Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sleepy Hollow

This is a view of the cemetery of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. It was taken by a visitor who posted it on the Friends of the Old Dutch Burying Gorund website.

The church, which you can see in the background of the photo, was built in 1697 in what was then called Phillips Burgh. It is now located in Tarrytown, New York, north of New York City on the east bank of the Hudson river. Sleepy hollow was made famous by Washington Irving, who is buried in this cemetery [The Legend of Sleepy Hollow].
From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his pow-wows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions; and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole nine fold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head.
Phillips Burgh was settled in the late 1600s, mostly by Dutch settlers from New York (New Amsterdam). The original Dutch colony was lost to the English in the Second Anglo-Dutch war, which ended in 1667 and the Dutch territory was permanently ceded to England after the Third Anglo-Dutch war ending in 1674.

One group of settlers were not Dutch but Canadian. The David sibship consisted of Carel David, David David, Angelica David, Mathys David, Margaret David, and Daniel David. They were born in Laval, Quebec (Canada) and moved to New York with their parents Guillaume David and Marie (Armand) David. As the children reached adulthood they migrated north to become farmers in Phillips Burgh and they joined the Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow.

The David family was originally from France and their ancestors can be traced back to Julien David of St. Etienne who was born about 1200. By the time they emigrated to Canada they were Hugenots.

I am directly descended from Margaret David who married a French soldier named Pierre Montras (Montrose). They moved to Kingston, New York, just up the river from Phillips Burgh. That's where their daughter Margaret Montras was born in 1691. Pierre died in 1703 leaving Margaret with several children who she farmed out to her brothers and sisters in Phillips Burgh. Many of the Montras (Montrose) children also joined the Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow.

Margaret Montras was probably living with her uncle Carel Davids (name change) when she met and married Harmen Harmse, the son of the Dutch settler Capt. Jan Harmse and his wife Aeltje (Abrahams) Harmse. Jan Harmse was an elder in the Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. We can trace Aeltje Abrahams' ancestors (and mine) back to 1555 in Holland.

When Harman married Margaret Montras he took her name as his surname and became known as Harmen Montras. Their fourth child, Peter (Petrus) Montras, was baptized on March 6, 1715 in the Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. He is my great- great- great- great- great- great-grandfather. Peter's descendants changed their last name to Montrose or Montross.

Harmen Montras and his wife Margaret Montras are almost certainly buried in the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow cemetery in unmarked graves and so are Harmen's parents Jan Harmse and Aeltje. That's four direct ancestors of mine. Part of the house built by Jan Harmse is still standing in Irvington, New York.


  1. So, Larry, you're the latest reincarnation of the Headless Horseman?

    Seriously, it's cool to be able to trace family that way. My mother-in-law has been working for years to trace her own and my father-in-law's families and has made some fascinating discoveries.

  2. Hi Larry,

    My family is also descended from Margaret Davids and Pierre Montras, through their daughter Margaret, b. June 25, 1691. I'd be keen to find out about Aeltje Abrahams' forbears- we only have the names of his parents (Abraham Ryck and Grietje Hendricks, right?)


  3. Aeltje's parents are Grietje Harmensen (Hendricks) (1616 - ) and Abraham Rijcken (Ryck) van Lent (1618 - 1689). They were married in the Netherlands, probably near Lent. Abraham settled in New Amsterdam in 1638 on land that was probably purchased by Grietje's father Hendrick Harmenson van Lent who had gone over earlier from Lent.

    I think Grietje's mother was Tryntje Herxer.

    Abraham's father is often listed as Jacob Deryck. Jacob's father was Captain Jacob Simons De Ryck and Captain Jacob's father was Melchoir De Ryck, born in 1555.

    Here are some websites: LENT. RIKER

    However, these ancestors are almost certainly wrong as pointed out by Edgar Alan Nutt on his website The Rikers. He has found evidence that Abraham Rijcken van Lent is, indeed, from Lent.

    As you probably know, Abraham is the ancestor of many Rikers, and Rickers in America and also of many with the surname Lent.

    Abraham purchased Hewlitt's Island in the East River. It later became known as Riker's Island.

