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John Opdike/Updyke
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Birth: unknown
Death: 1801
Loudoun County
Virginia, USA

Born probably in Rhode Island about 1717. He was the founder of the Virginia Updike-Updyke family.

The following is quoted from "The Opdyck Genealogy" (1889) by Charles Wilson Opdyke (1838-1907), and was also reprinted by Robert Smith Craig (1928- ) in his 1985 genealogy of the descendants of John Updike, "The Virginia Updikes-Updykes":

(Son of Third Son; Son of Johannes; Son of Louris)
[Comment by Bryan S. Godfrey: YDNA results indicate no patrilineal relationship between descendants of John Updike of Virginia and those of the Louris and Johannes Opdyck family of Holland (?), New York, and New Jersey, in spite of reasonable assumptions by Charles W. Opdyke that John Updike was from that lineage. Current research focuses on proving John might be descended from or related to the Gysbert and Lodowick Updike family of New York and Rhode Island instead, originating in Wesel, Westphalia, Germany, and some of the traditions quoted below give credence to that possibility].

Born 1718, died 1802; married 1st in 1744 Sarah Farnsworth of Bordentown, N.J.; 2nd in 1751 Sarah Brown, or Carker, of Pennsylvania; resided in Burlington County, N.J., and in Loudoun County, Virginia.

In the office of the Secretary of State of N.J., is the record of the marriage of "John Opdike of Burlington and Sarah Farnsworth of Bordentown, Oct. 7, 1744." The marriage-bond with his autograph has been lost in the vaults. The Farnsworths were English Quakers of high standing and character. In 1665 Thomas Farnsworth was imprisoned in Tupton, Derbyshire, England for attending meetings of Quakers. His brother, Richard, was tried and sent to prison in Yorkshire, England, for not taking off his hat to a Justice. In 1677 Thomas Farnsworth came in the ship Kent to Philadelphia, and in a boat up the river to Bordentown. The following year his wife Susannah came over, bringing her children and two servants, in the ship Shield, the 1st vessel that ascended the Delaware River to Burlington. Her coming was looked for with great interest, as she had been a Quakeress preacher of note in the old country. Thomas had been a shoemaker but was a man of considerable means, and in 1682 and later bought 548 acres, which proved to be in fact 800 acres and covered the whole site of the present city of Bordentown. He is supposed to have settled on his Bordentown tract at about 1683; his cabin was the first house in the place. He appears on the records as Constable in 1689; died 1693, leaving sons, Samuel, Nathaniel, and others. His son Samuel Farnsworth filled at different times all the township offices of Bordentown. The place was called "Farnsworth's Landing," and was a place of importance as the tolls from there to Philadelphia were fixed by a special statute.

The records of the office of the Secretary of State, and those of Burlington County, show that Samuel Farnsworth of Bordentown devised land to his grandson and namesake Samuel, son of John Updike and Sarah Farnsworth; that John Updike's son Samuel died in Bordentown in 1796, leaving a daughter Mary who married a Hance, and a son John Updike who recorded deeds in Burlington County in 1810, 1816, and 1823; that Rachel Farnsworth (daughter of Samuel Farnsworth's brother Nathaniel) bequeathed property to her cousin Mary Updike, wife of David Hance. These records are very explicit. They are confirmed by the testimony of two elderly ladies now living in Bordentown, who report that their father John Updike, born 1789, died 1851, was the son of Samuel Updike who was the son of John Updike who "settled and died in Virginia and owned a great deal of land in that State;" they also say that their grandfather had a brother who settled in Boston, but this probably refers to a brother of their great-grandfather John Updike of this sketch.

John Updike's wife Sarah Farnsworth, died after becoming the mother of his children Samuel, Edith, and Amon. After her death John moved to Virginia, leaving Samuel with the Farnsworths of Bordentown, and taking with him Edith and Amon; he married again, and his second wife bore to him three sons and six daughters. From these three sons, Rufus, Daniel, and John, and from Amon, are descended the "Virginia Updikes" who now comprise fifty families (1889) and amount to 300 persons of the name, including those who later have moved from Virginia over into Ohio. These Virginians have kept good family records, and all trace their ancestry to John Updike who married Sarah Farnsworth of New Jersey, and after her death, before the Revolution, moved to Loudoun Co., Va., leaving his son Samuel in Bordentown. These recollections are unusually trustworthy because a number of John's Virginia grandchildren are still living, from 70 to 80 years of age, who have retained in memory the traditions covering almost two centuries, as handed down to them by their parents. No further particulars concerning John Updike, his father, or children, having been found upon the records, it is important to preserve these interesting recollections, which can best be done by giving the following extracts from letters written to the author by descendants of each of John's four Virginia sons.

