Acker Family
Papers, 1784-1925


Quantity: 1 box (0.50 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift: Carlsbad City Library, Carlsbad, California, July 2015
Processed By: Regina Berry, Student Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, September 2015

View catalog record

Biographical Note:

The Acker family is a classic example of early American settlers: buying land, farming, working hard, joining the local militia, and eventually having branches in western states. (Note: The name Acker is variously spelled Aker, Eaker, Eker, Acre and Acker. The early generations seem to have gone by Aker, while the later generations settled on Acker.)

John Aker appears to have been born in 1750, probably somewhere in eastern New York State.  There is some indication that he may have had Dutch ancestors by the name of Vrooman. There are several listings for John Aker or Acker in the records of New York in the Revolution, Vol. 1, but it is not clear if any of these is the John Aker in question. Following the war he appears to have been living in Freehold, Albany County, New York. (In 1800 parts of Albany and Ulster counties were combined to create Greene County, which is where Freehold, New York is located today.)  He made land transactions in Freehold between 1798 and 1805.  Aker also was able to purchase land in the Central New York Military Tract around 1800, in the town of Cincinnatus, Onondaga County. In 1808 Onondaga County was split and Cincinnatus became part of the new Cortland County.  Then, in 1818, part of Cincinnatus became Freetown, where he lived until his death in 1839 or 1840. John Aker is named as an early settler in the history of Freetown.  He is buried in Freetown Cemetery, Cortland County.

Little is known about John's marriage or family, except that he had a son, Abraham Aker, born in 1796.  Abraham is listed as a farmer in the 1850 federal census living in Freetown with his wife, Mehitable, and son, Damon. Mehitable (1799-?) was the daughter of David Monrose, who also was an early settler of Freetown. The couple married about 1817 and had at least several sons, two of whom are represented in this collection, Damon, born in 1819, and his brother John, born in 1829. 

Abraham Aker served in the War of 1812, and, later, in the New York State militia as a lieutenant and later a captain.  He was the executor of his father's estate in 1840.  Abraham moved to Syracuse at some point, perhaps to live with his son John.  He died there in 1874.

Damon Aker joined the New York State militia, like his father, and was elected a corporal in 1840 and sergeant in 1846. He married Minerva Elliot before 1851, and had several daughters.  The couple lived in Freetown and appeared in the 1860 federal census.  Damon must have died before 1870, as Minerva is listed as a widow in the 1870 census. 

John Acker was a bookkeeper, who by the age of 24 was living in Syracuse, New York. He married Caroline (Carrie) M_____, and they had two sons, Willitt Hamilton Acker, (born 1858) and Ashley B. Acker (born 1859). (Willitt seems to have been the intended spelling, but also appears as Willett in some accounts.)  By 1887, the couple was living in Liverpool, New York, northwest of Syracuse.

Willitt H. Acker was born in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1858, despite the fact that his family lived in Freetown, New York, at the time of the 1860 federal census. He married in 1883 and had a son, Guy, and daughter, Mabel. In 1900, Willitt and his family resided in Syracuse, New York. Willitt's wife died sometime in the next few years and he moved to Spokane, Washington, with his mother-in-law. In 1911, Willitt married Nellie Colburn in Spokane. The couple moved to California and had one son, Phillip Colburn Acker, born in 1912 in Vallejo, California.  The Ackers became hotel proprietors in San Diego, Calif.  Willitt died in 1927 and Phillip in 2006.

Mabel Acker (1886-?), Willitt's daughter by his first wife, became an actress, living in New York and Boston.  She married Harry L. Burrage about 1912, and had one daughter, Alice Rosalind Burrage (1912-1973).

Scope and Content Note:

These papers consist chiefly of correspondence, military service records (War of 1812), and land titles related to pioneer settlers of the Town of Freetown in Cortland County, New York. The papers also include wills, inventories, and other documents related to the estate of various members of the Acker family as well as research materials relative to Acker family history and genealogy. Land purchases occurred mainly in Albany County, New York, in the town of Freehold (now Greene County); and in Cortland County, New York, in Freetown.

Abraham Aker's pension papers are an example of how the United States dealt with war pensions in the 1800s.  Pensions were first granted to soldiers who were disabled while in the service and to heirs of soldiers who died during the war. The first pension act based on service was not passed until 1871 and a second was passed in 1878. This explains Abraham's dealings with the state 60 years after the war ended.

