for better or for worse,
and intimate to the degree of being sacred.
~William O. Douglas
Celebrating 50 Years. This month is the occasion of Cindy's and my 50th wedding anniversary. It is a pretty awesome milestone. We are both glad to still be around, and to have great family, and to still be in good health. On the other hand, any kind of 50th celebration is humbling. You cannot celebrate 50 years of anything without being forced to ponder one's mortality. Whether it is a 50th birthday, a 50th High School reunion, a 50 year friendship, a 50th year in a particular house, or a 50th wedding anniversary. Even so, we can't help but approach this 50th remembrance in a spirit of celebration.
Another Anniversary. Our anniversary gets put in perspective when we consider another milestone wedding anniversary occurring this month. Today, December 12, is the 360th Anniversary of my 10X Great Grandparents, Laurens Van Buskirk (1630-1694) and his wife Janettje Jans Van Buskirk (1629-1694). Church records show that these two Dutch immigrants were married on this day in 1658 in the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam, which is now New York City.
It is rare to find a clear line of ancestors who lived so long ago, which is part of what makes these ancestors so unique. They are among the founding families of New Jersey. "The Descendants of the Founders of New Jersey" is a group open to anyone who can document that they are descended from one of the founders. Their website lists Laurens and Janettje Van Buskirk among the list of founders.
Laurens and Jannetje are related to us through my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, whose Great Grandmother was Jane Buskirk Davis. Jane was a 5X Great Granddaughter of Laurens and Jannetje Van Buskirk. Laurens was originally from Holstein, Denmark and migrated across the Atlantic in 1655 when he was 25. Jannetje was originally from Noord-Holland, Netherlands and had migrated a few years earlier.
Laurens and Jannetje did not know each other before coming to America. The story of how they met is an interesting one. It is found in the online cemetery record for the now defunct Van Buskirk Cemetery in New Amsterdam (New York) where they were both buried in 1694.
A Match Making Orphan Master. In July of 1658, the director of an orphanage in New Amsterdam asked Laurens to visit a widow in South River, Delaware to see if he could help her out in some way. The woman's husband, a Dutch immigrant carpenter named Christian Barentsen Van Horn, had died in a recent epidemic that had decimated their community, and left her with four children. In 1658, a single woman with four mouths to feed faced extreme hardship. It often meant the children had to be placed in an orphanage. Laurens found a way to provide assistance to Jannetje far beyond the expectations of the Orphan Master. Four months after meeting Jannetje, the two of them, with her four children, made their way back to New Amsterdam and were married in a Dutch Reformed Church, with the children becoming part of the newly formed family.
|Original Van Buskirk homestead in New Jersey|
The Westward Family Journey Begins. He and Jannetje added four more children to their family in the years after their marriage. In 1688 they relocated to Hackensack, New Jersey where they both lived until their deaths in 1694. Their move to Hackensack was just the beginning of the westward movement of these Van Buskirks. Throughout the 18th century our Van Buskirk ancestors made their way to Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, then on to western Pennsylvania and then to Monroe County in South Eastern Ohio. That is where our ancestor Jane Buskirk was born and where she married Alexander Davis in 1841. By the time Jane was born the family had dropped the "Van" part of their name and they became simply Buskirk.
Bura Davis Shepard
with husband William Shepard, about 1950
Alexander Davis and his wife Jane Buskirk Davis were the first of our kinfolk to leave Eastern Ohio and settle in the area around Spencer, Indiana in the middle of the 19th century. Some of their descendants, including my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma in the early 20th century. By 1940 others of this family had made their way westward as far as San Diego, California where some their descendants, including my family, still live today.
A Long Journey From East to West. It has been a long journey from New Amsterdam in 1658 to San Diego in 2018; from a young couple marrying in a Dutch Reformed Church on the East Coast to a 50 year anniversary here on the West Coast. The journey encompassed 15 generations of Buskirks, Davises and Shepards. But it is one more part of this grand tale that is our family history.
Here are the specifics of this 15 generation lineage over the last 360 years.
- Laurens Van Buskirk (1630-1694) - wife Janettje Jans (1629-1694)
- Thomas Van Buskirk (1668-1748) - wife Margrete Brickers (1668-1719)
- Johannes Van Buskirk (1694-1747) - wife Marytie Hooglandt (1696-1738)
- George Van Buskirk (1721-1800) - wife Sarah Ashton (1720-1779)
- John Van Buskirk (1743-1829) - wife Mary Blackmore (1742-1823)
- Samuel Blackmore Buskirk (1765-1847) - wife Charity Ann Foggin (1762-1841)
- John Foggin Buskirk (1795-1873) - wife Mary Terry (1807-1886)
- Jane Buskirk Davis (1823-1895) - husband Alexander Davis (1819-1866)
- Charles Edward Davis (1849-1926) - wife Malinda Wright (1846-1920)
- James Brooks Davis (1870-1928) - wife Caroline Spear (1865-1951)
- Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986) - husband William Shepard (1888-1976)
- Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) - wife Maida Gower (b. 1924)
- Steven Shepard (b. 1948) - wife Cindy Harris (b. 1948)
- Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) - Chenda Sou (b. 1980)
- William Q. Shepard (b. 2012)