton the most prominent ma of Ulster county, during the Revolution, was Charles DeWitt, of Greenkill, as he subscribed himself, a locality near Kingston. Before the separation from Great Britain he represented the county in the Colonial Assembly from 1768 to 1775, and as a member of the last legislative body which sat under the royal authority, was one of the nine resolute and patriotic men who voted to approve of the proceedings of the Continental Congress, then recently organized at Philadelphia. This and other rebellious symptoms soon induced Governor Tryon to dissolve the Assembly, and we next find him at the head of the County Committee of Safety, taking measures to secure the liberty which was now to be fought for in the open field. His leading position at once places him in the Provincial Convention of April 1775, and his name frequently appears in the Journals of the subsequent Congresses, as well as in the Committee of Safety sitting in the recess of the larger bodies. He was appointed Colonel of a regiment of Minute Men, Dec 21st, 1775, but does not appear to have devoted his attention to the particular duties of his military command; indeed this plan of raising a reliable force of this sort, was found somewhat impracticable and soon fell into neglect. On the appointment of the important committee of Congress ‘for detecting and defeating conspiracies, &c.,’ Col. DeWitt is placed upon it with William Duer, Zeph. Platt, Col. Van Courtlandt, John Jay, &c., and he continued to serve for a considerable time. When it was resolved to take the necessary steps to form a state government, the Convention elected Col. DeWitt a member of the committee to prepare a draft of the Constitution, and the one reported by them, was, after no great discussion, adopted, April 20, 1777, and under it the people passed through the revolutionary struggle, and came out a free and independent government.

“The arrest of Col. DeWitt as an absconding recruit, by an officer of Snyder’s regiment, arising evidently from some local jealousy, was made the subject of a ‘question of privilege,’ in the Convention; the committee seemed determined to probe the matter to the bottom, and they examined all the parties charged with the offence, and finally compelled sundry persons to purge themselves of contempt into which the House voted them.

“In 1784, he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress. After the close of the war the country had still need of his services, and from 1781 to 1785 he sat in the Assembly of the State. From a printed slip upon a portrait in posssssion of one of his descendants, Richard DeWitt, Esq., it would seem that he died April 27th, 1787. A photograph from this portrait, is in the Society’s archives. His son, Charles G. DeWitt, edited the Ulster Sentinel for many years, represented the district in Congress, and was charge d’affaires of the United States to one of the South American republics.”

[There is no record of a son of Charles named Charles G. DeWitt, but Charles’s son Garrett did have a son named Charles Garrett DeWitt, MVDW 801, 1789-1839, who might be the Ulster Sentinel editor described. The Sentinel was published from 1826 to 1840.]

* * *

Charles’ mother is Mary Brodhead, from a line of British settlers in the area who got tangled up with DeWitts on numerous instances. His uncle is Charles Brodhead, born 1696 in Kingston. On 17 April 1774, “Charles Brodhed, of the Green Kill, in Ulster County,” wrote his will. In it he leaves his wife Maritie the whole estate while she is still alive, and then “After her death I leave to my nephew, Charles De Witt, all my lands in Hurley and Kingston, and at the Green Kill, with all houses, barns, mills and barracks; Also 4 Negroes, the remainder of my negroes to be at my wife’s disposal.” He goes on to add “10,000 acres of land in the Great Patent, being part of a Lot of 27,000 acres sold to me by Col. Johanes Hardenbergh, out of Lot No. 3, which said 10,000 acres is to be laid out and located at the west end of said Lot.”

Charles Brodhead goes on to name his sister as Mary DeWitt (née Brodhead, Charles DeWitt’s mother); she is deceased by 1774, but he names her two children Andries and Anne [DeWitt] Newkirk, Charles’ two surviving siblings, to receive some further land from his estate.

This appears to be the point at which the DeWitt Mills on the Green Kill entered the DeWitt family, although Charles DeWitt may have been effectively running them with (or for) Charles Brodhead for some time previously.

(Source for Brodhead’s will, which has many other references to a lot of DeWitts, is the New-York Historical Society Collections, Vol. VIII [1899], “Abstracts of Wills on file in the Surrogate’s Office, City of New York, 1771-1776,” pp. 185-185, citing the original on p. 133 of the Surrogate’s collection.)

* * *

Charles DeWitt’s own will is excerpted in the Anjou collection of Ulster County wills (see Sources below for complete citation):

Dated July 7, 1776, “at my House in Marbletown.”

“Considering the uncertainty of life, especially in those time of Troubles, and as I am in a few days to go down to New York, where I may fall a Victim to British Tyrants, who are arrived in order to Invade that Metropolis it may be uncertain whether ever I return.”

Charles trusts in “Jesus my Redeemer whose Blood I trust will wash my guilty Soul from all its foul Stains.”

“I give without the least Reserve unto Jesus the beloved of my Soul my five dear Children to be disposed of as it pleased him But oh, that they may love Jesus.”

