William Knickerbocker (1780-1858) father of WIlliam Knickerbocker (1801-1838)

There is absolutely no shortage of William Knickerbockers over time. Sometimes it’s very hard, genealogically, to distinguish one from the other or know which William is the parent and which is the child. This is one of these stories. It’s pretty convoluted and I doubt very many people will be interested in reading the details, but I thought it was pretty interesting so I’m recording it here.

William Knickerbocker (1780-1858) (I’ll call him William #1)and his son William Knickerbocker (1801-1838)( I’ll call him William #2) presented a pretty difficult problem since William #2 died before his father. How could I know, for sure,  that William #2 was REALLY the son of William #1? In the Smithville, New York area where William #1 and his wife Arpita lived in the 1800’s there were no birth certificates. Census records of that time only list the name of the head of the household and no other names, just counts of others in the household.

This link ( or lack of link) had become very important to one of my cousins, but why it’s important, I’ll leave for another post. ( a very exciting post)

So William #1, when he passed away, left a will, a New York Probate record and had a probate notice published in the newspaper of record. All these things helped in establishing William #2 as son of WIlliam #1.

Here’s William #1’s Will:

William Knickerbocker Will

It lists the following people as his children:

  1. Jarad Knickerbocker
  2. John T Knickerbocker
  3. Harvey Knickerbocker
  4. Cameron K. Knickerbocker
  5. Charles E. Knickerbocker
  6. Harriet Tyrel
  7. Densy Haight
  8. Lydia Wilcox
  9. Betsey Wilcox

So no William #2 there, which makes sense since he is one of two suspected children who passed away prior to William #1’s death ( his suspected sons William and Reuben died previously)

However there are multiple hints of William # 2 in William #1’s probate record shown here:

William Knickerbocker Probate

This document lists the people to be contacted that might have some claim on WIlliam #1’s property. It lists the following people:

  1. Jarad Knickerbocker (same as #1 above)
  2. John T Knickerbocker (same as #2 above)
  3. Henry Van Der Lyn Jr. ( Special guardian of Densy Haight)
  4. Densy Haight (Same as #7 above)
  5. Lydia Wilcox (Same as #8 above)
  6. Betsey Wilcox (Same as #9 above)
  7. Fanny Barnes
  8. Mary Adelia Wade
  9. James H. Knickerbocker
  10. Cameron Knickerbocker (Same as #4 above)
  11. Charles E. Knickerbocker (Same as #5 above)
  12. Amelia Burgess
  13. Harvey Knickerbocker (Same as #3 above)

I know, via the Knickerbocker family bible, that Mary Adelia Wade and James H. Knickerbocker are children of William #2. If William #1 was not thier grandfather, why would they need to be contacted? More hints were available in the notice published in the Albany Evening Journal of William #1’s death. This notice was totally illegible to me but cousin Frank Corbella has a brilliant idea. Feed the unreadable notice through some OCR software and see what happened. What happened was this, and it’s wonderful:

The people of the state of New York, to Henry Knickerbocker, Cameron Knickerbocker, James H. Knickerbocker currently residing at Smithville in the county of Chenango, N.Y.  Mary A. wife of Amos Wade living in Norwich in the county of Chenango; Amelia Burgess wife of ___________ Burgess residing at Greene in the county of Chenango; Henry Vanderlyn residing in Oxford in the county of Chenango, perennial guardian of _____________ Knickerbocker, Charlotte Bradley wife of Timothy Bradley, Susan A. Towsley and Jane R. Towsley having the general guardian, Denny Haight wife of Mark Haight, Lydia Wilcox wife  of Chautauqu, N.Y., Betsey Wilcox wife of Paris Wilcox residing in Trouphsburgh, N.Y., in the county of Steuben, N.Y., Fanny Barnes residing in Jasper, N.Y. in the county of Steuben, Harriet Tyrrel wife of Nelson Tyrrel residing in Cortland in the county of Dekalb, and the state of Illinois and William H. Knickerbocker residing at Empire, county of Fond du lac of state of Wisconsin heirs of law and relationship to William Knickerbocker estate in town of Smithville deceased meeting whereas Jared Knickerbocker and John T. Knickerbocker the executrix  named in the last will and testament of William Knickerbocker estate of the town of Smithville in the county of Chenango. Deceased have applied in our county of Chenango to have the will of the said William Knickerbocker deceased which releases both real and personal estate provide and administered probate, you and each of you are therefore hereby cited and required to appear before the said county judge in his office in Oxford in said county on the 10 day of March at 1, o’clock in the afternoon of that day to attend the proof and probate of said will.

In testimony where of we have earned the seal of the magistrate court office of said county of Chenango to be here and to attend.

Witness Dwight H. Clark surrogate’s office said county at village of Oxford the 19th day of 1859 January A.D. 

So this lists, again, a whole bunch of people who may have some sort of claim on William #1, including a long list of William #2’s children:

  1. Henry Knickerbocker of Smithville, Chenango, N.Y (  son of William #1 )
  2. Cameron Knickerbocker of Smithville, Chenango, N.Y (son of William #1 )
  3. James H. Knickerbocker of Smithville, Chenango, N.Y ( son of William #2 )
  4. Mary A. Wade wife of Amos of Norwich, Chenango, N. Y. (daughter of William #2 )
  5. Amelia Burgess wife of _____ Burgess of Greene,Chenango, N.Y. (unknown)
  6. Unknown Burgess
  7. Amos Wade husband of Mary A. of Norwich, Chenango, N. Y.
  8. Henry Van der Lyn of Oxford, Chenango, N.Y. Guardian of unknown Knickerbocker
  9. Unknown Knickerbocker ( Maybe Emeline daughter of William #2?)
  10. Charlotte Bradley wife of Timothy Bradley (daughter of William #2 )
  11. Timothy Bradley
  12. Susan A. Towsley (could these be daughters of Lydia J daughter of Willaim #2?)
  13. Jane R. Towsley
  14. Densy Haight wife of Mark Haight ( daughter of William #1)
  15. Mark Haight
  16. Lydia Wilcox wife of Unknown Wilcox (daughter of William #1)
  17. Unknown Wilcox
  18. Betsey Wilcox wife of Paris Wilcox of Trouphsburgh, Steuben, N.Y. ( daughter of William #1)
  19. Paris Wilcox of Trouphsburgh, Steuben, N.Y.
  20. Fanny Barnes of Jasper,Steuben, N.Y. ( unknown)
  21. Harriet Tyrrel wife of Nelson Tyrrel of Cortland, Ill ( daughter of William #1)
  22. Nelson Tyrrel of Cortland, Ill
  23. William H. Knickerbocker of Fond Du Loc, Wis ( son of William #2, and my great grandfather) ( I think this should be William R. not H.)
  24. Jarad Knickerbocker ( son of William #1)
  25. John T. Knickerbocker ( son of William #1)

Anyway, it’s pretty easy ( well, sort of) to prove that the sons and daughters of William #2 are present in this notice, therefore  William #1 must be the father of William #2.


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