Category Archives: VAN NOTE

Frank, Ellen, Cassie and George


In this photograph² Franklin Hay, known as Frank, and his wife Lydia Ellen Van Note Hay, often called Ellen, are seated in front of their children: Cassie, future wife of Clarence Elson, and George Brazilla Hay, my great grandfather.


1. The original source file was located on a Facebook server, I think. The direct link, which no longer works, was

2. I am on the hunt for the photo, which I will then upload directly to WordPress for safekeeping, if I can find it elsewhere.

Our Dutch Ancestors

Olivier van Noort, the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world
Olivier van Noort, the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world

There’s a reunion coming in July on my paternal grandmother’s side, so I have been prepping some history for the cousins.

My grandmother’s grandmother, my great-great grandmother, was a Van Note.

A group of us are on Facebook, which has been the primary medium recently for disseminating information on the reunion. I wrote a brief introduction to the surname.

“The Van Note name is Dutch in origin. Our Van Note ancestors were part of the New Amsterdam colony in New York and New Jersey. The name is an Anglicization of Van Noort. The name is sometimes spelled Van Oort. Olivier van Noort (1558 – 22 February 1627) was the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world.”

I included two links to men with the name: Lambert van Noort and Olivier van Noort.


The Van Notes

Today I received notice that I’d been subscribed to a mailing list on Dutch surnames. I don’t recall having done this, but it may have been months ago and someone may be just catching up on a backlog of work.

Or someone may have gotten a bit creative, subscribing people him or her self. I did this once for something other than genealogy and there was quite a bit of blowback. It wasn’t a good idea.

Anyway, the Dutch subject got me to thinking about that branch of the family, particularly the Van Notes. I have seen a few variations of the name: Van Note, Van Nort, Van Noort, Van Ort and Van Oort. At some point it was anglicized to the simpler and more easily pronounced Van Note.

So I did a Google search on Brazilla Van Note. (The name comes from the Bible. Barzillai is the name of three menall minor characters, in the Old Testament.)

I discovered photographs of his grave, his wife’s, and his mother-in-law’s. Brazilla, Maria and her mother Elizabeth are all buried in the Shiloh Cemetery in Hiawatha, Iowa. It’s in Linn County, northwest of Cedar Rapids.

Maria’s maiden name was Wolf. Her mother, Elizabeth Wolf, is buried nearby. According to oral family tradition passed down to me, her name was pronounced Mariah.

Brazilla was born in 1822 and died in 1908. Maria was born in 1823 and died in 1907. Elizabeth Wolf was born in 1795. I don’t know her maiden name. She died in 1877.


Note the spelling of the Van Note name on the markers. It is spelled Vannote, without the space, except on Elizabeth’s gravestone.

Playing Around with Wolfram|Alpha

When I first heard of Wolfram|Alpha, in a news story, the search engine tool sounded pretty cool. And it is.

For some reason I don’t recall, I found myself at the site and decided to experiment with various keywords to see what results were returned. There may have been a link to something in one of my Google Alerts.1

My first search was Bytów, the town where my maternal great grandparents were married. It was a German town prior to World War II, but has been Polish since. Among the information given is a map of where it is located within Poland, the current weather, population figures, and nearby cities and airports. A chart shows a steady decline in population since 1999. The Baltic Sea is 36 miles to the northwest.

Searching for Pomorskie, the province where Bytów is located,  didn’t yield much. I decided to see what was available for Berlin, London, Dublin and Paris. Some of the city nicknames are cool. For example, London’s is The Big Smoke.

Then I moved onto surnames: Hill, Hay, Lentz, Wolf and Wolfe. Some, such as Fromke, Boal2, and Van Note, don’t have anything within the Wolfram universe. For some word searches, Scrabble scores (varying based on American or British spellings) and anagrams are given.

I then started playing around with Christian and complete names, starting with my own, Aaron Hill. Other neat features include having a list of people associated with a particular town or city and famous people with a given name. I searched for famous folks named Aaron.

I wanted to see what popped up when I typed James Hill, the name of the patriarch of the Hill family.

Moving onto to geographic place names, I went from Colo, Iowa to just plain Iowa to Watertown, South Dakota and Lake Preston, South Dakota, ending on South Dakota.

I then stumbled upon the examples pages. The ones that interest me the most and will likely be the most useful to me are: Human Genome, Words and Linguistics, Places and Geography, and People and History.


1. I’ve since remembered that a link to a page on Pommern, a place in Germany, was in my inbox, and, ever curious, I clicked on it. I was hoping it would have something to with Pommern the province, but Wolfram doesn’t have much on the region, even using the word Pomerania, merely giving the apparent dates of its existence, from 1013 AD to 1806, the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. However, I don’t think it is accurate. The end of Pomerania really should be placed in 1945, after the collapse of Nazi Germany.

