A Jan Joosten Van Meteren Line: INTRO & DIRECTORY

A Jan Joosten van Meteren Line Introduction


This series of posts will include stories, histories, and genealogies of the descendants of Jan Joosten van Meteren and will follow one of his lines that migrates across country from Esopus, New Netherlands (now Kingston, NY) to Redmond, Oregon ending with Everett “Bud” Eugene Van Matre of Redmond, Oregon, my children’s’ paternal grandfather. However, I may take a few side trips, including some female lines. This family has a rich and well documented history.  

I know, there are many sites that cover Jan Joosten and his stories, and this will just be another one, however I want to point out some of the discrepancies, assumptions and misinformation and my take on them.  I’m hoping that others will contribute with comments and add to the story.  All I ask is that comments are constructive. 

Posts for this series will be added to the menu to the right as I add them and in the order I add them. If on Mobile Device Click Here to scroll directly to Directory

Although I have spent much time researching this family and providing sources, including public records, biographies, genealogies and family stories, there may be unintentional errors.

The following information is provided to help understand the context of many of the early documents and customs, including naming customs, money, date changes, definitions and other notes that hopefully will help you understand the information from various documents.

My Comments and Tips
The van Meteren Surname
Surnames and Ptronymics
Place Names
Sources and Links

My Comments and Tips

  • If I have comments when using content from sources, I will place them in brackets [like this].
  • The image attributes are in endnotes, at the end of each post.
  • Date formats. You will find American and European formatting for dates. Various documents and translations may use European formatting. For example: 4 Apr 1663 instead American format of April 4, 1663. I will be using European format for vital statistics.

The van Meteren Surname

Van Meteren CrestJan Joosten (pronounced Yahn Yoosten) did not use a surname in documents until later in life. He eventually used the surname van Meteren, as did his cousin, Jan Gijsbertsen van Meteren and his son, Kryjn Gijsberts van Meteren, who migrated to America a couple of years after Jan. The van stands for “of” or “from”, so is assumed to translate from or of Meteren, a community in the Tielerwaard District in the Netherlands.

Their children dropped the en and as time went by the name was changed from van Meteren to Van Meter, Van Metre, and even later Van Matre. Kryjn Gybertsen line changed the spelling to Van Mater.  Different family lines pretty much adopted one of these spellings. Although the name is spelled differently, it is believed that most of the American Van Meters, Van Metres, Van Maters and Van Matres descended from one of the two cousins. 

Surnames and Patronymics

Surnames and Patronymics

One of the earliest types of surname is the patronymic: a person’s father’s name, with the equivalent of “son” or “daughter” attached. Dutch patronymics added the suffix –s, –se, –sen, or –en; or the abbreviated – sz or –dr for “szoon” (son) or “dochter.” (daughter). For example, Peter Johnson is the son of John, William Peterson being the son of Peter. In the case of our Van Meterens, they were Jan Joosten (father Joost), his son is Joost Janse (son of Jan) and his son became Jan Joosten americanized to “John”.

The location or geographic surnames, prefixed by “van” or “van de(r)” becoming the surname, such as van Meteren (from Meteren), van Haaften (from Haaften), van Cleef (from Cleef), etc., and usually signifying a person’s place of origin or nationality.

There were also occupational surnames reflecting a person’s trade: Smit for smith, Kuyper for cooper, Metsalaer or Metzlaer for mason, Molenaar for miller, etc. Descriptive surnames might emerge from a person’s appearance or characteristics – such as Krom (“bent, crooked, crippled”). Our first generation will include van Meterens, Molenaars and Kroms, with a variety of spellings.

The surname van Meteren was used in the Netherlands since 1365, adding the place name to the Patronymic. The author of the Quick Family Chronicles states he has a Y-DNA 700 finding that show a link from the Van Cuijk Van Meteren family before 1500 AD to the American Van Meteren family. See my post Jan Joosten Van Meteren Lineage for probable detailed lines.

For a first name, Dutch naming customs usually followed a distinctive pattern:1

  • first- and second- born daughters and first- and second-born sons were given the names of their paternal and maternal grandparents.
  • Children were also named for parents, aunts, uncles, godparents, and friends.
  • The pattern varied by alternately choosing from the paternal then the maternal line with the birth of each child.
  • When a child died young, his or her name was given, at times, to the next child born of the same sex, thereby preserving the name that the dead child had carried.

Also, it was standard in Dutch families for the women to retain their “maiden” names. For example: Macyke Hendricse (wife of Jan Joosten [1]) and Sara DuBois (wife of Joost Janse [2]) continued to use their “maiden” name in legal documents throughout their life. Catherine DuBois, wife of Louis DuBois, would retain her name until her second marriage


Place Names

Over the years, location names changed. There are many place name changes: Villages, Colonies, Territories, Counties and States. Although a family home may be on the same spot, as time passes, it may become confusing when the name of the place changes (in some cases multiple times). I’ll do my best to clarify these as the family migrates across the country.


There are variety of spellings for names and places. Often names and places were spelled phonetically in documents and depended on the literacy of the person writing the information. Also, the early generations spoke Dutch and French, so pronunciation of names varied. Most early documents for the area were written in Dutch or French and later translated. I have used the spellings that I found in the sources I obtained them from.


New Netherlands currency was officially the Dutch guilder (Florin or fl.). The guilder was divided into 20 stuivers (st.). The colonists also traded with beaver firs and shell beads, called wampum or sewant. These beads also served a ceremonial and decorative function among Indians.2 Wampum was used to trade for beaver firs from the Indians and became the most widespread currency in New Netherlands throughout the Dutch period and was the standard small change medium.3

After the British took over, the English Pound comes into the picture. The pound was the currency of the province and state of New York until 1793. Although official currency of the colonies was the English Pound during these early years, England prohibited the export of silver and gold, so coins were typically Spanish and there were different valuations set for the colonies. Some Colonies even printed their own currencies. The subject of currency during this time is too lengthy to go into here, but hopefully this helps you understand the references to the many currencies in the documents we’ll review.

On April 2, 1792, the United States Congress created the United States dollar as the country’s standard unit of money.


Especially on the first generation, there are many sources that provide much information with many contradictions. Two main sources used by many, are books by Samuel Gordon Smyth, The Origin & Descent of an American Van Metre Family4 and A Genealogy of the Duke-Shepherd-Van Metre Family5

Smyth’s books have invaluable information and whenever he made assumptions and deductions, he clearly stated those, however, some of these assumptions although incorrect, have gone viral. Since those books were written much more has been discovered about the early generations. I have noted many of the contradictions that are found in various biographies and webgens, hoping to add clarity to the confusion.



The Julian calendar that was in use several hundred years ago, used March 25th as the beginning of a new year. Because the Julian calendar appeared to be ‘out of sync’ with the seasons, a new Gregorian calendar was put in place. (see my post on When was the Julian Calendar changed to the Gregorian Calendar for more on this subject).

This change took place in 1582 by order of Pope Gregory XIII, but wasn’t adopted by England and British North America until 1752. China didn’t conform to the Gregorian calendar until 1949. Alaska did not change from the Julian calendar to the New Style Gregorian Calendar until 1867 because up to that point, it was part of Russia.

The Gregorian Calendar is referred to as the “New Style” and the Julian Calendar is referred to as the “Old Style”.

In 1752 England and North America, the present calendar was adopted, and the new historical calendar recognized January 1 as the first day. Consequently, dates between January 1st and March 25th of 1752/1753 were often written with both year numbers (for example 5 January 1752/53).This is referred to as double dating. Also, if a record says “the 4th day of the 2nd month, it could be referring to February or April, depending upon the calendar in use at the time. During the transition, double dating was common.

England and British North America changed their calendar in September 1752. Although people went to sleep the evening of September 4th, they woke up on September 15th and lost 11 days. Some people added 11 days to their birth dates, which was not reflected on their birth record. For example, George Washington was born on February 11th, and changed his birth date to February 22nd.6

This becomes even more complex as you add in French Republican and other calendars.

I’ve used the dates provided in the documents, records and histories I found them in and have not attempted to figure out which calendar was used at the time and place.

Sources and Links

I have included many sources and links in my footnotes.  The internet evolves and some of the sites may have changed or been taken down, which is not in my control.


ante – before

Classis – “middle management governing tool” of the Christian Reformed Church.

burgher – merchant or town citizen

dominie – pastor of a church

Flemish pound – was used in the Province of Brabant, part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands

headright system – a legal grant of land to settlers

hegemony – the dominance of a city-state over other city-states, the dominant state is known as the hegemon

helbardiers – a man armed with a halberd, a spear or battle-ax

Huguenots – French Protestants most of who eventually came to follow the teachings of John Calvin, and who, due to religious persecution, were forced to flee France [Spanish Netherlands] to other countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

kill – body of water, so could be a creek, stream or river

manumission – the act of a slave owner freeing his or her slaves

moiety – each of two parts into which a thing is or can be divided.

personalty – personal, movable property (as in a will)

pestilence – a fatal epidemic disease, especially bubonic plague

rix-dollar –English term for silver coinage

schepen – minor judiciary position, justice

schout – a local official appointed to carry out administrative, law enforcement and prosecutorial tasks

testamentary disposition – early definition of a will, the disposition or transfer of property that takes effect upon the death of the person making it.

webgen – an online family tree or genealogy

yeoman – a man holding and cultivating a small landed estate; a freeholder



  1. van Zwieten, Adriana E., Glimpses of Childhood in the Colony of New Netherland, p 2. Published online at https://www. newnetherlandinstitute.org/files/8513/9024/6828/Zwieten_chapter.pdf (accessed 26 Aug 2017)
  2. New Netherland Institute, Exploring America's Dutch Heritage - website https://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org/education/for-students/fun-re/what-was-new-netherland (accessed 27 Aug 2017)
  3. Money Substitutes in New Netherland and Early new York: Wampum. Website: https: //coins.nd.edu, (accessed 29 Aug 2017).
  4. Samuel Gordon Smyth, The Origin and Descent of an American Van Metre Family, 20 Oct 1923.
  5. Samuel Gordon Smyth, A Genealogy of the Duke-Shepherd-Van Metre Family. Larcaster, Pa. 1909.
  6. Connecticut State Library website. Colonial Records & Topics,  Calendars. https://libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/hg/colonialresearch/calendarhttp://libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/hg/ colonialresearch/calendar (accessed 26 Jan 2023).

The family Information was retrieved from a variety of family trees, webgens and family stories. I will note citations as appropriate and hope the information assists you in your research, but please do not use this as proven evidence. Feedback is welcome!

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

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