Onderdonk, Henry, Jr., 1804-1886

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Henry Onderdonk (1804-1886) was an educator and historian, a collector of Long Island antiquities, and the author of many works based on his findings among local records. Later, he became a founder (1863) and councilor (1868-1886) of the Long Island Historical Society (now the Brooklyn Historical Society), and a contributor to the Society's library and manuscript collections upon their formation.

Henry Onderdonk was born June 11, 1804, at Manhasset, NY, the son of Joseph Onderdonck, a farmer, and Dorothy Monfoort. Henry commonly rendered his name with a "Jr."; it is supposed that he did so to distinguish his name from that of his eminent relative, Henry Ustick Onderdonk (1789-1858), the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania. Onderdonk graduated from Columbia College in 1827 and received an A.B. degree from Harvard in 1828. He married Maria Hegeman Onderdonk (1801-1875), daughter of George Onderdonk and Sarah Rapalije in 1828, and had two children, Elizabeth (1829-fl. 1909) and Adrian (1831-1888). Henry took up teaching, becoming principal of Union Hall Academy at Jamaica from 1832 to 1865, after which he devoted himself to literary pursuits. He was also a director of the Long Island Bible Society. Onderdonk died at Jamaica on June 22, 1886 and is buried in Monfort Cemetery in Port Washington, NY.

Onderdonk's career in historical and genealogical study may have been inspired by his father's tales as a young witness to the Revolutionary war period on Long Island and in New York City. Joseph Onderdonck, born in 1766, saw his father, Andries, a Deputy Chairman of the Whig Committee, taken prisoner by the British, 21 September 1776. After experiencing many scenes of the British military occupation of Long Island, Joseph was present at the Federal procession in New York (23 July 1788) and at the inauguration of George Washington as President of the U. S. (30 April 1789), and later often saw Washington around town.

Henry Onderdonk's first published works focused on local events during the American Revolution, and relied on eye-witness accounts; these early writings included Documents and letters intended to illustrate the revolutionary incidents of Queens County, N.Y. (1846), The capture and death of Brig. Gen. Nath'l Woodhull: In a series of letters addressed to J. Fenimore Cooper Esq (1848) and Revolutionary incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties: With an account of the Battle of Long Island and the British prisons and prison-ships at New York (1849). Onderdonk's later works included writings about various Long Island churches, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and agriculture. While Onderdonk became a prolific writer of local and religious histories, he is perhaps most notable as a collector, compiler, and preservationist of official and military papers, diaries, old newspapers, oral histories, and many early records of Long Island towns and churches.

Because so much of Onderdonk's work concerns a geographic area called Queens County, it is helpful to recall that the Queens County of Onderdonk's time differed from that of today. Until 1899, Queens County consisted not only of the present-day county and New York City borough of the same name, but also all of what is now Nassau County. Some Queens County towns (e.g., Jamaica, Flushing) were consolidated into New York City in 1898, while others were not. Those not consolidated (e.g., Hempstead, Oyster Bay) were removed from Queens County in 1899 to form the new Nassau County. Accordingly, all references in this guide, and in the collection, to Queens County can be taken to include Nassau County as well.

(The above was based on a biographical note written in 2005 by Jonathan W. Montgomery. Additional sources: Genealogy of the Onderdonk family in America, edited by Andrew Joseph Onderdonk and Florence Evelyn Pratt Youngs; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monfort_Cemetery; http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/website/EN/facts_stats_maps/history_of_NC.html.)

