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Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Zabriskie Mystery, Part 1

Postcard of Zabriskie Pond, NJ circa 1909.
Albrecht Zabriskie, Elusive Immigrant

My father’s mother died when he was a small boy. He showed me a photo of her at a birthday party, wearing her favorite red dress just before she went into the hospital. She knew she wasn’t coming home. My grandmother Ruth died of cancer at the age of 42.
Her family name was Ruston, and rich with folk tales of family history. I grew up hearing the story of the refugee granddaughter of a beheaded King of Poland who fled to Hackensack, NJ and fell in love with a Frenchman. When we started doing our genealogy, I thought the story would be easy to prove but documented history told another tale and we had trouble proving the story to have any foundation. I almost gave up.
I learned that the last King of Poland, Jon Sobieski II, was overthrown and the government transformed. But he had been an elected monarch and there was no royal bloodline, though his ancestors had long been famous generals. His children are all documented and accounted for, and none of them, or their families, moved to New Jersey. What names we did have from family record were scattered and I couldn’t connect them after checking documents on Ancestry.com.
We had the name Albrecht Zabriskie, but couldn’t link anyone to him. I did some research of the history of Hackensack, NJ on a whim and was lucky to discover that not only was Albrecht Zabriskie a well-documented man, but that almost all Zabriskies of NJ trace back to the issue of he and his wife Machtelt. Albrecht was one of the founders of Hackensack, and after reading through the historical documents of both he and his children and their issue, I was able to discover the unknown link. It turned out to be simple. We were trying to make a connection through the wrong child.
            Even after discovering our root in America through that line, it was frustrating to learn that Albrecht’s own past was unclear, though there was much documentation to rumors or suppositions, and even some wishful thinking, as to his origins. The story as we can best interpret based on his own actions is that Albrecht had no love of war, unlike his Palatine general ancestors. There is an assumption that he was a cousin to Jon Sobieski II, or a nephew, or…something. Some researchers say that Albrecht’s father sent him to school in Amsterdam, hoping he would become a Protestant preacher but there is no support for that claim.
We know that Albrecht arrived in America from Amsterdam on the ship D’Vos, “Fox,” on August 31, 1662, under the sail of Captain Jacobsen Huys. It is widely believed by most historians that he was being pressed into military service and fled to the New World. Once here, he disappeared into Indian territory for thirteen years.
When Albrecht surfaced in 1675, “Albert Zaborowsky” was reported to be trading with the Tappan Indians, and friendly with their sachem Mamshier. He was also in trade with the Metetoch and Chechepowas. They called him Totlock. Due to his strong command of the Leni Lenape language, it is assumed he lived among them during his disappearance.
In December 1676, Albrecht Zabriskie married Machtelt “Matilda” Van der Linde at the Dutch Reform Church in Bergen County, NJ. He was 38 and she nineteen, daughter of Joost Vander Linde and Fytje Van Gelder. In the marriage registry, Albrecht lists his birthplace as “Enghestburgh,” yet no place is known to researchers. Possible locations are Engelsburg in Austrian Silesia, Angersburg or Insterburg in East Prussia.
Albrecht acted as a translator on behalf of the Native peoples for many land purchases during his lifetime, becoming himself a vast landowner. The year he was married he purchased 1,067 acres from the Tappan Indians, a tract known as Paramus, or “the Point.” In 1682 he purchased another 420 acres adjoining his original property, extending it to the Hackensack River in the east. In 1679, for unexplained reasons, the Indians became indebted to Albrecht, and the sachems conveyed to him 2,000 acres in Rockland County, NY, which was not exchanged until 1702, when Albrecht agreed to take lands in NJ instead of the Rockland property. He was deeded another 2,100 acres north of his original purchase, touching west on the Saddle River. Together, the Paramus and New Paramus tracts total 3,587 acres. Albrecht Zabriskie was a very wealthy man.
There is a story that Indians kidnapped his eldest son Jacob, from whom I am descended, and it is documented that Albrecht was given a consideration of white and black wampum, peltries, clothing, rum and implements of husbandry for the exchange. Perhaps this could be the cause of the Indians debt to Albrecht? Whether Jacob was snatched or given to the Indians to raise, he did live with them during his childhood, to the end of learning their language and cultures so that someone could act on their behalf when Albrecht’s health failed.
In Rev. David Cole’s History of Rockland County, he writes: “The oldest son, Jacob, was, with the consent of his parents, taken, when a small lad, by the Indians, to their settlement at Paramus, called in their dialect Palamah, signifying ‘wild turkey’ and grew up among the red men.” Later the Indians left these lands in Albrecht’s possession.
My Zabriskie ancestor was respected for his integrity and his fair dealings with the Indians, who held him in high esteem. He was active in the civil affairs of Hackensack and was the first Justice of the Peace for Upper Bergen County in 1682. Albrecht helped organize the first Church on the Green in 1686. The church burned at some point and was rebuilt, but the stone with his name carved into it still remains as part of the church foundation. Albrecht died September 11, 1711. His wife Machtelt outlived him by 14 years. They had five children and 27 grandchildren.
As to Albrecht’s lineage, it’s possible that his surname originated in Zborowska or Zabrze, which was a Silesian town on the Prosna River, west bank. Albrecht was a Lutheran, at odds with the strength of the Catholic church and it’s possible that his family was displaced during the religious wars. Zabriskie means “beyond the Birch tree.”
Albrecht’s name shows on many deeds in many various shapes and forms. Some of them show as follows: Albrecht Zaborowskij, Albert Saboriski, Albrecht Sobieska, Olbracht Zaborowski, Albert Zabriskie, Albert Saboroscoe, Albert Saberasky, Albert Sabboresco, Albert Saberiscoe, Albert Zaborowsky, Albert Zaberoski, Albert Cawbrisco, Totlock (among the Hackensack, Lenni Lenape and Tappan Indian tribes).


