Dutch-Colonies-L ArchivesArchiver > Dutch-Colonies > 1998-06 > 0898055765
From: BILL DECOURSEY <>
Subject: Re: STATEN ISLAND / CORSON - French or Dutch?
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 22:56:05 -0500
> One small clarification, though. Unless I misread, the impression left by
> Bill's post is that the Corson family left Staten Island NY for Bucks County
> PA - some did, others stayed.
Thanks for the clarification. I didn't mean to leave that impression. We
know that only (some) of the children of Cornelius CORSSEN joined the group of
families who left for Bucks County. Others remained; and even some of those who
left, appeared to "commute" between Staten Island and the area of Bucks County
near present day Philadelphia. (A long distance considering the mode of
transportation in that day.) An example is the Rev. Cornelius Van Sandt ("Van
Sanatvoort"), a Dutch Reformed Church minister at Staten Island, who was related
by marriage to the CORSON family who, between 1730 and 1738, "traveled down from
Staten Island several times a year to see to the spiritual needs of the
wrote: Re: CORSON heritage.
> Perhaps someone on the list advocates the other side - that Cors
> Pietersen was a Dutchman - and can argue against Bill's position. I would be
> very interested in hearing from anyone who can do that.
I'd gladly welcome and accept the challenge. The controversy may never be
resolved to everyones satisfaction; but it should result in a lively and most
interesting discussion. Certainly we know that there were many of both Dutch and
French-Waloon extraction (as well as a some Swedes and Norwegians, etc.) living in
early New Amsterdam. The livelihood of most of these citizens originally was
derived (either directly or indirectly) from the activities of the Dutch West
India Company which, although sailing under a charter granted by the Dutch in
1621, was formed as a trading comany by a group of French speaking Walloons who
earlier had exiled to Holland from Northern France and Belgium (Wallonia). Bob
Protzman gave a good "mini-history" of this subject in V.98, #27 of the
DUTCH-COLONIES-D Digest. Cynthia of this group called my attention to a web
site that contains a transcript of the original text of this charter and lists the
signers. The URL is
The whole matter is complicated by the fact that many of French origin
appeared to change their surnames to disguise their French heritage during the
Colonial French and Indian Wars. Two or three decades later, when France entered
the Revolutionary war on the side of the States, I find that some whose
predecessors had modified their French surname for various reasons to a Dutch or
English sounding surname, again reverted to the French name to reflect their true
heritage. Hence: deCOURCY (French) to STAM (Dutch) to CORSON to RACER/REESER
(English) back to DeCOURSEY or DeCORSA or DeCORSAW (French). - See below.
There are several examples that I could provide regarding descendants of both Jan
CORSZEN and of Cors PIETERSZEN; however only one will be presented here.
Ill outline below a brief history of at least one CORSEN line in which these
name changes took place; and let the readers judge for themselves whether my logic
is sound. The tale is remarkable in light of the various name changes that took
place in a relatively short number of generations, and even within a single
Although I expect that some will disagree, Ill start from the premise
(which I also think can be substantiated) that Jan CORSZEN, bpt 1750, son of
Hendrick CORSSEN, was a grand-nephew of Cors PIETERSZEN (progenitor of the
CORSONs of Staten Island and Bucks County, PA), and a great-grandson of Pieter
COURSEY the Huguenot through his son Jan CORSSE(N) who m. 1619 in Holland to
Tryntje Van CAMPEN. From that point, Ill go on to try to prove my hypothesis
with information derived from various sources and will provide sources when
appropriate. Additional details, background information, and source information
can be obtained from my pages posted at http://www.teachout.org/du/
Jan CORSZEN (1750-1703), son of Hendrick CORSSEN, married 1673 at New
Amsterdam to Metje Theunis CRAY.
Theunis KORSSE (1680-1704), son of Jan and Metje (CRAY) CORSZEN, married, 29
May 1702 (banns 8 May 1702) in the DRC of New York, to Josyntje Van OBLINIS.
