Some of Lea Simmons genealogy
(3) Peter Simmons was b. May 29, 1728, and is understood to have been
a native of England. About the middle of the last century he settled at
Flushing Long Island, opposite to Kip’s Bay, and there he married
Rachel Kip (b. Jan. 12, 1737-8), July 30, 1756; she died Sept. 17, 1804,
aged 67 years, 3 months and five days; one of her sisters. Sally, married
Abraham Cadmus, and lived at Belleville; another, Leah, mar-
ried Richard Leaycraft. Peter Simmons was a seafaring man, captain
of the food ship Henri IV. Being away most of the time he established
his wife with her uncle, Stephen Bassett, who had a tannery on a small
run of spring water flowing into the Passaic river, a short distance
above the site of the present Dundee dam, Bassett was of French Hu-
guenot descent: he formerly had a tannery and a tap room in New
York. On his farm at Wesel were born the sixteen children of Peter
Simmons. In a storm in the English channel, Peter was washed over-
board and drowned, July 5, 1787.
Peter Simmons and Rachel Kip had children:
I. Leah, b. Jan. 2, 1757; m. Gerrit Van Riper. Sept. 25, 1777.(1) Her
children are mentioned above.(177b e-mailed 10-14-2001 part 29)
II. Peter, b. April 23, 1758; m. Margaret Westervelt, Sept. 20, 1797;
d. May 25, 1836. She was b. July 22, 1774, dau. of John Westervelt, of
Wagaraw, who lived near the Bergen county end of the Wagaraw
bridge; he was a soldier in the Revolution; she died March 21,1832,
aged 57 years, 7 months, 30 days. Peter bought from the Vreelands a
farm of fifty acres on the west side of the Wesel road, next to the pres-
ent Alyea farm; the farm originally occupied by Hendrick Jansen
Spier was next south of Crooks avenue; the Simmons farm came next.
On this farm all his children were born and brought up. He also owned
a large tract of land on the east side of Peckamin river, which he sold
in 1798 or earlier.(2) Peter had a shop in a small red frame building,
about 14×18 feet. one story high, with attic, which stood with its gable
end toward the Wesel road, near his house. In this modest edifice he
carried on harness-making and shoe-making. Back of the shop, near a
spring, was his tan-vat, where he tanned his own leather. His neigh-
bors were welcome to its privileges, also, and were wont to throw in
their hides for tanning once a year, at which time only the vat was
cleaned out, the hides being always allowed to remain for a twelve-
month. Among the many young men brought up to the leather busi-
ness by Peter Simmons may be mentioned Garret Cadmus, David
Alyea, Richard Bush, Richard Stagg, John Post (part of the time: he
was a son of John H. Post, of Revolutionary note), and Philip Van
Bussum, who afterwards kept tavern (the Franklin House) on Main
street, Paterson. In the summer Peter would devote as much time as
possible to his farm and garden. The care of his younger brothers and
sisters fell upon him, so that his life was spent in arduous toil, and at
its close he had little to leave to his children save the reputation of an
honest, intelligent, well-meaning man, a devoted father, and a good
neighbor. Daring the Revolution he was once taken prisoner by
the British, but owing to his perfect familiarity with the country soon
made his escape. For half a century after the war it was his custom to
have his friends and neighbors assemble at his house in the Fall, about
“killing time,” when “the times that tried men’s souls” would be re-
called, with many a personal reminiscence of perilous adventure by field
or Hood in the heroic endeavor to secure a country’s liberty. John
Paulding, of English Neighborhood, whose uncle, of the same name,
was one of Andre’s captors, was a regular attendant at these gatherings,
trudging to and fro the whole distance on foot. The party invariably
broke up with the chorus:
“Here’s a health to John Paulding,
And let the health go ‘round!”
A bill of Peter Simmons, for making and repairing shoes and harness,
1793-96, is given in the Van Houten Manuscripts, p. 89.
III. Sarah, b. July 10, 1759; d. March 3, 1760.
IV. John, b. Feb. 11,1761; d. July 17, 1765.
V. Stephen Bassett, b. July 5, 1762; m.——; d. at Communipaw.
Ch., Jane, m. William Ludlum, jun.
(1) See p. 170b.
(2) Essex County Transcribed Deeds, B, 14.
VI. Michael, b. Jan. 8, 1764: be was a fisherman, livinig at Com-
munipaw, where he died, leaving a number of children.
VII. John, b. Dec. 2, 1766; he was a hatter by trade; married—
Jones, at Warwick, N. Y., and had a number of children, He went to
the Genessee country, where he died.
VIII. Sarah, b. Feb. 4, 1768 : m. James Wilbur, in New York, July 8,
1801 : d. in New York, leaving several children.
IX. Susanna, b. Aug. 8, 1769: m. David Berdan in New York, and
X. William, b. Oct. 20, 1771, m. Jane Young, in New York, June
5, 1796: d. in New York, leaving children.
XI. Mary, b. Dec. 7, 1773; m. Cornelius Westervelt,son of John
Westervelt, of Wagaraw. Cornelius was a stone mason by trade, and
lived and died at Wesel; Issue: 1. Mary, d. unm.: 2. Susan: 3. Rachel,
XII. Rachel, b. Nov. 17, 1775; m. John Bloodgood, of New York;
she had a large family.
XIII. Henry, b. Dec. 9, 1777; m. Marritje Van Riper. Some ac-
count of his desceadants is givin on Page 171a. He was a very hospita-
ble man, and used co invite all of his relatives to visit him on New
Year’s Day. At one time he counted one hundred and twenty seven
cousins, second cousins, nephews and nieces, all living. A majority of
them married within the family.