The Zabriskie Mystery, Part 1 of 3

22 comments:

  1. As a Zabriskie born on the old Paramus farm, I inherited many old documents from my grandparents. One parchment of interest is an account of the "missing years" of 1662-1676 (shortly before banns with Machtelt Vanderlinde). If anyone is interested, I'm pleased to share.

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    1. Interested and excited! Welcome, cousin! That is such a wonderful find.

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    2. I will reply to you and Ron (posted Jan 1st 2015) with some of the documents recently authenticated by the Holland Society of New York. It seems these "missing years" between landing in New Amsterdam and Marrying Machtelt Vanderlinde, Albrecht led a completely different life. As Totlock, he married the daughter of The Turtle Clan, Hashani-anna (her brother Hashenn-a-took of the Wolf clan), and had a son together, Ah-heen a took- also of the wolf clan (as was the tradition, there mother's brother raised the child). He was welcomed into Albrecht's and Machteld's life upon their marriage, but continued to remain married to Ashani. Many Zabriskie's would be surprised to know that Albrecht was a practicing bigamist, and integrated both his Lenape and Dutch families. The records from my grandparents continue to examine their loves and lives. More to follow.

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  2. Great story! I am also a descendant of both Albrecht and his son Jacob. His experience with the native americans seems downplayed in other accounts, but there does seem to be something missing - I'd love to read the account of the "missing years"...

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  3. I replied to you about the "missing years" in the last post. There is a treasure-trove of information of Albrecht (Totlock) and his years as a full member of the Lenape. He (his brother-in law) raised his son from Ashani, and after his marriage to Machteld, integrated both his Dutch and Lenape families. All sons, Including Jacob, Jan, Joost, Chrisatian, Hendrick and Albert (given to the Lenape- hence no record of him). Seven sons, one from Ashani, six from Machtelt, all raised by their Lenape Uncle and in the Lenape Warrior tradition. Upon Marrying Machtelt, he purchased more land to protect his Lenape family and continued to integrate them under his, and his brother-in-law Hasheen-a-took's care. This "extended" family prospered (was kept secret from the Church he built- for Machtelt) and thrived under Totlock's protection. This is evidenced by the eight to twelve children from Albrecht and Machtelt's sons. This was a time a great peace before the "Church Wars" (Coetus vrs. Conferentie) in the 1730's.-40's, long after Albreht has left this world. Since many of this is in Old Lenape, I have had to travel to Oklahoma to attempt to translate from an almost "extinct" language. But most of this has been now translated, thanks to the remaining Lenape of Oklahoma.

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    1. I look forward to hearing from you! I tried to message you but wasn't sure what the best way to reach you was. My e-mail addy is walking.with.ancestors@gmail.com. I would appreciate any info you could share- it sounds fascinating!