2. There is a fish with the name boal.

‘The Mississippi River in American History’

Pike County, Illinois, where some of the Van Notes crossed the Mississippi in 1849
Pike County, Illinois, where some of the Van Notes crossed the Mississippi in 1849

A New York Times blog has some great material on the role of the Mississippi River in history. It’s designed for teachers, but anyone who has a slight interest in the subject will benefit.

Understanding the Mississippi throughout the development of the United States is crucial to garnering a comprehensive knowledge of the nation’s history, particularly one’s ancestors.

After my great-great-great-great uncle Samuel Hill volunteered to fight during the Mexican War, he likely joined thousands of other men on boats plying the mighty river, transporting the citizen soldiers, first to New Orleans, then probably landing in Tampico or Veracruz.

Other branches of the family experienced the Mississippi as well, sometimes ending in tragedy.

The Van Notes, and others, had to cross it when moving to Iowa. I transcribed a short history of the Van Notes years ago and posted it on my GeoCities site.

The rest of the caravan went on and soon reached the banks of the Mississippi. The mighty river was wild and the highest ever known. Nearby residents cautioned them not to cross, but stories of gold in California drove them on. Mother Van Note stayed on the Illinois side until the river subsided, but all the rest crossed safely except Jake. He and four companions were attempting a crossing with a huge flatboat of freight when they were upset and dumped into the raging torrent. Two were saved and the bodies of the other two were found in some willows, but Jake was never seen again.

In 1849 there was extensive river flooding. Obviously the decision to cross was a terrible notion.

Floods of 1849 and 1850, which caused widespread damage in the Mississippi River Valley, revealed the national interest in controlling the mighty river.

While searching Google for more, I discovered a few sites which give some more details on the river and American history.

For example, I never really thought about what the captains and crews would do after going downstream. How do you get back upstream? (Before the power of steam.) Apparently by land.

Travel in the early 1800s was slow and laborious. Flatboats loaded with hemp and cotton made their way quickly down the river, cutting days off travel time. At their destination, however, the traders sold their boats for firewood, as they couldn’t fight the river for the return journey. The traders would then spend weeks walking or riding home.

The invention of the steamboat in the early 1800s would change life along the Mississippi forever. A voyage up the river that took months could now be made within ten days! Steamboats became floating palaces, carrying goods, passengers, casinos, and traveling shows up and down the river. The steamboat increased trade and created a river culture that was distinctly American.


Peter Minuit & Staten Island

A replica of Nieuw Amsterdam in bronze.
A replica of Nieuw Amsterdam in bronze.

As a man with some Dutch blood, I am happy to report some news on history, architecture, and New York City. It specifically relates to the Dutch founding of the city, including the battery, where hundreds of years later other branches of the family landed after emigrating. (During this time, the battery was known as Castle Garden.)

I am a descendant of a family now known as Van Note. This name may have been “anglicized” from Van Noort or Van Oort. Many Van Note relatives continue to live near Cedar Rapids. My great uncle, Everett Hay, visited years ago during their annual family reunion.

Peter Minuit was the head of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633. He then helped found the colony of New Sweden in 1638. According to tradition, Minuit purchased the island of Manhattan from Native Americans for the equivalent of $24 in goods.

It took about $25 million, a gift from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and lots of hard work to rebuild Peter Minuit Plaza just outside the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Now, ten years after the work began and nearly 402 years since Henry Hudson first sailed into New York Harbor under the flag of the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch have returned to celebrate the opening of the city’s newest gathering spot: the Nieuw Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion. Architect Ben van Berkel and the UNStudio gang, inspired by tulip petals and windmill sails, used white Corian, glass and steel to make it real (these guys do good things with white). It all celebrates the spirit of cooperation and enterprise, stemming from the original Manhattan real estate deal when one smart Dutchman made a killing with 24 bucks back in 1625.


Nieuw Amsterdam

A 1685 reprint of a map made by Nicolaes Visscher II in 1656.
A 1685 reprint of a map made by Nicolaes Visscher II in 1656.

New Amsterdam, renamed New York City in 1664, was incorporated today in 1653. (Nieuw Amsterdam is the original Dutch spelling.)

In 1664, the city was surrendered to the English and renamed “New York” after the English Duke of York and Albany. At the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War the Dutch gained control of Run Island (then a much more valuable asset) in exchange for the English controlling New Amsterdam (New York) in North America. . . . New York underwent no fewer than seven important yellow fever epidemics from 1702 to 1800.


Family Name History

I came across a Family Name History feature at a site called nameLab, so I decided to lookup a few surnames.

Americanized spelling of Dutch Van (der) Not, a habitational name for someone from a place called Ter Noot, for example one in French Flanders.

1. Dutch: habitational name from any of various minor places named with Middle Dutch ort ‘outermost point’.
2. Dutch: Alternatively, it may be from a misdivision of Van Noort, variant of Van Noord.

Dutch: topographic name for someone ‘from the north’ (Dutch noord) or habitational name from any of the places named with this word, in North Holland, Zeeland, and North Brabant.

English and Scottish: from Middle English derling, Old English dēorling ‘darling’, ‘beloved one’, a derivative of dēor ‘dear’, ‘beloved’ (see Dear 1). This was quite a common Old English byname, which remained current as a personal name into the 14th century. The surname probably derives at least in part from this use, probably in part also from a Middle English nickname.

Variant spelling of English Goodall.

1. English (chiefly Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire): habitational name from Gowdall in East Yorkshire, named from Old English golde ‘marigold’ + Old English halh ‘nook’, ‘recess’.
2. English (chiefly Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire): from Middle English gode ‘good’ + ale ‘ale’, ‘malt liquor’, hence a metonymic occupational name for a brewer or an innkeeper.

1. English (especially Yorkshire) and Scottish: occupational name for a fuller, Middle English walkere, Old English wealcere, an agent derivative of wealcan ‘to walk, tread’. This was the regular term for the occupation during the Middle Ages in western and northern England. Compare Fuller and Tucker.
2. The name was brought to North America from northern England and Scotland independently by many different bearers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Samuel Walker came to Lynn, MA, in about 1630; Philip Walker was in Rehoboth, MA, in or before 1643. The surname was also established in VA before 1650; a Thomas Walker, born in 1715 in King and Queen Co., VA, was a physician, soldier, and explorer.

1. English: probably an early variant of Doughty.
2. Edward Doty (c.1600–55) was one of the passengers on the Mayflower, a servant of Stephen Hopkins. He became comparatively wealthy and moved to Duxbury MA, where he left nine children.

English and Scottish (also established in Ireland, especially Dublin): nickname for a powerful or brave man, especially a champion jouster, from Middle English doughty, Old English dohtig, dyhtig ‘valiant’, ‘strong’.

1. Irish: variant spelling of Connor, now common in Scotland.
2. English: occupational name for an inspector of weights and measures, Middle English connere, cunnere ‘inspector’, an agent derivative of cun(nen) ‘to examine’.

Irish: reduced form of O’Connor, which is an Anglicization of Gaelic Ó Conchobhair ‘descendant of Conchobhar’. 

1. English: patronymic from Reynold.
2. Christopher Reynolds of Gravesend, Kent, England, arrived in America sometime before his marriage in 1644 in Isle of Wight Co., VA.

English: from a Germanic personal name composed of the elements ragin ‘counsel’ + wald ‘rule’, which was first introduced to England by Scandinavian settlers in the Old Norse form Rǫgnvaldr (see Ronald), and greatly reinforced after the Conquest by the Norman forms Reinald, Reynaud. The surname is occasionally also borne by Jews, in which case it presumably represents an Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames.

1. English, Welsh, and northern Irish: variant of Bowell.
2. Irish: variant of Boyle.

Irish (Donegal): Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Baoithghill ‘descendant of Baoithgheall’, a personal name of uncertain meaning, perhaps from baoth ‘rash’ + geall ‘pledge’.

1. Welsh: variant of Powell (see Howell).
2. English (of Norman origin): habitational name from Bouelles in Seine Maritime, France, so named with Old Norman French boelle ‘enclosure’, ‘dwelling’.

1. Irish: reduced form of Shanahan.
2. Irish: reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Seanáin ‘descendant of Seanán’, a personal name based on a pet form of seán ‘old’.
3. Irish: in County Clare, a reduced Anglicized form of Mac Giolla tSeanáin ‘son of the servant of St. Seanán’. In the Irish midlands Leonard and Nugent have been adopted as equivalents of this name.

Irish (Munster): reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Seanacháin ‘descendant of Seanachán’, a diminutive of Seanach, a personal name from sean ‘ancient’, ‘old’.

1. German: topographic name from any of several swamps so named.
2. German: from the Low German and Frisian personal name Radde, a short form of any of the various Germanic personal names formed with rād, rāt ‘counsel’, ‘advice’, for example Radebert, Radebold.

English: habitational name from Tydd St. Mary in Lincolnshire or Tydd St. Giles in Cambridgeshire, named probably with an unattested Old English word, tydd ‘shrubs’, ‘brush’, ‘wood’.