“Unto my son John a Negro Servant, which he may chuse for his Birth right.”—“Residue to my five children who are Equally Dear to me and do therefore give them an Equal share” “to eldest son John a Just 1/5 part” “to my son Gerrit 1/5 part” “to my eldest daughter Margrietje 1/5 part” “to my daughter Mary” 1/5 part to “my youngest daughter Anne 1/5 part.” “In case any of my children should Die without lawful Issue before they Arrive to the age of 21 years,” survivors to divide the share of deceased.

“My Brother Andries J. De Witt my son John and my sisters son Benjamin Nukerk Junr.” appointed executors. “And as there may be considerable trouble in settling my affairs and my Nephew Benjamin Nukerk may have so great a share thereof as to be detriment in his other business” to said Benjamin “for his care and trouble which he may have” £100 before the division of the estate.

Signed by Charles, witnessed by Lucas Elmendorph, Benjamin Nukerk, Cornelius Crispel.

January 4, 1788, Lucas Elmendorph, of Hurley, “yeoman,”  appeared before the Surrogate, proving the will. Administration was granted to “John C. De Witt of Hurly, yeoman, executor.”


(Photo by Mary Sarah Bradley)

Charles is buried in the Hurley Burial Ground (outside of Kingston, NY).

Col. Charles De Witt
Born -- 1727 — Died Aug 27, 1787
Patriot, statesman and leader in the Revolution
Member Colonial Assembly 1768-75
Provincial Convention 1775, Provincial Congress 1776-7
Voting to ratify the Declaration of Independence
First Convention of State of New York and of committee
which framed the Constitution 1777
Council of Safety 1777, Continental Congress 1784
Member of Assembly 1781-5 and 1787
“Providence has led me through a variety of changing scenes.
I wish to be still led by the same unerring guide.”
Charles De Witt

(This last line is from the February 20, 1784 letter from Charles to his son Gerret.)

Thanks for sharing all your hard work!!!

Kenneth DeWitt Thomas, July 6, 2002

(Photo by Doug Bradley)
This version is a little more readable.

(Photo by Doug Bradley)
This is a relatively new monument for Charles DeWitt. It stands out in a burying ground filled with old colonial grave markers. The original markers for this family plot stand behind the big gray one:

    1. On the left is a white stone with black iron braces running up the sides; this is the marker for Garret DeWitt (see his page for a larger copy).
    2. Between Garret and Charles' stone stands the stone for Garret's wife, Catherine Ten Eyck (see her page for a larger copy).
    3. Unfortunately obscured by the giant massif is the stone for Blandina DuBois, Charles' wife, which has a sweet poem inscribed on it from her children (see her page for a picture).
    4. Last but not least, poking around the right side of Charles' large marker is his original, more traditional marker.

To see a much larger rendition of this scene, with letters on most stones that become legible, or nearly legible, or tantalizingly close to legible but still really impossible to decipher, click here (the picture will open in a new window).

The big stone at least will finally be easy to read.

(Photo by Mary Sarah Bradley)
Presumably it is this Charles DeWitt for whom this Masonic council is named. We saw these markers holding up flags in July 1998 in the New Hurley Cemetery (where this picture was taken), but we did not learn the story behind them.

Someone named Claudia (clsd2 at, researching Brewers, helpfully found a large part of the answer: This emblem is not a Masonic symbol at all, but one from a completely different fraternal order, the Junior Order of United American Mechanics. For a little more discusssion about the difference (from a Mason named Marcus Orr), see “Arm, Hammer, Square and Compass,” from 2011.

Charles DeWitt came from a whole mess of immigrants, none of whom came in carrying any papers, so it is interesting indeed to see his name appropriated by an organization that promotes “native” Americans over those who have come in more recently from abroad.


Information is from Mary Veldran DeWitt’s “The DeWitt Genealogy: Descendants of Tjereck Claessen DeWitt of Ulster County, New York.”

Further notes from Andries and Jannetje DeWitt Bible (not available in print, but see photos at link above and on Andries’ page), courtesy of the Matthew Ten Eyck DeWitt Family Collection.

Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York (formerly named Wiltwyck, and often familiarly called Esopus or ’Sopus), for One Hundred and Fifty Years from their commencement in 1660. Transcribed and edited by Roswell Randall Hoes, Chaplain U.S.N., corresponding secretary of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, etc. New York 1891; available today from Higginson Book Co., Salem, Mass., 508-745-7170. Detailed information about baptisms has been filled in through the end of 1687, marriages through 1701. More information is available. Records begin 1660. Other baptisms may have taken place in Hurley and other locations nearby; also from time to time itinerant ministers would travel through and perform various rites, not always entered in the books. This is available online at

Thomas Grier Evans, The De Witt Family of Ulster County, New York (reprinted from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, October 1886), New York: Trow’s Printing and Bookbinding Co., 201-213 East Twelfth Street, 1886. Available online from Evans’s work, reprinted in 1886 up to the point where it left off in Volume XVIII of the Record, was continued in 1890 (Volume XXI, commencing on p. 185) with additional names and family numbering. The reprinted portion includes names of descendants to the fourth generation; the extension shows their descendants, the fifth generation, with considerable further biographical information on some. This later addition to Evans’s work (he also published details on other families that intermarried with DeWitts in Ulster County, including Crispells, Bruyns, and others) extended into Volume XXII (January 1891, pp. 3-6). (I include here links to some publicly available copies of the individual issue and articles from the Record, but a better way to get access to it and a wealth of other genealogical resources, in addition to supporting genealogical research in general, is to join the NYGBS itself.)

