Samuel Preston's Account of River Floods, 1800 & 1814

Samuel Preston settled in Stockport, Wayne County PA in 1788.  His account of a supposed periodic cycle of flooding of the upper Delaware River is priceless for its detailed observations on farming in the valley.  Fellow farmers and informants he references are:  John Hilborn, on the Susquehanna, Nicholas Depui, Esq. of Minesink [Monroe Co PA], Joseph Ross of Cosheckton [Cochecton NY] and Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin.  The work first appeared in  Memoirs of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture: Containing Communications on Various Subjects in Husbandry & Rural Affairs, Volume 4, 1818.

John Linchlaen's 1791 journal entry of his visit to Samuel Preston's farm in Stockport.
Samuel Preston. On clearing land, New England Farmer, 9 January 1829, midway 2nd column.
Samuel Preston, Gardening of the Germans in Pennsylvania, The Farmer's Cabinet, 1836, p 52.

Note the term cheat in this letter may refer to to the weed Cheat (Bromus secalinus) or perhaps, weeds in general.


Tombstone Errors: William Custard, Egypt Mills PA

Once again while browsing the images in Family Search's Pennsylvania Probate Records I happened upon an entry which surprised me:  William Custard's Last Will and Testament, Wayne Co Wills, Vol. I, No. 12, is clearly probated in 1806.  His tombstone, located at the Swartwood burying ground in Pike County Pennsylvania, bears a death date of 1826

Click on the images to enlarge
Heirs:  Son William, unnamed children, grandson Benjamin (son of William) and wife Sary

Witnessed by John Nyce and Barnardus Swartwood; John Brodhead, Register

A couple of possibilities come to mind - a well meaning descendant found and replaced a partially illegible stone or perhaps, based on family tradition, placed a new stone in the burying ground in memory of their ancestor.

The error exists in the 1933 transcription page of Cemeteries, Graveyards and Burying Grounds in Pike Co PA, on the State's 1935 Veteran Burial Card, on Find A Grave's website memorial for William, and in countless family trees. Multiple copies of my photo of the headstone (used without permission or credit) have appeared on spreading the erroneous date like a virus across the net.

It's a lovely tombstone, with a crisp inscription & not a lichen to be seen. I remember wondering at the time if it were a replacement.

Tombstone errors spawn questions:  Is a calculated birth date valid? Was the 1933 transcription the cause or merely a reflection of the error?  Is the matching tombstone of Sarah Swartwood, his wife, also harboring mistaken information?

Are Sarah and William actually buried here? I would venture the opinion that their remains very likely are buried here given the names and dates on the weathered headstones of relatives, friends and neighbors who do rest in peace in the old burying grounds.    

The similarities of material, shape, lettering & weathering of the following Custard tombstones leads me to believe that they are replacements, carved & placed at the same time as those of William Sr & Sarah. Further research is in order to confirm these dates:

Elizabeth Custard, d 1850
Margaretia, wife of Mason D Custard, d 18_?
William Custard, d 1862

The following well weathered Custard family tombstones appear to be original headstones placed at the time of burial:
Frances M d 1856
Ira D d 18__?
Rufus H, son of Cyrus & Francis, 1858

Swartwood is located off Rt 209 in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, between Dingmans Ferry and Bushkill PA. Watch for the sign for Mile Marker 4. Pull in to the semi-circle gravel parking area directly opposite the entrance to Valley View Group Campsites.

Park and walk back along the northern entrance drive, look for a footpath on the left which will open up to a woods road. Take the right fork of the woods road and follow to the top of the bluff overlooking the river valley.

View Minisink Valley Genealogy in a larger map

For readers unfamiliar with the probate process, the appearance in court of the witnesses to the signing of the Will determines its validity and is the first step in the administration of the estate.  

The court process by which a Will is proved valid or invalid. The legal process wherein the estate of a decedent is administered. 

When a person dies, his or her estate must go through probate, which is a process overseen by a probate court. If the decedent leaves a will directing how his or her property should be distributed after death, the probate court must determine if it should be admitted to probate and given legal effect.

The "Widow Ennes," Magdalena Van Etten, of Delaware Township, 1798

The advantages of sketching out the family trees of an 18th century neighborhood in the Minisink, in this case Delaware Township, Pike Co. Pennsylvania, came to the fore last evening when I happened upon the tax record for the Widow Ennes while researching the Custard, Decker and Swartwood families. Records for Magdalena Van Etten after Benjamin Ennes' death are scarce; claims based on speculation or secondary sources from traditional histories with egregious errors abound on the web.  Gathering together what is known and rooting out the rumors in this era of booming genealogy has been fascinating.

A question had come up in discussion with another interested party from the Sandyston Township Historical Society in NJ (the township where Benjamin Ennes was born) who asked if I had found any residency records for Magdalena in my wanderings.  Some months later I am pleased to report the following record on (subscription), Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798   

General List of Lands, Lots, Buildings and Wharves, owned, possessed or occupied on the first Day of October 1798, within Delaware Township, Wayne County ... in the State of Pennsylvania ..