From Nathaniel B., Descendant of John's son Amon:
"The children of Amon Updike have all been dead many years. The records have been much neglected and the traditional account seems to have been confused, but the following points are well remembered by the present generation. Amon was a son of John Updike the tailor, who came from near Philadelphia to Loudoun County, VA. We have always been told that he was a tailor by trade, but for a time drove a market-wagon to Philadelphia. Where he was born or what his father's name was, we have never heard. It is the opinion of all the Bedford County Updikes that Amon's mother, John Updike's first wife, was Sarah Farnsworth. The error of the Warren County Updikes, in thinking that she was Abigail Farnsworth, may have arisen from a confusion with an aunt Abigail. A granddaughter of Amon, who lived with his family many years, remembers having heard her aunts speak of 'Aunt Abigail,' who died about 1800 when he was a small child. At the time of Amon's settlement in Bedford, there were a goodly number of immigrants from Loudoun Co., all Quakers, who also came here. There were families from Northeastern Virginia, named Dobyns, Woodford, Sheppard, Bond, and Wilks, all kindred to each other; and this 'Aunt Abigail' was Mrs. Abigail Wilks, and I believe that she was the Abigail Farnsworth spoken of by our Bentonville relatives. It has always been a noticeable propensity with the Updikes of Bedford to name straight after their kindred, and nearly every Bedford family has had a Sarah, while none have had an Abigail. The following is a correct copy of the births of the children of John Updike by his first wife, Sarah Farnsworth, taken from the Age Book of Amon Updike.

Samuel Updike was born Oct. 9th., 1745.
Edith Updike was born Nov. 2nd., 1747.
Amon Updike was born Feb. 25th., 1749.

I cannot find any further account of Edith. If she came to Bedford with Amon, she evidently did not remain here long; none of the present generation has any rememberance of her, and she is not buried in the family burying ground."

From Capt. James G., Descendant of John's son Rufus:
"The history of the original stock of Updike families in this state is as follows. Four brothers of this name emigrated with their families from New Jersey to Virginia soon after the close of the Revolutionary war. Their names were Rufus, John, Daniel, and Amon. Rufus (my grandfather) settled in Loudoun County, VA.; John and Daniel in Culpepper (now Rappahannock); and Amon in Bedford Co., on the south side of the James River. Their father's name and from what part of New Jersey they came are not known to me. These men at that day were young, strong and active, and each one lived to be over 80 years old; and during life, through honesty, industry and economy, managed to accumulate considerable estates besides raising large and respectable families, each one having 9 or 10 children. The descendants of this old stock are now scattered over several States of the Union. Many of the descendants of John and Daniel live in Page and Warren Counties in the Shenandoah Valley; Amon's in Bedford County; and the descendants of Rufus in Ohio and Indiana, except your humble servant, and one brother who lives in S.W. Virginia in Bland County. I will now give you some of the leading characteristics of the Updike families in this State, so that you may be able to compare them with their Northern brethren. In stature they are as a general rule rather above the medium height, of hale robust constitutions, and many of them have been remarkable for great muscular strength. I think they are commonly regarded as honest and industrious, and possess the rare faculty of attending to their own business and not meddling with other people's affairs. None of this stock have ever achieved much distinction in science, arts, or politics. There are one or two divines, several lawyers and two or three third-rate politicians among them, and one or two became a little conspicuous as officers and soldiers during the late war. They generally confine themselves to agriculture and merchandise and have but little ambition for place or power, and are chiefly noted for longevity and progeny."

(Later) "It appears from the charts and reports of some of my Virginia cousins, recently received by you and forwarded to me, that my great-grandfather John lived in Loudoun County. I was speaking from memory rather than record. I have always been under the impression that the four brothers came from New Jersey. If my cousins hold the records against me, I must submit. The name John appears to be well preserved throughout the past generations, and is probably correct. I was born and raised in Loudoun and never lived anywhere else until I came to Rockbridge, when 33 years old. There has been little intercourse between my branch and the Rappahannock families for the past 30 years or more; neither of my children has ever seen an Updike, except two: their Uncle Albert, and one from Rappahannock. I hope your efforts may have the tendency to bring the families in closer communion."

