African American Wynkoops.
African American Wynkoops.

African American Wynkoops

Christopher H. Wynkoop.

    It is a well documented but little known fact that Cornelis Evertsz. Wijnkoop (1627-1676), like a great many of his Dutch countrymen, was a slave owner. [For more information see the following records from the Kingston Court Records for November 28th and 30th, 1673.] Times were different then and slavery was an accepted practice in the New World. The colony of New Netherland was no exception.

    Thomas Burke, in his book, Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, NY 1661-1710, offers many statistics on slave numbers at that time, including the fact that in 1714 when 3,329 persons were listed on the census for Albany County, 13.7% of that total were black slaves. That number continued to grow over the years.

    Over time, slaves and slave labor became the backbone of the Dutch and English colonies in the New World, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Dutch West India Company, also known as the WIC, (West Indische Compagnie), originally established New Netherland as a fur trading station. Early reports brought back to the Netherlands by Hendric Hudson indicated vast stores of valuable furs and the profit minded Dutch were quick to respond. They soon discovered, however, that they would have to diversify if they wanted to stay in business.

    "As early as 1612, a small Dutch fort, made of earth and brushwood, and protected by deep ditches, had been built at Mouri, (on the Gold Coast, or West Coast of Africa - chw), only three and a half hours by foot from Elmina. They had the support of the people of Mouri, who for some reason believed that the Dutch would be more sympathetic, and easier to trade with, than the Portuguese. In 1624 this fort was taken over by the new Dutch West India Company, rebuilt, and named Fort Nassau in honour of the House of Orange. By this time, for newcomers, the Dutch were already slaving on a fairly extensive scale. In the five years 1619-1623 they had shipped some fifteen and a half thousand Africans to the shores of Brazil. In 1625 the first shipment of Negroes was landed on Manhattan Island, called by the Dutch New Amsterdam."

Pope-Hennessy, James, Sins of the Fathers, A Study of the Atlantic Slave Traders 1441-1807, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1968: Pp. 74-75

    Shortly before the establishment of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island, (in 1621), the first African slaves in North America arrived at the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia aboard a Dutch ship. The year was 1619.

Jamestown, Aug. 20, 1619 "'There came in a Dutch man-of-warr that sold us 20 negars,' reports settler John Rolfe." This "group of negroes were brought to the Colony out of the West Indies and sold from the ship which brought them for 'victualls.' This created little attention at the time. Evidently these newcomers found themselves bound for a time as servants rather than as slaves. The matter of mass negro slavery with its profitableness in the tobacco economy was, as yet, decades away."

Hatch, Charles E., Jr., The First Seventeen Years: Virginia, 1607-1624, Charlottesville, The University Press of Virginia, 1979 (1957), pp. 24-25.

    The English were in the early stages of expanding their empire. Profitable plantations began to spring up in the colonies which required larger and larger numbers of people to work the fields. Indentured servants and "transported" criminals weren't able to fill the need. Tobacco and sugar beets were the early cash crops and huge potential profits from these became the driving force behind slavery in the New World.

    Tobacco growing at that time was not limited to the southern portions of North America. It was a highly prized cash crop in New Netherland as well, for many years. The men who ran the Dutch Patroonships needed lots of cheap labor to grow and harvest this crop. Cornelis Wijnkoop left the Netherlands for the New World to fill this need.

On March 20th, 1651, Cornelis Evertsz. Wijnkoop signed a contract in Amsterdam. He was to be given passage to the Colony Rensselaerswyck, on the galjoot, Geldersse Blom, "where he will be employed in construction, cultivation, woodcutting, and tobacco planting"; he was 24 years old, from the neighborhood of Wijckerom in the land of Eede in the Dutch province of Gelderland. The contract was for 3 years at 125 guilders annually. His passage, food and drink were all gratis. [Notarial record 1096/286-287 (Film No. 1282) in the Gemeente Archief of Amsterdam, (taken from a transcription of the original.)]

    After his contract was up, Cornelis bought property with his savings, planted crops such as wheat and raised horses, cows and pigs. Over time his holdings grew until he owned approximately 26 morgens of land. [A morgen of land was roughly equivalent to the amount of land a man could plow in a morning, approximately two acres. (Morgen = morning.)] His profits weren't high and he had a large family to feed. As a result he couldn't afford to keep more than a slave or two. But before he made that step, in 1661, he asked Jeremias van Rensselaer to find him some additional help:

[JvR Corresp.1 271] Jeremias to his brother Jan Baptist in the Netherlands, 17 Oct. 1661: "Cornelis Wyncoop and Seeger Cornelisz have also asked me whether you could hire a farmhand for them."

[JvR Corresp.1 317] 12 April 1663, Jan Baptist writes to Jeremias that he has hired eight servants, "one for Kees Wyncoop," Kees being a Dutch nickname for someone named Cornelis.

    By 1673, three years before his death, he was in a position to purchase slave labor. While the transaction referred to earlier wasn't satisfactory to him, it has to be assumed that eventually he found what he was looking for.

