born on the old estate December 2'3, 1826, and died at West,
New Brighton, December 28, 1882. In 1857 he was elected a
vestryman of the old St. Andrew's church at Richmond, and
served for a number of years.
In 1863 he was appointed one of the United States assessors
of the internal revenue on Staten Island, and after serving the
government nine years resigned the office. He was also the
resident agent for the island of the Continental, Phoenix and
Hanover Fire Insurance Companies of New York from 1865 to
1872. In 1875 he was elected a trustee of the village of New
Brighton. In 1880 he was elected president of the New York
City Fire Insurance Company and served until his death in
1882. In 1881 he was appointed resident manager for the United
States of the Standard Fire Office of London, a large English
He was also prominent in the Masonic order, being a Knight
Templar and a member of Palestine Commandery, New York.
In 1851 he married Charlotte A., daughter of Stephen D.
Stephens, a prominent citizen of the island. Three of their
children, Stephen D., Anne E. and Charles E., are now living
at the family residence in West New Brighton. Stephen D.,
the eldest son of John W., is the junior member of the firm of
Miller & Simonson, who are the agents for Staten Island of the
Liverpool and London and Globe and other leading fire insur-
ance companies. And he is also one of the trustees of (he
Richmond County Savings Bank.
STILWELL. This family is of English origin and was here at
an early date. The first mention of the name, with reference
to the island, is in the Albany records, where a piece of wood-
land on the south side of Fresh kill is mentioned as belonging
to Daniel Stilwell in 1680. There is also mention made in our
county records of Richard in 1689, of John in 1695-6 and 1708,
HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 581
and of Thomas in 1697 and 1704. It would appear then that at
the close of the seventeenth century there were at least four
families of the name in the county. We subjoin the names of
those found in the several church records.
Elias and his wife Anne Burbank (she was probably the
daughter of Thomas Burbank and Maritje Martling. See Bur-
bank family), had a son Thomas baptized June 30, 1726, and a
son Daniel baptized March 24, 1728. Thomas married Debora
Martling, and had a son Elias baptized June 10, 1747. Nicholas
born January, 1747, died April 26, 1819. Abraham born March,
1750, died September 12, 1824.
The Stil wells were for a long time an influential and prom-
inent family in the county, and members of it filled many local
offices (see civil and military lists), while there are yet several
highly respectable individuals among them.
SPRAGUE. The tradition in the family is that three brothers,
Joseph, Edward and John, emigrated simultaneously from
England, but the date of that event is lost; it must have been
early, however, as we read of Jacob Spragg, who must have
been a son of Joseph, as early as 1729. Of these brothers,
Joseph took up his abode on Staten Island; of the other two,
one settled on Long Island, and one in Rhode Island. Wil-
liam, whose name we find in the county records in 1767, and
Joseph in 1772, were undoubtedly grandsons of the original
Joseph. The original Joseph had three sons, Jacob, John and
Edward, notwithstanding, the family has not increased very
rapidly, and at present numbers but a few families, mostly con-
fined to the town of Westfield. The only notices of the name
in the old record of St. Andrew's church, are the following :
Andrew and Catharine Pryor married June 28, 1800. Jacob
and Margaret Wood married July 12, 1800. Daniel, whose
wife's name was Annatje (Anna), had a daughter Susannah,
baptized July 18, 1762. There was another Daniel whose wife
was Maria Poillon, and who had a son Jaques baptized March
26, 1738, and a son Daniel, baptized April 4, 1736, whose wife's
name was Ariantje, and had a son Jeremiah, born December 1,
Here we abandon the attempt further to trace the genealogy,
and give the remaining names which we have collected, leaving
it to the members of the family to discover their own an-
cestors. Sarah Pareyn (Perine), wife of William "o6//Y," had
582 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.
twins, William and Daniel, baptized September 6, 1719 (Post-
humous). Jan and Elizabeth Parein (Ferine) had a son John,
baptized November 15, 1719. Thomas and Sarah Van Name
had a son Thomas, baptized December 22, 1723. Daniel and
Catharine Larzalere had a son Richard, baptized November 25,
1739. Joachim and Anna Tenners had a son John, baptized
July 28, 1751, and a son Richard, May 23, 1759. Thomas and
Nancy Fountain had a son Antone, baptized February 16, 1755.
John and Helena Van Name had a son Elias baptized June 24,
1752. Richard and Jenneke (Jane) Van Name had a son Nicho-
las, baptized September 21, 1735.
