Witt-Claes Janßen (a.k.a. DeWitt)

Birth Date - d. 10 November 1659
Birthplace

Tiade [Tiarcks] Bremers

born in Ostbense, Ostfriesland, probably ca. 1600-1605
died 21 March 1647

Tjerck Claessen DeWitt

[birth date circa 1628?] - February 17, 1700/1
Groothol[um] in [Em]derlant
(mistranscribed historically as “Grootholt in Zúnderlant”)
[The names Grootholt and Zunderlant are both cases of bad handwriting: See Notes below. Tjerck came from a farm near Esens, in Ostfriesland, which today is part of Germany. The mistaken information came from an erroneous transcription of the original handwritten record from 1656. The transcription, which everyone cites, is also handwritten, but it is not the original. The original is lost today. The erroneous transcription still exists and is being lovingly cared for by able archivists. For pictures of the erroneous transcription, and more detailed discussion of the errors and misperceptions that have arisen from this church record, see here.]
Presumed buried in Kingston, New York
MVDW 1

Death Record from Andries Bible

From the bible of Andries DeWitt (courtesy of Matthew Ten Eyck DeWitt Family Collection), in Andries’ handwriting, the entry describing Tjerck’s death: “On 17 February 1700/1 at about 10 in the morning Tjerck Clase de Witt departed this life and on the 20th of the month was buried in the church at Kingston” (translation by Charles Gehring). Other people are described in the same record as “buried in the church yard,” not just in the church. Possibly because it was February, the body was stored in the church itself until spring thawed the ground so a proper grave could be dug. Later records in another Bible refer to people being buried next to Tjerck’s grave in the churchyard, so he was eventually interred in terra firma.

For more explanation of the year of his death, see Wikipedia article on double dating. As Tony Schoonover noted, the Kingston church record shows Tjerck Claessen De Witt as a witness for his grandson Jan’s baptism on December 8, 1700, a nice trick for a guy who purportedly passed on February 17, 1700! February 17, 1700, in the British Empire (which at that time still used the Old Style, Julian calendar) would be February 28, 1701, in the New Style, Gregorian calendar.

Three signatures of Tiarck Claßen de Witt, in his own hand, from 1666 Ulster County records

Barbara Andrieszen [family name unknown]

April 24, 1656, New Amsterdam (Manhattan, New York)
1630 [?] - September 6, 1714
Amsterdam [?]

Andries DeWitt

named for his mother’s father
MVDW 2
b. 1657 - d. 1710
New Amsterdam (Manhattan, New York) [?]
no baptism record
m. Jennetje Egbertsen 1682, date not given, but recorded in Wildwyck church: Andries de With, j.m., born in Nieu Jorck, and resid. in Kingston, in the Esopus, and Jannetie Egbertsdr, j.d., born in Nieu Jorck, and resid. in Kingston, in the Esopus. First publication of Banns, 4 March.
22 Jan 1683: Andries de With and Jannetie Egbertz baptize Tirck; witnesses Tirck Claasz de Wit, Mathys Matysz
28 September 1684: Andries de Wit and Jannetie Egbertz baptize Jacob; witnesses: Claas de Wit, Maritie Egbertz
26 December 1687: Nelis Lambers and Martje Ekberts baptize Heberth “at Marmer” (Marbletown); witnesses Andries de Witt, Jannetje Heberts

He is named in his father’s 1698 will as “my oldest son” [my oudste Soon Andres de Widt]. In the will, Tjerck’s wife, Barbara, is given possession of the entire family estate, as long as she lives, and then, as is one custom among Dutch/Germanic/Frisian families, the eldest son and youngest son split possession of all of the real estate their father leaves behind, paying off the other (in this case) 10 heirs for their shares. This attempts an equitable division of the estate value among all the heirs without splitting properties into ever smaller fractions.

In the Dutch colonial settlements clustering where today we find the city of Albany, regular written records of church sacraments were apparently not kept until the arrival of Reverend Goddefridus Dellius in 1683. His records, in fact, commence with an introductory note (Reformed Dutch Church of Albany, pp. ix-x) noting that no previous list had been kept. In 1938 a fire destroyed the original Reformed Church records for the years before 1790.

Taatje DeWitt

named for her father’s mother
MVDW 3
b. 1659 prob. Beverwijck (Albany, New York)
no baptism record
d. 20 September 1707; buried in Kingston, NY (see her page for a copy of the entry from Andries DeWitt’s Bible)
m. Matthys Mattysen Van Keuren (no record found in Kingston)
16 April 1678: Tajie de Witt and Mattys Mattys baptize daughter Sara; witnesses: Wm. d Maier, Mr. Chambrs
11 May 1679: Tiatie De Wit and Matys Matysse baptize daughter Lea “at Horley” (Hurley); witnesses: Joris Davidts, Barber Andriesse
24 April 1681: Tyatye de Witt and Mattys Mattysen baptize Mattys; witnesses Tomas Cambers, Lowrensya Chambers
24 December 1682: Mattys Matysz and Tjaatie Wit baptize Tirck; witnesses Jan Tyse, Magdaleen Blan Jean, Cornelis Switz
1 November 1684: Matys Matyze and Tjadje de Wit baptize Thomas; witnesses Jan Hendricz, Anna Matysz
11 October 1685: Matys Matyz and Taadje de Wit baptize Barbara; witnesses Cornelis Hogeboom and Anjie Slegt
23 May 1686: Jan Evertz and Sytie Jacobz baptize Evert; witnesses Jan Focke and Taidje de Wit
22 August 1686: Andries de With and Jannetie Egbertz baptize Barbara; witnesses Cornelis Lambertz, Taidtie de Wit
4 December 1687: Matthys Mattyssen and Thiatje de Witthe baptize Klaes; witnesses Jan Focke, Ghiertruy de Witthe
She is the first daughter named in her father’s 1698 will; he mentions her husband, Mattys Mattysen. (She gets the standard 1/12 of his estate.)

Jannetje DeWitt

named for her mother’s mother?
MVDW 4
baptized 12 February 1662, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - d. 1744
witnesses/sponsors: Jan Jansen, Jannetje Sebyns [her mother’s mother?], Elsje Jans
parents: Tierck Claesse de With, Barber Andriesse
m. [when? where?] Cornelius Swits, son of Cornelius Claessen Swits and Ariantje Trommels.
19 July 1717 Cornelis Langendyk, born N. Jork [York], marries Jannetjen de Wit, born Kingstown. First marriage for both. Banns posted 30 June. Because the same names are used so frequently in families, this can be misread. Jannetje b. 1662 would be 55 years old in 1717, so it seems unlikely that this is the same person. Jannetje and Cornelis Langendyk go on to have kids, in 1718 and beyond.
Cornelis and Jannetje have no children listed in Kingston, but they are busy godparents:
14 January 1684: with Lucas Andriesz, Cornelis Switz, witnesses baptism of Aefje de Wit, daughter of TCDW and Barbara Andries. Also a witness to misc nieces and nephews 1694 (twice), 1695, 1701, 1706, possibly 1722.
30 April 1688 Cornelis Swits and Jannetje de Witt are witnesses to baptism of Klaes, son of Andries de Witt [her eldest brother] and Jannetje Ekbers.
17 March 1706 Cornelis Swits and Jannetie de Wit witness baptism of Jannetie, daughter of Rebecca Tizzo and Jurrie Quik (who does not appear at the baptism), and Beeletie, daughter of Leendert Cool and Annetie Dekkers.
2 Nov 1707 the couple witnesses the baptism of Marretie, daughter of Gysbert Oosterhout and Marretie Bogaart; 20 June 1708 they witness Sara, daughter of Jochem Schoonmaak [Jannetje’s sister Geertruy’s brother-in-law] and Anna Hossie (they married 28 April 1689).
25 March 1711, again as a couple, they witness the baptism of Cornelis, son of Jacobus Wynkoop and Jannetjen Bogardus.
19 Jan 1724 they are godparents to Abraham, son of Ysaak Van Aaken and Rachel de Wit, this time a niece of Jannetje’s [via her brother Jan], in Rochester (Ulster County).
Other baptisms in 1728, and one in 1739, list a Jannetje or Jannetjen de Wit; it could be her or one of her relatives with the same name.
She is the second daughter named in her father’s 1698 will; he mentions her husband, Cornelis Switts. (She gets the standard 1/12 of his estate, but only on the condition that if she dies leaving no children, her share should be equally divided among his other heirs.)

Claes DeWitt

named for his father’s father
MVDW 5
baptized 17 February 1664, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - d. before 1698
witnesses/sponsors: Luycas Andriessen, residing at the Manathans; Jan Claessen; Geertruy Andriessen, from Fort Orange; Tryntje Tyssen
parents: Tierck Claessen de With, Barber Andriessen
28 September 1684: Andries de Wit and Jannetie Egbertz baptize Jacob; witnesses: Claas de Wit, Maritie Egbertz
no further record
He is not mentioned in his father’s 1698 will.

Jan DeWitt

named for his father’s father’s father; also for his uncle
MVDW 6
baptized 14 February 1666, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - d. before April 12, 1715
witnesses: Marten Hoffman, Jan Andriesse, Amerens Claessen
parents: Tierck Claesse de With, Barber Andriesse
m. Wyntje Kiersted
He is named third in his father’s will (after the eldest and youngest sons), in which his father specifies that in addition to his 1/12 share of the estate, Jan should receive 500 schepels of wheat that Tjerck is owed as payment for a sale of land. Jan’s brother Jacob gets the same settlement.

Geertruy DeWitt

named for her mother’s sister (also other ancestors?)
MVDW 7
baptized 15 October 1668, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - Death Date
witnesses: Jan Anderiesen, Luyckas Anderies, Martie Anderiesen
parents: Tierck Claesen de Wit, Barber Anderiesen
baptized by Domine Gideon Schaets, of Albany, recorded by William de la Montagne Voorleser (Reader) of the Church and Secretary of the Village
(previous baptisms, recorded in a different handwriting, were by Domine Hermannus Blom, of Kingston)
4 December 1687: Matthys Mattyssen and Thiatje de Witthe baptize Klaes; witnesses Jan Focke, Ghiertruy de Witthe
m. Hendrick Hendricksen Schoonmaker (Hendrixen Schoumaecker), 24 March 1688 (he is born in Kings Touwn, as is she); he seems to have a brother, Jockom, married 28 April 1689, in Marbletown. Her sister Marritje marries Hendrick Hendricksen, j.m. born in Mombaccus, 3 November 1700: different guy, we assume?
She is the third daughter named in her father’s 1698 will; curiously, he does not mention her husband, though she married him in 1688. (She gets the standard 1/12 of his estate, plus a “negress [negerinnetie]” who Geertruy has “in possessie [in her possession]”; Tjerck says he would like to give her that enslaved person outright, without her having to pay her sisters and brothers for what would ordinarily be their shares of any inherited property.)

Jacob DeWitt

named for ??? (mother’s side?)
MVDW 8
Birth Date - 1739
Birthplace
no baptism record
m. Grietje Vernooy
He is named fourth in his father’s will, in which his father specifies that, like his brother Jan, in addition to his 1/12 share of the estate, Jacob should receive 500 schepels of wheat that Tjerck is owed as payment for a sale of land.

Rachel DeWitt

named for ??? (mother’s side?)
MVDW 9
Birth Date - Death Date
Birthplace
no baptism record
m. Cornelius Bogardus
She is the fourth daughter named in her father’s 1698 will; he mentions her husband, Cornelis Bogardus, and subtracts from her standard 1/12 share of his estate the £100 Cornelis owes Tjerck for 1/8 share of a brigantine, which Tjerck sold him. Tjerck goes on to say that of that £100, Rachel and Cornelis’ daughter Barbara should receive 50 pieces of eight (vyftigh stuck van aghten). (The Spanish Peso, a coin worth 8 reales and famously convenient to split into eight roughly uniform pieces, or later “bits,” was minted at ~25.56 grams of silver; conversions to the British pound are difficult, especially since the Bank of England in 1694 had begun to issue paper money in addition to gold guineas, but in 1601 a British silver penny, worth 1/240 of £1, had weighed 0.5 gram. By this measure, £100 would have been worth 12,000 grams of silver, and 50 pieces of eight would have weighed 1,278 grams. As a token of affection, of course, the 50 pieces of eight would have been beyond simple measures of value.)

Lucas DeWitt

named for his mother’s father’s father? also for his mother’s brother
MVDW 10
Birth Date - 1703
Birthplace
no baptism record
m. Annatje Delva 22 December 1695: Leucas de Wit, j.m., and Antje Delval, j.d., both parties born and resid. in Kingstouwn.
He is named fifth in his father’s will, as “Luycas”; in addition to his rightful 1/12 share of the estate, Lucas receives half-interest in a sloop Tjerck says he built “last year,” i.e. 1697.
If the name Lucas comes down from Barbara’s (possible) father Andries Lucassen, translator for Peter Minuit when the Kalmar Nyckel sailed over from Sweden to found New Sweden on the Delaware, then it’s particularly appropriate for Lucas to get Tjerck’s share of the sloop. Even if he is named only for his mother’s brother Lucas, who sailed a ship up and down the Hudson, living in Manhattan and serving Fort Orange and points in between (see notes below, and list in Iconography of Manhattan Island), it makes sense for Lucas to get the sloop. It makes even more sense if Lucas himself has become a sailor or sea merchant.

Peeck DeWitt

named for relatives on father’s side?
MVDW 11
Birth Date - Death Date
Birthplace
no baptism record
m. Maritje Janse Vandenburg [1]
m. Maria (Teunis) DeMott [2]
He is named sixth in his father’s will.

Tjerck DeWitt

named for father’s mother’s father
MVDW 12
Birth Date - Death Date
Birthplace
no baptism record
Spouse Name
In his father’s will, he is named second, described as “my youngest son” [myn Jongste soon]. He gets 1/12 of his father’s “estate” [Staet], plus, when his mother dies, he splits with Andries, the eldest son, and receives possession of half of all the land, houses, etc.; the two sons are supposed to have all this real estate appraised, and then they pay the other 10 heirs a cash settlement for what would have been their shares.

Marritje DeWitt

named for mother’s sister?
MVDW 13
Birth Date - Death Date
Birthplace
no baptism record
m. Hendrick Hendricksen Kortreght [1], 3 November 1700, Kingston; he is “j.m., born under the jurisdiction of Kingstouwn, and resid. in Mombackes”; she is “j.d., born and resid. under the jurisdiction of Kingstouwn.”
m. Jan Macklin [2]
She is the fifth daughter named in her father’s 1698 will; she gets the standard 1/12 of his estate. She is not married when he writes his will; he notes that if any of his heirs should die while they are still minors, the remaining heirs should divide that person’s portion of his estate.

Aagie DeWitt

named for ???
MVDW 14
baptized as Aefje, 14 January 1684, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - Death Date
witnesses: Lucas Andriesz (uncle), Cornelis Switz (brother-in-law?), Jannetie de Wit (sister)
parents: Tirck Claasz, Barbara Andries
m. Jan Pawling 23 August 1712
According to Gustave Anjou, she moved to Philadelphia
She is the sixth and last daughter named in her father’s 1698 will; she gets the standard 1/12 of his estate. She is not married when he writes his will; he notes that if any of his heirs should die while they are still minors, the remaining heirs should divide that person’s portion of his estate.

Pieternella de With [?]

seems not related; not mentioned in Tjerck Claessen’s will
Not in MVDW list of DeWitts
b. before 1665?
18 February 1683: Hendric ten Eyck and Pieternella de With baptize Maria; witnesses Wessel Ten Broek, Maria ten Eyck
30 December 1683: with Jacob Rutzen, Maartie Hanse, and Hr ten Eyck, witnesses baptism of Menasses and Ephraim, sons of Willem Jansz Schut and Grietie Jacobs

Notes

1. Prefatory Notes
2. Beginnings (ca. 1628-1647)
3. The Missing Years (1647-1655)
4. North America: Beverwijck, Fort Orange, Rensselaerswyck (1655-1659)
     a. Houses and Houses
5. Marriage to Barbara Andriessen (1656)
     a. The Famous Trouw Boeck Entry
6. Life in Albany (first court appearance for being Lutheran: 1656)
     a. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part One (Flodder’s Lot)
     b. Tjerck as Bystander in Other People’s Debts
7. More Life in Albany (1656-1660)
     a. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Two (Philipsen Sublet)
     b. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Three (Philipsen Sublet, Redux)
     c. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Four (Which House?)
     d. First Esopus War Breaks Out
     e. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Five: Exchange for Esopus
8. Transition to Wildwyck (1660-1663)
     a. Esopus Background Story
     b. Units of Measure
9. Appointment to Wildwyck Council (1662)
     a. Council Appointments
     b. For Want of a Nail
10. Ida Returns: Four Siblings (1662)
     a. Council of War; Territorial Dispute
11. Esopus Indian Attack: Ida Killed, Taatje Kidnapped. Annus Horribilis. (June 7, 1663)
     a. The Minister Who Wasn’t: Domine Laer
     b. Martin Cregier: A Hand in Every Trade
12. 1663 Esopus Campaign

a. July
b. August
c. September
d. October
e. November
f. Estate Auction
g. December

13. Slave Owner
14. Moving to Nieuw Dorp (Hurley 1664)
15. British Takeover (1664)
16. Wrapping Up Ida’s Estate (1666)
17. A New Governor: Francis Lovelace (1668)
18. The Dutch Take Over Again, Briefly (1673)
19. British Again (1674)
20. Leisler’s Rebellion (1689)
21. Jan’s Perilous Journey (1696)
22. More to Follow (extended family, further property acquisitions)
23. Tjerck’s Last Will and Testament (1701)

There is much to write about Tjerck Claessen DeWitt, progenitor of most DeWitts in North America. I haven’t had time to put together as much as I’d like, but for now, here’s a start, with always more to add.

This page is a very long rough draft. My goal is to include as complete a set of information as I can on Tjerck and (where it’s appropriate) his family and associates—neighbors, siblings, in-laws, etc.

I have put an emphasis on including detailed attributions for all the data I can, so that other people can find the same evidence themselves, add more, reinterpret, refine, or disagree. I have tried to make clear which pieces of information are facts (corroborated by original sources and documents, which I have tried my best always to identify in sources that can be found and checked today, often online, so that others can carry the investigation further) and which are interpretation of the data, whether my own or someone else’s. Even original sources are not always accurate; often they can be read better when set in context, whether it’s a matter of guessing at unclear handwriting or the more complicated task of shading in what might not have been reported completely by a witness with a stake in an issue. An entry in a ledger from Albany, for example, might make more sense side by side with matching paperwork from a related transaction in Manhattan.

The relatively small colony of New Netherland had a striking number of people keeping detailed records, which often match and support each other, from legal records to personal correspondence to various church records to court minutes. The process of publishing these valued records, as early as the 1800s, has divided the according to category (ecclesiastical records) or geographic origins (Fort Orange court minutes) in such a way that related entries are in separate volumes, often published years apart. Taken individually, any single set of records can offer only a partial understanding of an event. I have tried to overlay as many original sources as I can side by side, presenting them in chronological order, to give a more complete story. Again, my goal has been to make clear where each detail can be found. The entries illuminate each other, and together they illuminate some of the decisions Tjerck made at critical moments.

In doing this I have too often duplicated information in different parts of the notes below. I drift from present tense to past tense; plenty of the writing is rough and often repetitive. It all bears rewriting, but for now what follows is focused on factual accuracy and including as complete a record as possible more than storytelling style.

Some of my sources are listed at the bottom of the page with complete bibliographic detail; sometimes I have put the bibliographic details in parentheses next to the information I got from a particular source. Sometimes I have the full bibliographic information in more than one place on the page. For the time being, this is inconsistent and probably confusing. Please accept my apologies until such time as this can be made easier to disentangle. I have tried to be sure to include full details on all sources, at least somewhere on the page.

For more complete discussion of Tjerck’s early years, including better documentation of how we know exactly where he came from and who his family was, please see my page about his father, Witt-Claes Johanßen, linked above. The stories that follow mostly start in great detail with the first records of Tjerck in North America.

His records in North America, particularly those connected to his sister Ida, including her death in 1663 and his subsequent administration of her estate, clearly establish his ties to the family in East Frisia (Ostfriesland) that we know is his. Name by name and event by event they match the family records over there, in Esens and Aurich and Enkhuizen and Amsterdam, in church and civil records. It is clear from records on both sides of the Atlantic that each part of the family kept up with what the rest of the family was doing, in multiple locations, whether through stories borne by Tjerck’s brother Jan, who kept a home and wife in Amsterdam but sailed back and forth multiple times from his early manhood until a few years before his death, or through messages carried by other means. Tjerck sends money back to his family members in Europe at least once, and his sister Ida before her untimely death is documented traveling from her new home in North America back to Ostfriesland with husband and baby daughter, returning months later to North America with two younger siblings—Jan and Emmerentje, who marries and stays. As late as 1704, Tjerck’s nephew Zacharias Hoffman traveled to Esens on family business, showing up in records there that also name many of the North American family members, including Tjerck, some of Tjerck’s children, and Tjerck’s sister in North America, Emmerentje Hoffman, Zacharias’s mother. Documents from the time clearly show that this is where Tjerck came from; he and the rest of the family stayed connected.

The current state of the notes below (October 2020): I have filled in the story pretty thoroughly through about the end of 1663, with a few gaps where I know of records that have yet to be added. After that, I have sketched in details as I have had occasion to add them, but I haven’t filled in all that’s available; the work continues. Right now there is a much too long discussion of all the events of the “Second Esopus War” in 1663; this will be moved to a separate page after I flesh it out a bit more, so that this page can remain focused on Tjerck and his family and associates. Much of the “war” affected him directly, shaping his day-to-day life even when he is not explicitly mentioned, but not every detail about the conflict needs to be on this page. Also, right now I have sometimes lengthy digressions on this page about some of his family members that have not yet been added to their pages. Where events overlap, it makes sense to leave here the stories that shaped Tjerck’s life, but some of these stories deserve to be told elsewhere too. In many cases when I have unearthed new information I have added it here first, to keep Tjerck’s story complete, but have not had time to add the information on pages dedicated to the other individuals involved.

Beginnings

“I find it particularly important in this case, where truth has been distorted many times, not to add another legend but to report as accurately as possible, combining my skills as a storyteller with the responsibility of the historian.”
—Norman Ohler, The Bohemians (2020)

“In reading these petitions—So bold so persevering— . . . I see the Embryo—Seed—of Revolutionary principals—which in time were to be developed.”
—Francis Adrian van der Kemp, earliest translator of the old Dutch records of New Netherland, to Thomas Jefferson, 10 December 1818, as cited by Peter D. Van Cleave in “Rescuing the Albany Records from the Fire,” New York History, Summer/Fall 2015

Tjerck Claessen De Witt emigrated from near Esens in Ostfriesland (today the northern coast of Germany) in the early or mid-1650s. Three siblings joined him over the next few years—first a sister, then a younger sister and brother when they got old enough to leave home. The brother, Jan (Tjerck’s only full brother), traveled back and forth from North America to Europe frequentlly; he married in Amsterdam and kept a house there. We know he was in North America periodically from records there, and we know he also stayed involved in legal affairs pertaining to the family holdings in Ostfriesland, from records there. Three sisters remained in Europe. The eldest inherited his family’s farm, then died young, passing the farm to her young son. One sister moved to Amsterdam, married and had a couple of children, then died in 1675. The third sister remained in the Esens area, marrying a local dike warden and keeping an eye on the family’s holdings nearby. Tjerck also had two half-sisters (at least), daughters his father Witt-Claes Johanßen had with his first wife. One moved first to Enkhuizen, in the Netherlands, raising a family there, and then to Amsterdam, along with some of her grown children, after she became a widow. Records from church baptisms show that she stayed in touch with her half-siblings in Amsterdam over the years. The other half-sister married a boy from a farm near Esens where Witt-Claes had worked before he remarried. They apparently grew old on the farm and also probably remained in touch with the rest of the extended family.

(See a fairly outdated related page of discussion on his origins, or click the link above to his father’s page. At least as early as 1936, German researchers had pegged Tjerck as being from Esens; see p. 16, Ship Passenger Lists, which republishes information from “Deutsche Einzeleinwanderer und Familien in Neu-Niederland,” from Jahrbuch für Auslanddeutsche Sippenkunde, 1 [1936], pp. 45-53. Other immigrants noted from Esens in this source include Bernhard Janssen [p. 19, in Rensselaerswyck 1632, possibly the same as the soldier “aus Emden” and “aus Oldenburg” listed in Esopus 1660 and in 1662 as marrying Catharina Adriansen aus Amsterdam], probably Barent Jansz, from “Desens” in one list and “Esen” in another, p. 46], Hendrik Willems, “the leading baker at New Amsterdam in the second half of the 17th century” [p. 107], and Symon Volckerts, his apprentice [hired by Joost Theunissen, from Norden, also a baker in New Amsterdam, whose apprentice was Gerrit Sybrants, also from Norden], see also p. 116. There was plenty of migration in the 1600s to North America, or just to Amsterdam, from Ostfriesland, from the North Frisian areas on the western coast of Jutland, from Dithmarschen and Holstein and Schleswig. These coastal areas were often flooded and wracked by storms; they offered subsistence farming but not a lot for children who did not inherit a farm. Many who lived here knew the sea already as fishers, and merchant ships plied the routes between towns and cities with markets; it was not a big leap for a young person to become an oceanic sailor, or to emigrate. Simon Hart, longtime archivist in Amsterdam before and after the Second World War, paid special attention to lists of Amsterdam residents from these areas. We see them represented very frequently in New Netherland records as well.)

Born probably in 1628, Tjerck inherited the memories of the traumatic occupation of the area where his family lived by the Mansfeld stormtroopers at the start of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). After the first few years of the war, the fighting went elsewhere, but the Mansfelders’ pillaging and burning of whole villages, seizures of farms, rapes and murders of ordinary villagers, and confiscation of crops and livestock for their own use in the war left an indelible mark on the entire area that lasted in local lore for decades. Tjerck’s own family, not among the leading families in the area but well off and well established, unquestionably suffered along with many others. His father’s first wife (probably named Falde) may have died during the occupation, though the circumstances are unknown and can only be imagined. His mother’s family lost members too; local lore preserved orally and later handed down in print suggests that his uncles (in a town further west) probably were involved in low-key resistance and preserving what they could. The stories of those horrible years would have been told and retold as Tjerck was growing up.

Very possibly as a boy he lived not on his mother’s family farm (where her family still lived and worked), but on a nearby farm where Tjerck’s father had lived and worked for a time, and where one of Tjerck’s older half-sisters married the son of the widow who had taken over the farm when her husband died. This farm was in Grootholum; his mother came from a farm very nearby (walking distance, though a longish walk, with some little canals and irrigation ditches to leap along the way), in what today would be marked Klein Holum on a map, in the Ostbense area of East Frisia (Ostfriesland, also called Emderland), just north of Esens. The church in the area was in Esens (St. Magnus Kirche); the area was Lutheran, though the area still had remnants of large farms run before the Reformation by Catholic brothers from local monasteries. After Tjerck’s mother married his father, working on the Groß Holum farm, it is not clear whether she then went to live there with him, or whether the new couple would have lived at her family’s adjacent farm in Ostbense.

Tjerck’s childhood would have been dotted as well with episodes of flooding; the North Sea Dike had been completed by the time he was born (and his father, starting in 1632, was one of a small council overseeing its maintenance), but it was weaker in some parts, stronger in others, and over numerous decades it failed on many occasions during winter storms, flooding the low-lying farms of the area with salt water, destroying houses and often killing livestock and farmers. Partly as a result of the frequent salt inundation, many farms could not grow rich feed, but the forage was good enough for livestock, also a staple of local farming. One of Tjerck’s sisters grew up to marry the local “Deichrichter,” the local official responsible for making sure the dike was being maintained.

Despite the many hardships, Tjerck’s family was moderately successful (his mother’s family had worked the same farm since at least 1555, when the written record begins), and he was in line to inherit the farm. It is unclear why Tjerck left the area. Perhaps a partial explanation: In 1647, when he was about 19 years old, church records show he fathered an illegitimate daughter. No further records have been found of what happened to either the mother or the daughter. This likely was one of the “diverse calamities” cited by the local minister as proximate causes of Tjerck’s mother’s death, about a week after the baby was born. One can imagine that this made home life uncomfortable for Tjerck. His father, if one can glean anything of disposition from records, had a strong personality similar to that shown by Tjerck in later years. Tjerck disappears after this from the records of East Frisia, and no records of him anywhere have been found until he starts showing up in North American records about eight years later.

The Missing Years

A few possibilities, with no evidence weighing in favor of any one of them: He could have stayed in the Esens area and not appeared in any records. He could have moved to Emden, the larger port city in East Frisia, where a couple of his uncles had previously had property and had paid for “burger right,” essentially a license to do business there. He could have moved to Amsterdam, possibly using family connections. He could have moved north, to the Frisian settlements on the western coast of Jutland, around Husum, in Schleswig and Holstein. (It is not out of the question that he could have had family members living there, as the North Frisian and East Frisian communities were similar and remained generally in contact with each other, particularly through the fishing fleets, which shared the same grounds in the southeastern portion of the Dogger Banks.) Wherever he moved, whatever he did, he may have met people and built connections, particularly among sailors and skippers, that eventually started tugging him toward North America; it seems likely that he knew at least some people in North America when he arrived. No record of him has been found in any of these places in these years.

