A Skillman GI Wartime Romance for Valentine’s Day

Let us face it, sometimes genealogy can seem a little dull — name, born, married, children. Yawn, it’s nap time. Then finding a new reference can change everything. For example:

9914. John Edward Skillman (Frank William10, John Edward9, David Sylvester8, Jesse Carl/Carr7, Thomas6, Thomas5, Thomas4, Joseph/Joost3, Thomas2, Thomas1) was born on 11 Apr 1924 in New York. He died on 17 Jan 2001 at the age of 76 in Westerville Care Center, Westerville, OH. John Edward Skillman and Jeannette Iris Gardner were married on 27 Apr 1945. (London Records show wedding as 1946) John Edward Skillman and Jeannette Iris Gardner had the following children: etc.

In another record in an excerpt from an e-mail from Mike Skillman in England:

“I found one Jeanette Skillman in London. I found I already had her marriage in 1946 in London but she was on her own. I found her birth — born in Lambeth, London — but no sign of her husband John E. Skillman.

Nice to have this information, but doesn’t tell you much about them as people. Then after some time I found her sailing over to the USA in 1948 and 1954. In 1954 she had daughters Dianne (4) and Suzanne (2) and she was described as a housewife but, strangely their last permanent home was down as ‘foreign countries.’

Then the answer came…”

Just one more record can add life to the story:

55. SKILLMAN, Jeannette I. 21 F 139460 British 106 Grantham Rd, London S.W.9.
Dependent of: 1st Lt. John E. Skillman, ASN. 0-871303, US Army
33 Liberty Street, Bemus Point, New York

This tells us that American GI John E. Skillman, and English Jeannette Iris Gardner had a romance in war-torn London, married and came to live in America.

History brought back to life!

Jay Skillman
Middlesex, NJ

DNA Confirms Identity of King Richard III's Remains

As you may have seen on the TV news or in your local newspaper, the skeleton of England’s King Richard III has been located after 500 years under a parking lot! The head archealogist at the University of Leicester, Richard Buckley, announced yesterday that “It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.” The young king was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 by a rival army led by Henry VII.

Richard III’s remain were lost in the religious reforms of King Henry VIII and have been missing ever since. An archeology team used period maps and ground penetrating radar to locate the skeleton in a parking lot of the remains of the Greyfriars friary in Leicester. The skeleton was exhumed about five months ago and study has been going on ever since. Additional confirmation that the remains were those of Richard III was provided by DNA testing of two living lineal descendants of his sister.

More information from various news sources can be found by Googling “Richard III Found.”

Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution

Many of our Skillman ancestors served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War, either in the Continental Army or the various militias. Many who did not serve in military units supported the cause of America’s independence in other ways, such as service in local municipalities or other acts that supported the cause of the Revolution. Many paid local taxes or otherwise made monetary contributions to support the army, and many gave supplies such as horses and wagons, leather, cattle and wheat. My 4th great grandfather, John4 Skillman of Kingston, NJ, was a tanner who gave sides of leather to the Continental Army. His tannery was discovered by the British and burned to the ground, for which my 4th great grandfather is considered a Patriot.

The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are lineage societies whose members are descended from a Patriot who either fought or supported the cause of America’s independence is some verifiable way. The websites of the SAR and DAR have a list of Patriots who have already been recognized by these organizations as meeting the qualifications of membership. Since our Skillman lineage dates back to Thomas1 Skillman, the first Skillman who arrived in America four generations before the Revolutionary War, it is quite likely that many members of the Skillman Family Association qualify for membership in the SAR or DAR.

I have been a member of the SAR since 2004 and am currently the President of the Tampa Chapter in Florida. I am experienced in the process and paperwork required for membership in both societies and would be glad to help any member of the Association who wishes to join either the SAR or the DAR. (You can find my contact info in the Membership Directory.) Both are very patriotic societies whose purpose is to preserve the values and history of the Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States of America. As with membership in the Skillman Family Association, membership in these societies is another way to honor our early ancestors.

There are many other lineage or heritage societies for members whose early ancestors may have been recognized for specific events. Included among them are the Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Jamestowne Society, Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. All of these organizations have websites which explain their purpose and membership requirements.

John E. Skillman III

Fritts, Skillman and Brahin dressed in Continental Army uniform
The author between two other Color Guardsmen of the Virginia Society, SAR

If You Could See Your Ancestors

By Nellie Winslow Simmons Randall

If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them or not?
Or don’t you really know?
Some strange discoveries are made
In climbing family trees.
And some of them, you know,
Do not particularly please.

If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row,
There might be some of them perhaps
You shouldn’t care to know.
But here’s another question
Which requires a different view —
If you could meet your ancestors
Would they be proud of you?

Uncle Remus — Horse Thief

Various versions of this scam have circulated around the internet for years, often reworked with the names of political foes. But for members of the Skillman Family Association who have not seen it, here is the reworked story of an imaginary Uncle Remus Doe.

Let’s say that your great-great uncle, Remus Doe, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. A cousin has supplied you with the only known photograph of Remus, showing him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture are the words:

“Remus Doe: Horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison, 1885. Escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged, 1889.”

Remus Doe hanged

Pretty grim situation, right? But let’s revise things a bit. We simply crop the picture by editing it with image processing software so that all that is seen is a head shot.

Next, we rewrite the text:

“Remus Doe was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and imitate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1885, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Uncle Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

Now we have given Uncle Remus a distinguished place inside the family tree, not hanging from it! Needless to say, the Association does not recommend this practice to its members!

