Updated: Feb 3
John Hollenbeck, my 4th great-grandfather, was born about 1775 in Stone Arabia, New York. At the time, the town was in Tryon County, which was renamed Montgomery County in 1784. His family arrived in Cortland County, New York, between 1816 and 1818. Trying to identify John Hollenbeck on the census prior to his arrival in Cortland County has proven to be a challenge.
Here's what we know:
John probably still lived in the home of his father, said to have been William Hollenbeck, when the 1790 and 1800 census were taken.
Since he married Hannah Conrad in Schoharie County on January 18, 1803, so we can probably expect to find him on the 1810 census but there were 19 matches for John Hollenbeck on the 1810 census in New York.
According to the Hollenbeck family Bible, their first daughter, Nancy, was born in 1805 in Sharon, Schoharie County and their next child, William was born in 1807 in the same place.
Between 1807 and 1808, they left Sharon and their daughter Catherine was born in 1808 in "Susquehanna, New York". Where she was actually born is a mystery, since there is no place called Susquehanna in New York. There is a town and a county named Susquehanna in Pennsylvania, however. Did they row down the Susquehanna River and cross the border unknowingly, or perhaps they weren't aware that the boundary had been established after some dispute between the two states? Note: Susquehanna County was created on February 21, 1810, from part of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
In 1809, their son Jacob was born in the same place, and in late 1810, their son John was born there as well. Lany followed in 1812, and Henry, born in 1816, was the final birth recorded there.
Between 1816 and 1818, they left this home they called "Susquehanna" and their next child, Eva, was born in Cortland County in 1818. Nelly followed in 1820 and, finally, Nicholas was born in 1822.
In 1824, four of John and Hannah's children were Christened in Cobleskill. Click here for details.
There had been some border disputes between New York and Pennsylvania (Blakely 34).
Since we know he came from the region near Cooperstown, where the Susquehanna River begins and we believe they traveled down the Susquehanna River, I created this map tracing the Susquehanna River's path across New York, into Pennsylvania, back in to New York, and out to Pennsylvania again, to help visualize the possibilities.
On the above map, the blue markers indicate the places where men named John Hollenbeck were found when the census was taken in 1810. Notice, there were only two that were on or near the Susquehanna River, as follows:
First, there was a "John Hollenbeck" household in Wyalusing, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Wyalusing is on the Susquehanna River, ten miles from the New York border and about 39 miles from the town of Susquehanna, as follows. The household contained the following people:
There were 2 free white males age 0-9 (born bet. 1801-1810).
There was one free white male age 16-25 (born bet. 1785-1794).
There was one free white male age 26-44 (born bet. 1766-1784).
There was one free white female age 0-9 (born bet. 1801-1810).
There were 2 free white females age 16-25 (born bet. 1785-1794).
This does not appear to be John's household. His should have had two girls and one or two boys under the age of ten, depending on exactly when his son John was born in 1810 (and he may have been born in early 1811). Unless it was a relative or other boarder, he should have had no males age 16-25. The age of the oldest male in the household does match John's age in 1810 (approx. 35), however his wife, Hannah was born in 1783 and would have been about 27 in 1810, which conflicts with the age of the woman in Wyalusing.
This is what John's household should have reported for the 1810 census, providing his son John was born after the census was taken:
The only other John Hollenbeck living on the Susquehanna River in 1810 was found in Otego, Otsego County, New York as follows:
There were 2 free white males age 0-9 (born bet. 1801-1810). William was born in 1807 and Jacob was born in 1809.
There was one free white male age 26-44 (born bet. 1766-1784). John was born in 1767/77.
There were 2 free white females age 0-9 (born bet. 1801-1810). Nancy was born in 1805 and Catherine was born in 1808.
There was one free white female age 16-25 (born bet. 1785-1794). *Hannah was born in 1783.
