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  • Lewis and (Double) Vanderburgh Ancestry of President George Bush: A Colonial New York Excursion

    William I. Powers, Jr.

    It has been known for some time that President George Bush is a descendant of Henry Vanderburgh and Richard Lewis of colonial New York (G.B. Roberts, Ancestors of American Presidents [preliminary edition revised, 1989] and “More on the Ancestry of President George Herbert Walker Bush” [NEXUS 6 [1989]1:156-59). This article, concentrating on Richard Lewis, briefly completes the Vanderburgh-Lewis lines.

    Richard Lewis first appears at the baptism of his son Thomas, at the Reformed Dutch Church, New Hackensack, Dutchess Co., N.Y. 24 September 1759 [1].  The record also gives the name of the mother, Susanna Vanderburgh.  Though a record of the parents’ marriage has not been found, the birth of their son places the event ca. 1758 and not before 24 July 1756, when Susanna’s first husband, Elias Dubois, died at Albany while on an expedition to Crown Point, N.Y. [2].

    A record of all the children born to Susanna (Vanderburgh) (Dubois) Lewis can be found in the Dubois-Lewis Bible printed in 1770 and given in 1965 to the Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, N.Y., by Miss Helen Kenyon.  After the birth of their first child, Richard and Susanna Lewis removed from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to New York City.  Richard maybe the man of that name recorded as a freeman in New York City, in 1760 as a merchant, and/or in 1765 as a laborer [3].

    Richard and Susanna were both New York City residents in 1764, as suggested by Susanna’s removal certificate from the Poughkeepsie church: “Susanna van de Burg, h.v.v. Dick Lieuwes [Richard Lewis], met attestatie van Pakeepsie...N. York Den 20 Feb. 1764” [4]. The Lewis family’s association with the Reformed Dutch Church in New York began with the baptism of their daughter Sara there 12 January 1764, and continued though 13 May 1787, when Richard and Susanna were witnesses at the baptism of Philip Werner [5].

    Richard and Susanna (Vanderburgh) (Dubois) Lewis were still in New York City in 1789, according to a deed dated 16 September of that year (Ulster Co. Deeds, Liber 19:358-61, rec. 19 September 1789 at the Court of Chancery, New York), by which they sold land to Henry Dubois of Poughkeepsie.  This deed is important in that it identifies Richard’s parents as the Thomas Lewis and Anna Maria Vanderburgh who were married at the Reformed Dutch Church in New York City 23 October 1714 [6]. An abstract reads:

    This Indenture made...16 September 1789...Between Richard Lewis of the City of New York and Susannah his wife of the one part and Henry Dubois of Poughkeepsie...Esquire of th other part....for £215, 10 shillings [sell] All those three full and equal undivided eleventh parts,... as Thomas Lewis deceased father of the said Richard Lewis was a patent commonly called Hardenberghs or the great patent lying in the Counties of Ulster and Albany and all and every other lands and Tenements whatsoever in Dutchess County... and also All those three full and equal undivided eleventh parts... of...lands and Tenements as Anne Mary Lewis, mother of the said Richard Lewis was the time of her decease of in and to any lands and Tenements in a patent commonly called the Minisink patent lying in the Counties of Ulster and Orange and all and singular other lands and Tenements whatsoever in Dutchess County...and also...halfpart...of all that certain tract of land in the Mennesinks Country called by the native Indians Sankhekeneck otherwise Maghawaem,...and a certain parcel of Meadow called by the Indians Warmsagkinok situate lying and being upon a certain River called by the Indians …Mennosincks, before a certain Island called Menagnock containing in the whole...1,000 acres...

    Richard Lewis signed with his mark, and his wife signed as “Susnah Lewis;” witnesses were William Alexander and James Reynolds.

