First, I will begin with a brief statement about the variant spelling between the Fosdick and Fosdyck configuration of our surname. Surnames seldom stay the same over time. The most common reason for change in America has been phonetic spelling. Also, in the past, the exact spelling of a name was not as important as it is today.
Over an expanse of more than 360 years, the Fosdick/Fosdyck generations in America, and briefly in Canada, have played their role, generally a humble one, in building the country. They have been part of the American scene, and my interest has been as much in the scene as in the actors. These pages will create a time line for the total period covered, reconstructing the local, regional, national and sometimes international events which had an impact on our ancestors. Our family will be tied to this time line again and again throughout these pages. The Fosdick/Fosdyck family story is rich with descriptions of daily life, colorful characters, and important events in their lives. These pages portray twelve generations of an American family against the background of their times and in doing so, broaden the panorama of our family history. Having focused more in the way they lived, their environment, their problems, their strengths, their weaknesses and their contributions, they become alive rather than the faceless ancestors in the branches of a grand old tree.
In 1891 Lewis L. Fosdick (1837-1918), of Jamaica, Long Island, New York, published his book on the Fosdick family: Fosdick Family, The Oyster Bay Branch. It brought together, for the first time in a printed text, all that was known about the American family, with particular reference to the Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York branches.
Since that time considerable research was conducted by various members of the family, most notably: Raymond B. Fosdick (1883-1972), of Newton, Connecticut who published his Annals of The Fosdick Family in 1953. Raymond relied extensively on Lewis’ book and research conducted by Charles Fosdick (1848-1925), of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and by his nephew, Superior Court Judge Frederick Woodbury Fosdick (1875-1943), of Boston, Massachusetts
My own interest in family history was triggered by the bicentennial celebration throughout the country, and Alex Haley’s book. Most family historians do genealogy for the satisfaction of knowing whom their ancestors were, which gives them an individual identity, and most of them enjoy putting puzzles together. I characterize myself as an unraveler of puzzles.
Two important things should be kept in mind in looking over these pages. First, although I was fortunate to find copies of the rare family histories of Lewis Fosdick and Raymond Fosdick which traced our line of ascent, I have meticulously checked for accuracy and documented the genealogy without following blindly. During the majority of my research I have personally examined the records that chronicle our family, however, in a few instances local historians have verified the existence and accuracy of the documentation that traces each of the twelve generations. All documentation is cited. Second, it should be remembered that I have relied extensively, for the period prior to the American Revolution, on the works of Lewis and Raymond. While verifying the information, I have not, in the majority of this text, attempted to repeat the research which they so successfully brought together. In large part it merely supplements their works. For subsequent generations, my research has been restrained to one branch that emigrated from Oyster Bay, and eventually settled in Augusta, Hancock County, Illinois.
I have conducted extensive research on the earliest origins of the Fosdick surname. This research is an attempt to extend the family history further. Nevertheless, the majority of the Fosdicks and all of the Fosdycks in America can trace thier “roots” back to Stephen Fosdick of Great Wenham, England.