I visited this site several months ago and was amused by some of the arguments about notarized documents, surname spellings, etc. Now I drop by again, many months later, and find the same thing going on. Let me first identify myself as someone who has been a researcher for more than 30 years of the descendants of Pieter Pieterse Lassen of Dutchess County, New York. You can read my article about this family in the NYG&B Record, July 1998 to April 2000, and there you will find information about Cornelius F. Van Sicklen (as his name appears in the marriage record; Cornelius Van Sicler in his baptismal record) and his sole wife Annatje Lasson (as she appears in baptismal records). I am not going to state what I believe about their descendants, but I would like to make a few comments about some of the things being argued about.
1) Surnames were pretty fluid up until about 1800 because most people in this country were illiterate. Those who wrote baptismal records, church memberships, first communions, marriage records, census enumerations, wills, probate records, court records, land records, in fact anything official, could not ask those involved how they spelled their surnames because they did not know. So the writer just put down a phonetic rendering of what they heard, and they might not be consistent from one document to the next. Some ministers, like the minister at New Hackensack in Dutchess County, were notorious for their creative spellings.
2) Those individuals who were literate were not consistent themselves. Shakespeare, for example, used over a dozen different versions of his surname. My own immigrant ancestor, Pieter Pieterse Lassen, used Lassen, Lassing, Lassingh, and more, with variations in his given name as well. It didn't matter to them because, in a small population, everyone knew who they were.
3) We don't know exactly how they pronounced their surnames. This is why Lassing, the most common spelling in the 1700's and probably pronounced something like Law-sing, became Lawson and Lossing in the 1800's. With the adoption of English pronunciations, Lassing would have been pronounced Lass-ing, and this was probably not how they said their name.
4) Much has been made of the various notarized documents as somehow being "better" or "more valid" than other items. This is simply not the case. I can swear to anything and find someone to notarize it. Also, the people involved may have truly believed what they stated, but just having it notarized does not make it true. Fanny Kelley says she knew her grandfather Cornelius Van Sicklen, and she probably did, but she was born in 1837 and he died in 1850, her grandmother in 1849. So she was still very young when she knew him and very old when she documented her recollections. Is it any wonder that her memory might be a little hazy?
5) As for the notarized transcription of the family Bible, even that is open to question. Yes, the notary probably compared the Bible to the transcript and attested to the transcript's accuracy by affixing his seal. However, I have two questions that no one seems to have considered. When was the Bible published, and what is the first family date it contains? If the family data predates the publication of the Bible, then it is not a primary source. The information has been written from someone's memory. While it may be correct, it must now be recognized that it is open to question.
Anyways, I just had to put in my two-cents' worth. I hate to see so much time being spent on trivialities such as the "correct" spelling of 18th century names when there is no such thing.