Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys


A Family History donated by: Harry Windecker


Melissa Newkirk is our Great Grandmother. Our Newkirk ancestors came to America by way of the Netherlands. Newkirks in America have spelled their names several different ways, for example: Van Nieuwkerck, Van Nieuwkirk, Niewkirk, Newkerk, and Newkirk (all pronounced essentially the same way, NEWKIRK). Newkirk is an acquired name, probably the name of their ancestral home, as Dutch during this period had a Patronymic naming system. In this system, the name of the father is carried as the second name of the child. For instance, if the Father's name were Garret, a son, Arie, would be named Arie Garretse. (This is similar to the more familiar Scandinavian system, Leif Erickson, son of Erick the Red.)

The earliest record of the Newkirk family name is found along the Lower Rhein valley of Germany. From here they migrated to other countries including Holland, France and America. The entire state of Gelderland, Holland, the ancestral home of our Newkirk ancestors, is less than 100-miles from the lower Rhein valley of Germany. This River forms the southern boundary of Gelderland. Our ancestors probably lived in this section of Holland for several centuries prior to immigrating to New Netherland (Bergen County, New Jersey and several Boroughs of present-day New York City including Manhattan, Richmond and Brooklyn). New Netherland extended up both sides of the Hudson River, beyond Albany.

The name dates back into Germany to the 1100s. Adolphus de Nieukirchen was mentioned in a document produced by the monastery of Gehrdenas in 1153. Towns named Nieukirchen are found in two counties along the lower Rhein in Germany, Grevenbroech and Moers.

At the time of the Dutch migration and settlement into New Netherland, catholic Spain ruled Holland, which may have prompted a migration to the New World to pursue that old standby, religious freedom. The Newkirks and other Dutch who immigrated here in the mid 1600s spoke the Dutch language, and were farmers, merchants and craftsmen.

Cornelisse Van Nieuwkerck, born about 1600, was the father of two sons whom he sent to the New World. Conflict occurs here as his name is reported as Mattheuse Cornelius Van Nieukirk, born Slichtenhorst, Gelderland, about 1595 and his name is also reported as Cornelis Van Nieukirk, baptized February 6, 1603 in Putten, Holland. His wife was Bitjtie Gerrits.

The latter name and birth date is from information compiled by Stanley C. Newkirk, a researcher of the Newkirk family, and author of "The Descendants of Kil Hermans". This information provides one more Newkirk ancestor, Kil Hermans, born in the late 1500s, and father of Cornelis Van Nieukirk.

Garret Cornelisse (our ancestor) and Matheus Cornelisse (age 12) sailed for New Amsterdam on April 25, 1659 on the Dutch ship "Moesman" (meaning Market Garden) Amongst ship's records is the name "Gerret Corn. Van Nieuw-kirk, planter, and wife and boy and suckling child". The wife was Chieltje Cornelissen Slecht, also of Holland; the boy, Matheus (also spelled Mattheus), was Gerret's brother; and the suckling child, name unknown, died on the voyage, or shortly after landing. His death was reported in April 1659 and he was buried in Flatbush (Brooklyn). A street corner, Flatbush and Newkirk is the only indication that Newkirks once lived in Brooklyn.

Cornelisse Gerret, born about 1635, and Matheus (about 1647) were born in Slichtenhorst, Gelderland, Holland. Gerret married Chieltje who bore six children (another report lists 10, but has duplicate names). As mentioned, the first remains unnamed, and was born in Holland. Five others, three boys and two girls, were born in America.

Conflict occurs between the first-born Newkirk in America. One report has Cornelis Garretse Van Nieuwkirk, born 1662 in Flatbush, as the first born; whereas the second lists Arie Gerretse, born 1661 in Flatbush, as the first born (the first report lists no date for Arie's birth). Arie is our likely ancestor. Garret, Chieltje and family reportedly lived for a short time in Bergen, New Jersey, and then moved northward up the Hudson River to Kingston, New York, where they raised the rest of their family.

Arie Gerretse Newkirk had nine children. Some of his children and their descendants continued a generation-by-generation migration up the Hudson and Mohawk valleys, into Montgomery County, and adjacent Herkimer County (essentially following the route of the modern New York State Thruway into the Mohawk Valley). This migration route is unlike the Windeckers, who migrated cross-country, roughly following highway routes 23 and 145 (not entirely true) into the Mohawk Valley, as we often did, visiting our relatives in the Mohawk Valley. (The actual route to Schoharie was probably through Schenectady, then to Schoharie. The route from Schoharie to the Mohawk Valley was likely to Fort Plain or Canajoharie.)

The Probate Records of Ulster County New York indicates that Arie and family resided both in Hurley, and Saugerties, New York. In Hurley, he was Justice of the Peace in 1699 and Town Supervisor in 1721. He held various local positions through 1732, and was a Judge of Ulster County about 1725.