One house on one acre is occupied by the Widow Ennes, on property owned by John Van Etten, and who is Magdalena Van Etten Ennes, daughter of Johannes Van Etten and the widow of Benjamin Ennes, killed in the so-called Battle of the Conashaugh in 1780. This establishes a residency in Pennsylvania 18 years after the death of her husband. 

32 years after Lt. Benjamin Ennes' death, on February 3, 1812, the Journal of the 22nd House of Representatives of the Commonwealth reported:  Mr. Dingman [Rep. Daniel W Dingman ] presented the petition of Magdalena Ennes, accompanied with a document, stating that she is the widow of Lieutenant Benjamin Ennes, who was killed during the revolution in the service of his country and praying relief; and said petition and document were read, and referred to the committee on claims.

Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Vol 5, p 334.

 The Act passed in 1812 for the relief of Magdalena Ennes 

The Centinel of Gettysburg, Adams Co PA, Vol VII,  Issue No 48,  on April 22, 1812.

The following Pennsylvania Records of the Auditor General may contain more information:
ENNIS, BENJAMIN (W. MAGDELENA) 1812 , RG002 , P 0013 , V0014
ENNIS, MAGDALENA 1813 , RG002 , P 0132 , V0006
ENNIS, MAGDALENA 1816-1819 , RG002 , P 0080 , V0007

In 1796, Alexander Ennes, son of Benjamin & Magdalena, was a resident of Delaware Township, PA, his marriage to Jane DeWit [Dewitt], daughter of Cornelius, would take place in Sussex Co NJ.

Sussex County NJ Marriages, Vol. A, p.7.

By the 1800 federal census Alexander (variant Annis), along with the families of his brothers John (Johannis), Emanuel and his brother- in-law Abraham Decker, had moved to Tioga Co NY.  By at least 1819 Magdalena had followed their children and in February of that year, as a resident of Spencer, Tioga County NY, she dictated her Last Will and Testament specially charging her Executor, eldest son Alexander, to collect all monies due from the State of Pennsylvania.  In November of that year her Will was probated.  A number of the children of  Magdalena and Benjamin Ennes (variant Ennis) settlers would be buried in the so called Ennis burying ground.    


Variants of the surname Ennes in various records include  Ennes, Ennis, Ennist, Annis, Annist .  Benjamin's father William, Town Clark(sic) of Minisink would sign his name Ennes in the 18th century. 
Town Clark} William Ennes.

The Van Ettens of Pike County

The Daniel Ennis Van Etten Farm in Pike Co PA, presently known as the Maria Zimmermann Farm, in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is located on Dry Brook.  Drag down  on the map to see the former location of the Johannes Van Etten Farm/Fort on the Conashaugh Creek. Johannes and 2nd wife Rachel Williams Van Etten were buried on the family farm, then re-interred to the Van Etten plot at Milford Cemetery.

View Minisink Valley Genealogy in a larger map

Additional details on the death of Benjamin Ennes:  The 1780 Account of the Battle of Conashaugh and The Battle of Conashaugh Affidavits.  

Additional names listed on the tax record include:  Andrew Dingman, Elias Decker, Thomas Decker, Hendricus Decker, Daniel Dingman, Isaac Dunn, Isaac Decker, Samuel Danforth, Benjamin Emson, John Frazer, Jeremiah Fleming, John Emmins, Jeremiah Witzell, John Fritz, John Graham, John Craig, Elisabeth Green, John Henry, Lodowick Hoover, John Hoover, John Decker.

Locating Theeshacht

In the course of research, I grew curious about the location of Theeshacht or Theeshact or Teeshachtee  as dwelling places mentioned in the Marriage Register of the Minisink Valley Reformed Dutch Church Records:


The pronunciation of Theeshacht in Dutch reminded me of another mystery location from an early record of the Forts of Pennsylvania. In his 1756 instructions to Capt Vanetta [ transcript pages 301 & 302] of the township of Upper Smithfield, Benjamin Franklin wrote:
 For the better Security of the Inhabitants of that District, you are to post your men as follows: Eight at your own house [tract on the present day Conashaugh], Eight at Lieutenant Henshaw’s, [Hyndshaw] Six with a Serjeant at Tishhock ____, and Six with another Serjeant at or near Henry Cortracht’s,[Courtright] and you are to settle Signals, or Means of Suddenly alarming the Inhabitants, and convening your whole Strength with the Militia of your District, on any necessary Occasion. 

Ben Franklin's instructions to Capt. Vanetta

A detail for Upper Smithfield in the 1792 Reading Howell map of Pennsylvania locates the hamlet of Tyshock Bar along a creek draining into the river opposite the south end of a large island which must be Mashipacong & Cummins Hill Creek. If so, this is also the site of the hamlet known as Quicktown in later histories of Westfall Township and the location of Cornelius DeWitt's land grant of 1749 (patented to Peter Quick in 1787).

