Hodgkin – Hotchkin – Hotchkiss Family History

Hodgkin.  Hotchkin.  Hotchkiss.  Three names for a single family?

In a word, yes.  A fellow names John Hodgkin (sometimes also spelled Hodke) immigrated circa 1648 from England, settling in Guilford, Connecticut.  He married and raised a family.  And his descendents commonly used the  three variants in this post’s title for their surnames, but, just to keep things interesting, also pluralized the first two of these on occasion, so one occasionally finds Hodgkins and Hotchkins as individual surnames.  Compounding the problems, from a genealogical perspective, is the fact that a man named Samuel Hotchkiss arrived in New Haven proper around the same time.  Samuel also produced a large family, but they at least stuck to Hotchkiss as a surname pretty generally.

If your reaction so far is a big “so what?” it’s not entirely a surprise.  Back in the day spelling of surnames (and pretty much everything else) was an opportunity to exercise one’s creativity, so deviant spellings of surnames are a dime a dozen, really.

However, there were a few aspects of this family that are a bit more interesting than that.

First of all, how’s your British (and American colonial) history?  John Hodgkin came here as part of a migration of Puritans from England — the fact that he settled in Connecticut rather than Massachusetts Bay Colony suggests that he was probably a very strict Puritan as well.  He appears in the records as “Governor Leete’s man” so we find no reason that he would not have fit this pattern.  Fast forward a few years, until the Puritan takeover (think Oliver Cromwell) in England, when the victors decided to execute the King they had deposed.  The judges on that court became known, after the monarchy was restored, as the Regicides (and king-killing is not favorably viewed by monarchists in general).

So, unsurprisingly, the hunt for the Regicides began.  Two, named Whalley and Goffe, had fled to New England (they were fortunate to get out of England alive) (for a list of all the Regicides and what happened to them, try Wikipedia).  Since New England was still a British colony, they had not outrun the law, however, and the King’s agents searched for them here.  They were spirited from house to house, from community to community, even from colony to colony — and one of their stopovers was with John Hodgkin and his family.

The Hodgkin/Hotchkin/etc. family tended, in subsequent generations, to produce clergymen, a few of whom developed well-deserved reputations as writers, and others of whom developed reputations for other things.

The writers included the Rev. James Hervey Hotchkin, who wrote an early history about the settlement of Western New York State (which we have re-published on CD-ROM — find more information HERE); and the Rev. S. F. Hotchkin (he defied family tradition and became an Episcopal priest) who wrote a series of local history books about Philadelphia and the surrounding area — we plan to republish one of these soon.

Less savory were Hotchkin clergymen who sided against a Connecticut girl marrying a Hawaiian native to the extent that he led a schism in the local Congregational church, and another who had a missionary interest in Native American and black women in the South around the time of the Civil War.  He is notable not because he saved many souls, but because his ministrations to these unfortunate women produced a branch of the family referred to today as the Black Hotchkins.

John Hodgkin (Hotchkin) of Guilford, CT and his Descendents
John Hodgkin (Hotchkin) of Guilford, CT and his Descendents

All of this is prelude to the fact that the principal partner of Between the Lakes Group, along with a number of hard working and intelligent family members, back in the 1980s, produced a book entitled “John Hodgkin (Hotchkin) of Guilford, CT and his descendents”.  The book sold out two printings in hard cover almost immediately — there are indeed many descendents of John Hotchkin, or at least many people who want to know about his and the family he produced —  and now we have re-published it in digital form as a download.  If you go HERE to our New Haven, CT page, you can learn more about this download — and perhaps enjoy a copy of your own.

(We should add that unlike some in the genealogy biz, we believe that all lines, male and female, legitimatized by matrimony or not, deserve to be followed.  In preparing this book we followed this practice, and we hope that you appreciate this and understand that as a result there are some surnames appearing in the index nearly as frequently as Hotchkin does — Beers is an example.)




Noah Cross of England and Ulster County

Yup, Noah Cross was the progenitor of a whole bunch of people named “Cross” as well as a whole bunch who were, after a generation or two, NOT named Cross.  Back in the days that we were celebrating the bicentennial of the United States, a lot of families got busy doing their genealogy, and the descendents of Noah Cross were no different.

