THE VAN WAGENEN GENEALOGY
JACOB & GERRIT VAN WAGENEN : 1637 - 2014

Under construction - For info call 845-246-2865

 

Greetings to all of my Van Wagenen, Van Wagoner, Van Wagner, and Van Wagnen relatives, even those who have managed to spell your last name incorrectly for the past two-hundred years. I will be making periodic changes as research demands and I invite you to return now and then to see what's new, and perhaps make a comment if you wish. There will be some links at the bottom of this page to direct e-mail to me at Carlvanwagenen@gmai.com

 

 

 

For those who may be accessing my website for the first time, I will introduce myself to you. I was born in 1935 in Hudson, NY, only about 25 miles from where I now live in Saugerties, NY. In 1979 after I retired from the NY State Police after 20 years, I decided to figure out what my Dutch ancestry was all about and until that time I had no idea where my ancestors had come from or how long they had been in America. It was not long after I began my research that I discovered that the Van Wagenen family is one of the oldest and most significant of early Dutch families who settled in the Hudson Valley of NY State, having left the Netherlands about 1637 and having inhabited Kingston on the shores of the Hudson River sometime around 1650. 

The Van Wagenen Family Genealogy

1637-2014

INTRODUCTION

This is a genealogical history of the Holland-Dutch families who call themselves Van Wagenen, Van Wagoner, Van Wagonen, Van Wagner and Van Wagnen, and who are descended from the earliest Dutch settlers who came to New Netherlands from Wageningen, Holland, sometime between 1637 and 1650.

I have toiled for over thirty-three years, starting with the names of my grandparents who I knew were associated with the area of New Paltz in Ulster County, New York in the late 19th century. With help from the Haviland-Heidgard Libary in New Paltz, it was a mater of only a few weeks before I discovered that ours was one of the earliest families to settle in the Hudson Valley of New York State, some 25 years after the voyage of Hendrick Hudson in 1609. It was also clear that for some reason, our family genealogy had not been researched and published in the manner of other early families of the area, such as Dubois, Deyo, Elting, Free, Hasbrouck, Freer, and Schoonmaker. All of those families had had extensive research completed and family histories published, but not since 1882 had anyone undertaken the task of completing a genealogy of the Van Wagenen family by any of it's various spellings. 

Within a week or two I had identified some eleven generations of ancestors and could, (perhaps should) have quit looking and been content with the discoveries I had already made. Instead, apparently with the inquisitive mind and nature of a retired state police investigator, I decided to learn what had become of the siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins and myriad other relatives who were born into those families who used the name Van Wagenen by all of its various spellings. I soon learned that there were at least three other distinct families who had adopted the name of Van Wagenen or variations thereof.

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One of those families settled the area of Bergen County, New Jersey about 1660. Most of that branch later went to Utah with the Mormon movement. An extensive family genealogy entitled "The ‘Vans’ Van Wagenen – Van Wagoner, 1630-1969" was published in 1969 by the John Halmagh Van Wagoner Family Organization. This genealogy, frequently referred to as "The Red Book", traced their immigration from Wageningen, and their subsequent trek west to Winter Quarters and Salt Lake City, Utah, where many of them still reside. The members of this family generally used only two spellings of their last name, namely, Van Wagenen and Van Wagoner. 

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A third family named  Waggoner, of apparent German descent, settled on the eastern side of the Hudson River in Columbia County, New York. While some of them retained their Waggoner and Wagoner name, many other branches inserted a "Van" into their name and thus became Van Waggoner's and Van Wagoner's. The adoption of the Dutch variation of our last name presented me with some nearly insurmountable problems with regard to my research. Many of those families, most now using Van Wagner, were located within Columbia and Dutchess Counties through the later part of the 19th century, but few are located in that vicinity today.    

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Still another group of Van Wagner’s, apparently of German-Hessian origin, came into New York State from Ontario, Canada during the Revolutionary War and settled in the Mohawk Valley and Adirondack regions of upper New York State. I have recorded in my data-base any number of other Van Wagner family lines which are as yet unidentified, their origins thus far remaining undiscovered despite my best efforts. I’ve been required to research each of these families in addition to our own, in order to identify who belonged to who. It has been a confusing and challenging effort over these many years, but one that keeps challenging me and making my research even more interesting.

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Two or three of our ancestors had undertaken a family study; Gerrit Hubert Van Wagenen of Rye, New York published a small book in 1882 that covered the first five generations of our family. In 1916, Ernest Lyon Van Wagner of Staten Island, a New York City Police Lieutenant and personal secretary to Teddy Roosevelt when he was the Police Commissioner, amplified the 1882 genealogy, but was content to follow only his "direct" ancestry. His was a comprehensive family history and he did extensive research on collateral family lines, but he made a serious error with regard to his own direct ancestry which led him to draw some erroneous conclusions. One particular error made my research-life miserable for some three or four years until I discovered where his mistake had occurred.