The above are from the records of the Dutch church; the fol-
lowing are from St. Andrew's : Nicholas (sou of last mentioned
Richard) and his wife Effey (Eva) had a daughter Catharine, born
November 13, 1761. Jeremiah and his wife Yetty had a son Peter,
born April 30, 1764. John and Oily Taylor were married Sep-
tember 15, 1757. Samuel and Hannah Van Pelt were married
June 9, 1755. Richard and Mary his wife had a son Daniel,
born February 7, 1770.
TAYLOR. Abraham and Harmintje Haughwout had the fol-
lowing children : Ephraim, baptized October 23, 1711, died
young; Altje, (Alida), baptized May 18, 1710, died young;
Rachel, baptized August 21, 1720; Altje, baptized November
25, 1722; Peter, baptized July 4, 1725; Ephraim, baptized April
6, 1729; and Margaret, baptized November 23, 1715. Ephraim
married Elizabeth Morgan, January 4, 1756. Another Ephraim,
probably father of Abraham, had a son Jan, and a daughter
Marietta, both baptized in 1696.
The above family, though English in name, had assimilated
with the Dutch, as is evident from the names of some of them,
and are found in the records of the Dutch church. The fol-
lowing are found in the records of St. Andrew's church, and are
of another family. Oliver was born 1687, and died August 24,
1771; there is nothing to indicate that he was born on the is-
land, though he died here. Henry and Judith had a son John,
born September 20, 1770. Oliver and Sarah, daughter Eliza-
beth, born August 24, 1771. Henry and Lydia, son Abraham,
baptized in 1775. John and Fanny, son Oliver, born September
24, 1791. Benjamin and Ann Decker married September 9,
1791. John and Sarah Yates married January 7, 1804.
HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 583
TOTTEN. We can scarcely consider this family as among the
old families of the island, though the name is found in local
records for more than a century. In the records of St. Andrew's
church the name occurs two or three times, until the organiza-
tion of the Methodist church, when it becomes identified with
that church. Gilbert was one of the first, and leading men,
connected with that society.
The residence of the families bearing the name has been al-
most exclusively in the town of Westfield, and the thriving
village of Tottenville in tha;t town perpetuates their respecta-
bility and influence. The only notices of the name in church
records, other than those of the Methodist church, are as fol-
lows : Silas and Charity, his wife, had two sons : Joseph, born
August 10, 1765, and Ephraim, born February 24, 1768. Joseph
and Mary Cubberly were married December "11, 1804.
EPHKAIM J, TOTTEN was born March 30, 1806, on the home-
stead at Tottenville, where he remained until seventeen years
of age. Finding the life of a mariner more attractive than
the labor of the farm, he, at the age of nineteen, became mas-
ter of a vessel sailing to southern coasts, and for a period of
twenty-two years continued to follow the sea. In 1850, Mr.
Totten, with many other adventurous spirits, started for the Pa-
cific coast, and engaged in mercantile pursuits in San Francisco.
He had, meanwhile, purchased the homestead farm, his present
residence, and California no longer proving an attractive point,
Tottenville became the scen^ of his business experiences. Here,
until 1874, he continued a leading and successful merchant,
finally abandoning the store and retiring to his attractive farm.
As a republican, Mr. Totten has been an influential factor in
politics. He filled the office of supervisor for the years 1846-
47, was a member of the state legislature in 1848, and has
held other less important positions. He has also been assessor
and member of the excise board. Public spirited and enter-
prising, Tottenville and its various interests have been ma-
terially advanced through his agency. He was one of the pro-
jectors and an early director of the Staten Island Railroad.
Mr. Totten is a zealous member of the Bethel Methodist Epis-
copal church, of which he has been for thirty-three years re-
cording steward, and equally long a trustee. The lot upon
which the edifice stands was donated by his father. Ephraim
J. Totten was married, June 27, 1827, to Harriet, daughter of
584 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.
Jesse Oakley. Their children are: Gilbert, Julia A., George
O , William W., Frances E., John J., James B. and Ella G.
The death of Mrs. Totten occurred in August, 1866, and he
was again married, in 1870, to Mrs. Elizabeth Downer, daughter
of Jeremiah T. Brower, of Belleville, N. J. The Totten family
are of Welsh extraction, three brothers having emigrated from
Wales. Gilbert and Joseph settled on Staten Island, the latter
attaining distinction and influence as a Methodist divine. Gil-
bert became an extensive land owner on Staten Island, married
Mary Butler and had children : James, John, Joseph, Rachel,
Mary, Letitia, Elizabeth and - . John, of this number,
was born in 1771, and died in 1847. He married Nancy Cole,
of Staten Island, and had twelve children, one of whom is the
subject of this biography.