And, the descendents of Noah Cross were more successful than most!  Thanks mainly to the efforts of one Loyal Cross, one of Noah’s descendents, as well as a few other hard workers, in 1976 a “book” of the descendents of Noah Cross was published.  We use the word “published” advisedly for a couple of reasons.  First of all, there was no sense at that time that this compendium was a finished product.  They had not traced all his lines of descendents.  They had not yet gotten him back “across the pond”.  And the “book” was mimeographed and designed to be kept in a three ring binder for the frequent updates everyone was sure would come soon and in quantity.  Also, the “book” lacked an index.

Crossbook0001One of our first tasks in the genealogical community was to index the Cross family book.  It was a lot of work, but at least the book had an index, and it was possible to find people in it.  We Xeroxed the index and send copies of it to a few people, and it seemed to get a life of its own — but this was a decade after the book itself had been circulated.

Around the same time, another researcher was able to fill in some important blanks about Noah Cross, and the story got about 300% more exciting.  It seems that he was born in Somerset, England.  In his late teens, he found himself a soldier in the British Army, in a regiment of foot (that means infantry).  (We don’t know what his decision process regarding joining the Army was, or even whether he had much say in the process, and we frankly suspect the latter.)

Soon, he found himself (and his regiment) stationed on Long Island, New York.  Whether he found Army life intolerable or whether he saw opportunity as only a young man can in a new land is not something we are ever likely to know the answer to.  But we do know that he, along with two of his buddies, deserted and made their way to Ulster County, NY.  (We should say here that deserting from the Army was not then and is not today a risk-free activity — back in those days if you were caught you likely would have been executed.)

We do not know how Noah Cross and his buddies made it from present day Nassau County, NY across the East River (or the Long Island Sound) and then across the Hudson River and sixty miles upstate.  He was likely to have had very little money and must have had to try to stay out of the clutches of those who might return him to the Army.  But somehow the three of them did make it up into the Shawangunk Mountains of Ulster County, where he and his friends became acquainted  with girls of Dutch heritage whose families lived there.

Now, there is no reason why the Dutch families would have been eager to turn the deserters in.  After all, these families had put down roots in New York when it was still New Amsterdam and likely resented the British.  Also, these were three fit young men, well able to marry their daughters and contribute to the community.  The three deserters married the three Dutch girls not many months after deserting.

Along came the Revolutionary War.  Noah Cross enlisted — quite possibly he was urged strongly to do so by his new family — and served.  He and his wife had children, and eventually he died.  But the rest of the story is in the book, and you may just want to have a look at it.

Who knows?  You might find your name or the name of one of your relatives!!


Sullivan County, New York

Sullivan County, located about 100 miles northwest of New York City in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, is where the founder of Between the Lakes Group was born and grew up.  His parents, and two of his grandparents (and their grandparents) had lived there for most or all of their lives.

Today they would have been called packrats — and that’s good, because it meant that when Between the Lakes started up in 1999 we already had a wealth of historical material about Sullivan County in our archives (a polite name for cardboard boxes in the attic).

The consequence is particularly good for you if you are curious about Sullivan County or any of its towns and villages or any of its histories (because there have been quite a few of them).

Topics we cover that you might find interesting include all of the townships:

–Bethel (yup, the site of the famous Woodstock Festival)



–Delaware (on the Delaware River)

–Fallsburgh (or Fallsburg) (including Mountaindale, Woodridge, and others) (one of the three hubs of the “Golden Triangle” of the Borscht Circuit




–Liberty (our hometown) (another of the three hubs of the “Golden Triangle”, the site of Loomis Sanitarium and of Grossingers)


–Mamakating (the first town in the county)

–Neversink (one of the earliest towns, today the site of two New York City reservoirs; also one of the last remaining “dry” townships in the state)

–Rockland (and Roscoe and Livingston Manor — legendary trout country)

–Thompson (which most people know better as Monticello, but which also includes Kiamesha Lake) (the third hub of the “Golden Triangle”)


Sullivan County boys
Two Sullivan County natives, Rube Hardenburgh and Jim Bonnell

Did we mention that we have lots and lots of Sullivan County material?

Why not CLICK HERE and check out what we’ve got (but be prepared to spend some time!)

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