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Friday, October 16, 2009

The Potter - Sooy Connection

Last Tuesday, the Blog featured a romantic tale of a young New Gretna boy, Steve Potter, who took his first true love, Millie Miller from Tuckerton, to the Latin Quarter in the middle of a buzzing Times Square in New York City.

Steve, looking over a family photo album in the October 16, 2009 photo to the right, has deep roots in our local area history. He is a 8th generation descendant of Yoos Sooy who was born in Amsterdam Holland in 1685 and came to America about 1705. Originally settling in Northern New Jersey; Yoos, his wife, Sarah, and their two children Yoos II and Nicholas resettled in Lower Bank, just a stone's throw from New Gretna, in 1724.

I thought I would present Steve's linage from the present day down to Yoos Sooy for those Blog readers who are into local genealogy. Join me on a trip back through time, as we travel back eight generations to 17th century Holland.


Stephen Edward Potter Jr. Born 10 October 1929.

Steve retired from a supervisory position with the New Jersey Garden State Parkway. An oysterman, he has been active with the New Jersey Shellfish Counsel. Steve and Millie live on Amasas Landing Road in New Gretna and attend the New Gretna Presbyterian Church. He married Minnie "Millie" Kennedy Miller, daughter of Bateman Miller & Lillian Gray, 30 Oct 1952 in Tuckerton, N.J. Born 15 Oct 1932.

Steve and Millie Miller Potter in their New Gretna home, circa mid 1960's, on Amasas Landing Road where they raised three daughters: Sheryl who married John Price, Linda who married Steve Mears, and Maureen who married Tom Kane. (Photo courtesy of Steve and Millie Potter.)


Esther Sooy. Born 1905. Died 8 June 1973.

She married Stephen Edward Potter Sr.. Born 1900. Died 10 Jul 1984. Buried in Hillside Cemetery, New Gretna, N.J. They had the following children: Leonard Paul Potter and Stephen Edward Potter Jr.

Steve and Esther Sooy Potter. (Photo courtesy of Steve and Millie Potter.)

October 10, 1923 newspaper clipping.


Samuel Leonard Sooy. Born 5 February 1873. Died 17 September 1941.

He married Mabel May Maxwell, daughter of Samuel Maxwell & Mary Margaret Cramer, 1898. Born Jan 1880. Died 1976. They had one child, Esther Sooy. Samual and Mabel are buried in Hillside Cemetery, New Gretna, N.J.

Len Sooy showing a 13 star flag from a ship he had sailed on to his grandsons, Steve (r) and Paul Potter. (Photo from page 67 of Henry Beck's book, "Jersey Genesis.")

Len Sooy's World War I Draft Registration Card

The 1930 Census shows 59 year old Leonard Sooy and his wife Mabel living in Bass River Township. His son-in-law's family which includes his daughter, Esther Potter, and her husband, Stephen Potter, Sr. and their children, Leonard Paul and baby Stephen, Jr. is living with them. His 74 year old mother-in-law, Mary Maxwell, is also part of the household.

Len Sooy's obituary.

A young Mabel Maxwell from Wading River married Leonard Sooy and moved into the Sooy family farm in New Gretna. (Photo courtesy of Steve and Millie Potter.)

Mabel Sooy in 1948. (Photo courtesy of Steve and Millie Potter.)

Mabel Sooy's obituary.


Daniel Townsend Sooy Sr. Born 13 January 1832. Died 1909 in Bass River Township, N.J.

He married Esther L. Mathis, daughter of Jeremiah Mathis Jr. & Mary Brewer, 1 Sep 1868. Born 1837. Died 1895. Buried in Miller Cemetery, New Gretna, N.J. They had the following children: Daniel Townsend Sooy Jr. and Samuel Leonard Sooy.

Daniel Townsend Sooy, Sr. He lived on the section of the Sooy family property located in the present day Sooy Lane area. (Photo courtesy of Thelma Loveland via Betty Grant.)

