Friday, March 2, 2012

A Founder of Flatbush – Jan Gerrits Stryker

B. 3 Mar 1615 in Ruinen, Netherlands
M. (1) about 1640 in Netherlands
Wife: Lammertje Seubring
M. (2) 30 Apr 1679 in New York
Wife: Zwaentje Janse
M. (3) 1687 in New York
Wife: Tuentje Teunise
D. before 3 Mar 1697 in New York

Jan Gerrits Stryker (sometimes spelled Strycker) was one of three men who organized the settlement that later became Flatbush. Jan was born in Ruinen, Netherlands in 1615. Little is known of his early years, but he likely apprenticed to become a gunsmith, which was in profession. In about 1640, he married Lammertje Seubring, and over the next dozen or so years, they had eight children.

In January 1643, Jan and his brother, Jacobus, were granted land in New Amsterdam by the Dutch West India Company, under an agreement they would bring twelve families to the colony at their own expense. It's not known how this offer played out, but in about 1652, Jan moved his family there, and Jacobus came over as well.

Jacobus was a portrait artist, and two of his known paintings were of himself and his brother Jan. It was thought that he painted them during the years 1653-1655. The portrait of Jan shows a bearded man of about 40 years-old, proud and confident. (The painting is in the possession of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and in spite of a note from Jan's 18th century relative identifying the painting, their official view is that the artist and subject are unknown.)

Within a year or two of arriving in New Netherland, Jan took the lead in founding a new settlement on Long Island called Midwout, later to be called Flatbush. Along with two other men, he petitioned Governor Stuyvesant for permission to develop some flat acreage next to other settlements that would be good for farming. Jan was appointed as one of two commissioners to build a church there, which would become the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church. (It's still in existence today at Flatbush and Church Avenue in Brooklyn, though it's a more recent building.) Jan was chosen as chief magistrate from Midwout, a position he held for 20 years.

In August 1664, when the Dutch colony was dealing with the threat of a takeover by the British, Governor Stuyvesant requested that the towns on Long Island send over "every third man to defend the Capital from the English now arriving in the Narrows." Jan gave the answer on behalf of the settlements that it was impossible to do this because "we must leave wives and children seated here in fear and trembling, which our hearts fail to do, as the English are themselves hourly expected there."

Jan was elected captain of the military company at Midwout on October 25, 1673, with his brother Jacobus given the authority to "administer the oaths and to install him into office." He was named as representative in a conference to confer with Governor Colve at New Orange (some sources say New Amsterdam) on March 26, 1674. At this meeting, those who gathered resolved that at least some of their descendants should settle in what is now New Jersey to secure the area from being dominated by the English. Various parcels of land were purchased by companies, and many, including Jan, selected Somerset county for their future home. Nonetheless, Jan took the oath of allegiance to the English crown in 1687 along with most of the other Dutch men.

Jan's wife, Lammertje died sometime before 1675, and he married a second wife, Zwaentje Janse, on April 30, 1679. She was the widow of Cornelius DePotter of Brooklyn. She died six year later, and Jan took a third wife in 1687, the widow of Jacob Hellakers, Tuentje Teunise. It's not known exactly when Jan died, but it was before March 3, 1697. He was buried in the cemetery at the church he founded in Flatbush along with his first wife Lammertje.

Children (all by Lammertje Seubring):
1. Aeltje Stryker – B. about 1642, Netherlands; D. 1697, Flushing, New York; M. Abraham Jorise Brinckerhoff, 20 May 1660, Flatbush, New Netherland

2. Jannetje Stryker – B. about 1642, Netherlands; D. 29 May 1705, Flatbush, New York; M. (1) Cornelius Jansen Berrien (~1625-1689), 1664; (2) Samuel Edsall (~1633-1702), 27 Aug 1689, Flatbush, New York

3. Angenietje Stryker – B. about 1646, Netherlands; D. 1692, Hackensack, New Jersey; M. (1) Claes Tysen; (2) Jan Cornelise Boogaard (~1647-1715), 1674

4. Hendrick Stryker — about 1648, Netherlands; D. 23 Jan 1688, Brooklyn, New York; M. Catherine Buys, 11 Feb 1687, New York City, New York

5. Sara Stryker – B. 1649, Netherlands; D. 1736; M. Joris Hansen Bergen (~1649-?), 11 Aug 1678, New York

6. Ida Stryker – B. about 1651, Ruinen, Netherlands; D. 29 Sep 1687, Flatbush, New York; M. Christoffel Probasco (~1649-?)

