The Powless Family of Bergen County

The Powless Family, still very numerous in Bergen County, trace their descent from Paulus Pietersen, who was born at Merwen, Holland, in 1632, and emigrated to this country in 1656. His wife, Tryntie Martens, was among the emigrants who came over from Holland in the ship “Gilded Beaver,” in 1658. The marriage of Paulus Pietersen and Tryntie Martens is that announced on the records of the old Dutch church in New York: “Paulus Pietersen, j.d. Van Merwin int Stiff Aken in lant van Gilbert Sept 1, 1685.” Merwin is a small town in Holland, and Aken a town in Prussian Saxony, on the left bank of the River Elbe. Paulus Pietersen located at Bergen, New Jersey, where he soon became a prominent man in all town affairs. In 1663 Governor Stuyvesant appointed him one of the commissioners to fortify the town (at what is now Bergen Square, Jersey City) against the depredations of the surrounding Indians. In the same year he obtained patents for several parcels of land in and about the Town of Bergen, containing in all thirty-seven acres. After the occupation by the British (May 12, 1668, Governor Carteret confirmed Pietersen’s title to his Bergen lands. In 1764 these lands passed to the ownership of Garret Newkirk. Paulus Pietersen died December 18, 1702, and his wife’s death preceded his on May 19 of the same year.

They had issue seven children, who took the surname of Powleson and Powless. Most of them remained at Bergen, but Martin Powless, the third in point of age, born in 1663, bought lands and settled near Hackensack. He married Margaretta Westervelt and reared a large family. They scattered throughout the county, and the descendants of Paulus Pietersen are numerous today in both Hudson and Bergen Counties.

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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