The 1880 Federal Census shows Daniel T. Sooy living in Bass River Township with his wife, Esther, and sons Daniel T. and Samuel L.

Samuel Sooy, Daniel Townsend Sooy, Sr.'s brother, lived on the section of the Sooy family property located in the present day Bogen's Lane area. His twin sister, Anna Eliza, married Richard Bogan. Samuel served in the Civil War. His discharge papers are pictured below. He was never married. (Photo courtesy of Thelma Loveland via Betty Grant.)

Samuel Sooy's Civil War discharge papers.


Ebenezer Sooy Sr. Born 3 September 1790. Died 26 Oct 1860 in Little Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

It is likely that Ebenezer was illegitimate. See comments under his mother, Phoebe Sooy. He married Catherine Loveland, daughter of Samuel Loveland Jr., 11 Apr 1811. Born 9 Sep 1792. They had the following children: Benjamin Sooy, Reuben Sooy, Josiah Sooy, Thomas Cowperthwaite Sooy Sr., Ebenezer Sooy Jr., Samuel Smith Sooy (Twin), Jerusha Ann Eliza Sooy (Twin), Phoebe Sooy, Jemima Sooy, Daniel Townsend Sooy Sr.

Ebenezer Sooy's birth as recorded in the James and Sarra Gale Bible. (Bible page scan courtesy of Nancy Gale.)

The old Sooy farm house, circa 1990, on Sooy Lane just off Route 9 in New Gretna. It was likely built by Ebenezer Sooy and remained in the family until the mid 1990's when the last remnant of the old farm was sold. The last Sooy descendant to live in the house was Maureen Potter, Len Sooy's great grandaughter, with her husband Tom Kane in the early 1980's. The house has since been torn down, and replaced by a modern home.


Phoebe Sooy. Born 19 April 1759. Died 19 October 1835.

Phoebe's marital status is somewhat of a mystery. The Sooy Family Genealogy lists Joseph Mathis as Phoebe Sooy's husband (page 81) and does not list any children for the couple. It also states (page 66) that the author, Irwin Gladstone Sooy, believes that the Phoebe mentioned in Leah Blackman's "History of Little Egg Harbor Township" as Ebenezer Sooy's mother (See the paragraph below) is the daughter of Ebenezer Tucker. If this is so, why then isn't Ebenezer's last name Tucker instead of Sooy? Also, Ebenezer Tucker's marital status is well documented. Ebenezer Tucker's second wife was named Phoebe, but she was the daughter of John and Susannah Ridgway.

Leah Blackman (page 360) states "If I have been rightly informed, Joseph, son of Yose Sooy, was the father of Phoebe Sooy, who was the mother of Capt. Ebenezer Sooy, of Bass River." This is Leah's way of inferring that Ebenezer is the illegitimate son of Phebe and would explain the fact that Ebenezer maintained the Sooy last name. When Leah wrote her history in 1880, a respectable lady would not overtly state that a child was illegitimate.

The Little Egg Harbor death records list Ebenezer, age 68, dying on 10/26/1860 as the son of Phebe Sooy. Furthermore, the Ebenezer Sooy bible records found at Atlantic County Historical Society state that "Phebe Sooy departed this life 19th October 1835, aged 76 years and six months.” Note that in both cases Phebe's last name is listed as Sooy which support's Leah Blackman's inference that Phoebe was not married when she gave birth to Ebenezer. It supports the theory that Phoebe was never married.

Murray and Jean Harris, local family genealogists, did extensive research on the Mathis family in the writing of their book entitled "The Mathis Family of Little Egg Harbor." Their research failed to discover that Phoebe Sooy married Joseph Mathis as maintained in the Sooy Family Genealogy. That along with the data discussed in the preceding paragraphs would seem to indicate that the statement that Phoebe Sooy married Joseph Mathis is in error.

Child of Phoebe Sooy: Ebenezer Sooy Sr.


Yoos (Joseph) Sooy II. Born 24 October 1710 in New Amsterdam.

