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Four Family Traditions Explanations
Sources of Family Information Formation and Orthography of Names
Formation of Names Among the Early Settlers of This Country Orthography of Names - The Rosenkrans Name



Four Family Traditions

A tradition among the descendants of Colonel John Rosenkrans, and perhaps others, is that our forefathers were Hollanders, and that our first American ancestor came from Amsterdam.

A second tradition in this branch of the family is that a Rosenkrans ancestor died in Holland leaving a fortune to which the American branch of the family is entitled by inheritance.

A third tradition, or legend, regarding the origin and beginning of the Rosenkrantz family and name somewhat mysteriously received by the writer, 1880, is in substance as follows: "A bonny Scot, by the name of Donald Mack, 1050 years ago, went to another country and married a fair daughter of the land. He raised a family of seven children — of sons brave and daughters true. A descendant of his, the eldest son of the eldest, whose mother was not of Scotch descent, went to war and by his bravery won the name of Rosenkrans. He was afterward crowned — or presented with a garland of roses, which he added to his coat of arms, and took the name of Rosenkrantz. "

A fourth tradition, coming from Steuben County, New York, is that in the time of William 1st, Prince of Orange, then Ruler of the Netherlands, a celebrated Swedish military officer was sent by the king of Sweden to instruct Maurice, the son of Prince William, in the science of military engineering; that Maurice became a great military chieftain, and that a son of the military instructor in Holland came to this country and was the progenitor of the Rosenkrans family here. A continuation of this tradition, received from the same source, and which has found its way into Everett & Peck’s History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey, (p. 195) is as follows: One "Alexander Augustus Rosenkrans came from Holland to New Amsterdam in 1689, accompanied by his wife whose maiden name is not known. He reared a family of sons and daughters among whom was John Rosenkrans, who was born May 18, 1724."


Tradition first: — Regarding Holland as the former home of our Rosenkrans ancestors, is undoubtedly true, and is corroborated by the European reports, as may be seen in the history of "The Family in Europe," though the family did not originate in Holland, nor did our first American ancestor come directly from Amsterdam to this country, but from Bergen, Norway, as his marriage record declares.

Tradition second: — Concerning the fortune left in Holland and its inheritance, seems founded upon facts as to its having been left there, but not as to its inheritance by the American branch of the family. In 1895, the writer made inquiry of our American Minister at The Hague, The Honorable W.E. Quimby, concerning the Rosenkrans family in Holland, and also concerning the fortune, but while reporting concerning the family in Amsterdam through the officials there he said nothing about the fortune, and, having no hopes of receiving any benefit from it, further inquiry was not made. Mrs. A.E. White (196), of Steuben County, New York, reports that a Hollander once in the employ of her father in Hammondsport, stated that in a newspaper received from Holland, there was an advertisement for the heirs of a certain Rosenkrans who had died there leaving a fortune, and suggested that it probably belonged to the Rosenkranses in this country. This was probably the origin of the tradition. She reports also that subsequently upon inquiry a relative of the family received intelligence through the American Minister in Holland, that one "Augustus Adolphus DeRosenkrantz," a bachelor had died there leaving a fortune, but as no heirs had come to claim it, it eventually reverted to the Crown or State. The name "DeRosenkrantz" indicates that he was of the Baronial line of the Danish noble family, and if so, the American branch of the family could not have inherited the fortune, as it did not come from that branch of the family, but, as indicated by the European reports, the American branch originated in a German branch, prior to the time when the Danish noble family adopted the name.

Tradition third: — Regarding the origin of the Rosenkrantz family and name is remarkably confirmed by the early records of the family in Europe, as shown in letter 20 and in the summary. Erik, the eldest son of the eldest, was, presented with a Rose-wreath, 1325, which he added to his coat of arms and took the name of Rosenkrantz.

Tradition fourth: — Has not been corroborated by any reports or records found, except that Maurice, son of Prince William, did truly become a great military chieftain, and successfully withstood the Army of Spain under the able leadership of Alva and others who succeeded him. For confirmation of this tradition, the writer was referred to Motley on the Netherlands, but, after a careful reading of all Motley's works on the "Dutch Republic," and the "United Netherlands," and the "Life of Barneveldt," the writer has failed to find the mention of any such Swedish instructor, or the Rosenkrans name, though the Amsterdam records show that Jacob Dirkson Rosenkrans, a supposed ancestor, was banished from Holland by Alva, 1567, on account of his Protestantism, and that his son Dirk Roosecrans, whose picture is herein presented, was Captain of the Civil Guard of Amsterdam when Prince William was assassinated, 1584. The continuation of the above tradition concerning Alexander Augustus as the emigrant in 1689, whose wife's name is said to be unknown, is mainly erroneous. Authentic records have since been found as related in "sources of family information" showing that Alexander (not Alexander Augustus) was the son of the emigrant, Harmon Hendrick Rosenkrans; that he was born in Kingston, New York, about 1660; was married to Marretjen DuPuy, 1713; purchased land on the Delaware in Morris, now Sussex County, New Jersey, 1729, and, dividing his tract, sold one-half of it to his son Harmen, 1742, and the other half to his son Johannis, 1745.

Sources of Family Information

In 1866, while living in Newton, New Jersey, the writer was visited by Selim B. Rosenkrans, of Webster City, Iowa, formerly of Hammondsport, New York, who reported that the family Bible of Colonel John Rosenkrans, with its family records, was then in possession of his grandmother, the widow of Levi Rosenkrans (45), then living in Hammondsport, and by request, on his return there, copied those records and sent them to me. These records, copied into my family Bible, in 1866, consist of the birth of John Rosenkrans, 1724; his marriage to Margaret DeWitt, 1751; the births of his wife and fourteen children, and his own death, 1786. These were the earliest records it contained, though some now imagine it contained earlier ones. This old Bible, Selim B. informs me, went among strangers after the death of Colonel John, and was recovered in Pennsylvania forty years later by his Uncle Joseph (89), and now remains in his possession. A few years subsequent to this, I unexpectedly came across the family Bible of my grandfather, Major Benjamin Rosenkrans, in possession of Peter Kintner, the son-in-law of Benjamin's departed widow and second wife, which I procured with the family records. These Bible records, with my fathers and my own, afford a Bible family record back to my great grandfather, Colonel John Rosenkrans, born 1724.

After the death of my uncle Elijah Rosenkrans, of Newton, November, 1885, through the courtesy of John S. Howell, administrator of his estate, I received a roll of family documents found in an old trunk once belonging to my grandfather, Major Benjamin, which papers have come down from Colonel John Rosenkrans, and some of them from Alexander, his father. Among these was the original deed dated March 26 and 27, 1729 — 1730, from John Crooke, Jr., of Kingston, New York, to Alexander Rosenkrans, and Fredrick Schoonmaker, of Rochester, Ulster County, New York, for nine hundred acres of land on the Delaware, in Walpack, New Jersey; also a deed from Schoonmaker to Rosenkrans, 1742, for his one-half interest in said land, and a deed dated 1745, from Alexander Rosenkrans and his wife "Marriky" to their youngest son Johannis for one-half of the tract of land, they having sold the other half to their eldest son Harmen 1742. These land records, previously undiscovered, since the death of my grandfather, in 1848, extended the ancestral line of the Rosenkrans family back another generation from Colonel John, of Walpack, to Alexander. his father, of Rochester, Ulster County, New York.

These land records entered at Kingston, New York, and at Burlington, in West New Jersey, suggested another source of family information — the land records — and from the counties where the early members of the family settled in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, much family information as to names, and places and dates has since been obtained. In 1892 my attention was called by Thomas G. Bunnell, editor of the "New Jersey Herald. " of Newton, New Jersey, to a copy of the "Church Life", issued by the First Reformed Dutch Church of Port Jervis, New York, in which was given from church records by the noted family genealogist, William H. Nearpass, editor of the "Gazette," of Port Jervis, New York, the genealogy of the Rosenkrans family in one certain line from the emigrant of the family Herman Hendrickszen Rosenkrans, who was married in New York 1657, down through Alexander and Colonel John to members of the family still living.

