Monday, September 8, 2014

John Cortright (1714-1783) (52 Ancestors #30)

John Cortright > Elisha Courtright > Isaac Cortright > Mabel Dodson Cortright > Jameson Harvey Ransom > Charles Francis Ransom > Lillian Emma Ransom > Charles Lloyd Walters

John Cortright was born in New York in 1714. I’ve come across a wide variety of spellings and variations of his name, including Johannes and Hannes Kortrecht. His baptism is recorded in the records of the Dutch church of Kingston, Ulster Co., New York on August 15, 1714. His parents were “Cornelis Kortregt” and “Christina Roose-krans.” The Cortright family lived in the area, known as Minisink, a region that included parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. John married Margriet Dennemerken, and the baptisms of 7 of their children were recorded in the Walpeck Church (New Jersey) and the Wachackemeck Church (near Port Jervis, NY). 

Around 1744, John and his family moved near Smithfield, PA and the 1772 tax records for the area include John and his sons John, Christopher and Elisha. John died sometime between January 31, 1783 (when his will was written) and May 12, 1783 (when the inventory of his estate was taken). In a number of Cortright histories, I have seen mention that John’s sons John and Christopher were both killed in the Battle of Wyoming (My ancestor Capt. Samuel Ransom also died in that battle). However, according to the abstract of John Sr.'s will, while Christopher is deceased, his son John is still living. 

In the early days of every colonial community, the people’s attention soon turned to organizing church meetings. Beginning in 1741, the Dutch Reform Churches of Minisink employed Rev. Johannes Casparus Fryenmuth as their first minister.  On his vacation Sundays, Fryenmuth would spend them in the area of Rochester and it wasn’t long before the people of Rochester wanted him as their pastor. 

When the people of Minisink learned they could have their pastor “seduced” away from them, they sent the following strongly-worded letter to Rochester. The authors, including John Cortright, made no qualms about what they thought of the attempted theft. The fact that the Minisink people had only recently welcomed Fryenmuth back from Holland after paying for his voyage and education may also have had something to do with their fear of losing their new pastor. As Fryenmuth remained with the Minisink churches, it appears the letter had the desired effect.

Minisink, Dec. 6th, 1741
To the Rev. Consistory of Rochester, greeting:

We, your servants, having learned that you have had correspondence with our pastor, and have seduced him, so far as to send him a call, thinking that the large amount of salary promised him will induce him to leave us – the Lord who thus far has caused your acts of supplanting to fail will further direct them to a good end. We find ourselves bound to obey the command of the Saviour “Do good to them that hate you;” we therefore will deal with you hereafter, as we have before, “doing you good.” It is true you give us no thanks for his services among you. You are bold enough to say that he has eight free Sundays during the year, which is as true as the assertion of the Devil to Eve, “You will not surely die.”

If you desire, then, to have our minster four or six times during the year, we will grant your wish cheerfully, and leave it with our pastor to settle with you as to the amount of his compensation. If this cannot prevent the execution of your unjust intention, and the Lord wishes to use you as a rod to chasten us, we shall console ourselves with his gracious words, Heb, 12, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and he rebukes every son whom he adopts.” If it please the Lord to permit you to deprive us of our pastor, then we hope that your consciences will not be seared to much as to take away our livelihood amounting to £125 12s 6d. (over paid salary)

Should this however be the case, then we will not hesitate to give the matter into the hands of a worldly judge. We expect your answer, and conclude our discourse with the wish that the grace of our Lord and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, may remain with you until a blessed eternity. Amen. We remain your servants.

John Cortright
John Van Vliet
Abm. Van Rampen
William Cole

Sources: Letter and its English translation from A History of the Minisink Region by Charles E. Stickney, 1867,  emphasis is mine; Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications,; Minisink Valley Reformed Dutch Church Records, 1716-1830, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,;  Baptismal and Marriage Register of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston,; History of the Van Kortryks or Courtrights, by Dudley Vattier Courtright, 1923; New Jersey Abstract of Wills 1670-1817, 

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