Mourits Mouritszen: Interstate Man of Mystery
The origin of Mourits has been shrouded in mystery. Many (including myself), believed him to be the son of Jacob Maurits and Margrietje Vander Grift, baptized 9 Jan. 1678 in New York, and the only Maurits known. However, Michael Duffy noticed that Frederick Mourits names a son Mourits among his 'kinders' in his will. Michael's further research shows a number of connections between Ulster and Somerset families.
In one of his histories of Somerset County, Abraham Messler mentions Maurice Maurison among other 'heads of families' arriving by 1699 from Long Island. Too bad he doesn't name his source. ("First things in old Somerset: a collection of articles relating to Somerset County, N.J.: including sketches of Washington Rock, Chimney Rock and a list of the freeholders in Somerset County in 1790" 1899 Abraham Messler p.18)
He seems to have been a spoke in the wheel of an inter-related group of families with the Van Nest's as their hub. This includes Dirk Middagh, Hendrick Corssen Vroom (deed dated 10 June 1688), Jacob Sebring, and Isaac Bodine. Pieter Van Nest bought 500 acres from Thomas Gordon, one of 12 plots beginning at Holland's brook on the north side of the south branch of the Raritan River. Most of the deeds are dated 1688-1690. (Messler p.15) Cornelis Corssen (Hendrick's brother) had an earlier grant in the area, ¼ share of 1,904 acres dated 3 Feb. 1683. He sold his share to Hendrick and Pieter Van Nest 6 June 1687. ("Three hundred years with the Corson families in America : including the Staten Island-Pennsylvania Corsons, the Sussex County, New Jersey Corsons, the Cape May or South Jersey Corsons, the Corsons of Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the Corsons of Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, the New England Corson families, the Canadian Corson family" Orville Corson p.72)
The Van Nest brothers may have lived in Somerset as early as 1681. They were sons of Pieter Van Nest and Judith Joris Rapalje, who lived in Breuckelen (aka Brooklyn, hence Messler's Long Island connection. Pieter seems to have died about 1698; Judith moved with her sons to Somerset). Isaac Bodine (whose brother Abraham also lived in Somerset) of Staten Island was related to Pieter Jr.'s wife, Margaret Croisson (Cresson), while Dirck Middagh (whose grandmother was Sarah Rapalje) and Hendrick Vroom married Van Nest sisters. Was there a bride for Mourits? Witnesses at his son Frederick's baptism in 1701 are listed as Piter Van Neste and Enyeltie, his sister, who married Isaac Bodine. Did Pieter represent the mother's side of the family? (see timeline below)
After the birth of his son, Mourits disappears from Somerset, an event even noted by Messler (p.16). Perhaps opportunity beckoned elsewhere.
Morris County was probably first settled near Pompton Plains. Arent Schuyler and associates purchased some 5,500 acres 6 June 1695 that lay between the Passaic, the Pompton and the foothills to the east and west ("History of Morris County New Jersey With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers" 1882 WW Munsell & Co. p.17) (referred to as Munsell). "Schuyler and Brockholst were probably at the time residents of New Barbadoes, which was on the east side of the Passaic River, just above the present town of Belleville. It is believed that they were among the pioneers in the settlement in this region, and that they settled near each other, but on the east side of the Pequannock River, near where the late Dr. William Colfax lived, and that they settled there possibly about 1698 or 1700. It appears from the records that by a writing of bargain and sale, dated March 20th 1696, they had agreed, in anticipation of their contemplated purchase, to dispose of one-third of the tract on the west side of Pequannock River to Nicholas Bayard; and also that by a writing dated March 5th 1702 they agreed to sell a part of this tract (the lower end, next the Passaic River) to Maurice Mourison. The bounds are stated as follows: "On the south by the Passaic River, east by the Pequannock, north to the hill or mountain lying over or against the lowermost part of the lowlands of Pequannock, and to the west upon the meadows along the Passaic." (ibid p. 266) The mountain range behind Passaic Valley, bordering on the Passaic River, was known in early times as Mourison Mountain, due to Mourits owning a large tract here. His descendents still lived there at the time of the writing of Munsell's book. (Munsell p.268). Thayer says he bought this tract mainly for speculation. (p.26). He was living there in 1715, if my geography is correct, for that year John Reading led a party seeking to survey William Penn's lot near the forks of the Rockaway and Whippany Rivers#. High water and difficult terrain forced them to cancel these plans and lodge at the house of "Mawris Mawrison" the night of April 23 (Munsell p. 332). Penn's tract covered Pine Brook, southern Montville, and extended into Hanover Twp. (Thayer p.266) I have two period maps that refer to today's Pompton River as the Pequannock, which was the eastern boundry.