Johannes Best, Jr.

Johannes Best, Jr. (1751-1820) was born April 24, 1751 in Livingston Manor, NY which is now known as Johnstown. He was a second generation American and was baptized four days later with sponsors Johannes Petrie and Thipyta Ham.300px-Livingston_Manor_1777

His parents were Johannes Best (c.1730-1787) and Eva Lounart.  His grandparents were Palatine immigrants who established the footprint for generations of Best to come.  

The Best and Mesick houses were close by and the farms adjoined each other and Johannes Best, Jr. and Margaret Mesick probably met as small children and grew up together.

Johannes Best, Jr. married Margaret Mesick (1756-1831) on December 14, 1772.  Margaret was born on March 12, 1756.  She was the daughter of Hendrick Mesick (1714-1809) and Catherine Dederick (?-1792).

In 1790, they resided in Livingston Manor, in the northwestern part and north of Johnstown, near Glenco Mills in the house built by his father.

John Best, Jr. served with distinction in the Revolutionary War.  He was first a member of the Independent Company, Albany County Militia, Capt. Petrus van Gaasbeck, probably attached to the 17th Regiment., Col. Wm. B. Whiting.

He became and Ensign, and afterwards a Lieutenant in 6th Company in the same Militia of Capt. Jacob F. Shaver, 10th Regiment., Manor of Livingston, under Colonel Peter R. Livingston. John Best, Jr. was commissioned Lieutenant on October 20, 1775 and reappointed Lieutenant on May 28, 1778.

In the Record and Pension Office, War Department, the name of John Best, Jr. appears on a receipt roll, dated, at Manor of Livingston, March 13, 1785, with a remark, showing that he received £12. 14s. 3p. for services in that organization (Colonel Livingston’s Regiment), which was in service from 1777 to 1781.

As a Lieutenant of the Manor, Johannes’ chief duty was to raise troops and forward supplies to the Continental Army. While in charge of troops, upon a foraging expedition, he was captured.   As was often the case, in the dispatches of those times, a mistake as to his rank was made, as suggested by a letter from Colonel Armand of the Partisan Corps to General Washington at Headquarters (Newburgh?). The letter spoke of “Capt. Best,” officer of the Pulaski Legion, prisoner of war, who is to be exchanged for Count de Graff and a second letter, from the same to the same, stating that the exchange was made at Charlotteville, Virgina, Jan. 28, 1782. (The New York Historical Society Collections, pp. 326- 329, pub. 1878).

Was Johannes Best, Jr. truly a prisoner of war who was exchanged and released in 1782?  The author Charles Best Benson attempted to demonstrate that a mistake about being a Captain is evident from a letter from the Record and Pension Office, War Dept., Washington which stated: “Nothing has been found on the rolls on file in this office to show that a person named Best served as a captain in any military organization during the war of the Revolution.”  In “History of Columbia County” by Everts and Ensign on page 256, “Capt. Best” is mentioned without any details of his service.  According to Benson, these two pieces of evidence (one that there was no Capt. Best and one implying the confusion that there was) support the idea that the “Capt. Best” mentioned above was actually Lieutenant John Best, Jr.  Whether this accurate will remain an unanswered historical question.

photo-15The records of the Reformed Dutch Church at Linlithgo show that Johannes Best, Jr. was Elder and Deacon from for almost a year from April 8, 1779 to June 1, 1790.

In 1808, John Best, Jr. lived in Road District No. 2 on the road leading from the Clermont line, and so past Philip Rockefeller’s [who married Anne, his sister] store, to the crossroad to Josiah Nash.

Johannes and Margaret’s children were born in Claverack:

Child Born Married Departed
 John Best
 Peter Best 7 Sep 1777 Maria Becker 26 Jan 1846
 Henry Best
 Jacob Best
 Ephraim Best c. 1785
 David Best c. 1787
 Abraham Best 21 Jan 1790 Harriet Van Deusen 10 Apr 1814 1 Jul 1871
 Jeremiah Best
 Sarah Best

The will of John Best, Jr. is dated 1820. In it, he describes himself as “Yoeman” of the town of Livingston.  He mentions his wife, Margaret, and sons, John, Peter, Henry, Jacob, Ephraim, David, Abraham, and Jeremiah, and daughter, Sarah Murray and appoints Frederick Hauser and sons, Peter and John Best, as Executors.


John Best, Jr. — Lintlithgo Church Cemetery

Johannes Best, Jr. died on October 25, 1820.  Margaret died eleven years later on October 5, 1831.

Margaret Mesick Best -- Linlithgo Church Cemetery

Margaret Mesick Best — Linlithgo Church Cemetery

They are both buried in Johnstown in the town of Livingston, directly in the rear of the old Dutch Church.


The Family of Best in America

Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs

Records of the Reformed Dutch Church, New York City, 1639-1801

New York in the Revolution: Prepared Under Direction of the Board of Regents By University of the State of New York. Board of Regents, New York State Archives

The New York Historical Society Collections, pp. 326- 329, pub. 1878

Old Cemetery of Livingston Reformed Church

Old Cemetery of Livingston Reformed Church

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