Marbletown, New York, baptism records at

Ulster County, N. Y., Probate Records, In the Office of the Surrogate, and in the County Clerk’s Office at Kingston, N. Y., compiled, abstracted and translation by Gustave Anjou, Ph. D., 1906. Privately published (?) in New York, but available at genealogical libraries (NYPL and others). Subtitle: “A careful abstract and translation of the Dutch and English wills, letters of administration after intestates, and inventories from 1665, with genealogical and historical notes, and list of Dutch and Frisian baptismal names with their English equivalents.” Introduction by Judge A[lphonso] T[rumpbour] Clearwater, LL.D. This is available in reprinted form. Note that there are two distinct volumes included in this work, sometimes combined into one physical book.

New-York Historical Society Collections, Vol. VIII [1899], “Abstracts of Wills on file in the Surrogate’s Office, City of New York, 1771-1776 (available at and in other places online).

Olde Ulster, an intriguing if haphazard periodical that was put out from 1905 to 1914 by Benjamin Myer Brink, bundled together a lot of reasonably accurate transcriptions and translations of old source materials from Ulster County, some of which doesn’t appear in other published sources. It can be found online today at (for example) the Internet Archive, as well as in reprinted form (each year’s issues added up to just shy of 500 pages of material, published in combined volumes), on Google Books, and in some other places.

Collections of the Ulster Historical Society, Vol. I, Part 1, p. 165, Kingston: Hommel & Launsbery, Printers, 1860, can be found on Google Books (see link). The same text can be found in a reprint excerpted from the larger volume, An Account of the British Expedition above the Highlands of the Hudson River, and of the Events Connected with the Burning of Kingston in 1877, by George W. Pratt, Albany: Munsell & Rowland, 1861, which can be found in PDF form online at Wikimedia (see p. 61). The smaller pamphlet may be found for sale on Abebooks and other online sources. The larger book is harder to find in its original printing, but reprints can be bought online from various sources, probably made from the Google Books scan. The title page of the book refers to the Ulster Historical Society (not Ulster County).

National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 61 (1973), hard to find in print form except in libraries, apparently not on, but available from the NGS online for paid members.

The New York State Archives Digital Collections has a deep and continually growing, searchable trove of images of original source documents, dovetailing some of the published translations. (Some of the documents’ supporting pages include translations on site; many just show the document itself.) This is a good way to see some of the challenges that modern translators are up against, when documents are singed around the edges, missing whole pieces or otherwise in fragile condition.

See also the Wikipedia article on Johannis Snyder’s Regiment of Militia, which lists a few sources I have not checked further.

An interesting complementary set of records can be found in New York in the Revolution as Colony and State, Albany: Oliver A. Quayle, 1901, compiled by Erastus C. Knight and edited by Frederic G. Mather. This is a collection of documents and records pertaining to the Revolutionary War period discovered in the Comptroller’s office in the late 1800s. It can be found in PDF form from the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

In it we find various appointments of Charles DeWitt to sundry committees; he sends notes to Col. Livingston regarding the distribution of salt. (Simeon DeWitt, surveyor of much of New York, comes up several times here too, as do some other DeWitts.) On p. 227 is the record of Charles’s appointment to “The Committee of the Convention of the State of New York for Enquiring into, Defeating and Detecting all Conspiracies that may be formed in said State,” a.k.a. the Committee for Conspiracies. Their job was to root out Tory Loyalists who might be helping the Crown. Apparently it cost the committee two shillings every time they either put handcuffs on a prisoner or took them off.

On 22 September 1776, it appears the Committee met at the house of Hugh Conner, who later presented a bill for £48.11.0 for the service. Nathaniel Sackett, the auditor and treasurer, protested that the £4.17.6 of this amount charged for wine “ought to be paid for by the individual Gentlemen who from time to time have composed this Committee . . . each their proportion.” But he acknowledges that “the wine was called for upon the Credit of the Committee,” and he notes that most of the people who drank it have departed, so he agrees to pay. (See p. 134 for an itemization of charges for “toddy,” “wine,” “Dinners &c.,”  “Cyder,” and other expenses.)

On p. 17 we find a list of “citizens who furnished one Soldier, or more, at their own expense” when more troops were being mustered in 1779-1780 to beef up the defense of Ulster and Orange Counties. John DeWitt Jr. and Peter DeWitt are listed. (On the same page and also on the page before we find mention of Lieutenant Reuben DeWitt as well.) At the time, some men who might otherwise be expected to serve in the military could satisfy the obligation by paying someone to serve in their place. (That’s my understanding. I haven’t checked to see whether this was really done.) The list does not say whether the citizens named served and paid someone else in addition, or whether this was a list of citizens who opted to pay someone else to serve for them.

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