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Joseph N. Kearney Research

Joseph N Kearney
2415 Madera Circle, #13
Port Hueneme, CA 93041
29 May 1977

For: Mrs. Sherry Mitchell 203 Wheelock Ave. Millbury, Mass. 01527 and Mrs Margaret V Woodrough 1823 Trowbridge Cove, Dunwoody, Georgia 30338 Dear Sherry and Margaret: In the case of Sherry I address her as such by her request, whereas in the case of Margaret (to whom I have not written before) - this is being brash.

I happens that in both your cases, you chose May 77 to first write to me re: a common subject - the Piatts, Pyatts or whatever. Since you are both launching an interest in this area, it may be that in days to come you can be helpful to each other. From this lofty age level of 67 (come Nov.), you both I judge are probably in your twenties and have a long span ahead of you in which to enlarge upon the findings of those who have gone before - such as myself. In the case of Margaret, Sherry, she undertakes this study for her husband and children who are Piatt descendants.

The 1970 questionnaire which I circulated all over the country entitled "Six Mile Runís early settlers and its five Piatt Brothers of the Revolution" was an early step in the evolution of a monster charting of Piatts and kinsmen spanning six generations from the early days of the 1600ís up thru the early 1800ís. I finished this last January. It is now with the publisher and I expect it to be in print by July-August of this year. This thing is the first of its kind - it is NOT the genealogical charting of the roots of any one person - or family. It is the charted "mix" of 3500 people from Plymouth to Yorktown and beyond ALL OF WHOM are kinsmen in one way or another - however obscure. And the connecting linkage in all cases is on this chart. So if a person can establish in 1977 their connecting linkage to any individual on the chart (there are about 70 Piatts, Pyatts, Pyeattes, etc. on it), then they automatically are connected with all 3500. Among the 3,500 are Alex. Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Jay, Pres. William Henry Harrison, numerous signers of the Declaration: signers of the Mayflower Compact; etc. etc. Data is all coded as to source, there being some 350 basic data sources. Some of these 350 sub-divided into scores of lesser source or rather divisions of the overall source code number. For example, P4XX equals "NY Genealogical & Biographical Record". The XX being replaced by two digits which define the year of publication. For example P492 or P451 would mean the source can be found in the 1892 or 1951 volume of the magazine. So where P4 is only on e of the 350 sources coded, it in turn breaks down into 106 volumes - it is more than 100 years in publication. You will realize that this will provide masses of avenues for research - there are probably about 12,000 coded data items and sources.

My word of caution to you both is to avoid duplication of effort. By this I mean there is little gain made by inventing the wheel again. Keep good records of the investigations you have personally made - so that five years from now you donít go back over the same ground twice.

And draw a hard line between family lore and FACT. The Piatts are not alone in having trumped up a goodly amount of mythology. This was done in times when data sources were not readily available in solid form as is the case today. So be very wary of TALES and YARNS. Rather, make the search for truth a fetish. Deeds to property; wills; pension applications; grave markers; church records; shipís passenger lists; census records; etc. These things can be found if a diligent effort is put forth and upon such a skeleton, the "meat" of real genealogy can be built.

Sherry has just run into a publication PYEATT genealogy which tells the tale of John Piatt fleeing France (religion) and heading for Holland. There, so the story goes, he met Frances Van Vliet a widow - they married and came to America in 1640. They have son Rene who married Elizabeth Sheffield of Flushing, S.C. The story asserts that John and Frances first settled in Guilford Co., N. C. Lather, they had children Thomas, Jacob, James and Joan, etc. etc.

This is one version. Another asserts that John fled France as a result of Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Went to Holland. Met Widow Frances (Vliet) Wyckoff, widow of Jacob. In Amsterdam, John & Frances had children John and Abraham. Thence, to Six Mile Run where they had children William, Daniel and Jacob. These five children being the five brothers of the Revolution.

Now for some FACTS.

