history-genealogy site

This is a site where I will discuss my family genealogy research and related history. When a blog deals with a particular family group, I will try to include it in the title so uninterested people can skip it without skimming it. It is my hope to get feedback on research methods, family members and historical context from other historians, genealogists, and researchers. (c) Barbara L. de Mare 2006, 2007

Location: Englewood, New Jersey, United States

Monday, April 16, 2007

A MAJOR SOURCE OF ERRORS: Secondary Sources Improperly Quoting Secondary Sources

Although this is just one little part of a much larger and more complicated family puzzle, it illustrates well how a misquote in a secondary source can be carried forth and infect all future secondary sources: one of the major reasons to always check your research yourself, even if it is only checking the sources quoted in another volume. I have not verified the immirant ancestor in this family, but I have illustrated a problem in finding such ancestor.

Immigrant Ancestor of Rev. Abraham Keteltas

Rev. Abraham4 Keteltas (1732-1798) and Sarah Smith (c. 1733-1815)[1]

The plethora of gentlemen of the eighteenth century named Abraham Ketektas led me on one of my many obsessive hunts which had me up late night after night. The double inter-marriages with my Fish family ancestors did not help, nor did the gaps in ages which led me at one point to question whether I was missing a generation. After working through most of these problems, and determining that “Rev. Abraham” (1732-1798) was the son “Abraham the Merchant” (1673-1744), I became intrigued with the lives of these Abrahams and the identity of their immigrant ancestor.

While in Salt Lake City in 2004, I found the following brief biographical entry for the Rev. Abraham in Franklin Bowditch Dexter’s, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale, pp. 289-90:

“ABRAHAM KETELTAS was born in New York, December 26, 1732, the eldest child of Abraham Keteltas (a well-known merchant of that city, the descendant of an emigrant from Holland in the 17th century)[2] and Jane (Jacobs) Keteltas. During his youth he is said to have resided for a considerable time in the Huguenot settlement at New Rochelle, near New York City, and thus acquired a good familiarity with the French language.

"He [Abraham Keteltas] studied theology, and was licensed to preach by the Fairfield (Connecticut) East Association of Ministers, August 23, 1756. Meantime he had married, on October 31, 1755 (the license being dated October 22) Sarah, the third daughter of the Hon. William Smith (Yale 1719) of New York City, a member of the Governor's Council.

"Early in 1757 he began to preach as a candidate for settlement in the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, now Elizabeth, New Jersey, and after a satisfactory probation he received a call to the pastorate. He was ordained and installed there on September 14, 1757, with a salary of 130 pds.

"Before long some difficulty arose, which led to his withdrawal from his office in July, 1760, though his formal dismission did not take place until September. The language of admonition used by the Presbytery of New York in declaring the pastoral relation dissolved, caused Mr. Keteltas to appeal to the synod for relief, and the Presbytery in consequence took further action, intended to do away with the appearance of censure; the breach was not healed, and he withdrew from the Presbyterian body, between May, 1764, and May, 1765.

"Before the close of the year 1760 he had settled in Jamaica, Long Island, where he resided until his death. During these years he held no regular pastoral charge, though preaching abundantly, as occasion offered. His familiarity with their languages made him an especially welcome preacher in the Dutch and French Reformed [p. 290] congregations in and near New York City. In particular, for about two years after his removal to Jamaica he supplied the Reformed Dutch Church in that town; and again for most of the time from September, 1766, to April, 1766, he officiated every third Sunday as the regular supply of the French Protestant Church of New York.

Baxter, in her Godchild of Washington, p. 97, describes Althea Ketektas (906W1C1) daughter of Abraham the Merchant and his second wife Anneke Courten, as a “sister of the celebrated clergyman and member of the Continental Congress[3], Rev. Abraham Keteltas, and great-granddaughter of Rev. Evert Pieterse Keteltas ‘consoler of the sick, and schoolmaster, who assisted so materially at the settlements of the South River (Delaware) in 1650-1656.”


Aitken, William B. Distinguished Families in America: descended from Wilhemus

Beekman and Jan Thomasse Van Dyke. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1988.

Baxter, Katharine Schuyler. A Godchild of Washington: A Picture of the Past. New

York: F. T. Neely, 1897. Digitized Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com, 2004. Accessed through Ancestry.com 27 Feb 2005.

Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College:

with Annals of the College History. volume II Annals. New York: H. Holt &

Co., 1885-1912.

Flint, Martha Bockee. Early Long Island: A Colonial Study. New York: Putnam, 1991.

Digitized Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com, 2004. Accessed through Ancestry.com 27 Feb 2005.

Hatfield, Rev. Edwin F., D.D. History of Elizabeth, New Jersey, including the Early

History of Union County. New York: Carlton & Lanahan, 1868; digitized by Google Books.

[1] Although both Aitken and Baxter (infra) refer to the birth of Abraham the Merchant as having occurred in New York, Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield, D.D., History of Elizabeth, New Jersey, including the Early History of Union County (New York: Carlton & Lanahan, 1868; digitized by Google Books) , p. 399 states without source or other justification in reference to Rev. Abraham Keteltas, that “He was the son of Abraham Keteltas, a well-known merchant of New York City, who emigrated thither from Holland at the close of the seventeenth century.”

[2] Hatfield most likely obtained his statement from an improper quote of the passage in Dexter, Biographical Studies: that Rev. Abraham was, the eldest child of Abraham Keteltas (a well-known merchant of that city, the descendant of an emigrant from Holland in the 17th century). The entire meaning of the quote is changed by Hatfield’s omission of the phrase “the descendant of an emigrant.”

[3] Early Long Island, p. 350 “We appoint for our Committee of Correspondence Revd. Abraham Ketektas. . .”


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