English: habitational name from Northorpe in the former East Riding of Yorkshire, named with Old Norse norðr or Old English norþ ‘north’ + þorp or þrop ‘dependent outlying farmstead’, ‘hamlet’.

1. English: occupational name for a gamekeeper employed in a medieval park, from an agent derivative of Middle English parc ‘park’ (see Park 1). This surname is also found in Ireland.
2. Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish names.

1. English, Scottish, and Irish: from an Anglo-Scandinavian form of the Gaelic name Niall (see Neill). This was adopted by the Scandinavians in the form Njal and was introduced into northern England and East Anglia by them, rather than being taken directly from Gaelic. It was reinforced after the Norman Conquest by the Anglo-Norman French and Middle English forms Neel, Nihel, and Nigel, which were brought to England by the Normans.
2. Scottish and Irish: reduced form of McNeal (see McNeil). 

German (also Höh): topographic name or nickname from Middle High German hōch, hō ‘high’ (see Hoch).
Chinese: variant of Hu.

1. Scottish and English: topographic name for someone who lived by an enclosure, Middle English hay(e), heye (Old English (ge)hæg, which after the Norman Conquest became confused with the related Old French term haye ‘hedge’, of Germanic origin). Alternatively, it may be a habitational name from any of various places named with this word, including Les Hays and La Haye in Normandy. The Old French and Middle English word was used in particular to denote an enclosed forest. Compare Haywood. This name was taken to Ireland (County Wexford) by the Normans.
2. Scottish and English: nickname for a tall man, from Middle English hay, hey ‘tall’, ‘high’ (Old English hēah).
3. Scottish and English: from the medieval personal name Hay, which represented in part the Old English byname Hēah ‘tall’, in part a short form of the various compound names with the first element hēah ‘high’.
4. French: topographic name from a masculine form of Old French haye ‘hedge’, or a habitational name from Les Hays, Jura, or Le Hay, Seine-Maritime.
5. Spanish: topographic name from haya ‘beech tree’ (ultimately derived from Latin fagus).
6. German: occupational name from Middle High German heie ‘guardian’, ‘custodian’ (see Hayer).
7. Dutch and Frisian: variant of Haye 1.
8. The surname Hay is particularly common in Scotland, where it has been established since 1160. The principal family of the name are of Norman origin; they trace their descent from William de la Haye, who was butler of Scotland in the reign of Malcolm IV (1153–65). They hold the titles marquess of Tweeddale, earl of Kinnoul, and earl of Erroll. The earl of Erroll also holds the hereditary office of constable of Scotland, first bestowed on the family by Robert I in 1314.

English, Welsh, French, South Indian, etc.: from the personal name George, Greek Geōrgios, from an adjectival form, geōrgios ‘rustic’, of geōrgos ‘farmer’. This became established as a personal name in classical times through its association with the fashion for pastoral poetry. Its popularity in western Europe increased at the time of the Crusades, which brought greater contact with the Orthodox Church, in which several saints and martyrs of this name are venerated, in particular a saint believed to have been martyred at Nicomedia in ad 303, who, however, is at best a shadowy figure historically. Nevertheless, by the end of the Middle Ages St. George had become associated with an unhistorical legend of dragon-slaying exploits, which caught the popular imagination throughout Europe, and he came to be considered the patron saint of England among other places.

1. English: nickname from Middle English chitte ‘pup’, ‘cub’, ‘young (of an animal)’ (apparently related to Old English cī{dh} ‘shoot’, ‘sprout’).
2. English: habitational name from a place named Chitty in the parish of Chislet, Kent, named from an Old English personal name Citta + ēg ‘island’, ‘dry ground in marsh’.
3. Possibly an Americanized form of German Schütte (see Schutte).

1. English and Scottish: extremely common and widely distributed topographic name for someone who lived on or by a hill, Middle English hill (Old English hyll).
2. English: from the medieval personal name Hill, a short form of Hilary (see Hillary) or of a Germanic (male or female) compound name with the first element hild ‘strife’, ‘battle’.
3. German: from a short form of Hildebrand or any of a variety of other names, male and female, containing Germanic hild as the first element.
4. Jewish (American): Anglicized form of various Jewish names of similar sound or meaning.
5. English translation of Finnish Mäki (‘hill’), or of any of various other names formed with this element, such as Mäkinen, Heinämaki, Kivimäki.

1. English: variant spelling of Bellow.
2. German: habitational name from any of three places in Mecklenburg named Below.
3. Jewish (eastern Ashkenazic) and Russian: variant of Beloff.