Some believe that Yoos Sooy, Sr. and Sarah Van Tienhoven had a son Joos who died as an infant, thus this Yoos is often called Joos II rather than Yoos Jr. The English equivalent of Yoos is Joseph.

The Joseph Sooy II family bible is owned by Norman H. Sooy, Kansas City, Mo. Known as the Baskett Bible and printed in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1749, the bible contains the birth records of Joseph and Elizabeth's children and John and Mary Smith's (Elizabeth's parents) children.

Joseph was a slave holder as evidenced by the following advertisement that appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette on 8/9/1750 which names Joseph as a former owner of a runaway slave:

"Run away from the subscriber hereof, a likely young negro fellow about five feet inches high, named Lot, took with him when he went away a flowered jacket and breeches, an ozenbrigs shirt, and a fine shirt with ruffles at the bosom, old shoes, no stocking, and some money. He talks very good English.

It is supposed he is gone towards Allen-town, and from thence to Great Egg Harbor, for rhe formerly lived there with one Higbee, and afterwards with Joseph Sooy.

Whoever secures the said fellow, that his master may have him again, shall have three pounds reward, and reasonable charges, paid by Thomas Hooten.

N.B. All master of vessels, or others, are forbid to carry him off, or entertain, him at their peril."

Yoos Sooy II. married Elizabeth Smith, daughter of John Smith & Mary, 3 Dec 1731. Born 6 Mar 1720. They had the following children: Joseph Sooy, Sarah Sooy, John Sooy, Mary Sooy, Nicholas Sooy, Noah Sooy, Luke Sooy, Elizabeth Sooy, Robecker Sooy, Phoebe Sooy, Jemima Sooy, and Hannah Sooy.


Yoos Sooy. Born April 1685 in Holland. Died 28 Sept. 1737. Buried in Lower Bank, N.J. Occupation mariner-merchant.

Yoos came to America about 1705. He carried on the work started by the Dutch West India Trading Company. He was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church where his three children were baptised.

Yoos and his family left New Amsterdam shortly after his three children were born, settling in Monmouth County, N.J. on the Cheesequake Creek. He was naturalized a loyal citizen of the province of New Jersey by special act of the New Jersey legislature.

He sailed down the New Jersey coast, entered the Mullica River, and settled in Washington Township at what is presently called Lower Bank, the second white settlement in South Jersey. Fort Nassau on the Delaware was the first. There he and his sons purchased thousands of acres from Samuel Driver and became prominent citizens in the area.

He married Sarah VanTienhaven, daughter of Lucas VanTienhaven & Tyryntie (Catherine) Bording, 19 Aug 1707 in New York City. Born 1 Jan 1681. Christen 12 Jan 1681 in New York City, N.Y. They had the following children: Joost Sooy Jr., Nicholas Sooy, Yoos (Joseph) Sooy II, and Lukas (Luke) Sooy

He and his wife, Sarah, are burried on the property that was his plantation and is now the abondoned Pacemaker Yacht Company.

Fred Noyes kneeling at the grave of Yoos Sooy in a field that was once a part of the original Joos Sooy homestead in Lower Bank before the construction of the Pacemaker Boat Company. (Photo courtesy of the William Augustine collection in the Rutgers University Library and printed on page 124 of Henry Beck's "Jersey Genesis".)

Yoos Sooy was buried on his family farm in Lower Bank in 1737. Today, his grave, accompanied by the grave of John Cavileer, and an unknown, is located in the middle of the parking lot of Pacemaker Boat Company in Lower Bank. I bet if Yoos knew how it looked today, he'd be rolling over in his grave. (March 18, 2003 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

The above information was compiled from the Sooy Genealogy by the Sooy Association; The Leek Family of Southern New Jersey by Catherine Leek Mack; and The Mathis Family of Little Egg Harbor by Jean and Murray Harris.

I hope you have enjoyed a peek at Steve Potter's Sooy genealogy. It certainly is one of the oldest in the area.