This church record carried the Rosenkrans ancestral line back still another generation from Alexander, of Ulster County, New York, to his father, Herman Hendrickszen, of New Amsterdam, married there 1657, and formerly of Bergen, Norway, Thus the family record, Providentially received, generation by generation, in successive order, from Bible, Land and Church records, was extended back to the first American ancestor, and to the place in Europe whence he came, revealing the names of himself, his wife and children and some of his grandchildren, none of whom except Alexander, and his son John had ever been heard of by living members of the family, while but few had heard of Alexander and that merely by tradition as already related in "family traditions. "

These church records of the early Dutch settlers in New York City, Ulster and Orange Counties, New York, Sussex and Somerset, New Jersey, and Northampton, Pennsylvania, where the early members of the family had settled, afforded another fruitful source of family information to learn of the family of Harmon Hendrick Rosenkrans, and to trace his descendants down to the present generation. Having eventually received from this source much information of the early family hitherto unknown, and which I deemed too valuable to be lost to the family, the writer in the spring of 1893 commenced a correspondence with members of the Rosenkrans name throughout the States to gather what information he could from old Bible records and from aged members of the family in order to secure the genealogy to the present time, that eventually a history of the family might be published, either by himself or another, as circumstances might determine.

During this period of 1892 — 1893, I came in correspondence with several writers of genealogies, viz. : Jeremiah Pelton, of New York, whose family is connected with our own; J.P. Wintermute, of Delaware, Ohio, likewise connected, and O.J. Harvey, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, who was writing up the Nesbitt family; a member of which, Phebe Nesbitt, wife of Timothy Hopkins, was the mother of Jemima (Hopkins) Rosecrans, the mother of General William Stark Rosecrans. From these historians the writer received some family information and a stimulus to pursue the work to completion.

In answer to a letter of inquiry directed to Elijah Rosenkrans, or family, of Hohokus, New Jersey, in the spring of 1893, I received a note and a call from his son, William D. Rosencrantz, who was interested in the family history and gave an account of the titled DeRosencrantz family of Norway, from which family he naturally supposed we were descended, since our ancestor came, from Norway. He had some personal knowledge of the family in Norway, having been a military student and a witness of the battles of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 — 1871, under the protection of Marshall McMahon, of France, in whose army were two sons of a Baron DeRosencrantz, of Norway, with whom he became acquainted, and from whom he received a history of the Norwegian noble family, which history was subsequently lost. While the Norwegian family was a titled one, he represented that the Rosenkrans family was also numerous and influential in Germany. Here again was providentially opened up another field for investigation back of those successively found, and in the country whence our ancestor came inspiring a desire to learn of the family there, to find the connection between the European and American branches, and, if possible, to search out from the records of the past the beginning of the Rosenkrans family and name, which in accordance with the legend received I believed to have originated with the reception of a Rose-wreath, and, perhaps, with the title of nobility at the same time. With what signal success my efforts have been crowned may be definitely learned by a perusal of "The Rosenkrans Family in Europe," and especially the "Summary. "

Formation and Orthography of Names

In the beginning of the race names were significant, descriptive of something concerning the person's birth or character or surroundings. Adam signifies earth and also a progenitor, and primarily includes both male and female, the latter being a part of the former. Adam said of Eve, "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh," and said, "She shall be called woman because taken out of man," and "Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." The Savior is called "Jesus because he shall save His people from their sins," and his followers are called Christians because they are the followers of Christ the Savior of the world. Names were singular in primitive times, as Adam, Seth, Enoch, Abram, but as the inhabitants increased in numbers, names were necessarily multiplied and doubled, in order to designate one person from another, and family from family. Among the early Hebrews, the people of Heber, as seen in the Bible, one was designated by telling whose son he was, as "Joshua the son of Nun," "Caleb the son of Jephunneh," "James and John the sons of Zebidee. "