This household is nearly a perfect match for that of our John Hollenbeck. The only discrepancy is the age of the oldest female in the house, presumably John Hollenbeck's wife. We know Hannah was born in 1783, but once again, the oldest woman in the household in Otego was reportedly born between 1785 and 1794. This could easier be a mathematical error, especially considering that schools were not fully established yet. Note also that a search for this family on the 1820 census produced no results in Otego. This Hollenbeck family in Otego was only counted there on the 1810 census and there were no other Hollenbecks there in that decade.
Otego is 41 miles southwest of Sharon and 47 miles east of Cincinnatus. It seems highly likely that the place the Hollenbeck family record calls "Susquehanna, New York", was actually Otego, New York.
"In 1800 it [Otego] was a hemlock swamp with only one frame house in the vicinity" (Blakely xi).
This tidbit could explain the confusion about where they were. It was an undeveloped and virtually uninhabited swamp land along the Susquehanna River. Perhaps they didn't know where they actually were, only that they were on the Susquehanna and therefore called it by that name?
The Indian name, Otego, was spelled "Atege" and "Wauteghe" on a map of 1826. On an earlier map, it had been spelled "Atega", "Atiga" and "Adiga" (Blakely 21).
We can see Adiga Creek on this old 1777 map of New York. We also see Cobus Kill (Cobleskill), the place where four of John's children were baptized in 1824.
The map shown below marks the approximate route John Hollenbeck and his family would have made on their journey to Cincinnatus if his was, in fact, the family living in Otego in 1810. The route starts at John's birth place, in Stone Arabia.
In 1820 John Hollenbeck's household in Cincinnatus, Cortland County, New York contained the following:
There were 2 free white males age 0-9 (born bet. 1811-1820). Henry was born in 1816. John was born abt. 1810.
There were 2 free white males age 10-15 (born bet. 1805-1810). Jacob was born in 1809. William was born in 1807.
There was one free white male age 45 or older (born bet. 1700-1775). John was born in abt. 1775.
There were 4 free white females age 0-9 (born bet. 1811-1820). Eva was born in 1818, Lany was born in 1812, Mary was born in 1813.
There were 2 free white females age 10-15 (born bet. 1805-1810). Nancy was born in 1805 and Catherine was born in 1808.
There was one free white female age 26-44 (born bet. 1776-1794). Hannah was born in 1783.
In 1830 there were two households headed by men named John Hollenbeck in Willet, Cortland County, New York and none in Cincinnatus. They were John and his son, John S. Hollenbeck.
John Hollenbeck's household was reported as follows:
There was one free white male age 5-9 (born bet. 1821-1825). Nicholas was born 1822.
There was one free white male age 10-14 (born bet. 1816-1820). Henry was born in 1816.
There was one free white male age 15-19 (born bet. 1811-1815). It appears that Jacob (born in 1809) was mistakenly counted in this column. He would have been about 21 so he should have been counted in the column for males age 20-29.
There was one free white male age 20-29 (born bet. 1801-1810). William was born in 1807.
There was one free white male age 50-59 (born bet. 1771-1780). John was born abt. 1775.
There was one free white female age 10-14 (born bet. 1816-1820). Eva was born in 1818.
There were 2 free white females age 15-19 (born bet. 1811-1815). Lany was born in 1812 and Mary was born in 1813.
There were 2 free white females age 20-29 (born bet. 1801-1810). Nancy was born in 1805 and Catherine was born in 1808.
There was one free white female age 40-49 (born bet. 1781-1790). Hannah was born in 1783.
John S. Hollenbeck's household contained himself, age 20-29, a female child under the age of 4 (born bet. 1826-1830) and two free white females age 20-29 (born bet. 1801-1810).
Anyone with information about this family, or clues that could help us learn the family's history, please comment below or contact me!
Tip: These census records were summarized and ages were calculated easily using my 1820 Census Helper and 1830 Census Helper! Also available for 1790-1840. Bookmark it for help next time you are reviewing a census from 1790-1840.
A History of Otego by Stuart B. Blakely, 1907. [Link]