From Daniel, Son of John's Son Daniel:
" I am now 74 years old, and can yet handle the plow better than the pen. I have three sisters living, older than myself; and one younger. I have taken some pains to learn what I can about our ancestors, and I give you the following notes of what I have gathered.

"My grandfather, John Updike the tailor, was said by my father and uncles to have been born in Rhode Island about 1717. His father was shot by accident when young; I don't think I ever heard his name or that of his wife or of any sister of his. John and his brother were put to trades; John to the tailor's trade, and the brother to the shoemaker's. During his time of service, John went to Long Island, was moved almost every year, and got about Philadelphia and Bordentown, N.J. He never had any positive knowledge of his brother after they were parted; he heard of a man who called himself Opdike, or Obdike, whose age and description agreed with that of his brother. I have always thought that this brother's name was William. But I have just received a letter from my sister in Ohio saying that his name was Asa. This is probably so, as my grandfather named a son Asa. We have always supposed that this brother, William or Asa, died unmarried, but we have no certain account.

"Our family belief that our grandfather, John Updike the tailor, was born in Rhode Island and resided in Long Island, may be a mistake. The various members of our family differ in their recollections in other points. It has been fifty years or more since the death of our uncles and aunts. My sister thinks that the name of our great-grandfather (father of John Updike) was Albert; but it is not certain that she is correct. The only name connected with my grandfather's family, that I recollect with any certainty, is Edith. I have heard my father and uncle say that a legacy was coming to the family, --but that Edith had been dead so long that they would never make any effort to get it. I also recall that they mentioned a name something like Roderick, as one of the family, and as engaged in a naval action. But a boy of my age then had a very imperfect idea as to whom they meant. My conclusion is that our ancestor, my grandfather John, was born fifty years or more after the capture (of New York) by the English; that his father died young in Rhode Island, leaving only the two boys; that these boys went, with their mother or guardian, to Long Island, and probably were members of the family that settled there. If there was any record, it was destroyed by the burning of the Court House in the (Revolutionary) war, as it was in the same locality.

"My grandfather John grew to man's estate about 1740, married his first wife, who was a Farnsworth, and resided in or about Bordentown, N.J. His first wife was mother of his three children,---Amon, Edith, and Samuel. After her death, John came to Loudoun Co., Virginia. His children Amon and Edith came with him, but Samuel remained in Bordentown, New Jersey. John married again; I have always thought that the name of his second wife was Sarah Brown, but my sister thinks it was Sarah Carker. (Her mother was married to both a Brown and a Carker and hence the confusion). Her parents lived in Pennsylvania. The oldest child of this marriage, Rufus, was born in 1753. Amon settled in Bedford Co. and Edith went with him.

"My grandfather had only a limited education; was a man of reserved habits; depended on labor for support; was fond of sport, horse-racing and cock-fighting. In his time the work of a tailer was much in buckskin, and the tailor went from house to house. After he came to Virginia, John was often from home at work or taking in work. He owned land in Loudoun, Campbell, and Bedford Counties, but lived and died in Loudoun.

"Many of the family held membership in what they called the Church of England. Others were of the Quaker order, and on that account few of the name ever owned many slaves.

"In Virginia it is seldom that land or any other property remains in the same family through three generations. Changes of ownership and family cause sometimes even changes in churches. Almost all families have a burial-ground, but after changes of owners these family burial-grounds are neglected and go to waste. Village graveyards too suffer from neglect. I have seen few tombstones 100 years old. Families that owned large tracts of land are all gone, and so is their memory. Much land here was held under bond from what they called the British Lords, --perhaps for 99 years; this makes titles uncertain.

"The occupation of the Updike family in Virginia has been agriculture. At present they are engaged in almost all occupations, as the younger members try to keep pace with the age.

"My father, Daniel Updike, married Ruth Heaton, daughter of Benjamin and Nancy Heaton. Nancy Heaton was by birth Nancy Jackson; her brother, Richard Jackson, married my father's sister, Phebe Updike; Nancy's sister Sarah married Elijah Houghton , and her sister Phebe married a Hart. The mother of these four Jacksons was Abigail Haskins; and Abigail Haskins' mother was mother also of Sarah, the second wife of John Updike the tailor. The name Abigail has in this way become frequent in our family bibles and has been mistaken for Sarah Farnsworth, the first wife of John Updike the tailor. The families above named all came from New Jersey and settled together in Virginia, and were connected by marriage.