One interesting item in this collection is the handwritten "Meditations on the 50th Anniversary of American Independence," assumed to have been written by Abraham Aker in 1826.  He is clearly a literate and well-spoken man.  He writes, in part: "Liberty and the improvement of the condition of the human race, and tyranny and slavery are opposite principles and if we enquire into the causes which "whelm nations in blood and wrap cities in fire, we shall find a considerable share in a struggle between those principles but a still greater in the ambitious assigns of monarchs."  

Included with these papers is a CD that contains several files on the genealogy of a Roger Tyler of Connecticut. It is unclear what relationship this family has to the Ackers of this collection.  (There is, listed in the index of the books on this CD, one "John Akers."  However, the names of his wife and children do not appear in this collection and by the age of his children, he would likely have been born around the 1840s, which would put him between the births of John Acker in 1829 and his son Willitt Acker in 1858.)

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Description
1 1 Genealogical papers and notes for the Acker family, including:
  1. Abraham Acker's list of Vrooman ancestors from Holland, 1826
  2. Correspondence of John Acker with the New York State Historical Library and the New-York Historical Society, 1887, 1888
  3. Correspondence with the Next of Kin Office, London, seeking information on Capt. Charles Sealy, 1887
  4. Ancestor Chart and Family Group pages for Acker and Colburn families, likely compiled by Philip C. Acker, n.d.
  5. Various notes with genealogical information, n.d.
1 2 Papers of John, Abraham and Damon Acker, 1785-1846:
  1. Note to John W. Truax from Volkert Veeder regarding medicine for John Acker's horse, April 25, 1785
  2. Note to Col. Peter Yeats (sic), New York militia, from Josiah Commens, regarding delivery of payment certificates to John Aker, March 25, 1786
  3. Commission: Abraham Aker appointed first lieutenant in the 8th Regiment, New York State militia, signed by Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins, April 27, 1816
  4. Commission: Abraham Acre (sic) appointed a captain in the 16th Regiment, New York State militia, signed by Gov. DeWitt Clinton, April 12, 1819
  5. "Meditations on the 50th Anniversary, American Independence," probably written by Abraham Acker, ca. 1826.
  6. Letter: Land & General Agency Office, Albany, [New York] to Abraham Aker, Freetown Corners, [New York], stating that claim for bounty land must be done by the veteran or his heir, June 28, 1827
  7. Will of John Aker of Freetown, Cortland, New York, November 7, 1837
  8. Surrogate statement that the will of John Aker, deceased, is approved and his son, Abraham Aker, is executor, December 21, 1840
  9. Warrant electing Damon Aker a corporal in the New York State militia, September 7, 1840
  10. Warrant electing Damon Acker a sergeant in the New York State militia, August 19, 1846
1 3 Letters: Abraham Aker, Freetown, [New York], to John Aker, Syracuse, [New York], 1853-1857, n.d.:
  1. July 6, 1853, encouraging him to work hard and settle down
  2. January 6, 1857, complaining that he doesn't write and asking the name of his wife
  3. April 13, 1857, sending family and community news and asking him to visit
  4. December 17, 1857, reporting that Aunt Melinda has died and Aunt Sylvia is married (sisters of Mehitable Manrose Aker)
  5. Undated, saying "I am a hard shell Democrat and I hope you are…"
  6. Undated, saying "—we whipped the abolitionists to pieces—the entire Democratic ticket is elected."
  7. Letter: Henry S. Randall, Albany, New York, to Abraham Aker, telling him he has recommended his son, John, for a job as assistant weighmaster, paying $50 per month, February 29, [?].
1 4 Abraham Aker's War of 1812 pension papers and will, 1869-1874:
  1. Notice from New York State Comptroller's Office of payment of $36.82 for services during the war, December 15, 1869
  2. Copy of the New York State circular regarding survivors of the War of 1812, April 30, 1870
