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The Shirley Sleyster Book
Thomas > Thomas > Willem > Jan Jurjen > Albertus > Pieter J. > Jan Hendrik > Pieter J. > John F. > Arthur Leroy > Shirley

by Shirley Sleyster Sacino
published in 1977
(Much of her data I did use in the family tree - Here you find a part of her book)


How many of us as we approach later years look back? For me it began two years ago when my then 16 year old daughter, Chrissie, was given an assignment to trace her family tree. Inspired by her search, I began one of my own. In compiling these family records I have not been searching for men of greatness or for skeletons in the closet but rather pursuing my name as a means to better know myself through my ancestors.
Seven years earlier I had attended my dad's funeral and gathered information on my family history from my aunts, Zella, Lillian and Grace. Fortunately, I had written this down and was able to give it to Chrissie who completed her project. She traced the Sleyster line to John, born 1861 and died 1908 This was the beginning of a new and fascinating interest for me which has culminated in this book. I was able to add eight generations taking the history back to 1625. I told a friend about publishing a book on my ancestors, and she was delighted for me. She also made the suggestion that I tell the readers exactly how to search for family ancestors.  Genealogy is an art, not a science. There is no exact way to do it. The researcher is on his own with certain guide lines to travel the many byways. Some of these byways will result in a great deal of information for his efforts and others will end in disappointment after hours of searching. My one suggestion, which I cannot stress emphatically enough, is to talk to relatives of the older generations to gather information, because when they are gone those facts and remembrances are lost forever. Also, do take the time and effort to write them down. As you will see from my book, I was not sufficiently aware of this practice and my information about the family is a little sketchy. As a child growing up I hated the name Sleyster be-cause it was unusual; the children teased me about it.... and besides Smith was so much simpler. I have now come to love the name, knowing better who I am and from where I come. With an uncommon name like Sleyster, telephone books from across the country were helpful in contacting relatives who otherwise would not have been found. During the past two years I have gathered many papers and much information about the Sleysters. I have copies of the signatures of several Sleyster ancestors. I also have copies of Pieter Johannes' Declaration for Pension after the Civil War and also the inventory listing all his belongings at the time of his death. The Dutch people were most conscientious and kept extremely good vital records. Not only was the handwriting almost always legible, it was usually beautiful. My one big handicap was not being able to read the language, but I had no difficulty recognizing my name. This book has been done with emphasis on my paternal direct line; however, I have included an index as part of this work to assist you in identifying your direct line. My sincere thanks to all who have helped my by providing information, putting me in touch with others and filling out the family record forms.  Without you this book would not have been possible. It is my hope that this work on the Sleyster genealogy, though incomplete, will serve as encouragement for others to continue the research.  My apology is offered for any errors or Omissions.  


"God made the world but the Dutch made Holland" runs a famous Dutch epigram.  Holland means "water soaked" and the Dutch have been reclaiming land from the sea since the eleventh century.  The country would be barely half its present size had they not done so.  Synonymous with Holland are the windmills, dikes, dams and polders.  It is fortunate that the Dutch are peace loving people because they have had to spend most of their time and energy waging war with the sea around them. The names for the country, Holland and the Netherlands, are used interchangeably; however, the country is correctly the Netherlands.  North Holland and South Holland are names of two of the provinces in the Netherlands.  Zutphen, where the first Sleyster settled, is a beautiful city on the IJssel River in Gelderland Province founded in about 1190. Some rumors have been handed down that the Sleysters were related to the Earl of Leicester (also Leycester) of England, because of the similar spellings, the pronunciation, and also because the Earl's nephew was killed at the Battle of Zutphen. However, my findings on this point are inconclusive. In fact, in all probability, Sleyster is a German name appearing for the first time in Zutphen in 1625 (Thomas Sleyster). The various forms of the name were:  Sleysser... Schleisser... Klyssar... Slyster... Sleyser... Sleyers… Sleisters... Sleysters... Sleiser... Sleicers... Sleycers... Sleyter... Sleifers... Sleykers... Slytsers... Sleijter.

The 1st. generation:

M1. Marye Loon - 16 Nov 1625
M2. Anneken Willems - 3 May 1637

Very little is known about this ancestor. The spelling of the name suggests he came from Germany; however, the military records only note his commanding officer with no notation of country of birth so it was virtually impossible to trace the name further back. He served in the military in 1625 under C. Trefrey. By 1637 he had attained the rank of sergeant and was serving under Captain Coecke. The records in Zutphen indicate he bought a house in 1650 and be­came a citizen in 1653. Thomas belonged to the Dutch Reform Church as did all direct members of the Sleysters before coming to this country.

....... The 7th generation:

B. Zutphen 19 Feb 1808
M. Gerritgen Gartsen 5 Dec 1832

Jan Hendrik and Gerritgen immigrated to this country in 1846 or 1847 settling in Brunswick, Chariton County, Missouri. (It was the same year Jan's third cousin, Roelof immigrated to this country, settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.) I can only guess why they chose Brunswick, Missouri. It has been said the immigrants traveled west until they arrived at a place that reminded them of home. I have read that most Dutch people, if they had the choice, would choose to live in Gelderland, the province Zutphen is in. To my knowledge there is no record or information of why they left Zutphen. As a house painter, Jan Hendrik undoubtedly would have found more work in a city the size of Zutphen as opposed to Chariton County, Missouri in the middle 1840's. It is possible Jan Hendrik wished to avoid the military in the Netherlands, or perhaps the urge to start a new life in this country, with its abundance of farmland, became too great to overcome. The Central Bureau for Genealogy in the Hague sent to me an interesting physical description of Jan secured from military records. Face full, forehead round, eyes brown, nose moderate, mouth normal, chin round, hair and eyebrows brown, height 5'5 . After Jan Hendrik's death the 1850 Federal Census indicates the children and the mother were found living in Chariton County, but scattered among different families. I was unable to find Barend Albartus so I can only assume he also died.After the 1850 census I could find no record of where Johanna Hendrika or Jan Hendrik - the son, were living. I did find the death date for Johanna Hendrika, February 12, 1879 but have no record of where she died. Pieter Johannes and Gerret remained in Chariton County where they grew to manhood, married and raised families.

The 8th generation:

GERRET (the second son of JAN HENDRIK)
B. Zutphen 18 Oct 1835
M1. Evaline Cooley
M2. Wilhelmina Weggoner

According to "History of Howard & Chariton Counties", published in 1883, Gerret was born in Zutphen, Netherlands, October 18, 1835. At the age of eleven Gerret and his parents, John H. and Ann Sleyster immigrated to this country. They settled in Brunswick, Chariton County, Missouri. This article was my first real breakthrough as it led me to Zutphen, Netherlands where I was able to find so many Sleysters. The article doesn't say anything about Gerret's brothers and sister and the names had been Americanized, but I was finally able to confirm John H. and Ann as my direct ancestors, Jan Hendrik and Gerritgen.

The 8th generation:

B. Zutphen 1 July 1833
M. Catharine Pashion

Again I had to rely on vital records to supply me with information about Pieter Johannes. He and Gerret apparently had strong family ties as they were found living close to each other in the census records.

Pieter served in Company E of the 35th Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia during the Civil War The Enrolled Missouri Militia was in existence from 1862 to 1865. (Pieter enrolled August 1862 and was discharged April 14, 1865). President Lincoln informed the governor of Missouri that the war effort could not accommodate any increase and Missouri would have to shoulder the burden of its own defense. Hence, two bodies of militia soldiers, designated as Missouri State Militia and the Enrolled Missouri Militia were formed. These two military units were responsible for putting down internal disorders, protecting life and property and defense against Confederate invasions. The Enrolled Missouri Militia served intermittently and frequently with little or no pay. Rarely did they gain great victories or sustain crushing defeats.  Their main duties were garrisoning, policing, scouting for Confederate invasions and skirmishing with guerrillas and jayhawkers. Pieter applied for a pension after the war as he was partially blinded.  His petition was rejected.  His physical description on the application for pension was height 5'6", complexion, hair and eyes, dark. A copy of the death record lists the cause as Pincardeth Complication Pneumonia and the attending physician's name was T.A. Martin. Some of the items that were listed on the executors inventory were:  organ, clock, watch, sewing machine, two looking glasses, 600 lbs. bacon, 60 gallon molasses, 40 lbs. coffee.