"My eyes are growing weak. One of my age can have but a short time to remain before he goes to his ancestors."

From James B., Grandson of John's son John:
"My great-grandfather was John Updike, a tailor by trade. I have been told that he came from Germany, and a sister came with him by the name of Edith. He lived on Long Island five years. His first wife was a Miss Farnsworth; she died and the Farnsworths took two of their children, named Samuel and William; I do not know what became of them. John brought two children of his first wife with him to Loudoun County, Virginia; their names were Amon and Edith. Amon married in Loudoun Co., and moved to Bedford County where he died. Edith married Joseph Fagan who died in Washington City. John married, for his second wife, Sarah Carker; and had nine children, among whom were Rufus, Daniel, and John. **I have just received a letter from old Daniel Updike of Bentonville, Va., stating that great-grandfather John Updike was born in Rhode Island about the year 1717, and that his father was shot by accident when John was young. The description of the Virginia Updikes, given by Capt. James G. Updike, agrees with my own knowledge of them; they are in general very large and strong men."

These facts and traditions are valuable, not only for preservation by the Virginia branch and their descendants, but also by reason of their intrinsic interest. The name "something like Roderick as one of their family" would seem to refer to Lodowick Updike of Rhode Island, and to strengthen the tradition that John Updike came originally from that State. It is true that Lodowick Updike's son Richard died young from an accident in 1734, and left sons who were directed by Lodowick's will to be put to trades. But Richard's son John is known to have lived and died in Providence, R.I., where he left numerous descendants, none of whom know anything of the Virginia branch; and the identity of this John as Richard's son is distinctly established by the recollections of the Rhode Island family and by his giving to a son the name of Eldred, the maiden name of Richard Updike's wife. We are therefore forced to conclude that the Virginia tradition has in the lapse of time altered Rhode Island into Long Island, and that John Updike, the ancestor of the Virginians, was born on Long Island, and was in fact a nephew of the Albert Opdyck whom one of their traditions makes his father. For this reason we have placed the Virginia John as a son of the "Third Son of Johannes Opdyck."

It is especially noteworthy that the character and traits of the Virginia Updikes agree with those of the other branches of Updikes--Opdykes, received from many widely different sources.

The Virginians say that John knew nothing of his brother William (or Asa) after they parted in youth. No record has been found of this brother in New Jersey, or of any probable descendant of his unless it be that he had a son Thomas, mentioned in the following record in the office of the Surrogate of Burlington Co.
1826 Thomas Updike of Nottingham, Burlington County, died leaving will on record, bequeathing his property to a niece, and mentioning no wife or children.

This ends the quoted information from the Opdyck-Updike genealogies. The following is an article in the July 31, 1985 issue of the "Bedford Bulletin-Democrat" newspaper concerning the descendants of John Updike and the recent publication at that time of the genealogy of his descendants:

Updike Reunion to be held in Front Royal August 11

The 45th annual Updike Reunion will be held Sunday, August 11 at the Lion's Club Shelter in the recreation park near Bing Crosby Stadium on Route 522 Bypass at Front Royal.

The reunion was started by descendants of John Updike, who came to Virginia about 1750 from New Jersey, and had four sons who lived in Virginia: John, Jr., and Daniel, who lived in Rappahannock and Warren Counties; Amon, who lived in Bedford County; and Rufus, who lived in Loudoun County, and many of whose descendants lived in Bland County.

All Updike descendants and friends are cordially invited to attend the Reunion, bring a picnic lunch, and eat together about noon. Following the lunch hour there will be a short program, conducted by the president, Mrs. Evelyn Updike Ransom, of Towson, Maryland.

A highlight of the reunion this year will be the distribution of the recently published genealogy book, "The Virginia Updikes-Updykes," compiled by Robert S. Craig of Buckhannon, W.Va. Mr. Craig was married to the late Mary Ellen Updike Craig, and they began collecting material for this book in 1963. Mrs. Craig died of cancer in 1976 before the book was completed, and was the daughter of Dr. Ernest Hampton Updike (1877-1942) and Lula Cook Updike (1885-1983), both of whom were born at Bentonville in Warren County.

This book is a result of 22 years of work and consists of over 1,000 pages of biographical information about 13 generations of Updikes in the United States. The first Updike came from Holland to New Amsterdam (New York City) and owned property there prior to 1650. Copies of the book will be on sale at the Reunion for $37.50 or may be obtained by sending a check in the above amount to Mr. Robert S. Craig, 100 South Kanawha Street, Buckhannon, WV 26201.**********

The following information I, Bryan S. Godfrey, typed on the Family Tree Maker Notes page for John Updike simply so brief information on the children and descendants of his second marriage will show up when I instruct the program to generate an ancestor ahnentafel for me, since I descend from his first marriage and FTM, as of 2008, does not show half-siblings of one's ancestors when one generates such a report. The following are the children of John Updike by his second wife, Sarah Brown/ Carker, three of whom left Loudoun County, Virginia, for what is now Rappahannock County in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, just two counties south of Loudoun with Fauquier County separating them:

1. Rufus Updike (1753-1838) married Susan "Elizabeth" Ira (or perhaps Irey). They lived in Loudoun County, Virginia and had eight children, most of whom migrated to Ohio. One of their sons who remained in Loudoun County was John Updike (1791-1848), who married Mary "Elizabeth" Day (1790-1849). Two of the three sons of John and Elizabeth Day Updike remained in Virginia, Capt. James Glenn Updike (1817-1900) of Buffalo Forge, Rockbridge County, Virginia, and Albert Gallatin Updyke (1820-1912) of Mechanicsburg, Bland County, Virginia, whose descendants in southwest Virginia changed the spelling of the surname to Updyke.

2. Elizabeth Updike (1755- ? ) married Matthew Orrison; lived in Loudoun County; no further information.

3. Phebe Updike (ca. 1760- ca. 1833) married Richard Jackson (1750-1820); lived near and at Washington in Rappahannock County, Virginia; had at least eight children. Their descendants are not covered in Robert S. Craig's "The Virginia Updikes-Updykes," but two other sources, one electronic and one a 1994 typescript by Mrs. Lorraine Updike Jackson of Front Royal, VA, cover descendants in great detail.

4. Jane Updike (1762-October 18, 1834) married November 3, 1799 in Loudoun County to Edward Milner (1745-December 30, 1831). He had been married before and had children by his first wife, Sarah Grammar, but apparently none by Jane. They settled in Belmont County, Ohio around 1805, where they died near Morristown. It is believed their home and graves are within present-day Barkamp State Park.

5. Asa Updike (1763- ?) died young.

6. Daniel Updike (July 14, 1767-March 27, 1844) married December 26, 1799 in Loudoun County to Ruth Heaton, born November 18, 1775 in Culpeper County, Virginia, died September 21, 1840 in Culpeper County (that part now in Rappahannock County). Daniel and Ruth settled in present-day Rappahannock County (then part of Culpeper County) in 1806 on a farm called "Rockbottom," near the present village of Washington, Virginia, and most of their descendants were concentrated in that area or across the mountain around Bentonville and Browntown in Warren County, Virginia. They had nine children. Movie star siblings Shirley MacLaine (born Shirley MacLean Beaty in 1934) and Warren Beatty (born Henry Warren Beaty in 1937) are great-great-grandchildren of their son Daniel Updike, Jr., born in 1814, who moved across the mountain from his parents to near Bentonville and Browntown. The Updike Reunion was started in 1940 by descendants of Daniel Updike, Jr. and his first cousin Samuel Updike (1817-1893), son of John Updike, Jr. and Elizabeth Pancoast Updike. Daniel, Samuel, and several of Samuel's siblings moved across the mountain from their birthplaces in Rappahannock County to Warren County, where their children intermarried with one another. Marriages among cousins has been especially prevalent in the Updike family in both the Shenandoah Valley and Bedford County branches.

7. David Updike (1769- ?) died young.

8. Sarah Updike (1770-after 1840) married April 24, 1797 in Loudoun County to John McCave [incorrectly spelled McCabe in both Opdyck-Updike genealogies] and later to Govey Brown; lived in present-day Hampshire County, West Virginia (then part of Virginia) and later Guernsey County, Ohio, where Govey Brown died in 1840; had at least two children by John McCave.

9. John Updike, Jr. (1775-1852) married March 10, 1796 in Loudoun County to Elizabeth Pancoast, born about 1777, living in 1850. He was a farmer and sawmill and gristmill operator in Rappahannock County, where they had eleven children, five of whom settled in Ohio and one of whom settled in Illinois. The others remained in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (Front Royal area--Rappahannock and Warren Counties).

