November 26, 1585 – December 27, 1642
The Op den Graeff family – a name that in historical records can be seen as being spelled Opdegraf, Updegrave, Updegrove – is an old Dutch Mennonite family from Cleve and Crefeld.
Herman Op den Graeff was born on November 26, 1585 in Aldekerk, Kleve, Nordhein-Westfalen, Germany. In 1609, at the age of 24, he moved to Krefeld, Germany. In 1632, he was one of two delegates of the Crefeld Mennonite Church to sign the Dordrecht Confession and he also served as Bishop in the Crefeld congregation.
The Dordrecht Confession of Faith is a statement of religious beliefs adopted by Dutch Mennonite leaders at a meeting in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, on April 21, 1632. Its 18 articles emphasize belief in salvation through Jesus Christ, baptism, nonviolence, shunning those who leave the church, feet washing, and avoidance of taking oaths. — Wikipedia
Besides serving as preacher in the Crefeld congregation, Herman was a linen weaver as well as a merchant in cloth and linen. It is noted that he was an extremely wealthy one at that, which can be told by the quality of the stained glass windows that were in his house and the number of children that he had.
The entire family turned Quaker around 1679/80.
Herman Op den Graeff is the mystery man in this line of the family. Actually, three of our lines culminate with him through Sarah Dunbar. But it’s where the line goes back and beyond him that is a bit of a mystery.
Herman’s parentage is not recorded. Unfortunately. But there are many theories as to what his parentage was.
He’s a man of mystery with no recorded ancestry. End of story.
Some say the Herman Op den Graeff was the illegitimate son of Johann Wilhelm von Jülich-Kleve-Berg and Anna Van Aldekerk or Altenkirchen.
Johann Wilhelm was the Bishop of Cleves from 1574 – 1585. He was married twice, the first time to Jakobea of Baden and the second time to Antonia of Lorraine. He did not have children with either of his first wives.
Anna Van Aldekerk was a nun who it is alleged that Johann Wilhelm entered into a morganatic marriage – one in which Anna, and any children of the marriage, would not share the husband/father’s rank and would have no claims to his inheritance.
Johann Wilhelm came from the long line of the Dukes de la Marck /von der Marck and for all intents and purposes, all documentation says that he was the last of his line.
People who want to make this connection from Herman Op den Graeff to the de la Marck line cite the stained glass windows in Herman Op den Graeff’s house as a clue, or even proof, of his lineage.
This 16th century stained glass window is in the Kaiser-Wilhelm Museum in Berlin. It shows the Lohengrin Swan from the coat of arms of the House of Cleves.
It is recorded that he had 18 children with Anna. At least half of them died as infants or children.
One of three linear paths that lead us to Herman Op den Graeff:
Herman Op Den Graeff (1585 – 1642) is my 11th great grandfather
Isaac Hermans Op Den Graeff (1616 – 1679) Son of Herman
Abraham Isaacs Op Den Graeff (1649 – 1731) Son of Isaac Hermans
Gertien Op Den Graeff (1681 – 1725) Daughter of Abraham Isaacs
Anna Adams/Addams (1714 – 1794) Daughter of Gertien
Jacob Adam Umstead (1745 – 1817) Son of Anna
Joel Tyson Umstead (1783 – 1870) Son of Jacob Adam
Reverand Richard Hunsberger Umstead (1821 – 1895) Son of Joel Tyson Umstead
Sarah Ann Umpstead (1846 – ) Daughter of Reverand Richard Hunsberger
Sarah A. Dunbar (1873 – 1940) Daughter of Sarah Ann
Alberta Claire Oesterling (1893 – 1976) Daughter of Sarah A.