TYSEN. This family is of Dutch origin. Barne Tysen came
from Amsterdam about the year 1660. He married Maria
Kroesen in 1672. He applied for a grant of land in 1674 and
obtained grant by patent from Edmund Andros in 1677. He
built the old stone house on the land granted by Andros. He
had three sons : Abraham, Cornelius and David. Abraham had
u son, Abraham DeDecker Tysen, who was baptized October
21, 1707, and Cornelius married Clymer Morgan Classen in
1703; but we have been unable to trace their descendants.
David married Magdalena Morgan in 1698 and died in 1710,
leaving a son, Barent Tysen, who was born February 4, 1699,
married Elizabeth Swain October 20, 1723, and died December
29, 1752, leaving one son, John Tysen, who was born October
-10, 1731. He married Cordelia Bergen May 1, 1757, and died
March 7, 1808. He was elected trustee of the li Reformed Dutch
Church on Staten Island" in 1787, ordained elder in 1797 and
was several times supervisor of Northfield. He had two sons,
John and Jacob. John was born March 17, 1758, and married
Miss Elizabeth Jaques March 21, 1798. He was elected deacon
and treasurer of the "JSTorth Dutch Church" in 1802 and
remained its treasurer until his death, February 6, 1827. The
records of the church contain the following :
"Whereas, God in his Sovereign Providence has removed by
Death Capt. John Tysen, Treasurer of this Church, who died
yesterday, Feb'y 6, 1827, Elder of this Church and accordingly
member of the Consistory of the .same. Whereupon it was
HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 585
"Resolved, That the surviving members of the Consistory,
as a suitable mark of respect for the usefulness, piety, faithful-
ness and zeal of said deceased Elder, \ve do wear crape on the
left arm for the space of thirty days from the date hereof."
He left a large family, of whom one is now living Charles
Tysen, residing at Port Richmond.
David Jaques, his eldest son, was born August 28, 1807,
married Miss Elizabeth P. Lake December 29, 1831, and died
March 27, 1885, leaving two sons, Daniel W. and David J.,
both residing at New Dorp.
Isaac P., another son of John, was born in February, 1814,
married Miss Cordelia H. Jackson January 11, 1837, and died
March 26, 1886, leaving one son, Robert P., residing in New
Jacob, son of John, Sen., was born October 8, 1773, and mar-
ried Miss Mary Housman February 6, 1794. He became treas-
urer of the North Dutch church at the death of his brother
John. He was judge, state senator and member of congress.
He died July 16, 1848, leaving three sons : John, Richard and
Raymond M. John, the eldest, was born February 1, 1803,
and is still living at Schraalenburgh, N. J. Richard was born
May 13, 1805, married Miss Elizabeth W. Ferine May 19, 1830,
and died February 2, 1866, leaving two sons : Jacob Raymond,
residing at Jacksonville, Florida, and Edward P., residing at
New Dorp. Raymond M. was born October 14, 1819, and died
May 8, 1851, leaving no male issue.
The records show that this family has been largely interested
in Staten Island realty, and David J. Tysen is now one of the
largest owners of real estate in the county. As was the custom
with many of the old settlers, for a century or more they buried
in their family burying ground on their homestead, John Tysen
being the last buried there in 1808.
VAN BUSKIRK, VAN DUZER. Neither of these can be re-
garded as old Staten Island families. There was a Cornelius
Van Buskirk here during the revolution, but he came from
Bergen. The sites of the Pavilion, at New Brighton, and St.
Peter's church now occupy a part of his farm. His dwelling
house stood along the Shore road, at the foot of the hill upon
which St. Mark's hotel stands, and is alluded to elsewhere. He
had a son who owned a farm on the road leading from Quaran-
tine to Richmond near the Clove road. Another son lived at
586 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.
West New Brighton, and owned the mill which formerly stood
on the "Factory Dock;" his wife was a Schermerhorn from
The Van Buskirks were among the earliest settlers on Bergen
Point, and were a very respectable though not a numerous
family, on the island. Mrs. Tan Duzer, mother-in-law of Hon.
H. B. Metcalfe. married a son of the original Cornelius Van
Buskirk, and after his death married the late Daniel Van Duzer.