On 26 October 1642, Tjerck’s half-sister Annetje Claesen, wife of Harman Syben, also from the Esens area, is registered as a member of the Lutheran church in Enkhuisen, on the IJsselmeer not far from Amsterdam, a center of the herring fleet and the North Sea–Baltic merchant fleet. (Later as a widow she moves to Amsterdam, where Tjerck’s sister and brother also have homes, and where some of Annetje’s children have moved.) As a city that links the Netherlands with the predominantly Lutheran areas to the east and north, it makes sense that Enkhuizen would have a substantial Lutheran community, with an established church building to match. It would not be a surprise to find that Tjerck also moved to Enkhuisen, or somewhere else connected to the sea routes that linked communities along the Frisian coasts. (For her church registration, see p. 18, Enkhuizen Evangelisch Luthers lidmatenregister 1632-1868, transcription by J.T. Voortman, Familiearchief zum Vorde — Vortman(n) — Voortman, available at http://arch.vortmes.nl/documents/kllen632.pdf)

Tjerck also could have enlisted as a sailor or militia member with either the Dutch East India Company (with activities in Indonesia and Southeast Asia) or the West India Company. The WIC had a strong presence at that time in Brazil, called “New Holland,” as well as smaller trading posts in the Caribbean. Eventually, after the February 1654 recapture of Recife by the Portuguese, clinching the battle for preeminence in Brazil, the West India Company turned its focus to the underdeveloped, underfinanced beaver pelt trading outpost they had set up as an afterthought at the mouth of the Hudson River, “New Netherland,” with results that later came to seem inevitable. The WIC had recently moved a new governor (Peter Stuyvesant) up from Jamaica to Manhattan (during his tenure in New Amsterdam he remained responsible for running affairs in Curaçao), and after Brazil fell the Company rotated various resources north, making provisions for some of the settlers displaced from Brazil to take up residence in either New Amsterdam or the relatively larger settlement at the time, Fort Orange/Beverwijck/Rensselaerswyck, three adjacent but distinct communities located roughly where Albany sits today.

Historically this was a fertile time for a young man to seek his fortune in the orbit of the Dutch Golden Age. Willem II, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, died in 1650; his son did not succeed him in practice until 1672. The First Anglo-Dutch War, a war fought entirely at sea, ran from 1652-1654; the Dutch used many privateers in this war (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Anglo-Dutch_War), and Tjerck could easily have been a crew member on one of these. Many sailors who enlisted in Amsterdam might have left some record to be found today in the city’s capacious Notarial Archive, but those who signed up in smaller ports (Emden, Husum) might not have put their names on any documents that survive or can be easily found. Tjerck need not have served on a warship under Maarten Tromp or Michiel de Ruyter or (!) Witte de With to have been affected by the war: With the English attacking vessels of all types in the North Sea, taking perhaps as many as 1,000 to 1,700 ships they considered Dutch, the pay for sailors rose astronomically, and this rising tide probably lifted all boats, from small fishers and merchants all the way up to great ships of war. The strain of the war distracted resources from the defense of Dutch interests in Brazil and contributed to the loss of that colony; many rewarding opportunities were available for a young man willing to take some risks.

Again: No records of Tjerck’s presence have been found, to date, in any of these locations. For all we know, he went to France or England or Lithuania. But if he had signed up with the WIC and finished a few tours of duty in outposts on the Atlantic, then left the company’s service and collected his pay ca. 1654-1655, he might have built up a nest egg with which to start life in New Netherland, similar to the soldiers described in Jaap Jacobs’ article “Military Personnel of the West India Company in Nieu Nederlandt,” in Jacob Leisler’s Atlantic World in the Later Seventeenth Century (Hermann Wellenreuther, editor; 2009, Lit Verlag, Berlin, Germany; available in U.S. from Transaction Publishers). Jacobs on pp. 25-29 describes several soldiers who muster out with larger or smaller amounts of cash to their names, from Francis Browne and John Porter with ƒ300-ƒ500 to Marten Kregier (a.k.a. Cregier) and Jacob Looper with ƒ1,300 to ƒ2,300.

One thing we can guess, whatever path took Tjerck to North America: It may well have gone through Amsterdam. Other routes are possible, but for a Germanic-speaking person from the lowlands lying along the North Sea coast in those days, a natural port to use would have been Amsterdam. (Frisian, German and Dutch are all similar languages drawing from similar roots; records in Ostfriesland at the time were kept mostly in German, with some Frisian influence and vocabulary.) Amsterdam at the time was a bustling port city and center of culture. The United Provinces of the Netherlands were a relatively new entity (there were only seven provinces at the time, give or take a county); because of the nature of the federation (assembled from provinces with different characteristics, different dialects, different religious groups), tolerance and diversity were dictated in principle, if not always perfectly practiced. As in Enkhuizen, in Amsterdam Tjerck would have been able to attend Lutheran services in a Lutheran church, built decades before (1633), though Catholics still were not allowed a church building but had to practice in elaborate home chapels. Rembrandt and other old Dutch Masters were at their peak, and science was booming.

Back at home, it’s hard to judge how much of the Dutch Renaissance permeated East Frisian culture as well. We know that Ubbo Emmius (a Calvinist, though he was from Greetsiel on the western edge of Ostfriesland) made strong contributions to cartography; we know David Fabricius (born in Esens, died in Osteel, where Tjerck likely had relatives) and his son Johannes discovered and documented sunspots before Galileo, which tells us people were working with telescopes and keeping up with scientific developments. Ostfriesland was not a capital, but to some degree it was part of the Northern European Renaissance. It is hard to guess what music would have been played on Sundays in a Lutheran church; even Bach was not yet born. In the British Isles, Shakespeare’s plays were a memory at best, from decades before. We know Tjerck’s father could sign his own name and probably read and write, and Tjerck leaves the same impression. What was their education? No doubt they learned at a school in the local church, but did either of them go to Leiden or elsewhere for any university exposure?

Whether Tjerck signed out as a sailor or with a militia or as a colonist, whether for Brazil or Batavia or Beverwijck, once he was done in Amsterdam or staying with his sister in Enkhuizen and ready to board a ship, he would have gone to Texel, the island adjacent to Amsterdam where the oceangoing vessels would harbor. Ship manifests at the time refer to Texel; when you see that name as a destination or origin of a journey, you often assume the ship stopped at Amsterdam—but from Texel, it’s just as easy to make the short trip to Enkhuizen.

North America: Beverwijck, Fort Orange, Rensselaerswyck (Albany)

On 5 February 1655, at the house of Marselis Jansz in Beverwijck in New Netherland (present day Albany, New York, more or less), Cornelis Wouterse sells “a medal” at auction to “Tgerck,” who seems likely to be “our” Tjerck Claessen, now in North America. (For this record see p. 57 of Fort Orange Records 1654-1679, cited below; hat tip to researcher Dave Ehst for noticing this entry, with appreciation also for his extensive and unpublished collection of other mentions of Tjerck Claessen in many other volumes of archival records.) It is not clear what the “medal” was or why Tjerck would want it. In A.J.F. van Laer’s translation, from Early Albany Records Vol. I, p. 221, it is “a sum of money (een pennnigh).”

If Tjerck is in Beverwijck in February 1655; he likely arrived there in 1654. Ship traffic on the Hudson grinds to a halt when winter freezes come; by December it is not always certain that a ship can get through. We can estimate that Tjerck arrived in Beverwijck by late autumn 1654.

Houses and Houses

The “house” of Marselis Jansz is likely a reference to a drinking house, where auctions were frequently held; see Beverwijck, p. 306, where it is described as “on the east side of present-day North Pearl Street,” and p. 310, where this auction is mentioned. Marc B. Fried, in The Early History of Kingston & Ulster County, N.Y. (see full citation below in Sources), cites the Fort Orange Court Minutes from 23 December 1653 (FOCM, p. 75), where Marcelis is described as “the servant of Mr. de Hulter” with reference to an illegal sale of brandy to “savages”; on 23 February 1654 he is “Marcelis Jansz from Bommel, the former servant of Johan de Hulter.” He seems to have been involved with tavern keeping for some time; see FOCM p. 179-181, from a break-in at the tavern, a court case from later in February 1655. On 23 April 1655 Marcelis Janse becomes the “farmer of the excise” (the one responsible for collecting tax) for the tappers of wine and beer (FOR 1654-1679, p. 69).

From this point forward, under various names and spellings, Tjerck Claessen DeWitt shows up with increasing frequency in the records of Beverwijck, Fort Orange, and Rensselaerswyck, which all sit near each other, and then after a property exchange with Johanna de Laedt, a rich widow whose father was a Director of the WIC in Amsterdam and whose first husband was Johan de Hulter, a successful immigrant himself, Tjerck settles for good in “the Esopus,” an area around present-day Kingston, New York, midway between Albany and Manhattan, where he first appears to live in the town of Wildwyck but eventually starts farming a bit further south, near what becomes called the “Nieuw Dorp” (New Village) and today is called Hurley. (The stone house he eventually built on his land still stands, with several extensions added later, on the banks of the Esopus Creek.)

On Tuesday, 13 July 1655, at a court session in Fort Orange, we find two cases brought that don’t have any details attached. Pieter Rijverdingh has a complaint against Tjerck de Karman, and Tierk de Carreman has a case against Abram Pietersz Vosburch. None of the parties appear to be present. Tjerck is an unusual name in the colony, so one might imagine that this is “our” Tjerck Claessen, though no other name is given. “Karman” or “Carreman” indicate a profession; they are not names. A carreman could be a carter or a carrier; the suggestion is that Tjerck was employed cutting trees in the forests around Albany and hauling them out for various employers or customers. Janny Venema in Beverwijck (p. 452) says he is named as doing this work in 1655 and 1658, although she notes he is mentioned in other documents without reference to profession in 1656-57 and again in 1660.

On 15 September 1655, about 600 members of various native tribes landed at the southern tip of Manhattan and spread out through the streets and gardens of New Amsterdam, the start of the so-called “Peach War,” in which they killed about 50 colonists over a few days, burned 28 farms, and took more than 100 prisoners. As Jaap Jacobs tells it (“Days of Fasting and Prayer in New Netherland,” New York History Summer/Fall 2015, pp. 284-xx), “its immediate effects reverberated throughout the colony. It caused a collective trauma that the people of New Netherland would not soon forget.” Although Tjerck likely was at the time based in the Albany area, more than 100 miles up the Hudson from New Amsterdam, certainly he and all the people of the northern settlement would have been very much aware of the attack on the capital and its aftermath. Messages traveled mostly by ships, which would take a few days to go back and forth between the towns. The tribes around Beverwijck, Fort Orange, and Rensselaerswyck (the three northern communities clustered where today we find the city of Albany) were not always aligned with the tribes along the southern part of the river, but the European settlers, most of whom did not speak native languages and could not tell one tribe’s members from another’s, would have immediately worried about whether their own lives and homes were in danger as well. Tjerck, who apparently was making a living from going into the forest and pulling hewn trees out for construction in town, would have known that he was even more exposed to attack than villagers who stayed near the fort all day. It is entirely possible that he worked directly with native people. We know that when he marries in 1656, he picks the daughter of a man (Andries Lucassen) who had translated between European and North American speakers for previous expeditions, and his brother-in-law (Jan Thomasen, based in Beverwijck) is also conversant in local languages. Tjerck on his arrival had found an active Lutheran community already in place in Beverwijck, so he was not without resources for reassurance or warning. (He would have been glad to find people in town who spoke German and Frisian at home; Dutch is a cousin, and would have been familiar too, but just as the Dutch struggled to understand Frisian speech, Tjerck would have felt more naturally at home with someone from areas near where he had grown up.) But for someone who probably had been in the colony for only a matter of months, the Peach War would have been a sobering reminder of what it meant to live at the edge of European influence, adjacent to a population that vastly outnumbered the immigrant villagers and their paltry militias, and whose motives were often not well understood to Tjerck’s compatriots.

When Tjerck first arrived in North America, he likely landed at Fort Amsterdam, on the southern tip of Manhattan. To get to the Beverwijck area where he first settled, he would have had to arrange to be carried on one of the several ships that sailed back and forth on a regular basis. The Hudson is wide and deep between Manhattan and Albany, navigable by oceangoing vessels or other smaller craft. Skippers typically owned their ships, or owned them with partners. They carried people, news, notes, and trade goods up and down the river. One such sloop that could have carried Tjerck—though any number would have done the job—would be the ship of Lucas Andriessen. Lucas had been born in New Netherland, and he and his partner Jan Joosten now made a living sailing back and forth. (Andries Lucassen, Lucas’s father, an early settler in New Netherland, was a sailor too, and sometimes a skipper; we find him on various records in Old and New Amsterdam that describe different moments in his nautical career.) Lucas was a member of the Lutheran community in New Netherland, a congregation that was not allowed to worship together in public by Peter Stuyvesant, who was a rigid Dutch Reformed Calvinist. As a fellow Lutheran, we can guess Tjerck would have naturally gravitated toward this community, which also included many German- and Frisian-speaking immigrants from kindred areas along the North Sea coast, like Dithmarschen and the North Frisian islands, Schleswig and Holstein. We cannot know, but we might even guess that if they got along well enough, Tjerck could have come down to Manhattan for the wedding festivities when sloop captain Lucas Andriessen married Aefje Laurens, daughter of Laurens Cornelissen, a ship captain from Wel in the Netherlands. Lucas and Aefje married on 22 December 1655, according to Jacob Steendam (who wrote at least one of the wedding songs), about a month after they posted banns in New Amsterdam. There would have been wine and brandy, singing and toasts, prayer and celebration. And, we have to guess, Lucas’s sister Barbara would have been there at the wedding. We cannot know whether Tjerck Claessen was there. We cannot guess whether, three days before Christmas, she and he maybe had a little joke together about his name, his father’s name, and the name of Sinterclaes, the saint who became known to generations in the U.S. as Santa Claus. But what we do know is that only a few months later, Tjerck and Barbara themselves were posting the banns in New Amsterdam. How they met, these many centuries ago, is something we can only imagine.

Marriage to Barbara Andriessen, First Children: Where Were They Baptized?

Tjerck posted banns in Manhattan on April 24, 1656, to marry Barbara Andriessen.

The Famous Trouw Boeck Entry

For many years, this record and the others in the Trouw Boeck were considered marriage records, but the shrewd insight of Harry Macy in 2012 revealed what must have been well understood 350 years before: The book is a register of plighted troths, not of marriages; it records couples’ intentions to marry, but the marriages themselves, assuming no objections were raised, came later, frequently in other places. (See The New York Researcher, Vol. 23, No. 1, Spring 2012, p. 17, for further detail and discussion.) As in Old Amsterdam, the Dutch colony in North America had fixed rules about how to register to marry and then marry. Not everyone always did it exactly right, but there was a system to follow.

Trouw Boeck Entry

Worth noting here too: The record we have is not the original handwritten record of what the betrothed couple said to the minister that day in 1656 when they answered his questions about where they were from. Domine Henricus Selyns when he came to New Amsterdam years later, transcribed all of the original records, which he found in shabby condition, disintegrating rapidly, and (by most accounts) written in nearly indecipherable handwriting. (The records in Albany were non-existent or nearly so; it took until 1683 for anyone to come and put in order lists of marriages, confirmations, church members, and so on.) See a separate (older) page on this topic, on this site.

Tjerck surely said he was from Grootholum in Emderland, the land of the Ems River, the land whose largest city is Emden. (His younger sister also later says she is from Embderland, when she gets married; we find that used as a name for Ostfriesland frequently enough on printed maps and charts from this era.)

Whether from tattered paper or faded ink or bad handwriting, Selyns mis-transcribed Tjerck’s origin as Grootholt in Zunderlant, in clear handwriting that survives today. It has confounded many family researchers for over a hundred years, but it is, simply, a well-intended error.

Apparently Tjerck and Barbara never baptized any children in Manhattan. Some say Tjerck and Barbara baptized their first son, Andries, in New York, and lived there until spring 1657, but no record exists of Andries’ baptism in Manhattan. When Andries posts wedding banns in Kingston, on March 4, 1682, he’s listed as born in New York, which by then is the name for the entire colony. But baptism records in the New Amsterdam Dutch Church go back to 1639 (see Sources below), and Andries is not in them. We do find Tjerck (as Jerck Claeszen de Wit) in the church’s register of baptisms, on 1 March 1665, as godfather to Annetje, the daughter of Tjerck’s sister Emmerentje Claeßen and Marten Hoffman. Barbara Andriessen does not seem to show up in the Manhattan baptismal register either as mother to an infant being baptized or as witness to anyone else’s baptism. In 1657 and 1658, the church books have no record of any child named Andries being baptized; on 3 March 1659 Laurens Andrieszen and Jannetje Jans baptize a son Andries (Samuel Etsal and Tryn Harders as witnesses). On 17 October 1657, Barbara’s brother Lucas and his wife Aefje Laurens (daughter of “Skipper Laurens” Corneliszen) baptize their daughter Jannetje; Jannetje Sebÿns (probably Barbara’s mother) and Laurens Corneliszen are witnesses. Tjerck and Barbara’s son Andries, and their daughter Tjaatje, are not here. It seems likely that Tjerck and Barbara were living up near Fort Orange at the time and would have baptized Andries there. All early church records from that area went missing from the first, if they were ever kept at all. Only starting in 1683 do we find regular written notes about baptisms and other church rites.

Worth considering: In the summer of 1657, a Lutheran minister, Joannes Ernestus Gutwasser, arrived in New Netherland, to the great irritation of Peter Stuyvesant and the Reformed Domines. He was never allowed to minister publicly to a congregation, but it is entirely possible that, while he was around, Tjerck and Barbara took advantage of his presence to have their first two children baptized into the Lutheran faith. Lutherans took exception to the baptism ritual of the Dutch Reformed Church, which required each of the parents and witnesses to affirm that they would raise the child in the Reformed faith. The script was otherwise much like a Lutheran baptism, and if they had been able to leave out those phrases and words, the baptism in a Reformed church might have been more acceptable.

As it was, no good Lutheran or Calvinist at the time would have left a child unbaptized, so when there were no Lutheran ministers to do the job, we find Tjerck and Barbara diligently carrying their infants to the Reformed church to be initiated into Christianity.

Once the English take over the colony, and allow other Lutheran ministers to provide services more openly, we again see that there are several children Tjerck names in his will who are not recorded as having been baptized in Kingston’s Dutch Reformed Church. The records of the Lutheran ministers who came to North America in that era seem to have been lost.

As early as February 1656 Tjerck was called before the town councill in Fort Orange (modern Albany) for fighting and for keeping company with Lutherans; records suggest he continued to live in this part of the colony for the first few years after he was married. It is possible that Tjerck and Barbara baptized their first children in Fort Orange, Beverwijck, or Rensselaerswyck (three little settlements at that part of the Hudson that were all interrelated with each other in different ways). Marriage and baptism records from the Albany settlements before 1683 have been lost.

When Tjerck married Barbara Andriessen, he tied himself into her larger family network. Her father, Andries Lucaszen, was a sailor who went back and forth to Europe but seemed to spend much of his career in New Netherland, plying local rivers and coastal waters, interacting frequently with the people who had lived here before the Dutch. He is probably the Andries Lucaszen who sailed with Peter Minuit on the Kalmar Nyckel in 1638 to set up New Sweden on the Delaware River; the Andries Lucaszen on Minuit’s ship served as translator between the Europeans and the locals when they wanted to buy land. (For more information on him, and further speculation about his identity, see his page on this site.) We know of several siblings Barbara has in the colony; we can be reasonably sure of their relationships because of the number of times we see them serve as godparents to each other’s children. Barbara is the only one who says she is from Amsterdam; the rest all indicate at various times that they were born in New Netherland. (What we call New Amsterdam frequently was called simply “Amsterdam” in the colony at the time.) If Andries Lucaszen and his wife Jannetje Sebijns lived in New Netherland before 1638, we can guess he knew Peter Minuit from that period, when Minuit was director of the colony. Among Barbara’s siblings we find Geertruyd Andriessen in the Albany neighborhood, married to Jan Thomasen of Wittbek in Schleswig (sometimes he says Ostenfeld, right next door); they have a house in Beverwijck, where Jan is a business partner of Volckert Jansen Douw, from Frederickstadt, also in Schleswig near Husum, just south of Wittbek. They are both Lutherans and active in the lively Lutheran community in Beverwijck. Geertruyd and Jan also have farmland across the river on Papscanee Island. When she comes to the Esopus area, Geertruyd is often described as “from Fort Orange,” to distinguish her from a different Geertruyd Andriessen, who lives in the Wildwyck area. Barbara also has a sister and brother living in Manhattan, Marritie Andriessen and Lucas Andriessen. Lucas, following in his father’s footsteps, is skipper on a ship that goes up and down the Hudson on a regular basis, carrying passengers and goods. We can guess that he keeps the family well informed on each other’s doings, carrying news back and forth on his trips. Marritie is married to Jan Jansen from Breestede, a town in Schleswig just north of Husum, the third of the siblings to be married to a German-speaking Lutheran from the Frisian towns along the North Sea coast. We find Lucas Andriessen active in the Lutheran community in Manhattan, signing petitions to ask for a Lutheran church and minister; he is married to Aefje Laurens, daughter of Skipper Laurens Cornelissen, from de Wel in the Netherlands. Another likely sibling does not appear to live in New Netherland, though he may be nearby: Jan Andriessen shows up at a few family baptisms (as do the children’s father, Andries Lucassen, and more frequently their mother, Jannetje Sebijns). By the time Tjerck marries Barbara, the rest of her New Netherland siblings are already married and established in their homes. We do not know how Tjerck met Barbara, but we can assume that after they marry, he will interact with her brothers and sisters from time to time, and indeed we see him doing occasional business with Jan Thomase. This fits in well with Tjerck’s later activity in the colony’s Lutheran community.

Life in Albany: Sunday Services

On 1 February 1656, Peter Stuyvesant in Manhattan, in general accord with the instructions of the WIC Directors in Amsterdam, enacted an ordinance against “practicing any religion other than the Reformed.” (See Laws and Writs of Appeal 1647-1663,cited below in Sources, pp. 55-56.) By this ordinance he forbade “all such conventicles [little congregations] and meetings, whether public or private,” other than Reformed worship, “under penalty of one hundred pounds Flemish to be forfeited by all those who . . . assume . . . any office whether of preacher, reader or singer . . . 25 like pounds to be forfeited by everyone . . . who is found in such meetings. However, the director general and council do not hereby intend any constraint of conscience . . . nor to prohibit the reading of God’s Holy Word, family prayers and worship, each in his household.” The ordinance instructed local officials within Stuyvesant’s jurisdiction to post a notice, or plakkaat, of the new ordinance.

In the town council minutes from Tuesday 1 February 1656 (the same day), in Fort Orange, 150 miles upriver from Manhattan, and (especially in the middle of winter) a multiday sail from the capital of the colony, we find Tierck Claesen formally accused by Johan de Deckere, president of the town council of Fort Orange and Beverwijck, of “having been found last Sunday [January 30] in the company of the Lutherans, performing divine service, contrary to the ordinance issued against it” (p. 216, Fort Orange Court Minutes 1652-1660, cited below in Sources). Ignoring the lack of tolerance, the paper record is puzzling: How could the council have tried him for violating an ordinance passed the same day 150 miles away, before they even received notice of it? (And was he truly in violation at the time of the offense, since it was days before the ordinance was made official?)

(Worth observing, as noted in Janny Venema’s Beverwijck, pp. 102-103: The next Sunday, a different Lutheran, Hendrick Jansz the cowherder, was accused of the exact same offense, committed this time at the house of Willem Jurriaensz with 15 other people (this may have been the same incident that brought Tjerck to the council meeting; Kreider interprets it that way, p. 26 in Beginnings of Lutheranism). Venema may have misread the complaint; in Fort Orange and Beverwyck Court Minutes, 1652-1656, Vol. 1, p. 251, it appears that the complaint was against Albert Andriessen Bratt, “the Noorman” reference is to “Sunday a week ago,” which may indeed be the same event as Tjerck was tried for. One of the members of the council at the time, sitting in judgment on these miscreants, was Volckert Janszen Douw, a Lutheran from Frederickstadt [or Stapelholm] in Schleswig, not far from Husum, which might be one reason the penalty for the violators was a fairly low fine. See Beverwijck pp. 253-254 for some further thoughts on where a Lutheran like Douw fit in society. There were numerous Lutherans in the colony, enough to hold services and agitate for permission to have a minister. Douw, for example, was close to Tjerck’s brother-in-law Jan Thomasz, from Ostenfeld in Schleswig, also near Husum; Douw had arrived in 1641 and Thomasz in maybe 1644. Many of the bakers in town also were Lutheran, according to Venema. On Douw, see also Harry Kreider, The Beginnings of Lutheranism in New York, p. 10 et al. Kreider also discusses Tjerck Claessen de Witt and Martin Hoffman, and an Albert Andriessen Bratt, who probably is no relation to Barbara Andriessen, p. 11.)

Tjerck appears to have had a busy Sunday. At the same February 1 appearance before the council, he is fined “two and a half beavers, plus expenses” for “having fought last Sunday [January 30] with Willem Tellier, and also for having killed a goat belonging to Sander Leendertsz” (Fort Orange Court Minutes, p. 216). Sander Leendertsz is a Scotsman and a sailor, the brother-in-law of Willem Tellier (from the Shetland Islands) and Thomas Poulousz (from Herrifort, possibly Hereford in England; he came to Beverwijck only later, in 1655, after the failure of the Dutch colony in Brazil, where he had lived since 1641; see Beverwijck, pp. 189, 263, 268, 286, et al.). These three men from the British Isles married three Scottish sisters, Catelijn, Margareth, and Jannetje Donckes respectively. Leenderts came to Rensselaerswyck in 1639 under contract with the patroonship after being in New Netherland for several years; he did some skippering for the colony and then started paying land rent (see Beverwijck, pp. 263, 268, 286, et al., as well as the original Dutch records footnoted in the book by Venema). In 1652 he got a patent for a large lot in Beverwijck, often a sign that a person was done with the closer restrictions of life in Rensselaerswyck, a private patroonship, and wanted to move back to the freer mix of public life.

On 15 February 1656 (FOCM, p. 222), Sander Leendertsz says he would like to be paid ƒ25 for a goat killed by Tierk Claesz; the council refers the case to arbitrators. In the same session on 15 February, Tjerck files a complaint against Tomas Paul (one of the three British brothers-in-law), for unclear reasons; the council refers this case too to arbitrators, Jan Tomasz (Tjerck’s brother-in-law) and Cornelis Teunis Bos. This may be related to a later action on 17 October 1656, q.v.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part One (Flodder’s Lot)

On 18 April 1656 (FOCM, p. 232) Tjerck Claesz requests and is granted permission to have the lot of Jacob Jansz Flodder (granted to Flodder in 1654; see FOCM, p. 128). At the same session, five other people are warned to build on their lots or have the lots confiscated, and the town council determines that anyone who has not correctly registered lots are theirs will forfeit their rights to the lots. With the population growing and housing in demand, the council wants to be sure resources are all well used.

The same Jacob Jansz Flodder on 9 November 1661 (ERA Vol. 3, pp. 136-137) sells the sloop Eendracht to Tjerck’s brother-in-law Lucas Andriessen and his partner Jan Joosten. Flodder also runs a mill in Rensselaerswyck.


Tjerck as Bystander in Other People’s Debts

Coins and paper currency were in scarce supply in New Netherland, so bills often were paid with beaver pelts, strings of sewant (a.k.a. wampum: shells on strings, with specific values assigned to different colors of shells), measured quantities of wheat, or other barter goods, many of which were assigned fixed values within the colony for the specific purpose of being able to use them as a medium of exchange, i.e. money.

Another means of exchange was by way of notes, I.O.U.s, and various kinds of notarized or non-notarized personal drafts.

An example can be found in the correspondence of Jeremias Van Rensselaer, who was in his family’s patroonship of Rensselaerswyck when he got a request, dated 8 May 1658 in Amsterdam, from Jan Van Twiller (pp. 89-90, Correspondence of Jeremias van Rensselaer). (Van Twiller remarks in passing that many ships in Amsterdam are being made ready and staffed with often unwilling crews, for an unknown destination, by order of the admiralty—probably, it turns out, preparing for the October 1658 voyage to break the Swedish naval blockade of Copenhagen, in the Dano-Swedish War of 1658-1660.)

Van Twiller has a note dated 28 June 1656, for 600 guilders Holland money, written at Fort Orange. He has tried to collect on it in Amsterdam, but he has not been successful, so he asks Rensselaer to try to collect the balance in New Netherland, if he can.

The original I.O.U., drawn up in a formal style, is from Ghysbert Phillipsen van Velt Huysen; it is written to be paid “on sight,” to Mr. Françoys Boon “or his order” (i.e. anyone he may have given the note to as payment for some other debt).

Van Laer, translating the note, adds the story of how it has gone from hand to hand since it was first written:

On 23 August 1654, two years before writing the note, Gysbert Philipse Velthuysen gave power of attorney to Paulus Schrick of Repkouw, on his way back to the Netherlands, to collect money owed to Gysbert from Cornelis Pieterse, Gysbert’s father-in-law, living at Velthuysen.

Apparently Gysbert was still out of money in 1656, because he wrote Mr. Boon an I.O.U. to pay for some goods. This was in Fort Orange.

In turn, Mr. Boon, on 28 July 1657, gave a power of attorney to Van Twiller, of Nieukerck (who must have been heading back to the Netherlands), to procure payment against the I.O.U. Very possibly Van Twiller paid Boon some amount to buy the note from him. But when Van Twiller presented the I.O.U., the payment was protested by Cornelis Pietersen.

A statement at the bottom of the I.O.U. says that two other sons-in-law of Pietersen, named Brant Teunissen and Gerrit Ebben, have paid 500 guilders against the note to Jan van Twiller, on “March 10, 1658, in Nyckerck.”

Now, in May 1658, Van Twiller is asking Van Rensselaer to see whether he can get any further payment on the note.

Gysbert Philipsen van Velthuysen, the one who wrote the original I.O.U., was killed by the Indians in the Esopus in 1659.

The reason this comes up at all: What Velthuysen was buying from Boon was “the commodities [waerden] of Tjarck [Claess]en de Wit.” Other than that, we don’t know what Boon was selling, or how he got it from Tjerck, or why Velthuysen wanted it, but it was worth 600 guilders, which was not nothing, so following that note might give us some further clues about what Tjerck was doing for a living in Fort Orange in 1656.

This is probably a typical exchange among various interrelated parties in Europe and North America. Debts and notes were passed back and forth; a sister in North America might buy a barrel of nails with the understanding that her brother in Europe would pay the bearer of the note for the nails. The bearer of the note might not go back to Europe to collect it, but if he knew someone headed that way, he could give it to that person to collect (or sell it at face value, or at some discount, in payment of some other debt). A ship captain might buy rope or sailcloth and send the bill back to his wife in Amsterdam.