Tyshock Bar, opposite the south end of Mashipacong Island

Given the overwhelming use of Native American words in the naming of early 18th c hamlets in the Minisink, it is possible Theeshacht is the Dutch spelling for a Native American descriptive term, perhaps later anglicized to Tishhock. The editor of Deputy Surveyor of Pennsylvania George Palmer's field notes of 1774 includes this intriguing reference to the place name Tyshaw:


Are the locations of Theeshacht in the c 1750 Dutch records, the site of Tishhock in Ben Franklin's instructions of 1756, George Palmer's field note of 1774 on Tyshaw  and the 1792 hamlet of Tyshock Bar, in present day Westfall Township, one and the same?

William Henn, in Westfall Township, Gateway to the West, p17, states:  "In 1730, Cornelius Van Aken (b 1690), who married Sara Westbrook (b. 1694) bought a tract of land below the ferry landing, and on this plantation known as Theesacht several generations of Van Akens were reared.  It was adjacent to another tract owned by Herman Rosen Krantz ... As was common among the sparse inhabitants, neighbors became in-laws, and in 1749, Abram C. Van Aken, son of Cornelius, married Catherine Rosen Kranz at Theesacht and made it their home."

Henn fails to note his sources but the PA State Warrantee township map for Westfall finds the warrants for Cornelius Van Akin, key W for 92 acres, 1750, situated in present day Matamoras, and close at hand that of Herman Rosegrand, key U, 62 acres, 1751, situated along the present day Rosetown Creek.  Additional mid-18th century warrants include the names of Johannes Cole and Tunis Middaugh.

An old burying ground presently called  the Cemetery on Bell Farm and also known as Middaugh -Van Auken Cemetery is located on Ave Q, between 9th & 10th Streets in Matamoras. The earliest existing tombstone is that of John Van Auken who died in 1831, aged 73.

About a mile and a half south stands the earliest existing tombstone in the Rose family burying ground that of Maria Hornbeek, wife of James Rosencrantz, who died July 3d 1815 in the 75th year of her age.

Maria Hornbeek Rosencrantz, 1743-1815

Harkening back to the beginning paragraph of this rumination I think there's a line to be drawn between a community (Minisink Dutch Reformed Church Records) or the Gallagher house also know as "Teesacht or Teasack", owned by Frederick B Marvin (Fluhr) or a plantation (Henn).  Fluhr & Henn both lack a period source but possess a flavor, as it were, by using what must have been a community place name as listed in the MDR Church Records.

Abram van Aken, Catharina Rosenkrantz, Lisabeth van Aken, Benjamin Quick, Isaac Middagh, and Arriaentje Rosenkranz are all listed as being born at or dwelling in Theeschacht in the marriage records of 1748 to 1754. Way too many folks to be living in one house or on a single plantation. (Note people were living in Theeschacht before PA issued Warrants to either Cornelius Vanaken, 1750, or Herman Rosegrand, surveyed in 1751.) 

Which leaves the lay of the land to examine against the Theeschacht time period of the Warrants and including the "Y" Warrant for Tunis Madock [Middagh] of 1749 which lies directly opposite the confluence of the Delaware and Neversink, the ferry landing. Not too very far away are "W" Van Akin [Vanaken] of 1750 (per Henn, a tract of land below the ferry landing) & "U" Rosegrand [Rosencrans/Rosenkrantz] of 1751 on the Westfall Township map (survey shows his tract surrounded by vacant land.) Just up river from Middagh are the earliest Cole tracts, "13" & "P" of 1749.

Warrants:  "Y" Tunis Madock [Middagh], 1747; "W" CorneliusVan Akin [Vanaken], 1750; "U" Herman Rosegrand [Rosencrans/Rosenkrantz] 1751.

 So, we have PA families living/farming/marrying in a small community opposite the settlement & DRC of Magagkamack. Vosburgh lists Sarah, wife of Cornelius Van Aken, d  1766 among those buried at the Magagkamack graveyard. How many, I wonder, of the Theeshacht folk are buried there?

The19th c Edmund O'Callahan map mentioned in our most recent entry Brodhead's Map of the 17th C New Netherlands Charters, refers to a settlement T'schichte as found on Van der Donck's map. Whether these Dutch families settled among the Indians or were informally granted a portion of land along the river flats, the place name T'schichte may well be the origin of the Dutch church records place name Theeshacht. Whether the earliest maps are accurate, given the location is further north, or if the European and Indian villages existed together or apart, remains a mystery.

A Note on Tyscbag:
Additional, and later, records list:  A marriage in 1757, Arriyantie Rosenkrans (widow) born at Tyscbag; 1758, Helena Quick dwelling at Tyscbag; and 1759, Jacobus Van Aken born at Tyscbag to Elizabeth Bunscoten, widow, and both dwelling there. All these entries were written by Anthony Van Etten, JP, the least literate of all the MDRC recorders. See page 271.