7. Gerrit Janse Stryker – B. 1652, Netherlands; M. Styntje Gerretse Dorland, 25 Dec 1683, Flatbush, New York

8. Pieter Stryker – B. 1 Nov 1653, New Netherland; D. 11 Jun 1741, Flatbush, New Netherland; M. (1) Annetje Barends (~1659-1717), 29 May 1681, Flatbush, New York; (2) Aertje Teunise Bogaert (~1655-1750), after May 1727, Flatbush, New York

Genealogical record of the Strycker family, William Scudder Stryker, 1887
An Album of New Netherland, Maud Esther Dilliard, 1963
Midwood, Brooklyn (Wikipedia article)


  1. Jan Stryker is one of my great great grandfathers. My family was able to visit his burial site yesterday when we were in Flatbush. The Stryker name on my direct family line died with my great grandmother Lera Mae Stryker Woodruff in 2002, but she had some half brothers and sisters who carried on her father's name. Thanks for sharing more about his story!

  2. Jan Stryker is also one of my great grandfathers (8th?) through son Pieter's line. This was fun to find and read- thanks! I was born a Stryker in Somerset County, NJ and had no idea until recently that the county was an original settlement from the family coming over from Flatbush (Brooklyn, NY). My roots in New Jersey are deep for sure :-). But also, I've always LOVED going into the city (specifically Manhattan/Greenwich Village) and had no idea until recently that Jan's family began there in America. Family history is so very cool. Is it for sure that Jan's wife's name is Lammertje Seubring and not Suebring Lammertje? I just have the sur and given names mixed in the records I see. I also have some records that seem to suggest that Pieter and his sister Sarah were twins with the same birthdate of November 1st, 1653. Neato.

  3. Hello Susie,

    First name Lammertje, last name Seubring.

    Best regards,

    Richard Strijker

  4. I have traced him ...I am th 10th?? generation ...

  5. Hello.
    I am also a descendent of Jan Stryker. This is all incredibly amazing! My grandfather actually moved back to NY from NJ where he raised my father and his siblings. My father has been doing some additional research and we found that there was apparently a Stryker Mansion on 54th st and 11th or 12 ave in Manhattan. That is now Dewitt Clinton Park. Can someone confirm this? There was also a Stryker Bay on the west side that was filled in to become what is now Riverside Park. Both locations are where I play most of my organized sports now. It's very cool to be playing on what was Stryker land! If anyone has any additional information or suggestions on where to find out more about our family, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Chelsea Stryker

    1. Hi Chelsea. I too am a Stryker and was raised with a Strycker Family Tree hanging in our home from my grandmother whose mother was Amelia Stryker (and married John Trumplette.) I have given the family tree to my niece but do have a copy of it. I also had a pen & ink drawing of the Stryker Mansion in NYC which corresponds with the drawing at the Museum of the City of NY drawing. I can send you a copy of the family tree in a photo by email if you send me your email address. In the meantime, it is nice to meet a Stryker cousin! Best wishes - Robbin Stryker (Matteson) McCarter

  6. I am somehow related to this man as well through the Berrians (berrien). Can someone help me put the pieces together?

  7. If you are descended from a Berrien that is because Jan's daughter Jannetje married Cornelis Jansen Berrien. Im sure I could help you figure this out

  8. My family is related to him as well, through my mom’s grandmother’s side.

    They were Van Cotts - I am not sure how we are related but my Aunt looked it up! There were generations of Dutch Reform from NY on that side

  9. This was awesome to find! I am related to him through his daughter Sarah, he is my 10th great grandfather.