+ Would the Mourison Mountain range be Towakhow Mountain? (Hartman Vreeland also owned a tract of land on this mountain according to Munsell p. 268-he appears below. Researcher Myra Vreeland Lane says this branch of the Vreeland family resided in the Towaco section of present day Montville since about 1745. The Doremus family also settled here, and the area was known as Doremustown). Munsell further adds this lower part of the Passaic Valley was known as Beavertown. An 1887 Montville map shows Beavertown District in the north central part starting next to Jacksonville District and the Bog Vly Meadow then covering part of "Towakhow or Hook Mountain" and Great Piece Swamp over to the Passaic River.* The area between Hook Mtn. and the Passaic was purchased by George Willocks in 1699, and included 2,000 acres (ibid p. 266).
He was inside present day Morris County at least by 1722.
Originally part of Hunterdon, Morris County was set off 15 March, 1739, and included present day Sussex and Warren Counties for good measure. A frontier area, Morris had about 1,800 residents when created, with some 1,100 within it's current boundaries. As late as 1737, bounties were paid on 100 wolves and 16 panthers. ("Col. & Rev. Morris Co." Thayer 34 & 31) The "road from Whippaning to Elizabethtown", which followed the old Minisink Trail (the main Indian path between the Delaware and the NJ coast) with a branch to Newark where Chatham is now, was the only link to the outside world for the pioneers (Col.&Rev. Morris Co. p.6 &16). Whippany was officially renamed Hanover 7 Dec. 1720, but the boundaries were fluid, and various areas were called by various names (with various spellings-Whippanong, Uylekill, Poquanick, etc). In fact, Hanover Township once was all of Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties. ("Along the Whippanong" p. 48)
Traces of Mourits are few and far between. He was appointed constable for Hanover 5 Sept. 1722 and elected Freeholder at the first recorded town meeting in Hanover March 14, 1727 (AtW p.50). Constable was a thankless job; in fact, in 1768 a £5 fine was levied against anyone who refused the office! About 1720, Hunterdon County Court ruled constables must have "Constable Staffs", with the King's arms painted on a plaque at the top. Among their tasks were gathering the names of residents and assessing them for taxation. (Thayer p.40 &23) 2 Freeholders were elected from each township and served on the Board of Justices and Chosen Freeholders, along with appointed Justices of the Peace. They met in Trenton, then the county seat, in May, although special meetings could be called. Notifying the board was a chore; in 1739 a man on horseback took 2 days. Freeholders served without pay until 1792. ("The First 250 years of Hunterdon County, 1714-1964 United States" Board of Chosen Freeholders of Hunterdon County p.15-7) This book adds that typical farm prices were £5-10 per hundred acres when the grants were broken up in the early 1700's, and that bounties were paid on 91 wolves (60s) and 16 panthers (15s) between 1734-9 (p.8 & 23).
The last mention I have found for Mourits is in 1733, a debt noted in the will of Stephen Leonard of New Hanover. He is not mentioned in the church records of those that appear to be his family, in either Morris or Somerset counties.
The Montville Historical Society writes me that they believe they have found Mourit's Montville house.
The Dutch used local stone in building their houses; they tended to be small, long and narrow. Topped off with a steep gabled roof, it would not have a prominent eave. ("Pre-Revolutionary Dutch houses and families in northern New Jersey and southern New York" Rosalie Fellows Bailey p. 498)
#Walt Olson supplied this copy of the relevant portion from Reading's journal. (Information below from New Jersey Historical Society, 3rd Ser. Vol. 10, Jan.-Oct. 1915):
Copy of Journal of …….Reading, while surveying Lands in the northern part of New Jersey, April 17th to June 10th, 1715.
On the 17th of April, 1715, John Budd, James Bollen, Jno. Chapman, Jona. Lad and I set out from fathers about 3 in the afternoon for Sol. Davis' upon the S. Branch of Rarington River where we arrived just at 9 of the clock, the 18th. We waited at Sol's the day next for the arrival of Richd Bull and other Props. who came about 9 o'clock in the morn. Ed. Kemp and Benj. Kay along with him. We departed from Sol's about 11 of the clock all of us except Kemp for Jacob Peat's upon Pesiack River. We went upon the N. branch of Rarington as high as And. Denike's and struck from thence for said river, and fell upon the branches of the Dead River a little above the forks of the same. We continued our course about N.East till we came to a great swamp and went down the same to P. River, thence along the same to the said Jacob Peat's, where we arrived about 8 o'clock. This day we had a very great thunder gust attended with a great deal of rain.
19th. We departed from said Peat's and went down Pesiack River along the side thereof the same running very dead till we came to the road that leads from Whippaning to Elizabeth Town. We went up the same by John Cramer s where Jno. Bud, Jona. Ladd, Kay and Jno. Chap. Came from looking of land, who departed from us in the morning about 2 miles below Peat's and the said Budd&c. went out again but we kept the road to Jer. Osbourn s where we all lodged that night.
20th. It rained all day so that we could not do a business but stayed at said Osbourn's all that day.
21st. Jno. Budd, Bullin, Chapman a guide and I went to look out for land we crossed Whippaning and went by a great meadow lying upon said river and crossing Perseapany we went to Rackoway River where we met Jos. Kirkbride, George Ryerson & we all sought the forks of Rack. and Wyr. and so went back through the woods to Osbourn's where we slept that night.
22nd. I went to survey Jos. Kirkbride's lot lying above the Bogg meadow and finished the same and went to Mauris Maurison's to lodge this day. In the morning came N. Allen and Ed. Kamp to Osbourn's.
23rd. I went to survey Wm. Pen's lot but the waters being out and other ways being very difficult we could not perfect the same but returned back to Maurise where we lodged that night.
24th. Jona. Lad, Jno. Chapman and I in the morn, went over to George Ryason's upon Poquannock River from thence we went down to the fall of Pessiack River wliere we beheld the great and wonderful cataracts and clefts of the same, the water falling by computation about 50 or 60 foot into a cavity of a rock, from thence making its way very fiercely into a still pond from whence it descends very rapidly in a great stream for about 1/2 of a mile. We returned back to Ryason's and from thence to Maurison's we went over Pessiack to Symon Van Ese's but returned that night to said Maurison's where we slept. This day we met with Corse Vroome and some Indians at Pessiack falls who were designed for father's in order to receive their pay for part of the last Indian purchase.
25th. We went and finished Gover. Pen's survey and went to Osbourn's that night where we lodged. This day at night we met with some New England men who came to treat about purchasing of lands; we likewise received information how that the sheriff of Essex County and several other gentlemen came on the 23d instant with design to stop our proceedings but it not answering their expectations they returned back the next morning.
26th. I surveyed a lot for Gover. Pen near the great swamp and returned to Osbourn's that night where I met father and Sam'l Green who came from the upper parts of Delaware. This night likewise came the Indians in their way to our house father having also obtained leave of the propr.
From "The Morris Canal: Across New Jersey by Water and Rail" by Robert Goller, who describes the path of the Morris Canal:
Montville: The canal descended three incline planes: Plane 8 East (a 76 foot elevation change); Plane 9 East (a 74 foot elevation change), just east of Plane 8 East. Two bridges crossed the plane are both for Main Road (Now US Route 202), which doubles back across the incline. Then there was Pontoe's bridge, in the Towaco section of Montville, which was a cable suspension bridge.
near Lincoln Park: The canal descended again on Plane 10 East (a 56 foot elevation change) The area was earlier known as Beavertown. The plane was sometimes also called the Pompton plane.
Lincoln Park: the canal dropped at Lock 14 East (a 8 foot elevation change). It was long known as Maines' lock, after the lock tender of many years. Below this lock, the canal began its longest stretch without an elevation change -- the 17-mile level to Bloomfield.