We can tell from various records that the DeWitts in North America were in touch with the family members they had left behind in East Frisia; when Tjerck’s father dies, he knows within a matter of months and arranges for his sister and his brother-in-law to head back over to settle accounts from his father’s estate.

A longer look at this kind of relationship-based structure for financial exchange can be found in Susanah Shaw Romney’s New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America, University of North Carolina Press (for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History, Wiliamsburg, Virginia), Chapel Hill, 2014.

More Life in Albany

On 28 June 1656 (Fort Orange Records 1656-1678, p. 77), Jan Tomassen, “burger and resident” of Beverwijck, who is married to Geertruy Andriessen, sister of Tjerck’s wife Barbara, appoints to Tjerck Claessen de Wit “his action on a certain bill of exchange issued by Gijsbert Flipsen van Velthuysen,” amounting to 600 guilders; the bill of exchange “is addressed to the honorable very discrete Cornelis Pietersen householder residing at Velthuysen.” The power of attorney is canceled, but it’s an intriguing document, making it sound as if Jan expected Tjerck might soon head to Velthuysen to collect the bill. Possibly Jan was just planning to buy something from Tjerck, using the I.O.U. as scrip, and then he changed his mind. The record is confused, but this is probably the same bill of exchange as the one discussed in “Bystander in Other People’s Debts,” above.

On 17 October 1656 (FOCM, p. 257) Tomas Poulussen demands 6 beavers of payment from Tjerck Claesen. Tjerck admits he owes the money, but says Poulussen owes him 16 guilders for wages, which may suggest something about what Tjerck is doing for a living. (Thomas Poulousz is a baker; see above. He might owe Tjerck wages for assistance baking, or, maybe more likely, he could owe Tjerck for hauling wood or assisting in construction of a house and bakeshop. Poulousz arrived in Beverwijck in 1655; in 1662 his brother-in-law Sander Leendertz gives him part of Sander’s lot, but Thomas must have lived somewhere in the meantime. In 1658 he grants Jan Barentsen Wemp a lot [see Beverwijck, p. 469]; the record of where he lived and worked is incomplete.) There is further dispute over amounts, and the council instructs the two to settle things between themselves.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Two (Philipsen Sublet)

On 12 December 1656 (FOCM, p. 270), Leendert Philipsen complains that Tierck Claessen has rented a house from Leendert and then, without Leendert’s knowledge, has sublet it to someone else. Leendert wants this rent to be paid to Leendert. Tierck agrees, and the council so orders. (See 1 May 1658 for an extension of this story.)

Reading between the lines a bit: We might guess that Tjerck originally leased the house for himself and his family to live in, but that since that time he has found other housing (he was granted Jacob Jansen Flodder’s lot in April 1656), so he is able to turn the house over to someone else, possibly making some money in the process.

A.J.F. Van Laer says Leendert Philipsen’s family name was Conyn; see ERA I, p. 305 (5 August 1662).

Tjerck and Barbara posted banns in New Amsterdam in April 1656; the process was that the banns would be put up three times (typically on three successive Sundays), and then if no objections had been raised you were supposed to get married promptly. We can guess they were married by June. It seems likely that by spring or summer of 1657 they welcomed their first infant. Typically Andries is listed as born in 1657; I’m not sure there’s any way to know whether he or his eldest sister, Taatje, really came first. We do know those are the two oldest: Tjerck’s will names them as his oldest daughter and his oldest son.

On 1 May 1657 (FOCM, p. 295), Henderick Pietersen complains that Tjerck Claessen bought a horse from him and never paid, though he was supposed to have paid more than a year ago. Tjerck admits the debt and agrees to pay it, plus court costs of ƒ18.

On 25 June 1657, Tjerck Claessen appears before Johannes la Montagne, deputy at Fort Orange, to declare that he has given Carsten Claessen (also a Timmerman, here translated as carpenter, but apparently no relation to Tjerck) and Jan Barensen [Wemp, eventually a proprietor of Schenectady] 180 guilders, to be paid in beavers. Apparently a stallion was auctioned to Jan Roeloffse for that amount, and Tjerck is buying it (p. 34, Early Records of the City and County of Albany, Vol. I; full citation below, in Sources).

In the accounts of Rensselaerswyck, Tjerck Claesz is charged with ƒ32 to rent a horse from 1 May 1657 to 1 May 1658 (Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, p. 846; see full citation below). This fits in with a later fragmentary note in a 22 December 1660 letter from Jan Baptist van Rensselaer, including various short notes about different open accounts and other business issues at Rensselaerswyck: “Tjerck Claesz is charged in the book of the colony only with [—] for hire of Dobes [also written Dobus; the name of a horse]. In addition you must charge him with [—] for a yearling steer bought of T. Dircksz at the vendue held in the year 16[—]” (p. 245, Correspondence of Jeremias van Rensselaer, 1651-1674, translated and edited by A.J.F. van Laer, Archivist, Archives and History Division, Albany, The University of the State of New York, 1932; copy used is a PDF from archive.org.)

In October 1657 (Beverwijck p. 103), 100 beaver skins were collected at Fort Orange for a Lutheran minister, Joannes Ernestus Gouwasser (Gutwasser), who had come to New Netherland that summer. He was never publicly allowed to minister, despite the entreaties of many in the colony, and at last gave up and went back to patria by July 1659. See above note about where Tjerck and Barbara’s first two children might have been baptized.

On 8 February 1658 (FOCM, p. 353), Abraham Pietersen Vosburch complains that Tjerck Claessen and Cobus Teunissen hauled a tree from the woods that Abraham had cut for lumber. The defendants admit that they did so, but say the log had lain in the woods for three years, and the council dismisses the complaint. This suggests more about Tjerck’s employment as a timmerman, hauling logs out of the forest. This job (or his job as a carreman) might go a long way toward explaining why we see him frequently involved in various transactions regarding horses.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Three (Philipsen Sublet, Redux)

On 1 May 1658 (Fort Orange Court Minutes, pp. 363-4), in an apparent continuation of the 12 December 1656 case, Leendert Philipsen complains that Henderick the baker (de Backer) has rented Leendert’s house from Tjerck Claessen—in other words, Tjerck has leased the house from Leendert and sublet it. Leendert wants Henderick to pay Leendert the rent. Henderick says he does not know Leendert, and the council instructs Leendert, if he wants to collect the rent, to collect it from Tjerck. This is the opposite of the settlement from 1656.

Worth observing: The house that Tjerck trades to Johanna de Laet/de Hulter in an exchange for land in the Esopus area in 1660 (see 14 (English)–24 (Dutch) July 1666 and 12 August 1672) is described as being right next door to Henderick de Backer.

Before Tjerck arrived from Ostfriesland, two other bakers in town were Jan [Fransen] van Hoesem (Hoesem, Van Laer suggests, is the Frisian town Husum, in Schleswig: see footnote on p. 137, Early Records of the City and County of Albany: Deeds 1678-1704; Van Laer notes that Pearson said the Van Hoesens were Lutherans, which fits in well with a German origin) and Jochem Wesselsz (from Jever, in Ostfriesland further east from Tjerck’s town; see Beverwijck, p. 283). Apparently several of the bakers in town, like Tjerck, were Lutherans (ibid. p. 285); Venema suggests that this pattern is a continuation of what was common in the Netherlands.

Hendrick de backer seems to be Hendrick Hendricksz (ibid. pp. 285-6); Venema says poor Hendrick died in 1661, and his widow, Geertruyd Barents, later leased the lot where they had lived to another baker, Hans Coenraetsz.

If the house of Leendert Philipsen, leased to Tjerck and sublet to Hendrick de backer, is the same house Geertruyd Barents later leases to Hans Coenraetsz, then at some point Leendert must have sold it either to Hendrick or to Geertruyd, or maybe Geertruyd is sub-subletting it.

On 2 July 1658 (FOCM, p. 377), Jan Gauw complains that Tjerck Claessen owes him 5 or 6 beavers. Tjerck explains that he does owe the money, but Jan was supposed to do some “masonwork” for him and hasn’t. One might guess that this has to do with home improvements.

On 9 July 1658 (FOCM, p. 377), Jan van Hoesem (see note above about where he’s from) comes after Tjerck Claessen for an unpaid IOU of ƒ100 in beavers and ƒ28 in sewant (strings of shells used as currency); the origin of the debt is not clear, but Tjerck admits it. Note that Jan van Hoesem is a baker in Beverwijck and likely competition to Hendrick de backer, to whom Tjerck seems to be subletting a house (probably with bakery included); see 1 May 1658, and Beverwijck, pp. 283-285. Van Hoesem and Tjerck are probably both Lutherans and Frisians.

The next week, on 16 July 1658 (FOCM, p. 385), Tjerck Claessen summons Volckertjen van Hoesem, wife of Jan van Hoesem, to a town council hearing for an unspecified reason, perhaps in some form of retaliation to the 9 July suit.

On 1 October 1658 (FOCM, p. 410), Eldert Gerbertsen complains that “T’Jerck Claessen” has promised to deliver 200 logs, each at least 6 feet in circumference (about 2 feet thick, or 60 cm); Eldert says he doesn’t have the logs yet, and it’s a big deal to him. Tjerck agrees that he made this promise, and he agrees to get the logs hauled out within two weeks, and not to do any other work until this is done. This gives some suggestion of what Tjerck was doing for a job while he lived in the Fort Orange area.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Four: Which House? Flodder or Bensingh? (Probably Flodder)

On November 20, 1658, Tierck Claesen arranged to lease his house in Beverwyck (Albany) to Arent Isacksz [van Hoeck or van den Houck], “burgher and inhabitant of the city of Amsterdam in New Netherland,” for 200 guilders in beavers at 8 guilders apiece, from May 1, 1659, to May 1, 1660. See ERA 4, p. 86: Janny Venema observes (Beverwijck, p. 62) Tjerck Claesz is allowed to lease his house if he would “raise the ground behind his house and make a stoop in front of the house.” She suggests that “It may have been the responsibility of a resident living at a particular frontage to keep a certain part of the road clean and accessible in order to protect people’s shoes.”

Trying to keep score here: It appears that Tjerck has one house leased from Leendert Philipsen, which he subleases to Hendrick de Backer, and another house, next door, where he lives. Records make it sound as if he owns a third property as well. Assuming that Hendrick de Backer is still in the house Tjerck sublet, the new lease to Arent Isacksz must be one of Tjerck’s other houses.

Worth observing here: We don’t see Tjerck in any records from November 1658 to June 1660. Is he still in town? He leased a house to someone else from May 1, 1659 to May 1, 1660. Was this a second house, or was he leasing his own house because he knew that he and Barbara would not be there?

While we’re speculating: Later records suggest that Tjerck’s sister Ida marries Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck perhaps mid- to late 1659; their first daughter is born mid-August 1660.

First Esopus War Breaks Out

On 20 September 1659, at the location that became Wildwyck and later Kingston, NY, a group of four (or 8 or 10) Esopus sat around a campfire drinking (unpermitted) brandy that had been given to them by Thomas Chambers as payment for a hard day’s work husking corn.

The Dutch had been in the area off and on, starting with a short-lived trading post (factorij) in 1614, and later a new settlement in 1652, before we have any record that Tjerck was in the colony. The colony’s bigger towns were north at present-day Albany and south at the southern tip of Manhattan; the immigrants also had some farms and villages on Long Island and in the area that today is New Jersey. But more than one Dutch traveler had noticed the fertile fields of the mid-Hudson area, and more than once some European immigrants made a stab at creating a permanent settlement there.

During the “Peach War” of 1655, the Europeans in the vicinity, with no stockade to protect them from attack, fled up or down the Hudson to better defended locations. In 1658, says Wikipedia, they returned again, this time for good.

(Marc Fried, who is from the area, knows the area, and is generally well researched and reliable, makes the case that the few Dutch who arrived in 1652-1653 stuck around and never left, except a temporary departure in 1655; see The Early History of Kingston, fully cited elsewhere on this page, Chapter II, “The Arrival of Settlers,” pp. 16-25. Fried also observes that the Esopus tribe was probably involved in the 1655 war and in fact held some of the hostages from it; see pp. 26-27.)

The Europeans lived close enough to the Esopus farmland that livestock from the Dutch farms would get into the fields of indigenous farmers and create quarrels. (For the time being, Esopus was the Dutch name for the longtime inhabitants of the area, and for the area in general, and specifically for their settlement, and for one of the local creeks. To keep things good and confusing, Esopus is also generally used as singular and plural for the people: An Esopus can live in the Esopus across the Esopus from Esopus, together with other Esopus.)

Alcohol didn’t help; more than once a settler was killed or wounded by one of the Esopus, and it was always blamed on brandy. The Esopus burned a farmhouse or two, and threatened to burn more if the Dutch didn’t plow their fields for them. The Dutch in the area complained to the Dutch around Fort Orange that the Esopus were getting brandy from there; Kit Davits was also accused of selling it to them.

In June 1658, Stuyvesant visited for several weeks and supervised the construction of a stockade, on land the Esopus agreed to give him for his troubles; he told the settlers to move their houses inside it. (Stuyvesant, who had lost a leg in an earlier career, offered to fight the Esopus one on one if they wanted to fight; they demurred.) Strains between the communities continued, with livestock lost and misunderstandings and threats on both sides. Stuyvesant increased the garrison to 50 men later in 1658, and in October came again to visit, this time demanding that for the trouble they had caused, the Esopus must deed over a large piece of land (the Groote Stuck?) that Stuyvesant had seen on his June visit, big enough for 50 farms. (I am cribbing liberally from Fried’s account here, pp. 28-33; it does not always match what people on the spot said later, but not all of their accounts may have been reliable.) Stuyvesant was supposed to send some minor gifts in return for the land, which he evidently never got around to doing.

Tensions continued to rise through 1659, and Stuyvesant sent more troops north, along with Ensign Smits. Although the Esopus clearly were on good enough terms with the Europeans to be working for them, and to be given brandy by them, a group of 12 Dutch—six soldiers and six settlers—for unclear reasons on 20 September 1659 decided to attack the little group of workers lying in a mostly drunken stupor around a fire.

(Ensign Smits said it had been 10 or 11 Esopus, who “raised a great noise and yelling under the fort,” which sat on a rise. He says the soldiers who alerted him to the ruckus included Martin Hoffman, Tjerck’s eventual brother-in-law; see DRCHSNY XIII, p. 114, but Hofman is not on his list of soldiers who were sent to investigate. Smits is quite clear that he never told anyone to fire on anyone, but “not to molest anybody”; Martin Hoffman signs a statement to that effect, p. 117. As we are still accustomed to hearing after unprovoked attacks in the 21st century, Smits’ men tell him that the Esopus shot first; they tell a rather different and more detailed story, pp. 119-121.)

This attack on apparently unarmed Esopus field workers set off the so-called First Esopus War, which ran until a peace was settled on 15 July 1660. (See sidebar further down about Esopus back story.) Hundreds of Esopus besieged the little nascent town (with 70 or 80 settlers in it), in an episode that again would remain fresh in many minds for some time.

News from home that must have reached North America at some point, though we can’t tell when: On 10 November 1659, Tjerck’s father dies, Witt-Claes Johansen, and Tjerck’s eldest sister Falde takes over the family farm. (Source: Weinkauf record from Esens. The church book from Esens has a gap in records from September 1658 to June 1660.)

On 8 March 1660 (Ship Passenger Lists, p. 123), 14 soldiers set sail for New Netherland on De Moesman (The Market Gardener); on 15 April (p. 124), 18 more are on the manifest for De Bonte Koe; on 27 April, we find another 16 on their way, on the Otter. New Netherland is arming up.

On 30 June 1660 (FOCM, p. 506), Tierck Claesen says the wife of Jan Fransen [Van Hoesem, a baker] (his wife is Volc[kert?]ien van Hoesem; see 8 September 1660 and 16 July 1658) owes Tjerck 5 beavers, “for which she became surety”: In other words, she didn’t incur the debt directly, but promised that someone else would pay it. She says she doesn’t owe the money, and the debt was settled. (The contested amount is 40 guilders at 8 guilders to the beaver; the lease of a house for a year, for comparison, was 200 guilders; see 20 November 1658 above.) The town council adjourns the case to the next council meeting day and instructs the parties to bring back the records of the arbitrators “who sat more than two years ago to decide the matter at issue.” (See 16 July 1658.) The next meeting day is July 13, but this doesn’t appear to come back before the council until 8 September.

At the same council session in Fort Orange, by the way, we also see Tjerck’s sister Ida Claessen, also not referred to by her name, but only by the name of her husband: “The wife of Jan Albers” (FOCM 1662-1660, p. 507). Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck is a shoemaker; she seeks payment of eight guilders from Witten Hendricksen, “for a pair of shoes,” and in a separate case she seeks payment of six guilders, eleven stivers, from Femmetjen Albers, for an unknown debt.

From the description of their daughter on 14 November 1662 (in the passenger list from de Vos when it arrives in New Amsterdam from Europe) as 2 1/4 years old, we can guess that Ida and Jan welcome their daughter into the world in mid-August 1660. When Ida appears before the council on 30 June, she is a young woman married probably less than two years, and very pregnant.

Tjerck and Barbara married in 1656, and their first child (Andries or Taatje) was probably born in 1657 or by early 1658. We can guess that their second child would have been born in 1660; their third, Jannetje, was baptized in February 1662. So they had two children in the house, one of them roughly the same age as her (or his) cousin. One can guess that they might have been swaddled together, nursed together, that as they got older they played together, at least until Ida’s daughter sailed to Europe with her parents in fall 1661.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Five: Exchange for Esopus (Bensingh Lot); Tjerck is “inhabitant of Rensselarswyck”?

On 1 September 1660 Tjerck Claessen, “inhabitant of the Colony of Rensselarswyck,” trades his Beverwijck house for property in the Esopus, downriver in the area where Kingston and Hurley are today (Early Records of Albany, Vol. I, p. 285). See below for further notes on this move. See also photos below of a contemporary copy of the exchange deed.

Tjerck is described here as living in Rensselaerswyck, not Beverwyck, by a council secretary who we might expect would know the difference. We know Tjerck has been in the area around present-day Albany since at least 1655. We know he was granted a lot in Beverwijck on 18 April 1656. We know he has leased a house from Leendert Philipsen, and then (12 December 1656, 1 May 1658) apparently sublet it to Hendrick de Backer. Apparently this house leased to Hendrick is right next to the house where Tjerck was living, a house we presume Tjerck owned. By May 1, 1659 (see 20 November 1658), we understand someone else is living in one of Tjerck’s houses in Beverwijck, probably a house (built when?) on the lot that originally was granted to Jacob Jans Flodder. As far as we know, Tjerck does not yet have any property in the Esopus, but he and his wife and their children must live somewhere. There may be some records from Rensselaerswyck that could clarify this, or he might be living there as tenant of someone else whose name is on the Van Rensselaer family’s books. Or the council secretary could have been wrong, and maybe Tjerck is still living next to Hendrick de Backer in Beverwijck.

On 1 September 1660 Tjerck Claessen, “inhabitant of the Colony of Rensselarswyck,” appears at Fort Orange before Johannes La Montagne, to trade some property with “Madame Johanna De Laedt,” “in exchange for land in Wiltwyck [Kingston]” (Early Records of Albany, Vol. I, pp. 285-286). Other than his marriage record, which was re-transcribed in the late 1600s from a tattered original, this is one of the first records we have of Tjerck in North America to include the name “De Witt,” not in the document itself but apparently in his signature.

The house and lot are described as “his house twenty feet long and with the passage way [uytlaet] thirty feet broad, and lot (the lot is ten rods and nine and twenty feet long) lying in the village of Beverwyck, adjoining on the east side the street, on the west side the garden of Henderick Anderiessen [probably not a relative of Barbara Andriessen’s? this is his garden, but he apparently lives in Fort Orange; see 10 September document immediately preceding this one in ERA] and Lambert [Albertsz] van Neeck, and on the north side the house of Lambert Van Neck, and on the south side the house of Hendrick de Backer.” This matches the description given later on 14 July 1666 and again on 12 August 1672, even though at least some of the people named from adjacent properties are by then deceased, and other people probably own and occupy the properties.

This is a public record, but it appears to be not the final deed of sale: “[T]he respective parties shall deliver proper contracts and instruments securing perfect possession on the first of May, A.D. 1661.”

Worth noting: In this transaction, Johanna De Laet is “assisted by the Honorable Jeronimus Ebbinck as husband and guardian.” In other words, Ebbinck is not a principal in this transaction, though he is present. His presence in the transfer paperwork documents his awareness of and his role in his wife’s transaction. De Laet is the daughter of Johannes de Laet, a Director of the WIC and a published historian and geographer in his own right, and her first husband, Johannes De Hulter, now deceased, bought the property in the Esopus that she now proposes to exchange with Tjerck. Dutch property law tends to be careful in tracking ownership; Johanna and Johannes De Laet had four children, and it would be considered important to preserve the estate left to them by their father. Often a guardian was assigned in cases like this to keep a stepfather from dissipating away his stepchildren’s birthright. At the very least, it is not assumed that when Ebbinck marries Johanna de Hulter he automatically receives title to anything she owns. She owns the land her former husband bought in the Esopus, and under the law (or depending on what his will said) it is hers to dispose of as she sees fit. As with a modern real estate transaction involving only one member of a married couple, it is important for any document to clarify the presence of the other spouse, even if they are not a direct party to the transaction.

Which of Tjerck’s Beverwijck houses this is: On 14 July 1666, when Tjerck reconfirms this 1660 transaction, he says he bought this property [the one he trades to De Laet] from Dirck Bensingh. (He also glibly confirms he transferred his house to Jeronimus Ebbinck, though the original document is clear in stating that he is transferring it not to Ebbinck, but to Ebbinck’s wife, Johanna de Laet/de Hulter, who was the sole owner of the land Tjerck took over in the Esopus.) The lot Tjerck was granted by the town council in 1656 previously belonged to Jacob Jansz Flodder. Tjerck apparently owns more than one property in Beverwijck. See Beverwijck p. 467, which describes on West Broadway, between State Street and Maiden Lane, 18b: “ERA I: 322: [Harmen] Thomasz also grants part to Tjerck Claesz, which is bounded to south by Lambert van Neck, north by Hans Coenraetsz, to west by street. Received from Dirck Bensingh, who had received it from Machiel Rijckertsz. See also FOCM, p. 212 about the sale of the lot.” Compare to 15c (Beverwijck p. 466), with a confusing timeline also tracing a lot from Dirck Bensingh to Tjerck.

(Dirck Bensingh was granted a lot in 1653 (ERA I, p. 394) and again in 1654; see FOCM pp. 112, 135, as well as ERA Vol. I p. 216, where Rutger Jacobson on 21 December 1654 contracts with Dirrick Bensinck “to frame and make a house one board in length; to set up and build it behind the house of the said Dirrick Bensinck, now standing and built in Beverwyck,” with further descriptions and details about the house included. Bensinck, a carpenter from Brevoort, signs with a mark; he dies in 1660. Venema in Beverwijck describes how faulty many of the original lot surveys were; the original surveyor was fired after enough instances came to the attention of the town council, including Dirck Bensingh’s, where the surveyor had rearranged lot lines to benefit himself or his friends and family. Bensingh too may have owned more than one lot, perhaps one right behind the other.)

Jacob Jansz Gardenier, from Campen, nicknamed Flodder (Beverwijck p. 88), leased a few mills near Beverwyck, in February 1654 and in 1647; he used slaves on his farm near Greenbush (Beverwijck p. 117). He is granted a lot in 1654 (FOCM p. 128), but must never build on it, since Tjerck takes it over on 18 April 1656. When does Tjerck build on it?

From the description, Dirck Bensingh built on his lot (or lots—sounds like two houses, one right behind the other); if Tjerck bought that from Bensingh (or from Harmen Thomasz who got it when he married Bensingh’s widow, Catarina Berex), he likely would have bought the house with the lot.

When did Tjerck buy this house? It’s documented in 1663, at the same time as Van Neck buys the house apparently next door. But Venema suggests that 1663 might have been when the house finally was paid for, and that the original sale was years previous. This matches what we see elsewhere, that Tjerck was in fact living in the house in the 1650s, and by the time 1663 comes around, he has already traded it to Johanna De Laet (in 1660). In Fort Orange on 28 May 1663, two similar documents (ERA I p. 322) feature “Harmen Tomassen (Hun, or Van Amersfort), husband and guardian of Catarina Berex, widow of Dirk Bensingh,” conveying first a property to Tjerck Claessen De Wit and then an adjacent lot to Lambert Albertse Van Neck. The first lot is “bounded to the south by Lambert Van Neck, to the north by Hans Coenraetse [Backer], and to the west by the street; length ten rods and breadth two rods three feet, which lot the grantor’s predecessor [Bensingh] received . . . from Michiel Ryckertsen, of date the 29 April, Ao. 1656.” The second lot “adjoining to the north Tjerck Claessen, to the south Frans Barentsen [Pastoor], length ten rods and breadth five or six and twenty feet . . . part of the patent granted . . . to Daniel Rinckhout, of date the 25th of October, 1653.”

On the same day, Gillis Pietersen [yet another local Timmerman] sells to Harmen Tomasse a different lot, not apparently connected to the first two, “which lot the grantor received by patent” on 14 April 1654. This lot is “adjoining to the south Evert Janse Wendel, north and west the street; length on the south side nine and a half rods, and on the north side five rods, breadth on the west side seven and a half rods, on the east side eight rods.” And then on 29 May 1663, the next day, Harmen Tomasse transfers a fourth lot, to Maritien Damens, widow of Henderick Anderiessen [van Doesburgh; not related to Tjerck’s wife]: “to the south the lots length nine rods nine feet six inches, to the north the grantor length seven rods eight feet, to the east Tjerck Claessen, breadth three rods, to the west the road, breadth three rods, which lot is part of the patent to Gillis Pieterse [but apparently, from description and date, different from the one described in the previous contract?]” dated 19 April 1654.

This is all a bit garbled and could use some sorting out. Further documents may make the course of property transfers more clear.

On 8 September 1660 (FOCM, p. 527), Tierck Claesen seeks payment of 5 beavers from Volcien van Hoesem, which appears to be the same Volckertjen van Hoesem he sued on 16 July 1658. The town council refers the parties to “the previous judgment of June 30 [1660],” which did not seem to settle much.

It is perhaps worth noting that in the entire Fort Orange Court Minutes from 1652-1660, Tjerck Claessen is not ever referred to by the name DeWitt. Whether he is the one filing a complaint or someone else is filing it against him, he is either Tjerck the Carreman or Tjerck Claessen, not ever Tjerck Claessen De Witt. In the church records when he posts banns to marry Barbara, in 1656, his name, as transcribed in 1682 from the original records, is written Tjerck Claeszen de With. In the 1656 Van Twiller I.O.U. included in the Van Rensselaer papers, he is Tjarck Claessen De Wit. There may be some other places where he uses the name De Witt. But in the Fort Orange Court Minutes, he is Tjerck Claessen, or in the earlier days just Tjerck.

Transition to Wiltwyck (Kingston, Hurley)

Esopus Background Story

In 1652-53, at the same time as Beverwijck was being declared an official city by newly arrived governor Peter Stuyvesant, a few scattered settlers had started eyeing promising land down the Hudson River, midway to Manhattan, in an area known since early 1660s exploration as “the Esopus,” named possibly for the local tribes who made it their home. (The local tribes may have been called the Waranawonkougs, and Esopus may have been a Dutch corruption of their name for the area. The Dutch used the word Esopus both for the tribe and for the place.) Beverwijck was (as the name suggests) established as a fur-trading outpost upriver from the harbor of Manhattan. The area of the Esopus, where the Esopus Creek and Rondout Kill (another name for creek) run into the Hudson, promised more fertile farmland and perhaps a respite from the rules and more crowded conditions of the little towns at the north and south ends of the Dutch colony.

One of the first colonists to split from Rensselaerswyck and move to the Esopus was Englishman Thomas Chambers. As described in The Early History of Kingston, pp. 16-17, Chambers, a carpenter in New Netherland since at least 1642, had by September 1646 contracted for a lease in Rensselaerswyck, which was administered as a private colony somewhat separate from the (also commercially run) colony of New Netherland. Anyone living in Rensselaerswyck was subject to the tight control of the Rensselaer family and their hired managers; strict books were kept. On 5 June 1652, Chambers buys land from the Esopus Indians, and on 8 November 1653, he gets a patent for 38 morgens (~76 acres) that are either the same land or adjacent property. Chambers had the notion of establishing himself as a local lord, with a manor eventually called Fox Hall. It appears that by 14 July 1654 Thomas Chambers has vacated Rensselaerswyck (Early History of Kingston, p. 22, footnote 4; see also A History of Ulster County Under the Dominion of the Dutch, p. 17; full citation below in Sources). See also Ship Passenger Lists, p. 70, with details taken from A[rnold] J[ohan] F[erdinand] van Laer, “Settlers of Rensselaerswyck, 1630-1658,” in Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, Being the Letters of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, 1630-1643, and Other Documents Relating to the Colony of Rensselaerswyck. Albany: University of the State of New York, 1908 (805-846).

Other settlers from the Rensselaerswyck-Beverwijck-Fort Orange area followed suit; no doubt, in this small society, they were all in close contact with each other, discussing options and possibilities. As the Europeans started arriving in the Esopus, conflict and misunderstanding with the original inhabitants arose quickly.

Another early purchaser of land in the Esopus was well heeled: Johannes De Laet (1581-1649), never seems to have crossed the Atlantic but was in 1620 a founding Director of the Dutch West India Company (according to Wikipedia), as well as a geographer and historian. His History of the New World (1625) described the New Netherland colony in some detail, with maps; he also was involved in publishing volumes on Brazil, where the WIC also was heavily involved. In 1608 he married Maria Boudewijns van Berlicum, his second marriage. They had a daughter, Johanna De Laet (1623-1666), born in Leiden, who ca. 1644 married Johannes de Hulter, described in some places as another founding Director of the WIC. (Surely some list of the original Heeren XIX, the original 19 Directors of the WIC, exists somewhere; I have not yet found it.) Johannes De Laet was also involved directly with Rensselaerswyck and appears with other Rensselaerswyck investors in various cases involving their rights. (See Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, various entries.) By the time he died, he was very well off.