Guilford Co. N.C. did not exist in 1640 - nor in 1740 for that matter. In 1740 it was simply an unexplored wilderness lying to the west of the few counties when then existed - these being Hyde, Tyrrell, Beaufort, Craven, Carteret, Onslow, New Hanover, Bladen, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank and Currituck. By 1760, the above counties had fragmented to a degree and a few new counties had been added to the west - Orange (from which Guilford was later formed) and west of Orange was Rowan with an undefined western border. By 1775, Guilford had been carved out of Orange. In 1791, the two Pyeattes (Jacob and James) who were among the earliest settlers in Arkansas, were married at Guilford Court House in N.C. In 1790, Randolph Co. had been hacked out of the 1770 Guilford Co area.

So, John and Frances scarcely made it to Guilford by 1640. In fact, it was 99 years later that their first son John was born at Six Mile Run - not in Holland.

The Rene who married Elizabeth Sheffield at Woodbridge, NJ, in 1678 (Woodbridge Town Records) was an immigrant himself. This is proven by the fact that he was issued papers of denization (naturalization) by the English Government. So he was not born under its jurisdiction. And Elizabeth? She was from Flushing, Long Island not S.C. Again, Woodbridge Town Record of 1678. So here is the type of thing that needs REAL investigation. How did Rene get here? On what ship? When? From what port? Did he come with those other very early French - Vincent Rognion (Runyon) and Poncet Stelle (& wife Eugenia Legereaux)? Not unlikely, but no proof.

Immediately after the Rene-Elizabeth marriage, they moved to nearby Piscataway (about two miles east of where New Brunswick now stands). There was no N. Brun. then. At Pisc. they joined the Baptist Church. And there (per Pisc. Town Records) their children were born - Jacob, Thomas, James and Joan.

Rene appears in the very early land records of the area. He died at Piscataway in 1705 intestate. Eliz. was given letters of admin. by Edward Lord Cornbury the Governor General for Queen Anne. He didnít last long - Cornbury that is - he liked to parade around in womenís clothes, which may have accounted for the Queen sending him to Perth Amboy in the first place. Children of Thomas used the spelling Pyatt. Those of Jacob used both Pyatt and Piatt. Joan (Jane) married Seventh Day Baptist Minister Jonathan Dunham of Pisc. It was their son Col. Azariah Dunham, who made 1766 map which led to my making this chart. Azariah was 5th mayor of New Brunswick, and very prominent in the Revol.

Thomas died very young and his widow married the son of Poncet Stelle referenced above - namely, Baptist Minister Rev. Benjamin Stelle of Pisc.

Jacobís wife and Thomasí wife were sisters - Mercy and Mary Hull. Jacobís early children were born in Pisc. and baptized in the Baptist Ch. - not the 7th Day spin-off of it. Then in 1710 he was fined at Perth Amboy for laughing in court. This is the last appearance he makes in the records of Pisc. Was he angry? Did he feel persecuted like Nixon? Was he disenchanted by the reaction of his fellow churchmen? Who knows?

Next he seems to have moved beyond the ferry (Inianís) at the site of modern New Brunswick to the Raritan area near modern Somerville where indications are that he joined the Dutch Reformed Church (the Dutch being predominant in that area - and in fact throughout Somerset Co. The same minister attended the Dutch Church at Raritan and at Six Mile Run. The same bell at New Brunswick was used to call the Baptists to church on Sunday and to call the Dutch to their churches west of NB. Such was the proximity of these several locations.

Well, this is getting very long and it is late - but, John Piatt was made sheriff of Somerset Co. at age 22 when it had about 2000 inhabitants in 1732. Raritan and Six Mile Run were within the sound of the same bell which called the people to the Baptist Church where Rene Piat had attended in Pisc. Tax records show no duplication of Reneís nor any of the others at the time. So I feel quite certain that the sequence was Rene, Jacob, John - then the five brothers.

