The Schermerhorns of New Netherland settled across what became the province of New York but were primarily located in the Schenectady and Albany area. American patriarch Jacob Janse emigrated from the province of "Schermerhorn" in North Holland to Rensselaerswyck perhaps as early as 1637.
The French and Indian attack on Schenectady in February 1690, claimed a number of family lives, temporarily scattered other family members, and anointed the galloping Symon Schermerhorn as a legendary folk character.
The most historically notable member of the family, Ryer Jacobse, lived in his Albany house (perhaps with his brother Symon) following the burning of Schenectady. A younger brother, Cornelis, was an Albany-based trader. Their sisters, Machtelt and Cornelia, married Albany prominent Albany residents.
By mid-century, Schermerhorns were active in Mohawk Valley business, farming, and real estate but were conspicuously scarce in the records for those activities connected to Albany. A branch of the family became even more prominent in New York City and its environs.
In 1790, the first Federal census identified no Schermerhorn named households in the city of Albany. However, four Schermerhorn addresses were configured in surrounding Watervliet. Sixteen family households were counted in Schenectady. Statewide, almost sixty Schermerhorn households were listed.
The first City Directory in 1813 identified Cornelius Schermerhorn, Jr. as an innkeeper at 12 Beaver Street. After that, the name of this first family of New Netherland is less prominent in the Albany community-based record.
Named for New York businessman and shipowner Peter Schermerhorn (1784-1826) who erected six urban counting houses on Fulton Street in 1811, today Schermerhorn Row Block in lower Manhattan commemorates the family's long and varied history in New York State.
The main resource on the family is: Richard Schermerhorn Jr.'s Schermerhorn Genealogy and Family Chronicles (New York, 1914). A very useful adaptation of this essential resource is available online through the Schenectady Digital History Archive. Wikipedia search for the surname.
first posted 01/22/02; last revised 4/10/16