In England, at a later period, an improved mode of designating individuals was adopted, forming a family name by adding son to the possessive form of the father's name, thus William’s son John would be called John Williamson. The sons of Peter and John would be called Peterson and Johnson. In this manner was undoubtedly formed such names as Jackson, Thompson, Richardson and Hendrickson. This improved method of forming surnames was in use in Denmark and Norway perhaps earlier than in England, and it is said to have been more fully adopted in England after the Norman conquest. But the surname in Denmark in early times usually applied only to the sons, thus changing every generation, and since family names have become fixed there, as in the Rosenkrantz family, the sons are still designated by the father’s name as above described. Among the early notables of Norway, the sons of Olaf, the Norse Sea King, were called Olafsson; Olaf, the son of King Harold, was called Olaf Haroldsson, and King Haakon’s sons were called Haakonsson, thus retaining the double s, while in England the one s was dropped. This method of forming names, and designating individuals may be seen in the list of names presented in the letters received, giving genealogical lists of the families in Europe. The Holland list (19) begins with Jacob Dirksen, which denotes him to have been Jacob the son of Dirk. The next is Dirk Dirksen, and following these are Jacob Dirksen, the banished, and his son Dirk Jacobsen, the Captain of the Civil Guard, whose picture and seal are herein given. The Norwegian list (14) begins the noble Danish family with Niels Iversen, evidently the son of Iver. Niel’s sons are Erik Nielsen, Iver Nielsen and Jenseller Johannis Nielsen. The Copenhagen list (15) begins with Erik, the first known member of the family. His son was Iver Eriksen, and Iver’s son was Niels Iversen, above mentioned, the father of Erik Nielsen, the Nobleman and Knight who first adopted the name Rosenkrantz.

Formation of Names Among the Early Settlers of  This Country

When the Hollanders first came to New Amsterdam and to the counties of Ulster and Orange and Sussex, in the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, many of them had not yet taken family names but adopted them after coming here from the names of the places whence they came, with the prefix "Van," which in Dutch, signifies from. And those who had family names did not always write them in their signatures. The only signature found written by Harmon Hendrick Rosenkrans was in 1683, in which he wrote it "Harmoun Hyndryx," leaving off the family name Rosenkrans. In some of the early Holland names having "Van" as a prefix, the "Van" has been dropped from the name, while in others it is still retained. Among those who thus took names after coming here may be mentioned the names of VanAken, or Aaken, VanGarden, VanSchoonhoven, VanOosterhout, VanVredenburg, VanNimwegen, VanKampen, VanWinkle, VanNest, VanEtten, VanWestphalen, VanKuykendal, VanFleet, VanBenscoten. From six of the above names mentioned the "Van" has been dropped in Sussex and Orange Counties, and nearly all of them have been somewhat changed in form and spelling. They are now usually written as follows: VanAuken, VanGorden, Schoonover, Oosterhout, Fredenburg, VanInwegen, VanCampen, VanWinkle, VanNess, VanEtten, Westfall, Coykendall, VanFleet, VanScoten. The first ten of the above list of names having married in the early Rosenkrans family, will be again noticed in their respective places where first found in the Rosenkrans records, and their genealogies in most cases will be given to the emigrant of the family.

Orthography of Names - The Rosenkrans Name

The spelling of names varies in different countries according to the different sounds and usage of letters, and also according to the different ideas of those who change them. In the English formation of family names ending with son, the s forming the possessive is dropped, while in Scandinavia it is usually retained, forming the ss, as seen in the names mentioned. In Holland Dutch son is spelled sen, and also zen, and zoon. Double o is common in the Holland language where but one is used in the English, as will be seen in the following names from which one o has been dropped from the original spelling since coming here, as Kool, or Cool, changed to Cole; Hoornbeck to Hornbeck; Hootalen to Hotalen; Roosa to Rosa; Roosecrans to Rosecrans. As reported in letter (1) Rose in Holland Dutch is spelled Roos, hence in the Holland picture of Captain Dirk it is spelled Roosecrans, and in one report from Holland it is written Dirck Jacobszoon Roosencrans, signifying Dirck Rosenkrans son of Jacob.

The family name adopted by Erichs, as spelled in German, and Erik, in Danish, was at first spelled Rosenkrantz, being German, as reported from Germany, and Denmark and Norway, but the name has since been variously spelled in Europe as well as in this country by members of the family. The report says that the Danish form of spelling the name at present is Rosenkrands; the Norwegian, Rosencrantz; the Swedish, Rosenkrans; and that the Danish noble family still residing in Holstein, Germany, where the name originated, continue to spell it Rosenkrantz, as in the beginning. From Copenhagen it is reported that the following spellings of the name are found written in the Danish Noble Family, viz. : Rosenkrantz, Rosenkrandts, Rosenkrans, Rosenkrands, Rooszenkrantz, Rosenkraunts. From Sweden Rosencrants is added and from Holland is added Rosenkrauntz, and Roosencrans and Roosecrans. Among the Germans in this country is found the added forms of Rosencrantz, Rosencranz, Rosenkranz, making thirteen different forms among the foreign born. It is said in Denmark that during the early times very little writing was done and no importance was attached to the spelling, but in this country it seems to be otherwise; that the changes have been made in order to improve the spelling, whether successful or not.