Mr. and Mrs. De Hulter, De Laet’s daughter, lived in Leiden until ca. 1650; when her father died in 1649, she inherited property in the Esopus. (Still looking for original source for this; perhaps the property she inherited was his share in the Rensselaerswyck patroonship.) Mr. and Mrs. De Hulter moved to New Netherland in 1653, with servants and children (the couple had four). The family settled in Rensselaerswyck.

A.J.F. Van Laer, who is generally accurate and well researched, in the Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, p. 845 (see full citation below in Sources), says Johan de Hulter, who married Johanna De Laet, was “a participant in the colony of Rensselaerswyck” and sailed with his family in May 1653. In 1654 he and his wife lease and buy land in Rensselaerswyck, where her father had been an investor. Johan is a member of the Rensselaerswyck town council in April 1655; he dies before August 7, 1658, possibly in 1655.

On 5 November 1654 Johan de Hulter seeks a patent for “a large tract of land” he says he has purchased from the Indians in Esopus (Early History of Kingston, pp. 19-20); he dies, but on 27 March 1657, his widow, Johanna de Laet/de Hulter, is granted the patent. Specifically it is 500 morgens “contiguous on the north side to the land of Thomas Chambers and Christoffel Davits, where the boundary is formed by a large Kil [creek], and it is further divided at the north from the land on which Juriaen van Westphalen lives now, by a small Kil.” (Davits’s land was 36 morgens “about a league inland” from the Hudson, on the west side of the Esopus Creek, “opposite to the land of Thomas Chambers, running SW and NE halfway to a small pond on the border of a valley, which divides this parcel and the land of the Hon. Johan de Hulter.”)

Marc Fried suggests (Early History of Kingston, p. 25, footnote 2): “It is quite likely that Johan de Hulter never resided at Esopus, but merely sent his servant there to develop his land.”

In September 1655, native tribes stage an attack on Manhattan and Staten Island (the so-called Peach War, q.v. above), which creates alarm up and down the Hudson Valley. Settlers who were not living behind a stockade sought cover, some by fleeing to New Amsterdam. See FOCM p. 207; on 20 September 1655 the town council at Fort Orange agrees to send a yacht to Esopus to find out any news. On 1 February 1656 (FOCM p. 218), the council asks everyone to bring an accounting of anything they donated toward “presents for the Indians and the ransom of prisoners from the Esopus.” I am not aware of a record of what exactly happened at the Esopus, but it appears that, without a fort structure to hide behind, the settlers on their scattered farms were easy prey for attackers. Marc Fried (EHK p. 27) suggests that the “ransom of prisoners from the Esopus” refers to the Esopus Indians, not the Esopus area, and that the prisoners in question were likely hostages taken in New Amsterdam or the vicinity. He notes that in 1659, the Esopus Indians in conversation with the Dutch remind them that during the Peach Tree War, “they did not injure any one of the Dutch [at Esopus] nor did any other harm, and they let the Christians return to their possessions.” This suggests, as do other documents, that the people living in the Esopus at least temporarily evacuated to safer places. At any rate, tensions were up.

On 7 November 1655, Johanna de Laet/de Hulter sells her farm, brickyard, tile kiln in Rensselaerswyck at auction (Van Rensselaer Mss., p. 845; Beverwijck, p. 90, suggests 1657). Johannes de Hulter sells a variety of rings and coins on 5 February 1655 (Beverwijck, p. 260; Venema cites her source as Early Records of the City and County of Albany, Vol. I; full citation below, in Sources, pp. 222-23; her note goes on to include (for other auctions) pp. 250, 344, 460; she also mentions Gemeentearchief Amsterdam and Notarial Archive of Amsterdam 604/265 (May 8, 1652))

Over the period 1657-58, tensions remained high between European settlers in the Esopus area and the local tribes. Peter Stuyvesant eventually required the Europeans to build a stockade for protection, similar to what had been done at Fort Orange and New Amsterdam, and to move their homes behind it. (It was fairly common practice at the time to move a house, sometimes by taking it apart and putting it back together at the new location: Lumber was hard to come by, though sawmills were set up and working hard to keep pace with building and shipbuilding, and nails were even dearer, since they had to be imported from Europe.)

In 1659 Johanna married Jeronimus Ebbing; the new couple baptized four more children in Manhattan [see Van Rensselaer Bowier Mss.p 845; Minutes of the Orphan Masters of New Amsterdam, I:166-70; Holland Society of New York Year Book 1900, 13:155; see also Settlers of Rensselaerswyck 1630-1658 by A.J.F. Van Laer (1908) page 45; see also https://www.geni.com/people/Johanna-de-Laet/6000000026437493009].

On 1 September 1660 Tjerck Claessen, “inhabitant of the Colony of Rensselarswyck,” trades his Beverwijck house for property in the Esopus, downriver in the area where Kingston and Hurley are today (Early Records of Albany, Vol. I, p. 285).

The land Johanna de Laet is exchanging is described as “two pieces of land lying in the Esoopus west by north of the Binne Kil [enclosed, or inner creek] of Esoopes and lying on the other side of the same; the north field comprises thirty-five morgens and one hundred and fifty-five rods, and the other, adjoining the west side consist of thirty-five morgens and one hundred ten rods” (p. 169, Fort Orange Records 1654-1679). If Johan de Hulter started out with 500 morgens in the Esopus, this is only a small fraction of his holdings. Johanna de Laet continues to appear in various Esopus civil records for some years after this.

If we figure the total area Tjerck got in the Esopus at 70 morgens plus 265 rods, about another half-morgen, we can figure he was farming on what today in the U.S. would be called 140 or 145 acres (about 57 hectares), a little under a quarter-section. For comparison, the farm Tjerck’s father first came to in Groot Holum, sometime before 1622, was approximately 75 acres (30 hectares). The farm his mother’s family owned was a little bigger, about 95 or 100 acres (40 hectares). A farm around this size was a reasonable size for one farmer to handle, with a family and possibly some hired help, and some horses to help with various heavy hauling jobs.

Units of Measure

Janny Venema in Beverwijck (pp. 14-15) defines a “morgen” as 600 square rods (roeden), a little over 2 acres. A Rhineland morgen, she says, is 2.103 acres; an Amsterdam morgen is 2.069 acres. The rod (roede) is a linear measure, 13 voeten or 12.071 U.S. feet (3.68 meters) for Amsterdam, 12 voeten or 12.36 U.S. feet (3.77 meters) for the Rhineland. The typical unit of measure for land in Ostfriesland in that era was the Diemat, which also varied somewhat from location to location, but was roughly 1.4 acres (about 0.57 hectare).

Modern measures: In the U.S., 1 square mile (one “section” in the U.S. government land location numbering system) is 640 acres. A hectare is 10,000 square meters, which is the area of a field 100 meters by 100 meters. A hectare is approximately 2.47 acres.

For some interesting drawings of measuring tools surveyors used in the 1600s, see The Edge of New Netherland by L.F. Tantillo, published for the New Netherland Institute, 2011, Nassau, New York.

See also discussion of weights and measures in the final pages of Kingston Papers.

In November 1663, we see Johanna de Laet still has a lot in Wildwyck proper (inside the palisade; see DRCHSNY XIII, p. 230), and on 25 November 1664, before the town council at Kingston (Kingston Papers, p. 180), Johanna de Laet petitions the council for a special provision regarding her barn, so she still has land and at least a barn in the area. (After the June 1663 Indian attack, the council tightened up rules about having a “palisade,” a high and sturdy fence, around any structures, to protect them from future attacks. All houses were required to be moved behind the town’s stockade, for protection. De Laet in this case explains that her barn is outside the palisade; she would like to erect a palisade around her barn, then open a gate in the current stockade for a road horses can travel to her barn. The council says it will study the situation. Worth noting: For people who tampered with the palisades, or removed wood from them, the ultimate penalty was death. This was never enacted. But the local administration, from Stuyvesant on down, took very seriously the defense of the community against outside attacks.)

In 1661 Tjerck was taxed for the erection of a church in Hurley, not far from Kingston. (What is the source for this? Hurley at the time would have been called Nieuw Dorp, the new town south and west of Wildwyck, and it was barely a collection of houses under construction, without a protective wall or much development. Tjerck continues to appear in the records from the church in Wildwyck; when do Hurley church records start?) By September 1661 Tjerck had already appeared before the town council in Wiltwyck (this time as a plaintiff; he won his case).

On 9 June 1661, “Tjarck Claesz de With, husbandman, dwelling in the Esopus” appears before a notary in Beverwijck (he signs his name Tierck Clasen Witt), to appoint “Jan Albertsz, master shoemaker, his brother-in-law, who intends to go to Holland, his special attorney to demand, collect and receive from his other brother-in-law named Pieter Jansz, dwelling at Oosterbemus in Oost Vrieslant, amicably, or if need be by means of judicial proceedings, such rents as said Pieter Jansz owes him for the use of a certain piece of land obtained by [Tjerck] on the death and decease of [Tjerck’s] late father.” Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck is also empowered to settle some of Tjerck’s debts and to arrange for lease of the old family farm, preferably to Pieter Jansz (husband of Tjerck’s sister Falde), “if he desires it and is willing to pay as much rent as any one else” (EAR 3, pp. 69-70).

On 10 June 1661, in Beverwijck, Tjerck appears before a notary to confirm “that he was well and truly indebted to Mr. Phillip Pietersz Schuyler” for 256 guilders (“or 32 beavers”), “growing out of the purchase and delivery of a grey gelding,”  which he promises to pay in wheat “at current beaver’s price,” over the next two years, payment to be delivered in Beverwijck.

On 22 August 1661, Pieter Jansen van Hoorn, “dwelling in Beverwyck” has a notary confirm a document declaring that he owes “Jan Albertsz, master shoemaker” [Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck, married to Tjerck’s sister Ida Claessen] 250 guilders, “to be paid in Holland, growing out of the purchase and delivery of wheat and good beavers by him thankfully received.” Pieter requests “Mr. Pieter Folckertsz, schoolmaster in the public school at Hoorn in Holland, his guardian” to pay Van Steenwyck the money owed to “said Jan Albertsz, who intends to leave for Holland this year, or to the lawful bearer hereof . . . within six weeks after sight.” As with the previous note that Van Twiller was trying to cash, this document says that it has been copied in triplicate, with only one of the documents payable. (See EAR 3, pp. 94-95.) Hoorn, in the province of North Holland, not far north from Amsterdam, is across the IJsselmeer from Steenwijk, which is in Overijssel province, just south of Friesland. Jan and Ida would likely have arrived at Texel, the island north of Amsterdam where large ships made port after an Atlantic voyage. Texel served as the seaport for Amsterdam (which has canals and a respectable deepwater port), but instead of heading to Amsterdam from Texel, Jan and Ida might have headed straight for Hoorn and nearby Enkhuizen, where Ida’s half-sister Annetje had moved with her husband Harmen Egberts; they were baptizing children there already by the 1640s (see notes elsewhere on this page). After Annetje’s husband dies, she moves to Amsterdam, where at least some of her children live, but in the early 1660s, she may still have been in Enkhuizen. (It seems likely that when Ida and Tjerck first headed for North America, they would have sailed from the Esens area and made their first stop in Enkhuizen, which was a major center for the North Sea herring fleet and for merchants who plied the coast across the Frisian provinces and up into Denmark and beyond. There they would find a haven at their half-sister’s home, and from there they could foray out on further journeys.) It appears from Tjerck’s power of attorney to Jan that the young couple intended to journey as far as Ostfriesland, likely passing through Steenwyck along the way, no doubt catching up with many of their daughter’s grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, but it would have been relatively easy just after they landed to visit Hoorn, if they were going to make a stop in Enkhuizen anyhow. (When Jan and Ida set sail on the return trip to North America on 31 August 1662, their daughter is “2 1/4 years old,” so we can guess she was born in May 1660, probably baptized in Albany in records that have since been lost.)

Note that on 15 September 1661, various other parties in Fort Orange records are also establishing powers of attorney in anticipation of trips to Europe. (Fort Orange Records 1654-1679, pp. 222-223). Tjerck’s appointment of his brother-in-law Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck to settle rentals on the family estate in Esens came on June 9, 1661 (p. 69, Early Records of the City and County of Albany and Colony of Rensselaerswyck, Vol. 3, “Notarial Papers 1 and 2, 1660-1696,” New York State Library History Bulletin 10, translated from the original Dutch by Jonathan Pearson, late Professor of Natural Philosophy in Union College, revised and edited by A.J.F. Van Laer, Archivist, Division of Archives and History; Albany, University of the State of New York, 1918.)

On 25 October 1661 (Kingston Papers, p. 5), at a town council meeting in Wildwyck, Evert de Waelsman [is he from Wales? “Wale” also means “Walloon”] seeks 200 guilders from Willem Jansen Stol in payment for two cows, and from “Tjirick Clasen” he seeks “payment of wages for nineteen days, and for mowing grass two days.” The council orders Tjerck to pay two schepels of wheat for the two days’ mowing, and 2 guilders (in zeewant) per day for the 19 days of other work.

On 22 November 1661, the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, fines Pieter van Alen for selling brandy during the sermon on the Sabbath; he also fines “Tjirick Clasen because he carted during the harvest.” (Kingston Papers, p. 11. The handwriting in these records, and spelling, are Swartwout’s. He was serving as council secretary, in addition to his duties as Schout. Note that the Schout also lived and worked as a farmer during his time in Wildwyck; various other council records refer to his personal business. He arrived in New Netherland for the second time on De Bonte Koe [The Spotted Cow], under Captain Pieter Lucasz; it sailed from Texel 15 April 1660 [see Ship Passenger Lists, p. 123], and he carried a letter from the WIC Directors instructing Stuyvesant about his new position, which Stuyvesant did not favor. When Swartwout arrives, he comes with three employees, Cornelis Jacobsen van Leeuwen and Ariaen Huijbertsz and Arent Mertensz, from Gelderland.) The rules aren’t spelled out here, but apparently it was “all hands on deck” during harvest, in a community effort to get all the crops in, and you weren’t supposed to take on side jobs for personal profit (like Tjerck, who in Beverwijck made his income from carting loads for others, particularly hauling wood from the forest).

On 3 January 1662, Tjerck, apparently annoyed at the Schout (Kingston Papers, p. 12; see 22 November 1661), demands of him two schepels of wheat, for no reason that the Schout wrote down in the record, and also “the cost of three summonses.” The council ignores the two schepels of wheat but does award Tjerck the cost of the summonses. In the same council session, “Tjirick Clasen” demands 8 schepels of wheat from Pieter Hillebrantsen, and Huybrecht Bruyn demands 6 schepels from Tjerck.

On February 12, 1662, Tjerck and Barbara baptized a daughter, Jannetjen, in the Wildwyck Dutch Reformed Church (they already had Andries and another daughter, Taatje, born in 1657 and 1659). By 1662 they owned No. 28 of the “New Lots” at Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 230).

On 18 April 1662, in a town council meeting at Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, p. 29), Christian Nissen romp asks “Tjirick Classen payment for a cow . . . and for wages earned, together amounting to one hundred schepels of oats.” Tjerck agrees he owes it, but says he can’t pay right now because “he will be obliged to sow his oats himself.” The council orders Tjerck to pay anyhow, or give back the cow.

Appointment to Town Council

On 27 April 1662, by order of Peter Stuyvesant, Tjerck (“Tjirick Classen deWit”) and his neighbor Albert Gysbertsen (who signs his name with a mark, rather than a signature) are named to the Wildwyck court (Kingston Papers, p. 32). Tjerck and Barbara have three little children by now, property in Beverwyck and the Esopus, and things appear to be going fairly well, though a fair amount of hard work is involved.

Council (or Court) Appointments

A town typically has a “Schout” (pronounced like the English word “scout”; the sch- letter combination in Dutch is pronounced as “sk,” not “sh,” like in “school” or “skipper” or “skirt,” not like “shirt” or “sheaf” or “sheriff”) who is a bit of a sheriff and prosecutor rolled into one, and a council, or court, which is made up of a few “schepens” (in Dutch, schepenen, pronounced “SKEPenen”), sometimes translated Commissaries (or magistrates), perhaps better called councilors. They are able to issue and enforce orders, and along with issuing municipal regulations they sit in judgment on civil cases and criminal cases (brought by the Schout) of relatively minor local interest: real estate questions, complaints about debts unpaid, scurrilous remarks, fences that need mending. For major issues, they are supposed to refer cases up to a higher authority; the Wildwyck town records include cases that were referred to the Colony Council in New Amsterdam for more serious punishments. A larger city (like New Amsterdam) would have, in addition to schepenen and a Schout, a set of Burgermeesters, who would serve as something like joint mayors.

(Bigger cities also typically have what’s called the “burgher right,” which is a kind of official citizenship, conferred usually for a fee, and often only available to people who have lived there for a fixed amount of time. The burger right, often subdivided into the “greater” and “lesser” burgher right, entitles people to serve in official capacities; it acknowledges that the court knows who they are, and it lets them operate certain businesses. [In some cities, outsiders also could pay to obtain the burgher right, so they could operate businesses there.] If the burgher right is a general acknowledgement that a person has achieved a degree of success in a city, the holder can also expect to pay higher taxes and be asked to take more responsibility for various civic functions, whether to serve on the town council or participate in the nightwatch. A smaller town like Wildwyck would not have established a list of burghers yet.)

The council members serve a fixed term, and when it is up, a few candidates are proposed to the Director General of the colony (Stuyvesant), who selects from them and appoints his choices. In this case, Evert Pels and Aldert (Allert, Albert) Heymanse Roose were still serving on the Wildwyck council (their terms were not up yet), and the Schout and current Schepens (council member) had nominated, as options, Thomas Chambers (English, one of the first settlers to move down from Beverwijck to the Esopus), Jan Willemse, Aert Jacobsen, and the two who were eventually named. Thomas Chambers eventually moves onto the court a year later when the terms of Evert and Aldert run out.

The record as published in Kingston Papers is a little unclear: It appears that the Wildwyck council chose the nominees on some previous date, then sent a document to New Amsterdam; Stuyvesant on 27 April (in New Amsterdam? or in Wildwyck?), together with “High Councillor Gerret Decker,” signed the official proclamation naming the two new councilors. The nomination paper and the confirmation are both posted under the minutes of the Tuesday, May 2 council meeting.

While we’re here: Note that the Schout, generally, is the actual recipient of any fines issued by the council in its capacity as a lower court. Sometimes the council will specify that a fine should go to the church or to some other agency, but the default option is that the Schout collects it as a kind of salary. There is no town treasurer; the town levies special taxes for things like building a city wall. The trickle of money through the system is not always clear; the court messenger also must be paid (this is the person appointed officially to serve notices from the council, summon parties to trials, etc.), and when one Schout takes over from another, they have to settle accounts, determining which fines that haven’t been paid yet should go to the old Schout and which should go to the new guy. (Detailed personal account books, handwritten but kept scrupulously up to date, are the norm for all kinds of personal transactions, and sometimes will be called for by the council as evidence of a debt or previous payment. There are no banks and no bank statements, no cash register receipts, no paystubs, no credit cards, no withholding of wages for unemployment insurance. A person’s account book is generally the only real paper trail to show what they owe and what they have been paid. A few intriguing examples still exist from the time.)

On a similar topic, the system of excise taxes for beer, wine, and brandy (the three major subdivisions of alcoholic beverages in the colony) as well as other trade, is that periodically an auction will be held at which any individual interested in being the tax collector can bid for the job. The town (or other governing agency) sets the rate of taxation, but it is the tax collector’s job to enforce collection. Generally he is referred to as the “farmer” of taxes; this can be confusing at first when reading old records: If Bob is just a farmer, why is he suing Jim for smuggling brandy? Well, Bob is the farmer of taxes on liquor, and Jim brought some brandy down on a boat from Albany and moved it to his house (which might mean his home or might mean his tavern), without paying the tax he was supposed to. Bob is entitled to his cut—and again, as with the Schout, the tax is supposed to be his income. When he bid for the right to be the collector, he paid a flat fee (let’s say 200 guilders) against the income he anticipated he would get over the next year or so while he “farmed” the excise.

This is different from most modern systems of fines and tax collection, but at the time it was pretty standard, and the people made it work.

On 3 May 1662, Tjerck was sworn in on the Wildwyck council, before Peter Stuyvesant and Gerret Decker, who were still up in the neighborhood from Manhattan. (Kingston Papers, p. 33; Peter Stuyvesant liked the land up here and operated a farm nearby. His . . . sons? . . . Nicolaes and Balthazar have two of the lots in Wildwyck, one new, one original; see DRCHSNY XIII, p. 230.)

For Want of a Nail

On 16 May 1662, note a complaint entered by Hey Olfersen, a builder, that in building Barent Gerritsen’s house, he ran out of boards, lumber and nails (Kingston Papers, p. 33).

Sawmills were kept busy on local creeks (Kills) in this era, but nails had to be imported from Europe and were in high demand. This affects Tjerck down the road, when he is trying to have a house built too. See, for example, notes in Kingston Papers and below from 21 August 1673 and 25 September 1674.

This disagreement over supplies and payment is personal (as anyone who has hired a contractor to build a house can imagine); it lingers on into the 22 June court session, and it apparently goes back at least as far as 28 February (KP, p. 23), when Barent says “he gave an order to Hey Olersen, the carpenter, to build a house for him, to be finished without delay, and that he needs it badly. Requests to be allowed to employ another carpenter on it.” Hey says “that he will have the work done within two weeks, to be ready for occupancy” at Barent’s pleasure.

On 31 January, four months before this, Hey Olferson complained that Barent Gerritsen had “beat and kicked and trampled upon him,”  and Barent says it was because Hey had “heaped abuse on him and said that he, Barent Gerritsen, was a scoundrel.” (See also 7 and 14 February, KP p. 17 and 20.)

(See also the extraordinary session of 10 January, when Huybrecht Bruyn asked the court to make Gerritsen pay in oats for “the mason work in putting up two brandy-stills, and an axle with which to grind, and a malt kiln.” Barent says he only owes the payment in wheat, which is worth 1/3 of what oats are worth. Barent also sues Hey Olfertsen on 17 January.)

On 29 March (KP, p. 28), Hey reports that “he is building for [Barent], and . . . as there is not sufficient lumber, he is obliged to wait.” (It is now four weeks since he said the house would be done in two weeks.) Barent says “windows and doors are still to be made,” to which Hey “answers that no mention is made in his contract about his making windows and doors.”  The court, “after calling in carpenters and obtaining their advice, decide that Barent Gerritse shall pay extra for doors and windows.”

On 18 April (Kingston Papers, p. 31), Hey Olfersen admits stealing food (flour, meat, maybe a beaver and an otter and some beer) from Hester Douwens, “because he was hungry . . . ‘As she would not give me food and I was working for her, I tried to procure it, since there was little or no food for sale here.’” To understand this better, know that Hester is the wife of Barent Gerritsen; see Kingston Papers, pp. 139, 141 (March 28, 1664; ), where she is described as his widow.

On 22 June 1662, Hey demands 64 guilders from Barent in “restitution for expenses and for lost time and board.” Barent says, “if you had not failed me, I would certainly have paid you the last time.” The court instructs Barent to pay Hey, and tells them both to kick in 25 guilders each to the poorhouse, since they agreed in February to pay the poorhouse 50 guilders if Barent’s house wasn't finished on time. The court blames Barent more than Hey, since Barent made Hey do the work over again. Evert Pels says Barent shouldn't have to pay for the time Hey was jailed for stealing food; the Schout and other councilors say, “We deem Barent Gerritsen to be origin and author of all the trouble.” The Schout further seeks from Barent “a vindication of his honor . . . the magistrate having been called names.” Barent seeks more time to clear his name. The councilors “for the last time grant him time until the next session of the Court, when he is to show what injustice has been done him.”

As late as 14 November 1662 (Kingston Papers, p. 41), Barent is in court with Isaack d’Foreest over 180 guilders Barent owes, and Hendrick Briesjen (Bresjes) over 40 schepels of oats. The court starts losing its patience with Barent; the court forces him to mortgage his house as security for the debt (they know all too well how he fought with Hey Olfertsen over every detail, refusing to pay until it was exactly to Barent’s satisfaction), and it will be sold if he hasn’t paid by 1 April 1663.

On 12 December 1662 the Schout files a complaint (repeating a prior complaint) that Barent Gerritsen and his wife “spoke irreverently of the court in saying that the Commissaries did not give them justice. The Schout having communicated with the Commissaries they know all about the matter. Whereas the defendants do not appear before the Court, but have several times poked fun at the Court, the Schout is ordered to put the defendants under arrest until they shall prove they have been unjustly treated by said Court.”

The end of this saga is no fun at all: On 7 June 1663, both Barent Gerritsen and Hey Olferts are on the list of men killed at Wildwyck in an attack by the Munsee Esopus tribe. Hey, according to Captain Kregier’s account, was murdered “in the gunner’s house,” and Barent was killed in front of his home, probably defending it to the last: Lichten Dirreck’s wife was “burnt, with her lost fruit, behind Barent Gerritsen’s house,” Hester Douwes, the wife of Barent, and her daughter Sara were taken prisoner (see pp. 245-247, DRCHSNY XIII), and Barent Gerretsen’s house, after all that trouble and refusal to pay until he got it just right, was burned to the ground.

Tjerck’s brother-in-law Jan Thomassen lives up in Beverwijck; Jan is married to Geertruyd Andriessen, the sister of Tjerck’s wife. Jan and his (apparently) friend and business partner Volckert Jansen Douw, both good Lutherans from the North Frisian area up around Husum, own and farm land on Papscanee Island on the east bank of the North River (the Hudson); they also have lots in town, and a brewery (source?). On 4 May 1662 (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 220-221), we see they have purchased Lot 4 of the “New Lots” in Nieuw Dorp (today Hurley), just south and west of Wildwyck. On that day, in Fort Orange, they appear before notary Dirck van Schelluyne to sign an agreement with Gerritt Toocke and Jan Gerritsen of Oldenburg, “farmers and partners,” who will lease Lot 4 and develop it. Jan Thomassen and Volckert Douw will provide 100 boards “to build a convenient house . . . likewise a bridge” over the creek. They will provide seed oats, and rent will be free until May 1663, and then they will pay 450 fl a year for the next four years, “in beavers at 8 fl or in grain at the market price beaver valuation or else in wampum, calculating a beaver at 16 fl.” DRCHSNY XIII notes similar leases around the same time for Lots 1, 3, and 5 in the new village. Thomassen and Douw also provide “three mares and one gelding, a stallion and a young stallion, two cows, two heifers, two sows with pigs, two young boars, six hens and a rooster” for the term of the lease, with any offspring to be split between lessor and lessee.

In apparently November 1662, “Tjerick Claesen” is listed as owner of Lot 28 in the “newly laid out” lots in Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 230). To clarify: There are 16 original lots in the town, and then by 1662, after an extension of the stockade to the west of the area it originally enclosed, 31 lots have been added. In other words, these are lots that are all enclosed within the town stockade, a palisade wall made of cut logs standing upright. In addition, many (most?) of the people living on lots inside the town of Wildwyck had farms outside the stockade, some of them large. Houses were built inside the stockade for protection. Some people built outside the town walls, but this was discouraged on multiple occasions. More than once (the Peach War, the First Esopus War, etc.) European settlers had been attacked by the original North American villagers, though mostly relations were peaceable. (For convenience, many villagers also wanted to cut their own personal openings in the palisade; this also was outlawed in the name of security; see p. 232.) The “New Lots” in Wildwyck should not be confused with the lots (also new) in the Nieuw Dorp, the New Village, some miles distant, where Hurley is today. (Wildwyck—the stockade area—was roughly in the part of Kingston today where the Old Dutch Church stands.) Those lots were also numbered. Some people had lots in both places. Some moved from one to the other. We find in the list on p. 230 a lot of names of people who will come up soon in association with Tjerck. Curiously, perhaps because he and Tjerck’s sister Ida are still out of town, we don’t see a lot assigned to Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck, Tjerck’s brother-in-law, the shoemaker.

On 16 August 1662, Schout Roeloff Swartwout sends a note to Peter Stuyvesant to let him know that one of Volckert Jansen Douw’s horses has been found shot dead in the woods, about a half-hour’s travel in, and “it is presumed, that the savages have done it” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 227).

On 14 November 1662, Tjerck is not at the regularly scheduled court session. (Kingston Papers, pp. 41-42; a few plaintiffs are trying to settle debts they say he owes.)

The winter from 1662-1663 was notably bitter. See for example the note from colonists at New Amstel (on the Delaware) observing that “the cattle here lose much and are made lean by the cold,” and “Peter Lourens has not sailed on account of ice-floes and bad weather” (DRCHSNY Vol. XII, p. 418). This increased stress and desperation on both colonists and the people who had lived here since before the Europeans ever arrived.

Ida Returns to New Netherland, With Emmerentje and Jan: Four Siblings Together

On 14 November 1662, the ship de Vos (“the Fox”) arrived in New Amsterdam harbor [or is that the day it sailed from Texel?], carrying on it “Jan Albantsen,” from Steenwyck, with wife and child 2 1/4 years of age (Ship Passenger Lists, p. 129; list is reprinted from “List of Passengers, 1654 to 1664,” Year Book of the Holland Society of New York [1902], 5-37, which itself is a reprint from New York Colonial Manuscripts, Vol. 14, pp. 83-123). This is Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck, and his wife, Tjerck’s sister, Ida Claessen DeWitt, and their little girl, who must have sailed with them in 1661 when they went back home for an extended visit to family. If she is 2 1/4 years old now, she was born in mid-August 1660; we might guess they married in 1659. Ida may be in the early stages of her second pregnancy. Along with their toddler daughter, they are bringing “Ammereus Claesen” and “Jan Clasen,” young woman and laborer, Ida’s younger sister and brother from Esens. Ida’s sister Amerens (Emmerentje) and her brother Jan are old enough now to set out for North America, and for the past 45 or so days at sea, they have all been together on board.

The order of the ship passenger list suggests that Jan may be bringing a brother; Hendrick Albertsen is listed as a farm-hand, right before Jan Claesen, with the same occupation. Henderick Alberts is deceased by 11 May 1667; see Kingston Papers, p. 657; he leaves son Jan Hendericks, daughter Engeltie Hendericks (married to Frederick Pietersen). This is a different Hendrick Alberts (I think), prior husband of Geertruyd Andriessen (not the sister of Barbara Andriessen).