    Until the discovery of the 1789 Ulster Co. deed, the parentage of Richard Lewis was in question. He did not appear as a son in any New York wills, but is mentioned by Leonard Lewis as a brother in Leonard’s will (dated 14 June 1757, proved 9 August 1759) [7].  The will is important as the first record to establish the existence of a Richard Lewis, but there was a problem with identifying the Leonard Lewis in question.  The testator was identified as the wrong Leonard (#24) in Howard S. F. Randolph, “The Lewis Family of New York and Poughkeepsie” (NYGBR 60[1929]:250). The error was discovered by Henry B. Hoff, whose correct analysis “Who Was Leonard Lewis?”, Genealogical Journal 14[1985]:3-1 1) links the testator of 14 June 1757 to his father, Thomas Lewis (#24 in NYGBR 60[1929]:246).  Confirming Mr. Hoff is the 1789 Ulster Co. deed discussed above.  Why Thomas Lewis did not mention his son Richard in his will [18] dated 6 August 1766 is not known; perhaps Thomas had already provided for his son by conveying to him the lands mentioned in 1789.

    Having established Richard’s wife and mother as Vanderburghs, and his father as Thomas Lewis, Richard’s Vanderburgh and Lewis lines can easily be ascertained. His maternal grandparents were Dirck Vanderburgh and Reymerigh Jans [9]. Dirck’s parents were Luycas1 Dircksen and Annetje Cornelis of New Amsterdam [10].

    Richard’s father, Thomas Lewis, was son of Col. Leonard Lewis and grandson of the immigrant Thomas [202] Lewis (NYGBR 60[1929]:136,138-41). Anna Maria Vanderburgh, the wife of Thomas Lewis, was not a daughter of Henry “Van den Burgh” and Magdalena Knight (as per NYGBR 6011929]: 246), but (as we have seen) of Dirck Vanderburgh and Reymerigh Jans.  The mother of both Henry and Anna Maria was the “Reymerigh Appel” who witnessed the birth of Anna Maria’s daughter, Elizabeth Lewis, on 22 May 1715 [11]; after the death of her husband Dirck, Reymerigh (Jans) Vanderburgh had married William Appel 4 July 1714 at the Reformed Dutch Church in New York City [12].  Richard Lewis and his wile Susanna Vanderburgh, a daughter of Henry and Magdalena, were thus first cousins.

    chart outlining the lewis and double vanderburgh line of 
President bush, plus the vanderburgh line of former president Ford 
(updated version of the Vanderburgh chart in G. B. Roberts, Ancestors or
 American Presidents)

    The 1789 Ulster Co. deed concludes, at present, the documented portion of Richard Lewis’s life. Speculation surrounds his life and movements thereafter. Because other Richard Lewises appear in Dutchess and Ulster Counties during the latter half of the eighteenth century, enough data have not yet been uncovered to identify them or untangle them from the Richard addressed here.

    The next appearance of our Richard Lewis may be at Clinton, Dutchess Co., in the 1800 census, where a Richard Lewis was enumerated with three males under 10, one between 10 and 16, one over 45, one female between 26 and 45, and one female over 45.  If this is indeed the correct Richard, he could be the same Richard, now a merchant of Poughkeepsie, who married New York 11 February 1806 a Mrs. Stilliford of New York [13].  The marriage might also be coincidental with the purchase by a Richard Lewis of property on the north side of Cannon Street, Poughkeepsie, on 20 April 1806 [14].

    Our Richard Lewis may be the man of that name whose will, dated 26 October 1805, was recorded at Dutchess Co., N.Y. 1151. In his will, this Richard “...of Poughkeepsie...For divers [-and] causes thereunto moving me, I do hereby will, devise and bequeath unto Bronson French…of Poughkeepsie all and singular my estate both real and personal....” also appointing French sole executor.  The will, which reveals nothing that aids in placing this Richard in a Lewis family, was proved 4 June 1814; the testator may have been the Richard Lewis whose death was announced Wednesday, 18 April 1810, in the Poughkeepsie Political Barometer: “On the 31st ultimate Mr. Richard Lewis, aged 82 years.”

