Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

July 9, 2016

A New Meme: Our Immigrant Ancestors

There is a lot of discussion about immigration in America right now. Tempers have flared, and different groups hold various strong opinions. There is also Brexit, where immigration was a large focus of the recent vote which resulted in the U.K. leaving the E.U.

My Immigrant Ancestor Cornelis Van Slyke
I've been following this for several months and it occurs to me that those of us in Canada, America, and Australia have immigrant ancestors. Have you researched yours? Do you know who they were, why they came to your country and when? Do you know how they fared once settled in their new land? Were they welcomed? Were they shunned? Was their discrimination based on their religion or ethnic origin? These are all questions that are important, and interesting to discover. With that in mind, I'm the dedicating Saturdays (as many as needed) as the day to join me in discussing your immigrant ancestors.

You will be able to read any you are interested in by using the keyword Immigrant Ancestors. On Twitter I will be using #ImmigrantAncestors as the hashtag for searching.
1646 Letter

I'm going to share each week what I know of my immigrant ancestors to North America (whether that is USA or Canada). Let me start with my father's side, and the first immigrant I found many years ago when I was fairly new to genealogy research - Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyke from Holland.

It was an exciting day for me when I discovered I was descended from a Dutchman who arrived in New Netherland  (New York) in 1627. Cornelis Van Slyke's story is of a Dutchman who came to the New World as a carpenter at the age of 23, who became an interpreter for the Mohawk nation, was adopted into the tribe, and who met and married a French-Mohawk woman (Ots-Toch)who never left her native village. Their children, all raised at Canajoharie, one of the Mohawk castles or villages, became well-known and respected in the Dutch community. All except one left the village and married Dutch settlers.

One of their children was my 8th great grandfather, Jacques Cornelissen Van Slyke who was known as Akes Gautsch, and whose Mohawk name was It-sy-cho-sa-quash-ka. Jacques was also an interpreter and one of the first settlers of Schenectady.

From the research I have done, it appears that Cornelis, who was known as Broer Cornelis by the Mohawks, was a respected and hard-working man. I was so intrigued by Cornelis venturing into the new world when it was nothing more than a wilderness, and meeting and marrying a native Indian, that I wrote a book called "The Van Slyke Family in America: A Genealogy of Cornelise Antonissen Van Slyke, 1604-1676 and his Mohawk Wife Ots-Toch, including the story of Jacques Hertel, 1603-1651, Father of Ots-Toch and Interpreter to Samuel de Champlain" (REVISED EDITION) which is available online if there are other interested descendants.

Finding Cornelis was actually the start of my author career! Since I wrote the first book on Cornelis in 1996, I have researched and published 21 genealogy-history books, 6 books on researching your ancestors, and 1 genealogy mystery novel. If you are interested, check these out at my author website 

Stay tuned for next Saturday's Immigrant Ancestor story. I hope you will join me! 


Michigan Girl said...

I'm researching my immigrant ancestors right now. They too came from Holland and settled in New York. I've hit a virtual mother load of information and it's great fun. I plan on blogging about them of course.

Teresa said...

I'm a first generation Canadian - quite a few members of my immediate and extended family emigrated to North America, while two of my uncles (one Polish, one English) emigrated to Australia...I'm researching them all...along with those who remained in Europe...

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

What a good idea Lorine! Of course our Aussie immigrants are much more recent :)

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

I'm sure many of us have very recent immigrant ancestors as well as further back :-) Mine range from early 1600s to New York, then on to Ontario Canada, to early 1900s England to Ontario!

It's going to be fun to start writing about each of them

Jana Iverson Last said...


I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!