Below are the will and estate settlement of John Updike, located and transcribed by Richard B. Weber of Falling Waters, WV in 2008, a descendant of John's daughter, Sarah Updike McCave Brown:

Page 1 (of the will)
Be it remembered this twenty sixth day of June in the year
of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety one that I
John Updike of the county of Loudoun and state of Virginia being
[Indisposed] in body but through [mercy] of sound mind and memory do
... make my last will and testament hereby revoking all
... [writs] or will by me made in manner following first it is
... will and desire that all my just debts and funeral expenses
... out of my personal estate and secondly I give & bequeath to my

Page 2 (of the will)
Eldest son Samuel the sum of five shillings Thirdly it is my desire ...
my personal estate after paying my just debts together with what debts
may be due to me be equally divided between my four sons Amon,
Rufus, Daniel & John Fourthly I give and devise to my two youngest
sons Daniel and John that tract of land lying in Camell County Virginia
for which I have a [power of attorney] to be equally divided between them.
Fifly I give unto my eldest ... Elizabeth the sum of five
shillings to be paid by my three youngest daughters Phebe, Jane and Sarah
unto whom I give and devise all the plantation I now live on to be
sold and equally divided between them and lastly I appoint
Joshua Gore and James More as executors to this my last
will and testament in witness whereof I have hereunto
set my hand [and seal] the day and year first above
written ...
John Updike . seal .
Signed in the presence of
James McClain
James Caven Jr.
Robert Short

Found the following on pages 5 and 6 of the accountings/inventory
(only partially transcribed due to clarity issues??)

Pages 5 & 6 (partially transcribed only)
To a Legacy Left Samuel Updike son of the Deceased 5 [Shillings]
To one Legacy Ditto Left Elizabeth Orrison 5 [Shillings]

James Moore and Joshua Gore Executors of Said Estate:
By paid Rufus Updike No.1
By paid Daniel Updike No.2
By paid John Updike No.3
By paid Amon Updike No.4
" " " No.5
By paid Edward Miller No.6
" " " No.7
" " " No.8
By paid Richard Jackson No.9
" " " No.10
" " " No.11
By paid John McCave No.12
" " " No.13
" " " No.14
NOTE: "Orrison" is not shown in No.'s 1 through 14 at all ????
Is that because maybe they were married in NJ?? (Just guessing???)

The following is quoted from Charles Wilson Opdyke's "The Opdyck Genealogy" (1889) and reprinted in Robert Smith Craig's "The Virginia Updikes-Updykes" (1985):

of Johannes Opdyke, who was son of Louris

The existence of a third son is probable from the will of Johannes which divided his property among his "Eight Children now living." We place this Third son as the father of the John Updike who married at Bordentown, N.J., in 1744, and moved to Virginia where he became the ancestor of all the Virginia Updikes. One of the Virginia traditions makes the birthplace of John's father, Rhode Island; but this seems to have been a confusion for Long Island. His dying young from an accident, as known by his Virginia descendants, explains his absence from the New Jersey records. His death must have been about 1730.

The following is also quoted from "The Opdyck Genealogy" under the biography of Lodowick Updike of Wickford, Rhode Island, a son of the immigrant Gysbert Opdyck from Wesel. Germany, of no known connection to the Louris and Johannes Opdyck family above who were presumed to be of Dutch origin, though both families settled originally in New Amsterdam (now New York City, New York) and Long Island, New York:

The Virginians have a remarkable tradition that their ancestor came from Rhode Island, and that one of his family "named something like Roderick, was engaged in a sea-fight." This would suggest that they are descended from Lodowick. But Lodowick's descendants are otherwise accounted for, and as the Virginia settler John Updike is known to have lived and married in New Jersey, we have placed the Virginians among the descendants of Johannes.


The following is an article written for a 2009 issue of the Cocumscussoc Association magazine, the journal for the association that maintains Smith's Castle at Wickford, RI, ancestral home of the Rhode Island Updikes and as this article argues, probably of the Virginia Updikes-Updykes as well.

The Family of John Updike of New Jersey and Virginia:
Possible Long-Lost Descendants of the Rhode Island Updikes and the Only Ones Still Carrying on the Surname?
By Bryan S. Godfrey

In 1889, Charles Wilson Opdyke published The Opdyck Genealogy, tracing the descendants of the two Opdyck-Updike families in America that were descended from two likely unrelated settlers of New Amsterdam in the mid-1600s who were both born about 1605: Gysbert Opdyck, from Wesel, Germany, whose family subsequently settled Smith's Castle AKA Cocumscussoc at Wickford, Rhode Island and became known as the German or Rhode Island Updikes, and Louris Jansen Opdyck, believed then to have come from Elburg, Holland but now proven to have been born in Husum, Germany, whose descendants settled New Jersey and New York and became known as the Dutch or New Jersey Opdycks-Updikes. Ever since that book was written, it had been assumed, without proof, that John Opdike/Updike (ca. 1718-1801), who established the Virginia Updike family when he came from Burlington County, New Jersey, to Loudoun County, Virginia, about 1750, was a grandson of Johannes Opdyck (ca. 1651-1729) of Long Island and Hopewell, New Jersey, and great-grandson of Louris Jansen Opdyck (ca. 1605-1659) of Albany and Long Island, New York, an assumption the author made mainly due to John's residence in an adjacent county in New Jersey from where his assumed grandfather Johannes had lived, from the fact that Johannes had at least eight children but only the names of six are known, and from the fact that the Rhode Island Updikes were otherwise accounted for. The author placed John among the descendants of Louris and Johannes in spite of the fact that John's grandson Daniel Updike, Jr. (1814-after 1888) claimed in a letter to him that he heard his grandfather was born in Rhode Island and that there was someone in the family "named something like Roderick" who was "engaged in a naval action," strongly hinting at a connection to the family of Lodowick Updike (1646-1737) of Rhode Island, the only son of Gysbert who is known to have left male-line descendants (up to the early 1900s but who now appear to have died out).

However, YDNA tests on two patrilineal descendants of John Updike of Virginia indicate no patrilineal connection between the John Updike family and the proven descendants of Louris and Johannes Opdyck. Because of this and what Daniel Updike, Jr. stated, there is a possibility that John Updike might have descended from or been related to the more prominent, better-traced family of Gysbert and Lodowick Updike of Wesel, Germany, New Amsterdam, and Rhode Island after all. Lodowick had at least four brothers, Richard, Daniel, James, and Johannes. It is known that Richard was born about 1651 and killed in the Great Swamp Fight of 1675, and the 1889 genealogy states that he was unmarried (possibly an erroneous assumption), that Daniel and James (both of whom left wills) had no sons, and that no mention of Gysbert's son Johannes was found after his baptism in 1658, leading the 1889 genealogy author to conclude he probably died young. Maybe that is not true, that he lived to begat offspring and was the father or grandfather of the Virginia John Updike and his family was simply omitted in wills of the early Smiths and Updikes. Indeed, many of Wickford's earliest records were destroyed, no will has been located for Gysbert Opdyck that should have delineated all of his children, nor did Richard Smith's will of 1664 list his grandchildren by name. Moreover, the information on the early generations of the family of Richard Smith and his son-in-law Gysbert Opdyck is largely based on traditions handed down in the family of Gysbert's son Lodowick Updike, who inherited Smith's Castle AKA Cocumscussoc. Lodowick's family may be accounted for, but perhaps not all of his brothers or their possible offspring are yet. It seems the only way John could descend from Lodowick is if he were an illegitimate son of one of Lodowick's daughters, but even if that were the case, he probably would have been mentioned in Lodowick's will (and of course it is still possible that John descends from the Louris and Johannes Opdyck line if he were an illegitimate son of one of Johannes' daughters).

Unfortunately, it appears that the male line of Lodowick Updike's descendants has died out, so the Virginia Updikes have no one from that family to compare their YDNA with. Both of the Virginia Updikes tested match persons with the surnames Germain, Wastle, and Appel, and the results seem to indicate the patrilineal origins of that Updike family are likely German rather than Dutch, as one of the matches has roots in Westphalia, the same German state in which Wesel is located. The news is disappointing to some of the Virginia Updikes because the first three assumed generations of their lineage are no longer valid, whether their Updikes were of Dutch or German descent is now questionable, and they must be content to begin the line with John Updike unless further discoveries are made, but at least the uncertainty the Virginians have had for 120 years is now settled. The only way John Updike could still be related to Johannes Opdyck, son of Louris, is if there were a break in the male line and someone in his ancestry took the Updike surname from the mother instead. Unless that is the case, the news also means that John Updike's descendants are not related to the rest of the Updikes-Opdykes in America of variant spellings, who all appear to descend from Louris and Johannes, including author John Updike.

