Documentary History of Rhinebeck

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This may well be the source reference for the research by Dr C. M. Benner published elsewhere on this site.

Rhinebeck is a county in New York, USA, on the banks of the Hudson River.

History of Rhinebeck


Biographical Sketches and Genealogical Records of Our First Families and First Settlers,








We find among the earliest settlers of Rhinebeck a branch
of the Benner family, of which the descendants in this county
are somewhat limited. Yet the name and family are largely
represented in the United States, especially in the States of
Maine, Pennsylvania and Virginia. It is perhaps one of the
largest German families ; and in the early Baronial times had a
remarkable history. The ancestors are described as being of
great size and muscular strength ; and many of them were dis-
tinguished as bold and gallant knights in the days of chivalry.
The following is an abstract from a work on chivalry and the
armorial bearings of families in central Europe, in the library
of Vienna, in Austria :

The Benner family is a very old and widely extended one
in Upper Bavaria and along the Rhine ; and among the many
distinguished men from this family, the first mentioned was a
knight by the name of Oluf, who is described as living on the
Benner estate, in Upper Bavaria ; and his name is preserved in
a chapel nearby, called "Chapel of Oluf der Benner," on ac-
count of the munificent gift which he made for its erection, in
the year 1053.

Gurth der Benner, while stiil a youth, joined the army of
the Crusaders under Godfried de Bouillon, in the year 1079,
and on the approach to Antioch, in the early dawn, when the
morning stars were waning, he encountered and slew a knight
of the enemy, who is said to have been of great size and strength ;
and for which heroic deed he was at Antioch made and called
" Knight of the Morning Star," and ever after wore a star in
the centre of his shield. He returned safely, and settled on the
banks of the Rhine ; and from him the family was there widely

Odo der Benner was a lineal descendant of the distinguish-
ed knight ; and as a knight himself was engaged in the tourna-
ment held at Maintz, in the year 1263, and was awarded the
first prize for his bold and dextrous exploits on that occasion.


Waldemar der Benner, in the year 1322, was one of the
leaders of the RebelHon which was formed on the Rhine against
King Ludwig, and so distinguished himself at the battle of
Muhldorf that he afterwards received from the government not
only its highest honors but a large tract of land, extending to-
wards Bergennes, as the reward of his gallantry. Waldemar at
his death divided this large estate between his four sons and
the Cloister of Holy Laurentius, at Colle.

From this time onward the wealth and fame of the Benner
family began to decline, and four of the above named five sons
entered the Venetian army, and but one of them returned.
This was Wernker der Benner. He returned to his home, sold
what remained to him of his father's estate, and in the year
1362 entered the Cloister of Saint Laurentius, to which his fa-
ther had been such a liberal benefactor. How long he remain-
ed in the Cloister does not appear, but he left one son, Dietselm
der Benner, who appears to have returned to and cultivated the
land of his ancestors.

Ulrich der Benner was a son of Deitselm, and in 1387, we
are told, he went to Hohlstein and greatly improved his social
and pecuniary condition. But at the same time it is said his
descendants became numerous and poor, and were obliged to
pursue the ordinary avocations of life for their support.

Eustachias der Benner is the next name in the consecutive
history of the family. In the year 1435 he is mentioned as a
Stadtholder of one of the provinces, and, it is said, he held the
office many years on account of the faithful and upright man-
ner in which he discharged his duties.

After this, in 1520, the Bavarian wars set in, and the family
became very much scattered, and for a time lost to history.

Dietrich der Benner is the last named in history who bore
the armor of a knight, and claimed to belong to the Royal
lineage. He lived on a small estate in Bavaria, and on small
means, but still maintained the dignity and character of Royalty
until 1628, when he was appointed a Field Marshal of a division
of the Bavarian army, and so ably discharged his duties that he
became very distinguished, and received an addition to his es-
tate. On his shield he bore a rampant unicorn, on a ground of
o-reen and gold.


This Dietrich der Benner was a Protestant from Protestant
Bavaria, and was no doubt the General Benner who figured so
conspicuously in the History of the Huguenots. It is said that
all the Benners were notably Protestants.

About this time the name of this great family began to be
indifferently written Bender, or Benner, in different localities.
And it is supposed that the former authography arose from the
fact that large numbers of them located in different towns and
cities, and engaged in the same mechanical work, which required
binding, or tying together, such as book-binders and coopers ;
and from this circumstance they were as a family or class call-
ed Binders, or Benders. In the same way the aristocratic Dutch
of our own State, particularly at Albany, who had individual
names, were yet as a class called Knickerbockers, from the cir-
cumstance of having nearly all been employed in the making
and baking marbles for the children. The name is derived from
Knicker, a marble, and Bakker, a Baker. Knickerbakker, from
which the transition to Knickerbocker was easy.

In the records of the German Reformed Church here, Rev.
Johan Casper Rubel always wrote the name, Benner ; while
Rev. Gerhard Daniel Cock, who came after him, always wrote
it Bender.

The first family of the name in the town of Rhinebeck, of
which we have any tradition, was that of Valentyn Bender and
Margaret, his wife, who, with their two sons, Johannes and
Henrich, came to Rhinebeck from Upper Bavaria, in the begin-
ning of the 1 8th century. He obtained of Col. Henry Beek-
man the usual life-lease of a farm on the Hudson River,
about three miles north of Rhinebeck Landing, being the same
farm afterwards long the residence of Gen. Armstrong, and now
owned by the heirs of his son-in-law, Wm. B. Astor. The site
selected by Bender was too fine to leave him long at rest. Col.
Beekman and his family soon discovered that this was the finest
situation on the banks of the river, and wished to possess it
again without delay. He, therefore, proposed an exchange,
and offered for the surrender of the life-lease a like quantity of
land in fee, in any part of his lands. This proposition was ac-
cepted by Valentyn Bender, and eagerly by his wife, who, by


the tradition of all her descendants, was a somewhat remarka-
ble woman, possessing an energetic character, and a keen eye
to the future. Col. Beekman thereupon executed a deed for a
piece of land situate about one mile sonthwest of Lower Red
Hook village, which forms a part of the farm which became the
Benner homestead, and which, from the time Valentyn Bender
took possession, under his deed, until about four years since,
was uninterruptedly owned and occupied by the Benner family.
The deed from Henry Beekman bears date, January 25, 1721,
and describes the lands as " certuating on a large plaine, being
part of a tract of land formerly obtained from Coll. Peter Schuy-
ler, on the east side of Hudson's river, in the above said Coun-
ty, lying northward from ye town of Rinbeek, and joins partly
to ye southeast end of a meadow called Peek's Vly, and so
northerly where it begaineth by a stony point, which is over
against where a small rune of whater comes from Countryman's
fountaine, and intersax with a small rune of whater that comes
out of the aforesaid Peek's Vly." This is the only deed we
have seen in which the land laid out for the High Butchers,
is called the " Town of Rhinebeck." It shows that Valentyn
Bender was not one of the settlers for whom the land was laid

Valentyn Bender died soon after he took possession of this
farm, and left him surviving his widow, Margriet, his two sons,
Johannes and Henrich, and three daughters, Anna Maria, Cath-
arina, and Margriet. It was now that his widow Margriet dis-
played her energy and perseverance. She managed the house-
hold and the farm ; brought up the children in habits of indus-
try and frugality ; made large additions to her possessions ; and,
before her death, owned over three hundred acres of good land.
She lived to see all her daughters well married, and, at the close
of her life, divided her land between her two sons, giving to
Johannes the old homestead, and to Henrich that portion of
her acquired land which became the possession of Jacob Choi-
well, is still owned by his heirs, and which was sold by Henrich
some time after his mother's death.

Valentyn Bender certainly left two sons and two daugh-
ters, and there may have been a third son and daughter. The


daughters of whom we have knowledge were : Anna Maria, who
married Zacharias Schmidt, and Catharina, who married Hen-
rich Tidter, whose families are recorded on another page.

Henrich, son of Valentyn Bender, married Catharine Bet-
zer (now Pitcher), and had children as follows : Anna Margreda,
baptized May 6, 1 741, married Jan. 20, 1761, Zacharias Volandt ;
Catharina, baptized Aug. 12, 1744, married Feb. 7, 1762, Fred-
erick Streit, Jr. ; Annatjin, baptized Jan. 27, 1752, married Oct.
10, 1774, Phillip Mohr ; Christina, married Dec. 16, 1770, Petrus
Mohr ; Magdalena, baptized May 18, 1755; Henrich, baptized
Sept. 10, 1758, married Catharina Pitcher, probably his cousin.
There were other children in this family, probably born between
1744 and 1752, of whose baptism the book before us contains
no record. '

Johannes, son of Valentyn Bender, married Magdalena
Streid (now Streit), and had children as follows : Hans Velden,
in other words, Valentyn, the son of Hans, born Dec. 26, 1741,
married, ist, Alida VVeitman, 2d, Lydia Feroe, widow, ist of
Conrad Lasher, 2d, of Benjamin Van Steenburgh ; Catharine,
baptized Aug. 12, 1744; Henrich, baptized Aug. 16, 1751, mar-
ried Marytjen Sagendorf ; Johannes, baptized Oct. 1753 ; Jaco-
bus, baptized Feb. 15, 1756; Anna Maria, baptized Aug. 13,
1758; Petrus, baptized Dec. 11, 1763, married Jenneken Wal-
dorf; Ludowick, baptized Jan. 29, 1766. There were other
children in this family, also, of whom the book before us con-
tains no records.

Henry Bender, Jr., and Catharina Pitcher, had children as
follows: Catharine, baptized May 27, 1780, married, Nov. 8
1801, Garret Cock ; Henry, baptized June 29, 1783, married
Jan. I, 1805, his cousin, Anna Moore ; Maria, baptized Oct. 9,
1785, married, Jan. 8, 1804, John Knickerbocker; Elizabeth,
baptized Dec. 8, 1788, married Cyrus Burnap ; Christina, born
May II, 1799, married Capt. Samuel Nelson.

Hans Felten Bender and Alida Wietman had children, as
follows: Hellena, born Dec. 19, 1775, married Capt. David Sip-
perly ; John, born Aug. 20, 1797, married, Sept. 8, 1808, Han-
nah Schryver ; Elizabeth, born Oct. 13, 1789, married Jacob
Sipperly ; Jacob, born Sept. 27, 1791, married Dec. 25, 1810,


Margaret Feroe ; Wilhelmus, born March 2, 1794, married Hel-
lena Ostrander ; Amy, died young.

Peter Bender and Jenneken Waldorf had children, as fol.
lows : William and Maria, twins ; William married Elizabeth
Feller ; Maria married George J. Pultz ; Lena, married Fred-
erick Havener ; Elizabeth, married Peter Hevenor ; Anna,
married Phillip P'raleigh.

Of Hans Felton Benner's children we have the record of
Jacob and his wife, Margaret Feroe. They had children, as
follows: Lydia Maria, born December 8, 181 1; Henry, born
Feb. 19, 18 1 5 ; Robert, born Feb. i, 18 18; Jacob Benner's wife,
Margaret Feroe, died in 1824. He married, for a second wife,
Helen Moore, by whom he had one child, a daughter, Margaret.

Jacob Benner was an industrious and successful farmer,
and the last Benner owner and occupant of the homestead in
Red Hook. He held several ofifices of public trust. He was
Supervisor and Justice of the Peace in his town, and for several
years Justice of the County Court of Sessions. He died, Nov.
5, 1869. The Hon. Augustus Martin married his daughter,
Lydia Maria, for a first, and her half sister, Margaret, for a sec-
ond wife. The latter survives her husband. His son, Henry,
is now, and has for many years been a resident of the city of
Newark, N. J. His son, Robert, is a practicing lawyer in the
city of New York, and has for many years had his residence at
Astoria, L. L He married, Oct. 10, 1848, Miss Mary Van Ant-
werp Shaw, by whom he had sons, Franklin, Charles, and Willis,
and a daughter, Mary. His wife dying, June 10, 1867, he mar-
ried, for a second, Miss Helen Stanly Brown, Feb. 21, 1871.


We find among a number of Benners whose lineage we are
not able to trace, a George Emerich Benner ; a Frederick Ben-
ner, with Neeltje Heermance for a wife ; a Johannes Benner,
with Catharine Enck for a wife ; a John Jacob Benner, with
Margaritha Tidtmor for a wife ; and a Henrich Tidtmor, with
an Elizabeth Benner for a wife. The last parties were the
parents of John, Susanna and Daniel Tidtmor, persons w^ho
have descendants still living in Rhinebeck and Red Hook, and
other places.