The Van Duzer family originally came from Long Island, and
settled on Staten Island near the close of the last century.
Daniel Van Duzer left at least two sons, John H. and Daniel
C., both now deceased.
JOHN H. VAN CLIEF is one of the prominent business men of
Richmond county who, by industry and careful methods, has
won for himself success and reputation. Mr. Van Clief is a
grandson of Daniel Van Clief, of German extraction, who settled
on a farm near Garrison's Station, S. I., previous to the revolu-
tion, and who was four times wounded during the colonial
struggle for independence. The family enjoys an enviable
record for patriotism and loyalty, members of it having served
in the war of 1812, in the Mexican war and in the war of the
rebellion. One of its members, Benjamin "Van Clief, died on
Staten Island of a wound received in the war with Mexico. He
was a son of Jesse Van Clief, and a brother of the subject of
Jesse Van Clief was a man of indomitable courage and energy.
He was a ship blacksmith and was employed in the construc-
tion of many famous war ships, among which was the "Consti-
tution." While working upon her he broke his leg, and in order
that her completion might not be delayed he allowed himself to
be transported from Staten Island to the Brooklyn navy yard
on a couch, after which he superintended the rigging of the
vessel in his invalid condition. Afterward he fought in the
war of 1812, in which he had the misfortune to lose his
Jesse Van Clief married Miss Margaret Moore (English) and
of their ten children John was the fourth. He attended private
school in the neighborhood of his home till his father's death
left him, at the age of ten, an orphan. Though thrown upon his
own resources for support he did not give up the idea of edu-
cating himself, and with this end in view he spent many of his
? ?b\'AJJ '
HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 587
in the night school at Tompkinsville. The same
spirit which characterized him in this has attended him through
his whole business career. At the age of seventeen he com-
menced learning the trade of a carpenter, and at twenty-one he
engaged in contract work for himself. In 1854 he discontinued
contracting and started in the lumber business at Port Rich-
mond. The success which he has attained in this, as in his
other ventures, is well known on Staten Island, and is entirely
due to his foresight and good judgment.
Mr. Van Clief has never held political office, though he has
long been identified with the politics of the county as a staunch
democrat. For thirteen years he was a member of the Rich-
mond County Guard, and during a portion of that time served
as sergeant of the company. He has interested himself in real
estate on Staten Island of which he is a large holder, and his
advice in regard to real estate and land values generally, is
highly esteemed by business men. He was married July 17,
1836, to Miss Janette Vreeland. He has had seven children, all
of whom survive.
THE VANDERBILTS. Staten Island is remarkable in that it
was the birthplace of the distinguished American railroad king
(Commodore) Cornelius Vanderbilt, and for many years the
residence of his world-famous son and heir, William H. Van-
derbilt. Without a sketch of their lives, whose names and
those of their descendants are interwoven with so many inci-
dents of its progress, a history of Richmond county must be
Commodore Vanderbilt was of Holland Dutch descent. The
common ancestor of the family from which he came, Jan (John)
Aoertsen Van der Bilt, arrived in this country from (van) der
Bilt or Bylt, the hill, in Holland, about 1650, and took up his
residence near Flatbush, Long Island.* A grandson of the
latter, Jacob Van der Bilt, in 1718, purchased from his father,
* Jan Aoertsen Vander Bildt married Dierber Cornelius. He married three
times. The second 'wife is assumed to have been the ancestress, as the name
Cornelius is repeated in the family. Jacob Janse (son of John), married, August
13. IfisT, Maritje (Mary) Vander Vliet (of the stream). Jacob, Jr., born 1692,
bought a farm on Staten Island, 1718, \vhence he had removed from Flatbush, L.
I. It will be seen how long a time the Vauderbilts have been associated with the
island. He connected himself with the Moravian church ; married Neeltje c( !or-
nelia) Denyse. Jacob, born 1723, married Mary Hoogland. Cornelius married
Phiebe Hand, February 3, 1787. The Cornelius Vanderbilt of this sketch was
588 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.
of the same name, a farm on Staten Island, to which he re-
moved with his wife, Eleanor. It was he who founded the
Staten Island branch of the Vanderbilt family.
For more than a century his hardy descendants developed
nothing of a remarkable character. They were quiet, indus-
trious farmers, pious, perhaps to a fault, and liberal in their
support of the little Moravian church, to the faith of which
they were converted by some of the persecuted followers of
John Huss, then settled at New Dorp. "Not slothful in busi-
ness, serving the Lord," is a motto which they seem early to
have adopted, and to have followed through the long years with
most commendable consistency.
