Genealogy Tree

The DeHart Family Story

            My favorite DeHart reference is DeHart - Noblesse Oblige by John Wm. Epley (deceased), self published in 1997. This book is very well researched and sourced. Mr. Epley was a descendent of Simon Aertszen Dehart who left Holland in 1664 and came to the Dutch Republic colony of New Netherland which is now the Brooklyn area of Long Island, New York. Within ten years he had purchased a sizeable farm and built a substantial stone house on Gowanus Creek. This location is directly across the East River from the main town of New Amsterdam (now lower Manhattan, New York City). The Dutch DeHarts seem to have been descendants of French Huguenots who had fled religious persecution in the early 1600s. The image on the left is from A History of the City of Brooklyn, published in 1867 and authored by Henry R. Stiles. This artist's conception of the DeHart home by Thomas Hogan was based on the several rather detailed descriptions that were available to him. The house was home to several generations of DeHarts and other families for over 200 years before being demolished in the late 1800s. While in Brooklyn, the Dehart family attended the local Dutch Church and many records from this church have survived. About 1705, Simon's son, Elias DeHart and his wife Catherine Lane DeHart, along with other DeHart relatives, moved across the New York Upper Bay to central New Jersey, not far west of Raritan Bay. Here they were members of the Six Mile (Dutch) Reformed Church which exists today, as do a significant number of records pertaining to the early church members. These church records show that Simon and Catherine Lane DeHart's son Simon was baptized 29 January 1703 in New York and that their son Elias was baptized 18 September 1709 in New Jersey. By 1729, the Elias DeHart family and a few other related DeHarts had moved south to the Swedes' Tract near Philadelphia. In that year, Elias purchased 600 acres of property near the Quaker parents of the famous Daniel Boone. This area was originally in Philadelphia County then officially became Berks County in 1752. In 1783, Montgomery County was created between Philadelphia and Berks Counties. In 1744, not long before Elias and son Simon moved to Virginia, Simon and Gilbert DeHart were recorded as signing an Amity Township petition. Also in 1744, Elias sold most of his property to Gilbert Dehart for #300 and in January of 1745, Simon also sold his much smaller property to Gilbert. Many DeHart researchers have used these transactions as circumstantial evidence that Gilbert was an unrecorded son of Elias and Catherine DeHart and many have also assigned Gilbert to an incomplete 9 Feb 1718 New Jersey baptism record that names Elias Dehart as the father, but does not name the child or the sex of the child. I questioned these assumptions based on the #300 price of the property. I wondered how a supposedly young Gilbert accumulated this large amount of money. Believe it or not, #300 in 1744 would be about $80,000 today. Based on my experience with the primogeniture laws in effect at that time, virtually all the working class young men with large amounts of money were the eldest sons of their deceased fathers. These laws basically gave all the assets of an intestate deceased male to his eldest son, except for a widow's dower right (1/3 of the real estate). In addition, by pursuing obscure resources, I found the 1737 land warrant that Gilbert DeHart had obtained for 100 acres in Chestnut Flat, Berks District, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. I also found a 1754 deed that Gilbert made very shortly before his death. This deed referenced the 1737 land warrant and transferred one half of the 100 acres to "my brother" Cornelius DeHart and the other half to Jacob Weaver. These events/facts convinced me that Gilbert was not the son of Elias so I searched the New Jersey DeHart records for a likely father candidate for Gilbert. I soon found Gysbert DeHart who had died in New Jersey sometime before 1712, when his widow remarried. In 1703, Gysbert had sponsored the New York baptism of Simon DeHart, a son of Elias and Catherine DeHart. The two men seemed have been brothers of about the same age that lived near each other in New Jersey after moving from New York. Unfortunately, very few records concerning Gysbert exist; however, on 23 October 1711 he was recorded as a deacon at the Six Mile Run Dutch Reformed Church in Somerset County, New Jersey and Antye Wynants was named as "wife of Gysbert DeHart". The Six Mile Run Church was next to an ancient Indian trail near Raritan. An unnamed artist used church records to create the facsimile image shown on the right. Gysbert and Antye are alleged to have had sons named Gysbert and Cornelius and a daughter named Antye, who was baptized 27 April 1710 in Raritan, Somerset County, New Jersey. Although these facts and allegations are somewhat weak evidence, they closely match what is known about Gilbert and Cornelius DeHart in Pennsylvania. This situation strongly suggests that the children of the deceased Gysbert came to Berks with Elias DeHart or shortly afterward. They probably came as soon as son Gilbert became 21 and received his inheritance and they may have lived with Elias for some time. Elias is recorded as buying his Berks property in 1729. If Gilbert also came to Berks in that year and was 21, he would have been born about 1701. That date seems to work well this the baptismal date of his sister. Gilbert died in late 1754 and left an undated will which was probated 23 November 1754. His will named two sons, four daughters and a sister named Charity. I suspect that Charity was the Gysbert's daughter who was baptized Antye DeHart and that she married Jacob Weaver. Shortly thereafter, both Elias Sr. and sons Simon, Elias Jr. and Aert (Aaron) moved south to Virginia where Simon was recorded in a December 1745 Augusta County land survey. Simon, Aaron and Elias Jr., the sons of Elias DeHart Sr. were recorded in Augusta and surrounding counties for may years afterward. Elias DeHart Sr. is alleged to have died in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.