Somerset Sheriff John was known to Jacob Wyckoff of Six Mile Run before the latter died at age 28 in 1738. The inventory of Jacobís estate shows John Piatt owing him 8-9 pounds. This document is in NJ Archives & I have a xerox of it. Jacob Wyckoff was 1st husband of Frances Vliet - both of Six Mile Run. They grew up on adjuacent farms. They had 3 children before Jacobís early death. Jacob, Frances and the 3 children are buried in Elm Ridge Cemetery at Franklin Park, NJ (formerly Six Mile Run). I have been there. Jacob was son of Jacob, son of Cornelius, son of the immigrant Pieter Claes of Flatlands, Long Island in modern Brooklyn. The Dutch in those early times very rarely used surnames. Hence, it was only when the English displaced the Dutch, that the latter were compelled to take surnames. Pieter Claes then INVENTED the name Wyckoff in 1687. This name was not used nor known in Holland before.

So, Jacob, husband of Frances, was the great-grand-son of the immigrant who had come here in the early 1600ís - say about 1635-40. The immigrant house in Flatlands is now the No. 1 official landmark of NYC, being the oldest house in the city and the oldest known farm house in America. Mayor John Vliet Lindsey made this official during his tenure. It had been bought up by the Wyckoff Family Association and presented to the City. All three major TV networks carried this.

In like manner, Frances Vliet was a great-grand child of the first Vliet in this country. And as I said Vliet and Wyckoff farms at Six Mile Run were adjacent. In the case of the Wyckoffs, Cornelius with others (Dutch) bought 1200 acres in 1701 in that area - he gave 300 acres each to his four sons, one of whom was Jacob, father-in-law of Frances Vliet. So this was the tract inherited by Francesí husband.

Hence, since people did not journey to Europe for pleasure on those frail little craft - it can be deduced that neither Jacob Wyckoff nor his wife Frances - nor her 2nd husband, young sheriff John, her 1st husbandís friend ever saw Europe.

I have xerox copies of the will of all (or most) of the people named above, so what I report her has foundation beneath it.

Frances Vliet died in 1776 (August, per her tombstone). She was born 1713. Jacob Wyckoff her husband was baptized at the Six Mile Run Dutch Church 1711 but the records of that Church were burned. The record however was duplicated at the Bensalem Dutch Church in Bucks Co. Pa. Sponsors at the baptism were Simon Wyckoff, uncle of Jacob the infant and Simonís wife, the aunt of Frances whom the infant Jacob later married.

It is now 12:40 AM Memorial Day - so time to say good-night.

As to firming up the sources for all this - I now have a couple of file cabinets of material accumulated. The digest of it all is to be on the big chart which will help guide you in future I hope.

But be wary! Next time I will go into the matter of link-up of John of Somerset Co. (not of France) and his probable father Jacob, and his father Rene. For people who had not used surnames - in the early 1700ís the Dutch of Somerset Co. hung nicknames on one and all. Francesí father was called Jan "the brewer" Vliet. Her brother was Jan "the weaver" Vliet. So for a French descendant member of the Dutch Church at Six Mile Run it was not surprising that he be tabbed John "of France" Piatt. Whether from France or not really didnít matter - it served to identify him in a Dutch community.

And so good-night.

P.S. Now it is Monday A.M. A few add-on thoughts.

When I began my research ten years ago. I started with the conviction that there was some accuracy in the No. 2 tale of page 2 of this letter. It was the only story that I had heard until then.

In these ten years I have found not one iota of evidence to back it up. I have found masses of evidence to disprove aspects of it - I mean solid evidence.

Can you feature the 25 year old widow of Jacob Wyckoff of Six Mile Run burying her husband, then with her three infants rushing off to catch the next ship for Holland in 1738, in order to be on hand to meet John Piatt "of France" who was busy escaping from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes 53 years earlier? And then beginning to mother a new family of five sons to him?

And does it not seem odd that from his death bed in St. Thomas in 1760, John Piatt wrote a last letter to his senior son John at Six Mile Run in fluent English rather than French. If were French by birth.

Louise Lodge used odd little incidents to PROVE John was from France. She tells how John Jr presented John Srís Family Bible to his daughter Frances when she married William McKinney in Lycoming Co., Pa before moving to what is now West Virginia. She quotes John Jr as handing the Bible to her and mentioning that she was the only one of the family who could read it. It was in Dutch and printed in Holland in 1710.