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  4. I am a Zabriskie too, My dad is Ivan Zabriskie, we live here in the Philippines,dad passed away in 1991

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    1. Hi Angela - I am your cousin....my father was Ivan's older brother, Clarence Jr. He died in 2014. I'm currently working on our genealogy for both sides of our family for our kids and grandkids. Sharon Zabriskie Van Alstine (svan11@verizon.net)

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    2. Hello Sharon. I emailed you this morning to make a connection. My return email is included. Twenty-seven years ago I married a Van Alstine! What are the odds? ;)
      Your cousin,
      Law C Zabriskie

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  5. Hope you could give me some information about our family's roots

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  6. Hello Angela,
    As a Zabriskie born and raised on the "old Paramus Farm", i inherited a treasure-trove of old documents (parchments) recently uncovered when my daughter and I delved into boxes of family history, much of it clearing up the "Missing Years" in Albrechts life (1662-1676). Also known as "Totlock", Albrecht became not only a full member of the Lenape, but was a "Sakima" or tribal leader/wise man/ translator and medicine man to his "other" family. We hope to clear-up the mystery behind the "missing years" through these documents, which clearly show his intense relationship with his Lenape family. Recently translated: Ashani, Totlock's Lenape wife, was a grand-daughter of Oratam, chief of the Turtle Clan. It is unclear whether Ashani was still alive when Albrecht married Machtelt, although there are many references to her brother, Hasheen-a-took raising the sons of both Ashani and Machtelt (as was the Lenape tradition). The "missing years"- the "mystery of Albrechts life" is slowly coming into the light and hopefully onto the pages of Zabriskie Family history. From: Law Charl Zabriskie, grandson of Dr. Angelo and Ada White Zabriskie.

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  7. I too descend from the Zabriskie family four generations before Neesja Zabriskie married Hendrick Van Dalssem about 1770. I would truly enjoy learning more of this 'unknown' years. my email is irish.armiger@gmail.com.

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  8. I too descend from the Zabriskie family four generations before Neesja Zabriskie married Hendrick Van Dalssem about 1770. I would truly enjoy learning more of this 'unknown' years. my email is irish.armiger@gmail.com.

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  9. I hit upon this site as a result of looking for information about Zabriskie's Pond, just off Route 4. I ice skated there when I was a child living in River Edge in the winters of the early 1940s. I happened by there some years ago & saw that the pond had been filled in. Grimly, Amsterdam.

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  10. I recently found a book my great great grandmother wrote of our ancestry and found that I also descend from Albrecht. In the book she has it spelled Albert Zaberoski but she also has his wife Machtelt Van Der Linden and their marriage at the Dutch Reform church in Bergen county on Dec 17, 1676. She also listed that he came to America on the ship d'vos fox in 1662.

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  11. Elliott Fay,
    There are over a hundred spellings of the Zabriskie name (as recorded by George Olin Zabriskie in "The Zabriskie Family, Vol's 1 and 2. "D'Vos" is Dutch for "the Fox". One interesting fact overlooked: Albrecht and Machtelt declared their "banns" at the church in December 1676, but that was only the intention to marry, or to be "engaged". Their marriage was performed in the Spring of 1677, almost a year before Jacob was born in 1678. One other interesting fact: Machteld Vanderlinde was sixteen when the "banns" was declared. It has been noted she was older, but she was just 16 (not uncommon in the mid-17th century). One other interesting fact- Jacob, Jan and Joost were born in 1678, 1680 and 1682 respectively . It would be another ten years before they would have more sons. Why the gap? We are only now uncovering this "other" mystery. Law Charl Zabriskie

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  12. So many Zabriskie descendants! Hello, cousins!

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  13. Law Charl Zabriskie I would love to hear from you and your daughter. I believe we are related. My name is Jan Dorian Zabriskie

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  14. Jan Dorian Zabriskie, yes we are related. You are the aunt of my 41-year old daughter, and the great aunt of my three grandsons, Jake (who just turned 21, Chris who is eighteen and Justin, 15. She is currently expecting their fourth son. They currently reside near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. As I was hospitalized for over two years, it has been impossible to get this information to you. Please try and understand- we did not wish for you to repeat the same situation you had with Ann Zabriskie Dix. Our situation remains precarious. Thank you for responding with the Zabriskie name you were born with, and for Jan (pronounced Yan) Zabriskie for whom you were named (second son on Albrecht and Machtelt (nee Vanderlinde) Zabriskie of Hackensack and Paramus New Jersey. We are also blood-second cousins to Charles Alsdorf, as his Uncle (Van Alstine) married Sharon Zabriskie. Affectionately, Law Charl Zabriskie

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  15. I have been researching John J. Zabriskie, builder of a dam and owner of several mills who apparently drowned in 1876. A surprisingly small amount of information appears to be reliable and/or available that includes details regarding the end of his life and/or potential issues regarding the integrity of the dam he built - which burst on 9/25/1883.

    Remants of the dam remain visible, but the flood supposedly wiped out all the mills and numerous downstream bridges. A lake that had been a tourist attraction also apparently vanished overnight . . . but by the 1890's, records reflect that several new mills were present in the area.

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