The Origin of the Van Guilders

The Origin of the Van Guilders

History’s Faces

Debra Winchell

Recently the Associated Press published an article by Travis Loller saying that DNA study seeks the origin of Appalachia’s Melungeons. In a excerpt Mr. Loller wrote:

In recent years, it has become a catchall term for people of mixed-race ancestry and has been applied to about 200 communities in the eastern U.S. — from New York to Louisiana.

Among them were the Montauks, the Mantinecocks, Van Guilders, the Clappers, the Shinnecocks and others in New York. Pennsylvania had the Pools; North Carolina the Lumbees, Waccamaws and Haliwas and South Carolina the Redbones, Buckheads, Yellowhammers, Creels and others. In Louisiana, which somewhat resembled a Latin American nation with its racial mixing, there were Creoles of the Cane River region and the Redbones of western Louisiana, among others.

As a result of researching the Van Guilders for over fifteen years, I know that the Van Gilders/Van Guilders from western Massachusetts, upstate New York and Vermont are not Melungeon.   The founder of the family was Jan Van Gelder, a MohicanWappinger man who married the German Palatine woman Anna Maria Koerner in Kingston, New York, in 1719.  They lived in what is now present day Berkshire County on the west bank of the Green River, southwest of Great Barrington

Read the entire article here.

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