Jacob James Schoonmaker
Jacob James Schoonmaker was the son of Cornelius and Mary Schoonmaker and was born in New York City, July 9th, 1817. His grandfather, after whom he was named, came from Holland with his two brothers and settled on a large tract of land in Orange and Ulster Counties, New York. He afterwards became a judge. Jacob's father and mother were both born in Walden, N. Y. His mother was of English parentage. His grandfather served in the Revolutionary War, and his father in the War of 1812. He was one of nine children, having four brothers and four sisters. He was educated in the public schools of New York City and served a full apprenticeship of seven years at the bookbinding trade. For ten years he was a member of the New York Volunteer Fire Department,
On August 1st, 1846, he enlisted for the Mexican War and was made a Corporal in Co. A, 1st Regt. New York State Volunteers, Col. J. D. Stevenson. October 10th, 1846, they left New York, sailing around Cape Horn in the ship Brutus and arriving at San Francisco May 6th, 1847. He experienced some hard fighting in Southern California, was wounded and disabled for some time. Peace was declared in May, 1848. On September 30th the troops were taken on board the ship Ohio and landed in Monterey October 21st and disbanded on the 24th.
They formed small parties and started for the gold mines. Jacob with his brother Milton, who was with him during the war, joined a party of nineteen men. They had twelve oxen, two wagons and eight months' provisions. They camped at Moukelome Hill and it took them seven days to build a log house large enough to hold nineteen men and eight months' provisions. He soon left that place and went to Stanislaus River Diggings where, to use his own words, he "struck it good."
In 1850 his brother Milton died and Jacob then came back East and lived in New York City, working at his trade of bookbinding. He was married February 16th, 1852, to Miss Eliza H. Ackerman, of New York City.
When the tocsin of the Civil War was sounded in our land and a call was made for volunteers to go forth to the field of battle and defend our flag, his blood was stirred and, although he had passed through one war a few years before, he was ready for another. He enlisted May 31st, 1861, for three years, in Co. C, 32nd Regt. New York Volunteers. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant July 1st, 1861, and served thirteen months, when his health failed and he was honorably discharged July 25th, 1862. He took part in the battles at Fairfax, Bull Run, Yorktown, Gaines Mills, Savage Station, Malvern Hill, the Seven Days' Battle in the Wilderness and a number of smaller engagements.
He returned to his home in Brooklyn, N. Y. At one time he was employed in the bookbinding department of the Government Printing Office at Washington, D. C, for about five years and moved his family to that city. They first came to Vineland in the spring of 1874, but he did not live there permanently until a few years later. Col. Geo. A. Cheever employed him to take charge of the bookbinding part of his business, and he finally bought the same, which he kept up until the time of his death, October 18th, 1896, at the age of 79 years. His wife survived him three years, and his children were: Mrs. Wm. H. Suydam, of Brooklyn, N. Y.; Mrs. Wm. T. Walker, Mrs. Frank P. Kinne and Jesse C Schoonmaker, of Vineland; Mrs. Robert H. Bennett and Jacob J. Schoonmaker, Jr., of Philadelphia, Pa.