The Underhill Society of America is a non-profit family genealogical society that was organized in 1892 and incorporated in 1903. The purpose of the Underhill Society of America is to perpetuate the memory of Captain John Underhill and his descendants. Captain John Underhill was an important figure in Colonial America having arrived in 1630 to form the Colonial militia of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He and his descendants went on to serve in important roles in American life from the military, to politics, business, finance, and industry. Myron Charles Taylor, an Underhill descendant and one time Chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel, made a major bequest to support the work of the Underhill Society of America and related organizations including the Underhill Burying Ground and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. The Underhill Society of America collected and makes available information on genealogy, biography, and history, particularly as it relates to Captain John Underhill and his descendants. There extensive archive is available to view by appointment at 30 West Main Street in Oyster Bay, New York. The Society also publishes periodicals and books, holds an Annual Meeting at different locations throughout the United States, and maintains an archive for the benefit of those seeking to research and learn more about the Underhill family.
HistoryEditArtist depiction of Captain John Underhill.
John Underhill (7 October 1597 – 21 July 1672) was an early English settler and soldier in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Province of New Hampshire, the New Haven Colony, New Netherland, and later the Province of New York. Captain John Underhill died on 21 July 1672 and was buried on his own land in the Underhill Burying Ground in Locust Valley, New York. Over time nearly 300 of his descendants were buried beside Underhill.
Thomas Stewardson, Jr., made a pilgrimage to discover the burial site of Captain John Underhill on October 22, 1868. During this visit he made a sketch of the site, a copy of which he later conveyed to William Underhill, Esq. of Wimbledon, England. In it Stewardson referred to "This pretty, but neglected graveyard" and how he "heard whilst there, of an intention to erect a Monument over the remains of 'Fighting John.'"Copy of drawing by Stewardson from 1868.
The Underhill Society of America was founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1892 by David Harris Underhill and other descendants of Captain John Underhill. The purpose of the Underhill Society of America initially was to establish a monument at the gravesite of Captain John Underhill. William Wilson Underhill was selected as the first President of the Underhill Society of America and also Chairman of the Monument Committee. By the time of their third meeting in 1893, discussion centered on "erecting a monument to the memory of the Captain at his resting place near Glen Cove."
Having made insufficient headway with raising the $6,000 in needed funds, William Wilson Underhill resigned as President of the Underhill Society and as Chairman of the Monument Committee. Estelle Skidmore Doremus took his place as the second President. Between 1898 and 1905 Estelle Skidmore Doremus served as President of the Underhill Society of America.
Doremus made it her objective to find a Chairman for the Monument Committee. She wisely selected Colonel John Torboss Underhill to take on that role. Following Mrs. Doremus' death in 1905, John Torboss Underhill succeeded her as President. Now as President of the Society and Chairman of the Monument Committee, he felt renewed pressure to raise the additional money needed and to proceed with work on the monument. Names on a plaque at the base of the monument recognize the role of Mrs. Robert Ogden Doremus as one of two "Patrons" who supported erection of the monument.
The monument was subsequently built in 1907 at the Underhill Burying Ground and later dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt on July 11, 1908. Over 500 people were on hand for the dedication ceremonies. At the dedication ceremony, then President Theodore Roosevelt said:
"The founder of the family here was a good soldier and a good citizen, and the Underhills have to-day furnished their full quota of good soldiers and good citizens in their time. If they had not, I would not have been here."
Roosevelt went on in his address to notice how family members served in important roles in American life. In mentioning capitalists and wage workers, farmers, mechanics, professional men, and others, Roosevelt did this to support his claim that "each one is entitled to the fullest and heartiest respect if he does his duty well in the position in life in which he happens to find himself."
One other notable reference that Roosevelt made about the family was:
I have known any number of Underhills in every walk of life, men who made their living in many different ways - men belonging to the professions, men who followed the sea, men who tilled the soil, men of means, men who made each day’s living by that days work with their hands - and all of them decent citizens. I won’t say that there are not some Underhills who are not decent, but fortunately I have not met them.