  3. Letter from Abraham Aker requesting a share of New York appropriations for war services
  4. Notice from New York State Comptroller's Office of payment of $54.70 for services during the war, December 6, 1870
  5. Will of Abraham Aker, Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, June 21, 1872
  6. Copy of the New York State circular regarding survivors of the War of 1812, May 16, 1874
  7. Reply from New York State Comptroller's Office of payment of $36.82 for services during the war, November 18, 1874
  8. Will of Abraham Aker, Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, proved, November 18, 1874 (attached to e. above)
1 5 Letters and papers of John and Carrie (Caroline M.) Acker, 1887-1910, n.d.:
  1. Reply: S.E. Buford, Ironton, Missouri, to John Acker, Liverpool, New York, stating that taxes are due on the land he purchased, August 12, 1887
  2. Letter: S.E. Buford, Ironton, Missouri, to John Acker, Liverpool, New York, stating that a parcel of land had been sold, September 5, 1887
  3. Letter: Sheriff of Cortland County, New York, to Mrs. C.M. Acker regarding stock in the territory of Arizona, January 26, 1900
  4. Letter: Mrs. C.E. Sears (Annie), Circleville, Ohio, to Mrs. C.M. Acker (Carrie), Liverpool, New York, with interest payment on a debt, October 26, 1900
  5. Engineering report regarding the surveying of Lot No. 99, Town of Salina [?]
  6. Letter: Miss A.B. Dickenson (Aunt Dick) to unnamed recipient, offering condolences for the death of "Rossie," November 29, 1910
  7. "The Singer and the Child," a handwritten story, author unknown
  8. Various loose notes and home-remedy recipes
1 6 Papers and news clippings of Mabel Acker, 1902-1911, including an unwitnessed will signed by her father, Willitt H. Acker, bequeathing some papers to Mabel, June 19, 1925
1 7 Land Titles of John Aker, 1798-1823:
  1. Contract between John Aker of Helbergh (sic), Albany County, and Jacob Sweep of the same place, for four pounds, ten shillings, current money of the State of New York, 600 acres of land (due to Sweep for serving in the late war), later to pay 300 pounds, September 25, 1784
  2. Deed between the Smith family of Union, Tioga County, New York, and John Aker of Freehold, Albany County, New York, for the sum of $200 for land about 14 miles from the Hudson River in the town of Freehold.  Originally owned by Sylvester Salisbury (ca. November 4, 1731) and land originally owned by Casper Halenbach.  Approximately 8 acres. January 25, 1798
  3. Articles of agreement between the Smith family of Union, Tioga County, New York, and John Aker of Freehold, Albany County, New York, for the sum of $500 for 8 acres and 4 acres in Freehold, 14 miles north of the Hudson River, located in a patent of one thousand acres, January 25, 1799
  4. Articles of agreement: Alexander McLeod sold bounty land of Jacob Sweep to John Aker for ten shillings, February 20, 1800
  5. Secretary's Office of the State Certificate of Patent in the name of Jacob Sweep, April 10, 1800
  6. Minutes of the Onondaga commissioners confirming John Aker's title to Lot No. 21 in the Township of Cincinnatus, June 1, 1800
  7. Agreement between John D. Scott and John Aker for the purchase of land in Freehold for $299.00, payable half by June 28, 1805, and the remainder in one year. On the reverse side: Agreement between John D. Scott and Edward Greswold of New York City for the sale of land for $300.43, July 23, 1805
  8. Tax statement of Lot No. 21 in Cincinnatus, Onondaga County [sic], New York, 600 acres for a cost of $3.19, February 3, 1807
  9. Deed: John Aker of Cincinnatus, Cortland County, New York, sold to Abraham Aker of the same place, 20 acres in Lot No. 21, Cincinnatus, for $100.00, February 7, 1814
  10. Release: John McNorton of Cincinnatus, Courtland County, New York, releases to John Aker for $5.00 all his property in Lot No. 21, excepting 102 acres, April 28, 1818
  11. Quitclaim from Peter McLeod to John Aker, Freetown, Cortland County, New York, for $5.00, 102 acres in Lot No. 21