From the guide to the Henry Onderdonk papers, 1729-1895, (Brooklyn Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. Scrapbooks, ca. 1885. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf East Hampton Free Library. Thesis and essay collection, 1928-1983. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. Papers, [ca. 1870-1876] Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886,. John Bowne papers, [ca.1870] Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. Papers, 1729-1895 Brooklyn Historical Society
referencedIn Benson John Lossing Collection, 1843-1917 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Union Hall Academy (Jamaica, New York, N.Y.). Union Hall Academy records, 1791-1894. New York State Historical Documents (Albany, N.Y.)
referencedIn Skillman, Joseph Onderdonk, 1827-1872. Correspondence, 1853-1872. New York State Historical Documents (Albany, N.Y.)
referencedIn Class book, ca. 1828-ca. 1870? Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Collection of miscellaneous papers relating to the Revolution, 1777-1782 Houghton Library
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. Papers, [ca. 1851-1876] Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. Papers of Henry Onderdonk, 1842-1866. Library of Congress
referencedIn Brooklyn Historical Society Library. Henry Onderdonk, Jr.,Papers.
referencedIn Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843 Houghton Library
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. Life and times of Tecumseh / by Henry Onderdonk Jr., Jamaica, L.I., 1842. Newberry Library
creatorOf John Sands papers, 1728-1776 Brooklyn Historical Society
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. The capture & death of Gen. Nath'l Woodhull : in a series of letters addressed to Jas. Fenimore Cooper, Esq. / by Henry Onderdonk, Jr. ; New York, 1848. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Greene, Zachariah, 1760-1858. Setauket, L.I. marriages and deaths / recorded by Rev. Zachariah Greene ; [typed and indexed by Isabel R. Voorhees]. Brooklyn Historical Society
creatorOf Onderdonk, Henry, 1804-1886. The bibliography of Long Island / by Henry Onderdonk, Jr. Stony Brook University
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Bancroft, George, 1800-1891 person
correspondedWith Bergen, Teunis G., 1806-1881 person
associatedWith Bowne, John. person
correspondedWith Bowne, J. T., (Jacob Titus), 1847-1925 person
associatedWith Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851. person
correspondedWith Corwin, Edward Tanjore, 1834-1914 person
associatedWith De Lancey, Oliver, 1718-1785. person
associatedWith East Hampton Free Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Edward E. Ayer Manuscript Collection (Newberry Library) corporateBody
correspondedWith Ellet, E. F., (Elizabeth Fries), 1818-1877 person
correspondedWith Frost, Gideon person
associatedWith Grace Episcopal Church (Jamaica, New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Greene, Zachariah, 1760-1858. person
associatedWith Harrison, William Henry, 1773-1841. person
associatedWith Harvard College (1780- ).  Class of 1828. corporateBody
associatedWith Hegeman family. family
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
correspondedWith Hicks, Benjamin Doughty person
correspondedWith Hicks, John D. person
correspondedWith Hoadly, Charles J., (Charles Jeremy), 1828-1900 person
associatedWith Jameson, J. Franklin (John Franklin), 1859-1937. person
correspondedWith Johnson, Jeremiah, 1768-1852 person
correspondedWith Jones, William Alfred, 1817-1900 person
correspondedWith King, John A., 1788-1867 person
associatedWith Kissan, John. person
correspondedWith Latting, John Jordan, b. 1819 person
associatedWith Library of Congress. Manuscript Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Lossing, Benson John, 1813-1891 person
associatedWith Muntford family. family
associatedWith Newberry Library. corporateBody
associatedWith New York (N.Y.). Surrogate. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Hicksite : 1828-1955) corporateBody
correspondedWith O'Callaghan, E. B., (Edmund Bailey), 1797-1880 person
associatedWith Patterson, Wallace, Mrs, person
associatedWith Queens County Agricultural Society (N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith Queens County (N.Y.). Surrogate. corporateBody
associatedWith Reformed Dutch Church (Jamaica, New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Reformed Dutch Church of Kings County. corporateBody
correspondedWith Sabine, Lorenzo, 1803-1877 person
associatedWith Sands, John, 1737-1811 person
correspondedWith Simms, Jeptha Root, 1807-1883 person
correspondedWith Skillman, Joseph Onderdonk, 1827-1872. person
associatedWith Society of Friends. Westbury Monthly Meeting. corporateBody
correspondedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
correspondedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
correspondedWith Strong, Thomas M. person
correspondedWith Stuart, I. W., (Isaac William), 1809-1861 person
associatedWith Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief, 1768-1813. person
associatedWith Tenskwatawa, Shawnee Prophet. person
correspondedWith Thompson, Benjamin F., (Benjamin Franklin), 1784-1849 person
associatedWith Union Hall Academy (Jamaica, New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Varga, Laszlo, 1924- person
associatedWith Woodhull, Nathaniel, 1722-1776. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)
Jamaica (New York, N.Y.)
Queens (New York, N.Y.)
Long Island (N.Y.) |x History |y Revolution, 1775-1783
Flushing (New York, N.Y.)
United States
Lake Success (N.Y.)
New York (State)--Long Island
Queens County (N.Y.)
Queens County (N.Y.)
Nassau County (N.Y.)
Long Island (N.Y.)
Queens County (N.Y.)
Hempstead (N.Y.)
Oyster Bay (N.Y.)
New York (State)--New York
Northwest, Old
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
United States
Long Island (N.Y.) |x History |y Civil War, 1861-1865
Manhasset (N.Y.)
United States |x History |y Revolution, 1775-1783
Kings County (N.Y.)
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
North Hempstead (N.Y. : Town)
Suffolk County (N.Y.)
Kings County (N.Y.)
Long Island (N.Y.)
Long Island (N.Y.)
Suffolk County (N.Y.)
Jamaica (New York, N.Y.)
Jamaica (New York, N.Y.)
Long Island (N.Y.) |x History |y Revolution, 1775-1783
Hempstead (N.Y.)
Suffolk County (N.Y.)
United States
Queens County (N.Y.)
Newtown (Queens County, N.Y.)
New York (State)--New York
New York (State)--Long Island
Oyster Bay (N.Y.)
Long Island (N.Y.)
Indians of North America--Wars--1750-1815
Reformed Church in America
Press and politics
Vital statistics
Horse racing
Manuscripts, American
County Courts
Crime--New York (State)--Queens County
Fourth of July--New York (State)--Queens County
Quakers--New York (State)--Queens County
Shawnee Indians--Wars
Agriculture--New York (State)--Queens County
Local elections--New York (State)--Queens County
African Americans--New York (State)--Queens County
Temperance--Societies, etc
Thames, Battle of the, Ont., 1813
Fourth of July--New York (State)--Long Island
Violoncello music
Quakers--New York (State)--Long Island
Local elections--New York (State)--Long Island
Tippecanoe, Battle of, Ind., 1811
Long Island, Battle of, New York, N.Y., 1776
Agriculture--New York (State)--Long Island
Railroad companies--New York (State)--Long Island
Soldiers--New York (State)
Church announcements
Smithsonian Exchange
Crime--New York (State)--Long Island


Birth 1804

Death 1886


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