Tuesday, September 8, 2015

TUESDAY’S TIP–U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States, 1639-2000

Dutch church image

We all know that church records are a valuable source of information about our ancestors.  They are likely the only records in existence for births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, in the 17th, 18th and part of the 19th century.  I have quite a few of those records, from both the U.S. and over in Scotland.
However, I’ve recently discovered a new branch of the family, the Cooper’s, who were members of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York.  Apparently, for several generations.  With that came the discovery of a database on Ancestry.com for the U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records, 1639-2000.

I’ve been able to find baptisms for whole families and marriages.  These records go back as far as 1691, so far, for my family.  And the best thing……….THEY ARE ALL WRITTEN IN LEGIBLE HANDWRITINGAt least that has been my experience so far.

Here are a couple of examples.  I haven’t changed the color of the pages.  I would normally make them black & white, but wanted you to see them just as they look on the database.

COOPER_Jacob_baptismal record_1726_DutchRefChurch_Albany New York_annotated
COOPER_Abraham_marriage to Catarina OSTRANDER_22 Mar 1752_AlbanyNewYork_annotated
This is the explanation from Ancestry.com about this database and it’s contents.

About U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States, 1639-2000

This database will be comprised of records from the Reformed Church in America. This database will be updated with content from other states, and currently includes records from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Founded in New York City in 1885, the Holland Society is home to collections relevant to the settlement and history of Dutch colonies in America, with an emphasis on New Amsterdam and Hudson River settlements. This Holland Society collection includes records of the Dutch Reformed Church dating back to 1642. Within the collections are records of baptisms, marriages, and burials, primarily from New York, with some from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
For more information see the Holland Society.
Historical Background Henry Hudson’s exploration of the Hudson River Valley in 1609 paved the way for a wave of Dutch immigration that began in 1624 with the settlement of New Amsterdam, in what is now Manhattan. From there the Dutch settlements expanded into upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. While the area was in Dutch control, the Dutch Reformed Church was the state church, although the Dutch were tolerant of other religions. The Dutch lost control of New York in the late 17th century, but many Dutch settlers remained in the area formerly known as New Netherlands and continued to leave their mark on the region.
Many early Dutch used the naming convention known as patronymics. Patronymics make an identifier out of the father’s name with an attached suffix, such as -s, -z, -sen, -zen, -sse, or -sz. Peter who was the son of Jan might be known as Peter Jansen, and his son Jacob might be Jacob Peters. Other names may have reflected the place that person was from, such as Vander Poel, which means “from the pool.” Occupations were sometimes used as well. Be aware that sometimes parts of a family kept to one naming convention, while another branch would use a different one.
Since suffixes could vary, you may want to search this collection by using the root of the surname with the * wildcard for an ending. For example, a search for Cornelis* would pick up both Cornelis and Cornelisse. Similarly, the * can be used for names where a prefix may or may not be present. *Groot would find both De Groot and Groot, among other variations. Note: Either the first or last letter of the name must be a non-wildcard character.

Here is a link with more of an explanation about these records from familysearch.org.  This article contains many helpful links.

I checked on familysearch.org to see if I could locate these records, since they are free and not everyone has a subscription to Ancestry.com.

The answer was YES, they are available, but only with an index, NO image.

Here is Abraham Cooper’s christening record from familysearch.org.
AbrahamCooper index familysearch

Would this still be helpful information. Absolutely!

My plan is to use both of these websites to gather as much information as I can on this family.  We know that sometimes different sites have varying indexes and I don’t want to miss any records.

I Googled “Dutch Reformed Church Records” and came up with more lists of records:  https://www.google.com/search?q=images+with+the+word+church+records&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=dutch+reformed+church+records

I hope this has been helpful to you.  Until I discovered this family I had no idea we had any Dutch Reformed Church members in my lineage. 

Here is my post about finding this branch in my tree, thanks to a generous member of a Facebook group I belong to.

SURNAME SATURDAY - COOPER - Have I really gone back 3 more generations?

Here is a post I wrote about how Facebook can help us with our research.
FACEBOOK - How it can be very useful in your research

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2015   Diane Gould Hall


  1. Your information is very helpful in my research. I have been researching the Van Slyke sir name from New York since 2000. My brother and I had our DNA done through FTDNA, Cooper keeps showing up. I found out through another match that my 4th grandmother was a Quackenbush ,(Quackenboss, Bush ) who are related to the Cooper family and also match our DNA. It looks like you and I may have some common ancestors.

    1. Hi Linda - Thanks for leaving your comment. Now that I've found this new branch of the family, I need to look at my DNA and my brother's too. I've seen the name Quackenbush on some of the baptismal records I've found. Strangely enough that name is already associated with my family, only on the other side (my maternal side). Where the Cooper name is on the paternal side. On the maternal Quackenbush, it's only through marriage. However, it would be interesting to see if our Cooper's are connected.
      Please stay in touch and thank you for stopping by.

  2. Diane, I live about 7 miles from First Church, -- been there for programs, lovely church. If you want pictures of anything in and around Albany or Rensselaer counties I can try to get it for you . A lot of the old stuff is still here. Running late so this is all I can say now, but contact me if you want (you know wherein a few of the same forums).

    1. Hi Jo - That is so very nice of you. I have discovered that these particular ancestors were early settlers in Albany and some of the surrounding areas. Having never been to NY state, you know I'm dying to go now. My husband's family also have roots in NY state, in the Buffalo area. I have so many records and much work to do in order to get all the media linked and sourced in Legacy for this line.
      I enjoy your blog and appreciate you reading mine. Thanks again for the times I've been mentioned in your Noteworthy Reads. Your blog is linked in the "Mentions" tab on my blog http://www.michiganfamilytrails.com/p/blog-page.html.

    2. Thank you for the "Mentions". ;)
      Albany is about 5-6 hours from Buffalo depending on traffic, so when you come allow a bunch of time at each end of the state.

  3. I think that it is important to note (which ancestry does not) that these records are transcriptions from the original records. (Note, lined paper and stamped page numbers.) Nevertheless, wonderful to have. Thank you for highlighting them.

    1. Peggy - thank you for pointing that out. I'm certainly thankful that the transcribers had legible handwriting. I doubt I'll make back to NY from CA any time soon, so these are wonderful to have. If the originals are on microfilm, of course they could be viewed at any FHC.
      Thanks for stopping by :)


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.