Genealogical history of Hudson and Bergen counties, New Jersey

Genealogy of David A. Demarest of Bergen County

David A Demarest
David A Demarest

David A. Demarest was without doubt in his day one of the most widely known and highly respected men in Bergen County. He was of the sixth generation from David des Marest, the French Huguenot emigrant, concerning whom we see page 64. The line of descent was as follows: David des Marest (1), the emigrant, and his wife, Maria Sohier, had four children, one of whom was David Demarest, Jr. (2), who married Rachel Cresson and had twelve children, one of whom was Jacobus (3), who married Lea de Groot and Margrietie Cozines Haring, and had fifteen children, one of whom (by the second wife) was Abraham D. Demarest (4), born at Old Bridge, Bergen County, September 25, 1738, died near Closter, N. J., July 9, 1824, married, in 1763, Margaretta Garrets Demarest, born at Schraalenburgh, December 2, 1744, died June 13, 1834. Abraham D. Demarest (4) resided at Old Bridge for many years, when he removed to Hackensack and kept the Mansion House. About 1781 he purchased a large farm on the west side of the Schraalenburgh and Tappan road, lying on both sides of the road to Old Hook. There until his death he kept a general store of groceries, hardware, and such wares as farmers require. He also kept (until 1809) a tavern where the elections were held and other public business transacted. In April, 1787, he added to his farm on the south by purchases from the Harings and Van Horus. Abraham was a man of some note. His store and tavern were known and patronized by the people for miles around. From 1781 until 1789 he held many town offices, including those of Commissioner of Appeals, Townsman, Road Master, and Justice of the Peace. He was one of the most active members and workers in the North Church at Schraalenburg, in which he several times held the offices of Deacon and Elder. His issue were David A.; Rachel, 1768; Margaret, 1773; John, 1775 (died); and Christina, 1783.

Of these David Abraham Demarest (5), the subject of this sketch, was born at Old Bridge, August 28, 1764, and died at Nyack, N. Y., February 1, 1860, aged ninety-five years, five months, and three days. He married, in 1787, Charity Haring, daughter of Cornelius Haring, of Pascack, where she was born July 24, 17689. She died at Schraalenburgh, January, 29, 1849, aged about eighty years. She was a lady of sound judgment, with a kind and cheerful disposition, who was her husband’s faithful helpmeet and companion for more than sixty years. The issue of this union was only one child, a daughter, Margaret Demarest, born at Schraalenburgh, N. J., September 5, 1780.

David A. Demarest (5) was an unusually bright and active boy. Realizing this, his father sent him to the best school in the village of Hackensack, where he acquired a fair education, including knowledge of penmanship, and composition. Clerking in and purchasing stock for his father’s store, as well as attending to the wants of the tavern guests, threw him in contact with all kinds and conditions of people from whom he obtained a large fund of information which, in later years, he turned to good account. When the Revolutionary struggle broke out and he was a lad twelve years old, yet the father had difficulty in restraining the patriotism of his son sufficiently to prevent him from offering his services as a drummer boy to the Continental forces.

That struggle over, and having married and settled down to business, he gave his attention not only to the store but to agricultural pursuits, which were then profitable. Products of the farm were sent by sloop from Old Bridge, or Closter Dock, to New York. A considerable trade in pig iron was carried on with the iron works at Ramapo. Groceries were exchanged for pig iron and the iron shipped to New York and sold at a profit. In October, 1794, he was one of the militia force from New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania sent by President Washington to Pittsburg to suppress what in American history is known as the “Whisky Insurrection.” In 1796 he began to mingle in and wield influence in town affairs. From that time to 1843 he held numerous town offices, including that of Justice of the Peace. In 1809 he superintended the construction of his father’s new stone dwelling (still standing). The tavern business was abandoned with the demolition of the old family mansion.

