Jacob VanGilder was born May 13, 1752 in the Netherlands. It is uncertain when he sailed from Holland to America, but most researchers feel that it was about 1769 when he was sixteen years of age. It is unknown whether he sailed alone or with family members. There are old family stories that have been passed down through the generations that he landed in America with several siblings and other tales of how he worked his way across the Atlantic aboard an English ship.
To date, no one has successfully traced the line back to the Netherlands. Perhaps this is due to the fact that his actual surname may not have even been VanGilder. The Dutch translation of “van” is “from”. Thus the translation of the surname of VanGilder would be "From Gelder," which is a province in the Netherlands. The moniker of VanGilder was probably assigned to him when he reached the shores of America. I have heard from another family genealogist that Jacob’s name was, Jacob Willder VanGilder. Perhaps his actual name was Jacob Willder from Gelder, making his surname Willder.
The VanGilder surname first appeared in American documents in the 1700’s in New York and Cape May, New Jersey. Written VanGilder, Van Gelder, Van Guilder, Vangilder, we have not yet been able to link Jacob with any of the early settlers.
For so many Jacob VanGilder researchers the genealogical brick wall became tracing his line back to the Netherlands. Certainly the surname VanGilder with its variety of spellings would appear to originate in the land of windmills, tulips and wooden shoes.
Now with Y-DNA testing a new an most intriguing answer to Jacob's ancestry has been found. Several of "our" male Jacob VanGilder descendants have taken the DNA test only to find that the line traces back to a Native American Haplogroup.
A cousin, Drew Blattner, has gone to great lengths to not only find the ancestor of Jacob VanGilder, but to also find proof that his ancestor John VanGilder is actually the son of Jacob and Anna Margaret who "went west". DNA has given proof that John VanGilder, who "went west" as far as Cape Girardeau in Missouri is indeed the oldest son of Jacob and Anna Margaret.
Drew writes,"Then I came across the research of Debra Winchell in her paper, The Impact of John Van Gelder: Mohican, Husbandman and Historical Figure(currently available on Amazon in paperback). Debra is a descendant and very thorough researcher of the Mohican Indian named Toanunck who was born to a Wappinger father and a Mohican mother. He took the Dutch name Jan Van Gelder and married Anna Maria Koerner, a German immigrant from the Palatinate, and had nine documented children with her. They lived in the Taconic Mountains near Egremont in Berskshire County, Massachusetts, fairly close to the New York border. Some descendants of Jan, or John as he is normally called stayed near Egremont while others moved away, most notably those that moved north, to Guilder Hollow near Granville in Washington County, New York, close to the Vermont border. I began to wonder if it was possible for my Jacob Van Gilder to be the grandson of Toanunck, aka John Van Gelder."
Additional DNA testing results did prove that Drew's VanGilder line did connect to Jacob and Anna Margaret VanGilder and that there was no genetic link to the Netherlands--only Native American. Next, with the assistance of Debra Winchell, he was able to connect with a known descendant of Indian Tawanaut/ Toanunck, later known as Jan/John Van Gelder. Not surprisingly, the Y-DNA testing came back the same as males tested in our VanGilder line.
Drew further states, "John Van Gelder was the first and only known Indian to change his Indian name to the Van Gelder surname. All the other Mohicans and Wappingers were going by their Native names at the time. It is possible that we don’t descend from him, but through a relative, but no other known Indians were taking the name. Even John’s brother still went by Sancoolakheekhing. I speculate that the name was taken to blend more with the Dutch settlers from Gelderland, Holland, who lived near the Mohicans. When John married his German wife, he went on to live a very prosperous and well documented life, bridging the gap between the Natives and the European settlers."
There is currently on going research to determine which son of John Van Gelder aka Toanunck is our next link.
Jacob VanGilder served on the Line during the American Revolution, first in Pennsylvania and later in Maryland. His pension file states that he served under Captain Burd and Colonel Butler. Much of Jacob and Anna Margaret’s early life is outlined in the pension file by their son, William VanGilder. The couple was married near Hagerstown, Maryland in June, 1784. Anna Margaret Kibler or Anna Margaret Gibler was born in 1754 in Bingen on the Rhine, Germany. Nothing is known about her family.
The VanGilders removed to Monongalia County in 1799 where Jacob farmed for a living. The first written record of Jacob VanGilder has been found in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia in 1800. Jacob was appointed, by the court, to be the surveyor on a road project which would link the Uniontown and Morgantown Roads. He has numerous property tax records in the county going back to 1802. An interesting court document involving Jacob which is part of the 1804 record....”Jacob VanGilder said that in December 1803 he owned one hound bitch named ‘Scent’ which was his favorite property valued at $20 and complained that John Boggess found his dog and refused to return her.” The 1813 List of Tithables lists Jacob as owning five horses.
Jacob died on July 14, 1846 in Marion County, (West) Virginia at the age of ninety-four years and Anna Margaret died on September 14, 1849 in Marion County, (West) Virginia at the age of ninety-five. Both are buried in the older section of the Mount Zion Church Cemetery located in the Winfield District, Marion County, West Virginia. The land for the cemetery was given by Jacob and Anna Margaret’s son, Frederick VanGilder, on March 19, 1846. Hundreds of VanGilder descendants are buried in the cemetery.
After Jacob’s death, his son, William VanGilder submitted a pension claim in the name of his father, for services rendered during the American Revolution. The claim was denied because there was no written proof of service. Although the family was not able to have Jacob listed as a Revolutionary War soldier, the DAR did recognize his service. A number of descendants have joined under his name. There is a metal Revolutionary Service marker on his grave sight placed by the local DAR. In recent years, however, Jacob VanGilder is no longer recognized by the DAR and descendants are not able to join the organization under his name.
Children of Jacob VanGilder and Anna Margaret Kibler--I descend from two separate lines.
Updated September 2015
Unlock the VanGilder Treasure Chest!
Family research is not always done alone. I would like to thank Marjorie Potesta, Robert Poole Wilkins, and Raymond Wolfe, Jr. who have collaborated with me on the VanGilder book. To Drew Blattner for all his research into our Native American background. Also the countless network "cousins" who have donated their lines to our effort. Finally, to my own family--parents, aunts, cousins, cousins once removed--who have given support, stories, and old photos.
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