Josyntje OBLINIS was bpt. 19 Feb 1685, in the DRC of NY, the dau. of Joost and
Maria (SAMMIS) OBLINIS. NY.GEN.BIOG.REC., v.12,p.37. See also Riker's HISTORY OF
HAARLEM, Rev.ed.(1904) p.622,643.
Theunis CORSSE (1680-c.1704) died at sea shortly after his marriage leaving
his widow, Josentje OBLINIS, with one male child, Teunis CORSA who married first
to Elizabeth vanNAMBURG and second to Rachel VANGARDEN, widow of Jochem
SCHOONMAKER. The widow, Josyntie (OBLINIS) CORSA, married 16 Jan 1707, at
Kingsbridge, NY, to Isaac VERMILYEA, son of Johannes VERMILYE. In addition to her
son, Teunis CORSA, she had eight VERMILYEA children by this second marriage:
Isaac VERMILYEA, bapt. 10 Jun 1708, m. Mehitabel HADLEY; Maritje VERMILYEA, bapt.
12 May 1711, m. Jacobus TELLER; John VERMILYEA, bapt. 7 Apr 1714, m. Charity
DYCKMAN; Aeltje VERMILYEA m. John TELLER; Sarah VERMILYEA m. Mr. VALENTINE;
Rebecca VERMILYEA m. Jacob DYCKMAN; Hannah VERMILYEAm. Isaac O'DELL; and Peter
VERMILYEA, b. 1725, m. Mary "Polly" PINCKNEY.
Teunis CORSSE/CORSA, b.1704, (aka Teunis REESER aka Dennis DeCOURSEY), son
of Theunis Corson and Janetje Van OBLINIS, was raised in the home of his
step-father, Isaac VERMILYEA. Theunis married first 10 Nov 1726, in the DRC of
NY to Elisabeth NAMBERG, probably a daughter of Abraham VanAMBURG (or VanIMBROCH)
and Antje KENNIFF (or KENNEDY) of Tarrytown, NY.
Teunis CORSA and his wife, Elizabeth, were residents of the Manor of
Phillipsburg, Tarrytown, NY between 1733 and 1746 during which time they appear on
various records in the Dutch Church of "Sleepy Hollow". Doris Stoddard, SEVEN
GENERATION INDEX AND GENEALOGICAL MATERIAL, (New Rochelle, NY 1975).
Teunis CORSA (aka Tuenis REESER) had eight children by this first marrage
to Elizabeth VanAMBURG: Isaac CORSA (1727-1807) married Sarah FRANKLIN (see more
about him below), Annatie CORSA b.1728 m. Everdt BROWN, Teunis CORSEN b.1730 m.
Anatie ----, Jezyntie CORSA b.1733 m. 1st Simeon BUYS and 2nd Baltus Van KLEEK,
Benjamin COURSEN m. 1st Jannetje HORNBEEK and 2nd Jannetje Van AKEN, Elizabeth
CORSA b.1743, Jacob REESER b.1733 m. 1st Frances Adair 2nd Anna Magdalena
SCHNEIFLE and 3rd Sarah Ann SIMMS, and Philip RESER, b.1746 m. Margareth KOENIG
In April 1746 Teunis CORSSE was elected assessor for the Manor of
Phillipsburg (near Tarrytown, New York). His occupation was "mariner". It was
about that time that his first wife, Elizabeth, died (probably during the birth of
her son Philip). Sometime before 1751, Tuenis removed to Dansbury
(Smithfield), PA where he married 2nd to Rachel VanGARDEN, widow of Jochem
SCHOONMAKER. (See more below) NY.GEN.BIOG.REC., v.59,p.35,204. See also
Hillmans OLD DANSBURY and the MORAVIAN MISSION (1932).
Well get back to Teunis CORSA/REESER/DECOURSEY (1704) later, but lets
follow the history of his oldest son, Colonel Isaac CORSA (1727-1807) who was
named after his step-grandfather, Isaac VERMILYEA.