The story then twists around to indicate that John "of France" brought this Bible here from Holland. By what evidence?

For John Sr., a communicant at the Dutch Church of Six Mile Run to have a Dutch Bible dated 1710 is quite logical - the Six Mile Run Dutch Church was built in 1710 at which time surely a shipment of Bibles was imported.

The fact that Frances (Piatt) McKinney could read it, merely meant that of the children of John Jr. Who had been born in Six Mile Run and baptized there too, she was the ONLY one who had become fluent in the Dutch language.

These tid-bits in no way whatever fix the birth of John Sr as being in France. So one by one, these old tales fall to pieces.

A prime difficulty you will both find is the repitition of the name Jacob. I have tried to sort this out in the chart - but have not fully managed. Wherein I have doubts, these are indicated by "?" marks. And these are the areas which most need your attention. The Jacob Pyeatte of Arkansas who was married at Guilford Court house, was the Jacob who was with Gen. George Rogers Clark in his expedition down the Ohio R. to the Falls of the Ohio at modern Louisville. This Jacob took the Oath of Allegiance near Wheeling in what was then called Ohio Co., Virginia - now West Va. He was a native of Pennsylvania and the son of another Jacob who settled on Peterís creek near modern Pittsburg. This Jacob in turn had come from south central Pennsylvania - Path Valley. He and his father Jacob were arrested in 1750 by the colony of Pa. for poaching on Indian land in that Valley. Their homes were burned as penalty. The site is modern Burnt Cabins, Pa. Was the senior of these two Jacobís the one who in 1732 had been chosen by Lancaster Co. Pa. to lay out a roadway from Harris Ferry (modern Harrisburg) to the Virginia border? Probably.

And was this Jacob one and the same as Jacob son of Rene or Jacob the son of Jacob, son of Rene who fades out of the Raritan scene just when the Lancaster appointment was made. Jacob son of Rene would have been 71 years old at the time of the 1750 trial at Carlisle. His son Jacob would have been 45. I think Jacob son of Rene probably died about 1732 at or near Raritan. I think this broke up the family - John "of France" moving into Pennsylvania (Lancaster Co. - surveying the proposed roadway learning the richness of the frontier and trying to settle one valley westward of his survey - he went too far too fast and in 1750 got tripped up. By then he too had a son Jacob and this would be the one who began having children about 1753 and later moved to what Virginia termed Yohogania Co. near Pittsburg. The deed this land holding is at West Va. Univ. in Morgantown, W. Va.

So another Jacob was born just in time to make the Revolution and Gen. Clarkís expedition. And this young Jacob, together with a still younger brother James, were the early Arkansas Pyeattes.

In parallel, Sheriff John "of France" and Frances also named their youngest son Jacob. This was the youngest of the five brothers in the Revolution. And when Capt. Peter Voohees was killed in Oct. 1779 by Simcoeís raider near New Brunswick, this Jacob was made Captain to replace brave Voorhees. This is Jacob who married Hannah Cooke McCullough and lived for several years at Bloomsbury, Sussex Co. (not Essex Co. on the other side of the State as Lodge and others have asserted). Then in 1795, this Jacob and Hannah moved west to Kentucky (now Boone Co., but then Campbell Co.). This Jacob is my great-great-grandfather.

Oddly, this captain Jacob and Arkansasís Capt. Jacob both touched Kentucky. For a time the latter had wandered thru Southern Ky. before going south to Huntsville Ala. and thence to Arkansas.

I am dashing this letter off without reference to any documentation but trusting to memory. As I have cautioned - be wary. Question everything that includes me and my memory.

One point more - John Jr was a Minute Man (not regular Continental Line Army) in the Revol. In 1779-80 he also became a Sheriff of Middlesex Co. NJ adjacent to Somerset. Later, he moved his family to central Pennsylvania near modern Williamsport. There is Piatt Township in Lycoming Co. named for a grandson of John Jr.

(signed) Joe

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