(found at http://nynjctbotany.org/njhigh/morrisc.html )
Judicke Vroom: The Mother of All Mourisons?
While I have no definite proof she was Judicke Vroom, the Dutch followed a naming pattern and this suggests the name.
Generally, the first son was named for the father's father, the second son for the mother's father. First daughter, father's mother, second daughter, mother's mother.
With all the missing records I've built this little house of cards upon, what's one more?
Notice this from the Mourison timeline:
Frederick & Jannetje Mauritz Judic 17 Sept. 1741
Jacob & Tryntje Mouritsen-Mourits Jan. 1745
Abraham & Jacomina Mourison- Judick (DOB 15 Oct.) 2 Nov. 1746 (first daughter)
Johannis & Francyna Doremus -Mouris 18 Jan 1747
I would also think the sponsor Judicke of 1745 & 47 is the grandmother.
Judicke does not appear to have been a common name. Who could she have been?
She does not appear to have been a daughter of Pieter and Judith Van Nest. Their brood seems to be spoken for, and they don't have a known daughter Judith.
Someone who does is Hendrick Corssen Vroom*. He is believed to have moved to Somerset County as early as 1683. He married Josina (Josyntje) Pietersen Van Nest, daughter of the much mentioned Pieter and Judith. Hendrick and Josyntje had Judith, bap. 16 March 1679 in Flatlands, Long Island. Dorothy Koenig elaborates that it appears on page 390 of David William Voorhees' edition of the Flatbush Church Records. She was baptized at Midwout on 16 March 1679 as "Judith". Her parents were "Hendrik Corsz." and "Cina Pieters".
A search of the Somerset records fails to locate a spouse for her. I haven't found anything suggesting she died young or moved and/or married elsewhere.
It might explain this:
Jan Jacobusse Lena Pouwelse -Aelty"e 11 June 1738 sp. Frederick Vroom Jannetie Jacobusse (from the timeline)
From Second River Reformed records, Frederick is certainly the Frederick Mourison above. The surname Vroom does not show up at all in any early Morris County area records+ I have seen, and I believe this is very significant.
This would also explain why Hendrick Mourison (named for Hendrick Vroom) appears to be one of the older brothers, with his son Jacob born about 1735.
After the death of Hendrick Vroom, Josyntje married Jacob Sebring; I believe she is a witnesses at the following:
It looks at this point that Jacob was originally married to Josyntje's sister Maria. Early Somerset marriages are a quite nebulous territory.
("Sebring Collections" by Walter Wilson Sebring (p.9) certainly morphs Jacob Sr. (b. 1634) & Jr. into the same person. This is the source I have that Jacob married Maria Van Nest. They apparently were not parents.)
Timeline of Mourits Mouritszen and his family:
(this is not meant to gather every available record; but to show the interaction of family members and times and places.)
Mouris Mourison and wife- Frederick 18 Nov 1701
Mouris Mourison purchases land "On the south by the Passaic River, east by the Pequannock, north to the hill or mountain lying over or against the lowermost part of the lowlands of Pequannock, and to the west upon the meadows along the Passaic" 5 April 1702
Oeycke Mauritste j.d. born Mormelt (Marbletown NY) m. Joris Haal 29 Aug 1703 K
Joseph Stevense Geertruy Mouritse -Jan 27 Oct 1706
Bodyn, Isack and wife--Fredrick. 26 April 1709
Will of Frederick Pietersen Mouritz 30 May 1709 Kingston, Ulster, NY
Pieter Mauritsze Maria Haal -Engeltje 7 May 1710
Joris Haell and wife--Elisabet. 30 April 1712
Joseph Stevens and wife--Sara. 6 Aug1712
Will of Joseph Stevens 19 Nov 1712
Pieter Mouwersz Maary Hall- Frederick 30 Nov 1712
"we went over Pessiack to Symon Van Ese's but returned that night to said Maurison's where we slept." 24 April 1715
Ryce Vroom m. Gartright Stevens, widow 6 Sept 1718
Morris Morrison appointed constable (Hanover) 5 Sept 1722
Mouris Mourison elected freeholder for Hanover 14 March 1727 T
Inventory of Stephen Leonard of New Hanover Hunterdon 14 Sept 1733
Pieter Mauritszen m. Mareytie Spier 26 July 1735 A
Johs. & Claartje (Coerte) Francisco -Pieter 10 March 1738 (?)
