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A Common Man

No royal blood coursed though his veins; nonetheless, he led a notable life. Arent Issacszen van Hoeck was the progenitor of the Van Hook family in the United States. Born in Hooksiel, Germany, he immigrated to Amsterdam in the 1640s where he became a Dutch citizen. In 1655, at the age of thirty-three, he traveled with his second wife, Geertje, to New Amsterdam (New York City) where fewer than 1000 people lived at the time.

Arent was a cordwainer, which was a shoemaker who produced footwear of fine, soft leather. He was not a wealthy man and from the records of court documents, he often seemed to be in financial difficulty. Perhaps it was his five wives and ten children that strained his prosperity. Six of his children lived into adulthood including Judge Lawrence (Laurens) van Hoeck who was my 7th great-grandfather. He appeared to have been a staunch member of the Dutch Reformed (Calvinist) Church with three of his marriages taking place there as well as several baptisms of his children. Arent died around 1697 when he was seventy-four, a ripe age for the times.

I am fascinated by stores of people who came to our shores in the 1600s. It had to take much strength of spirit and faith to make the eight-week trip from Europe to a barely-civilized world where Indian attacks were prevalent. There is no indication as to what inspired Arent to immigrate, but no doubt there were expectations of a better life in this new land. We will never know if his dreams were fulfilled, but we do know that a long, full life was lived by  this “common” man.

For anyone interested in the van Hoeck family, there are several references at . The photo is courtesy of No copyright violation intended.

Published inGenealogyTravel


  1. Wow……’s terrific you’ve been able to trace your ancestors so long time ago….awesome!

    • Thanks, Gracie! I’ve been doing genealogy for about four years on I’ve come to a lot of dead ends, but occasionally I do uncover some interesting information. In this case, it helped that the Dutch apparently were good record keepers and that a lot of people have done research before me along this bloodline.

  2. Moving from one continent to another is a big enough event nowadays, but in the 1650s it must have been like traveling to the dark side of the Moon.

      • It’s great, incidentally, that you can trace your ancestors back that far’

  3. Yes, I love bios, esp of people from times long past who went without our conveniences and distractions. Always fascinating to see the choices they made.

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