Blauvelt Family 90th Reunion in Orangetown

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BY ROBERT KNIGHT
CITY EDITOR
ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES

 DUTCH COLLECTOR George Way, right, explains his collection of 18th century Dutch artifacts and antiques Saturday to a fascinated James VanHouten of Pearl River. VanHouten, a lifelong area resident and Orangetown’s last farmer, said his ancestry is half VanHouten and half Blauvelt through multiple intermarriages, but “100 percent Dutch-American.” Exhibit is on display at the Orangetown Museum on Chief Bill Harris way in Orangeburg through October.

DUTCH COLLECTOR George Way, right, explains his collection of 18th century Dutch artifacts and antiques Saturday to a fascinated James VanHouten of Pearl River. VanHouten, a lifelong area resident and Orangetown’s last farmer, said his ancestry is half VanHouten and half Blauvelt through multiple intermarriages, but “100 percent Dutch-American.” Exhibit is on display at the Orangetown Museum on Chief Bill Harris way in Orangeburg through October.

The first Blauvelt to settle in the new world 300 years ago from Holland had six children. From them, there are now thousands of Blauvelts scattered throughout America and the world, some known to each other and many probably unaware of their prestigious and multitudinous family lineage.

That lineage began coalescing 90 years ago when the Association of Blauvelt Descendants, or ABD, was formed, specifically for the purposes of exploring family history and perpetuating the genealogical line into the future.

The association, numbering in the thousands today, holds an annual convention every fall. This year’s gathering, appropriately, was centered on the Orangetown hamlets of Tappan and Orangeburg, where their ancestors had deep roots three centuries ago. So many Blauvelts, in fact, set roots along Western Highway that the hamlet there today is actually called Blauvelt, in their honor.

George Blauvelt actually organized this year’s convention, but unfortunately died this summer. Member Susan Blauvelt Heilmann of Wyckoff, N.J. suddenly dropped all of her other activities to pick up the gauntlet, and brought the event to a successful conclusion with a packed three days of activities, meetings, parties, dinners, tours and memorials very successfully. Both she and George were honored for their efforts at each of the events by the nearly 100 members and their families who attended.

The reunion began Friday when guests started arriving at the Orangeburg Holiday Inn, headquarters for the event. Following greetings and dinner, information packets, maps, directions and other materials were distributed, and everyone got prepared for a packed weekend of activities.

That began with the Association’s annual meeting Saturday morning in the sanctuary of the Tappan Reformed Church, where the original Blauvelts worshipped three centuries earlier. Election of officers for the next two years was then held, followed by a presentation by historian Ralph Blauvelt of Spring Valley on his research into “The Missing Blauvelt.”

Following adjournment, the group was on their own to tour the community until 4 p.m., when they re-gathered for a garden party and tour reception at the Orangetown Museum in Orangeburg, where the current exhibit appropriately is a display of hundreds of 18th century Dutch antiques and artifacts from the collection of noted Dutch antiquarian George Way. Way, a Staten Island resident, was exuberant in showing the fascinated guests through the four rooms of the exhibit, and explaining the history and function of each of the objects on display.

Sunday events included a memorial service in honor of George Blauvelt’s passing and a bar-b-que luncheon behind the Tappan Reformed Church Manse in Tappan.

Rockland residents who think they may be a direct descendant or have ties to the bountiful Blauvelt family were advised they can contact Ralph Blauvelt at 845-356-3081 or Susan Blauvelt Heilmann at 201-519-9627. The American Blauvelts, both noted, are descendants of any of Blauvelt’s seven children; Hendrick, Huybert, Johannes, Margrietja, Abraham, Isaac or Marritje.

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