Jan Jacobusse Lena Pouwelse -Aelty"e 11 June 1738
Pieter & Marytje Maurits- Marytje 14 Nov 1739 (?)
Frederik Morrisse Janneke Jacobesse -Aeltye (DOB 26 Dec 1739) 20 Jan 1740
Henderick Morrison appointed an overseer of highways Pequannock 25 March 1740
Abraham Mauritszen j.m. born Hunterdon, lives there m. 20 March1741
Abraham & Jacomyntje Mauritz -Marytje 9 Aug 1741
Frederick & Jannetje Mauritz Judic 17 Sept 1741
Isaac Mouerson constable Peq. 9 April 1742 HSR
Peter & Maria Mouritsze -Jacob 27 April 1742
Isaac & Elizabeth (Van Seyl) Vander Hoef -Feytie 11 Sept 1742
Johannes Doremus b&liv Aghuechnonk Bounds m. Franscyntje Mouritszen j.d. born Hanover, lives there 15 June1743 A
Jacob Mauritszen j.m. born Hanover, lives there m. 26 Jan 1744
Jacob mouerson constable Peq. 13 April 1744 HSR
Frederick & Jannetje Mouritsen -Lena 15 April 1744 (?)
Abraham & Jacomyntje Mouritszen -Francyna 6 May 1744
Jacob & Tryntje Mouritsen-Mourits Jan. 1745
Isaac & Marya Maurissen -Jacobus 28 April 1745
Frederick & Jannetje Mourissen -Hendrick 30 March 1745 (?)
Jacob mouerson Survaor of the high ways 11 March1746
Jacob & Wyntie Mourisson -Henry 13 Sept 1746
Isaac & Maria Mourissen -Johs. 16 Nov 1746 (?)
Abraham & Jacomina Mourison -Judick (DOB Oct. 15) 12 Nov 1746
Johannis & Francyna Doremus -Mouris 18 Jan 1747
Jacob Mourison & Catherine Vorstrandt* -Peter (DOB 26 Aug 1747) 18 Oct 1747
Frederick & Jannitie Mauritss -Syntie 20 March 1748
Isaac & Marytje Mouritszen -Marytie 20 March 1748
Will of George Hall 24 Sept 1748
Abraham & Jacomina Mourison -Maurits 25 Sept 1748
Hendrick Maurison oath of Allegiance 1749
Isaac Mourison applied for tavern license 1750 HSR
Pieter mouerson overceir of the poor Peq. 10 March 1752
Isaac Bodine dies intestate. 4 Aug 1752
Hendrick Mourison listed as Freeholder (owning over 100 acres) Pequannock Twp. in 31 Aug 1752
Johannis Maurisse b & lives Pechquaneck m. 6 Oct 1755
Frederick Mourise named "nephew" of William Hall in will 23 April 1756
Johannis & Geertrui Mouwrse -Hartman 30 May 1756
Johannis & Francyntje Deremus- Judic (DOB 1-27-) 13 March 1757
Catryntie Maurise m. 28 June 1759
Mauris Mourisse m. 9 Sept 1761
Francyntie Mourisse m. Robert Santvoort 25 Feb 1762
John Dreemus to keep Frederick Mowers till next meeting day 20 May 1769
Abraham Mowers to keep his brother Fradrick till next town meeting 18 April 1770
Will of Hendrick Mourison names children Jacob, Mouris, Henry, Mary (w/of Pieter Fredericks) 29 Aug 1786
Sold Abraham Mowerson to John Francisco 26 April 1790
Will of Frederick Mowerson names wife Elizabeth, sister Angleche (Kinney); nephew George Hall 28 Aug 1790
Abraham Mowrisson "departed this life 13 Dec. 1793"
Will of Elizabeth Mowerson 1796
Some additional spouse family information taken from here: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~rclarke/index.htm#top
Contributed by Kevin
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