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vital records sources
go to Femmetje Brouwer's page

John's and his children's births are said to be recorded at Tappan, but I think his birth date is known from his age at death given on his gravestone. I have yet to see the Tappan records, but his parents and siblings were living in Westchester County at the time and didn't move to Tappan until 1725. Without further evidence, it's more likely he was born in what is now Yonkers, which was then a settlement in Philipsburg Manor.
     John, Jr., grew up in what is now Old Tappan in northern New Jersey. His father's house and mill were in the "Stony Point" area on the north side of the Hackansack River. In the early 18th century it was in Orange County, New York. The town was divided when the New Jersey/New York border was finalized, leaving the heart of the village in New York (Tappan) and the southern section in New Jersey (now various communities including Old Tappan). He bought a farm (supposedly in 1749, deed not seen) in what was first a part of Hackensack Township (different from the the current municipality of that name), which covered the north half of Bergen County. In 1775 the area of the farm was narrowed down to Harrington Township, then Northvale, and in 1923, the relatively little borough of Rockleigh. When John died the farm was in Harrington. John's will:1

In the Name of God Amen, I John Gisner of Harrington Township County of Bergin and State of New Jersey, being of sound mind and memory do make and publish this as my last will and testament.

First, my funeral expences and all other lawful debts must be paid by my executor out of my personal estate. Second, I give and bequeath unto my son John Gisner and to my daughter Famica the wife of Peter Woolsey my lot of salt meadow to them their heirs and assigns forever, to be divided equally between them, John to have the North half and Famica the South. Third, I give and bequeath the residue of my personal estate after my debts are paid as above mentioned to all my children to be divided between them in the following manner and proportions. My executor will make out an estimate of the residue of my personal estate and then give unto my sons John and Nicholas and to my daughters Famica and Elisabeth the wife of Jacob Concklen each and equal share, and to my sons Henry, Abraham and the children of my son Isaac their father share (that is to say a share equal to that of Henry and Abraham). The shares of Henry, Abraham and the children of Isaac to be each of them only half as much as the shares of my sons John and Nicholas, and my daughters Famica and Elisabeth I give the same to them their heirs and assigns forever, and further I give and bequeath unto the children of my son Cornelius Gisner a third part of a share to which my sons John and Nicholas or my daugthers Famica and Elizabeth are each entitled to them their heirs and assigns forever. Fourth, I exonerate and discharge my son in law Peter Woolse from the payment of intrest on his bond which may be found against him after my decease. Fifth, I direct that my blood beads2 shall be left in the posession of my daugter Elisabeth for the use of such of my children as may stand in need of them. Lastly, I name, constitute and appoint mmy trusty friend Jacob Outwater my sole executor of this my last will and testament and do empower and authorise him so to apportion and make division among my respective children their different shares herein bequeathed in such manner as conceives and knows was my desire and wish, and I do hereby revoke all former wills by me made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the seventh day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ten.

John his x mark Gisner

Signed, sealed and published by the testator as his last will and testament in presents of us who have annexed our names as witnesses

Ph. Dubey
Garret D. Banta
Elener Coper

The will was brought to court on 11 July 1811.

This is a recreation of John's gravestone that once stood in the Gesner family cemetery in Rockleigh. The small photo to the left was published in Anthon T. Gesner's genealogy when the stone was still there (obviously enhanced before being published). The gravestone of Jacob Conklin still stands in the cemetery, and when compared to the old photograph, it's obvious it was carved by the same hand and in exactly the same style. It also has the same phrasing and many of the same numbers. Based on the old, published photograph and a modern photo of Conklin's stone, I've recreated the appearance of John's.

children of John Henry Gesner and Femmetje/Famicha Brouwer:

i. Elizabeth b. 6 December 1745
ii. John Henry bap. 24 September 1749
iii. Jacob b. 23 December 1751
iv. Isaac b. 15 May 1753
v.-vi. Henry b. 10 November 1756
v.-vi. Abraham b. 10 November 1756
vii. Cornelius b. 1 February 1761
viii. Nicholas b. 10 December 1765
ix. Famicha b. 31 March 1768

vital records sources: John's birth is calculated from his gravestone. His marriage is in the New York City Lutheran Church records as having taken place the 5th Sunday after Easter 1744. See "Some Early Records of the Lutheran Church, New York," in Year book of the Holland Society of New-York, 1903 (New York:The Holland Society of New York, 1903), 21. According to the Julian Calendar being used at the time, Easter was on 5 April in 1744. On our modern Gregorian Calendar, the day would be 16 April. The fifth Sunday after Easter in 1744 was the 10th (Julian) or the 21st (Gregorian) of May.

1. Rockland Co., NY, surrogates court, wills, A:313.
2. "Blood beads" undoubtedly refers to a devotional practice of healing, similar to Rosary beads. I've found little to explain specifically what they were, but it's also likely they were meant to represent the blood of Christ, and were not literally composed in any way of blood. The Rosary was not exclusively a Catholic concept, but was also used, although not nearly as commonly, by Lutherans and other denominations. Having been bequeathed specifically in this will, they undoubtedly had importance in the family and may have been passed down through his Lutheran forebears.

all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted