Saturday, February 6, 2010

Surname Saturday - McKiel

My maiden name is McKiel.  It's history is a little more complicated than most of the surnames in my family.

The line can be traced back to Sebastian Van Kortrijk whose family was from the Flemish town of Kortrijk on the Lys.  He and his family were refuges of the religious upheavals in Europe and in the early 1600s, he left that area and moved to Holland.  He took up residence in Leerdam.

There were seventeen provinces in the Netherlands and these contained the present countries of Holland and Belgium.  That whole country had been made part of France during the rule of Charlemagne (767-814), but in the fifteenth century it came under Spanish  rule.  Charles V. became king of Spain in 1516, and finding many adherents to Martin Luther's reformed faith, he became determined to crush out Protestantism.  Thus became a time of great religious persecution in the Netherlands.  Under Philip, who succeeded his father, Charles in 1555,  things became even worse.  By the early 1600s,  Holland had became an asylum for the persecuted of many lands.

Two sons were born to Sebastian during his time in Leerdam, Jan and Michiel. Family names were the exception among the early Dutch ancestors.  Most often the father's first was affixed with sen  (meaning son) and used as a surname.  So the two became known as Jan and Michiel Bastiensen Van Kortryk.

Michiel, my ancester married and settled at Schoonrewoed, a village about two miles north of Leerdam, in South Holland.  There he had four children, Reyer, born in 1653, Metje in 1655, Annetje in 1658 and Bastien in 1662.  Another daughter, Alfjie, was born shortly after the family arrived in the New Amsterdam.  Meanwhile, Jan had also married had had four children.

With the development of the West India Company, whose main purpose was the expand trade and colonization of America, the Dutch people began to emigrate. The new world promised so much in material gain and religious freedom.

On 16 April 16 1663, Michiel and his brother Jan departed for New Amsterdam, in present day New York, on the "Spotted Cow".  Each brought their wife and four children.  The Bastiensens came as free men not indebted to the Dutch West India Company for their passage.

Reyer Michielsen/Michelsen was born in 1653 in Leerdam, Holland.  He married Jacomia Tiebout on 15 April 1686 in the Dutch Reformed Church of New York. Reyer and Jacomia had eight children, Michiel, Hendrick, Sarah, Tunis, Ryer, Hannah, Mary and Jane.  Some of these children followed the Dutch custom and took their father's name with sen attached and became known as Reyersen or Ryerson.  Two continued their father's surname and became Michielsen or Michiels. Reyer died in 1733 in Fordham, in what is now New York.

Hendrick Michelsen, my ancestor, was born about 1705 at Fordham Manor in New York.  He married Jane and had three sons, John, Hendrick  and Michael. He probably lived his entire life there.

John MeKeel was born about 1730.  He married Martha Haight about 1749.  He was a member of the Westchester County Militia. Joseph and Martha had four children -  Joseph, Mary, Nathaniel and John McKeel.

Joseph MeKeel/McKeel was born about 1750.  He was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, fighting on the side of the English.  When the war was over he and his family fled to New Brunswick, Canada.  On November 1, 1785 he was granted 200 acres at Long Reach, King's County, New Brunswick, for service to England during the war.  He married Anna Burtis and had 6 children, Joseph, John, Isaac, Sarah, James and Mary McKeel.

Joseph McKeel was born about 1800 in New Brunswick, Canada.  He married Ann Margaret Lounder on 15 October 1823 in Greenwich, New Brunswick, Canada.  They had 7 children, James, Eleanor, Mary, John, Joseph, Sarah and Eliza McKeel.

Eliza Eva McKeel was born on 3 October 1839 and, according to the records of the Greenwich and Westfield Anglican Church, was baptized on 16 March 1840.  Eliza had two children born out of wedlock, Melvin  and George Byron McKiel, before marrying Jacob VanWart and having  5 more children.  Eliza and Jacob's children were Miles, Mahala, Rosie May, Joseph and Frederick VanWart. Eliza died on 6 August 1916 in New Brunswick, Canada.

George Bryon and his brother Melvin

George Byron McKiel was born 31 March 1868 in New Brunswick, Canada.   He went by the name of Byron.  He married Sarah Jemima Craft on 3 November 1892 in Belyea's Cove, Queens, New Brunswick, Canada.  The wedding was noted in the St. John's "Messenger and Visitor".  Sarah was known as Sadie.  They had 6 children, Alice Maude, Robert Craft, Olive May, Gracie Irene, Harry Redvers and Charles Loran McKiel. Bryon died on 23 November 1925.

Harry Redvers McKiel was born 30 July 1900 in New Brunswick, Canada.  He married Elise Marie Robinson on 29 October 1924 in St. John's Parish, St. John's, New Brunswick, Canada.

Harry and Elsie moved from Canada to Albion, Maine.  They bought a farm there from Fred Hussey who had married Harry's sister Olive May.  There they had a dairy and potato farm.  They had five children, four girls and my father.
My dad and his father Harry McKiel

Love forever to all my McKiel ancestors!


  1. What a fascinating history. Enjoyed reading it. Great job!

  2. Hi, Kathy. I'm a descendant of Sebastian's other son, so we are distantly related. The following is a link that claims to have information about Sebastian's ancestors in Spain:

    I wasn't able to view the tree, as my browser informed me that the site was trying to install an ActiveX Control...not sure if it was just something that would have enabled me to see the tree, but I thought I would pass this along to you, since you are a self-described computer geek.

    The van Kortrijk/Kortright/Cortright/Courtright (and, as you have said, McKiel/McKeel, as well as Jansen, Lowe, etc.) family history is difficult to trace, due to both the use of the place name and a seemingly endless variety of patronymics. The most famous member of the family so far, aside from perhaps, as speculated by the person responsible for the family tree referenced above, the conquistador Cortez, has been Elizabeth Kortright, who was married to President James Monroe.

    Best wishes,

    Another Carol

  3. Hi Kathy,
    My husband is a descendant of Reyer and Jacomina's other son, Michiel.
    The interesting thing I'm finding is that my husband shares DNA on this line that is from INDIA. So I am guessing someone in this family may have been Romani (coming out of Spain in the 1500's that's certainly a possibility) and Kortrjk is "Cart-wright" someone who makes carts-and Romani people often kept their origins within their names-as in people who make and use small carts to travel. Many in the UK were named Walker, or Kale (from Sanskrit Khalo-black, because they were dark skinned, etc.)
    I also find the naming of a son Tunis (as in the city to be interesting and wonder if this family may also have had roots in N. Africa. This was quite a common occurrence with shipping, piracy and the slave trade around the Mediterranean.
    If anyone reading this is a descendant of this family and has done a DNA test and has input to Gedmatch please contact me! at isabear 07 (at) gmail (dot) com.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.