Category Archives: History

My Dilliplane Ancestors Through the Lens of Church Records

Lately I’ve been delving into my early Dilliplane/Delaplaine roots, trying to understand what may have motivated the successive generations to move from New Amsterdam (Manhattan) to Germantown, Pennsylvania to the backwoods of what would eventually become Berks County, Pennsylvania. I feel like I am gaining some insight from church records.

First, a little background. My Dilliplane line in America starts with the immigrant Nicholas de la Pleine. He was a French Huguenot (a French Protestant) who left France due to religious persecution and sought refuge in the Netherlands. He didn’t stay there long as he arrived in New Amsterdam, New Netherland prior to 1 Sep 1658. That is the date he married Susanna Cresson. Their marriage was recorded at the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam.  In his marriage record he is described as being from Bersweer in Vanckryck while his wife Susanna was (originally) from Ryswyck.

Between 1662 and 1681 Nicholas and Susanna had ten children whose baptisms were recorded at the same Dutch Reformed Church.  My ancestor is James. Some say that he is the child born in 1666 and baptized with the name Jean. Others believe he is an eleventh child, an eldest son, born in 1660 — one whose baptism is for some reason not in the records of that church. I can understand both positions and am hoping that additional evidence will eventually be found to help resolve this.

Despite their  affiliation with the Dutch Reformed Church, the family was apparently strongly influenced by the Quakers. According to Wikipedia, Quakers arrived in New Amsterdam in 1657 – around the same time as Nicholas. Keeping in mind that the Dutch Reformed Church was state-sanctioned, Governor Peter Stuyvesant issued edicts against and meted out harsh punishments to the Quakers. There were, however, sympathetic Dutch colonists. By 1663 (just a year before New Netherland was surrendered to England), the Dutch West Indies Company, having been prevailed upon by a Quaker farmer named John Browne, reluctantly ruled that individuals were entitled to practice religious beliefs of their own choosing. Presumably the colonists continued to have religious freedom under English when they took power. I say this because for at least some of the Delaplaines the religion they chose was Quakerism.


The de la Plaine house in Germantown from the 1906 publication “Old Historic Germantown”

By the late 1600s my ancestor James (as well as several of his family) start showing up in Quaker Meeting records. Some of James’ siblings stayed in New York and show up in records there. James, however, removed to Germantown, Pennsylvania, where he became very prominent in the community. For a time he served as coroner and also as baliff. He also donated land for a market and, along with Herman von Bon, built a prison and stocks in 1704. (This latter information comes from William Penn and the Dutch Quaker Migration to Pennsylvania.)

What prompted James to move to Pennsylvania in the first place? Well, in 1681 William Penn gained ownership of land America from the King of England. Penn, himself a Quaker, strove to create an atmosphere of religious freedom and tolerance. He basically recruited colonists to populate his lands from among those who were religiously persecuted in Europe. By the late 1680s the community of Germantown (now part of Philadelphia, but then an outlying settlement about 2 hours distant) was an enclave of Dutch Quakers. James and these men would have been kindred spirits. This could explain his move from New York where the English were beginning to outnumber and overrun the original Dutch settlers.

Through Quaker records we know that James was likely in Germantown by 1686, which is when he donated 5 pounds to the Friends’ Meetinghouse. In 1692 he married a Quaker woman named Hannah Cock. Their marriage took place at the home of John Underhill on Long Island, which is where her family was from.  In those records he is described as being of Pennsylvania, late of New York and son of Nicola. We also know from Quakers records that the children of James and Hannah were educated at the Germantown Friends’ School.

One of those children was Joshua Delaplaine. I’ll pick up with his story in the next Delaplaine/Dilliplane blog post.

A Day of Remembrance


The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The date and time that marked the end of fighting in the war that was supposed to end all wars. Known variously as Armistice Day, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, November 11th is now a holiday celebrated in many nations throughout the world.

Both my grandfather, Walter Leonard Dilliplane, and his younger brother, Alvin Freeman Dilliplane, served in the Great War. They bravely fought to liberate France from German occupation. My grandfather was one of the lucky ones. He came home, got married and eventually had three sons, the youngest being my father.

His brother Alvin was not as lucky. He was killed in action on September 7, 1918. He died three days shy of his 21st birthday and 2 months and 4 days shy of the armistice.

Alvin was a hero on the battlefield – perhaps even a bit reckless. On September 5, 1918, the Harrisburg Telegraph, in reporting on battles near Fismette, France in the previous month, included the following excerpt, “Private Alvin F. Dilliplane, of Pottstown, another Pennsylvania boy, showed remarkable bravery at the self-imposed task of rescuing wounded after they had been abandoned.”

For his actions at the Fismete battle, Alvin received an official citation for bravery. It stated that “Private Alvin F. Dilliplane, with utter disregard for personal safety, went forward in daylight to the rescue of wounded men approximately 400 yards in front of our lines, succeeding one of them at that time and the other after dark.”

It would be nice to think that the men he rescued survived and returned to their families. But I have no way of knowing who they were or what happened to them in the long run. For his part, Alvin never made it home. He is buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Picardie, France.

And so on this Veteran’s Days please take some time to remember those who served in all the various wars and conflicts and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.


Burials at James Fort

Burials at James Fort

This photo, taken in July of 2012, is of burial sites within the original James Fort of the Virginia colony. These burials are believed to have occurred circa 1607. Until recently, most historians thought that the site of the original fort was now beneath the James River. But archaeologists recently discovered parts of the 3 outer walls of the fort, as well as graves and other structures that were located within the fort.

King James Bible Celebrates 400 Years

Commissioned by King James I in 1604, the King James Version of the Bible is an English language translation by scholars associated with the Church of England. The initial translation was completed in 1611 and over the course of the next 150 years or so it became the dominant version in use by (English-speaking) Protestant churches and their parishioners. It remained dominant until about the mid-20th Century, when newer translations began to emerge and take precedence.

As genealogists and family historians, many of us may have one of more of these on our shelves – or at least wish we did – since quite often the Bible was a valued possession of our ancestors. Many of these old Bibles, excluding the ones I’ve inherited (of course), contain pages recording births, deaths and marriages within the family. As Murphy’s Law would have it, these pages within the Bibles I’ve inherited have been left blank :( .

While not directly relevant to genealogy, I recently came across this posting on the influence of the King James Version of the Bible on the English language on [link]. If you’ve got a spare minute or two, the videos attached to the above mentioned post are worth the watch.