Tag Archives: Gysbert Updike

Gysbert Updike & Katherine Smith, New Amsterdam and Rhode Island, 1600s

As I’ve continued my trek through early Rhode Island ancestral families, I came across Gysbert Updike through his daughter Elizabeth, who married George Wightman about 1663, reportedly in Kingstown, Rhode Island.

I was initially suspicious of this marriage connection, as Updike, or Up Dyke, was very German or Dutch sounding, and there weren’t a lot of Dutch and Germans wandering around Rhode Island in the 1600s.

However, I became a believer when I discovered The Op Dyck Genealogy by Charles Wilson Opdyke, written in 1889 and published by Weed, Parson & Company, Albany, New York.

Now, you are probably wondering how sound the information in an 1889 book is – it is terrific because I, too, wondered and was surprised to find citation after citation, which included journals like The Register (published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society), Massachusetts governmental records and official town documents and resources from Rhode Island.

Added to these sources is the fact that Gysbert Updike was a well-to-do man who moved in the highest rungs of society, rubbing elbows with the governor of New York and Roger Williams in Rhode Island.

I do have to say here that Charles Opdyke took the family line back to the 1300s, but I wouldn’t be one to jump on the bandwagon supporting that data, as I haven’t even tried to verify it! However, the colonial New England research looks quite solid.

Because I lose the Updike surname with Gysbert’s daughter AND I lose the Smith surname with his wife (daughter of Richard Smith) AND I lose the Wightman surname after a couple of generations, I will be sharing only the earliest bits of the Smith-Updike-Wightman family histories.

Today’s post will cover the family of Gysbert Updike and his wife, Katherine Smith.

Gysbert Updike was born about 1605, reportedly in Wesel, Germany. As I can’t find any record supporting his birth/baptismal dates or the names of his (widely) alleged parents. In addition, as Gysbert settled in among the Dutch residents of New York, I have to wonder if perhaps he was also Dutch and not of German birth, although Wesel is located in an area of Germany that was contested for many, many years and is close to the Netherlands.

Gysbert was a wealthy man and appears in New Amsterdam, New York records by 1643, both as a witness in church records and in the record of his own marriage. He married Katherine Smith, daughter of Richard Smith, 24 September 1643 in New Amsterdam, today’s New York City. Catherine died before her father’s 14 July 1664 will.

Richard Smith left a will, probated in Rhode Island in 1666, which connects the dots, so to speak, from New York to Rhode Island. This will is what convinced me that the identification of Gysbert Updike’s wife was correct. In the will, Richard mentioned no wife, who likely predeceased him, but mentioned children, both living and dead. Tomorrow’s post will cover the Smith family.

Gysbert and Katherine reportedly had seven children, although I find baptismal records for only five, with one name in question. Katherine predeceased her father, as her heirs are mentioned in his will.


  1. Elizabeth, baptized 27 July 1644, New Amsterdam, New York. One of the witnesses was Governor Kieft. She married George Wightman. They lived in Narragansett as early as 1668.
  2. Lodowick, baptized 10 June 1646, New Amsterdam, New York. He lived in Wickford, Rhode Island by 1668. He is said to have married Abigail Newton, c1663. This family lived in Narragansett, too.
  3. ?Richard, reportedly died unmarried in 1675, but I find no documentation for him.
  4. Sarah, baptized 23 October 1650; she married Mr. Whitehead. It is thought they lived in Newtown, Long Island.
  5. Johannes, baptized 16 January 1658; no further record.
  6. Jacob, baptized 16 January 1658; online trees name him as James, but the church record calls him Jacob. No further record. “James” supposedly lived in Boston.
  7. Daniel, reportedly married Martha (MNU) and died in 1704. He was said to be a sea captain, but I find no documentation for him. Apparently, there is DNA evidence today linking one John Updike, born c1718, who lived in Virginia with known descendants of Gysbert Updike. As the name Daniel passes through the Virginia lines, it is thought that Gysbert’s son Daniel might have removed to Virginia at one time, although he supposedly died in England.

The baptismal records are found in the Reformed Dutch Church registers of New York, 1639-1730 by Thomas Grier Evans, published c1901.

I find it unusual that there is no probate or will to be found for Gysbert Updike, given that he was a wealthy man. His date of death isn’t known either, except that it is believed he was still living when his father-in-law, Richard Smith, wrote his will, leaving legacies to grandchildren in the right of Katherine Smith Updike. Unfortunately, he only mentioned “children” of his deceased daughter and didn’t name any of them individually. Gysbert Updike is last mentioned in official records in May 1663 in a lawsuit against Paul Heimans in New York.

Gysbert Updike may have died in New Amsterdam, New York or in the Narragansett area of Rhode Island (part of Washington County today), as his children not already in Rhode Island would have traveled there to receive their legacies. He apparently never remarried after his wife, Katherine, passed away.

My line of descent:

  1. Gysbert Updike = Katherine Smith
  2. Elizabeth Updike= George Wightman
  3. John Wightman = unknown if wife 1 or (2) Jane Bentley
  4. Mary Wightman = Samuel Boone
  5. William Boone = Ruth Hill
  6. Mary Boone = Richard Jones
  7. Rebecca Jones = Peter Crouse
  8. Sarah Moriah Crouse = William Coleman
  9. Hartwell Thomas Coleman = Anna Elisabeth Jensen/Johnson
  10. Hazel Ethel Coleman = Vernon Tarbox Adams
  11. Doris Priscilla Adams = George Michael Sabo
  12. Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – me