Dutch Families in Early New Jersey

In the early 1700s, the third generation of Skillmans began a westward migration to central New Jersey from Newtown (now Elmhurst), Brooklyn, and other parts of Long Island. In general, they settled in Somerset, Mercer and Hunterdon Counties. Although Thomas1 Skillman had married Sara Pettit (Petit), an Englishwoman, his son, Thomas2 Skillman, married Annetje Aten, a Dutchwoman. Largely because of the influence of the mother on the family, the third generation of Skillmans began to intermarry with the Dutch families of central New Jersey and the Skillman family began to take on a distinctly Dutch identity. Nearly all attended the Reformed Dutch churches in the area, some traveling great distances to do so.

An examination of the descendants of Thomas1 Skillman, particularly those in the 18th century, shows a high incidence of Dutch surnames among the husbands and wives of the Skillmans. Many of these Dutch names are still prominent in the central New Jersey area. According to my database of the Skillman family tree in my RootsMagic software, the incidences of Dutch surnames are summarized below:

  • Stryker appears 200 times
  • Voorhees appears 140 times
  • Beekman appears 97 times
  • Van Dyke appears 79 times
  • Van Tine appears 59 times
  • Doughty appears 54 times
  • Aten appears 50 times
  • Nevius appears 41 times
  • Hageman appears 39 times
  • Wyckoff appears 38 times
  • Suydam appears 35 times
  • Veghte appears 30 times

There are many other Dutch surnames appearing less frequently than those above, as well as variant spellings of those above. My own 3rd great grandmother was a Van Duyn. So it is clear from the prominence of Dutch surnames in our family tree that the Skillman family in America has been strongly influenced by our Dutch ancestors. There is no record that our American ancestors walked around in wooden shoes, but don’t be surprised if you have a natural affinity for De Kuyper liqueurs and the paintings of the great Dutch Masters!

Johannes Vermeer - Young Woman with a Water Pitcher 1660-1662
Woman with a Water Jug, also known as Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, is a painting finished in the Baroque style between 1660–1662 by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

John E. Skillman III