Another possible brother of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck is mentioned in the 13 March 1666 settlement of his estate: “an obligation dated Feb. 7, 1662, signed at Steenwyck by Lourens Alberts,” for 72 guilders (Kingston Papers, p. 592).

Keeping in mind that Barbara’s brother Lucas lives at the southern end of Manhattan, and runs a sloop up and down the Hudson from there to Fort Orange on a regular basis, we might guess that Tjerck and Barbara hitched a ride south with him to welcome Tjerck’s brother-in-law, his two sisters, his brother, and his niece back to New Netherland. (This was before regularly scheduled flights and Internet updates of landing ETAs; would Tjerck have had any way to know when to expect the ship to arrive? Or was he just out of town in mid November on other business?)

On 5 February 1663, as dusk settled early on a midwinter evening, an ominous rumbling shook the country. In Charlevoix, now part of Quebec, an earthquake struck at about 5:30 local time, estimated today at 7.3 or greater magnitude, enough to break chimneys in Massachusetts and to rattle the population of New Netherland. Peter Stuyvesant, perhaps out of an abundance of caution, declared a day of prayer throughout the colony. (See Jaap Jacobs, “‘Hot Pestilential and Unheard-Of Fevers, Illnesses, and Torments’: Days of Fasting and Prayer in New Netherland,” New York History,Summer/Fall 2015, New York State Historical Association [now the Fenimore Art Museum], p. 297, which cites Van der Linde, Old First Dutch Reformed Church of Brooklyn, pp. 62-67. Stuyvesant typically set aside two days a year for fasting and prayer, and the quake underlined the importance of the first.)

On 6 February 1663 (Kingston Papers, pp. 59-60), back in town, Tjerck’s brother-in-law Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck requests “a convenient lot below the fort, on the bank of the Kill to the southward of Barent Gerritsen’s to be used as a tannery and garden.” The council gives him the land, “on condition of not building thereon . . . any dwellings or breweries.” Concerned about attacks on the village, the councilors are trying to keep all dwellings within the town stockade. “The lot is eleven rods wide and sixteen rods long.” This is very likely the source of the name Tannery Brook for the little stream just west of what was later called Green Street in Kingston.

We can picture the growing family in Wildwyck during this period: Tjerck and Barbara have a baby girl just turning one year old and two children, a boy and a girl, one maybe 3 years old and the other not quite 6. Ida and Jan have a daughter, 2 1/2 by now, and Ida is pregnant and due in the summer. Tjerck is 35 years old, Ida is 30. New to the colony are their sister and brother Emmerentje, 24 years old, and Jan, 20 years old, neither of them married. We can guess they were living with Tjerck and Barbara or Ida and Jan, helping to take care of the toddlers, helping Jan in his tannery or Tjerck in the fields. The siblings had been apart for several years and would have had plenty of stories to tell each other, catching up with events from the old farmstead in East Frisia and friends and family there, and learning more about the living arrangements in the new home, talking about Tjerck and Ida’s experiences with the Lutheran community in New Netherland, getting to know other colonists. Probably it was good to hear another voice with a familiar accent.

(Note a gap in records that mention Tjerck in Wildwyck from November 1662 to May 1663. Is Tjerck’s name in court records during this stretch as a Schepen? He does get mentioned in January 1663 as a Schepen; see DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 236-238, discussing the tussle over regulations promulgated by the Council of War without consultation of the town council. He also signs a 24 January 1663 note from the Wildwyck town council to Stuyvesant regarding liquor sales to the villagers and Esopus “savages,” see p. 238.)

Stuyvesant visits the Esopus 22 March 1663–3 April 1663, or at least that’s the period of time he’s gone from Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 239). He uses the occasion to post new rules clarifying the method for acquiring title to land in the area.

On 7 April 1663, barely after the wake of Stuyvesant’s ship has stopped lapping the shore of the Hudson, the “Overseers of the New Village on the Esopus” send him a note expressing concern about “the Indians” (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 242-3). Generally called the Nieuw Dorp, the “new village” was a collection of homes and farms south and west of Wildwyck that the English eventually renamed Hurley; these lots had been laid out neatly and then awarded to various owners (some of whom immediately leased them to tenant farmers), with the intent of creating a second town in the Esopus, close to Wildwyck but even closer to some rich farmland. (These are new lots, but they should be carefully distinguished from the “New Lots” in Wildwyck, which are assigned in the same period of time.) Stuyvesant had not yet created a formal town council for these lots, but had appointed “overseers” to serve a similar function in the interim. These overseers (one imagines they must have discussed this informally with him during his visit) explain that “they have repeatedly considered the threats of the savages, who say, that they are willing to allow the erection of buildings, but that no fortification must be made, which, if it should be done, would show that we had evil intentions.” The “barbarians” insist “that the second large piece of land [the Groote Stuck] was not included in the treaty of peace made with them in the year 1660 and they will therefore not allow, that we should plough and sow it nor that our cattle and horses shall pasture upon it.” (Judging from where Tjerck’s home and farm eventually sat, roughly between Wildwyck and the New Village, it appears that the land he acquired from Johanna de Laet may have been in the area the Esopus people are worried about, though when he first moved to Wildwyck, he apparently had a lot—and house?—within the stockade, not where his fields were.) The overseers request aid in the form of soldiers and ammunition, “at least until the settlement has been put into a proper state of defense and inhabited by a good number of people.” (Many of the lots still don’t have houses on them yet.) They request that Stuyvesant expedite the delivery of “the gifts promised last autumn” and that the Esopus “receive some satisfaction for the second large tract of land,” to settle the question of ownership.

On apparently the same day (transcribed on DRCHSNY XIII, p. 243 as the XXMI April, which looks like a misreading), some of the property owners in the New Village, including Tjerck’s brother-in-law Jan Thomas from Papscanee (and Beverwijck), request that the New Netherland Council formally instruct the people of Wildwyck to allow free passage through Wildwyck from the river to the New Village. Apparently the people of Wildwyck have already grumbled about charging some fee for passage. (See for example 5 June 1663 Wildwyck court case below over a runaway mare, which may or may not represent some of the friction between Wildwyck residents and the property owners in the New Village.)

The foregoing requests are granted by the New Netherland Council at a 10 May meeting; they decide “that to preserve the peace a considerable present should be made to the Esopus savages at the first opportunity, to wit, three or four pieces of duffels (bolts of fabric?), some muskets, power, lead,” and some other trade goods (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 243).

On May 1, 1663 (Kingston Papers, p. 68), at a regular Tuesday court session in Wildwyck, Evert Pels is absent, so only Tjerck and Albert Gysbertsen (and the Schout, Roelof Swartwout) are present. Tjerck has a complaint to bring against Barent Gerritsen, but because only the Schout and Albert Gysbertsen are able to judge it, the complaint is tabled until the full court can hear it. (Gysbertsen is Tjerck’s neighbor, and may still owe him money for land Albert bought from Tjerck.) Another curious case does come up: Claes Louwrence asks Walleraven duMont why duMont attached some money of Claes’s. DuMont answers that Claes had hired a manservant at Manhattan (apparently having been asked to do this by duMont), but when Claes got back to Wildwyck, he hired out the manservant to someone else, instead of duMont, and by doing this Claes made a profit of 52 guilders. DuMont feels he is entitled to his expenses that went into hiring the manservant, and maybe something extra “for his trouble.” The case unfolds: Tjerck, it turns out, is the one who hired the manservant away (“said servant voluntarily hired himself out . . . pursuant to a contract made between both”), and Tjerck “wants to keep the servant, and pays him higher wages than those at which Claes engaged him at the Manathans.” The court determines that Tjerck should pay Claes the expenses he incurred, not to be deducted from the salary of the manservant (who is not named). Presumably this will allow Claes to give back to duMont the money originally taken from him for expenses. Tjerck seems to be doing well, hiring a new servant and paying him more than another employer had offered.

On 22 May 1663 (Kingston Papers, p. 69), at a regular Tuesday council meeting, Thomas Chambers and Gysbert van Imburgh take their oaths as council members, having been appointed by Stuyvesant and his Council in Manhattan on April 5.

Council of War and Concern of Attacks

Apparently on 30 May 1662, Evert Pels, president of the Wildwyck town council, appointed as officers of the militia Thomas Chambers, who had been in the Esopus more or less as long as any European had, and Hendrick Jochemsen, who had a house by the gate of the village stockade that served as a guardhouse. (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 235-236; he also appointed Cornelis Barentsen Slecht and Pieter Jacobsen.)

On 15 January 1663, these officers send a note to Stuyvesant describing a disruption in protocol in the village: They explain that “the savages have had several gatherings with their kinte koying [a description of a type of dance, possibly somewhat ritualized, that the Europeans interpreted as a war dance, although we see it also described as a kind of funeral dance in some cases], while we did not know, what they might attempt.” On 2 January 1663, they say, they posted an ordinance they had passed, but on the 9th, the town council “has been pleased to pull down the published ordinance . . . without our knowledge and we do not know for what reason.” In a town of maybe 200 people, over the course of a week it should not have been so difficult to learn the root of the objection.

The officers had posted a plakkaat, which is usually translated as a “placard.” This is an official notice that would be posted somewhere prominent in public, the usual means of formally notifying everyone of a new rule. When the New Netherland council decides to forbid Lutheran “conventicles,” they send a “placard” to be posted in Beverwijck (and other parts of the colony) to formalize the new rule. There would not have been any printing presses in the colony; the plakkaat here would be a formal poster handwritten in large clear letters, probably with wax seals signifying its authority. We see echoes of this 200 years later when the 1776 Declaration of Independence (for example) is engrossed in a formal copy for official signatures. By 1776, the colonies have printing presses and even newspapers, but public posting of new ordinances or other official acts is still regarded as a legitimate way to provide notice to everyone in town that there’s something they should know about. In 1663 when the Wildwyck town council (in the letter described below) asks Stuyvesant for new guidance regarding the sale of liquor in the town, they request that he “please to send the placards regarding it.”

On 24 January the town council sends Stuyvesant a note explaining that the Council of War in January had “made some ordinances . . . which they published by [posting them] without acknowledging the authority of any magistrate” (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 237-238). The council members “had the placard pulled down . . . to review them.” The council members (schepenen, translated here variously as “Magistrates” and “Commissaries”) “disapprove this abuse of making ordinances” without consultation.

When Stuyvesant makes Thomas Chambers a town council member on Thursday 5 April (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 240), he perhaps intends, among other things, to finesse this kind of petty infighting.

Both bodies, aside from quarreling with each other’s precedence, express concern that the local Esopus people have been behaving in a way that makes the Europeans worry about an attack. The War Council is worried about their “war dances”; the town council sees “the savages” drinking imported brandy and other alcohol and growing rowdy (some “have thrown each other into the fire”); they fear “some mischief might result from it” and want tighter control over the import and resale of liquor. See also the 7 April 1663 note from the overseers of the “New Village,” cited above.

On May 28, 1663, Tjerck’s purchase of a lot in Beverwyck from Harman Tomassen is recorded, though he doesn’t seem to have moved there (it sounds as if it was very near the property he’d traded away in 1660). This may be a spurious date that actually confirms the final payment on the house, not the purchase itself. See “Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Five” above for more discussion. By the time Tjerck makes his final payment on the house and lot, and the deed is officially recorded, this may be a house he has already traded away for property in the Esopus, where he is living now. (Tjerck’s brother-in-law, the husband of his wife’s sister Geertruyd, is Jan Thomassen; I have not investigated whether Jan and Harman are brothers, but it is worth a look. In ERA I p. 322, Harmen is described as Hun, or Van Amersfort, suggesting he is not a brother of Jan Thomassen of Wittbek.)

On 5 June 1663 (Kingston Papers, p. 70), a regular Tuesday meeting, Tjerck is finally able to bring his case against Barent Gerritsen, which is based on a power of attorney Tjerck holds from Jan Eversen. Barent owes 118 guilders plus 14 schepels of “good winter wheat.” (A schepel of wheat is often calculated at six guilders, so this would amount to 84 guilders more.) But he says he is still owed 116 guilders “for expenses incurred.” (The original cause of the debts is not noted here, but see “For Want of a Nail” above for a description of some of the many quarrels Barent gets into over debts and payments.) The court refers the dispute to arbitration by “two impartial people.”

In a separate case on 5 June 1663 (Kingston Papers, p. 71), Tjerck’s brother-in-law Jan Thomasen, together with Volckert Jansen, is represented by Gerrit Voken in a case against Cornelis Barense Slecht. The plaintiffs “demand restitution of a mare, because it was impounded by the defendant.” Pieter Jacobsen testifies that “to the best of his knowledge, the horse was driven and chased away, and in consequence thereof died.” Slecht counters with “a certificate by Adriaen Gerritsen van Vliet and Hermen Hendricksen who attest, at his request, that they saw him about three hours before nightfall drive six horses away from his land,” which he is entitled to do (to protect his fields from damage from hungry horses). The court asks the plaintiffs to come back with clearer evidence.

On 5 June the council agrees that “the Court shall not sit again until there are four or five cases. If necessary for the convenience of the residents, it will sit every week. The reason of this is because, in the absence of a Village or City Hall, the rent for the room can not be met.” Each case costs the plaintiff a certain amount to file, and the fees are used to pay the rent for the court.

Esopus Indian Attack: Ida Killed, Taatje Kidnapped. Annus Horribilis.

On June 7, 1663, Wildwyck and Nieuw Dorp (Kingston and Hurley) were almost entirely destroyed by the Indians; Tjerck fought valiantly in their defense, and his eldest daughter, Taatje, was kidnapped, along with three other children from the town. (She is described as his eldest daughter; she would have been at most six years old when this happened, or possibly three years old, depending on whether she or her brother Andries was born first. She was eventually rescued, but only after many months.) The wind shifted at a lucky moment for the settlers, and much of Wildwyck was saved (12 houses were burned, and much of the wall surrounding the village was destroyed). Nieuw Dorp was almost a complete loss.

Tjerck’s sister Ida (Tette), pregnant, and her daughter, just shy of three years old, are killed in the attack, and their house is set afire with their broken bodies lying inside, inside the stockade. Their names are not in the lists of the dead, because Ida is tallied only as the wife of Jan Alberts[en]—the shoemaker—who is also killed. A soldier is killed in the house with them, possibly trying to defend them. It’s hardly six months since they returned from a yearlong trip to Europe, visiting her family and probably his, and bringing back with them her younger sister and brother, Emmerentje (24 years old) and Jan (20). Emmerentje and Jan both survive the attack. We might guess that they are at Tjerck’s house when it happens, with Barbara, but that perhaps Taatje, Tjerck and Barbara’s eldest daughter, was at the shoemaker’s house spending the morning with her aunt and her cousin. None of the descriptions of the attack describe these details.

This attack begins a very stressful time for all of Wildwyck. We find soldiers being quartered in people’s houses, which creates conflict; as the occupation drags on into weeks and months with no results to show and no end in sight, rules have to be passed against selling alcohol to soldiers, because of the problems it causes. The longer the occupation goes on, although the soldiers are nominally there to help the settlers, the more we find villagers refusing to provide supplies, housing, or assistance to the soldiers. A number of townsfolk are brought into court for resisting orders and for cursing authorities; soldiers, bored and undisciplined, pawn their company-issued supplies for alcohol. The village has been severely damaged; people are still mourning the dead and fearful for the hostages, their loved ones, who have not been returned. We see the effects of the stress in the records of the time, when people’s behavior goes past their ordinary bounds of decorum. (See Andrew Brink’s Invading Paradise on some of the exceptional behavior; he evaluates it in modern terms as akin to post-traumatic stress disorder, which might be stretching a point but is not entirely wrong either.)

Worth remembering: Although the circumstances are different, for Tjerck this occupation has to be reminiscent of the stories he heard as a boy about the Mansfelder occupation of Ostfrieland in the first years of the Thirty Years’ War. He was not around to experience this directly, but every indication is that his family was directly affected, both on his mother’s and his father’s sides. His mother lost family members during the occupation, and her maternal uncles (it appears) were part of the quiet resistance to the takeover. His father’s first wife may have died during the stormtroopers’ uninvited incursion into East Frisia, which they were nominally defending. The Mansfelders pillaged Ostfriesland for two or three years, stealing freely, burning villages, raping and butchering for any reason or no reason at all, apparently amusing themselves by brutalizing the Frisians, who had long prided themselves on independence. Tjerck as a boy would have heard plenty of stories about this time, would have known people who were maimed or tortured, would have heard his uncle’s stories of the sly ways they eluded some of the depredations of the Mansfelders. True, the Dutch militiamen were no stormtroopers, and the mission of the WIC soldiers quartered in Wildwyck was much more to be of direct assistance to Tjerck and the rest of the town. Still, some of the situation and behavior must have reminded Tjerck of a darker time his family had known, and some of his reaction was probably colored by the stories he remembered. It would not be the last time, under Dutch and later British rule, when soldiers quartered in people’s homes in Wildwyck and later Kingston created undue burden and stirred trouble in the town; some of the reaction to these grievances is enshrined in the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Minister Who Wasn’t: Domine Laer

According to Augustus Van Buren (who does not name sources for any of the stories he tells), two of the villagers named in lists as victims of the attack are the wife and daughter of Domine Adriaen Van Laer (p. 66, A History of Ulster County Under the Dutch). Van Buren describes him as a Lutheran minister who happened to be traveling through at the time. No other source on the Second Esopus War that I have seen so far mentions a traveling Lutheran minister whose wife and kid were captured. Was there a Lutheran minister in town at the time? That could speak to all kinds of interesting cultural observations about the growth of the town, its people, why we are missing certain baptism records, and on and on.

Records confirm an Adriaen Van Laer arrived on the Gilded Otter (or Beaver) in May 1658, with a servant (Ship Passenger Lists, p. 118). In Register of Solomon Lachaire 1661-1662 [notary], O’Callaghan, E.B. (translator), Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda, editors and indexers, 1978, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore (from the New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch series of the Holland Society), we find Adriaen Van Laer described as a shoemaker; he is a burgher of New Amsterdam in 1662 (pp. 20, 21, 37, 42, 188, 190). Can this shoemaker be the mysterious Domine whose wife and child are kidnapped?

A little close reading helps understand where Van Buren got his story:

The list of captured prisoners as transcribed in DRCHSNY XIII, p. 246 (published in 1881), lists “Grietje, Dommelaer’s wife” and “Dommelaer’s child.”

O’Callaghan, in DHSNY IV, p. 43 (published in 1851), reads these entries as “Domine Laer’s wife” and “Dominie Laer’s child.” It’s not unusual, as we have seen elsewhere, for a handwritten record to leave a reader puzzled whether -m- or -in- (or -ni- or -iu- or even -w-) was intended. The modern reader scrutinizes the original for any clue (the dot over the -i-, for example, or a mark over the -u-) and makes a best guess.

Van Buren’s cryptic allusion is probably explained by notes in Ecclesiastical Records of the State of New York, which was published by the state under the supervision of Hugh Hastings, State Historian, 6 volumes published 1901-1905, with an index that followed in 1916. Much of what is in these volumes is reprinted from other published sources, with attribution. (Pages are numbered continuously through all six volumes of documents, so no volume number is required in attributions.)

In ERSNY (Vol. I), p. 535, we find Dominie Laer, in a note following Domine Blom’s description of the attack: “Among the list of killed at Wiltwyck in 1663, is mentioned ‘Dominie Laer’s child.’ He was a Lutheran minister, who seems to have been in this vicinity at this time.” The language is strikingly reminiscent of Van Buren’s phrasing. The source cited in ERSNY for Domine Blom’s description is DHSNY III, pp. 582-583. The source for the note that follows is no doubt DHSNY IV, p. 43. For reasons we can only guess, ERSNY in 1901 used the 1851 DHSNY text rather than the later emended version from DRCHSNY in 1881. This note in ERSNY is probably Van Buren’s source (Van Buren published in 1923).

The index in Volume VII of ERSNY (p. 233) did clarify, 15 years after the original incorrect information was printed: “A mistake for Dommelaer,” with a reference to DRCHSNY XIII, p. 246. Van Buren evidently did not see this correction when he published in 1923.

Van Buren, in print, by not including anything to specify where he got his information, has led us on a wild goose chase. For his source, he appears to have used a book that reprinted the contents of other books, without checking those other books for accuracy, let alone going to the original documents. The errors he repeats had been corrected, in print, in the set of books he used, but he did not notice the correction. In a modern world with Websites like archive.org, we can go back and retrace the errors. It is a caution to modern researchers, though, about the pitfalls of trusting any source blindly. Even when a “fact” shows up on a printed page, that’s still no reason to repeat it without knowing it’s true. And it’s always worth mentioning where information came from, so later researchers can verify it for themselves, and clarify any conflicts before going forward.

The 1901 volume printed under Hastings’ supervision appears to have fabricated the “Lutheran minister” story wholecloth. Van Buren compounded the sin by repeating it without examination or attribution. Being more careful with his sources would have nipped it in the bud, before it appeared in two “reliable” printed sources for future authors to repeat and magnify.

None of this explains yet who “Dommelaer” was, or who his wife and child were. It still sounds like a misreading of something. The name does not show up in that form anywhere in the Kingston Papers, for example. Marc Jacobs in The Early History of Kingston (p. 161) solves the confusion: “[Willem Jansen] Schut bore the nickname of Dommelaer (dozer). His wife and child were among those taken captive.” Schut was one of the signers of the 31 May 1658 agreement with Stuyvesant that all the early settlers of the town would move their houses within the stockade for better protection from outside attackers. (Note that Schut, who in 1658 agreed to move to a lot inside the stockade, is assigned Lot 8 of 13 in the enlarged post-1658 section of the stockade on 2 May 1661, p. 195; in approximately September 1662, p. 230, that list of new lots is repeated in the “List of the lots newly laid out” as the first 13 of those [total 31] lots, rather than in the “List of the [16] old lots, before the place was laid out.” Dozer, Sleepyhead, Dommelaer, Schut may not actually have moved into town in 1658.)

One final note: There actually was a Lutheran Domine Laers in the colony at the time. He just wasn’t in Wildwyck.

The index of DRCHSNY XIII refers to “Domine Laers,” a.k.a. Carolus Laurentius Laersen; the entries are all in Vol. XII, not XIII, as they are all notes from the South River settlements, New Sweden and Fort Altena on the Delaware, not from the Hudson area.

On p. 355, on 22 September 1661, William Beeckman informs Peter Stuyvesant, “I was informed by Mr. Laers, the Swedish priest, yesterday, that his wife had eloped with one Jacop Jongh and departed with a canoe during the night.” On 26 October 1661 [p. 357], Dominie Laers “has urgently requested consent by word of mouth on the 15th . . . to marry again; he wanted to have the first proclamation [of banns] with a girl of 17 or 18 years made on the 16th, which I delayed until your Honors’ approbation.” On 1 February 1662, Beeckman reports that Domine Laers “has opened the door [of Jacop Jongh’s house] with an axe and examined the said Jongh’s chest and goods and made an inventory of them in the absence of the landlord” [pp. 359-360]; he fears that this will “prove injurious to Dom. Laers.” Continuing, he adds, “This fine priest demanded . . . a decree of divorce on account of his wife’s flight and received the same, subject to your Honors’ approbation, on the 15th December. I have been informed yesterday, that he married himself again last Sunday. An act, which in my opinion (under correction) he has no right to do. I expect your Honors’ orders, how to conduct myself in regard to it.” On 14 April 1662 [p. 366], the Fort Altena court hands down decisions on both cases, fining Domine Laers 200 guilders for the break-in and declaring his self-marriage illegal.

In June 1663 [p. 433], Beeckman refers to a second Domine being added in the “Swedish congregation,” Abelius Zetscoren, to whom Domine Laers was very much opposed. On 15 November 1663 [p. 446], Beeckman inquires whether Domine Zetskoorn should be allowed to administer Lutheran baptisms. By 1672, after the British have taken over the colony a second time, Laers is still minister “above Verdritige Hook” [p. 529], while Jacob Fabritius ministers below. (Jacob Fabricius, possibly related to the Fabricius theologians and scientists from Ostfriesland, made an unfortunate name for himself as a wayward Domine in New Netherland; that is a story for a different time.) In 1680 [p. 648], Domine Laer is probably the person listed in a census of householders as “Mr. Laussa [th]e Minster,” living in Upland. (Adriaen Van Laer has a first wife and then a second, according to the Manhattan register of marriages; neither is named Grietje. I don’t believe the record shows the name of either of Domine Laers’ wives.)

From June 7 to July 24, no regular Wildwyck council meetings were held—or, if they were held, we do not have any minutes from them to tell us what took place. (A “War Council” was pretty quickly assembled, made up of the military leaders and a few others; the council stayed in existence for several months and sometimes met in joint sessions with the town council. The War Council may have kept its own minutes, but those minutes, if they were kept, do not appear to be part of the published record.) Our primary source from this time is a journal assembled by Martin Cregier (Kregier), who was sent from New Amsterdam up river to Wildwyck together with a number of militiamen after the attack to take charge of resecuring the village and recovering kidnapped captives. The journal was first published in an English translation by Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan in Volume IV of The Documentary History of the State of New York (Albany, 1851, Charles van Benthuysen, public printer, under the direction of New York Secretary of State Christopher Morgan), together with a series of other narratives from the early days of the Dutch colony, including descriptions of other armed conflicts between Europeans and the people who had lived in the area up till the arrival of the Dutch.

Martin Cregier: A Hand in Every Trade

Martin Cregier (born 1617? probably in Borcken, Germany, died after 1681, probably after 1686 in Niskayuna, New York, married 24 November 1647 Lysbeth Jans, New Amsterdam) is an interesting character in the evolution of the colony. Stokes in Iconography of Manhattan describes his house as among the “five most important buildings” in New Amsterdam (ca. 1662), the others being the Stadt Huys, Stuyvesant’s house, Nicasius de Sille’s house (an important adviser to Stuyvesant, he held the office of Fiscal, as well as being Schout in New Amsterdam for a time), and Steenwyck’s house (p. 211, Iconography II).

As Stokes notes (p. 217), “At one time or another, Martin Cregier served New Amsterdam in almost every civic capacity. A tavern-keeper here as early as 1647 (Col. Hist. MSS, Dutch, 39), he was appointed one of the first fire-wardens of the town in January, 1648.—Rec. N. Am. I: 5. He was one of the first burgomasters when the city acquired a municipal government, in 1653 (ibid., 49), orphan-master in 1658 (Min. of Orph. Court, I: 56) and in 1662 (Rec. N. Am., IV: 115), treasurer of the city in 1661 (ibid., III: 394), and burgomaster in 1663.—Ibid., IV: 195.”

Stokes goes on to mention that Cregier was appointed to lead the expedition against the Esopus attackers in 1663 (Rec. N. Am., IV: 268), and mentions that when the burger-right became available in 1657, he took the great burger-right (Ibid., VII: 150). He lived in Manhattan through at least 1685, according to property records cited in Stokes.

Cregier’s house, unlike most of the others on Stokes’ Top Five list, is on the western edge of town, just north of the fort, on what today is the very bottom of Broadway, at Bowling Green (Stokes places the lot at modern No. 3 Broadway). This is an interesting location, two doors down from the large triple lot owned by Domine Johannes Megapolensis (van Grootstede, Iconography II pp. 217-218), a significant figure in the colony in his own right, and just on the other side of Megapolensis we find the “small house, now known as No. 13 Broadway” of Lucas Andriessen, “skipper and part owner of the yacht, ‘Flower of Gelder,’ trading to Fort Orange.” This is the brother of Barbara Andriessen, Tjerck Claessen’s wife.

So the guy sent to lead the colony’s response to the attack of the Esopus on the town of Wildwyck was the close neighbor of Tjerck’s brother-in-law in New Amsterdam. As the story progresses, we will see that Lucas is one of the skippers who ferries troops and supplies to Wildwyck over the course of the campaign to recover the kidnapped settlers. Lucas obviously would have had a strong interest in the well-being of his sister Barbara and her children (and husband), and we can guess that he stays in their house when he sails to Wildwyck. As a neighbor of Martin Cregier, he would have had regular opportunities to know him well too.

This underscores the small size of the European colony at the time. If we estimate the population of the frontier outpost Wildwyck at the time as 200-300 people, and we guess that there were somewhat more than 300 houses in the settlement at New Amsterdam in roughly the same era (see Iconography II, p. 210), we can guess that between these two villages and the Beverwijck-Fort Orange-Rensselaerswyck complex further north on the river (which originally had a greater population than New Amsterdam, though by this era they were probably closer to equal), there might have been a total of 2500-3000 Europeans living in the main towns of the colony. (Other settlers were scattered in various farms, and this ignores the population, both Dutch and English, on Long Island.) This approximates the size of modern urban (or even suburban) high school, or a small college. We can expect that in a population of this size, even spread over some distance, most colonists knew most other colonists, at least by name and reputation if not through direct experience. Some would have been more obscure and some more prominent, but even those who seldom crossed paths with others would be likely to know them through others. The colony was not a large city whose residents blended into anonymity.

We can guess that Lucas Andriessen knew Martin Cregier fairly well before he was ever sent to lead the expedition in Wildwyck, and if Tjerck didn’t already have an impression of the captain-lieutenant, no doubt Lucas was able to share his opinions when he visited soon after the attack. We can guess that this might have colored some of Tjerck’s initial reactions when he interacted with Cregier. As the months went by and the villagers had many opportunities to see Cregier in action (and off duty), they clearly came up with their own opinions of his capability, and we can gauge his leadership at least somewhat by the reactions they had to his various instructions and orders, plans and ideas. They had lived with him and seen him in action, and were well able to judge his fitness for leading a mission that meant a huge amount to them: the recovery of their family members and the protection of their farms and livelihoods.

Other records from the crisis can be found in Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Vol. XIII, titled Documents Relating to the History and Settlement of the Towns Along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers (with the exception of Albany), from 1630 to 1684, translated and edited by B. Fernow from originals in the state archives at Albany (published in Albany by Weed, Parsons, in 1881). This is one of four volumes added to Brodhead’s compendious 10-volume collection of documents found in European archives after its original index (Vol. XI) had been completed, and it fills in some gaps in that record. The Cregier journal (in the O’Callaghan translation) is reprinted in DRCHSNY XIII, starting on p. 323; as far as I know the texts are identical. (For the most part I cite page numbers in the original publication; Marc Fried sensibly cites quotations by their dates, rather than page numbers.)