            More than a few more recent DeHart family researchers have published and somewhat documented online their conception of the Simon Aertszen Dehart lineage; however, there appears to be significant confusion created by the profuse use of Simon and Elias as  DeHart given names. In addition, we have not found any DeHart researchers lineage that acknowledges the Mary DeHart marriage that occurred in 1741. This seems rather odd since this marriage has been published in Pennsylvania marriage reference books and online marriage databases for several decades. We are intrigued by the name Simon DeHart since a Hugh McCaffrey son, William McCaffrey, named a son Simon. Nearly all of these lineages concerning the Berks County DeHart family seem to rely quite heavily on the biographical Volume II of the Historical` and Biographical Annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, published in 1909 by Morton L. Montgomery. This reference make it clear that not all of the DeHart family left Berks County when Elias and son Simon apparently did. In particular, Berks County tax records show that Cornelius DeHart lived in Berks for the eleven years that Hugh McCaffrey lived there; and the Presbyterian Reformed Dutch church records name the first child born to Cornelius as Johanna, baptized 3 April 1746 and he had at least two more recorded children in the next five years. His marriage record has not been found; however, the baptismal record names Catharine as the wife of Cornelius. Most researchers have alleged that Cornelius was the son of Elias DeHart Sr. and most suggest he was born about 1707 without any explanation; however, as detailed above, we have found significant evidence that Cornelius was the brother of Gilbert DeHart and that both were sons of Gysbert Dehart, the brother of Elias Dehart Sr. The facts seem to indicate that Cornelius was a little younger that his brother Gilbert and a little older than his sister Antje, so the 1707 birth assertion seem to be about right. If this approximate birth date is close to correct, he would have been about forty when his daughter Johanna was baptized and this means that he could have had other unrecorded children with Catherine or from a previous unrecorded marriage. Thus, Cornelius is a candidate father for Mary DeHart.
            Much of what has been published concerning Simon DeHart (born 1703) and his son Elias (born 1730) comes from a transcription of an 1858 letter that Nathan DeHart (1780-1861) wrote to his grandson Martin Dehart. Nathan was the son of Elias DeHart and grandson of Simon Dehart. In the letter, Nathan names his grandparents as Simon and Aylse Eleson DeHart. He names their sons as Simon, the oldest, his father Elias Jr. and his mother Elizabeth Toleson and Aaron, the youngest, whose descendants were thenliving in Patrick County, Virginia. He also wrote that Simon had four daughters, but he did not name them. He did seem to try to name and/or partially name their husbands; however, the punctuation is imperfect and it seems he only named three of the men. In any event, a McCaf* is not mentioned, but the letter is not clear enough to completely exclude Mary DeHart as a possible daughter; therefore, Simon DeHart is another candidate father for Mary Dehart.
            In pursuing this uncertainty we discovered some very hard to find and unindexed early baptismal records of the Monmouth County, New Jersey Reformed Dutch Church. Elias DeHart was named as the father in both; however, only the word "child" was used as an identifier and the child was not termed a son or daughter. The dates of these baptisms were 9 February 1718 and 20 August 1721. This sort of incomplete baptism record would usually indicate that the child had died; however, professional genealogists report several other reasons for such a record. The main reason seems to be carelessness on the part of the church officials. That is, the baptism was was scheduled and recorded with the parents names in the baptism register; however, the child's name was not entered after the event was completed. Also, other errors of omission in the transcriptions of original records was mentioned. That is, the transcriber did not copy the child's name from the original record. A few other DeHart researchers have noticed these two records and have made suggestions as to the identities of these children, but I have found none that have suggested Mary DeHart. In any event, either of these dates seem to fit well with the 1741 marriage date of Mary DeHart and Hugh McCaffrey, thus creating Elias DeHart Sr. as another candidate father for Mary DeHart.
            So, in summation, we are unsure of the parents of Mary DeHart and almost any seeming small fact might change our opinion. At present, we rank order the father candidates of Mary in this order: (1). Simon, the son of Elias Sr., (2). Cornelius, the son of Gysbert Dehart and brother of Elias Sr. and (3). Elias Sr.
            From 1745 onward, a Simon, Elias and Aaron DeHart were recorded for several decades in Amherst, Albemarle, Augusta and Botetourt Counties, Virginia; however, it s difficult or impossible to always identify which Simon and/or Elias is referred to in the documents. In any event, some members of the DeHart family seemed to have resided in Augusta County, Virginia and vicinity for some twenty years before Hugh McCaffrey left Berks County for Loudoun County, Virginia in about 1765. Records suggest that William McCaffrey, the son of Hugh, resided in Augusta for a short time at the same time as did several of the DeHarts. One very short record seems to indicate that a Neal McCafferty died in 1760 Augusta. This could have been a very young grandson of Cornelius Dehart. Also, a Cormack McCafferty lived in Augusta and he had a son Hugh McCafferty who was born about 1766. This McCafferty family could have been closely related to Hugh McCaffrey of Berks and Loudoun and the yDNA from a male McCafferty descendant could prove or disprove this possibility. The traditional Irish naming pattern calls for the given name of the maternal grandfather to be conferred on the second born male grandson and this tradition seem likely relevant to the situation of Simon McCaffrey, the grandson of Hugh McCaffrey. We do not know the name of the first wife of his father William McCaffrey, so we do not know the name of his son Simon's mother or maternal grandfather; however, it seems that a Simon DeHart was the grandfather or great grandfather of Simon McCaffrey Sr. We are very aware that the facts described above do not constitute proof of Mary DeHart's father; however, we have picked the one we think is the most likely. From our rather lengthy research of the DeHart family, we find it quite unusual that Mary DeHart and Hugh McCaffrey were married in a Presbyterian Church, rather than a Dutch Reformed Church. Virtually all the other DeHart marriage and baptismal records that have been found came from Dutch Reformed Church or the Lutheran Church where the children of Cornelius DeHart were baptized. We suspect that Mary was under the age of twenty-one and the Pennsylvania law of the time required a marriage approval from a parent or guardian for those under twenty-one. Perhaps the Presbyterian church was a little less demanding of exactly what constituted proof of age and/or proof of consent. In any event, we have been unable to use this situation to help positively identify the parents of Mary. We are always looking for more facts to support our assessment or change it. 
            The descendants of the first Simon DeHart include many that were named Simon and some of them migrated to Philadelphia and the surroundings area and then on to Augusta Co., Virginia and Kentucky. This migration pattern seems quite similar to that of Hugh McCaffrey and his family. It would does not seem at all unusual that Hugh and Mary had lived near Mary's close relatives in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Nor would it have been unusual if some or all of the McCaffrey family had accompanied the DeHarts to Virginia or if William, Owen or Simon McCaffrey had accompanied some of the Dehart family to Kentucky.
            yDNA has proven that Hugh McCaffrey, William McCaffrey and James McCaffrey of Loudoun County, Virginia were very closely related. All three of these men were first recorded in Loudoun in 1766. Hugh was first tithed in Loudoun in 1767 with son James. William was first tithed in Loudoun in 1771.

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Created 3 Jan 2022