August birthdays and the name Van Kleek

Well, it’s the least busiest month for birthdays. Just three days in August cover the birthdates of our ancestors and no direct grandparents were born in August after 1703. Maybe the gloomy November grey skys have something to do with that? Regardless, here’s our list for this months ancestral birthdays:

  • Baltus B. Van Kleek: 6 August 1645
  • Jan Cornelius Buys: 20 August 1629
  • Ebenezer Jones: 20 August 1646
  • Elizabeth Salter: 26 August 1610
  • Jeremiah Sabin: 26 August 1703

Baltus Berensten Van Kleek was born in Haarlem Holland and sailed across the Atlantic, likely with his parents and siblings, to start a new life. We are unsure of his age when her landed in the New World. He was listed in the Flatbush, NY assessment rolls on the 22nd of August 1675, his 30th year. Eventually he made his way to Poughkeepsie NY.  There he built a stone house in 1702 . On the stone lintel above the door he carved “1702 B VK T VK” the date of the completion of the house and his and his wife’s initials (Baltus & Tryntje). The house was torn down in 1835 to make way for progress but the stone lintel was saved by the family and can, apparently,  still be seen in Poughkeepsie.

Although I have listed him as Baltus B. Van Kleek, his father was named Barent Baltus van der Lippstadt. There was no Van Kleek associated with his name. So where does the name Van Kleek come from?

To this day there really is no answer.

Some say that the name Van Kleek first shows up in Holland in 1651 when Baltus’ stepbrother uses it for his son Peter. Others say that Baltus himself first formally adopts the name it in 1685 for his 6th child Peter. Whoever did decide to use it first left no indication why they chose the name.

Van Kleek it is not a familiar name in Holland and it is not associated with any town or diocese or location. Perhaps it is a descriptive word adopted to represent the family, in the same way that Fisher or Miller or Short would be used. According to a sixteenth century Dutch-Latin dictionary ‘kleeck’ is given as meaning a crack, a slap or a blow. An odd, and rather violent, choice of word for a last name. Perhaps the little baby Peter made some sort of cute slapping gesture that would be the genesis of a proud family name. It seems that the person responsible for picking the name, Van Kleek, took that secret to their grave.

In the book, The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova writes:

“…I like a puzzle. So does every scholar worth his salt. It’s the reward… to look history in the eye and say, ‘I know who you are. You can’t fool me'”.

Genealogy really is a constant puzzle. I’m determined to discover all the answers… the name Van Kleek is no exception. I’ll just have to add it to my list.

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Published in: on 8 August 2007 at 12:18 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Baltus Barentszoon van Kleeck was not born 6 August 1645 but baptised on that day at the Grote Kirk, Haarlem.

    His father was simply Barent Baltes and I agree he was described as van Lippstadt or van der Lipstadt but this was not a name or surname and merely his place of birth or last residence.

    Barent and most of his kids and his 3rd wife sailed almost certainly in 1652.

    The name van Kleeck most certainly does show up in Amsterdam in 1651 and 1652 used by Pieter as you say. I have seen the copies.

    Hope this helps


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