XIV. James, b. Nov. 26,1779; m. Jannetje Van Riper, sister of Mary.
(See page 171a.)
XV. Abraham, b. Nov. 26, 1779; m. Elizabeth Kellogg, of New
XVI. Elizabeth, b. Feb. 28, 1782; m. William Ludlum, sen. , from
Flushing, L. 1.
Peter Simmons, jun., and Margaret Westervelt had children:
I. Rachel, b. March 3, 1801: d. Oct. 8, 1853, unm.
II. Elizabeth.b. Aug. 20,1803; m. Cornelius P. Vreeland, June 23,
1827: d. Sept. 2, 1852, s. p.
III. Sarah, b. March 28, 1806: she was accidentally killed by falling
down stairs in her brother’s house, in Passaic, Nov. 18, 1877; she was
IV. Mary Ann, b. Dec. 1, 1809; m. Samuel Kinsey, a blacksmith, of
Paterson; d. Nov. 9,1865. Children; 1. Peter, b. Feb. 8, 1842; 2. Ed-
ward, killed at the Hackensack bridge: 3. Henry, d. unm
V. Henry, b. July 8, 1815; m. Sarah Shelp Van Wagoner, Dec.
15, 1844. She was b. Aug. 26, 1819, dau. of Levi Shelp and Jane Van
Wagoner (dau, of Jacob Edsall, of English Neighborhood, Bergen
county), wid. of Hermanus Van Wagoner; in her infancy, Sarah Shelp
was adopted by Mrs. Sarah Van Wagoner (Saertje Jurians), wid. of
Roelof and mother of Hermanus Van Wagoner (see p. 88), and who
lived in the old Van Wagoner house, still standing on the River road, at
the corner of Gregory avenue, opposite the draw-bridge at Passaic;
Sarah Shelp Van Wagoner, the wife of Henry P. Simmons, d. Aug. 5,
1887. Henry Peter Simmons is one of the best-known men in this part
of New Jersey, and no man in this region has preserved such a store of
reminiscence and anecdote of men and events in by-gone days in Old
Acquackanonk, particularly of all that relates to the old Dutch families.
For half a century or more he has been looked up to as an authority on
all questions of family and local history. Born and brought up on the
Wesel road, in a neighborhood where the Dutch was the language of
the home, he is himself one of the most characteristic specimens of the
sturdy old Dutch stock that in former days possessed the land hereabout.
At the age of thirteean years he left his father’s humble home to make
his own way in the world, and thereafter never returned to that home
save as a visitor, nor did he ever cost his falher a penny for his support.
For four years he served as a, clerk in Peter Jackson’s country store—
“where you might buy anything, from a needle to a haystack,” was its
owner’s boast”-at Acquackanonk, or Paterson Landing about where
the Mansion House hotel now stands in Passaic. In winter, when the
river was frozen up and navigation suspended, he spent the time in
Jackson’s store at Pompton. In 1832, with his entire fortune of ten
shillings in his pocket, he went to New York, entering the service of
Jeremiah Meserole, who died thirty days later; then of John, and then
of Abraham—three brothers who dealt in ship-stores at 191-2-3 South
street, and who were largely interested in charcoal vessels and coasters.
Through the excellence of his book-keeping, and his unremitting devo-
tion to the interests of his employers, he was gradually so favored by
them that before he was twenty-one he was part-owner in one or more
of their vessels, and in the course of time was given one-sixth of the
profits of the entire business. In 1846, he bought from John Speer, a
shoemaker, son of Hans Speer, on Crooks avenue near the Wesel road,
a house and fourteen acres of land on Main avenue, opporite the present
main Erie station at Passaic.for $2,600, borrowing the last $5 to make
up the purchase price. In 1848, on the death of the Meseroles, with
whom he had been associated, he withdrew from the concern, drawing
out $10,000 as his share of the profits, and took up his residence on the
property just mentioned, where he has lived ever since, enlarging the
house from lime to time. He subsequently added to his possessions,
and although he has sold a greal deal of his land he still owns fifty acres
in the very heart of Passaic, which he has been improving and develop-
ing for nearly half a century—his chief pleasure in life. In this
agreeable occupation he has set out nearly 2,000 shade trees. He
was called to fill various offices in Acquackanonk before Passaic was
set off from the old township, and for ten years–1852-57, 1878-83,
sat in the county courts as one of the lay Judges. He now enjoys a re-
markably vigorous old age, and is as strong a friend and as sturdy a
combatant as be was half a century ago. Issue:
i. Sarah Louisa, b. Nov. 26, 1848, m. Nov. 18, 1875, Edwin J.
Howe, M. D., son of John M. Howe, M. D,, of Passaic; she lives with
her husband in Newark, where be is a practising physician.
ii. William Henry, b. Dec. 26, 1850; d. Aug. 20, 1852
iii Jane Elizabeth, b. May 29, 1853: m. William H. Gillen, Aug. 12,
1875! he was for many years chief clerk of Brown Brothers, bankers, in
New York; he d. in New York, in 1893. Ch., Margaretta Westervelt, b.
iv. Henrietta, b. Dec. 3, 1854.
v. Mary Eliza, b. Dec. 15, 1856; m. Jacob Francis Hadley, M. D.,
of New York, May 5, 1887: he practised medicine in Passaic for some
years, but since 1893 has been a surgeon on the Paris and other great
ocean steamers. Ch., Henry Peter Simmons, b. Aug. 20, 1894.