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» First Three Rosencrantz Generations in America

The First Three Rosencrantz
Generations in America

Harmon Rosenkrans

Harmon Rosenkrans was born into a family that originated in the Netherlands but had obtained fishing rights off the coast of Norway. Harmon himself was probably born in Bergen, Norway, and there may have been some Dutch-Norwegian intermarriages in his family. He would leave from Bergen around 1650 for New Netherlands, the new Dutch colony in North America. He sailed to New Amsterdam, the main port city in the Dutch province, which had been established only thirty years before he arrived.

Harmon stayed in New Amsterdam only long enough to find a bride. In 1657, he married the widow Magdalen Dircks, who was probably Dutch. Within three years, they had moved north on the Hudson River to the smaller and less developed village of Kingston. There they had the first of their nine children, Alexander, in 1660. Because opportunities to own land increased the father one ventured into the frontier, the Rosencranzes moved west in 1680 to the uncultivated banks of the Peterkill in what is now Rochester township in Ulster County. Harmon died in 1697, after almost a half-century in the New World.

Alexander Rosencrants

Alexander Rosencrants spent his youth in Kingston. As a young man, he went with his parents to the interior of Ulster County to clear land, build dwellings, clear farm fields, and help form a new community. He was 53 when he married Marietjen Dupuy in 1713. Her Huguenot father had been born in France and left to find religious freedom. He arrived in New Netherlands in 1662. Like the Rosenkranses, he settled in Kingston, where Marietjen was born, and then moved his family to Rochester in 1680. Alexander and Marietjen farmed in Rochester for nearly two decades and had seven children. In 1731, they saw a chance to acquire more fertile land on a new frontier and became some of the earliest settlers in the Shappanack Tract in the Delaware River Valley near Walpack in Sussex County, New Jersey.

John Rosencrants

One of the seven children of Alexander and Marietjen was John Rosencrans, Elijah Rosegrant's father. John was born in 1724 in Rochester and at seven accompanied his parents to their new settlement in Sussex County, an area in Native Americans still lived. John helped his parents build a home and create farmland out of wilderness. At 21, John acquired 500 acres of good farmland from his father. Six years later, in 1751, he married Margaret De Witt, who had been born in Rochester in 1731. Her father was Tjereck De Witt, son of Tjereck Classon De Witt of the Netherlands, and her mother was a niece of General James Clinton of Revolutionary War fame and a cousin of his son, De Witt Clinton, an early governor of New York. The Rosencranses were also related to the Clintons family, but in a more distant way, through the DuPuys.

John and Margaret had 14 children who provided help on their large farm. They got additional help from a number of slaves who worked with the family. John's success as a farmer enabled him to acquire additional land, including two tracts totaling 275 acres across the Delaware in Northampton, Pennsylvania. He was a local leader in the Dutch Reformed Church, where he was an elder, gave land for a burial ground, and had a log church built on his farm around 1770. John also took a leadership role in his civic community, becoming a freeholder and a justice of the peace. One of his neighbors was John Cleves Symmes, who would later partner with the Dayton family to become large-scale developers of land in Ohio. Symmes's wife became the mother-in-law of William Henry Harrison, a future president of the United States.

In the 1770s, as friction increased with England, John Rosencrans became a Whig and a leading member of the local Committee of Safety. When the war began, he joined the militia, became a colonel, and was with General {Name} Sullivan in his 1779 campaign against the Native Americans in the Upper Susquehanna and Genesee valleys. After the war, John Rosencrans continued to farm and raise his large family until he died in 1786.

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