The following different forms of spelling the name have been found among the descendants of Harmon Hendrick in this country, written by themselves, viz. : Rosenkrans, Rosencrans, Rosencrants, Rosecrons, Rosecrans, Rosenkrance, Rosegrant, Rosencrance, Rosencrantz, Rosekrans, Rosacrans, being eleven in number — seven being new forms — making twenty in all.

No original writing of the family name by Harmon Hendrick has been found  and therefore we shall spell it as we do our own, the form adopted by Colonel John, it being also the way it was first found written in Kingston, 1661. In the case of others the name will be usually written as far as known according to their last form of writing it. A quotation mark about a name denotes its original form where spoken of. The first original writing of the family name found in the line of Alexander is by Harmen, the son of Alexander, in a deed to Isaac VanCampen, 1754, written Rosekrans, and by his brother Colonel John, it is so written in a will, 1756, but in his last will, 1786, it is written Rosenkrans. In deeds given by Alexander and Dirk, they have only written their initials as their mark. In the line of Dirk the first original spelling found is in a will of "Cathrintje Rosencrants," widow of Captain Daniel, 1803, who probably spelled her name as her husband had done. The next is in the will of the Captain’s son James, 1832, written "Rosecrons. " The name of the members of that family in Pennsylvania, from 1798 to 1804, is usually written "Rosecrants. " As reported from Delaware County, Ohio, Daniel, a son of Captain Daniel, in a deed of 1825, signed his name Rosacrans, as did his son Crandall, 1831. In a deed of 1831 Daniel, and his wife Thankful, signed their name Rosecrans, which is the first instance found where spelled by one of the family in this manner, and this is the present form of spelling the name by the family of General William Stark Rosecrans, and by nearly all the descendants of Dirk west of Pennsylvania, while in Pennsylvania and New Jersey there are many of his descendants who spell the name with three syllables, and in various ways.

The writer has taken pains to look up and report the different formations and spellings of the Rosenkrans name in Europe and America, because many questions have been asked by correspondents how and why the name has been differently spelled? each one believing that his own way of spelling it is the correct way. Joseph B. Rosecrantz, of Sparta, Wisconsin, great grandson of Reverend Abram Rosecrantz, a German emigrant, writes as follows concerning the name: "I spell it in the good, old, Dutch way, in which the Reverend Abram Rosecrantz inscribed it in his church records, but one of his sons, Nicholas, I think, before referred to, perverted, or transformed it to Rosenkrans." He further says: "Now, in your historic researches I trust you will trace the pedigree and also be able to account for the change of name and ascertain if your branch are of German descent." All this I have now done, as the foregoing and following pages will show, after a long search, getting "here a little and there a little," continually seeking earlier records till the beginning of the name was found, with the particulars in which it originated, and the times and places of its adoption, and also its different spellings as given above. But some will say, "What is there in a name?" My answer is, "Much every way." "At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of things in heaven and things in earth." In His name are Reconciliation, Redemption, Salvation, Eternal life, Happiness, Heaven. It is truly said that "a good name is better than riches," and with a bad name come disgrace, discredit, dishonor, "destruction," "death." The name remains after we are departed, and inspires to good or evil according to the character of him who bore it. The name of Abraham inspires to faithfulness; Washington to patriotism; Lincoln to honesty; Dewey to National greatness and thanksgiving; while Judas and Arnold signify treachery and condemnation. With the Rosenkrantz name are associated significance, a legend and romance; a Rosewreath and Nobility; Knighthood and Fame. Let us then as members of the modern Rosenkrans family do nothing to sully our fair name, but let us not depend upon our surname alone, but have connected with it a good name that we may have a good name indeed in "that name which is above every name;" that our names may be written in the lamb’s "Book of Life," and we find acceptance with Him "Of whom the whole family in Heaven and Earth is named."


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This page was last updated on February 26, 2007 .
Copyright © 1997 - 2002 by James P. Rosenkrans, IV.  All rights reserved.