The 9th generation:

Born: Dalton, Chariton County, Missouri, 1 Sep 1861
Married: Mary Magdalena Gabb

John Frederik Sleyster

Mary Magdalena Gabb


Grandfather John died when my dad was twelve so again there is little first hand knowledge of him.  And unfortunately, I did not start this hobby while my dad was living so the opportunity to gather his remembrances was lost.  I have talked to his younger sisters and they gave me all the information they could. Aunt Maggie, (Margaret Yates) told me that while their mom went to church service at night their dad popped corn for the kids.  While he was busy with that, all the children would shell walnuts for him. He kept his nut meats in the top dresser drawer for nibbling whenever he desired. He called my dad Puffy when he was a small boy and later all the family called him Roy.  At school he was teased by the other kids who called him Slicer, Cutter, etc. as my brother and I were.

The 10th generation:

Born: Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, 31 Mar 1896
Married 1. Vaunciele B. Davenport
Married 2. Florence Horton Jackson

Arthur Leroy Sleyster and Vaunciele B. Davenport

I have a picture of my dad with several other boys and men proudly holding their rifles.  There were three dogs in the picture very boastfully guarding their huge catch of rabbits.  Everyone must have had a fine feast that night. My dad came home from shooting rabbits one day when I was a young child. My mom prepared them for dinner that night, and my dad could hardly wait to start eating the tempt mg morsels. After he told me it was rabbit, I began feeling sorry for the poor thing. The tears began streaming down my face till I couldn't eat a bite.  After that episode, whenever we were having rabbit for dinner my dad always told me it was chicken. My father was a poor, hardworking man. He liked his homebrew and loved to dance and have a good time.  He was rarely absent from work and was a very conscientious employee.  While not a church going man, he always tried to follow the golden rule, "Do unto others...."  He was a soft spoken, easy going person.  He married later in life and I don't know how well he coped with having two young children after the age of 34.  My mom told me that when she had errands to run, my dad always had me in a pair of my brother's outgrown long pants before she returned home.  Perhaps he wanted two boys, but I like to think he did it to protect my legs while I was crawling around on the floor. My dad was old enough to serve in World War I, but because he had five sisters and a widowed mother, he was exempted.  During World War II he was too old for regular service so he joined the Merchant Marines.  He traveled twice aboard ship to Europe to deliver supplies.  I was very proud of him for serving his country when almost 50 years old.

The 11th generation:

Born: Gilliam, Saline County, Missouri, 31 Aug 1931
Married: Dominic (Dick) Frank Sacino

At the age of three I moved from Gilliam to Blair, Nebraska where my childhood years were spent.  After graduating from Central High School in Omaha, Nebraska I worked for four years.  I then moved to Los Angeles where I met and married Dick. Other than genealogy my hobbies and interests have been cooking, interior design, reading, bridge, dancing, my husband and children.  I'm a member of Contra Costa Lawyers' Wives and when the organization originated, seven years ago, I formulated their philanthropic program. Dick was born and raised in Los Angeles.  He graduated from USC in 1953 and then served in the Korean War.  He graduated from Southwestern Law School in 1965.  He is presently Senior Vice President/Claim  with Cal-Farm Insurance Company. Chrissie is in her first year at University of California at Davis. She is a member of Phi Mu Sorority, plays the glockenspiel in the marching band while carrying a 3.75 average. She enjoys skiing, tennis and oil painting.  Chrissie is majoring in anthropology and hopes to study the social behavior of primates. Lisa is a junior in high school where she is head flag girl. Her hobbies include skiing, tennis and bowling. She hopes to work with young children after attending college in California. 

[ The familietree starts with Zt1... ]
[ The familietree of Shirley Sleyster starts with USA2... (Jan Hendrik, born 1808, who departed in 1847)]

Some more pictures from the book:

The letter that Shirley Sleijster recieved in 1975 from Zutphen Town

The ecclesiastical birth declaration of Jan Hendrik - born 19-2-1808

The birth deed of Pieter Johannes Sleijster - born 1-7-1833
(In 1811 it was commissioned by Napoleon to change from church to municipal declaration)


Dominic Frank Sacino was ushered into Heaven on June 30, 2017.  Read the obituary... 


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