Gerrit Newkirk, fourth child of Arie, and Lysbeth Lambertse, was born in Hurley, Ulster County, New York before May 30, 1697. He was married in Abany, New York, October 19, 1718. Information available states that he also died on that date, indicating that he either had whale of a honeymoon, or a typographical error occurred. The latter is likely, as his children were born after this date, and he would have died at the age of 21 and left no children. He married Anna Vischer, born 1696 in Hurley. Their children include: Elizabeth, Ary, Johannes, Anna, Gerret Cornelius, Jacob and William.

Johannes and Gerret Cornelius both moved west, up the Mohawk River, settling in Montgomery County New York. As both are possible ancestors of Melissa Newkirk, genealogical information for both families is presented.

Johannes, born 1724, married Rachel Clute, in Schenectady, New York, moved his family to Fonda, Montgomery County between the years 1773 and 1776. Johannes and Rachel Clute had six children, Garret, Tanneke, William, John, Arie and Annatje.

Gerret Cornelius, born probably January 1739 (1729 reported, but the more probable date is 1734 to 1739, as based on his headstone, on which the last digit is illegible, 172?), also moved up the Mohawk Valley. His name, as well as his son, is spelled Garret on tombstones in the Newkirk Family Cemetery in Florida, Montgomery County, New York. The inscription on his sons stone reads that Garret is the son of Garrett C Newkirk and Nellie Quackenbush.

Garret married Neeltje Quackenbos (a.k.a. Nellie Quackenbush) of Schenectady, New York, moved to Fonda about 1770, and ultimately moved to Florida, Montgomery County, New York. Garret Cornelius and Nellie had seven children, Gerret (Garret), Abraham, William, Johannes, Cornelius, John and Maria.

Garret, Gerrit and Gerret are spelling variants that occur in the literature. The form Garret is found on the headstones mentioned above. The name similarity makes it difficult to distinguish offspring from this time forward.

Captain Garret Newkirk, and Major John Newkirk fought in the Revolutionary War with the Tryon County Militia, Third Regiment. Garrit, Garrit G., William, William J, and Abraham are other Newkirks listed as Privates with the Militia, who also fought in the Revolution. Since, Garret Cornelius and Nellie had children of the same name as the children of Rachel and Johannes, it is not determined who or whose offspring fought in the Revolution.

In Florida, the Newkirk Family Cemetery contains the graves of several Newkirks. Our ancestors are most probably amongst them, as Florida is the home of William Newkirk, father of our great grandmother, Melissa Newkirk. It is likely, therefore, that we are descended from Garret C. and Nellie Quackenbush Newkirk. A Quackenbush cemetery that also contains Newkirks is located in nearby Auriesville. The trail to other Newkirks becomes sketchy. It is probable that our more recent Newkirk ancestors resided in Florida, or Minaville (a village in the Town of Florida) or possibly Fonda.

The 1800 census shows seven distinct families of Newkirks living in the Town of Mohawk (Garrit C, Garrit Cornls, Garret I, Jacob, John, Garrit, and William), and five families in the Town of Florida. Thus, due to poor documentation, it is difficult to ascertain family relationships here.

The 1880 census shows that William Newkirk is the father of Melissa. The 1850 census shows William, born about 1829, living in Florida with Jane Newkirk, 52 (probably mother, father not listed). William apparently had two marriages. The first, to an unknown wife, produced Alex, 1854; Jacob, 1856; William J, 1858; and Josephine, 1860. The second marriage was to Sarah J. and produced Frank, 1867; Melissa, 1871 (actually, 1870) and George, 1878. Birth dates are based on age at 1880 census.

It appears that George Willard Windecker and family left the farm in Manheim to work in the mills in the rapidly growing industrial city of Amsterdam, as the 1880 census indicates his residence there along with son, Willard, age nine. William Newkirk, similarly left the farm in Florida to work in Amsterdam.

Although not confirmed, William is possibly the brother (or cousin) of Garret Newkirk, born 1835 in Minaville, Town of Florida, the son of Samuel Newkirk and Alida Zieley. Samuel is listed as the son of Garret C. Newkirk and Rachel Gardinier, both buried in the Newkirk Cemetery in Florida, with lineage traced as described in preceding paragraphs. David Newkirk, age 1 year 11 months, son of Samuel and Alida is also buried in this cemetery. It is unknown where Samuel and Alida are buried, or where their son Garret is interred.

This portion of the work and subsequent verification will be left for future research. Helen Hyer, our family historian, cannot recall any names associated with this branch of the family tree. Needless to say, Harry Newkirk Windecker, son of Melissa, married Edith Elizabeth Farrington. So begins the Farrington portion of our family history.

Copyright 2001. Harry Windecker. All rights reserved.

Contents Introduction Links Home