These and other sources were used by Marc B. Fried when he compiled his detailed Early History of Kingston & Ulster County, N.Y. (Ulster County Historical Society, Marbletown, New York, 1975), which analyzes both the first and second Esopus wars in much greater detail and complexity than this page will attempt, along with many other aspects of the early history and geography (and even weather) of the area. His book is helpful on many levels and worth a look for more background and carefully thought analysis of various aspects of the town’s development.

The 1663 conflict with the previous owners of the land is generally called the Second Esopus War, but it mostly was a single attack by indigenous people on the two Dutch villages that were being built in the area (roughly where the Kingston Stockade District and the town of Hurley can be found today), then a series of attempts over the next several months to recover the European settlers who had been taken captive. It might more accurately be called a standoff or a campaign of skirmishes than a war. For all the saber rattling, the two sides face off only a few times over the course of several months; most of the “war” is spent attacking deserted encampments and putting soldiers out in the fields to watch farmers at harvest.

The context of the conflict: As the Dutch started setting up the village of Wildwyck, communication and coordination with the tribes that had controlled the land generally seemed to result in a reasonable working relationship among the various parties. A protective wall was built around the town (this stockade is sometimes called a “curtain wall,” made of logs standing upright, which in some translations are called “palisades”), with the houses generally inside the wall and farmland outside. A new town (Nieuw Dorp, sometimes described as the “New Lots,” where Hurley is today) was then built, as the few dozen lots in Wildwyck were taken. This was fertile farmland (and still is), and it is not clear how well the Esopus tribes understood the Europeans’ intent when they first arranged to use the land, but apparently they were willing to tolerate sharing their good fields with some immigrants. When the Dutch started building a wall around their second new village, though, the natives started raising some concerns. (See for example the 7 April 1663 letter cited above.) Colony Director Peter Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam was told, and he proposed a meeting with the leaders of the Esopus group (the Dutch term for the people who had lived on these lands for centuries was “Wilden,” often translated “savages,” sometimes “Indians”), to make intentions clear, to modify any arrangements, and to exchange gifts. (Stuyvesant had kept a farm in the Esopus area for some years now, since the end of the First Esopus War about five years before.)

On Tuesday 5 June, the settlers reported, they let the “Indian Sachems” know that they wanted to meet “to renew the peace” (DHSNY IV p. 39). Thomas Chambers, an English carpenter from Rensselaerswyck who had been one of the first Europeans to carve out a settlement in the area, as well as being a member of the town council recently appointed and confirmed, let the leaders know that Stuyvesant wanted to meet with them, and they responded that a peaceful way to meet would be in the field outside the town, unarmed.

But on Thursday 7 June, just before noon, they instead mounted a surprise attack, apparently carefully organized in advance.

They came in amicably enough through the open gates of the village, carrying corn and beans as if to trade, and in several bands they made their way through the village. At the same time, a separate group of Esopus must have been on their way to the (still unfenced) new village, not quite three miles away to the southwest. They torched the Nieuw Dorp, attacking the Europeans there. A few settlers got away on horseback and rode for Wildwyck; they came in through the main gate and raised the alarm, at which point “the Indians here in this Village immediately fired a shot and made a general attack on our village from the rear” (p. 39), killing, starting fires, and taking prisoners.

The wind at the time of the attack was coming from the South, so the first fires were set on the south side of the village. “The remaining Indians commanded all the streets, firing from the corner houses which they occupied and through the curtains [the city’s palisade wall] outside along the highways, so that some of our inhabitants, on their way to their houses to get their arms, were wounded and slain” (DHSNY IV p. 40). The wind shifted, saving many houses from destruction. The attack was over almost as soon as it had started, so rapidly “that those in different parts of the village were not aware of it” until they saw the wounded. The village was not large (only a few dozen houses, a handful of city blocks), but many of the farmers were out in the fields when the attack took place, “and but few in the village.”

In or near the village at the mill gate were Tjerck Claesen de Wit, with his neighbor and fellow town council member Albert Gysbertsen and two servants; the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, was at his house with “two carpenters, two clerks and one thresher,” Cornelis Barentsen Sleght was home with one son; the Domine was home with “two carpenters and one labouring man,” and there were “a few soldiers” at the guard house. At the gate closer to the river were Henderick Jochemsen and “Jacob, the Brewer, but Hendrick Jochemsen was very severely wounded in his house [by the guard house; see below] by two shots at an early hour. These twenty or so men chased the attackers off.” Thomas Chambers, like Tjerck a Schepen, “who was wounded on coming in from without, issued immediate orders . . . to secure the gates; to clear the gun and to drive out the Savages, who were still about half an hour in the village” (p. 40). Men who had been working in the fields arrived back at the village, “and we found ourselves mustered in the evening, including those from the new village who took refuge among us, in number 69 efficient men, both qualified and unqualified.” Immediately work began on repairing the village wall.

In a short amount of time, the attackers had killed 12 men in Wildwyck (including one slave and three soldiers), four women, and two children. Eight men were wounded, one mortally. Many of the dead were apparently burned alive in homes and workshops; a few were killed in front of their homes or in the fields near the village. Five women were taken hostage, and five children. In the Nieuw Dorp three men were killed, and the prisoner count included one man, 8 women, and 26 children. Twelve houses were burned in Wildwyck, and “The new village is entirely destroyed except a new uncovered barn, one rick and a little stack of reed” (p. 44).

Domine Blom described the scene in an 18 September 1663 letter to the Classis of Amsterdam (Corwin, Ecclesiastical Records, I, 534-35, as cited by Marc B. Fried in The Early History of Kingston & Ulster County, N.Y., p. 63):

“There lay the burnt and slaughtered bodies, together with those wounded by bullets and axes. The last agonies and the moans and lamentations of many were dreadful to hear. . . . The burnt bodies were most frightful to behold. A woman [likely Lichten Dirreck’s wife] lay burnt, with her child at her side, as if she were just delivered. . . . Other women lay burnt also in their houses; and one corpse with her fruit still in her womb [Tjerck’s sister Ida], most cruelly murdered in their dwelling with her husband and another child [Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck and their toddler who had accompanied them to Esens and back].” (See ERSNY, p. 535, which cites DHSNY III, 582-583. Correct citation is pp. 962-963.)

That must have been a somber night on which to stand watch. Of 85 men in town, 15 had been killed and one captured. Nobody could have known where the attackers had vanished to in the dark thick woods, or when they would attack again. Against a continent of towns and villages filled with people who spoke unknown languages and kept unknown alliances, the handful of European families knew only that they were badly outnumbered: They had too many people to evacuate in ships, even if they could get to the riverside, and trying to escape over land would mean hiking directly into the territory of the attackers. (As we see later, they did not even know, at the time, where the attackers’ village was.) The smell of freshly burned wood clings to clothes and skin, and on this night—smells seem stronger in the dark—it would have mingled with the smells of the killed villagers and animals that had been left in the flames by the attackers. Everyone had lost family members, friends, churchmates, people with whom they had argued, worked side by side, shared a history. Tjerck had been in the village when his sister had been killed, together with her husband and their toddler daughter. (A soldier was killed at their house too, Dominicus; the record doesn’t show whether he was there to buy shoes or to protect them in the attack.) Tjerck’s wife was evidently safe, and his younger sister and brother who had arrived a few short months ago, but his eldest daughter had been snatched and whisked off to an uncertain fate.

The image of Ida Claessen, Tjerck’s sister, pregnant, slain and left in a burning house, left a deep impression on many. Not only did Domine Blom describe it from memory in his letter to the Amsterdam Classis months later, as something he had personally witnessed, and not only was it vividly described in the list of casualties sent to New Amsterdam right after the attack, but it also figured in a noteworthy poem composed some time later by Henricus Selyns, one of two poets in the colony whose Dutch stanzas found their way into publication. (The other, Jacob Steendam, wrote a celebratory poem on the occasion of the marriage of Barbara Andriessen’s brother Lucas to Aefje Laurens van der Wel, daughter of Skipper Laurens Cornelissen van der Wel; see Zeede-sangen voor de Batavische jonkheyt: behelsende verscheyden bedenkelijke, en stichtelijke stoffen door Jacob Steendam en gedrukt, as cited in Jaap Jacobs’ The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America. The poem is titled “Lucas Andriesz Sabijn en Eva Louwerens van der Wel,” and it is dated 22 October 1655; as far as I know, the only copy of Steendam’s book, published in 1671 in Indonesia, is at the New York Public Library; see Lucas’s page on this site for more information.) Selyns, a favorite of Peter Stuyvesant, in 1663 wrote Bridal Torch, a marriage poem for his friend Aegidius Luyck and Judith van Isendoorn, incorporating a fantasy of Cupid’s blessing through the prism of recent events in the colony, especially the massacre at Wildwyck. (For more on this, see Frans R.E. Blom’s 2008 article “Of Wedding and War,”  including the full poem in Dutch and translated into English as an appendix, in From De Halve Maen to KLM: 400 Years of Dutch-American Exchange, Vol. 2, pp. 185-200, Nodus Publikationen, Münster, edited by M. Bruijn Lacy, C. Gehring and J. Oosterhoff. I have used Blom’s text and translation.) Selyns describes “Child upon child taken away, man upon man killed, / Barn upon barn consumed, and pregnant women roasted [swang’re vrouw gebraden].” Nobody seems able to say her name, but Ida’s death gave retellers a strong single image with which to characterize the brutality of the attack.

Tjerck bore responsiblity in this great wilderness not just for his wife and family but also for the whole village; he had been named one of the council members (the Dutch word is Schepen, and it is translated “commissary” in some translations, “magistrate” in others), and he was one of the officials who signed the letter sent on Sunday 10 June to Manhattan reporting the attack, together with a list of names of those killed and taken hostage.

Domine Blom had his work cut out for him, with funerals required for a few dozen people all at once, graves to be dug and burials accomplished, and his entire congregation shocked, frightened, and deeply grieving those who had been untimely ripped away. At a time of emotional distress, people turn to the church for succor and guidance; it would be illuminating to know more about what he said to his congregation that Sunday as the town regathered itself and tried to determine what forward course it could take.

The 10 June letter (see p. 245, Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Vol. XIII) specifically asks for soldiers, ammunition, and “clothing, for the inhabitants have been mostly robbed of it and are almost naked in consequence of the fire and the robberies.” This state of need is amplified in a letter from Matthew Capito on 29 June (p. 267), where he says he has been “brought to ruin” in the attack, “having lost [not] only my dear wife, who was killed by the barbarians and then burned with the house, to which they set fire, but in the same fire all my movable effects, that nothing else is left to me, but my honest name. Now, as I need during my further life for covering my body and keeping it clean some linen and cloth, which at present cannot be obtained here and which even if it were to be had here, I cannot pay for, [he is compelled to plead that the Council of New Amsterdam] in pity of my distressed circumstances and misery, will please to assist me and provide me with low-price clothing, to wit, some cheap, plain cloth for a suit of clothes and what is needed for it, two or three store-shirts or linen to make them, one or one and a half els of linen for handkerchiefs and nightcaps, a blanket and enough coarse linen for a straw tick and a pillow, two pair of Icelandish socks and a pair of shoes [since Jan Albertsen’s house and presumably workshop were burned].”

On Sunday the 10th, the village sent 10 horsemen down to the “Redoubt,” the little fortress at the river landing, about three miles away. These horsemen probably carried the letter from the town council to the colony directors in Manhattan. The scouts “returned with word that the soldiers at the Redoubt had not seen any Indians” (DHSNY IV p. 41; this account is repeated in DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 256-257). They “brought also with them the Sergeant” [Christiaen Niessen], who apparently had gone down to the Redoubt on the 6th, and who had been riding back toward Wildwyck on the 7th when he heard “the mischief committed by the Indians in the village,” at which he returned to the Redoubt and stayed. The note from the settlers to Stuyvesant does not indicate what the Sergeant had been doing at the Redoubt for those three days while the villagers were burying their dead, rebuilding the village wall, nursing the wounded, worrying about the next attack, and wondering what to do about crops in the field.

The letter of 10 June must have arrived in Manhattan by 12 June (Tuesday), because we see right away Cornelis Van Ruyven (secretary and member of the New Netherland Council) sending letters out “to all the neighboring villages” letting them know of the attack and warning them to be on their guard (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 248). A follow-up letter written with Nicasius de Sille to settlers on Staten Island, dated 15 June, says that “according to trustworthy reports the neighboring savages have had no part in the Esopus affair, but they desire to continue in peace with us.” Van Ruyven and de Sille say they trust this, because the Senecas have threatened for some time to attack the nearby tribes, who will not want to attack the Dutch and “draw two enemies upon themselves at the same time.”

At the same time as Van Ruyven was writing and dispatching these letters, Stuyvesant was already on his way up to Wildwyck. The town sent “three yachts” to Manhattan with the news, but they “have missed me coming up in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday,” so he actually got the news instead from a messenger sent from Fort Orange (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 250). We find him in Wildwyck by the 14th of June, one week after the attack, a Thursday, but his note to the council at Fort Orange makes it sound as if he had arrived in Wildwyck on the Wednesday, possibly as early at 6 a.m. He draws up a list of instructions for the villagers (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 248-249): First rule is that the town council and the military council have got to get along. He admonishes the village to repair the stockade wall, “and close all gates, except the two sally-ports and the cattle-drift.” This leaves one wondering just how many gates were in the city walls: Three are still being left open. (One of the sally-ports must be by the house of Hendrick Jochemsen, a lieutenant of the Burgher Guard, which does double duty as a guard house in various later notes; he was shot twice and seriously wounded in the attack. The other appears to be called the Water Gate, and may be in the north part of the wall, judging from later descriptions. I haven’t seen a description of where in the wall the cattle gate is located.) Stuyvesant insists on escorts when anyone goes down to the river (about three miles away from the village), and tells the townspeople not to go into the woods in small parties, lest they should be killed or taken prisoner. Stuyvesant refers to (in O’Callaghan’s translation) “freemen as well as the servants of the Company”; it is not clear whether this expression refers to slaves or some other kind of indentured (i.e., not free) employees; some people did pay for their passage by committing to serve the WIC for a fixed length of time. Last but not least, Stuyvesant appoints Matheus Capito as Secretary of the town council, at the council’s request.

By Friday 15 June, Stuyvesant is already on his way back to Manhattan, drafting a letter aboard ship in the Long Reach on the Hudson (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 249-250), which puts him between Crum Elbow and Danskammer Point, north of today’s Newburgh. He writes to the council at Fort Orange, giving them an update on what has happened. By his count, the total tally of killed, wounded, and captured is 76 to 78 people; the list of captured adds up to 45 people. (A later count makes it out to be “45 captured women and children and one man”; see p. 252.) He says he gave hasty instructions to the folks at Wildwyck and then meant to sail north, but he didn’t have a ship to get there. It sounds as if he had come up on the ship of Claes Tyssen, but when he got to the Redoubt, he sent Tyssen back down the river to look for Claes Bordingh, who was supposed to be just behind Stuyvesant’s ship. Stuyvesant is worried because Bordingh’s ship “had only a small crew, who might have run away.” The copy of the letter that survives is damaged but suggests that Claes Bordingh’s ship was not lost. (Stuyvesant says he is writing the letter “ in haste on board the Jersman’s yacht,” which probably means the ship of Thomas the Irishman), so again the upriver and downriver ships must have passed in the night. Now he’s worried that New Amsterdam will be in an uproar over the news from Wildwyck, since it arrived after he had left. He asks the people of Fort Orange to try to negotiate with local “Maquas and Senecas” to help recover the captured townspeople; he also recommends that they reinforce their “stonebuilding,” because he doesn’t think they have the resources to refortify the rest of their defenses. Stuyvesant instructs that ships should not sail up and down the Hudson alone, “unless well manned,” to avoid surprise attacks, and he says on all voyages up or down river, ships must stop at the Redoubt, so the stream of news will be steady. He says that of the six soldiers “sent down” (apparently from Fort Orange after they heard the news), he has left three at Wildwyck (or the Redoubt), and sent three “to protect Claes Tyssen’s yacht,” presumably by riding aboard it. He suggests enlisting more soldiers, “if they can be engaged at a fair monthly pay” (p. 251).

On the 16th, a Saturday, the villagers sent the Sergeant back to the Redoubt, with 42 soldiers and three wagons, and with letters to Stuyvesant, “and to bring up ammunition from the Redoubt.” They were attacked on their way back to the village, but the Sergeant managed to get through safely with the wagons, with “one killed and six wounded” (DHSNY IV p. 41). Their note to Stuyvesant lets him know that (before sending the letter down to the river) “we have lost today Michiel Ferre, one of the wounded” from the original attack, “and yesterday a soldier has been wounded near the Redoubt, while fetching water” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 251). They request “saddles and bridles, pistols and saddle bags” and seek additional aid “that we may above all harvest our grain with safety”; they know the town’s survival relies on having enough food to last the winter, even though it is only June. (Their fear will prove prophetic.)

On Sunday 17 June, Domine Blom must have led services, the second time since the attack, with no support yet arrived for the village from the colony headquarters in New Amsterdam.

In Manhattan, meanwhile, a special meeting of the colony’s council was taking place (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 252). The council debates whether to respond to the attack with miltary force; they worry that many hostages would then be killed. They don’t trust the Esopus to make peace and worry that any ransom demanded would be far too high. They resolve to enlist “as many soldiers as shall be found necessary and required” to maintain a garrison at Wildwyck, and meanwhile to enlist the aid of “the Maquaes to release and ransom our unhappy captives,” if they can. Curiously, the council also resolves “to advise the husbands, parents and relations” of the captives “that each of them do his best to ransom his people without the knowledge of the Director-General . . . and all will be assisted secretly.” As we see with today’s governments, the official policy is not to pay any ransoms, but covertly the council doesn’t mind if private citizens work out side deals.

Monday the 18th is when La Montagne later says (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 264) he invited “Smits Jan, a chief of the said Maquas,” to come to Beverwijck to talk about ways to rescue the villagers kidnapped by the Esopus. Smits Jan arrives at Beverwijck apparently on the 25th or 26th.

On Tuesday the 19th (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 254), Stuyvesant writes a note to Vice-Director Lamontagne at Fort Orange, promoting the idea of ransoming the Wildwyck captives, and letting them know he is sending Johan de Deckere “from our Council” (i.e., from the Colony Council in New Amsterdam; De Decker, who signs his name De Deckere, appears to be often stationed at Fort Orange) in charge of working with officials to try to make that happen. (Keep in mind when we speak of La Montagne that his daughter is among the villagers kidnapped from Wildwyck; see for example De Decker’s letter to Stuyvesant on p. 265. Another connection to keep in mind: Heer De Decker is the same Johan de Decker who brought Tjerck into Beverwijck court on 1 February 1656 for leading a Lutheran congregation.) In the same breath as Stuyvesant mentions the need for reinforcing Fort Orange because of its great disrepair, he asks them also to send down “by first opportunity 3 or 4 of the lightest cannons,” of which he has great need. De Deckere’s instructions as he is sent to Fort Orange are to try to secure the release of the captives and to try to assess what resources are available to make an expedition against the Esopus if required (p. 255). He is authorized to engage “10 or 12 faithful Maquaes . . . for 2 or 3 months” to help. He also is instructed to try to raise “three or four thousand guilders” as a loan, from the councils (not likely) or “some merchant,” presumably to help pay ransoms. (De Deckere in Fort Orange tells La Montagne that he has been given no orders to raise any money, so La Montagne cannot have any to make needed repairs to the fort, as Stuyvesant had asked him to do; see La Montagne’s 29 June note to Stuyvesant, below. De Deckere impounds 1,000 guilders from the liquor (?) excise in Beverwijck, which sounds as if he’s trying to raise the money he has been instructed to raise, but Stuyvesant on 12 July “earnestly” recommends that De Deckere send this money down to New Amsterdam, where Stuyvesant needs it; see p. 278.) The Fort Orange council writes back to Stuyvesant on 23 June that they don’t have much hope of getting the Maquaes to help get the captives back from the Esopus, because the Maquaes are “hard pressed and surrounded by their enemies” (p. 258). Lamontagne adds that he is struggling to make any repairs to the defenses of Fort Orange; he can get eight or 10 men to assist, “but plancks for the platforms and sills with rails for anchors, spikes and especially two carpenters are still needed” (p 258). Furthermore, he’s short on cash to pay for any of this. (Stuyvesant wants Lamontagne to tear down the houses that are built right up to the fort’s walls, a good defense strategy, but Lamontagne notes that people have to live somewhere and will want to be bought off if the WIC tears down their homes. This is not the first time this problem has come up.)

There’s another piece of news in Tjerck’s family that must have arrived sometime in this period, though it’s hard to guess when. The best travel time across the Atlantic for a sailing ship was probably about six weeks; frequently the trip could take longer. News would also take some time to travel from Esens to Amsterdam, then from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam, then from New Amsterdam up the river to Wildwyck. On 4 May 1663, Tjerck’s eldest sister Falde dies in Esens, aged 33 years (source is the Totenregister of the St.-Magnus church in Esens, which has not been published but I have examined in person). The timing suggests that it could have been the result of a pregnancy, though no cause of death is given. With Tjerck in North America, Falde and her husband are the ones who have been running the farm of Tjerck’s mother. This is just one more stroke of bad news in a traumatic summer.

On Wednesday the 20th, the villagers sent a new letter to Stuyvesant asking for aid, including “carabines, cutlasses, and gun flints” (DHSNY IV p. 42), spurs, supplies to help the wounded (including wine), and any reinforcements possible. The letter notes that “harvest will commence in about 14 days,” in other words around July 4. The letter is signed by the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, by Thomas Chambers, by the three members of the village council at the time (Albert Gysbertsen, Tiereck Classen de Witt, Gysbert van Imbroch [a surgeon whose wife had been kidnapped]), by Sergeant Christiaen Nyssen, and by Hendrick Jochemsen, shot twice and “very severely wounded”  in the attack, whose house by the town gate doubled as a guard house.

Also on Wednesday the 20th, as we learn from De Decker’s letter of the 29th to Stuyvesant (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 265), “some friends here,” by which De Decker means at Beverwijck, “dispatched Christoffel Davits to the Esopus savages” to see whether he could recover some of the captive villagers. Christoffel (“Kit”) Davids was one of the first settlers to break ground in the Esopus, and we can expect he was more familiar with the Esopus people than most of his fellow Europeans were. As Marc Fried describes him (Early History of Kingston, p. 25, “Davits seems to have been a bold and independent soul, perhaps more interested in trading and frolicking with the Indians than in farming his six morgans down by the Strand.”  De Decker reports that Davits “strayed from the right road at a Kil about 4 leagues from Wildwyck inland.” Some “friends” advised him to turn around, lest the Esopus keep him as one more hostage. He returns to Beverwick on the 28th, “without accomplishing anything and without having met a savage” on his expedition.

On Thursday 21 June, Councillor de Deckere arrives at the Redoubt “at break of day” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 260), and orders a soldier to fire a blank shot “as signal for the garrison of Wiltwyck, that they should come and convey me thither.” Nothing happens for an hour and a half; De Deckere has the soldier fire another shot, but meantime the corporal in charge has explained that they haven’t heard a peep from Wildwyck since Saturday, nor seen anyone come from there. De Deckere waits another half hour, then, impatient, decides to march up to Wildwyck with five men, “I myself carrying a musket.” He says the people, when he arrived, were “astonished” to see he had made it through with such a small force; not one to understate his fortitude, he says “when I had learned . . . in how great a danger I and my companions had been,” he was “glad and grateful to God.”

In Manhattan, the colony council was still busy sending out alerts to the various settlements in the colony, letting them know about the attack. On 23 June, for example (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 259-260), a Saturday, we find a note of Stuyvesant’s visit to the English settlers at Hempstead on Long Island, offering volunteers who would enlist in the campaign “free plunder and all the savages, whom they could capture” (presumably to be owned as slaves), as well as exemption from tithes for six years, proper medical treatment, and a detailed list of compensation to be paid for loss of various limbs, eyes, et al. Perhaps inspired by this comprehensive list of anatomical distress that could result from participation in such an enterprise, only a small handful of English settlers volunteered to come along to help support the doughty Dutch who had been attacked. (The end results: On July 3, pp. 270-271, Lieutenants Couwenhoven and Stillwell report that only 5 or 6 men are likely to come from the English villages on Long Island, where various parties have discouraged volunteers; the Council of War at Bergen sends nine volunteers on July 4.)

Also on 23 June 1663 (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 260), the combined court and War Council at Wildwyck sent a note to Jan Thomassen, Volckert Jansen Douw and others (those two at least are from Beverwijck, up the river a bit), responding to a note they sent 20 June inquiring after their horses, which had been included as part of leases in the New Lots. The court tells them that the horses “had to be taken by us out of the enemy’s hands with very great danger; we require them now for our defense and have some of them already under the saddle.” The court agrees to let the owners have their cattle back (recommending that they be picked up by ship, rather than sent overland and put in danger of capture by hostile Esopus) and confirms that the owners of any horses injured or killed in the line of duty will be compensated.

On Sunday 24 June, the third Sunday since the attack, no support other than De Deckere had yet arrived for the village from Manhattan.

On 26 June, a Tuesday, Stuyvesant in Manhattan decided that for the protection of Wildwyck, a prayer day should be held on the first Wednesday of every month (see Jacobs, “Days of Fasting and Prayer,” cited above; he cites Van der Linde, Old First Dutch Reformed Church of Brooklyn, pp. 68-71).

On Tuesday 26 June, De Deckere in Beverwyck sends Stuyvesant a report from his visit to Wildwyck, with a shopping list of medicines for the wounded and a request for “some smith’s utensils” and “some carabines, short bandeliers, pistols and holsters” (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 260-261). He refers to good winds for sailing (as he also had when he arrived in Wildwyck on the 21st). He says he “had the two Courts together yesterday,” apparently in Beverwijck—probably the combined town councils of Rensselaerswyck and Beverwijck? (In Wildwyck, the War Council meets regularly with the town council, but De Deckere’s letter, written in haste so he can get it onto a ship that’s anxious to set off south down the river while the wind holds fair, is unclear. He does not say when he left Wildwyck for Beverwijck, and he leaves out enough other details to occasion a followup letter on the 29th; see below. The first impression is that he had the courts together in Wildwyck, but it appears he means the two courts from the Fort Orange conurbation.) He describes some disarray in the combined councils, but says they did resolve “to send Jacques the Mestis savage” to the Maquas to try to bring back some leaders (“Sachems”). (La Montagne in his letter of the 29th, p. 264, identifies him as “Akus, the savage.”) Naturally “he was not at home and could not be found,” so instead “they got the savage, called Smith’s Jan [Smits Jan], who presented himself and offered his services.” (La Montagne identifies him, p. 264, as “a chief of the said Maquas”; La Montagne says “I had asked [him] . . . eight days ago, to come here,” on the 18th, sending word via “the Maquas Sassiadego.”) He proposes to go “with a Dutchman, 2 or 3 savages and a Mahikander” (La Montagne’s count is slightly different, and also includes “Aepien, chief of the Mohicans”) to try to get back the prisoners. He recommends first asking “on the ground of conscience,” then threatening, and as a last resort “to wring the prisoners from them by war.” Jan Dirck volunteers to be the Dutchman on the expedition and is given directions (La Montagne calls him Jan Dareth”). De Deckere mentions that some “Catskil savages” came “here” with a message from the Esopus that the Dutch should “keep quiet” or all the houses “on this side” of the Sawkill would be burned. (On the 29th, p. 265, he indicates that this letter was sent on the ship of Claes Bordingh. La Montagne in his letter of the 29th, p. 264, says Bordingh’s yacht sailed on the 27th, leaving some puzzlement over why De Decker’s letter was in such haste. La Montagne also says the meeting of the two councils was on the 26th, so someone’s timeline is a day off.)

On Wednesday 27 June, in New Amsterdam, some of the Dutch colony’s leaders meet with Oratamin and Mattanoa, leaders of the Hackensack, Nyack, and Staten Island peoples, to clarify where everyone stands on “the difficulties with the Esopus savages” (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 261-262). The two native leaders say they want to keep the peace. They agree not to harbor any Esopus among their villages for the time being, nor to let any of their people go back and forth to the Esopus. The Dutch explain that “our people, living in the villages, can hardly tell, which are Esopus and which other savages, especially if they come armed,” so they ask the leaders to make sure their people know not to approach the villages carrying any weapons, since the villages are on high alert. The two sides discuss cooperating in the search for the kidnapped Wildwyck villagers, trying to enlist other local tribe members or captured Esopus villagers. After the meeting, the Dutch send notice (p. 263) to nearby villages warning them that according to Oratamin and Mattanoa, “20 to 25 Esopus savages have left their fort 3 or 4 days ago . . . to come down here and get prisoners or kill some Dutchmen.” In the Peach Tree War of 1655, villages along the southern reaches of the Hudson, including New Amsterdam, had been attacked, with 150 settlers taken hostage and others killed, so this was a plausible fear. As it happens, it appears no such band had really left the Esopus fort to head south—or at least, if they did, they never did arrive and attack.

On Thursday 28 June, Volckert Jansen (Douw), Jan Thomasen (Tjerck’s brother-in-law, married to Barbara’s sister Geertruyd Andriessen), and three others in Beverwijck send a note to Stuyvesant discussing the problem of the cows and horses they had sent to the Esopus for use on their farms there (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 263). These have been seconded for use in the campaign to recover kidnapped villagers from Wildwyck (see above, letter of 23 June, which is noted in the letter of the 28th), and the landholders from Beverwijck point out gently and politely that the folks in Wildwyck promised that the WIC would make good their losses. They seek relief, and they note as well that in April they had warned Stuyvesant “in the petition sent by Pieter Jacobsen Marius” that the Esopus were unhappy with the Dutch expansion into new lands near Wildwyck. (See DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 242-3, for a 26? April note from some of the same landholders, though Pieter Jacobsen Marius’s name does not appear in the list, nor does a letter from him appear to have survived in the record, at least in this volume.)

