The Reverend William Jones Skillman of Philadelphia, one of two early researchers on the Skillman Family in America, published his Skillman family history and genealogy, “The Skillmans of America and Their Kin,” in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record in twelve quarterly issues from 1906 through 1908. He began with the first Skillman in America, Thomas1 Skillman, who arrived with the expedition of Col. Richard Nicolls for the Duke of York to seize Manhattan Island from the Dutch. The Dutch surrendered without a shot fired, and Thomas1 Skillman settled in Newtown (now Elmhurst), NY, on a patent from Col. Nicolls. In the series of twelve quarterly articles, William Jones Skillman developed the Skillman family genealogy down to and including the fifth generation in America. This early family tree is considered to be the definitive genealogy for the Skillman family in America.
In the summer of 2010, Bill Skillman of Catonsville, MD, the Skillman Family Association Genealogist, was contacted by email by an antiques dealer in Connecticut regarding a collection of correspondence belonging to the late William Jones Skillman. Three Skillman cousins agreed to purchase this rare and valuable collection, which turned out to be all of the correspondence between William Jones Skillman and numerous other Skillman relatives to whom he had written for information regarding their Skillman family at that time, as well as their Skillman ancestors. This collection contains much of the source material for “The Skillmans of America and Their Kin.”
The collection was shipped to Michael J. Wrona in Michigan, the Skillman Family Association Vice President, who organized and cataloged all of the correspondence. The collection was then shipped to Jay Edward Skillman in Middlesex, NJ, who is in the process of scanning all of the correspondence for posterity. When Jay has completed scanning the collection, it will be donated to the Special Collections Section of the Alexander Library at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where it will then be available upon request to visitors at the library. William Jones Skillman was a graduate of Rutgers and the early Skillmans lived in that area of New Jersey, so housing the collection in the Alexander Library is entirely appropriate.
Many of the scans from the William Jones Skillman Collection will be available to members of the Skillman Family Association in the “Members Only” section of the Association’s website. Access to these important documents online is a major benefit to Association members.