David Demarest and His Legacy
“… we believe that we have captured in this book the kind of person Demarest was and the circumstances that shaped his life.”
Winner of the National Huguenot Society’s Book Award for 2008
A Huguenot on the Hackensack is the first full-length study of David Demarest, an early European settler of northeastern New Jersey and progenitor of a large and locally influential family. The book examines Demarest’s life, the legacy of his family, and the wider “Jersey Dutch” community in which the family played a prominent part. The book looks beneath accumulated layers of legend and older historical interpretations to formulate a new and more realistic (and more interesting) account of Demarest’s life and legacy.
The book covers Demarest’s life, starting with his birth in the French province of Picardy, through his sojourns in Middleburg (Netherlands), Mannheim (Germany), Staten Island and New Harlem, and finally the French Patent along the Hackensack River in New Jersey. New evidence and new interpretations provide a picture of Demarest as an ambitious and upwardly mobile entrepreneur with an unusual talent for balancing risk and opportunity, and a dedicated churchman and community leader under both Dutch and English rule. The book next considers the Demarests in the eighteenth century, when the family rose to prominence in Bergen County. It concludes with an assessment of the Demarest family’s American experience. Demarest’s life and legacy will be of interest not just to the large number of his descendants and the numerous descendants of other Jersey Dutch families, but more broadly to those interested in regional history, New Netherland, and American social history.