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The story of three Marias

For the first time in a long time I have had a few hours to spare to investigate the relationship between Maria Deyo, the story of the murders on Springtown Road in 1800, DeJoux House and the Deyo family -  especially now I have both the complete family tree and ownership of the house.   

My investigation started with the facts that we knew so far.

1) The document from the Library of congress that documents the murders and the names of the husband (Josiah) and the wife (Maria).   In this news DOCUMENT she is described as killing two children from a previous marriage. Also an infant daughter of 9 months old. (presumably the daughter of Josiah)

2)  The map of 1790 shows the only other Deyo owned house as being owned by C. Dojo

3)  The tax record of 1798  references a stone house, next door to David Deyo's house (Our house) that is "owned by"  Christian Deyo but was being occupied by "Josiah Deyo"  and is described as being "Between the main road and the mountain near Springtown"

You would have thought that this task would have been relatively simple as I have the complete Deyo family tree as published by Kenneth Hasbrouck and Ruth Heidgerd in 1980...but I have searched and searched and until today, have not been able to find any reference to Maria or Josiah or any murders or children dying at the same time.

I started the investigation by trying to map all of the Deyo houses listed on the 1790 map to the Deyo family tree as published by the Deyo Family association.   There is no doubt in my mind, based on the deed documents, that the D. Deyo on the map is David Deyo, son of Christoffel.   Interestingly, this exercise uncovered that the house across the Wallkill river is indeed the Benjamin Deyo house and his son William Deyo (bp. 1-4-1761; Ref: D-79 in family tree) built a house that was later owned by Oscar Tschirky. 

It is also likely that his brother Abraham Deyo (b.1758) is the A. Dojo shown on the map.  Benjamin and Christoffel were brothers so William, Abraham and David Deyo were cousins and born about the same time and built houses at about the same time in and around the growing township of New Paltz.

Some searching through the family tree revealed a couple of different Christian Deyo's.   I was searching for a Christian who had a son called Josiah that I could connect to Maria.   My hypothesis was that our neighbor Carolee Schnemann's house was the house on the 1798 tax records that was owned by Christian but lived in by his son Josiah.   

There was only one Christian Deyo with a first son Josiah.  He was the son of Moses, Christoffel's cousin (they shared a grandfather) and so I guess that makes Christian and Christoffel second cousins.  Josiah Deyo was born in 1763 and so was similar in age to Christoffel's son David (b. 1758) but were quite distant cousins. Both David and Josiah seem to have taken over their fathers farms as they got older and married.   David Deyo married Rachel Ean in 1792 and Josiah married his first wife Catherine Blanshan in 1786.

It was actually this marriage that had thrown me on my initial investigations.  The record for Josiah Deyo shows that he had only two wives.  The first was the above mentioned Catherine Blanshan who died on February 12th 1801, she was the widow of Jacob Krum.   Josiah also had a second wife listed, Hannah Merritt (b. 1775) that he married November 28th 1802 (at least according to the family tree). 

It was only today that I saw a note in the family tree, from a descendant, Mary Deyo Houghton, that Josiah had in fact been married three time and had 21 children.  The name of his "second wife" was unknown.    The note went on to say that "He was a very large landowner at cherry valley. "a courtly, fine old gentleman, possessed many slaves, very fastidious about his dress, always wearing knee breeches, silk stockings, silver buckles and powdered hair."   -  sounds gay to me - and Hannah Merritt was in fact his third wife.

Separately I found a reference to Maria J. Terwilliger b. 1762 married Zacharia Huffman (From the genealogy of the Huffman family).  Zacharia Huffman died in 1797 leaving his estate to his wife Maria J. and children.


The pieces all came together when I dug around and looked at the birth records of each of the children of Josiah Deyo and Maria Terwilliger Hoffman.   I discovered an interesting anomaly in the description in the birth records of Josiah's son Jonathan.  The Deyo family tree list Jonathan's birth date as December 21st 1798.  However in the published church records for Jonathan's birth he seems to be listed as a Terwilliger  (row 284 in this document).  This birth is listed with Jonathan's father as "Sisia Deyoe"  (which in old script handwriting could easily be Josia Deyoe) and the Mother was listed as Maria Terwilliger.   This was the year after Zacharia died.  The church records show the exact same date that Jonathan Deyo was born.   The witnesses of this registration was another Jonathan Deyo, likely Joshiah's brother Jonathan after whom the child was named.

So if this church record is correct, which it most likely is, the Deyo family tree is wrong.  Although Josiah's first wife was not dead, Josiah's son Jonathan (attributed to Catherine Blanshan) was in fact the son of Maria Terwilliger.   And, if Jonathan was born to Maria Terwilliger could it be that Sarah Deyo (born 18th December 1800 and also attributed to Catherine Blanshan) could also be born to Maria. Alll the records say of Sarah Deyo  is that she "died young". 

Although not all the facts fit exactly with the published dates, there seem to be too many similarities between the newspaper story and the known facts.   If you haven't read the newspaper at this point you should...HERE

Josiah Deyo was said to have had three wives and 21 children according to descendants. (The identity of the second wife is "unknown".  Only 15 children and two wives are listed in genealogy.

Both Josiah Deyo and Maria Terwilliger had previous marriages and several children among them.  Exactly as the newspaper story of the murders state.

Jonathan Deyo was born just before his father's first wife died and is identified as being the child of Maria Terwilliger. He is exactly 2-3 years old as described in the news paper story and is identified as one of only two children that Maria and Josiah had together.  (The other being the 9 month old infant).

Jonathan's sister Sarah Deyo was born December 18th 1800, is likely to also be the child of Maria and would have been exactly nine months old at the time of the murders.

From Maria Terwilliger's first marriage there are a boy (John Jay) and a girl (Elizabeth) who would have been 9 and 7 respectively, as reported in the news story.  

The only challenge to this story is the reference to Elizabeth marrying John Irwin in the Hoffman family tree.  This could be wrong as the source of this marriage record is different to others from the Terwilliger church.  Alternatively there could be a misreporting of the age and parentage of the child killed.  Anntaldia, the youngest daughter of Josiah from his first marriage,  does not appear to have any known history and disappears from the family tree with no marriage or death...she would have been 9 at the time of the killings. 

The ages and profiles of all the other characters in the story fit as follows:
Annatje Deyo (F-181; Age 13yrs) and two children were sent away from the house.
Mr Josiah Deyo's sister who lived in the area was Maria Deyo  (E-83; Age 31).
The son from the previous marriage who was sent to the hatter was Christian Deyo (F182; Age 11)
The child who went to the hatter with Christian was Jonathan Deyo (F-185; 3yrs old)
The other daughter who was married has to be Maria Deyo as she is the oldest daughter of Josiah (F180; 15yrs old)

The dead children:
John Jay Hoffman  b.1792; 9 years old
Elizabeth Hoffman b. 1795; 7 years old or Anntaldia (Annalida) Deyo b. 1792 (F-184); 9 years old
Sarah Deyo b. 1800 (F-186); 9 months old

RIP:  Maria J. Terwilliger, Hoffman Deyo.  b. 1762


Post Script:  A quick search of the church records of New Paltz Dutch reform church identifies the birth of Sarah Deyo b. December 18th 1800 as being the child of Josiah Deyo and Maria Terwilliger (p.199).

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