The 28th is also the day when Christoffel Davits returns (to Beverwijck?) from his unsuccessful expedition to try to free some hostages from Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 265). On the 29th, De Decker in Beverwijck sends a note to Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam, complaining that people have been saying mean things about him. He suspects that someone on the council in New Amsterdam is spreading vicious rumors and planting stories. He notes the concern of the five landowners from the Beverwijck area who had rented their Esopus farms to others and furnished them with horses and cattle; he mentions that the cattle have now been returned by barge (arriving on the 28th); he wants to let Stuyvesant know “that the complainants or at least some of them are very much dissatisfied.” Anticipating the rights that a century later get enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, he says he is of the opinion that “every one ought to be master of his own property” and suggests that the town council had no authority to seize the horses.

In a separate note, also dated the 29th (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 268), De Decker adds some details about the captives: He says rumors tell that the prisoners have been scattered since the attack; they are not being kept all in one place. De Decker has spoken to “Monsr. Corlaer,” who said a “savage, who had been peddling brandy towards the Catskils” said he had “seen and spoken with deaf Hester, her child, and two or three other women; he had advised Hester to try and escape, while the savages lay intoxicated, but . . . she had had fears and did not do it.” (The question of how he communicated with “deaf Hester” is intriguing. One can guess that Hester, faced with a choice between captivity she was familiar with and the “opportunity” to go off into the woods with a brandy peddler she did not know, might have decided the safer course for her and her child was to stay in the frying pan rather than escape into what could be fire. “Deaf Hester” must be Hester Douwes, wife [now widow] of Barent Gerritsen, who had the quibble over payment for construction with Hey Olfersen, also now deceased. We can’t konw how much Hester saw as she and her daughter Sara were being kidnapped; does she know her husband was killed? Does she know her other daughter is alive? Does she know their houses were burned?) The brandy peddler is willing to go back with Hester’s other daughter, who lives in Beverwijck, to try again. De Deckere says he doesn’t see any prospect of enlisting more soldiers or getting volunteers at Beverwijck to help with the Esopus efforts.

Also on the 29th (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 264-265), Vice Director La Montagne sends a note to Stuyvesant. He says De Decker told him that there have been no orders to raise money to repair the walls of Fort Orange and continue to separate the walls from the houses and buildings that have been put up right next to them, to improve security. So, he says, he can’t do much, but “I could have done it in 8 days.” (See De Decker’s written instructions when he is sent north on June 19, above: He is specifically told to try to raise three or four thousand guilders, possibly for ransoming captives but actually without a specific purpose expressed. This does not match what La Montagne reports De Decker told him. See also Stuyvesant’s 12 July letter to De Deckere, p. 279, when Stuyvesant says he has been told that De Deckere has withheld 1,000 guilders of liquor [?] excise rather than sending it south.) La Montagne gives his description of the combined council meeting of the 25th (or 26th), mostly matching what De Deckere reported. He also patiently goes through a long list of explanations of why he cannot send to Stuyvesant the cannon that Stuyvesant had asked for on the 19th (see above and p. 254): He has no men to put the cannon aboard ship, and no money to pay laborers. He doesn’t have enough cannon to share: Rensselaer says three of them belong to him, and he wants them back; sending four to Stuyvesant would leave Fort Orange with only two. We see some friction, or maybe competition, between De Decker and La Montagne; the latter reports that “While I write this, four yachts have sailed [from Beverwijck southward] past the fort, to whom Mr. Decker had told me not to give a pass . . . in the meantime he has given them passes without my knowing of their departure.” La Montagne apparently had been counting on one of those ships to carry his letter to Stuyvesant.

On 30 June, in New Amsterdam, Martin Cregier takes an oath of service in his new appointment as Captain-Lieutenant of “all our military,” together with Lieutenants Pieter Wolphertsen van Couwenhoven and Nicolas Stillewil. Cregier is given instructions on the same day to head for the Esopus (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 269-270). Along with recommending that Cregier not attack the Esopus soldiers if he is outnumbered, Stuyvesant and the council direct him “to use all possible precautions in sending out parties for the protection of the coming harvest and the cattle, to send out as frequently and in as good order and with all precautions as many parties, as they may think fit.” The protection of the harvest turns out to be a critical point in Cregier’s mission, with the villagers expressing great concern (well justified, as we see the following winter) that they may not be able to harvest enough to last them until the next growing season.

July

By July 1, the fourth Sunday since the attack, with the time for harvest quickly approaching, the villagers must have been eyeing the landscape nervously, wondering how they would be able to go into the fields with no protection to bring in the grain, knowing full well that at any moment hundreds of attackers could pour out of the woods and overwhelm the reapers where they stood. Although the colonists interacted with the area’s longtime occupants, it becomes clear from the events of the following weeks that they really had no idea where they kept themselves when they weren’t in town or what they did with their days. All the villagers knew was that the forest was ominous and could be hiding hundreds of what they called “savages.”

Tuesday July 3 is the day Rachel La Montagne, wife of Gysbert van Imborgh, returned to Wildwyck after escaping her captors. Her return is described as a solo escape in most histories, but the report sent on July 4 by the town council to Stuyvesant refers to “the instructions given to Sieur Jan [Dirck] Daret[h] from Fort Orange by Johan de Deckere” (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 271-272), and apparently he and the “savages” he went with played a key role in the extraction. Jan was the single Dutchman sent on the expedition with some Maquas and Mohicans to visit the Esopus and see what could be done about recovering some captives (see notes above from June 26). Martin Cregier (p. 272) says when he arrived, “I found there the Maquaes, who had been to see the Esopus savages about the prisoners, but they brought no one with them except Mr. Gybert’s wife.” The rest of the story comes out a little further along, in a report that has been only partially preserved (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 273-274), from the “Indians” who went to negotiate with the Esopus kidnappers: The Esopus disdained the gifts offered by the Mohicans and Maquaes, “holding the Dutch not better than dogs.” Toward evening, “Cunackquaeese said to the Esopus savages, ‘Shall I not even bring a child to my masters, having so many presents and having made such a long journey?’”; he offered again gifts that had been given him by the court at Beverwijck, “together with his own strings of wampum.” Most of the Esopus leaders went to sleep, “except one, called Pamirawachginck, who had Mr. Gysbert van Imborgh’s wife as prisoner.” He lets himself be talked into making the trade for his captive, sourly grousing that “I shall not keep a bead of this wampum; I shall have to distribute it among the mischiefmakers, to satisfy them.” Rachel La Montagne did not escape; she was ransomed.

Even at that, it sounds from the report as if in the morning the rescuers very nearly did not get to bring her with them. The rescue party members say they will not make peace with the Esopus but will drive them from the land, lest the Esopus take over all the land from there to Manhattan. As a parting gift (unclear from whom), “they gave to them, the Maquaes, a present of some wampum, to grease their feet, if they might hurt them against a stone on their journey,” a rather poetic sendoff. The expedition members say that “To prevent the bringing in of the harvest,” the Esopus “lie in small detachments on all roads and paths”; this implies scattered fields through wooded country, interconnected by paths, rather than a large open area (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 274). The rescuers ask whether an armistice is in order, for the purpose of gathering crops, after which the land in question could be either abandoned by the Dutch or repurchased “in the presence of other tribes, as it has been done before.” Smits Jan asks, “If the Dutch will not abandon the Esopus [land] nor make peace,” what is to be done about the prisoners (he counts 44 still in Esopus hands). He says the best idea he’s got is for him to go in with 44 Maquaes and take them from the Esopus. (Jean La Montagne and Jeremias van Rensselaer later say Smits Jan was “tipsy” when he made this offer; see 28 July letter to Stuyvesant, p. 283.) The account of the Maquaes and Mohicans who made up the rescue party is given through Jan [Dirck] Dareth, “interpreter”; Mattheus Capito, secretary of the Wildwyck court sends a certified copy to Stuyvesant.

The report from the rescuers appears to have been made on July 4, because (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 275) “on the 5th of July” Jan Dareth comes back to the town council to add a further note: “[T]he Esopus . . . had told them, they cared not so much for the captured savages, as for the payment for the large tract of land [the Groote Stuck], called the New Village [Nieuw Dorp, today’s Hurley], but if the sum to pay it should be brought there by the Maquaes or somebody else, they would liberate the prisoners and return them.” Much has been made by some of whether the kidnapping of villagers from Wildwyck was in retaliation for the capture of Esopus soldiers a few years before, in the First Esopus War; those members of Esopus families were sent to the Caribbean by the Dutch as slaves. Marc Fried’s analysis is that the issue for the Esopus who attacked Wildwyck was the land rights to the Groote Stuck and the New Village; the reports of the rescuers match this exactly.

Possibly she escaped under her own power and was then met by the band of rescuers. At any rate, they appear to have arrived together at Wildwyck.

Rachel La Montagne also answers questions about the Esopus, in a separate report; she describes their camp location: 8 hours south by walking, one or two hours by wagon; there’s a good footpath with “only one or two bad hills” and “3 or 4 little creeks” to cross. (Creeks get smaller in midsummer; by the time the Dutch expedition tries the same road, the creeks will be swollen and rather deep from later heavy rains across the whole area, characteristic of summers in upstate New York to this day, and the troops and horses and wagons and cannon and impedimenta will struggle to get through the heavy midstream currents.) She notes that the fort has a good vantage on the surrounding country, as Cregier will find when he sends a 200-man expedition to it later; by the time they arrive, having forded rushing streams and clumsily dragged cannon through much brush, the village will be deserted by its inhabitants. She describes the construction of the fort (analyzed more closely elsewhere; see Marc Fried), and she says there are about 10 dwellings inside the stockade and no more than about 30 men living there with their wives and children.

July 4, a Wednesday, was an auspicious day to welcome Rachel la Montagne back to the village; Stuyvesant on 26 June had designated the first Wednesday of every month as a special prayer day, and thanksgiving would have been well in order—both for her return and for the arrival, at long last, of armed reinforcements to protect the city and rescue more hostages.

It took until Wednesday July 4 for reinforcements to arrive at Wildwyck, in the form of Captain Martin Cregier, two yachts, and 40 or more men (he counts 130, plus Company slaves). His journal (DHSNY IV p. 45) describes how he arrived and sent Sergeant Pieter Ebel up to the village for some wagons to unload the boat; “he retuned to the river side about 2 o’clock in the afternoon accompanied by Serjeant Christiaen Nyssen, 60 men and 9 wagons.” Cregier sounds unimpressed; he says he saw “nothing in the world except three Indians on a high hill near the Redoubt.” He describes much the same picture in his letter of 5 July to Peter Stuyvesant (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 272-273), saying “I found the people here in low spirits, but upon my arrival their courage revived.” The town’s food supplies are in parlous state; on 3 July they had sent 100 head of cattle back to Fort Orange on three barges, at the insistence of the property owners there. “[E]verything is wanting here,” Cregier says; “the soldiers have received their last ration . . . what I have brought with me will hardly be sufficient for a month.” He asks for more food to be sent up. This area should by most counts be the breadbasket of the colony; the fields are rich and the grazing good. Cregier says he’s putting some men in ambush during the night to try to capture some prisoners he can drill for more information. The Maquaes leader who came back with Rachel La Montagne says he’s going to try to go back with some of his men to see whether they can raid the Esopus and recapture some of the kidnapped villagers by force. Cregier says he’s convinced his team can take the fort, but “we could not accomplish anything” since the Esopus will have left long since with their European prisoners. He says he’ll wait for Lieutenant Couwenhoven “and his savages” to arrive before he tries anything.

Cregier’s count is that he has about “130 men bearing arms” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 273), plus “the negroes”; 9 of the Europeans are wounded; 6 are at the Redoubt; “there are about 9 or 10 among them who cannot march out” for reasons he does not explain; so he has about 100 troops he can put “into the field.” He notes that the town has “little water,” which means “nothing or only little can be ground here” (in terms of flour, barley meal, etc.), and he prefers bacon to “meat,” especially for expeditions and ambushes. He says the barrels he brought with him are not in good shape; “the middle hoop must be better secured with nails.”

Keep in mind that this is when the settlers’ original letter said their harvesting should begin. They may well have started the harvest around this time; Cregier doesn’t take much note of it at first, though later on, as he sits stalemated in town, it’s all he really has to write about.

The next two days, according to Cregier’s journal, were spent unloading supplies from the boats.

Cregier’s journal is a fascinating cipher of omissions, and it must be read carefully, with an alert eye for his frequent elisions. He had been instructed to report back to the council and Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam, and so he did, but his reports included only what he decided to include. On numerous occasions, we know from other sources of incidents that might shine a poor light on Cregier and his interactions with the people he had been sent to assist, to rescue and protect; he frequently leaves out any mention of these. He rarely reports a blunder as a blunder; we have to read the flat language in his chronicle and spot where he undertook a course of action clearly expecting some other outcome—often foolishly—but instead reports what actually ended up happening as if that was what he had planned for all along. We can see from the reactions of others, whose words and actions often are reported at the same time as Cregier writes, what they must think of him; we can guess at his capabilities from the impressions he made on the people around him, and from the results of his time in the Esopus. It’s important not to be too hard on Cregier; he was dealt a short hand from the start, without a lot of the resources that would have been helpful in accomplishing his mission. He clearly was the most fit person Stuyvesant had available to send. But Cregier, in his omissions, reveals what clearly were many embarrassing moments for him. Sometimes, when he doesn’t mention something, we also get to see how much he failed to see of what was going on around him. In this he was only human, but it had a meaningful impact on outcomes.

On the third day Cregier was in town, 7 July, a Saturday, he detained two “Wappinger Indians,” not from the Esopus tribe that had attacked the town.

Cregier, an interesting character who had performed all sorts of ad-hoc functions for Stuyvesant and the Council in Manhattan (see “A Hand in Every Trade” above), probably saw that the Wappingers, or other non-Esopus people from local tribes, could be a useful resource in negotiating with the Esopus, since they were familiar with the attackers, their habits and intents, their language and locations.

About the Use of Troubling Language

Cregier sent his reports (his “journal”) back to Manhattan written in Dutch; O’Callaghan translated them into U.S. common English in 1851. Both men used terms, in their respective languages, that reveal their ignorance and prejudice; I am not going to dissect here what part of that was personal to each of them and what part came from the cultural waters in which they swam. The words they use are not acceptable in modern use.

Suffice it to say that neither (in Dutch) wild or wildin or wilden would be considered acceptable today for describing a man, woman, or people who had been born in North America and were not of European language or descent, nor (in English) would we today call these predecessors of European invaders “savages” or “squaws” or probably “Sachems” or “chiefs.” (“Indian” is itself a misnomer from the first and generally inappropriate.) If an armed combatant from Europe is a “soldier” or “militiaman,” why would an armed combatant from a North American nation be called a “warrior” or “brave”? If someone from a Dutch town is a “villager,” why should someone from a town that’s not European (and yet is still a town, with a strikingly similar stockade around it and houses inside that stockade) be called a “tribesman”?

Jaap Jacobs in The Colony of New Netherland chooses primarily to use the original Dutch terms in his quotations from original records; there’s a fair case to be made for that. I do not have those original records to inspect as I write this, so I don’t have that option, though I can sometimes guess what terms Cregier used.

I have chosen here simply to quote O’Callaghan’s translations directly, but when he translates Cregier’s words as “Squaw” or “savage,” I am simply quoting him, not trying to suggest that these terms are acceptable or accurate or appropriate. I’m, for now, just trying to get the story across. In my own language I have strived to be more evenhanded, and even there I often fail. I have to guess that the European words for the various territorial, governmental, and sometimes linguistic (and social) divisions that existed when the immigrants started arriving (what in my childhood I would have described as “Indian tribes,” but what in European feudal terms might have been called anything from different counties to different countries) are at best inaccurate transcriptions and often downright misunderstandings. Did the people called “Esopus” by the Dutch call themselves that? Likewise for Wappingers, Massapequas, Mohicans, etc. (The person I call a German, in English, probably describes himself at home as Deutsch.) What should I call a single person from that group? “An Esopus”? Are a group of them “Wappingers,” which surely is not their plural form for describing themselves? My words will almost certainly fail to do justice, and yet I must pick some words to get the story told; the best I can do is try to be sensitive to the inadequacy of my language.

It’s also accurate to represent the prejudices of the European settlers through the language they used, which reflect (for example) the false binary division between “savages” (or wilden) and “Christians.” Among the people in the area who had moved there from Europe, there surely were a wide range of perceptions of the cultures that inhabited the area when they arrived. Some Europeans interacted with the wilden frequently, traded with them, understood at least some of their language, probably drank with them and laughed with them and sweated side by side with them when they worked together. Some Europeans would have had much less contact with their predecessors in this region, and even among those we can guess that human nature meant they brought different perspectives. (Note that the Europeans brought similar offensive prejudices to their interactions with Africans, with deeply negative effects that ripple down to the present day.) As we find today, some people, from both cultures, would have understood the “others” as simply humans, and some would have ascribed other attributes to them, to one degree or another.

So with imperfect language I go forward, but my intent is not to offend at any point. Some of these notes are scribbled quickly; all are subject to revision as I manage to come up with more felicitious phrasing. Just because I reproduce the perspectives, and descriptions, that other people have recorded, please do not assume that I share their way of seeing the world. And just because I reproduce their language, generally without comment, please do not assume that these are terms I consider appropriate to the people being described.

Also, peripherally, do not assume because O’Callaghan calls someone a “Squaw” that this is necessarily a term chosen by Cregier. Cregier had his own benighted prejudices, but they probably had somewhat different nuance from O’Callaghan’s purportedly more enlightened prejudices from nearly 200 years later.

In a more mundane note: Since I don’t have Cregier’s text to compare, I can’t always tell how consistent O’Callaghan’s translations are. For example, Cregier refers sometimes to the Valiant Council of War, sometimes to the Council of War, sometimes to the Military Council: Are these all the same phrase in his original, and O’Callaghan translated them freely using somewhat different terms? Or does Cregier’s use of specific terms change over time? The English words yacht and sloop, both from the Dutch, mean somewhat different things; when the translation refers to the same craft at one point as a yacht and at another as a sloop, does that reflect Cregier’s changing language or simply a different word choice by O’Callaghan? I don’t know. (For specificity, see DRCHSNY XIII, p. 195, where Stuyvesant “and retinue” sail for the Esopus “in the galiot New-Amstel,” presumably the Company’s vessel.) O’Callaghan’s capitalization (is it a Yacht or yacht?) seems mostly arbitrary and probably does not reflect Cregier’s usage; at any rate the guidelines for capitalization have changed over centuries and across languages. When quoting O’Callaghan, I try to stick with his usage (“fort Orange”); outside of quotation marks I think I have mostly stuck to modern standards.

Not all the European settlers made the same distinctions among the indigenous peoples, any more than the Esopus might have cared whether a European settler was German or Irish or Russian or Dutch. “Whilst we were examining the two Wappinger Indians, in the presence of the Schout and Commissaries, in Thomas Chambers’ room,” Cregier wrote later (DHSNY IV p. 56), “a messenger came in and said that two or three boors were without the door with loaded guns to shoot the Indians when they came forth. Whereupon I stood up and went to the door—found this Albert Heymans Roose and Jan Hendricksen at the door with their guns. Asked them what they were doing there with their guns? They gave me for answer, We will shoot the Indians. I said to them, you must not do that. To which they replied, We will do it though you stand by. I told them in return, to go home and keep quiet or I should send such disturbers to the Manhatans. They then retorted, I might do what I pleased, they would shoot the Savages to the ground, even though they should hang for it; and so I left them. This Albert coming into the Council told the Commissaries that one of them should step out. What his intention with him was I can’t say.” (Taunting someone to step outside in the 1600s meant more or less the same thing it does in the 2000s: an invitation to fight.) The Schout, Roelof Swartwout, later took Albert Heymans to task for this episode (see 6 November court session below). Albert Heymansen is the only civilian member of the Consistory of the Dutch Reformed Church in Wildwyck, under the protection of Domine Hermanus Blom; on 12 December 1663, in an eyebrow-raising sarcastic letter to the colony directors in New Amsterdam, the Schout and council at Wildwyck note that he “has shown himself more than once as an instigator of quarrels” (put a source and page number here; pretty sure it appears in more than one place, but one will do for a source; see Fried p. 113).

Albert Heymans Roose: No Ordinary Hothead

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard: Albert Heymans Roose, along with being a member of the church consistory, also has previously been appointed by Stuyvesant as one of the schepens on the town council; he’s not a nobody. (His term as a town council member ended right before the attack.)

He had received a patent for land in the New Village, which was completely destroyed in the attack; we can guess that he was one of those who had built a house there already. Stuyvesant has appointed him as one of three “overseers” of the new village; it was too small and new to have a full town council yet (see Fried, Early History, p. 55).

Two of his children were taken in the attack. He has waited now a month to see any action taken against the attackers, who haven’t been seen since they melted into the woods with their captives. Instead this bureaucrat sent up from Manhattan insists on patiently chatting with the Indians he has detained.

Eventually he gets one of his daughters back on December 3 (see Fried, p. 104), six months after the attack. As late as the following March his other daughter is still unaccounted for; see Fried, p. 107.

After the English takeover of the colony, Roose is later involved again in conflict with troops quartered in town (Tjerck also is abused by Brodhead and his troops, at roughly the same time); as Fried notes (p. 113), Roose is sometimes a hero, sometimes a hothead.

On Sunday 8 July, five of the Wappingers’ friends came to ask whether the Dutch had them and why they were being held; Cregier answered that “we could not distinguish one tribe of Indians from another.” After the visitors left, peacefully, Cregier sent a group of soldiers and horsemen to bring in the cattle from the fields.

On this fifth Sunday since the attack, at least the villagers could hope for protection in the fields as the harvest began, but no kidnapped family members had yet been returned to their homes.

On 9 July, a Monday, Stuyvesant in Manhattan sends an interesting letter to the Courts of Fort Orange and the Colony of Rensselaerswyck (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 276). He notes that “some Esopus savages” have planted crops near to the lands controlled by Catskill villages, and it would be “very easy to destroy” these fields. Rather than do that straight off, he asks the combined councils to “tell the Maquaes and Catskil savages in our behalf, not to suffer any Esopus savages among themselves,” noting that “it is difficult [for the Europeans] to distinguish one tribe from the other,” and hoping “to clear us hereby beforehand” in case the Dutch attack the wrong people. The “you guys all look alike to us” line is still in use (and still indefensible) 350 years later.

On 10 July, in New Amsterdam, the “Sachems of the River and Staten Island Indians” affirm the same peace as Oratam and [???] made earlier; the document (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 276-277) refers to a meeting on 27 May, but that was before the Esopus attack on Wildwyck. Sara Kiersteede acts as an interpreter; it is interesting to track who is able to understand and translate for the local people. The local leaders “complained, that the Dutch sold so much brandy to the savages, that they even carried it into their own country”; again and again everyone on all sides seems to agree that this is a large problem, and yet the sale of brandy continues apparently undiminished. “They were told, that we tried to prevent it as much as possible, but that we could not very well discover it, because the savages would not tell us, from whom they bought and who brought it into their country.” As we see on repeated occasions, when Lieutenant Couwenhoven sails from Manhattan up to Wildwyck, someone on board is actively selling liquor to the tribesmen he is bringing along to help in the Esopus expeditions. It is hard to imagine that he is unaware of this. The Dutch tell the local leaders that “we had authorized Oratam, the chief of Hackinkesacky, a long time ago, to arrest the Dutchmen, who came into their country to peddle brandy.” The response from the tribal leaders is that the Dutch traders say Stuyvesant “was informed of it and had given his consent,” and they say “Pieter Wolphertsen” (i.e. Lieutenant Couwenhoven) “had been in their country and showed them a letter, saying, it was written therein, that he might go into their country to sell brandy.” They complain that he had come and sold brandy “and taken away with him a large quantity (heele nootas) of wampum, whereby their savages were entirely empoverished, for they always wanted it again, if they had a taste of it.” The Dutch promise again that it’s fine to arrest any sellers of brandy and put them “in fetters,” and they offer a reward to anyone bringing a captured brandy seller to New Amsterdam.

In the area around Wildwyck, he next several days were spent trying to locate any of the Esopus who had attacked the town. Cregier struggles to get any usable information from the two Wappingers he has taken captive. He sends men and horses to the east bank of the Hudson, sends others inland, runs into “12 to 15 Savages” at one point (DHSNY IV p. 47), doesn”t come up with much. It is now more than a full month since the villagers’ kin were taken hostage and hauled into the forest. The harvest should be in full swing by now, but Cregier is paying it only glancing attention as he gets his bearings. On the 12th, after being in the Esopus more than a week, Cregier finally captures (or his sergeants capture) “one Squaw and three children,” and they try to find out from them more about where the kidnapped settlers can be found. The expedition that captured the woman and children also stumbles across a village, which the soldiers plunder and destroy.

Every time Cregier tries to learn more about the attackers and where they have gone, he gets a different answer. Meanwhile, Cregier compares notes with Gysbert van Imbroch’s wife (Rachel La Montagne, daughter of the Vice Director of Fort Orange) the one who was already rescued and is back in town. her (DHSNY IV p. 49). More days go by.

Where Do the Esopus Live?

Clearly nobody in the settlement has any idea where the Esopus village is. Fried (Chapter II, particularly pp. 22-25) does a good job of establishing that European settlers had started moving into the area permanently by 1653, including several who are still part of the settlement. (Thomas Chambers is a prime example; Christoffel “Kit” Davidts is also still an active part of the colony, and involved in the hunt for the kidnap victims; Evert Pels is another notable early settler.) In the 10 years since arriving in the Esopus, apparently none of the Europeans have ever trekked to the site of the Esopus village.

The Europeans have had plenty of contact with the Esopus. When they first arrived, and on later occasions, they signed solemn contracts specifying which land was theirs to use. The “First Esopus War” in 1659-60 resulted in much drama and numerous deaths on both sides. When Cregier’s expedition, a couple of months after the attack on Wildwyck, eventually does reach the Esopus settlement, we see it is an ample town with a triple wall around it, surrounded by fields and so much stored food that it takes Cregier’s group several days to destroy it all. This is a village that has been here for some time. And yet none of the Europeans in the colony have the first idea where to look for it.

The exact site of the Esopus village is not known today, but generally historians agree (see Fried’s dense discussion pp. 73-84) it was in the area of Kerhonkson and Wawarsing, about 25 miles from Kingston (or Wildwyck, as it was then called). (Schenectady, by comparison, is about 20 miles from Albany; the Europeans had forged that far into the woods and set up a second village there.) These settlers had traveled thousands of miles across the sea from Europe, sailed on a regular basis up and down the Hudson from Manhattan to Albany (about 140 miles), but in 10 years had not been to visit the village of their closest neighbors, even to trade a time or two—just enough to know where it could be found.

When Cregier’s expedition does set out at last for the village, it requires a European and a native guide to show them the way, and at first Cregier can’t even find the path the Esopus use to get there, though later he acknowledges that he has come upon the right road.

On Thursday 12 July New Netherland enacts an “Ordinance for the Arrest of Hostile Indians” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 277, which cites Laws of New Netherland, p. 444).

Also on 12 July Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam sends a note to the council at Fort Orange (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 277-278), touching briefly on reports that they had tried to discourage volunteers from going south to help Wildwyck after the Esopus attack, but mostly thanking them for sending Jan Dareth and the Maquas and Mohican expediton to try to rescue captives from the Esopus. He says if Smits Jan wants to take 44 of his Maquaes soldiers (as he had proposed) to try to recover the captives, that sounds fine; Stuyvesant even offers a reward of 100 guilders “or more” per recovered prisoner. He also asks the council to send some better gunpowder down to Martin Cregier at Wildwyck, who has reported that the powder he carried north from New Amsterdam when he left was too coarse.

On the same day Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam sends a separate and somewhat longer note to De Deckere at Fort Orange, responding to his notes of 26 and 29 June (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 278-279). Stuyvesant promotes Sergeant Niessen to the rank of Ensign, for “the successful attack . . . on the barbarians,” which must mean not Niessen’s strategic retreat from Wildwyck back to the Redoubt when he heard the town was being attacked on the 7th of June. Stuyvesant repeats his expression of pleasure at the Smits Jan expedition to rescue the Wildwyck captives, but adds that he is suspicious that the Catskil have been harboring the Esopus and may have assisted in “the execrable deed” of the attack on Wildwyck; he cites the presence of “deaf Hester” among the Catskil as evidence, perhaps confusing the details; see De Deckere’s note of 29 June, above. Stuyvesant emphasizes, possibly in response to Smits Jan’s half-asked question from 5 July (p. 274), that although “all possible endeavors must be made” to recover the captives, the Esopus should not be offered “the slightest hope of peace or armistice.” He suspects the Esopus will try to scatter into other tribes “in small detachments,” to hide among them, rather than gathering forces to resist a Dutch attack on their village. (We see this concern in the pledges Stuyvesant extracts in New Amsterdam from the tribal leaders in the area not to harbor any Esopus stragglers; Stuyvesant says the peace renewals are an optimistic note, “if the heart is as good as the mouth.”) Stuyvesant says he has other pressing matters and the yachts (which will carry his letters) are anxious to set sail, but he sends reassurance via De Deckere to Volckert Jansen, Philipp Pietersen, and other Beverwijck landowners that he agrees they should get back their cattle and horses; he hopes that the 100 head on three barges he has heard went back to Beverwijck have settled the issue. Stuyvesant admonishes De Deckere regarding 1,000 guilders of tax money that De Deckere has impounded, perhaps in line with his written guidance (see 19 June above) that he should try to raise a few thousand guilders for the cause, either for ransoming hostages or for other purposes. (De Deckere went on to tell La Montagne, who needed money to repair the fort at Fort Orange, that he had no such instructions to raise any funds for defense.) Stuyvesant says that the Receiver at New Amsterdam (Secretary Van Ruyven) is in arrears on several items for which he needs cash, notably the enlistment of soldiers, and so he has had to borrow money, in the form of wampum and beavers, at the extortionate rate of 16 guilders to the beaver, which normally is worth 8 guilders (see ERA 4, p. 86, for example, or 10 June 1661 in Beverwick when a debt of 256 guilders is translated “or 32 beavers”; for 16 guilder valuation see DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 220-221, where beavers are 8 fl but wampum is calculated at 16 fl per beaver, leaving value unclear).