  12. Release from Richard W. Dunning, Freetown, Cortland County, New York, to John Aker all his property in Lot No. 21, except 102 acres for $5.00, August 4, 1821
  13. Deed between John Aker of Freetown, Cortland County, New York, and Abraham Aker, same place, sold to John Aker, 2 acres, part of Lot No. 21 in Freetown for $2.00, November 14, 1821
  14. Deed between Peter W. and Ann A. McLeod of the Town of Lysander, Onondaga, New York, and John Aker of Freetown, Cortland County, New York, for $80.25 for 20 acres, part of Lot No. 21, May 1, 1823
1 8 Land Titles of Abraham Aker, 1826-1867:
  1. Deed between Daniel B. and Mercy Paddock of Freetown, Cortland, New York, and Abraham Aker, same place, for $43.00; 3 ½ acres, March 20, 1826
  2. Contract between W. and R. Randall, Cortland Village, and Abraham Aker of Freetown.  Deliver of quitclaim to Aker of 22 acres, part of Lot No. 21, Freetown. Payable $50.00 starting February 1829, $50.00 three years later, $50.00 in four years, $100.00 in five years. The 300 bails (sic) of cut hay go to Aker, October 24, 1828. Reverse side of b. show the payments of the above contract.  First payment of $100.00 paid in the form of a pair of black colts in lieu of currency, February 1830-February 1834
  3. Deed: John and Mary Lynde of Homer, Cortland, New York, sold to Abraham Aker of Freetown, Cortland, New York, 38 acres in Lot No. 21 for $250.00, June 10, 1831
  4. Deed between Fletcher Arnold and his wife, Cleantha, of Freetown, Cortland, New York, and Abraham Aker, of the same place. Aker bought the northeast corner of Lot No. 21 connecting to "Akers old farm," 12 acres, also part of Lot No. 11.  Cost $280.00.  April 15, 1839
  5. Letter: reply from J.L. Edwards to Representative George Rathbun regarding Abraham Aker's query about Lot No. 21 in Township No. 25. States that on July 8, 1790, a patent of 500 acres was granted to Jacob Sweep, and delivered to John Walls.  No record of service was found for Jacob Sweep. April 29, 1846
  6. Mortgage: Abraham Aker and wife Mehitable of Syracuse, New York, sold to Patrick Phelan, also of Syracuse, a block of land in the city of Syracuse for $200.00. Phelan later sold this block to Permelia H. Patterson.  May 14, 1867
1 9 Land Titles of Damon Aker, 1851-1855:
  1. Mortgage between Damon M. Aker, Freetown, Cortland, New York, and John Aker of the same place, for $300.00, 12 acres of Lot No. 21. To be paid by March 31, 1860 (but not paid off until January 8, 1863; see reverse side), March 31, 1851
  2. Deed: Damon M. Aker and his wife, Minerva Aker of Freetown, Cortland, New York, sold to Mehitable Aker of the same place, 12 acres for $300.00, April 2, 1851. 
  3. Mortgage bond of $250.00 to Samuel Conger and Melvin W. Conger of Freetown, Cortland, New York, from Damon M. Aker of the same place, February 24, 1855
EL 1 Land Titles of John Aker and Damon Aker, 1795-1847:
  1. Quitclaim between Alexander McLeod of Charleston, Montgomery, New York, and John Eaker (sic) of Watervliet, Albany, New York, for the purchase of land in Montgomery County, south of the Mohawk River, in a patent granted in 1770 to John Bowen and part of Lot No. 15, 204 acres for $100.00, March 16, 1795
  2. Deed between Jacob Sweep, late a private in the 2nd New York Regiment, and John Eaker (sic) of the county of Albany, yeoman.  Bought Lot No. 21 in the military tract located in the town of Cincinnatus, County of Onandaga, New York, 200 acres for $500.00, July 18, 1799
  3. Deed: George and Emeline Borthwick of Freetown, Cortland, New York,  sold to Damon M. Aker, of the same place, 8 acres for $80.00, April 20, 1839
  4. Deed: Alanson and Harriet M. Benjamin of Freetown, Cortland, New York, sold to Damon Aker, of the same place, 50 acres for $560.00, January 16, 1847
1 10 CD (disc): "Descendants of Roger Tyler":
  1. Photo images of "The Tyler Genealogy: The Descendants of the Branford Connecticut Line of Roger Tyler" by Willard I. Tyler Brigham and Calvin Cedric Tyler, 1976.  390 p.
  2. PDF: "Descendants of Roger Tyler of New Haven, Connecticut and his children of Branford, Connecticut" compiled by John E. Tyler, Jr. Revision: December 31, 2007.  822 p.
Last Updated: May 21, 2021