Isaac CORSA/CURSA, born ca.1727, died 1807. He was the son of Tuenis
CORSE/CORSI (b.1704) and Elizabeth VanNAMBURGH/VanIMBROCH , grandson of Theunis
CORSEN (b.1680 and Janetje Van OBLINIS, and a g-grandson of Jan CORSZEN and Metje
Theunis CRAY). He married, 9 April 1759, in the Presbyterian Church of N.Y.C. to
Sarah FRANKLIN, first dau. of Thomas and Mary (PEARSALL) FRANKLIN and the sister
of Walter FRANKLIN, a wealthy New York merchant. Isaac CORSA was of the firm of
"Corsa and Bull". He received his commission as Captain, 25 Sept. 1755, and led a
detachment of Queens County men at the capture of Fort Frontenac (Kingston), Aug
1758. He was a Lt. Colonel of the 1st battalion of New York in 1759; served in
the expedition to Niagara; Colonel of the 2nd New York battalion in 1760. On 12
Aug 1776 he was arrested by order of Washington, and sent prisoner to Norwich and
Middletown, CT; but was released. The Council of Safety at Middletown voted, 25
Dec 1776, "that Messrs. BURTING, WADDLE, CORSEY, WHITEHEAD, and BETTS be permitted
to return to their places of abode in the State of N. York, upon their giving
their parole in writing not to give any intelligence, nor do or say anything
against the service of the American States." - Knox's HISTORICAL JOURNAL,
p.527,528n. Lorenzo Sabine, LOYALISTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, v.I,p.336. NEW
YORK MARRIAGES, p.95.
After Walter FRANKLIN's death in 1780, Col. Isaac CORSA occupied his
(Franklins) mansion at Maspeth. Isaac CORSA died in Flushing, NY, 3 May 1807,
in his eightieth year "beloved as a man and a Christian." "He was small in
stature, and juvenile in appearance, though an intrepid officer." Maria Franklin
CORSA (also referred to as "Marie DECOURCY" - see 1789 letter from Sarah ROBINSON
to Kitty Wistar transcribed below), his only child, married John J. STAPLES. J.A.
Stevens NEW YORK CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (1867), "Biographical Sketches",
pt.2,p.129 See also NY.GEN.BIOG.REC. v.14,p.96.
On 6 Dec 1845, Mary Robinson Hunter, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil wrote her
recollections of her FRANKLIN great-uncles and great-aunts, siblings of her
grandfather, as follows: "---Thus I have given an outline of my grandfather's
brothers. His two sisters are now to be brought forward. Sally [sic. Mary
FRANKLIN?], the eldest, married Caspar WISTAR, of Pennsylvania. --- My
grandfather's second sister Mary [sic. - SARAH "Sally" FRANKLIN?], married a
Colonel DELANCY [sic. - DeCOURCY?] of French extraction. --- I remember him as a
little girl; he did not love children, was of a morose disposition, and I trembled
when I heard him approach, in a red velvet cap and brocade dressing-gown and
slippers, when I was playing about, whilst on a visit to my aunt on Long Island.
They had only one child, a daughter, beautiful in face and person, and with much
French sprightliness and naivete'. She married at thirty a Mr. STAPLES of New
York, and had, like her mother, but one child, a daughter." (Note that, in the
above letter, the elderly Mary Robinson Hunters memory reverses the names of the
two daughters of Thomas Franklin and she mis-spells the name of Col. Isaac
CORSA/DECOURCY, otherwise this is esentially correct - William L. DeCoursey).
See: NY.GEN.BIOG.REC. (July 1892), v.23,p.127-130.
Kitty WISTAR, b. 1768, dau. of Caspar and Mary (FRANKLIN) WISTAR received a
letter dated, 30 Apr 1789, on the occasion of George WASHINGTON's arrival in New
York and taking residence in Walter FRANKLIN's home. The letter was from her aunt
Sarah ROBINSON in which she describes Marie, dau. of Isaac and Sarah (FRANKLIN)
CORSA/DeCOURCY, as follows: "---Marie de COURCY too, has been in town a
fortnight, she made her home at Uncle Osgood's, but was a great deal among us all,
she is about making a little tour into Connecticut on a visit to a friend Lucy
BALL with Joseph BULL, who is now in town.--". (Note here that Isaac CORSAs
daughter, Maria, is very clearly referred to as "Marie de COURCY")
NY.GEN.BIOG.REC. (July 1892), v.23,p.127-130.
