Select Beekman Genealogy

Beekman is a Dutch topographical surname describing someone who lived by a stream or creek (beke in Dutch).  The German name from similar roots is Beckman.

Select Beekman Resources on The Internet

Select Beekman Ancestry

Beekmans number some 4,500 in Holland today.  The name is most common in the inland province of Gelderland.  There are a further 2,000 Beeckmans in Belgium, mostly in its Flemish part.

AmericaEarly Beekmans in America came from Holland, but originated from Cologne in Germany.  In 1647 Wilhelmus Beekman sailed on the Princess Amelia to what was then New Amsterdam with its future Governor Peter Stuyvesant.

New York.  This William Beekman helped to establish an early measure of self-government for the Dutch hamlet of New Amsterdam.  He remained a prominent civic leader, being able to straddle the town’s transition from Dutch to English rule in 1665.

He was to be the progenitor of a very notable New York family.  His Beekman family lines were first based in Manhattan, then extended up the Hudson river to Kingston and to Dutchess county, New York and onward to New Jersey. 

The main lines of descent were from William’s second son Gerardus, the one-time acting Governor for New York.  A seventh generation descendant via a later Gerardus Beekman and his wife Catherine Van Dyke is the cartoonist Garretson Beekman Trudeau, better known as Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame.

The Beekmans were prominent early landowners in New York.  William Beekman’s name has been preserved in William Street and Beekman Street in downtown Manhattan. Beekman Place on the East Side derived its name from the merchant James Beekman whose Mount Pleasant mansion, built in 1763, was on that site; while the James William Beekman House is a registered landmark in Oyster Bay, New York.  Washington Irving mocked the family name in his 1809 Knickerbocker List.

These Beekmans intermarried with other prominent families in the closely-knit Dutch community of their time. William’s daughter Maria married Nicholas, the son of New Amsterdam Governor Peter Stuyvesant.  Later Beekmans married with the Van Cortlandt and Van Dyke families.  Then there were the marriages between the Beekmans and the Livingstons, their neighbors near Kingston in upstate New York:

  • Cornelia Beekman marrying Gilbert Livingston in 1712  
  • and Henry Beekman marrying Janet Livingston in 1721. 

New York also has the Beeckman spelling that was adopted by an early Dutch settler in the Albany area.  From this line possibly came Gilbert L. Beeckman, a dry goods merchant in Manhattan, and his son Robert who was Governor of Rhode Island from 1915 to 1921.

Elsewhere.  In the early 1700’s Gerardus Beekman had acquired land in New Jersey along the Raritan river and its tributary the Millstone.  Several Beekman lines came from there.

Beekmans from New Jersey moved to Ohio in the years following the Revolutionary War.  The main sightings were in Mifflin township in Pike county.  William Beekman who fought in that war was an early settler in 1801.  His son Aaron, a farmer, died there in 1890 at the age of ninety six.

“Shortly before his death Aaron shot with a muzzle loader gun one of the last bears ever killed in southern Ohio.”

The Beekman numbers have grown in Ohio so that they now outnumber, by more than two to one, those in New York state.

Also from New Jersey came Benjamin Beekman who ended up running a jewelry shop in Dundee in northern New York state.  His son Cornelius headed for San Francisco in 1850 at the time of the Gold Rush.  He handled gold as a courier and later became a rich banker in Oregon.

Elbert Beekman from Gelderland in Holland was a much more recent arrival in America, coming with his family to Grand Haven in Michigan in 1871.  His descendants remain mostly in western Michigan.

Select Beekman Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Beekman Names

Wilhelmus Beekman who came to New York in 1647 was the progenitor of the Beekmans in America.
Robert L. Beeckman was Governor of Rhode Island from 1915 to 1921.

Select Beekmans Today

  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio)
  • 700 elsewhere (most numerous in South Africa)



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