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Bennet and Ryder families collection

Call Number



1670-1980, inclusive


Williams, Gertrude Ryder Bennett
Bennet, Wynant
Bennett, Elley May Ryder
Bennet, Cornelius W.
Ryder, Gertrude M.
Ryder, Charles M.
Lake, Derrick
Lake, Derick
Bennet, Gitty
Van Sicklen, Ferdinand
Stillwell, Jaques J.
Stillwell, Jaques I.


2.5 Linear Feet in 3 manuscript boxes and 1 oversized flat box

Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English, with some documents in Dutch.


This collection of papers contains historical documents created by the descendants of early English and Dutch settlers in colonial New Amsterdam. The Bennets, Lakes, Stillwells and Van Sicklens were English families who lived in the Netherlands and then emigrated to New Amsterdam in the mid-17th century. William Adrianse Bennet settled Gowanus for the Dutch in 1636, while Jan Lake, Nicholas Stillwell and Dutchman Fernandus Van Sicklen were part of the group that settled the English town of Gravesend with Lady Deborah Moody in 1643. Both of these areas are now part of Brooklyn, New York. The collection is divided into three series. The first series contains the papers of descendants of the Bennets and Ryders; the second series contains the papers of the descendants of the Lake, Stillwell and Van Sicklen families; and the third series contains photographs and postcards of the Bennett, Ryder, Vorhis, and Valentine families. Photographs of family members from the Van Cleef and Sillwell families are also included in series three. The documents, the majority of which are wills, deeds and indentures, were created from 1670-1915; the photographs range from the 1870s to 1979.

Biographical / Historical

The Bennet and Ryder Families

The members of the Bennet family represented in this collection are direct descendents of William Adrianse Bennet, who along with Jacques Bentyn, bought tracts of land from the Canarsees in 1636 and became the first settlers of Gowanus. The heirs represented include William's son Willem Willemse; his grandson John Willemse; his great-great grandson Wynant and his wife Geertie Emans; their son Winant and his wife Jemima Van Duyn; their grandchildren Cornelius W. and Gitty; and Cornelius's daughter-in-law Ellen Bennett and his grandson Edward Bennett.

In 1835, Cornelius W. Bennet moved from Gowanus to Gravesend after purchasing the Wyckoff family home from Andrew and Hendrick Wyckoff. The homestead was passed on to Cornelius' son William and his wife Gertrude Ann Ryder and then on to their son Edward. In 1899, Edward Bennett married Nelly May Ryder, daughter of Charles M. Ryder and Gertrude M. Vorhis. Edward and Nelly's daughter Gertrude Ryder Bennett Williams lived in the homestead until her death in 1982 at the age of 81. Williams was a poet whose work was influenced by the lives of her colonial ancestors. Built in 1766 for the Wyckoff's, the Wyckoff Bennett homestead was granted landmark status in 1976. There are many photographs of Edward, Nelly May, and Gertrude at the Wyckoff Bennett homestead in series three of this collection.

The Lakes

John Lake was among the original English settlers of Gravesend founded in 1643 by Englishwoman Lady Deborah Moody. Gravesend was the only English town in Dutch New Netherland and included the present day neighborhoods of Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and part of Bensonhurst. John Lake's grandson Daniel and his great-grandson Derick, as well as Derick's nephew Coert and Coert's sons Court and Daniel are all represented in this collection. Also included are the papers of Derrick D. Lake, husband of Sarah Ann Fleming and likely relation to the Gravesend Lakes.

The Stillwells

The Stillwell papers in this collection are those of the likely heirs of Nicholas Stillwell, one of the original settlers of Gravesend. Represented are Captain Nicholas Stillwell, Samuel Stillwell, Jaques I. Stillwell and his son Jaques J. Stillwell and his wife Joanna. Captain Stillwell was one of the governors and trustees of Queens College in New Jersey. Queens College (now Rutgers University) was started in 1766 by the Dutch Reform Church as a school of Theology. Jaques J. Stillwell was assemblyman from the 12th District in Kings County from 1881-82.

The Van Sicklens

Ferdinand Van Sicklen is a likely descendant of Fernandus Van Sicklen, a Dutchman who was one of the original settlers of the English town Gravesend. Ferdinand's papers are represented in this collection.

A note on names:

In this collection, the second "t" in the Bennet name appears sometime in the mid-19th century, Cornelius W. Bennet and previous generations spelled it with one "t", his son William Bennett and subsequent generations spelled it with two. Vanderbilt was originally Van der Bilt, Stillwell may have originally been Stilwel. First names appear with alternate spellings or in familiar forms: Aaron is sometimes spelled Aron, Jaques is sometimes Jacques and John sometimes appears as Jan. Wynant is sometimes Weynant or Winant, and Derrick appears as Derick or Dirck. Gitty, Geertie, Geertje and Charity were forms of Gertrude and Jemima was a familiar form of Jacomyntie.


The documents arrived in no particular order, the current order was imposed by the processor. This collection is organized into three series. Series 1: The Bennet and Ryder Papers; Series 2: The Lake, Stillwell, Van Sicklen Papers; Series 3: Photographs and Postcards.

Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised of materials donated by the Flatbush Historical Society to the Brooklyn Historical Society in 2002-2003. Inclusive dates of the papers are circa 1670-1915, and dates for the photographs and postcards are 1870s-1979. The bulk of the first two series is comprised of legal documents such as wills, indentures, deeds and receipts. The first series contains legal documents and correspondence related to Wynant Bennet of Gowanus and his heirs living in Gowanus, New Utrecht and Gravesend. The second series contains legal documents and correspondence of the heirs of other founding families of Gravesend, primarily the Lakes, the Stillwells and the Van Sicklens. The majority of the Bennet papers belong to Cornelius W. Bennet (1776-1852) and the majority of the Ryder papers belong to Gertrude M. and Charles M. Ryder (circa 1869-1915). There are five documents in Dutch, one of which relates to the Dutch Reformed Church of Flatlands. Most items are original, with some early copies, and many are in fragile condition. Series three primarily contains photographs of Edward, Nelly May, and Gertrude Ryder Bennett. Photographs of the Ryder, Vorhis, Van Cleef, and Valentine families are also included in series three. In addition to family photographs are printed materials regarding various Dutch farm houses in Brooklyn, including photographs of the interior and exterior of the Ryder house, the Wyckoff house, the Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church, and the new Gravesend Dutch Reformed Church.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection are in the public domain.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Bennet and Ryder families collection, ARC.001, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The historical documents were collected by the Flatbush Historical Society during the post World War II era. In the late 1990s the membership of the Flatbush Historical Society declined and the Board determined to disband and turn over its collections to the Brooklyn Historical Society. This was accomplished with the consent of the New York State Education Department which regulates historical societies.

Related Materials

Brooklyn Historical Society holds the Bennett family collection of Civil War correspondence and other material (call number 2009.012).

Several of the family names that appear in this collection also are found in the Terhune and Wyckoff families papers (call number ARC.279), including Bennet, Emmans, Lake, Ryder, and Stillwell.

BHS's library also holds the following items:

Adams, Arthur and Sarah Ann Risley. A genealogy of the Lake family. Hartford, CT: Privately printed, 1915. CS71 .L354 1915

Bangs, Charlotte Rebecca Woglom. Reminiscences of old New Utrecht and Gowanus. Brooklyn: Brown Eagle Press, 1912. F129 .B7 B26 1912

Several books of poetry by Gertrude Ryder Bennett including some inspired by her life at the Wyckoff Bennett Homestead:

Bennett, Gertrude Ryder. Ballads of colonial days. Francestown, NH: Golden Quill Press, 1972. PZ3.B439 B353 1972

Bennett, Gertrude Ryder. Etched in words. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1938. PZ3.B439 E83 1938

Bennett, Gertrude Ryder. The Hessian lieutenant left his name. Francestown, NH: Golden Quill Press, 1976. PZ3.B439 H47 1976

Bergen, Teunis G. Genealogy of the Van Brunt family: 1653-1867. Albany : J.Munsell, 1867. CS71. V36338 1867 c.3.

Vanderbilt, Gertrude Lefferts. The social history of Flatbush, and manners and customs of the Dutch settlers in Kings County. New York : D. Appleton & Co., 1882. F129.B7 v36 1882.

Van Rensselaer, Mrs. John King. The Goede Vrouw of Mana-ha-ta 1609-1760. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898. F128.4 .V27 1898.

Collection processed by

Catey Farley, with additional description in 2010 by Robyn Hjermstad.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:17:54 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing Information

Series 1 and Series 2 of the collection were arranged and described by Catey Farley in 2009, under the supervision of Chela Scott Weber. Series 3 was arranged, integrated into the collection and described by Robyn Hjermstad in 2010.


Brooklyn Historical Society
Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201