A patent for the township of New Fane was issued, 29 January 1772, in the
names of Isaac CORSA, Walter FRANKLIN, Giles ALEXANDER, John THOMPSON, John
FRANKLIN, Jacob WATSON, Joseph BULL, Peter BARD, Samuel FRANKLIN, Robert BROWN,
Lawrence KORTRIGHT, Teddeman HULL, James BROWN, Anth'y BYVANCK, Robert BENSON,
Lindley MURRAY, and William BACKHOUSE.
A patent for the township of Reading was issued, 5 February 1772, to Isaac
CORSA, James WESSELS, Waldron BLAAU, Marinus WILLETT, William KENNEDY, et.al. On
the same day, a patent for the township of Woodstock was issued to Isaac CORSA,
Joseph BULL, Peter van der VOORT, William TALMAN, Henry BEEKMAN, Charles McEVERS,
The following week, a patent was issued for the township of Fairlie to
Samuel STEVENS, Isaac CORSA, Joseph BULL, John VREDENBERGH, Waldron BLAAU, et.al.
"Calendar of Council Minutes" NEW YORK STATE LIBRARY, BULLETIN 58 (March 1902),
Now, back again to Isaac CORSA/deCOURCYs father, Teunis
CORSA/REESER/DECOURCY (1704). By the year 1751, as a widower with young children,
he had left Westchester Co., NY for Smithfield Northampton Co., PA. The town of
Smithfield had been established in 1748 near the present site of Stroudsburg, just
across the river from Walpack, NJ. The town was founded by Daniel BRODHEAD of
Marbletown, NY; and most of the inhabitants came from the vicinity of Kingston,
Marbletown, and Minisink.
Denis REESER (also known as Teunis CORSA, Dennis DeCOURSEY), "widower of
Elizabeth NURNBURGH", married second, 2 Feb 1752, to Rachel Van GARDEN, "widow of
Jochem SCHOONMAKER" in the Dutch Reformed Church of Smithfield, PA. They were
both residents of Smithfield at the time. Jochem SCHOONMAKER had died in 1751 at
Dansbury (Stroudsburg, PA), and was the first burial at the Moravian Mission
there. See Ralf Ridgeway Hillman, OLD DANSBURY and the MORAVIAN MISSION,
p.81,passim. Also see C.G. Hine, THE OLD MINE ROAD (1909), reprinted 1963,
The widow, Rachel VanGARDEN had seven children by her first marriage to
Jochem SCHOONMAKER, and five children by her second marriage to Teunis
(Note: For the benefit of those who were involved in the discussion regarding the
many children of Weyntje QUICK or CRAY and are still keeping tabs, Ill point out
that Rachel had 12 children over the span of 25 years, the last being born when
she was 45 years old.)
The first of her sons by Jochem SCHOONMAKER was Abraam, baptized at Kingston
in 1737, the next five, Isaac, Elizabeth, Elizabeth again, Jacob, and Peterus
were bapt. at Minisink, and the youngest daughter, Helena, was bapt. in 1751 at
Smithfield, PA the same year Jochem died. Of these children of Jochem
SCHOONMAKER, the youngest son, Peter SCHOONMAKER, bapt 20 Aug 1749 at Minisink,
(my ancestor) took the DECOURSEY family surname of his step-father, Dennis
DECOURSEY (aka Teunis CORSA) instead of retaining the family surname of his
natural father. (Hence my interest in the origin of the DECOURCY surname, even
though my blood-line is through the SCHOONMAKERS.)
Petrus SCHOONMAKER, son of Jochem and Rachel (VanGARDEN) SCHOONMAKER, was
bapt. 20 August 1749, in the Dutch Reformed Church at Minisink, Orange Co., New
York. Sponsors were Jan KERMER and Christina KERMER. NEW YORK GENEALOGICAL AND
BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD, v.40,p.201.