  4. I also am a descendant in the same line you describe, down to Margaret Montras and Harmon Harmse. However, it was their son Jacob Montras (brother of Peter) and his heirs from which I further descend, to his son Jacob, then eventually down the line through Robert , James , then Silas Montross, to Horatio, (my great grandfather), to his daughter, (my grandmother) Anna Elizabette Montross, to her son, Earl Kelly, (my father ) to me. I am listed in the Montross Family History book, in err as a baby girl. I drove past the cemetery but plan to visit it soon.
    Your cousin, James Kelly

  5. Larry,
    My family line comes down from David David in Westchester.I have tried to contact you via e-mail
    with no success Ellen

  6. I also trace my ancestry back to Guillaume and Marie but not through any of the children that moved to NY with them. I am descended from his oldest Jacques who remained in Canada when the family moved. I still find it interesting to learn about other branches of the family. We're all a part of the same "tree".

  7. Mary Obert says,

    I am descended from his oldest Jacques who remained in Canada when the family moved.

    It's difficult to sort out the children of Guillaume David and Marie Arnault-Armand. There are 14 children in my list. They are (in order of birth): Jacques, Pierre, Anne, Rene, Marguerite (Margaret) Madelaine, Marie-Anne, Ursala, Carel, David, Mathys, Marie-Angelique, Angelica (Engeltje), and Daniel.

    Do you agree?

  8. I have 10 on my list using about 4 different sources. Jacques 1657 Anne 1659 Marguerite 1661 Marie Anne 1663 Madeleine1666 Charles 1672 David
    1675 Marie Angelique 1678and Rene and Pierre - no dates. If the others were born after the move to NY I may not have found them.

  9. Yes Guillaume's son Jacques (1657-1708) remained in Quebec when his father and mother (and some siblings) relocated to New York (just as this article says).
    Jacques is my 8th Great grand-father.

    Clark Callear

  10. Jacques (m.Catherine Lussier) is my 7th great grandfather. My line after Jacques is Jacques(son), Jean-Baptiste,Louis-Basile, Fleury, Ferdinand-Conon, Jean Ludger, Olier Joseph, Olier Ludger (my father). Do we share any others down the line?

  11. I am aslo a decendant of Pierre Montras. In addition I also have John Alden and Priscilla Mullins on the same side of my family. I would appreciate any information you have of the montras (montross) Family. Please E-mail me with the info @ Thanks

  12. Hello cousins, I am in the 9th generation in the book: Montross: A family history; Pierre Montras and his descendants, a record of 300 years of the Montras, Montross, Montrose, Montress family in the United States and Canada. Kathy Little

  13. My grandfather always talked about how many Davids there were but I had NO idea! My grandson Nicholas David is the 25th generation of Davids all the way to Julien 1175. My path is Jacques 1657 through Jacque A. 1693 through Jean Baptiste 1724 then, in the late 1800, the migration went down to Massachusetts. My wife and I, along with my daughter's and son's family are now in Maine. Working our way back up? I left that to my grandson!

  14. Larry, You have some really interesting stuff here! One of my favorite stories, when I was a kid, was Icabod Crane and Sleepy Hollow. I actually never realized it was an actual place. I'll have to add it to my Bucket List for places to visit.

    -a distant cousin, Gary David

  15. Larry I too am a descendant of the Montras/Davids through the Bloom Evertson line.

    Has anyone had any success in making the formal linkage of this mythical ancestry with the Montrose Marquises (Graham) of Scotland?

  16. Rob asks,

    Has anyone had any success in making the formal linkage of this mythical ancestry with the Montrose Marquises (Graham) of Scotland?

    There is no connection. Our ancestor is Pierre Barthalmy Montarass who comes from the southwest of France in Lot et Garonne. Specifically, he lived in Marmande, about 40 km south-east of Bordeaux.

    His descendants in North America Anglicized their names when they moved south to the colony of New York.

  17. Hi Larry

    I've been doing geneaolgy on my fathers ancestors for several years, and was pleased to see your site. I too come from Pierre Montarras, dit Marmande. I know the Montross Family History lists Pierre as being born about 1660, but since Pierre entered the country in 1665 as a soldier in the Regiment de Carignan that can't be possible. Do you have a birth date for him?


