Elmer Wilson Demarest is a direct descendant of Jean des Marest (1), a prominent citizen and resident of Beauchamp in the Province of Picardy, France. There, about 1620, was born his son, David des Marest (2), who, upon reaching manhood, espoused the Protestant faith and fled to Holland to escape persecution, locating at Middleburgh on the Island of Walcheron in Zeeland. Here, on July 24, 1643, David married Maria, a daughter of François Sohier, of Nieppe, a town in Hainault. The couple resided at Middleburgh until 1651, when they removed to Manheim on the Rhine River, in the lower Palatinate, then under the protection of the Elector Charles Lewis. At Manheim, the Protestants were already being threatened by the Catholic princes and David des Marest, with others of a like religious faith, determined to go to America for safety. Accordingly, early in the spring of 1663 they journeyed down the Rhine to Amsterdam, where they embarked for New Amsterdam on the ship “Spotted Cow,” reaching the latter port on April 16, 1663. Des Marest first went with his wife and three sons to Staten Island, where they joined the Huguenot settlement, recently started. The following year he was elected to represent the settlement in the provincial assembly. The savages proving troublesome, Demarest bought and located on lands at New Harlem, then a name applied to the upper end of Manhattan Island. Here he prospered, acquired several town lots, and became prominent in town affairs. In 1677, a tax having been levied on him for the support of the Dutch Church at Harlem, he refused to pay it, claiming immunity therefrom because he was neither an attendant nor a communicant of the Dutch Church. The “powers that be” sued him for the tax, procured judgment, and proceeded by execution and levy to collect it. This angered Demarest and he determined to leave Harlem. On the 8th of June, 1677, he purchased from the Hackensack and Tappan Indians a large tract (estimated at about 6,000 acres) of land on the east bank of the Hackensack River, extending northward from New Bridge. By subsequent purchase he added an extensive tract west of the Hackensack, on which he built two mills. He built his family residence at what is now Old Bridge and erected a French Church on the east side of the river, a little west of the Schraalenburgh road. The lands he purchased were claimed by several white persons and by the savages. Some of these claims were not extinguished until after his death. He died in New York City in 1693, leaving a will by which he devised all his lands to this two surviving sons, John and Samuel, and to his very numerous grandchildren.
David des Marest, Jr. (3), the second of the emigrant’s sons, died in 1691, before the decease of his father. At the time of his death he was residing east of the Hackensack on part of his father’s original patent near Schraalenburgh. He was born at Manheim in the lower Palatinate in 1652, and married, April 4, 1675, Rachel, daughter of Pierre Crasson, a French refuse. His occupation was that of a farmer. He had twelve children: David, Peter, Susanna, Rachel, Jacobus D., Samuel, Mary, Daniel, Benjamin, Jacomina, Lea, and Lydia.
Jacobus Davids des Marest (4), the fifth of these, baptized at New York October 3, 1681, married (1) Lea De Groot and (2) Margaretta Cozine Haring. Farming was his principal occupation and he held several township offices. He resided in the Schraalenburgh district and left at his death twelve children, of whom Garret Jacobse Demarest (5), born at Schraalenburgh, June 30, 1725, died there December 17, 1798, married, in 1747, Jacomina (Tunis) Helms. They resided at Schraalenburgh, where Garret pursued the calling of a farmer. His issue were fifteen children, of whom Abraham Garrets Demarest (6) was born at Schraalenburgh, where Garret pursued the calling of a farmer. His issue were fifteen children, of whom Abraham Garrets Demarest (6) was born at Schraalenburgh March 16, 1767, and died there March 18, 1860. He married Margaret Demarest, a relative, born December 3, 1761, died May 16, 1832. Abraham was a farmer and left three children: Garret A., John A., and James A.
John A. Demarest (7), born April 11, 1798, died May 23, 1864, married, in 1818, Jane, daughter of Peter Merseles, born March 3, 1803, died September 22, 1888. He purchased and resided, at the time of his death, on lands at what is now Eastwood, N. J., where, on his death, he left two children: Margaretta J., wife of Albert Z. Ackerman, and Abraham J. Demarest. He was a cattle dealer, purchasing cattle in the west and selling them in New York, under the firm name of Demarest & Grant. He also conducted an importing house of willowware, etc., in New York, and a country grocery store on the farm at Eastwood.
Abraham J. Demarest (8), born at Eastwood, N. J., April 30, 1840, married May 18, 1859, Eliza W., daughter of Jacob G. H. Lozier, of Teaneck, now Englewood. She was a descendant of Peter Wilson, a Scotchman, who held the degree of Doctor of Laws, and was for some time a member of the faculty of Columbia College, New York. Abraham J. followed farming until his father’s death, when he removed to Closter, N. J., where he conducted a meat market until 1892, when he retired from business and is now residing at Bayonne, N. J. He has had three children: Nettie Marcella, married Horace Roberson, a lawyer, at Bayonne; Edwin S., died; and Elmer Wilson, the subject of this sketch.
Elmer Wilson Demarest (9) was born at Eastwood, N. J., May 15, 1870. He was educated in the public schools of Closter, N. J., the Rutgers Preparatory School, Rutgers College, and Columbia Law College, graduating from the last named institution as a Bachelor of Laws in 1892. He was admitted to the New Jersey bar as an attorney in February, 1892, and as a counselor in June, 1895, and to practice in the United States Courts in January, 1897. Since his admission he has practiced law in Bayonne and Jersey City, and has been successful in litigations, having conducted a number of important cases. He is counsel for a number of corporations.
He not only stands high in his profession, but is also prominent as a Republican leader, having always affiliated with the Republican party. He has shown great activity in this connection. In 1892 he was a member of the Bergen County Republican Executive Committee. He has been a member and Vice-President of the Hudson County Republican Committee from 1893 to the present time. He is also a Trustee and a member of the Executive Committee of that organization. In 1897 he was elected to the New Jersey House of Assembly, was prominently connected with the equal taxation measure of that year, and conducted the fight in the House for the Voorhees Judiciary Constitutional amendments. He is a member of the New Jersey Athletic Club of Bayonne, of the Newark Bay Boat Club of Bayonne, and of the Palma Club of Jersey City.
On September 9, 1896, Mr. Demarest married Miss Blanche Adeline Bristow, of Bayonne, and they have one child, Kenneth E. Demarest (10) born August 14, 1897.
Source: Harvey, Cornelius Burnham, Editor; Genealogical History of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey, New York: The New Jersey Genealogical Publishing Company, 1900.