Select Roosevelt Surname Genealogy

Roosevelt is an American surname originally derived from a Dutch place name spelled variously as van Rosevelt or van Rosenvelt, meaning "from the rose field."  The most famous bearers of this name come from the Roosevelt family, a merchant and political family descended from the 17th century immigrant to New York Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt.

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The van Rosevelts were prominent in the Tholen coastal region of SW Holland where they were vassal lords.  However, no records exist to connect the 17th century emigrant Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt with these van Rosevelts.  

  In 1613 the first Dutch settlers arrived and founded a number of villages and a town called New Amsterdam in what was to become the state and city of New York.  Some of the Dutch families who came to New York in the 1600's, such as the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, van Burens, Schuylers and van Dykes were later through their descendants to have important parts to play in American history.

Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York) sometime in the late 1640's.  He took up land to farm in an area today of midtown Manhattan which includes the Empire State Building. Claes' son Nicholas, a fur trader and shopkeeper, was the first to use the spelling Roosevelt.  His children Johannes and Jacobus were the progenitors of the Oyster Bay and Hyde Park branches of the Roosevelt family that emerged in the 18th century.

Isaac Roosevelt, the son of Jacobus, became one of the first large-scale sugar refiners in colonial New York.  His heirs invested their inheritance wisely, prirnarily in coal and railroads, and augmented their position through judicious marriages.  They were generally content to live at their estate at Hyde Park on the Hudson river as country gentlemen.  The family itself became progressively less Dutch over time.  Isaac's mother was German, he himself married a Swede, and his son and grandson both married English women.

Oyster Bay Roosevelts  These Roosevelts, the descendants of Johannes, made their money later.  It was Cornelius van Schaak Roosevelt, known as CVS, who was the founder of the family fortunes.  He made a killing in Manhattan real estate, plunging into the market during the Panic of 1837 when property values had crashed.  At his death in 1871 he was said to be one of the five richest men in New York. 

Later Roosevelts were involved in banking and trust fund management.  The firm of Roosevelt & Son, begun by CVS's father as a glass importer, celebrated its 150th year anniversary on Wall Street in 1947.  It was only Teddy Roosevelt, seizing his opportunity during the Spanish-American War of 1898, that deviated the family into politics.

Hyde Park Roosevelts  Teddy Roosevelt was a hero to his distant cousin, Hyde Park's Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  FDR in fact married Eleanor Roosevelt from Teddy's side of the family in 1905 and his political career closely followed that of Teddy's, even to the extent of attaining the Presidency. 

FDR and the Hyde Park Roosevelts are generally associated with the Democratic party, Teddy and the Oyster Bay Roosevelts with the Republican party. There was a bond between the two sides, although they did fall out after FDR captured the White House.  Teddy's widow came out of retirement then to announce that "the New Deal was incompatible with our American democracy and liberty."        

Many books have covered the Roosevelt family, the earliest probably being C.B. Whittelsey's 1902 book The Roosevelt Genealogy.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States, from 1901 to 1909.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) was the 32nd President of the United States, from 1932 to 1946.
Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady, was wife to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Kim Roosevelt was the CIA operative who directed the 1953 coup which overthrew President Mossadegh of Iran.

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  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in New York)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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