    The children of Richard and Susanna (Vanderburgh) (Dubois) Lewis are listed below.

    i.  Thomas Lewis, b. 16 Feb. 1759, bp. Reformed Dutch Church, New Hackensack, Dutchess Co., N.Y. 24 Sept. 1759.
    ii.  Susanna Lewis, b. prob. Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 25 March 1761, d. Saratoga, N.Y. 27 July 1822; m. Troy, N.Y. 28 Feb. 1779 Gilbert Livingston.
    iii. Sarah Lewis, b. 15 Oct. 1763, bp. Reformed Dutch Church, New York City 12 Jan. 1764; m. 10 July 1780 John Terbush.


    iv. James/Jakobus Lewis, b. 19 March 1766, bp. Reformed Dutch Church, New York City 23 April 1766.
    v. Mary Lewis, b. 30 March 1768.
    vi. Elizabeth Lewis, b. 29 Aug. 1772, bp. Reformed Dutch Church, New York City 27 Sept. 1772.

    I wish to extend special thanks to William Heidgerd of New Paltz, N.Y. for information about the Dubois Lewis Bible record, and to Clifford M. Buck of Salt Point, N.Y., who alerted me to the 1789 Ulster County deed.


    [1] Maria Bockée Carpenter Tower, “Records of the Reformed Dutch Church of New Hackensack, Dutchess Co., N.Y.,” Cell. Dutchess County Hist. Soc., 5(1932): 8.

    [2] J. Wilson Poucher, “Dutchess County Men of the Revolutionary Period,” Dutchess Co. Hist. Soc. Yearbook 20 (1935):71. This source gives Richard Lewis as a soldier in the Colonist Wars, a statement not yet confirmed.  No Richard Lewis is found in “Muster Rolls of New York Provincial Troops, 1755-1764” (Coll. New-York Hist. Soc. 24 [1891]).

    [3]  “Roll of Freemen of New York City, 1675-1866,” Coll. New-York Hist. Soc. 18 (1885):194, 209.

    [4] “Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in the City of New York,” NYGBR 61(1930):266.

    [5] Tobias A. Wright, ed., “Baptisms from 1731 to 1800 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York,” Coll. N.Y.G.B.S. 3 (1902): 270, 290, 309, 330,365, 371, 384.

    [6] Samuel Purple, ed., “Marriages from 1639 to 1801 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York,” Coll. N.Y.G.B.S. 1(1890):123.

    [7] “Abstracts of Wills, Liber 21,” CoIl. New-York Hist. Soc. 29(1896):330-31.

    [8] Dutchess Co., N.Y. Surrogate’s Office, Liber A:285.

    [9] Dutchess Co., N.Y. Deed (Liber 1&.356) signed 19 April 1716, filed 12 October 1787, and filed 20 October 1787; and will of Dirck Vanderburgh, “Wills in New York City, Volume II: 1708-1728,” Coll. New-York Hist. Soc. 26(1893): 42-43.

    [10] NYGBR 98(1967):240, 101 (1970):245, 109(1978):14-1 5.

    [11] NYGBR 60(1929):247.

    [12] Samuel Purple, ed., “Marriages from 1639 to 1801 in the Reformed Dutch Church, N.Y.,” Coll. N.Y.G.B.S. 1(1890):122.

    [13] Political Barometer, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Tuesday, 18 February 1806.

    [14] Dutchess Co., N.Y. deed (Liber 19:9) 20 April 1806:John Sayrs and Helen to Richard Lewis.

    [15] Dutchess Co., N.Y. Surrogate’s Office, Liber D:499. Note: This will is incorrectly cited in The Dutchess (9:3 [19821:28) as that of “Michael” Lewis.

    William J. Powers, Jr., raised in Vermont, has been interested in “northeast and Irish” genealogy for over 25 years.  He has compiled materials on the Powers family of Middletown Springs, Vt.; the Danen family of Wisconsin (privately published as The Danen Ancestry [1990]); and the Marshall and Vanderburgh families of Dutchess Co., N.Y., for the latter of whom he hopes to publish a fuller account.  A retired Air Force officer, he works for Analytical Systems Engineering Corp. of Burlington, Mass., and is a member of NEHGS and the Dutchess Co.. Genealogical Society.  Interested readers may contact him at 2 Evergreen Road, Acton, MA 01720.

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