On May 27, 1794, Cornelius Vanderbilt was born, at the
home of his parents, near Stapleton.* He was the son of Cor-
nelius Van Derbilt and Phoebe Hand, and the great-grandson of
Jacob Van der Bilt. His boyhood and youth were spent very
much after the manner of other farmers' so ns, in the pursuit
of amusement and the performance of minor tasks about the
homestead. He did not love school, and early acquired a taste
for a seafaring life. But his mother, a woman of sound com-
mon sense, won him from his dreams with a practical proposal,
the acceptance of which by him started her son on that won-
derful career which finally seated him, if not in the highest,
then in the most useful position offered by modern civilization
as a goal for ambition. The proposal was this, that in case of
his completing an almost impossible piece of work upon the
farm before a certain date he should have one hundred dollars,
with which to purchase for himself a boat. He accepted the
terms, and with the assistance of other boys, whom he interested
in the project by offering them the privilege of sailing with him,
he won the prize. This took place in his sixteenth year, and
shortly after he began the transportation business by carry-
ing passengers to and from Staten Island for an established toll
of eighteen cents. Often when he first started in this business
he would forego his meals to ferry excursion parties to the city
and secure the extra reward sure to follow.
He made money rapidly. At the end of the first year he gave
*The name Vanderbilt, like most Dutch names, has been subjected to modifi-
cation in its spelling. Commodore Vanderbilt always signed it with a capital D,
while his son, William H., and the present representatives of the family write it
without division Vanderbilt.
HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 589
one hundred dollars to his mother for the boat, and one thousand
dollars besides. At the end of the second he gave her another
thousand dollars, and had secured a fractional interest in two
or three more boats. The war of 1812 also furnished him many
opportunities to add to his regular business, which he eagerly
seized, and from which he profited largely, insomuch that he
began to be regarded as a remarkable youth. While engaged
in this manner he developed many of the peculiarities which so
distinguished his after life, especially that of never allowing
himself to be underbid or circumvented by any person or in any
In his nineteenth year Mr. Vanderbilt fell in love with, and
married, his cousin, Miss Sophia Johnson, the daughter of his
father's sister Eleanor. The ceremony took place November
19, 1S13. Immediately after it he redoubled his efforts to place
himself on a solid business foundation. From the profits of a
contract with the commissary department of the United States
for delivering food to the six forts in New York bay, together
with other moneys which he had accumulated, he built a small
schooner for the coasting trade, which he called the "Dread."
The following year he built a much larger one named after his
sister Charlotte, and placed it on the line between New York
and Charleston. About this time, also, he began to study the
modelling and planning of vessels, which finally ended in his
abandoning sails for the then modern invention, the steamboat.
The end of 1817 found him twenty-three years of age, mar-
ried, with nine thousand dollars in his possession, and out of
business. He had heartily espoused the cause of Gibbons,
proprietor of the steam line between New York city and New
Brunswick, N. J., in the fight which that gentleman was con-
ducting against the Fulton Livingston New York steamboat
monopoly. Mr. Gibbons, knowing his quality of determination,
and appreciating the assistance which he had rendered him,
offered Mr. Vanderbilt the command of the small steamboat
" Mouse of the Mountain," which he accepted at a salary of one
thousand dollars per annum.
For twelve years he remained with Gibbons, fighting continu-
ally against his monopolistic opponents. During this period he
*Many interesting incidents in the life of Commodore Vanderbilt may be
found in a racy little volume, by W . A. Croff ut, entitled ' ' The Vanderbilts "
Bedford. Clarke & Co., 1886.
590 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.
added considerably to his income by the purchase and mainten-
ance of the Half-way House at New Brunswick, where ten of
his thirteen children were born. Finally, the law giving Fulton
Livingston the sole right to run steamboats in the waters of
New York state was repealed, and Mr. Vanderbilt, feeling that
he could greatly increase his income by engaging in business
for himself, even though Gibbons offered him an equal partner-
ship in his line, then paying forty thousand dollars a year,
turned his eyes in the direction of the Hudson river and Long
Island sound traffic. For the purpose of facilitating the accom-
plishment of his projects, he sold his hotel and removed to New
York city with his family in 1829. He resided for a short time
in Stone street, also in East Broadway, after which he removed