Hopefully one of the Rhode Island Updikes left behind locks of hair or other items from which YDNA samples might be extracted to see if there is a match with the Virginia Updikes. Otherwise, the only way YDNA samples could be obtained from the Gysbert Opdyck line is if one of the descendants were exhumed, a far-fetched endeavor. The well-known printer Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860-1941) of Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts, a childless bachelor like so many of the Rhode Island Updikes, was possibly the last male-line descendant of the Lodowick Updike family.

Not only did Daniel Updike, Jr.'s remarks suggest a Rhode Island connection, but also the fact that John's son Rufus had a grandson named Smith Newton Updike (1832-1917), makes it worthy of serious consideration. Lodowick's wife and first cousin, Abigail Newton, had a brother named Smith Newton. Furthermore, a granddaughter of one of John Updike's sons who remained in New Jersey said her grandfather had a brother who settled in Boston, but the 1889 author concluded she was probably referring to an earlier generation instead. None of Louris and Johannes' early descendants went to New England, yet two of Gysbert's sons, James and Daniel, are known to have lived in Boston and were mariners, possibly explaining why Daniel Updike, Jr. heard there was someone in his grandfather's family who was engaged in a naval action, an exploit which no one in the Louris and Johannes line had been engaged in from available records.

In terms of social class and personality, the pioneering, agrarian Virginia Updikes were much more like the New Jersey Opdycks-Updikes than the high-society, bookish Rhode Island family. However, if John Updike's father was "shot by accident" when John was young, he and his brother were subsequently put to trades, and he went to Long Island and subsequently to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Bordentown, New Jersey, as Daniel Updike, Jr. stated, then that might explain why John Updike and his descendants were not as prominent as their possible Rhode Island Smith-Updike forebears, and why this line lost contact with those who remained in Rhode Island.

Or, is it possible that John was an immigrant, since one of his great-grandsons claimed hearing that he came from Germany to Long Island with a sister named Edith, and was either a descendant of one of the Opdycks who remained in Wesel, Germany, or perhaps from a third line that is not connected with either Gysbert or Louris? It seems more likely that if John were born abroad, his grandson Daniel would have known, and that this great-grandson may have confused him with an earlier generation. Many of the Virginia Updikes are exceedingly proud of their Dutch heritage, and one has admitted she does not want to claim German heritage instead due to World War II. The aforementioned tradition of German origins strengthens the likelihood that John might descend from the Wesel, Germany Opdycks, yet the Virginians have steadfastly claimed Dutch origins. Is this a claim that arose since the 1889 book was written, or had the Virginians claimed Dutch origins long before that? This is uncertain. The discovery in the 1990s of an Albany court record in which Louris Jansen Opdyck deposed that he was born in Husum even questions whether his descendants are entitled to claim a Dutch heritage, unless of course his family indeed came from Elburg or somewhere else in The Netherlands and lived in Husum temporarily.

Bryan S. Godfrey, an avid genealogist and triple descendant of the John Updike family of Virginia, resides in Richmond, Virginia and is a high school mathematics and social studies teacher. He welcomes input on this and can be reached at He hopes that there might be a few Rhode Island Updikes left contrary to what he and other Updike researchers have deduced from charts in the 1889 book and from updates to the genealogy since then. He serves as a secretary and genealogist of the annual Virginia Updike Reunion and is updating an excellent 1985 genealogy of the descendants of John Updike, The Virginia Updikes-Updykes by Robert S. Craig, now of Charleston, West Virginia.

Addendum by Bryan: To be more specific, my maternal grandfather, Melvin "Ray" Overstreet (1920-1984), was descended 3 ways from John Updike's son Amon Updike (1749-1828), who founded the Bedford Co., VA branch of the Virginia Updike family. My grandfather's mother was an Updike. His parents were second cousins once removed, and his maternal grandfather was the product of first cousins.

Family links: 
  Sarah Farnsworth Updyke (1717 - 1749)
  Phebe Updike Jackson (____ - 1833)*
  Amon Updike (1749 - 1828)*
  Rufus Updike (1753 - 1838)*
  Daniel Updike (1767 - 1844)*
  John Updike (1775 - 1852)*
*Calculated relationship
Specifically: Buried probably in a family plot where he lived in the Guinea Bridge area of Loudoun Co., VA
Created by: Bryan S. Godfrey
Record added: Jan 26, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 104206598


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