Following the erection and dedication of the monument for Captain John Underhill, the Society went on to hold regular meetings and family reunions. Many of these were very well attended by people from all walks of life. An Annual Report was published annually from 1893 to 1937. Subsequently a Bulletin was published annually since 1954. A semi-annual newsletter called "News and Views" also has been published semi-annually since 1970.
Several books have been brought into print or re-printed due to efforts by the Underhill Society of America. Newes from America, an account of the Pequot War in 1641, was re-printed by the Society in 1902, 1951, and 1972. David Harris Underhill and Francis Jay Underhill published an extensive work titled Underhill Burying Ground that recounted the story of the family and the important people buried in the family cemetery in Lattingtown, New York. Two general interest books on the Underhill family, the Underhills of Warwickshire by John H. Morrison, and John Underhill Captain of New England and New Netherlands by Henry C. Shelley were published in 1932.
One of the major efforts of the Underhill Society of America has been the initial publications and subsequent refinement of the Underhill Genealogy. This is a comprehensive and authoritative resource identifying thousands of Underhill descendants. Volumes I-IV edited by Josephine C. Frost were originally published in 1932. These were followed by Vols. V-VI by Edwin R. Deats and Harry Macy, Jr., that were published in 1980. Finally, Vols. VII-VIII by Carl J. Underhill were published in 2002.
A sizable collection of material on Underhill history and genealogy was accumulated and maintained in the home of David Harris Underhill until his death in 1936. The collection subsequently spent 45 years in storage. In 1981 space was leased by the Underhill Society of America along with the Townsend Society of America on East Main Street in Oyster Bay. They continued to operate from this location through the 1990s, when the Underhill Society and Townsend Society sought separate offices for their collections. The Underhill Society of America presently has offices at 30 West Main Street in Oyster Bay, New York.
The Underhill Society of America is responsible for the following publications:
- Annual Report, published annually from 1893 through 1937
- Bulletin, published annually since 1954
- "News and Views", semi-annual newsletter since 1970
The following books have been published by or for the Society, either as original documents or reprints:
- Newes from America by Capt. John Underhill (reprint) 1902, 1951, 1972
- Underhill Burying Ground by David Harris Underhill and Francis Jay Underhill, 1926
- Underhills of Warwickshire by John H. Morrison, 1932
- John Underhill Captain of New England and New Netherlands by Henry C. Shelley, 1932
- Underhill Genealogy, Vols. I-IV edited by Josephine C. Frost, 1932,
- Underhill Genealogy, Vols. V-VI by Edwin R. Deats and Harry Macy, Jr., 1980
- Underhill Genealogy, Vols. VII-VIII compiled and published in 2002 by Carl J. Underhill
An Annual Meeting of the members was held at a location in New York City each year. The earliest meetings appear to have been held at the Friends' Meeting House on East 20th Street in New York City. Subsequent meetings were held at the Friends' Seminary at Rutherford Place and East Fifteenth Street in New York City, and in 1907 and later at the Underhill Society Library at 198 Rutledge Street in Brooklyn, New York. The Annual Meeting was occasionally supplemented by a February Meeting in the earlier years of the Society. Over time having one meeting a year appears to have become the precedent. In addition to these regularly scheduled meetings, several family reunions have been held through the years.
- 1893, 1st Annual Meeting, Friends' Meeting House, Fifteenth Street and Second Avenue. David Harris Underhill read a history of the Underhill family on February 22, 1893.
- 1893, 1st Family Reunion (planned) on September 21, 1893.
- 1894, 2nd Annual Meeting
- 1894, 2nd Family Reunion (date and location unknown)
- 1895, 3rd Annual Meeting
- 1895, February Meeting, Friends' Meeting House. Robert Underhill chaired meeting with thirty members present. Secretary reported Society has eighty members.
- 1895, 3rd Annual Reunion, Women's Institute Building, Palisade Avenue, Yonkers, New York. Address of welcome from Major Frederic Shonnard and response by Reuben H. Underhill. Piano solo by Prof. Van Alstyne and an ode to Capt. Underhill was read by Fanny Crosby.
- 1896, 4th Annual Meeting
- 1897, 5th Annual Meeting, Friends' Seminary on February 22, 1897. George W. Cocks of Glen Cove spoke on the life of David Underhill, youngest son of Capt. John Underhill. Proposal was made to celebrate Capt. John's three hundredth birthday in New York City in October 1898.
- 1898, 6th Annual Meeting
- 1899, 7th Annual Meeting, Friends' Seminary. Estelle Skidmore Doremus delivered an address on "The Life of Capt. John Underhill."
- 1900, 8th Annual Meeting
- 1901, 9th Annual Meeting
- 1902, 10th Annual Meeting
- 1903, 11th Annual Meeting
- 1903, Family Reunion held on October 7, 1903 at Underhill Burying Ground followed by a luncheon and program at the house of John and Hannah Bayles. George W. Cocks read an "Account of the Old Underhill House at Killingworth."
- 1904, 12th Annual Meeting
- 1905, 13th Annual Meeting, Dr. Robert Ogden Doremus named an Honorary Member. A Memorial Sketch for Estelle Skidmore Doremus was read by David Harris Underhill.
- 1906, 14th Annual Meeting, John Torboss Underhill presided. David Harris Underhill read a paper on Edward Underhill, "the hot gospeller," whose religious views got him confined in the Tower of London. Report of monument committee made. Membership reported at 140.
- 1907, 15th Annual Meeting, Underhill Society Library. Essay on Edward Underhylle The Hot Gospeller read by David Harris Underhill.
- 1908, 16th Annual Meeting
- 1908, 17th Annual Meeting. Total number of members reported at 116.
- 1909, 18th Annual Meeting, Underhill Society Library.
Note: Data for Annual Meetings between 1910-1984 is not as of yet readily available.
- 1985, Rothmann's Steakhouse, East Norwich, New York.
- 1986, Bar Association Building in Mineola, New York, with a bus tour after lunch.
- 1987, Boston, Massachusetts at the Copley Plaza with a tour of the city.
- 1988, Williamsburg, Virginia and a walking tour of the Old Town.
- 1989, Greenport, New York with tours to a museum and the grave of Helena, first wife of Capt. John Underhill.
- 1990, Louisville, Kentucky with tours of Churchill Downs.
- 1991, Charlestown, South Carolina in connection with the reunion of the USS Underhill men.
- 1992, Tarrytown, New York with a visit to Croton Point and Isaac Underhill house.
- 1993, Mackinac Island, Michigan
- 1994, Fredericton, Canada, where we saw different Underhill areas.
- 1995, Uniondale, New York, and a walking tour of Oyster Bay, New York.
- 1996, Santa Barbara, California
- 1997, Savannah, Georgia
- 1998, St. Louis, Missouri with a bus trip around and visited a zoo.
- 1999, Mystic, Connecticut with museum, whaling vessel and lighthouse tours (lighthouse in Kensington nearby) - Meeting Events.
- 2000, Louisville, Kentucky, visited Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky Historical Society Museum in Frankfort and Old Stone Inn in Simpsonville.
- 2001, San Antonio, Texas (canceled due to events of 9/11)
- 2002, Saratoga, New York
- 2003, Belleville, Michigan
- 2004, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- 2005, Asheville, North Carolina and the Biltmore Mansion
- 2006, Vancouver, Canada
- 2007, Fort Worth, Texas
- 2008, Oyster Bay, New York - 100th anniversary of the Capt. John Underhill Monument dedication at Burying Ground on Long Island.
- 2009, Deerfield, Massachusetts
- 2010, Rapid City, South Dakota in the Black Hills Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park.
- 2011, Croton on Hudson in New York’s Hudson River Valley at the Edith Macy Conference Center. Croton Free Library Westchester County Parks.