Pete S

PS- If you are interested in reading more about Yoos Sooy, I would recommend you read John Pearce's book, "Heart of the Pines" which deals with the people and history of many of the Pineland's towns in our area. It is available for checkout, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 6-9 PM, at the Bass River Community Library, located in the Bass River Elementary School. You can also find me there on those days and times. Stop in and say hello.


  1. Hi Pete: Thanks for a very interesting story on the Sooys. Are they all related? The reason I ask is that one of my Grandmother's (Estella Adams Mathis) sister's daughter's married a Sooy. This is Edna Adams Cramer whose husband was Mark Cramer. The daughter's name was Noretta Cramer Sooy.
    There is also a John Cavileer b.7/20/1945 mentioned in the geneology given me by a cousin on my Grandmother's side. His wife was Jacqueline I. Leeds. She is decended from another of Grandmoms'sisters: Prudence Adams Leeds.
    Beverly Mathis Robinson

  2. Beverly,

    Unfortunately, I do not know if there is a connection between the Sooy branch discussed above and Mark Cramer Sooy from your family's line. I suspect they are connect somehow. Perhaps one of our Blog readers can shed some light on that situation.

    It's also interesting that there is a John Cavileer buried in the Yoos Sooy plot in Lower Bank. Wonder if he's related to your John Cavileer who was born in 1945? Again, I bet it's likely.

    Pete S

  3. Hi Pete,

    I really enjoy reading your Bass River History blog. Here's another connection.

    Ebenezer Sooy's birth date is prominently recorded in our Gale family bible, as is the name "Hannah Loveland" along the border of another page. Hannah Gale b.1806 married Samuel Loveland and her sister-in-law Catherine married Ebenezer.

    Best regards,
    Nancy Gale

  4. Nancy,

    Thanks for the scan of the Gale Bible page showing the recording of Ebenezer Sooy's birth. I added it under the "Fourth Sooy Generation - Ebenezer Sooy" above.

    Pete S

  5. Pete,

    Very nice piece of work. Thank you....


  6. Thanks so much for putting this together. Was born a Sooy and have tried every other variation of the name to pursue Joost's heritage. Wouldn't there be records in Holland if he was Dutch? My thought is maybe his family were Hugenouts or Wallons that fled to Holland. Any thoughts? It is just strange that no one has found a shred of evidence concerning his life before coming to the U.S. Thanks, Cynthia Sooy-Belcher, Cincinnati, OH

  7. hey im a junior in high school and doing a project about my family's heritage and i typed in my dads dads name. leonard paul potter sr. i am leonard paul potter jr's son. im just curious to see whether or not this is my family's past. other wise this is pretty cool how far back this dates. -Jason Paul Potter

  8. Jason,

    This is your family. I believe Leonard Paul Potter, Sr. was the brother of Steve Potter who is listed as the Eighth Generation above.

    I have some photos of Leonard Paul, Sr. that I'll put up on the Blog in a few days.

    Pete S

  9. Thank you for the info, I showed it to my dad and he would be very interested in seeing his dads pictures as well. He said we may have some that may be on interest to you. I have visited my great uncle bud and aunt millie a few times in New Gretna when we come down to our beach house on Long Beach Island. My dad has one of those barnegat sneak box duck boats made at The Tuckerton Museum. Is there any info on the Potter side? Jason

  10. This is a great piece of history for our area. Thank you for the hours it must have taken to research and type the information for viewing. I am curious about one thing and would love to see pictures. Just today I was talking to Mr Potter as he was doing his thing with the water ways. Mr Potter was telling me that there was a cattle farm which was located in the area of Old New York Road and west along the river. It amazes me that not long ago the trees we see and think have been here for years, really have not been. Open meadows. Great history I can not get enough. Thank you Chris

  11. very interesting piece of history and i got to say i am living in lowerbank it's sad that the pacemaker boat company parking lot sits on top of people's graves.

    i am not related to any of the families but i do wish them all the best

  12. My mother was Marion Elizabeth Sooy, daughter of Willard Sooy, grandaughter of Nicholas Sooy. This blog was fascinating reading.