    1. I think the soldier was Pierre Barthalmy Montarass, the father of Pierre Montras. He probably brought his son and wife to Canada in 1668. The marriage contract between Pierre and Marguerite David was signed on Dec. 8, 1674 and they apparently were married by about 1683.

      That seems consistent with a young man who was born about 1660 and would have been 14 years old when the marriage contract was signed.

      It looks like Pierre's parent went back to France and died there in 1674. I suspect that Pierre Jr. was apprenticed to Guillaume David, his future father-in-law.

      Does this make sense?

    2. Dear Larry,
      I wonder if you have seen the marriage contract dated December 8, 1674. I have tried to find it on, but without success.
      - Adrienne

  18. Hi Larry! You mention, "We can trace Aeltje Abrahams' ancestors (and mine) back to 1555 in Holland." My sons are also decendents of this line, and I would love to have this information as I have only gotten as far as Aeltje Abrahanson b. 1653. You insight to her ancestry would be much appreciated! Thank you! Sue from Oregon :)

    1. Jan Harmse Van Lenneps (1658-1743) married Aeltje Abrahamson Van Lent (1653- ) in the Dutch Reform Church in New Amsterdam on Nov. 7, 1680.

      Aeltje's parents were Abraham Rycken(Ryck)(Rijcken) Van Lent (1618-1689) from Lent, Nijmegan, Netherlands and Grietje Harmensen (Hendricks) (1616-1689) who is said to have been born in Manhatten (New Holland) although that's unlikely.

      Her paternal grandparent were Jacob Simons DeRyck (1590-1689) and Guisbert VonRyker (1590-1640) of Reusel-de Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. We almost got to visit that town last fall when we were in Belgium. Jacob's parents were also from Reusel-de Mierden. They were Carel De Ryck (Rycke) (1564- ) and Mayken Cornelius (1568- ).

      Aeltje's maternal grandparents were Hendrick Harmensen (1582-1643), a very famous early settler, probably from Lent, and Catherine Tryntie Herckson (1582-1620). Catherine's father was Sibout Siboutsen Herckson (1556- ).

      I couldn't find the parents of Hendrick Harmenson and that's surprising when you consider how many people are descendants.

  19. Hi Larry, After spending countless days, months and years corresponding with many helpful people, researching North America and Canada and perusing the BnF in Paris, France I have concluded that the David family, starting with Guillaume David, can go no further back then himself. There is a genealogy residing in France tying Guillaume to a Blaise Didier and on to France but I now believe, as many reputable genealogists do, that that work done can not be verified, either in Canada or France. Until new records surface the Davids of the Guillaume David/ Marie Armand family can only go back to Quebec in the 1650's. Guillaume and Claude can not be proven to be brothers of Jacques David with records available so far.

    1. Thanks. One reason for posting this stuff on my blog is to attract attention from people like you who know a lot more about genealogy that I do.

      How would you rate the probability that Guillaume and Claude are brothers of Jacques? It seems to be to be pretty high even though it's not proven.

    2. It's a very high probability ... they were brothers according to the PRDH in Canada and I am treating them as such. Wisconsin & Michigan are a great source of info regarding both brother's events. Suzanne Sommerville, noted genealogist in Michigan was a great help to me. On my bucket list is to visit your area, God willing!

    3. Hi Larry, It's looks like it's been awhile since I've been on your blog here, wow! A lot has happened since. Like the previous response, Guillaume & Claude were in fact brothers and records do state that. Where they came from is still a mystery however but I, and others, are STILL working on it. I hope to get down there and it's highly probable that it will be this year or even this summer. Have a great day!

  20. Very Interesting stuff. I am also a descendant, my mother was a Montress.
    I am new at the genealogy of the Montras, Montross, Montress families. I started out looking for my roots from my fathers family. But when I discovered that there was a book, written by John Wilson Taylor, and that my name was in it. Well, I was hooked!

    1. Be careful because Taylor's book is full of mistakes.