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William F. Wyckoff papers

Call Number



1695-1942, inclusive


Wyckoff, William Forman


3.25 Linear Feet in 3 manuscript boxes and 1 oversize flat box.

Language of Materials

The bulk of the material is in English. Some documents are in Dutch.


This collection contains the personal and family related papers of William Forman Wyckoff (1858-1930) spanning the years 1695-1942. Material types include deeds, indentures, property maps, bills of sale, and estate matters from 1695 through 1825. Later documents include extracts of financial records, clippings, reunion books, correspondence, and genealogical notes and research pertaining to many families in Brooklyn and other nineteenth century towns of Kings and Queens Counties, New York. The Eldert, Lott, Suydam, and Wyckoff families are prominent in this collection in deeds, estate inventories, and financial records. Also included in this collection are documents from the Revolutionary War period, those related to John Wyckoff's tenure as sheriff of Brooklyn about 1817-1833, and those concerning enslaved African-Americans.

Biographical / Historical

William F. Wyckoff is a descendant of Pieter Claesen Wyckoff, the common ancestor of the Wyckoff family, and one of the most influential leaders during 17th century settlement in New Amsterdam. Claesen-Wyckoff and his wife, Greitje van Ness, eventually settled in Flatlands, Brooklyn, in what is now the historic Wyckoff Homestead. Claesen-Wyckoff and his wife had a total of eleven children, who married into several different families, creating a vast and complex genealogy spanning the entire country.

William F. Wyckoff (1858-1930) is the son of Sarah Hays Forman (1823-1901) and Reverend Jacob S. Wyckoff. The common ancestor on the Forman side is John Forman, one of many Scotch passengers that came to the United States in 1685 via the "Henry and Francis," led by George Scot. Scot had originally planned to sell the passengers as servants once they reached the new world, but he died on board, so the survivors appealed to the courts for their freedom; upon which, John Forman settled at Woodbridge in Middlesex County, N.J. William F. Wyckoff's grandfather, William P. Forman, was in the Navy in the Civil War, and was paymaster of the fleet at Pensacola, Florida, and died there of yellow fever in 1863. William F. Wyckoff's father, Jacob S. Wyckoff, was the first minister of the Reformed Dutch Church of Colts Neck in New Jersey from 1856 until 1864.

William F. Wyckoff was a writer and genealogist; a good portion of his genealogical notes and research is located in this collection. Wyckoff's genealogical achievements were widely recognized, and in 1939, nine years after his death, Wyckoff received a certificate of merit, the highest ranking achievement, from the Institute of American Genealogy. Wyckoff's publications include: The Wyckoff Family in America: a Genealogy (1934, four years after his death); Inscriptions from Lott family burying ground [and others] (1914, with Josephine C Mayou Frost), and The Old Town Church Jamaica, NY (1910), pertaining to the old Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens.


Either William F. Wyckoff or someone at a later date began to arrange the deeds in this collection by location, and estate matters by name; these materials were left as found by the archivist. Some unlabeled and miscellaneous material in this collection was arranged by the archivist. The term "unclassified" used on some folders is a transcription of Wyckoff's original folder description. A significant number of oversized documents are in the collection; these were moved from their original folder location into a flat box. The container list and the folder labels indicate the relationship of each oversize document to its original folder.

Scope and Contents

The William F. Wyckoff papers consist primarily of deeds, indentures, estate records, and genealogical research for various families in Brooklyn (Kings County) and Queens County. While the collections spans over two hundred years, from 1695-1942, approximately half of the material in this collection are dated before 1825. The material in this collection closely documents the real estate and financial transactions from various areas of Queens and Brooklyn, as well as the personal and professional interests of members of the Wyckoff family, primarily William F.

The genealogical material in this collection includes correspondence, descriptions, and typed and handwritten notes and charts by William F. Wyckoff on numerous families. Family names include the Spader, Griffin, Forman, King, Titus, Lott, Lawrence, Vandervoort, Van Nostrand, Suydam, Renne, Williamson, Moore, and Wyckoff families. Some of Wyckoff's manuscript writings about people and places in New York are also included, such as "Old Clove Road" and "The Red Man in the United States." Subjects of correspondence pertain to Wyckoff's genealogical work.

There is a significant amount of material pertaining to Jamaica, Queens in this collection, including several deeds and indentures, as well as a patent, an article of agreement for the erection of an electric light plant and appliances (1893), descriptions of property, and documents pertaining to the old Presbyterian church in Jamaica, including church charters, descriptions, and a draft of Wyckoff's The Old Town Church Jamaica, NY (1910).