    Leslie Pirtle

  13. i just found out my hubby is 6th generation of the sooy family. his great-grandmother was lovina sooy who married josiah phrampus (Phrambes),now lovina's mother was lovina conover and her father was joel sooy.the conovers are well known in egg harbour township,as are the sooy's joel is a direct descendant of joost sooy.

    1. I descend from Joel's brother Joab. He also married a Conover, Catherine. They are buried in the old cemetery across Moss Mill Rd from Smithville Inn.

  14. Hello
    My name is Connie Baker. I live in Wichita KS.

    I believe I somehow fit into this! My grandpa was Ephraim Cline Sooy III. He lived in Kansas City, died in 1990. He was married to Betty Jane Brosnahan. They had 3 children, Cornelia (Neily), Mary and Mike. Neily married Clint Samuel Hardy Jr in April 1961. They had 3 children, Connie, Kenneth (Steve) and Patrick (Pat).

    Thank you for the reading. I have been interested in finding my heritage for my children's sake and came across this. I also found a reference to a bible that was online with all kinds of history. That is how I believe I am part of the history you speak of in your blog. I am going to keep digging!

    1. I would be interested to hear if you were able to find any information about the Sooy Family Bible. I have read that the bible was donated when Norman Haywood Sooy died in 1968. I have contacted libraries in the area and have come up with nothing. I thought that maybe Norman specified in his will where it would go but I don't have access to that. I live in Michigan so research in Missouri is difficult!

  15. I know this blog was written 3 years ago, but I've just found my connection to Yoos Sooy, my 8x Great-Grandfather, on and have been doing online searches for stories, links and other info not found on ancestry. Here is my lineage

    1. Joost (Yoos) Sooy, Apr 1685 - 28 Sep 1737
    2. Joost (Joesph) Sooy, 23 Oct 1710 - 1778
    3. Nicholas Sooy, 4 May 1747 - 22 Dec 1822
    4. Sarah Sooy Bodine, 27 Apr 1788 - 27 May 1843
    5. Mary Bodine McLain, 1810 - 29 Aug 1875
    6. William McLain, 3 Mar 1838 - 13 Jun 1912
    7. Rosella McLain Broome, Oct 1874 - ?
    8. Clara Broome Hess, 14 Jan 1893 - Jan 1985
    9. W. Hess Banks, living
    10. W. Banks Beatty, living
    11. ME :)

    ~ Kim Beatty

  16. Kim,

    Thanks for sharing your connection to the Sooy family. It's always good to hear from someone who is enthusiastic about their family roots.

    Pete S

  17. My mother was a Sooy. Our Sooy line goes, George (me), Laura, John, Lemuel, Lemuel, Archibald, Nicholas, Joseph (Joost II), Joost Sooy. I believe the name was angloized. In Dutch, Sooy would be written... Sooij. Since they were members of the Dutch Reformed Church, they would not me Walloon or Huegenot. .... George

  18. Interesting to read, we own a Pacemaker Yacht and seen the graves numerous times, we spend a lot of time in Lower Bank Area with our boat or going to River Road Clam house. We attended an auction not to long ago and got the original deed for the Sooy property.

  19. I have a Phoebe Sooy in my family married to a Godfrey Estlow whose great grandfather was Joost Sooy married to Sara Van Tienhoven. However, her grandfather was Joost Sooy 1710-1778, father John 1742-1792. After seeing this, I'm really confused. My info came off of However, my Phoebe was born in 1775 and died in 1849. Do you have any connections with the Estlow family from Burlington. County, New Jersey? I've got half a match here. I also showed a Joost besides the three brothers you had who was born in 1710. Sandy Estlow