    This tradition of slave holding trickled it's way down through the rest of his family over the years. At least two of Cornelis's sons were slave holders:

Evert's widow, in 1755, appears as a slave holder, at Hurley. ["Doc. Hist. N. Y.", vol. iii., pp. 969, 847.2]

    His youngest son, Benjamin kept a slave:

"In April 1741, his slave, London, a Spanish Indian, was indicted, with other persons, for conspiring to burn the city." ["Hist. MSS., Sec'y of State's Office", vol. 66, pp. 79, 99; vol. 74, pp. 25, 81.]

    It is unknown whether Cornelis's son Garret kept slaves in either New York or Pennsylvania, but Garret's grandson, also called Garrett, kept one slave, according to the Moreland Township tax records for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania for the years 1789 and 1791, and one to two slaves in 1793 and 1795.

    Garret's more famous grandson, Judge Henry Wynkoop, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, kept at least five slaves and maybe more. All of them were given manumission before his death in 1816.

    Colonel Cornelius D. Wynkoop, the great-grandson of the original Cornelius, was killed by one of his slaves in 1793:

"Cornelius was killed by one of his negroes, who had been infuriated by punishment received from the son of Cornelius, on account of a disturbance that he had made in the kitchen, and by a reprimand from Cornelius himself. The negro mistook the father for the son, probably." [Richard Wynkoop's 1904 edition of Wynkoop Genealogy in the United States of America, page 46.]

    With all of these slaveholders in the family it should come as no surprise that some of the descendants of these slaves should hold the name of Wynkoop today. This relationship has been rocky at times and very special on other occasions. {See John Beatty's 3rd Record Book for Isabel Brown's story.) Hopefully with this acknowledgement we can mend some fences and establish a better relationship. All of us have been influenced by the early Wynkoops whether we sought such influence or not. It is time to put the past behind us and move forward into the future. I think we can learn a lot from each other. After all, our family histories are intimately intertwined and will remain so for generations to come.

    Below you will find links to family files for some of these African American descendants. These are necessarily brief. Most of the ancestors of these families are hidden in pre-1870 Federal Census records, where they are recorded as property and merely counted or at most identified by first name only.

    It's going to take some industrious research by other family members to extricate these families from the tyranny of darkness that they've been subjected to by the old record keepers.

    I, personally, would like to know more about these families, their traditions and histories. If you would like to share please contact me at [email protected]. If you know anything more about these families and their descendants or have other families and family members that you'd like to add to these genealogies I'd be pleased to update the files for everyone's benefit.

    If you have copies of manumission records, like that of Judge Henry Wynkoop, I would be glad to post copies of them here to assist other family members in researching their past. In addition if you have family stories that you would like to share I would be happy to post those as well.

    I'm looking forward to hearing from you.


Note 1: Van Laer, A.J.F., trans. Correspondence of Jeremias van Rensselaer, 1651-1674. Albany: University of the State of New York, 1932.

Note 2: Munsell, Joel, ed. Documentary History of the State of New York. 4 vols. Albany: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1865.

The Slave Trade.
    A brief history of the North American Slave Trade.

Tracing African American Families.
     Slave naming practices and methods for tracing African American families.

African Americans and the Dutch.
     A bibliography of articles selected from the New Netherland Project Bibliography.

Wynkoop Family Slaveholders.
     A listing of Wynkoop Slaveholders and the slaves they held.

Free African Americans of St. George Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, 1810.
     John Wyncoop, Freeman.

Winecop in 1861 Canada West Census.
     The John Winecop family.

Claims Against the City for Damages Caused During the Riot.
     From the New York Times, Thursday, 30 July 1863, p. 2.

Roster of African American Wynkoops in the Civil War.
     Wynkoops who fought on the side of the Union.

John R. Wyncoop, 54th Massachusetts Regiment, The "Glory" Brigade.
     The Civil War soldier from Poughkeepsie, New York.

Roadside Murder. An Unknown Woman Butchered on a Post Road.
     From the New York Times, Wednesday, 18 November 1868, p. 5.

Isabella Simpson.
     More Than a Centenarian. From the Brooklyn Standard Union, Saturday, 22 July, 1876.

An Old Woman Burned to Death.
     From the New York Times, Friday, 29 June 1888, p. 3.

World War II, U. S. Army Enlistment Records.
     Wynkoops in the Army and WACs.

The Alex Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the Alex Wynkoop family.

The Angela Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the Angela Wynkoop family.

The Arthur Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the Arthur Wynkoop family.

The Frank Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the Frank Wynkoop family.

The George Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the George Wynkoop family.

The James W. Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the James Wynkoop family.

The Mary Wyinecoop Family.
     Notes on the Mary Wyinecoop family.

The Peter Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the Peter Wynkoop family.

The Sarah Wynkoop Family.
     Notes on the Sarah Wynkoop family.

The Thomas Wincoop Family.
     Notes on the Thomas Wincoop family.

Created May 25, 1999; Revised March 9, 2007
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Copyright © 1999-2007 by Christopher H. Wynkoop, All Rights Reserved

This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any fashion without my written consent.

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