yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


By Charles R. & Sarah Gill McDaniel

The story of a young Dutch stowaway who ultimately made his way to Tennessee was recounted in an earlier article printed in “Ansearchin’” News1. His name was Willem Koolwijk, and he was no doubt the immigrant ancestor of all the people of Tennessee and surrounding states who spell their surname Kolwyck, Kolwick, Colwick, Colewick, or some other phonetic form. His family Bible records his birth as 2 Nov 1792, and 1850 and 1860 Federal Censuses give his birthplace as Holland. About the time of his sixteenth birthday in 1808, he stowed away on a ship bound for America and is believed to have arrived at Mobile or New Orleans. No naturalization record has been found and, considering the mode of his arrival, he probably was anxious to disappear. That he did, until his marriage 23 Aug 1823 to Margaret Ann Steel in Wilson Co., Tennessee. He signed the marriage bond “Willem Koolwijk” but the court clerk wrote his name at the top of the document “William Colewick”, thus being the first known record of many altered versions of his surname.

In investigating the origins of this family, we knew that Holland, a province of The Netherlands, had been divided into North and South Holland in 1806. Not knowing in which to begin we decided to try and localize where the surname occurred in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. Using the Latter Day Saints’ International Genealogical Index, we discovered that well over 90% of the recordings of this surname were in one town and its immediate vicinity in Zuid (South) Holland. That town is Stolwijk, which is about ten miles east and slightly south of Gouda, the closest nearby city. We obtained microfilm records of Stolwijk Kerk from the LDS in Salt Lake City and searched for the surname. From that time on we were eager to visit Stolwijk.

Read the full story in Adobe pdf format. The Adobe Reader is required for this file.

Revised 2011 from an article of the same name printed in The Tennessee Genealogical Magazine Ansearchin’ News, P. O. Box 247, Brunswick, TN 38014-0247, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 42-43.   The writers may be contacted at

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