Saturday, August 27, 2011

Samuel Meeker’s own ancestry (and therefore mine too!)

Samuel Meeker (detail) by Gilbert Stuart 1803 Philadelphia

Samuel Meeker could proudly point out his ancestry going back 5 generations to William Meeker (b 1620 d. 1690) ‘first associate’ of New Jersey & progenitor of all Meekers in the USA. William Meeker and sons Joseph and Benjamin were among the first eighty associates of Elizabethtown, the first English settlement in New Jersey. In the Revolution, a large number of Continental officers came from Elizabethtown. Many members of the Meeker family itself were known far and wide for their dedicated participation in this struggle for independence, and were famed for their “physical strength and moral courage.” The Pictorial Field Book of The Revolution by Benson J. Lossing Vol. 1 chap. 14 p 325 Their significant contribution to the war effort was also well known to Gen. George Washington, as Captain Meeker (Samuel’s father, for more click here) as well as Major Meeker (first cousin of Samuel’s father for more click here) are mentioned in letters during the time of the war.

A Long Line of Patriots
Long before the “Boston Tea Party”, the stage was set for the early Meeker settlers to be defiant of British authority, stemming from a lengthy and bitter contest over town rights. In 1664 a group of hardy colonists asked for, and were given permission by the newly installed British deputy governor, to buy a tract of land from the native Indians west of Staten Island. For many years afterwards, ownership of this land was the source of controversy and dispute between the ‘Associates’ who based their ownership rights on this purchase from the Indians, and the British ‘Proprietors’ who claimed the purchase to be invalid. The original purchasers, about 80 men, were named “the Elizabethtown Associates.” By 1670 the young ‘upstart’ Royal Governor P. Carteret was disregarding the claims of the Associates and even allotted land as a reward to his servant Richard Michel. The townspeople regarded his actions as unwarranted acts of usurpation. “William Meeker, Hur Tomson, Samuel Marsh, Sr., Joseph Meeker, Jeffrey Jones, Nicholas Carter, John Ogden Jr., and Luke Watson tore down Michel's fence, pulled clapboards from his house, and pigs went into Michel's property and destroyed his garden ‘full of necessary garden herbs.’ ” It was a day to be remembered in the annals of Elizabeth; a day for the inauguration of an open and determined resistance to all usurpation, and a manly defense of their vested rights.” (from History of Elizabeth, New Jersey by Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield 1868)

“During all the years the Meeker family had been a brave one that had helped make Newark history from the first Meeker settler [William Meeker], who was given the land on which the homestead stood after playing the constable in defiance of Carteret and pulling down some houses and fences of which he and the “Associates” didn’t approve. Thereby hangs a tale, for the beginnings of which one has to turn back Jersey pages to the 28th of October, 1664. There was then a tract of land lying west of Staten Island which some hardy colonists from Long Island and New Haven purchased and occupied. They were known as the “Associates” and among their number was this first Meeker of all, whom history dubs Goodman Meeker….”
(from The Meeker Family of Early New Jersey by Leroy Meeker 1973)

your ob('ient) se('rvant)...

1 comment:

David Apatoff said...

So, what does this impressive pedigree tell you?

That you have prestigious roots, or that you are disputatious and independently minded?

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