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House of Johannes Westbrook

Houses in Sussex and Warren Counties

Old Mine Road, Minisink, Sandyston Township

Extracted from "Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern N.J. and Southern N.Y.," by Rosalie Fellows Bailey, 1968; pages 550-551 and 581.


The children of the present owners are the eighth generation resident on this farm, which has never been out of the family.  Their ancestor Johannes Westbrook Sr., was born in Albany and living in Kingston when he married May 12, 1687 Magdalena Decker of Kingston.  He was one of the original settlers of the upper Minisink region, owning a farm there and voting there in 1701.  In his will he called himself a resident of Knightfield (in Wawarsing Township), Ulster County.  He died in 1727, survived by his wife, four sons and two daughters.  Three of his sons settled in the Minisink region along the Delaware River in New Jersey:  Anthony lived above Milville in Montague Township until he bought the Minisink Island track, Johannes, Jr. settled in Minisink village south of the stream, and a third son Cornelius built a house (now remodelled) still further south about opposite Hainesville in Sandyston Township.  In 1739 Johannes, Johannes, Jr. and Anthony Westbrook were all taxed at Minisink for building a gaol at Goshen in Orange County (the Minisink region was claimed by New York, its inhabitants voting in Ulster county 1701-09 and later in Orange County).

At an unknown date (about 1724) Anthony Westbrook bought 120 acres on Minisink Island and 120 acres opposite on the Jersey mainland, from Kuykendall and Westfaal, as recited in Kukendall's sale of the remaining land in December 1731:  "Whereas Thomas Stevenson (one of the Proprietors), late of the County of Bucks, Province of Pennsylvania, gentleman, did grant to Jacob Kuykendall of Minisink, farmer, and Uriah Westfalya, late of the County of Hunterdon, yeoman, also deceased, a certain tract of 500 acres in the Province of New Jersey jointly and equally, whereas said land was taken up and surveyed within the Indian purchase of the Council of Proprietors, and whereas said Kuykendall and Westfalya did convey onto Anthony Westbrook 120 acres of lowland on Great Minisink Island and 120 acres of upland opposite, and the remainder of the 500 acres was divided between said Kuykendall and Westfaly ..."  On April 7, 1725 Cornelius Low surveyed and platted the above 240 acre purchase, marking off three 5 acre house lots along the river bank, for Jan Cortreght, Johannes Westbrook, Jr. and Anthony Westbrook.  It is probable that Anthony had represented the two others in his purchase of the tract, which in 1725 was bounded on the north by the land owned jointly by Uriah Westphall and Jacob Van Kuykendall and on the south by the land of Matthewes Van Kukendall.  The settlement was formed opposite the lower end of Minisink Island on the site of an Indian village.  Three houses, one marked Westbrook, are shown here in the 1769 survey of the Delaware River.

Johannes Westbrook, Jr. settled here in Minisink village, south of the stream which separates the present Sandyston and Montague Townships; he is believed to have built the present house, which is still owned and occupied by his descendents.  In 1731 he sold part of his land for a cemetery and a schoolhouse.  William Ennes, who lived to the southward (plate 167), undoubtedly taught here.  Johannes Westbrook, Jr. was born in Kingston, bap. there Jan. 9, 1698, and married there Dec. 19, 1715 Antjen Roosa of Hurley, who was still living in 1756.  Their six children were baptized at Kingston and Rochester between 1716 and 1728:  Lena, b. at Hurley, living at Minisink, m. 1738 Johannes Westbrook, Jr., son of Anthony and therefore her first cousin, Maria, Heyltjen (died young), Benjamin, Heyltjen and Cornelius.  Another son, Abraham, has also been attributed to them but he may have been a grandson.  This Abraham Westbrook married Maria Helm about 1751 and had three children, Michel, Martynus, and Johanna, bap. from 1752 to 1755.  He was killed shortly afterward in the War of 1755-58.  His infant son Martynus Westbrook, bap. March 24, 1754, grew up to become a captain and lived on the farm given him by his father.  He married Margaret Lowe and had a son and a daughter.  The only son was Abraham Westbrook, b. Nov. 15, 1775, bap. Aug. 24, 1777, d. Aug. 7, 1811; he married Ann, daughter of Reuben Buckley, b. Oct. 11, 1778.  Among their seven children were Eliza Westbrook, b. Aug. 29, 1806, who was living in the old homestead in 1881, and Reuben Buckley Westbrook, b. March 26, 1805.  The latter was the father of Clementina Westbrook who married Benton Bell.  The present owner is their son Burson Bell.

The house was undoubtedly built shortly after the village of Minisink was platted in 1725.  It is a very low house of rough gray stone, repointed on the east end.  The high and steep gable roof is now covered with tin tiling.  The farm is between the Old Mine Road and the Delaware River, opposite the south end of Minisink Island and south of a stream.  A willow tree guards the entrance to the farm land.  Nearby is the site of Fort Minisink, a similar stone building, which is undergoing restoration.

Plate 171

House of Johannes Westbrook

Old Mine Road, Minisink

This house was built by Johannes Westbrook shortly after the village of Minisink was plotted in 1725.  It has passed by marriage into the Bell family and is still the home of the builder's descendents.  The outstanding feature of the house is its close-to-the-ground feeling.  It is built of roughly finished limestone and has a steep gable roof.  The roof now extends beyond the gable end and is covered with a modern composition but its long slope has never been broken by the addition of dormers.  The modern one-paned sashes give the house a vacant expression.  Notice the small size of the window openings and the lowness of the ceilings.

April 10, 2002