    1. I am working on my mother in laws family tree which also has the same Phoebe Sooy as yours. I too was confused but maybe our Phoebe is named for this one as she was born 20yrs earlier. Will try to digest this info and figure out. My mother in law is the daughter of Francis Parker, son of Hiram Parker and Florence Estlow. Would love to for you to see what info you have already as I have just embarked on this journey. Denise

  20. I have 47 pages of sooy going ten generations.
    email me and I can send it

  21. I am a direct descendent of Yoos Sooy. My father and brother are both named John Sooy. This is a very interesting blog. I really enjoyed the information. I have a picture of my dad, John Sooy, my brother, John Sooy, and my nephew, named John Sooy at the gravesite of Yoos (in front of the boat yard) ... Kirsten Sooy

  22. O.K. I stumbled across this blog this morning. I have something of value to post if I can ever figure out how to get past my own SOOY ineptitude. This is the third try. If I see this posted somewhere above in the near future I'll be back. Ruby Sooy Robart will be particulary interested I promise

  23. Funny how things work in this world. I started out looking for information on Jersey City's history and thanks to my easily distractable brain I wound up here. Damned distractable internet! And I didn't really glom on to it, just an impatient perusal, until I came upon Connie Baker's entry. I'm Uncle Mikie to her. I gave her a call and she didn't even remember posting it. I told her drinking that early in the morning is no way to go though life, cuz that's what uncles do best, annoy the rest of the family with cheap insults. Any way, that got me to actually READING some of the other entries and Ruby's struck a chord. Since Norman Haywood Sooy was MY uncle I started drilling a little deeper into my own memories and realized that the Baskett Bible is the Bible that we always referred to as the Smith Bible. My Father, E.C.III, and Haywood were business partners. I think the Bible was stored at the business during those years which wasn't the best location due to the fact that the property sits on landfill next to the Missouri river in K.C. It's only been flooded with over ten feet of water at least four times since the business was started. Luckily, it was only on the property when it was dry. Anyway, it was passed down to me, the only male Sooy left on our branch. Guess he thought i was responsible enough to take good care of it. Sorry to say he was wrong cuz I got rid of the crumbly ol thing. I tossed it. Cuz that's what vaguely distant cousins do, they annoy the rest of the extended family with mean spirited proclamations that are total lies. NO I DIDN'T TOSS IT! No, being the irresponsible lout that I am I gave it away.... to my neice. No, not Connie, another niece, Angela Barlow of louisville, Ky. I thought it best that I do since dummy here was storing it in a flood prone basement in a suburb of Chicago. Now here's the best part. Ruby, you say you live in Michigan and travel down to Missouri is too far. I suspect Louisville aint much better. No problemo. Cuz guess what? The Bible is travelling to you. Angie's Husband works for GM and they are moving to Michigan as soon as their son, who his affectionate uncle refers to as Knothead, graduates from high school. Funny how life works isn't it? Of course, if you live in U.P. well then forget it, you'll never see it. You know the rules. I think the same phenomenon occurs in N.J. between the two polarities. Assuming you do live in L.P. I'm pretty sure arrangements can be made for you to actually see it. It will take some machinations on my part as my niece is extremely avaricious. Bring bagfulls of money. No, seriously, this will happen sometime in the future, after the move.....I should hope. There, I've served my purpose in life. Other than that as far as I know ever damn one of us with Sooy genes in us can all be traced back to Yoost and that god awful monster Grandfather in law of his, Cornelius Van Tienhoven. What a Turd. So I vote Yes on the question put forth by Beverly. Thank you to the Potter family for setting this up. Sad to say the only Potter I've ever met was the dude in It's a Wonderful Life. What a turd. One more thing. The name is pronounced like the sauce. If the rest of the family wants to conjour up a hog call that's their business. The more civilized branches, inclunding those autocratic upstart vanSooys from San Francisco bay, will continue to pronounce it the way God intended us to. And as the Main Dude in the movie THERE WILL BE BLOOD breathlessly decanted, "O.K.,that's it, I'm done." Michael G. Sooy. Contact me at