Past Presidents of the Underhill Society of America include:
- William Wilson Underhill (1892–1898)
- Estelle Skidmore Doremus (1898–1905)
- Col. John Torboss Underhill (1905–1924)
- Francis Jay Underhill (1924–1932)
- Willard Underhill Taylor (1932–1940)
- John Garret Underhill, Sr. (1940–1946)
- Irving Underhill (1946–1950)
- Robert Feeks Underhill (1950–1954)
- John Garrett Underhill, Jr. (1954–1956)
- Charles Alonzo Underhill (1956–1968)
- George Townsend Underhill, Sr. (1968–1973)
- Le Grand Underhill (1974–1975)
- Thelma Weeks Powell (1975–1979)
- Hary Macy, Jr. (1979–1985)
- Andrew Mitchell Underhill, Jr. (1985–1987)
- Robert G. Pope (1987–1995)
- Richard W. Decker (1995–1996)
- N. Robert Underhill (1996–1998)
- George Townsend Underhill, Jr. (1998–2003)
- Carl J. Underhill (2003–2010)
- Robert L. Underhill (2010–2011)
- Jay B. Tucker (2011–present)
Membership consists of descendants of Captain John Underhill. Members receive invitations to the Annual Meeting and to other events. Membership runs from January 1 through December 31 each year. Those interested in becoming a member should visit the Underhill Society of America website.
- Estelle Skidmore Doremus, Charter member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a leading figure in the American colony in Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. Also an important figure in the New York City music and art scene following the Civil War.
- Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer and author famous for her mysterious disappearance.
- Myron Charles Taylor, A leading American industrialist, and a key diplmatic figure at the hub of many of the most important geopolitical events before, during, and after World War II. Also eighth generation descended from Captain John Underhill.
- Col. John Torboss Underhill, distinguished himself in service during the Civil War. Following the war he was elected Colonel of the 27th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1873. He became an important figure in Westchester County political affairs and served as President of the Rifle Association of Mount Vernon, and President of the Underhill Society of America.
Once members exceed the age of 80, they were named Honorary Members. This title was also reserved for those who have performed special services to the Society.
- Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States who was on hand to dedicate the Underhill monument at the Underhill Burying Ground in 1908.
- Thomas P. Peters, former editor of the Brooklyn Daily Tribune.
- Gilbert Pell Underhill
- Aaron T. Underhill, died September 18, 1908.
- Mrs. Edward Trimble, daughter of Walter Underhill and granddaughter of Joshua Underhill.
- Anna C. Underhill, Locust Valley, New York
- Eliza J. Underhill, New York City
- Eliza S. Underhill, Ossining, New York
- George W.L. Underhill, New Rochelle, New York
- Hannah Emery, Washington, Vermont, died July 1905
- Dr. Robert Ogden Doremus, for his services to the Society
- Adeline deForest Underhill, Poughkeepsie, New York
- Lucinda C. Underhill, mother of David Harris Underhill, died February 24, 1913.
- ^ a b c d "Annual report of the secretary, Volumes 12-25". Underhill Society of America. 1904. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- ^ a b c "Underhill Society Plans". The New York Times. February 23, 1893. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- ^ a b c "Roosevelt Attacks Socialist Ideal". The New York Times. 12 July 1908. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- ^ a b "History". Underhill Society of America. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- ^ "Meeting of the Underhill Society". The New York Times. 24 February 1895. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- ^ "A FEW OF THE 7,000 UNDERHILLS; They Meet for Their Third Annual Reunion and Honor the Memory of Captain John". The New York Times. 16 June 1895. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- ^ "Underhill Society's Meeting". The New York Times. 23 February 1897. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- ^ "Arrested in Albany for Bigamy". The New York Times. 2 February 1899. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- ^ "Underhill Society Meets; Family Organization Plans a Monument to a Famous Ancestor". The New York Times. 13 May 1906. Retrieved 27 December 2011.