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In 1942, a third relative, Frank L. Van Wagenen of Buffalo, did a history of his direct ancestry, together with some collateral lines. His work was of great value to me during my research of the Gerrit Aertsen Van Wagenen family which will be contained in Book Two of this two-part series. A great deal of research still remains to be done on this family before it will be ready for publication.

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The most extensive genealogy of the Jacob Aertsen Van Wagenen family was done by Philo Van Wagoner of Los Angeles, California. He published a book in 1985 and it contains a thorough study of his direct family, following his ancestors from Dutchess County to Saratoga County in New York, and then westward through the Ohio valley and into Michigan in 1824. Philo Van Wagoner maintained the "Van Wagoner Family Library" at 8891 Collingwood Drive, Los Angeles, California, and continued to research all branches of our family until his death in the early 2000’s. This Michigan family branch also has a "family association" which meets yearly for the purpose of renewing acquaintances and updating their family genealogy. Upon his death, Philo’s genealogical library and it’s entire contents were donated to the Southern California Genealogy Society.

All too soon it became apparent to me that ours was indeed a very large family, with ancestors spread all over America, and with several branches having changed the spelling of their last name to Van Wagoner, Van Wagonen, Van Wagner and Van Wagnen. Some of the reasons for these spelling changes are obscure, having likely occurred through misspellings by census-takers or simple illiteracy. Others, I am certain, most assuredly shortened their name for the convenience of simplified the spelling. During these years of research, hundreds of letters were sent to likely family members, requesting information about their particular families. For the most part, the response was remarkable and complete. In only two instances did people indicate that they had no interest whatsoever in my research and asked asked me not to bother them again. In one such instance, an elderly woman refused to accept the fact that her maiden name had not always been Van Wagner and declined to discuss what she knew about her family. These instances were for the most part overcome by obtaining the information from other sources, however, in some cases they leave a void in the research which will have to be completed at another time.

No great monetary wealth has been discovered in our family, although our earliest ancestors owned vast property holdings just across the Hudson River from Kingston, in what is now the Town of Rhinebeck in Dutchess County. That land was purchased by Gerrit Aertsen (Van Wagenen) and three others from the native Indians and it has long since been gone from our family name or ownership. In the hamlet of Rhinecliff a very small family cemetery with a dozen or so hand-chiseled gravestones is the only reminder of the family presence in that area.

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James Henry Van Wagenen, a government employee during the administration of President Warren G. Harding, did boundary surveying in the Yukon, on the Alaska-Canadian border, and as a reward for his work, Mt. Van Wagenen was named for him.

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Murray Van Wagoner, a resident of Michigan, became governor of that state during the first year of the Second World War.

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Many family members have become physicians, lawyers, or similar professionals, but if there is any common bond within the family, I have concluded that it would be a perceptible and distinct thread of civil service. There have been many postmasters, town magistrates, police officers, soldiers, and town officials of various offices who have served with great distinction. I’ve found only a few instances where a family member became negatively involved with the law, and because this is a family genealogy and not an expose’, I have decided to make no mention of their transgressions within my book.

With this genealogy I have attempted to include something more than just names, dates, and cold statistics. Where census data was available, it was included because it often showed occupations or marital status, and in some cases the state of one’s health. And in many instances, newspaper accounts or obituaries are quoted for the sake of readability.

After much deliberation, I have concluded that family photographs are generally of interest only to those who are directly related to the subjects depicted. Based upon my own experience, thirty three years of genealogical research, and a critical view of old photographs of deceased relatives, I have decided that everybody’s great-grandparents look just like everyone else’s great-grandparents. Furthermore, no one really looks at these photographs except the direct relatives anyway. Since photographs dramatically increase the price of publication, I simply opted against including them in my book.

Errors are bound to occur when one deals with 350 years of family history, to say nothing of misinformation that is carried over from one generation to another. Census enumerators were notoriously inaccurate in both their spelling and their recording of names, dates, etc., leaving a large margin for error and making research in the 1850’s thru the 1880’s a perilous venture for even the most accurate of genealogists. Likewise, the details of family stories change ever so slightly during the retelling from one generation to the next, and eventually one is hard pressed to distinguish between what actually occurred and the story now being told. I have tried my best to add interesting biographical sketches where appropriate and have, in some instances, quoted from authentic personal letters that found their way to me over the years. Military records have also been quoted wherever possible because the lend authenticity to what would otherwise be rather dry fact.