John E. Skillman III

The Second Generation in America

The following is extracted from “The Skillmans of America and Their Kin” by William Jones Skillman of Philadelphia, PA. This is the beginning of the first of twelve quarterly issues published in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record from January 1906 through October 1908. William Jones Skillman’s genealogy and history of the Skillman family in America covers the first five generations of Skillmans in this country and it is considered the definitive genealogy of our family. The genealogy in its entirety is available in the “Members Only” section of the website under Skillmans of America.

“2. Thomas2 Skillman (Thomas1), b. 1671…Was Commissioner of Highways, Newtown 1714; joint owner with [others] of a plat, 30 x 22 feet for a School House, May 20, 1721. This building was at Middletown (near Dutch Kills)…Subscribed £5 for erection of Dutch Ref. Church of Newtown, 1731. The first board of Kerck Meesters (wardens or trustees) of this church, chosen 1736, were Peter Berrien, Thomas Skillman, and Petrus Schenck. His pew in this church was No. 1, on the northwest side of the middle aisle, and his family home (which had been his father’s, the homestead), was at Dutch or Maspeth Kills. In 1693, Thomas, m. Annetje, dau. of Adriaen Hendricksen Aten (Aaten, Aate, Aeten, Atje) “immigrant, 1651, 36 y’r” (his age then), from Holland (van Doesburg)…The will of Thomas2 Skillman (Records of Kings County and Queens), dated Feb. 13, 1739,…names his wife, Ann, and all their then living children. Two had died young. They had:

  • Peter3, bap. In Brooklyn (Ref. Dutch Church), March 4, 1694… He d. in infancy.
  • Elizabeth3, twin with Peter, Bap. at same dates with same witnesses and church; m. 1717, Hendrick Van de Water, N. Y. City. Infant dau. Ann, bap. (Collegiate Church), Aug. 29, 1718…Both mother and child died.
  • Jan3, b. 1696.
  • Mary3, b. 1698; m. Johannes Bant (Band, Bandt, Bondt, Bond) of N. Y. City.
  • Mercy3, bap. In Brooklyn (Ref. Dutch Church), Feb. 2, 1701…She m. John Fijn (Fine), son probably of Jan Fin and Aaltje Jans, bap. (Collegiate Church) May 18, 1698…
  • Annetje3, b. 1703.
  • Abraham3, b. 1704.
  • Isaac3, b. 1706.
  • Jacob3, b. 1708.
  • Benjamin3, b. 1710.
  • Joseph3, b. 1712.”

The third and subsequent generations become much more extensive and will not be extracted into a blog. Members wishing to learn more should go to Skillmans of America in the “Members Only” section for access to the entire twelve quarterly articles.

John E. Skillman III

The First Skillman in America

The following is extracted from “The Skillmans of America and Their Kin” by William Jones Skillman of Philadelphia, PA. This is the beginning of the first of twelve quarterly issues published in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record from January 1906 through October 1908. William Jones Skillman’s genealogy and history of the Skillman family in America covers the first five generations of Skillmans in this country and it is considered the definitive genealogy of our family. The genealogy in its entirety is available in the “Members Only” section of the website under the menu bar “Skillmans of America.”

“[The first Skillman in America] came probably from London or from near there. He was a musician in the Nicolls forces, and all his life, tradition says, was a musician. With his commander he sailed in the Guiney [sic], the chief of the three (possibly four) very small vessels that brought the adventurers to these shores. Down to this day he is known among his descendants always as Captain Thomas Skillman, a courtesy title, or one gained in later service in this country, or possibly it came from some militia connection merely.”

“[Thomas1 Skillman] was an Englishman, an enlisted soldier under Col. Nicolls, to whom Nieuw Amsterdam surrendered in 1664, becoming thereafter New York. This conquest achieved, the ancestor, so the story goes, being specially attached to his commander, now made Governor of the Province, did not return with his comrades in arms to the home land, but soon took a wife and settled permanently in the Newtown, (L.I.) region, at Maspeth or Dutch Kills. Then the children afterwards intermarried with their Hollandish neighbors, and so the family ultimately came to be much more largely of Belgic than of British blood.”

“With this brief introduction we now pass to the formal record (condensed) of the Skillman Family in this country, direct and collateral, running through the first three and possibly into some of the later generations, so far as details at present date can be fairly well determined.

Thomas1 Skillman, b. 1635-40. Soldier under Col. Richard Nicolls in Expedition of Duke of York, ordered by the King, Feb. 25, 1664, sailed from Portsmouth, May 15, and dropped anchor in the harbor of Nieuw Amsterdam (near present Fort Hamilton), Aug. 18, same year. After the surrender he stayed in this country and became ‘inhabitant and freeholder’ at Newtown (L.I.), under Nicolls’ patent of Jan. 13, 1666. Served in Esopus War; honorably discharged April 6, 1668. In 1669 he m. Sara, Dau. of John Petit, Newtown…John Petit and Sarah Scofield, his wife, were the parents of Sara, wife of Thomas Skillman. Children:

  • Thomas,2 b. 1671
  • Elsje, b. 1672
  • Sara, b. 1675; m. Cornelius Hendricxen, 1694. Their dau. Marytje, bap. In Ref. Dutch (Collegiate) Church, of New York, Aug. 10, 1695
  • Lijsbet, b. 1677…She m. Jan Aten, of Flatbush, brother of Thomas, settled at Jamaica, L.I. and had a child bap. there (Ref. Dutch Church), in 1705.In 1710-15, with other members of the Aten family, Jan removed to Three Mile Run, N.J…Jan Aten’s will, probated March 13, 1743, names his wife Elizabeth.”

(To be continued with the 2nd generation)

John E. Skillman III


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