Peter SCHOONMAKER (aka Peter CORSA/DECOURSEY), son of Jochem SCHOONMAKER and
step-son of Teunis CORSA/REESER/DECOURSEY, married Madalena Van AKEN, dau. of
David Van AKEN and Madalena SCHOONMAKER. They baptized some of their children
at Walpack, NJ before moving their family first to Allegheny Co., PA about 1798
and then to Trumbull County, Ohio about 1803, leaving many DECOURSEY descendants
in Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, and elsewhere. (Including me.)
The three sons of Teunis CORSA (aka Teunis REESER aka Dennis DECOUSEY) by
his second marriage to Rachel Van GARDEN, each took different surnames in their
The oldest, Benjamin DECOURSEY or RACER (1752-1823) married Maria
CHESTNOR, took the surname RACER, the anglisized version of the French COURSEY
surname, and moved to Marietta, Ohio. Benjamin left many RACER descendants
throughout the country. (Ive been in touch with several who are aware of BOTH
their DECOURSEY and CORSON heritage. Ive charted many of their
descendants.) Benjamin CORSA/RACERs granddaughter Grace (RACER) STANLEY
deposited a manuscript at the Campus Maritus Museum in Marrietta, Ohio
acknowledging the French DECOURCY heritage of the family which had been passed
down to her by her grandfather.
The second son, William DECOURSEY (1756-1841) was born 1756 at the time of
the Indian raids at Upper Smithfield. According to Hillman, the home of Teunis
REESER and Rachel Van GARDEN was burnt to the ground during this Indian raid.
The family sought refuge at Fort Cumberland, MD to the south. William DECOURSEY
(1756) states in his Revolutionary War pension application that he was told that
he was born in Maryland. William DECOURSEY retained the family DECOURSEY
surname of his forefathers, and as was the case with his half-brother, Peter (my
ancestor), he left progeny with the DECOURSEY surname. He was living in Rowan
Co., NC about the time of the American Revolution where he married Elizabeth
IRVIN. They moved first to Preble Co., Ohio and thence to Campbell Co., Kentucky.
The third and youngest son, Abraham CORSA or CORSAW (1762-1826) took the
name CORSAW. His descendants, however, have used the surnames CORSA, CORSAW,
DECORSAW, and DECOURCY. The family bible records of his grandson, Felix A.
DECOURCY, are preserved in a file at the Jean Nicolet Chapter, D.A.R. in De Pere,
Wisconsin. I also have made recent contact (though the internet) with other
CORSAW descendants of this family who know of their DeCOURCY heritage.
Now notice from this discussion that Im neither a CORSON nor a "DECOURSEY"
by blood-line, but I proudly claim BOTH Dutch and French heritage on my lines of
SCHOONMAKER, DECKER, Van GARDEN, SLECHT, duBOIS, BREESTEDE, ROSENKRANS, de la
MONTAGNE, DeFOREST, VOLKERTSZEN, VIGNE, HOOGE, BRADT, Van AKEN, RELYEA, DePUY,
ROOSA, LeROY, DAMEN, DePRE, DesCHALETS, WYNKOOP, PELS, etc. I'm just fascinated
with the unique history of New Amsterdam and it's people.
Enough for this round! Are there any challengers on the Dutch side of the
issue? If so, I'd like to hear from them. I have more regarding other lines
from Jan CORSZEN as well as regarding the descendants of the Staten Island CORSON
bunch, some of whom also started using the "DECOURSEY" or "DECOURCY" surname about
the time of the American Revolution. Incidentally, there was another group of
DECOURSEYs who arrive early in both Maryland and Rhode Island who were Irish, if
by chance the Irish want to chime in.
THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!
On another subject, Im currently in the process of doing some detective
work and putting together some facts that may (or may not) settle the QUICK/CRAY
argument in regards to the parentage of Weyntie. - but that will come later after
I return from a much needed vacation.
|Re: STATEN ISLAND / CORSON - French or Dutch? by BILL DECOURSEY <>|