The end result of less than accurate record keeping leads to the biggest nightmare of all genealogists, that they are "re-telling" unproven or possibly inaccurate information. Wherever this sort of information appears in my research, I’ve made reasonable efforts to explain that the possibility for error exists. I will not apologize for errors that may have occurred along the way because I’ve approached my research as an investigative challenge and for personal enjoyment. Professional genealogists demand that all facts be "proven three ways" before they can be accepted as true. I have not done that because, with the magnitude of my research and the sheer numbers of people involved, I could not hope to finish my research in my lifetime. I began my research in the fall of 1979 with a few packs of 3 x 5 index cards, thinking that this would serve as an adequate indexing system. Now, looking back at the twenty to thirty charts which filled my two-car garage for the first three years while I tried to figure out who belonged to whom, I am amazed that I persevered and accomplished as much as I did.

I also intended my project to be interesting and enjoyable. To that end, I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. My only regret is that it has taken me so many years to complete and in the interim many people who contributed to my work have passed away. I can only hope that somehow they will forgive my tardiness and know that through my book their names and identities will forever be recorded. My finest reward will be in knowing that because of my efforts, hundreds and hundreds of family members will finally become acquainted with their uncles, aunts, cousins, and each other.

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I would be remiss not to mention and offer thanks to a few of the people who have helped and supported me over all these years. Most particularly to my wife Suzanne for be supportive for such a long period of time, waiting patiently while I wandered through cemeteries and local libraries. To my daughters Tracy and Jamie, and to my grandson Aaron, each of whom lent me encouragement and support along the way. To Robert Bruce Van Wagner of Lake Forest, Illinois, who gave me a donation of one-hundred dollars in 1991 without really knowing whether my research would ever see the light of day. To Barbara Van Wagenen Thompson of Allentown, New Jersey who gave me her copy of the John Halmagh Van Wagenen family genealogy. To Irene Martin of the Haviland-Heidgert Genealogical Library in New Paltz who started me on my quest back in the fall of 1979, and to Philo Van Wagoner of Los Angeles who gave me moral support and a copy of his family genealogy which he published in 1985.

Finally, let me simply thank each and every person who has responded to my inquiries and returned questionnaires during these many years. Without your confidence and contributions, this book would never have been possible.

So now, having unscrambled our family lines, I have arrived at the point where the only remaining chore is to have my research published. I sincerely hope that this genealogy lends insights into the historical significance of the Van Wagenen families. I also hope that family members who have hated spelling their last name over and over (and had wished their name was Smith or Jones, rather than Van Wagenen, Van Wagoner, Van Wagnen, Van Wagner, et. al.) will now take a new found pride in the fact that their name is indeed significant and historical, and that ours is indeed a founding family of America.

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As you can see, my website has undergone some changes which occurred when my previous hosting provider for reasons unclear to me, deleted the entire content of my previous website, leaving me with no choice but to begin all over again and get myself back on line and in full operation. Let me begin by showing you who the Van Wagenen's are and where they came from. 

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THE VAN WAGENEN D.N.A.

In July of 2009, I participated in a DNA testing program that was conducted by the website “Ancestry.com”. The results of that test are as follows:

                The Van Wagenen’s belong to the Stonemasons, haplogroup I, which is about 30,000 years old. The Stonemasons are best known for crafting pointed stone blades, known as Gravette Points, to hunt bison, horse, reindeer and mammoths. Stone played both a functional and religious role for the Stonemasons, who crafted voluptuous Venus figurines, possibly out of steatite, calcite, limestone or other soft stone. Although the exact significance of the figurines is not known, they may represent fertility or the Earth Mother goddess, a concept which prevails in many cultural mythologies. The Stonemasons could have regarded the Earth Mother as a symbol of security or as a deity who enabled plentiful harvests and and numerous offspring.

The Ice Age probably shaped the story of the Stonemasons. An ice shelf formed during the final stages of the Ice Age moved as far as southern Ireland, mid England and northern Germany, covering all of Scandinavia, where the Stonemasons lived. Northern Spain and contintental Europe were covered in tundra during these climatic shifts. As the Stonemasons moved their homes south to hunt game below the tree line, they settled primarily in the Balkans, southern France, Iberia (present day Spain and Portugal) and Italy. As they migrated, the Stonemasons played a possible role in developing the distinct difference in the languages of eastern and western Europe. When the Ice Age ended, many of the Stonemasons returned to their northern homes and repopulated Scandinavia, Iceland, and northwest Europe.

Based on my DNA test, they predict that I (and consequently, any male Van Wagenen who appears in this genealogy) belong to a subgroup of the Stonemasons, haplogroup I1. This group may have participated in a coastal migration route about 10,000 years ago, during the time period archaeologists call the Holocene Epoch. The I1 Stonemasons primarily occupied Norway, Sweden and Denmark, as well as parts of Finland settled by the Laplanders. From what is known about those regions and their traditions, it’s possible that our ancestors worshipped the god Woden, also known as Odin. When Christianity replaced paganism, Woden was retained in the culture’s folklore as a historical king. Tales about Woden describe him as leading a wild hunt in the sky with a group of spectral horseman. In a practical sense, this myth may have been used to explain thunderstorms. Woden is also reflected in mondern languages – “Wednesday” is named after that god.