His daughter Margaret married, in 1810, John Perry, a member of one of the oldest and most prominent families in Rockland County, N. Y., by whom she had issue two daughters, Catharine (1811) and Charity (1822). In 1812 the quota of Bergen County drafted troops for the war with Great Britain rendezvoused at Jersey City for three months. Captain Samuel G. Demarest (of what is now Westwood, N. J.), who raised a company of men for that war, recruited part of his force at the store of Abraham D. Demarest. It has been said that David A. Demarest served in the War of 1812, but if so his name does not appear upon the muster rolls of the companies that went from this vicinity, commanded by Major Van Saun.

At his death in 1824 Abraham D. Demarest gave all his lands to his son, David A. Demarest. The latter soon after purchased several adjoining tracts, until the whole area of his homestead farm was over 300 acres. He also owned a large farm west of the Hackensack River, and a tract at Ramapo. Henceforth and until his death he was considered a wealthy man. But he was one of those men whom wealth makes neither proud nor avaricious-a most genial and hospitable man, noted for his liberality. Nearly all his life he had been a member and liberal supporter of the North Church at Schraalenburgh, which he helped to organize and to which he liberally gave. His commodious mansion was always open to the ministers of that and sister churches. They came and went at their pleasure sometimes staying with their families for weeks at a time. Their host’s hospitality was of the good old-fashioned variety, spontaneous and hearty. Everybody was welcome beneath his roof. He had great influence over his neighbors and a happy way of settling disputes. As a Justice of the Peace for many years his practice was to avoid trials, if possible, and usually he would bring the parties to an agreement to settle before the trial day came on. He was gentleman of “ye olden time”-a sort of “Cadi” in the community to whom the people went for advice in time of trouble and did not go in vain. He was lover of music, and in 1801 organized a band in which he played second clarinet. The minutes of this band in his handwriting show that it prospered for some time. He was an entertaining conversationalist and story-teller who never lacked for listeners. Physically he was remarkably robust, and was never severely ill. He was found dead in bed one morning at the home of his daughter, at Nyack, N. Y., whom he was visiting. He lay as though he had quietly dropped into a peaceful sleep. He was of the type of man rarely to be met with in these days. He saw the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War, and had he lived another year he would have seen the beginning of the Civil War. The year before his death the Northern Railroad was completed. The company gave him a pass, but he never used it, and died without having experienced the sensations of riding on a moving railroad train.

Catharine and Charity Perry, has granddaughters, married, respectively Isaac and Tunis Smith, of Nyack, N. Y., who, for many years, owned and operated a steamboat line between New York and Nyack. Isaac and Tunis Smith were descendants of Lamber Ariacuse, a native of Gilderland, Holland, who came to America when a young man and settled at New Amsterdam, where, on April 9, 1682, he married Margaretta Garrets Blawvelt, a daughter of Garret Hendricksen Blawvelt, of Deventer, Holland. In 1686 Labert and his brothers-in-law, the Blawvelts, and others purchased the Tappan patent. Lambert settled on part of it at the “Green Bush,” in Rockland County. His descendants soon became so numerous that it was necessary to distinguish one from the other, and as Lambert was a smith by profession it became convenient to designate him as Lambert Ariaense Smidt. Most of the family eventually dropped the Ariaense and called themselves Smith. Lambert Smith and Margaretta Garrets Blawvelt had issue, among other children, a son, Garret Smith (2), who married Brechie (Bridget) Peters Haring, of Tappan, and had issue, among other children, a son, Peter G. Smith (3), who married Annetie (Hannah) Blawvelt, and had issue, besides other children, a son, Isaac (4), who married Rachel Smith, and had issue several children, among whom was Peter Smith (5), who married Christina Demarest (a sister of David A. Demarest, above mentioned). Old patrons of the steamer “Chrystenah” will remember her portrait at the head of the stairway to the upper deck. They had issue of the sixth generation: Isaac, Abraham, Tunis, and David.

Isaac married Catharine Perry, and Tunis married Charity Perry, as above stated. The issue of Catharine Perry and Captain Isaac Smith were John, James, and Margaret Ann, all now deceased. The issue of Charity Perry and Tunis Smith were six children, all now deceased except David and Sidney.

Source: Harvey, Cornelius Burnham, Editor; Genealogical History of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey, New York: The New Jersey Genealogical Publishing Company, 1900.

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