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david.jpg (58901 bytes)      David Baker was a farmer in Genesee County, New York, for more than 60 years. He was my great-great grandfather.

        We wished his name was Knickerbocker, not Baker.

     There in lies a tale which many genealogists could love, because it's a real stumper.  By any account, David Baker was born March 3, 1790, in Vermont.Well, we think Vermont.  He married Susannah West Covell in about 1810 in Pittstown, Rensselaer County, New York. She was the daughter of Richard Covell, a Revolutionary War drummer boy from Rhode Island.

     David and Susannah (Susan) moved to Pavilion, New York, in about 1812, just in time for him to become a member of the New York militia which sent him to the "burning of Buffalo," the only "battle" that he was involved in during the War of 1812.He was soon mustered out.

     This couple were parents of 10 children, seven of whom survived to adulthood.In about 1848, David sent two sons to Union College in Schenectady, NY. Neither was in school there too long. They got into a little mischief and failed to pay the bill. One of their descendants took care of it years later when she enrolled her own son there! It was a small amount for the breaking of a window!

    Simeon C. Baker and Reuben W. Baker were the only two sons of David Baker who went to college at all. David's other sons were content to be farmers. One, Gustavus Baker, the oldest son, farmed next door to his father. The other, David M. Baker, moved to Eaton County, Michigan, shortly after his marriage to one of the Sanford girls.

     At Union College in 1848 were enrolled some young men with the surname of Knickerbocker. For reasons unknown to us, Simeon and Reuben adopted that name. Henceforth, they would be known as Simeon C. Knickerbocker and Reuben W. Knickerbocker. And all of their descendants would carry that surname. The descendants of Gustavus and David M., would be Bakers all of their lives.

    David M.'s children and grandchildren carried the name Knickerbocker as their middle names in some instances. So it would appear that the name Knickerbocker was prominent in the Baker family's background, except that no genealogist or family descendant has found PROOF of this.

     Knickerbocker is a name that was derived from the Dutch word, meaning "marbles." Harmen Jansen Van Whye, an immigrant Dutchman who lived in Schaghticoke, Dutchess County, New York, in the 17th century, changed his surname to Knyckerbache, or some such spelling. Henceforth, all of his children carried this surname, spelled many ways.

     Harmen Jansen Van Whye (aka...Kyckerbache) had five sons, three of which had big families. Knickerbockers trace their lines back to these sons of the original Knickerbocker.

     Was David Baker born a Knickerbocker? Did his father die and was he adopted by a Baker? An exhaustive search of records has failed to turn up any proof of this. However, genealogists have not found David Baker's parents.

     There was a rumor going around that his father drowned in the Hudson River shortly after his birth, and that his mother remarried, possibly a man named Baker. There was a Knickerbocker who drowned in the Hudson River, but he was 9 years old.

     One of the genealogists who has sleuthed this mystery ran down every Knickerbocker in the 1790 census to check for David's parentage. Nothing substantive was found. Family members hope to check every adoption record available in the Vermont archives, as well as those in Rennselaer and Dutchess counties in New York.

     Why did David Baker make his background a mystery? He could have shortened his name of Knickerbocker to Baker, thus Knikebaker to Baker. Yet two of his sons chose Knickerbocker. The other two did not and why?.

                                               Can you help us solve this mystery ?