In order to determine our (my) genetic profile, they took a look at several scientifically established DNA “locations” in my Y-Chromosome test. Haplotype is the scientific term for this kind of genetic profile, and they call that, going forward. My haplotype can help me find new genetic cousins and learn about my ancient ancestors. Imagine that the DNA locations they tested are like different destinations with specific addresses on the long ribbon that is your chromosomal DNA. When they do the test, they travel down that ribbon and pull up to each address and write down what they find. That numeric value is always unique to (my) DNA, and the combination of the different values makes up the unique numbers of (my) haplotype.

The haplotype table on my certificate has two rows. The top row, labled “location” indicates the names of the defined markers for each of the locations. They fill in the numberic value for (me) at each of thse locations, which can be seen in the second row of a chart labled “value”. My DNA haplotype results are useful only for their (Ancestry.com’s) database to match me with possible genetic cousins and tell me about my ancient ancestors. My test results don’t tell me (or them) anything about my hair color or other personal characteristics. The way they use DNA is very different from what you seen on police television programs or have heard about in the past. Ancestry’s database automatically compares my results with all other participants and lets me know about possible matches. Even if I have only a few close matches now, they automatically compare my results against each new entry in their growing database.  My list of matches starts with participants who are most closely related to me. I am able to view the general home locations on a map that they have supplied. They also supply an estimate of the Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCA) that I share with my matches. My MRCA is an approximate number of years since I had a direct ancestor in common. An ancestor match of “approximately 550 years ago” could men that I shared a great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather.

Ancestry determines my haplogroup based on my haplotype. My haplogroup then gives me clues about the life and times of my ancient ancestors from tens of thousands of years ago. Starting from the point in human history when many ancient ancestral groups migrated out of Africa, discrete populations began to settle in different parts of the world.

Over generations, as they adapted to their unique environments, each population's genes became slightly different from the original African group. Some of these differences were randon, while others provided genes for characteristics which let groups thrive in their enviroments. Taken together, these genetic differences define haplogroups. The numbers that make up my (our) test results are a lot like looking at the whorls on the pad of your finger tip, or the intricate pattern of a snowflake undeer a microscope.  But it's a special bit of information that may hold the answers to some of my (our) ancestral myrsteries. Everyone has 46 chromosomes, grouped into 23 pairs. One pair is the sex chromosomes, which, among other things, detemine the gender. All women have a pair of X chromosomes (one from each parent). And all men have an X chromosome from mother, and a Y chromosome that passes essentially unchanged from father to son, making it ideal for tracing paternal lineage. In many cultures, the surname is also passed from father to son, a fortunate coincidence that makes tracing your paternal lineage through genetic similarities so powerful for genealogy. Imagine your DNA as a long set of Morse Code instructions. Just like one "short" signal and one "long" signal give a Morse code value (A), your DNA repeats its "signal" in unique ways. My haplotype has different values based on the number of times my DNA repeats its code in the different locations. The numeric value given for each location represents a count of repeating sequences of DNA building blocks called bases. DNA is comprised of fourt bases: Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), and Thymine (T). Those four bases line up to creatg a code, much like the kind of code computer programers use.

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Note: Based upon what I have learned of "ancient ancestry", I belive that all of the Van Wagenen's, Van Wagoner's, Van Wagner's, and Van Wagnen's within this genealogy all fall within the same haplogroup as do I, further cementing the fact that we had one common ancestor at some point several thousands of years ago. Whether or not we will ever learn exactly how we came to be in "Wageningen, Holland" and who we were prior to the 1630's-1650 time frame remains to be seen. As nearly as I have been able to determine in my thirty three years of family research, there is no written history of our family in Holland. The community known as Wageningen was plundered and burned on at least four occasions over the centuries and it is an estblished fact that our ancestors had no surname as we know surnames today. Hence, no earlier family history and most assuredly no family "Coat of Arms".

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If you wish to have me search my data base for information about your family, please write me at Carlvanwagenen@gmail.com. Providing me with the full names of your parents and/or grandparents, with dates of birth or approximate dates, and where they resided. This information will give me a better chance to confirm your identity and hopefully locate you within these V.W. families.  

Please understand, that there are more than one Van Wagenen family lines. A family who adopted  the Van Wagenen/Van Wagoner name came to America about 1670 and settled in Bergen County, New Jersey. A majority of those families followed the Mormon movement to Utah and there is no known connection between the two families.

Additionally, there are any number of Van Wagner families who are not necessarily a  part of the Holland-Dutch Van Wagenen genealogy. Many of these family lines are of German/Hessian heritage, and although I have not thorouly researched them, I do have great many of them in my data base.