The major theory that many of us have lived with for years mainly
because we did not know of any other possibilities is that we descend
from what I call the Kingston, NY DeWitts, with the major DeWitt being
the famous Tjerck deWitt who was born in Holland about 1620 but lived
most of his life in the Kingston, NY area until 1700. A great deal of
information is available on Tjerck and his ancestors and that is why,
if you want to believe that we are related to this clan, you can read
all the way back to 1295 without only a controversial bump here and
there on the road.
It is the moving forward from Tjerck that gives considerable grief, at
least to we John-Dewitt-descendants. One of Tjerck's sons was
Lucas DeWitt who had a son Jan DeWitt who married Ariantje Osterhoudt.
Descendancy from Jan
DeWitt and Ariantje Osterhoudt:
Son 1: Johannes
to the Rowley-King
genealogy written by Ruth and Homer Rowley in the 1970s, three
generations after Tjerck deWitt there was a Johannes DeWitt (b. 1739),
(son of Jan DeWitt and Ariantje Osterhoudt) who they believed was the
father of our John DeWitt (b. 1760).
Son 2: Ezekial
My first hope regarding this issue came with the discovery of the
Rowley-King Genealogy. I found their huge book by accident as I browsed
through the genealogical section of the library in Ravenswood, WV which
is near where John DeWitt lived. I was floored! Right in
front of me was a family history that connected my family back several
hundred years! It was what everyone hopes for and hardly ever
finds. So, the Rowleys were the first people who I have
encountered to suggest that John was a son of Johannes. However they
admitted that this idea was unsubstantiated (p. 96).
The problem is that no one else can confirm that Johannes had a son
named John who married Nancy Culbertson in Westmoreland Co.,
Pennsylvania about 1790, migrated to Virginia around 1807 and settled
down to start OUR clan. I have not been able to find any other
source that helps in this matter. (Note: In 1807, what is now
Jackson Co, WV was parts of Kanawha,
Mason and Wood Counties, Virginia. West
Virginia became a
state in 1831 and at that time Jackson County was formed. So if you
find someone living in Mason Co., VA check the date because it now may
be Jackson Co. WV.)
suggestion has been made that OUR John
Dewitt is the son Johannes' brother Ezekial DeWitt, (also son of Jan
DeWitt and Ariantje Osterhoudt). After posting this website for
several years, on March 19th 2004, Jackilyn Turner wrote to me about
her collection of information that suggested that OUR John Dewitt was
the son of Ezekiel. When I checked my data and a reference
online, I rediscovered that Ezekiel appears to have had a son John
DeWitt who could have been born in the correct time period.
Ezekiel started out in the Kingston area of New York, but had moved to
Confluence, Pennsylvania by 1768 and was also living in Buffalo Creek,
PA in 1776. "Ezekiel had a license for keeping an ordinary (tavern) in
Washington Co., PA. 1781. Census, Hopewell Twp lists 400 acres of land,
2 horses, 4 cows, 2 slaves. Land grant for 400 acres dated 24 feb
1782." Also Crumrine's Hist of Washington Co., PA: p.210, Jan 16,
DeWit appointed Constable. p.258, Nov 26, 1782, Ezekiel DeWit, Hopewell
Twp, 2 slaves. This
information was taken from McCoy
So if you want to WISH we are related to the Kingston,
then visit my webpage on the Kingston
However, if you are open to other conjectures, then read about the
Island, NY DeWitts below.
The Long Island,
In another correspondence, with Cheryl Gallagher, who corresponded with
Katherine DeWitt Gazaway and Betty Briggs, a suggestion was made by
Kathryn that perhaps we descend from the line from Pieter
Jansen DeWitt of Long Island, NY which has several Johns in their
line who could be our ancestor. (Kathryn wrote in the DeWitt
Family Genealogy Forum in 2000 to a query posted by Cheryl Gallagher in
and suggested that we take a look at the Long Island DeWitt's (ref).)
Unfortunately, Kathryn has since died on February 15, 2001.
Recently in the summer of 2003, I did some research into the Long
using Kathryn's genealogy and have found a John
Dewitt born around 1760 in Pennsylvania who could be our John
Dewitt...maybe. The only "proof" I have is that he was born in
Pennsylvania around the same time as our John Dewitt (who is rumored to
have migrated from Pennsylvania) and who was born in the 1760-1765 era.
He was born in Northumberland Co., PA which is further east than
Westmoreland Co., but we only need him in Westmoreland Co., around
1790... and of course "everyone was heading west in those days."
So if you want to WISH we are related to the Long Island,
then visit my webpage on the Long Island
certainly is possible that we are descendants of DeWitts who
migrated to these United States from a different family and / or a
different time. If I am wrong with the Long Island clan as well
as the Kingston clan, then hopefully, some of their descendants will
find useful information within this website. Family papers passed
down from one generation to another have claimed a French connection,
but I have never found any confirmation. Perhaps we descend from
a French Dewitt after all?
So if you want to WISH we are related to the French DeWitts,
then visit my webpage on the French
Another DeWitt clan descends from a
Jacob DeWitt born in the Netherlands around 1600. He died in Henrico
Virginia in 1674 and produced a clan that lived in eastern Virginia and
South Carolina. (I have not been able to find a John DeWitt in
Jacob's descendants who was born in Pennsylvania around 1760.)
Is DNA the answer?
In September 2008, I embarked on a 21st century exploration of my genes via the DeWitt Surname DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA.
Click icon above to visit the DeWitt DNA website.
You may read about this adventure at: MyDNA
So now you have the essence of our family's BIG
genealogical question. You can now decide where you want to go using the Main Menu below.