The deeds and indentures in this collection are for land in Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, Hempstead, Jamaica, New Jersey, Newtown, New Utrecht, and Orange County, many of which are accompanied by typescript copies. There is also material pertaining to New Lots, including an agreement of people in the town to aid the reverend with payment to rent a house, an agreement of subscribers to pay to have a fence built, and a list of inhabitants of western road district in New Lots, including John Ferdinand and James Wyckoff. Members of the Suydam, Eldert, Wyckoff, and Lott families make up the majority of the estate records in this collection.

Other document types in this collection include property maps for Gravesend, Flatlands, Flatbush, and Jamaica, as well as an Eastern Long Island Railroad map. Also included herein are stock certificates (1838-1890) for Atlantic State Bank (John and Peter Lott) and Long Island City of Newtown Railroad Company (John H. Sutphin), two General Society Daughters of the Revolution certificates for Cornelia Spader Wyckoff (1901), a Washington National Monument Society certificate for Ferdinand L. Wyckoff, a tavern license, an apprenticeship certificate for cordwinder and tanner, and various other programs and official government and financial documents for Cornelius, Hendrick, Justice John, and William F. Wyckoff. A 1917 homeopathic medical index is also located in this collection, as well as a commencement program for Rutgers University (1839), and programs for the New York Chorus (1881), Brooklyn Philharmonic society programs, and a New Lots school exhibition (1850).

The collection also holds documents relating to Justice John Wyckoff's position as Sheriff of Brooklyn including his commission (1817), assignments of prisoners, court summons and recordings, addresses to the board of supervisors and to the people of Kings County referring to the fire at the court house and jail that took place in 1833, and receipts and notifications concerning prisoners. A small number of agreements and business financial information for the Williamsburgh Turnpike Road and Bridge Company is in the collection. There is also a petition from the Black Stump Hook, Ladder and Bucket Company of Queens County with a blueprint of its fire district and alarm system route.

The Revolutionary War-era documents (1701-1782) herein consist of inventories and accounts of cattle and wood. Other military-related material in this collection is a Department of Interior War of 1812 survivor's pension for John S. Lott (1871) and a commission to Nicholas Wyckoff as Ensign in the 93rd regiment (1814).

This collection includes several documents related to African-Americans. There are two enslaved persons' bills of sale; one mentions two children that were "born free" (1814) and the second mentions the ownership of an enslaved boy "until he gets his freedom by due course of the law" (1813). Various estate records refer to enslaved African-Americans, either to be inherited or to be freed (1746). Correspondence to Johannes Eldert states that "a free black" had made complaint of being "infirm and unable to provide support for himself," and that he, being an overseer of the poor, should pay him 10 shillings per week until he can be transported to his legal residence (1807). Among other miscellaneous documents concerning African-Americans is a family tree for the Van Voorhees family with references to inheritances of enslaved people.

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); William F. Wyckoff papers, 1978.002, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the Brooklyn Historical Society in 1978; the provenance of this collection is unknown.

Related Materials

Other collections held by the Brooklyn Historical Society relate directly to the Wyckoff family, including reminiscences of Peter Wyckoff of Bushwick, 1828-1910 (call number 1973.258) and the Wyckoff House collection (call number 1977.350). Material on the Wyckoffs can be found in various other collections, including the Teunis Bergen papers (call number ARC.006).

Other collections at Brooklyn Historical Society hold documents that directly relate to material found in the William F. Wyckoff papers. The Terhune and Wyckoff families papers (call number ARC.279) holds material relating to the Gravesend property map in this collection, as well as to various members of the extended Wyckoff family. The DeWitt Clinton papers (call number ARC.021) holds a letter from Clinton to Sheriff John Wyckoff, who is well-represented in this collection.

In addition to archival collections, there is material concerning the Wyckoffs available on the BHS library shelves. This includes The Wyckoff family in America: A genealogy, a collection of records collected by Forman and edited by Milford B. Streeter and Harriet E. Wyckoff (call number CS71.W935.1978).

Collection processed by

Robyn Hjermstad

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 11:17:53 +0000.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: English

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Robyn Hjermstad in April 2011.

Oppressive descriptive language was remediated from the subject terms and scope and contents note in this finding aid as part of an anti-racist descriptive language audit performed in January 2021.

Revisions to this Guide

January 2021: Revised by Amy Lau, Archivist, to remediate oppressive language from subject terms and scope and contents note.


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