Can we settle the question of Johannes Pootman's origins?

+15 votes

Bringing this discussion to G2G because I think it's more effective to discuss things here than to add more long messages on the various profile pages...

Situation: Johannes Pootman is a New Netherland immigrant who has two profiles that have been stuck in a merge conflict for a long time. Because the man who settled in New Netherland was recorded as a 16-year-old apprentice in 1661, it's agreed that he was born in the Netherlands about 1644-1645. It's also agreed that he died in Schenectady in 1690. But documentation in New Netherland does not give any hints about his earlier life. The old genealogies said his origins were unknown, but WikiTree contributors have created profiles that present two different theories on his parents. Here are the conflicting stories that have been preventing the profile managers from agreeing to merge:

  1. Profile Pootman-8 has parents Victor Pootman and Maria Davidse, based on a Netherlands baptism record for Jan Pootman, baptized in North Brabant in 1644, child of Victor Pootman and Marija Davids.
  2. Profile Putnam-1827 is connected in WikiTree to a father named Roger Pootman who is, in turn, the son of Rutger Janse Pootman. The source for this family is identified as "Putnam Lineage."

Evidence and analysis. The Johannes Pootman who lived in New Netherland is recorded with a son named Victor (an unusual name in New Netherland) and a daughter Maritie (a variant of Maria), and no son named Rutger or Roger.  In view of the Dutch customs of naming children for their grandparents, I think this is strong (albeit not 100% conclusive) evidence that the man in New Netherland was the son of Victor Pootman and Marija Davids who was baptized in 1644.

But where does the claimed connection to Rutger Janse and Roger Pootman come from? Comments and text on various profile pages refer to  "Warren T. Putman" -- meaning the document at -- and "History of the Putman Family in The Netherlands," by Adolf Hendrick Putman, dated 1736 and translated by DeWitt C. Putman. I found the DeWitt Putman translation in a 1899 publication on Google Books and copied the text onto a new free-space page History of the Family of Putman in the Netherland (so we'll have easy access the next time questions arise about this family). This is claimed to be an account written in 1736 of the family history of Adolf Putman's family, which originated in Westphalia and lived in Gelderland ("Guederland" in the document) in the Netherlands. In the document, I find that the claim that Johannes P. of New Netherland belonged to this family did not originate with Adolf Putman, but came from a letter that DeWitt Putman received from a "Colonel Putman", probably in 1898. According to DeWitt Putman:

Col. Putman, of Guederland, in a recent letter states that Jan Putman was a grandson of Abraham, the son of Rutger (1510-1575). He says Abraham was born in 1567 and his brother John in 1566. Also, that Abraham, on account of the Reformation of Religion, went to England, via Amsterdam, in 1590, and died in 1650. He had a son who was born in 1597, who married in 1644, and had John, born in 1645, who he claims was the emigrant to America.

Of the Abraham referred to in this note, the document claimed to have been written by Adolf Putman in 1736 says : "Of Abraham we know little except rumors he went to Holland and some of his descendants are in London, England." It does mention that this Abraham's brother John had a son named Rutger who had a son John Putman born in 1645 -- and it gives no additional information about that John (who apparently would have been Adolf's uncle). It appears to me that the claim by the mysterious Col. Putman has been conflated with this other information to create a pedigree that neither Col. Putman or Adolf presented.

Based on all this, I think that Johannes Pootman of New Netherland should be connected to Victor and Marija as his parents, and the claims for Rutger Putman should be discussed in a "Disputed Origins" section in the profile, with citations to sources (including that free-space page I made). Also, the Netherlands family described in the document attributed to Adolf Putman deserves to have additional profiles created, to correspond with the information given by Adolf.

What do you think? What are your opinions of my analysis? Does anyone (particularly thinking of our Dutch contributors) have insights to provide regarding the 1644 baptism record or the Adolf Putman family history? (Does anyone have information related to determining the origin and authenticity of the Adolf Putman family history?) Are there other primary records to consider? Is there some modern scholarship on the Victor Pootman family or the Rutger Pootman/Putman family that's been overlooked?

WikiTree profile: Johannes Pootman
in Genealogy Help by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
edited by Ellen Smith

I find some of the family of Adolf Hendrik Putman discussed in this book at (Dutch URL should be at ):

Nassau en de macht van Oranje: de strijd van de Friese Nassaus voor hun rechten, 1702-1747

Front Cover

Marijke Bruggeman

Uitgeverij Verloren, 2006 - Friesland (Netherlands) - 480 pages

Thanks you for this analysis that was very well written!  It was concise, well thought out, and put a number of facts under consideration that needed to be stated about a steadfast modern-day tradition, a tradition that has been very difficult to correct.  The Rutgerus Putmanus tradition has been an easy fix a hopeful tradition that is most certainly but unfortunately incorrect.  That tradition needed to be checked.   That tradition was a pattern of thought that has had a very long or lengthy standing.  However, the Aalburg, Netherlands, Victor Pootman and Maria Davidts, parentage for Johannes Pootman will very likely be proved beyond doubt eventually through DNA testing.  For your  care in presenting this analysis, thanks, again!

2 Answers

+5 votes
Wow. In-depth analysis of something I've never heard of that I never knew I needed.
+5 votes


I agree that the naming pattern is strong evidence in favor of the Poortmans. There also is a primary source for Jan Poortman's baptism and parents.

The Putmans were late 16th and early 17th century pastors and lawyers in the Twenthe region of the province Overijssel. 

A book on early Twenthe pastors was written by historian professor Paul H.A.M. Abels in 1984: "De broederen van Twenthe; een studie van de eerste Twentse dominees (1597-1678)" ("The brethren of Twenthe; a study on the first Twenthe pastors (1597-1678)"). 

A private tree with about 130,000 pre-1812 persons has a branch of Putmans starting with the 16th century Jan. These Putman persons have citations of that book as source. 

Church records of the relevant villages Goor and Delden are preserved  starting second half of 17th century, so after the supposed 1644-1645 birth of John (probably meaning Jan or Johannes) Putman.

Anyway, the tree has no record for such Jan as son of Rutger, but this Rutger did have children baptized Sep 1644 and March 1646. Another child in this 18 month gap is possible in theory, but quite unlikely I think.

So that leaves the col Putman scenario as possibility. No traces of this branch, starting with the 16th century Jan's brother Abraham, I could find. But why would this mysterious Abraham that studied law have to flee for religious reasons when all of the family did not, being of the prevailing Dutch Reformed relgion?

I also tried to find the Dutch version of the "History of the Putman Family in The Netherlands", but could not find any reference to a likely Dutch title or Adolf/Adolph Hendrik/Hendrick Putman as author of any book.


I agree that Jan Poortman is the most probable progenitor of the New Netherland Pootman/Potman/Pottman/Putman branch.

Given the Dutch Putman family tree (reliably sourced in my opinion) it would not be too hard to add that to WikiTree.

by Living Terink G2G6 Pilot (304k points)

Thanks, Jan! Regarding "History of the Putman Family in The Netherlands," I don't think it deserves to be called a book (too short). If it was published, it likely would have been published as a pamphlet.

OK, in the provincial archive HCO (Historical Centre Overijssel) some paper Putman family archives are kept. When I have the opportunity I will visit and look for any additional helpful information.

By the way, forgot to mention but the Putman tree to a large extent confirms the "History of the Putman Family in The Netherlands", but of course without the essential 1645 Jan and 16th century Abraham...

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