On the 15th of July, the sixth Sunday since the village last saw its missing children, Heer de Decker returns to Wildwyck to help supervise things. One of Cregier’s strategies is to try to get the Mohawk tribe to help him get back the hostages being held by the Esopus tribe. Heer de Decker reports that he heard, at Fort Orange, that the Esopus had offered to return all the prisoners if the Dutch settlers would pay for the big hunk of land they had occupied. (This is a reference to the Groote Stuck, the big piece of land that was in dispute; see notes below when the villagers start harvesting the fields there. It’s where the New Village is, and far enough from Wildwyck that to keep harvesting it, the reapers and soldiers camp there overnight, rather than returning to the stockade. See Fried’s discussion with further notes, pp. 57 and 59.) The Dutch running the colony were generally scrupulous about not letting settlers move in on land that had not been properly—by European standards—bought and paid for. This is not to say that terms were ever fair or well understood by the “sellers,” but the WIC understood that conflicts over land rights could pose a major threat to the colony, so they did what they could to forestall misunderstandings.)

By Wednesday the 18th of July (DHSNY IV p. 50), having been in the Esopus for two full weeks and searched the woods on both sides of the river, Cregier still has made no contact with the people who attacked the village six weeks before. The 18th is also the first time Cregier mentions having posted soldiers “in the field to protect those reaping the Barley.” On the 18th, six sloops arrive from Manhattan “in which Juriaen Blanck brought up provisions for our troops.” These are probably the ones anxious to leave on the 12th, which Stuyvesant mentions in his letter of that date to De Deckere, above.

(Is there a record in New Amsterdam from when these sloops departed? Seems likely that Lucas Andriessen, Barbara’s brother, would have wanted to sail up and check in to do what he could to help. At some point, he probably ferries Tjerck’s brother Jan and sister Emmerentje away from Wildwyck, since it’s in danger and thin on resources. Emmerentje appears to dwell in New Amsterdam at least for a little while, until she marries Martin Hoffman there. Jan may work on the sloop with Lucas, or he may have stuck around in Wildwyck to help Tjerck with the harvest and rebuilding.)

On 19 July (DHSNY IV p. 50), a Thursday, at last we see some progress: a few Mohawk tribesmen return to Wildwyck (they say) from the Esopus camp with three Esopus tribesmen and two Dutch women and two Dutch children (none of the returned hostages ever get named; we don’t know who was rescued when). Peculiarly, the Mohawks leave the Esopus and Dutch in the forest “about two hours from Wildwyck,” claiming they were too tired to bring the prisoners all the way to town.

On the 20th (DHSNY IV p. 51), a party is out again cutting barley (Cregier for the second time notices that there’s a harvest going on), and the missing Dutch folk and Esopus are recovered from their hideaway in the woods.

On 20 July (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 279-280), Stuyvesant sends a note to the Vice-Director at Curaçao in the Caribbean; he mentions the Esopus situation, noting his concern “for the protection and security of the apparently good crops, which so far have not suffered the least damage, thanks to the good God”; this has not been high on Cregier’s list of noteworthy issues, though the people of Wildwyck clearly are concerned about it. Stuyvesant indicates he wants “to subdue . . . this false and barbarous tribe once for all,” but he notes that like all war efforts, this comes at a considerable cost in resources, of which he has never enough. He has had “to engage a considerable number of soldiers, in fact many more, than the country can support in its present condition and the state of its revenues”; contrast his 200 or so new enlistees with the thousands sent by the WIC to Brazil when that colony was its crown jewel. Even a decade after the 1654 capitulation of Recife in New Holland (which had been defended by 8,000 men at the height of the Portuguese siege in 1647), the WIC remains unwilling to staff its New Netherland colony in anything approaching the same numbers. Stuyvesant requests “that your Honor think of all possible means to send us at the earliest convenience the required and ordered negroes, salt, horses and other merchantable goods” for the “conquests here.”

Also on 20 July (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 280), 17 “savages” from the eastern end of Long Island come into the fort at New Amsterdam, offering their services against the Esopus. Their offer is accepted.

The 20th is a Friday; whether by design or by coincidence, another group of local residents who have lived in the area since before the Dutch arrival come to New Amsterdam for a visit (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 280): Oratam is back, chief of the Hackensacks (who are spelled differently nearly every time they are mentioned), together with Sara Kiersteede as interpreter. In the Council Chamber at Fort Amsterdam, he meets with the Council and discusses some land deals they have asked about. On the Esopus situation, he says the Esopus have been trying to win over the Minisinks to their side [Menissinghs], but thus far the Minisinks have refused. He names the Esopus leaders as Pemyrawech, Seweckenamo, Wajperononck, Caelcop and Neshahewe.

On the 21st, a Saturday, three more sloops arrive at Wildwyck from Manhattan, “with which a supply of provisions for this garrison has arrived in Rut Jacobsen’s Yacht.” More parties are out cutting corn.

The 22nd is a Sunday, which even in harvest season gives these hardworking farmers on the brink of civilization a few hours to pause and consider their place in the universe. (Most are traditionally religious Christians, whether Lutheran or Dutch Reformed.) The waiting must seem interminable to the Wildwyck villagers, who are housing and probably feeding (and furnishing) the soldiers who thus far have produced no results. Each week follows another, and it’s now well over a month since the attack, seven Sundays, with the village still shorthanded for the harvest. Only a handful of the missing villagers have been brought back to the town. July is a hot month. Tempers flare.

On the 24th (DHSNY IV p. 52), Cregier sends for “all the wagons to make a journey to the river side to bring up the provisions which had been sent hither by the Executive government; but only 4 wagons came. As I required ten, I excused these.” Everyone has an excuse. Some say they can’t help because their horses aren’t good enough or have sore backs; others say they’ll help only if their neighbors help. Cregier’s “Council of War” decides that no protection will be given to the workers in the fields “unless they would assist in bringing up the Company’s Supplies from the water side.” As if that weren’t enough, Cregier goes on, “one Tjerck Claesen de Wit, himself a magistrate [council member, Schepen], would turn Lieut. Stilwil’s soldiers out of a small house they occupied—he said, he had hired it, though he had, notwithstanding, neither possession of nor procuration for it. I gave him for answer, that I should remove them on condition that he, as a magistrate, would have them billetted in other houses as the men could not lie under the blue sky, and as they had been sent here by the Chief government for the defence of the Settlers.” Cregier complains that “there are other ringleaders and refractory people in this place.”

On 24 July 1663 (Kingston Papers, p. 71), at a court session on the regular Tuesday, a new secretary is appointed for the court in Wildwyck, Matthew Capito, and he starts taking notes on court events, where the record previously was in the handwriting of Roeloff Swartwout, the Schout. (Others say Stuyvesant appointed him 14 July when he came to town for a brief visit; resolve the record.) At this session Albert Gysbertsen says Aert Martinsen Doorn caused Albert’s pig to be killed. Matthew Capito, it should be noted, had been prominent as a Lutheran while he lived in New Amsterdam (see pp. 9-10, The Beginnings of Lutheranism in New York [Kreider]), and, like Tjerck and others, probably continues to prefer Lutheran services while he is in the Esopus.

At this session (Kingston Papers, p. 72), the Schout accuses “Tryntje, wife of Cornelissen Barentsen Slecht,” of calling “the Noble Lord de Decker” a blood sucker (on 21 or 15 July when he came to help supervise things? he is still probably in town, though apparently not sucking anyone’s blood; see 25 July note when he departs for Manhattan). Tryntje “does not deny she spoke evilly of the Noble Lord de Decker, but says she spoke while depressed and discouraged because of the many misfortunes that had befallen her through the savages, and adds that she feels sorry for having slandered him.” The council members “prefer mercy to the severity of justice” and tell her to pay 25 guilders to the church as a punishment. Slecht describes his wife, Tryntje, as “the midwife for the village of Wiltwyck” in a 31 March 1663 letter regarding a land swap (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 241); he also explains that “we are now old people, we would prefer living near to the church.”

No further court sessions are held until 18 September. (N.B. They may have been held, but the minutes have been either lost or disorganized in a tangle of other papers from the era. The translators of The Kingston Papers acknowledge that some records are incomplete and others are mostly indecipherable without knowing what pages they go with.)

Cregier reports (DHSNY IV, p. 53) that on the evening of the 24th, translator Jan Davets came back from the Esopus camp having spoken with them at last. The Esopus are not ready to release any more of their prisoners unless the Dutch are ready to conclude a peace treaty.

On Wednesday 25 July Heer de Decker departs for Manhattan and Cregier tries again to bring up the supplies from the recently arrived ships. The harvest continues. The War Council unanimously resolves “to send out an expedition against the Esopus Indians . . . if the weather were favorable” (DHSNY IV, p. 53). Now that over 100 militiamen have arrived, and supplies to go with them, it’s time to start doing what they came for.

On 26 July, a Thursday, Cregier leads an expedition of over 200 people, all told, including some native tribesmen, some slaves, some volunteers from the Esopus, a woman who had been held hostage and now can serve as a guide (Gysbert van Imbroch’s wife, some say, but see Fried’s suspicions, Early History p. 72), many soldiers from different companies, two cannon, plus various food, ammunition, and other supplies. He reports that this leaves “36 soldiers and 25 freemen” to protect Wildwyck. Keeping in mind that the total male population before the attack had been about 85, one can imagine that the village, with many homes already burned, was straining to house and supply these large contingents of military men, at the same time as all hands were needed to help bring in the harvest. With paltry results to show and patience evidently wearing very thin, it was probably a wise idea for Cregier to clear most of the troops out of town and look as if some kind of real action were being taken.

The Europeans would have been keenly aware that at the onset of the First Esopus War in 1659, the Esopus had fielded from 400 to 600 armed soldiers to attack the village (see Fried p. 34; even if the European estimates were considerably off, this was the closest perception the Europeans had to what they were up against). Putting together an expedition of 200 strained the resources of a little village like Wildwyck, and in fact the whole colony, but even with European firearms and cannon, the Europeans would have known that they might be marching into thick and unknown forests badly outnumbered by an enemy who were literally at home in these creeks and valleys.

By Cregier’s description, the party departs about 4 p.m. and makes it two Dutch miles the first day (the Dutch mile is longer than a modern U.S. mile, and Cregier is only estimating anyhow; see notes below re Marc Fried’s interpretation of Cregier’s estimates), struggling to break through the woods with cannon and wagons. On Friday the 27th, “We got on the right road,” but even then they have to build bridges across creeks, forge through swamps, climb stony hills and mountains “so steep that we were obliged to haul the wagons and cannon up and down with ropes. Thus our progress was slow.” This does not quite match the description of the road given by Rachel La Montagne after she was rescued; she made it out to be two easy hours’ journey by wagon, with a few little hills and some pretty creeks along the way (see 4 July notes above). Christoffel Davits when he tried the same trail about a month ago also got lost somewhere midway. Cregier doesn’t say how far the new expedition went on the 26th, but when they get about two miles from the Indian fort, he sends half the contingent forward “to surprise it” (DHSNY IV, p. 54). He struggles, can’t manage to get the cannon all the way to the fort, leaves them behind, makes it to the fort about 6 p.m. and finds “our people in possession of it, as it had been abandoned by the Indians two days before.” So much for the big surprise attack. (Cregier foresaw this from Rachel La Montagne’s description of the Esopus town and its palisades and its good vantage over the surrounding countryside, guessing that by the time an expedition of any size could reach it, the village would be long deserted, with the captives and captors scattered into multiple locations where they’d be harder to find and engage.)

What Cregier cannot know as he bushwhacks his way to the Esopus town: In New Amsterdam, also on the 26th (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 282), “Sauwekaro, Sachem of Wiechquaesqueck,” came with his brother to let the Council know that a Wapping had warned them that “the Esopus savages would come down with 40 to 50 men in about 5 or 6 days, to kill them and the Dutch of New Haerlem, Hasimus, Hobocken” and other towns. Sauwekaro has come “to take refuge with his people near New-Haerlem” and wants to let the Dutch know he is there and why he has come; he asks that the Council let the other Dutch know the news. Sauwekaro says the two hostages being kept in Esopus by Cregier are in fact Wappingers (as Cregier described them); he says “the chief of the Wappinghs has been to see him on their account, being very distressed,” and will now go to Fort Orange to consult further on how to recover his (as it turns out) family members. Sauwekaro says the Esopus have only 80 soldiers total and have abandoned their fort already, retreating to “here and there in the woods in such dense underwood, that it was hardly possible to look or creep through” (unless perhaps you were there to sell brandy).

(Marc Fried has done a nice job of disentangling and debunking some old confusions among multiple historians about how to interpret Cregier’s journal and other records, and he takes a good look at the motivations and state of mind of the Esopus attackers at various points in the narrative. I will not repeat it here, but I will point anyone interested in further details to his account in The Early History of Kingston. He also has paid careful attention to descriptions, from various sources, of locations and distances, with the familarity one can expect from someone who grew up in the area and has great interest in the old histories. I won’t go into great detail on those topics either, but I’ll repeat his observations from pp. 69 and 99 that the 10 Dutch mile overall distance Cregier estimated to the first fort probably was 23 or 25 U.S. miles as measured today; two estimated Dutch miles should have been over 9 U.S. miles, and may have felt like even more, but in reality was probably more like 6, and Cregier’s later estimate of another distance as 12 Dutch miles would have been more than 55 U.S. miles if correct but in reality was probably more like 33. Dutch miles have been measured different ways over time, but maybe it’s more important to remember that the distances Cregier reports are all rough estimates, not surveys. Fried also fills in a more comprehensive understanding as a native of the area interpreting Cregier’s notes on weather and water levels; these can make a big difference in understanding what was happening on the ground at the time.)

Tjerck and Slaves: Indirect Benefits

We don’t have records to show whether Tjerck was a slave owner yet, though we know he became one at some point. But even if he was not a slave owner in 1663, it is worth pausing to acknowledge that he certainly benefited here and elsewhere from the presence of slaves in the colony.

The slaves who went on Cregier’s expedition were probably owned by the West India Company, which had a pool of slaves they sometimes used for company business and sometimes leased out, as one might rent a horse or other property. (I certainly hope it goes without saying that this has to be considered an abominable practice, unethical and unexcused, full stop. I won’t belabor the point, hoping that it is self-evident to modern readers, but but it has to be understood and fully acknowledged before examining the mechanisms of how it worked.)

Because Cregier brought some company slaves on this expedition, various jobs on the expedition did not have to be done by either his soldiers or the townspeople. We don’t have to know the exact division of labor to understand: More work got done, for less pay, and people who were not enslaved were able to continue about their trades or other business because the people who had been enslaved were required to fill in the gaps, without deriving any financial or long-term benefit for their labor.

The net effect to the community is that the non-enslaved community members got to retain more wealth because enslaved members of the community retained less or none at all. (Note that the Dutch rules around slavery were complicated; slaves in some cases could work for pay during “off” hours; slaves could become free or half-free; slaves could own property. The rules shift over time and as the colony’s government changes. Without splitting hairs over the minutiae, the core element of slavery remains: A human being was regarded as property and was forced to work for the benefit of others. I would draw a careful distinction between this institution and those of indenture and apprenticeship, where a person might also be expected to work for no direct pay. In the latter two, the understanding is that the indentured person at the end of a fixed period will be released from service, and will enjoy the benefits of whatever it was they traded for the period of labor—passage from Europe to North America, for example, or the acquisition of the skills required for a particular trade. No such benefit was expected for “owned” slaves.)

So even a person who owns no slaves, by virtue of being in a community where slave ownership is legal, will almost inevitably gain from the practice, even if their benefit is indirect. If a shoemaker has slaves make shoes for him, the person buying the shoes will pay a lower price than if the shoemaker had to pay a helper. That lets the person buying the shoes save money to spend elsewhere—perhaps on better seed for a bigger crop, or on a new plow, or on new glass windows for their house, which then increases in value. Likewise, the seed seller or plow maker or window hanger benefits from the extra money spent in their business—even if they do not own any slaves. The enslaved person does not get to participate in any of these transactions. The ripple effect of all these benefits in the free community is constant and accumulates over years.

While there is no doubt that the Europeans in the Dutch colony included many hard workers, it also has to be acknowledged that part of the success of the colony over the years, for slave owners and non-slave owners alike, came from the presence of numerous slaves in the colony. (As far as I know, the slaves in the colony were predominantly of African descent, though some had been traded by way of the Caribbean or South America. The Dutch also enslaved prisoners captured in their skirmishes against what they called the wilden and the English called Indians: the people who had lived here before them. Some of these prisoners from North American communities were traded away to other Dutch colonies as slaves. By a point a few decades into the history of the Dutch colony, some of the slaves owned by the colony or its inhabitants had been born in the colony; the proportion of American-born slaves grew over the years as the practice continued under English governance. Worth noting: When Sojourner Truth was born a slave in the large community of slaves who continued to people Ulster County’s farms and homes after the Revolutionary War—born an enslaved baby girl in 1797, long after “Give me liberty or give me death,” the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and all that—we might fancifully wonder whether her parents, the Baumfrees, were descendants of the same slaves who had helped Tjerck get back his baby daughter from her Esopus kidnappers 137 years prior—she spoke Dutch as a first language, though she arrived after more than 120 years of continuous English rule. Only later did she learn English, struggling to communicate with a difficult owner, and even then she continued to speak always with a Dutch accent.)

By the time Tjerck dies in 1700 and passes his wealth down to his children, he has accumulated a reasonable fortune through his own sweat and the work of others. His children benefit from this retained capital, and they are able to build on it through their lives, investing what he had acquired and adding to it through their hard work and that of others, paid or unpaid. For the next several generations (until New York State outlaws slavery in 1827), every successive generation of DeWitts owns slaves, as do many of their Ulster County compatriots. Not every DeWitt is a slave owner, but in Ulster County, many are. (Some DeWitts even participate in the slave import trade.) At the same time as the DeWitt children are able to add to the family wealth and pass it down to grandchildren and great-grandchildren, increasing with each passing decade, the slaves owned by the family for the most part cannot share with their descendants any of the benefits that would normally accrue from a life of hard effort and applied intelligence. So the disparity in wealth grows, year after year, generation after generation.

When Sojourner Truth’s grandchildren are born, free, in New York State, they start out mostly with nothing but the wisdom the previous generations passed down. DeWitts born in the same era are also born free, and also with the wisdom handed down from previous generations, but on top of that they can also enjoy the benefits of five generations of inherited wealth.

This is not meant to be a close examination of the ins and outs of slave ownership in Wildwyck and Ulster County over the years, or the layers of moral issues implied in taking for granted that a human being could be considered owned property, but it should not escape notice, when we see Cregier use slaves on this expedition to rescue Tjerck’s missing daughter, that already Tjerck and the rest of the Wildwyck community are benefiting, however indirectly, from the presence of slaves in the colony.

(Numerous other sources exist to provide more comprehensive looks at slavery in the Dutch colony and thereafter in New York as a colony and later as one of the United States. A quick reference here can be made to Jaap Jacobs’ The Colony of New Netherland, pp. 55-56, with the understanding that much deeper resources have been devoted to the topic elsewhere. For a start, but not an end, I will mention Hurley in the Days of Slavery, cited elsewhere on this page, as well as Edgar J. McManus’s A History of Negro Slavery in New York, Graham Russell Hodges’s Root & Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey 1613-1863, Shane White’s Somewhat More Independent: The End of Slavery in New York City, 1770-1810, and David Gellman’s Emancipating New York: The Politics of Slavery and Freedom 1777-1827. I should also include No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding, by Sean Wilentz. Note that on a topic as polarizing as this, not every view expressed by an author will be shared by all, and some authors will collect and present historical data in a way that expresses their bias. Some people may consider any of these books controversial; other people may holler their full-throated approval. I’m not endorsing any specific conclusions, but I do think we all could stand to read more, learn more, consider the implications more and, with kind hearts and not hasty judgements, try to understand multiple points of view with critical objectivity, to the degree that’s ever possible. Much of the history has not been made part of mainstream curricula; not every fact stated will be accurate. But we could all do with being more aware of the depth of the record.)

After passing the night at the fort (built along similar lines to the ones the Dutch use, with houses behind a triple wall made of logs standing on end; the walls of the native fort spaced out the uprights at intervals and interwove them with vines and branches; see Fried’s description, Early History of Kingston, p. 67), on Saturday the 28th Cregier sits with his War Council to decide what to try next. The day before they found an Esopus woman in a corn field, out to cut some corn. This morning they decide to leave a small contingent (29 men) at the fort site, then take most of the rest of everybody (140 men) and the Esopus woman and go looking for the rest of the tribe. The expedition “set forth towards the mountain and arrived where the Indians had been; they had left that place also” (DHSNY IV, pp. 54-55). They quiz the Indian woman, who points at a different mountain, miles distant, “a great, high mountain,” and says her people probably went there “with the seven prisoners they had with them.” The leaders march there with their troops, “experiencing great difficulty, but found no Indians there.” The woman then points at a different mountain, this one about 4 miles away (remember these are long Dutch miles), “but there was no path thither.”

Then the Dutch spot “9 Indians coming towards them, whereupon they fell flat, intending thus to surprise the Indians on their approach, but they did not succeed, our people being noticed at a distance of about 2 musket shots,” if they hadn’t been spotted even before they noticed the men approaching them. The enemy Esopus scatter, and “even our Indians said that no savages could be caught at this time as they were every where fully informed of us,” so everyone returns to the fort for lunch. In the end the Dutch decide to burn all the Esopus fields and call it a day (DHSNY IV, pp. 54-55).

After a show of tactical brilliance like this, it may be hard to imagine that some of the townspeople would be less than awed by Cregier’s prowess, but it appears he is starting to lose the respect of a few. While the Dutch team is out burning fields, they find some pits with unspecified “plunder” in them. Cregier calls everyone together and tells them all the plunder must be shared, claiming that rule was “understood by the Council of War before we started from our fort.” One of the Dutch villagers “stepped out of the troop and said to me, What we’ve found we’ll keep and divide among us horsemen.” Cregier tries to explain that he is in command, but the horseman—Jan Hendricksen—says “They are under the command of no man but Long Peter,” and the horsemen rally with “divers unmannerly words.” Cregier slaps Hendricksen with his sword and has him arrested (DHSNY IV, pp. 54-55). This is the same Jan Hendricksen who a couple of weeks ago was all for shooting the Wappinger tribesmen Cregier had hoped to persuade to help him.

At Fort Orange on the 28th, Vice Director Jean La Montagne and Jeremias van Rensselaer join forces to send a note to Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam, trying to clarify a few points and perhaps repair their reputations. There apparently has been some back and forth, perhaps mostly through gossip and whispers, about whether various parties discouraged volunteers from joining the campaign against the Esopus (the focus is on a group of volunteers on Claes Tysen’s yacht, sailing from Beverwijck to the Esopus after the attack); Stuyvesant has tried to smooth ruffled feathers and reassure those who feel unfairly maligned; at the same time, he also sent scolding words to the council at Fort Orange indicating that although he did not intend to carry the dispute any further (see his 12 July letter, pp. 277-278, which they say they received on the 20th), he had plenty of word from various witnesses that the councils there had obstructed volunteers, “so that we would not lack proof, if the cabbage was worth the soup.” He reminded the Fort Orange council of the Golden Rule (“Do unto others . . . ”) and said one day they might be the ones in need of support. La Montagne and Rensselaer remind Stuyvesant that, Golden Rule notwithstanding, they “live here quietly surrounded by heathens and barbarians” with only God to help them, and they “are obliged first to take care of our own houses” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 283). They say “it is not worth the trouble to concern ourselves about the accusation” and agree “that we too leave the soup with the cabbage.” Having (perhaps) defended their reputations, they go on to sully someone else’s: Regarding the proposal by Smits Jan to take 44 of his Maquaes soldiers to rescue captives, they note that “he was tipsy at the time” and observe some other irregularities in his behavior. They think his proposal is “too dangerous.” The two men sign their letter themselves, but it also bears the imprimatur of the two councils of Fort Orange and Rensselaerswyck.

On the 29th (DHSNY IV, p. 56), a Sunday (the eighth since the attack), still at the Esopus village but absent any rescued kidnap victims or even captured enemy fighters, Cregier sends parties out to continue burning Esopus fields and stored corn. Whether the townspeople like him or not, Cregier is actually fairly resourceful, and although it’s less dramatic than direct combat, this is not an idle attack. The origin of the conflict was that the Dutch had taken over good fields the Esopus used to use for their own farming. Maybe the exchange was handled properly at the time and maybe it wasn’t, but either way the Esopus wanted their fields back. Cregier, in late July, when it’s too late to plant and grow more crops, is destroying the food the Esopus have been planning to eat during the winter. “[I]n the afternoon, Some Indians made their appearance on a high hill near the fort and called out to us”; they tell the captive woman that “the Dutch had now come and taken their fort, cut their corn and burnt all their old maize and that they should die of hunger.” Now they're inclined to fight. Cregier asks why they keep running away. The Esopus don’t answer, but just go away.

On the 30th, the burning at the village of the Esopus attackers continues. In “two large parties, of 80 men each,” the Dutch cut all the corn and continue burning anything that remains in the pits. (Why they did not take the corn for themselves is a fair question.) Cregier estimates the Dutch cut about 100 morgens (~215 acres) of corn and burned more than 100 pits “full of corn and beans” (DHSNY IV, p. 57).

On Tuesday the 31st, before leaving, Cregier’s forces set fire to the fort and the houses it encloses; they march back to Wildwyck and arrive “about 9 o’clock in the evening with our cannon and wagons.” It took a lot less time to get home than it did to find the fort in the first place (DHSNY IV, p. 57). It’s not so far away after you know where it is.

So July ended with no progress. Hundreds of men, military and civilian, had spent days in the woods hunting for the captives. Unfamiliar with the woods, they had no idea which way to turn, but it became clear that everyone else in that country knew exactly where they were, and was able to get out of their way long before they ever arrived. It was now nearly two months since the attack on the village, and dozens of women and children from the village were missing, with no word and only apprehension for how they were being treated by their captors, or even whether they were still alive.

The best thing that can probably be said for this expedition is that it got over 100 militiamen out of the village’s hair for a few days without losing any of them to hostile fire. It did put pressure on the Esopus who had attacked, though it was not able to rescue any of the missing captives.

Cregier appears to have sent his journal as it was completed back to Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam, as a way of updating him on progress made. On 30 July, for example, we have a letter from Stuyvesant back to Cregier acknowledging that “Tjerck Claessen de Witt has refused to furnish his horses and wagon” and “Albert Heymansen Roose has uttered and spoken several unsufferable and threatening words,” and recommending that “You would have done well either to punish [them] exemplarily there or to send them down immediately after the deed” to be punished in New Amsterdam (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 284). Regarding the Esopus attackers, Stuyvesant urges Cregier to “give them no rest, but they must be pursued and attacked upon every information received, as much as possible.”

August

On the first of August, a Wednesday, two shots from the Redoubt signaled the arrival of the company’s yacht with the colony’s Secretary in it (van Ruyven). Fifty men escorted him to the village for a day of fasting and prayer—as designated by Stuyvesant on 26 June for the first Wednesday of every month—and the next day it rained, so everyone sat indoors. The Secretary departed the next day (DHSNY IV, p. 57).

Van Ruyven was dispatched from Manhattan apparently two days prior; his instructions, dated 30th July (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 284-286), tell him to learn more about the Esopus and their possible allies, and to “instigate and encourage” the officers at Wiltwyck “to make quick and secret expeditions against them.” Stuyvesant (or the council?) mulls whether it’s better to cut down Esopus crops “before or after our harvest”; Cregier has already made this question moot. Stuyvesant urges Cregier to wait to cut down the greater part of the Esopus planting, but to cut down only small plots of corn if he comes upon them. Van Ruyven is to bring up the idea of having Cregier’s troops, or a detachment of 50 to 60 of them, make a base deeper inland from which to attack the Esopus in many small, quick raids; he also is instructed to float the idea of sailing “a yacht full of soldiers” up to Catskil lands and make raids from there, rather than marching to the Esopus village from Wildwyck. (Rachel La Montagne’s 4 July report clearly—and correctly—placed the Esopus village a few hours south of the town of Wildwyck so this proposal of going north to launch the attack doesn’t make geographic sense.) Van Ruyven is supposed to try to convince the Marsepingh natives who are in Cregier’s collection of soldiers to continue to fight side by side with the Dutch, at least until others can be sent in their place. Quietly and in private Van Ruyven is supposed to consult with Cregier over whether Cregier can spare “20 or 30 soldiers and the Company’s negroes” and send them south a few at a time—so as not to raise alarm—to defend the towns and villages scattered around the southern end of the Hudson, which also fear attack. Stuyvesant’s resources are stretched thin; Van Ruyven, as Receiver, is closely aware of what all these soldiers are costing the colony in guilders. Van Ruyven also is instructed to work with the town council and the Council of War to establish “some laws and fines against all unwilling farmers or farm laborers, who should refuse to assist with their horses and wagons for the general benefit, also against all fouthmouthed speakers” and against waste of gunpowder and shot.

Cregier is still new to the town and doesn’t always recognize yet what matters and what doesn’t, who he ought to worry about and who will be helpful, and how to get the right things done in a sensible way. In his journal, in early August, he does not mention at all that the rain on 2 August completely washed away the village’s bridge that gives them access to some of their fields for harvesting. (See Fried p. 85 for a note on where this bridge might have been.) He’s focused on the visit from outsiders. He does mention it when another heavy rain comes sluicing down on August 22 and the farmers move the Bridge to keep it from being washed away again; as he gets more experience with daily life here, he starts to see details he missed when he first arrived.

With Van Ruyven around, Cregier has an opportunity to send a note back to Stuyvesant, and the latest set of journal entries reporting on progress in the Esopus campaign. While it (apparently) is pouring down summer rain outside, Cregier has some time to tidy up his notes and add a cover letter (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 286). He fills in a few observations that haven’t made it into the journal proper: He notes “great difficulties with the Marsepinghs, who want to have everything their way; we have humored them and given way . . . but could not satisfy them; we have also given them a part of the booty beforehand. . . . We have earnestly requested them, to remain . . . but nothing could be obtained from them, they persisted in leaving altogether.” Curiously, he refers to Couwenhoven as “their Captain-Lieutenant”; since he is known for selling brandy to the Bergen villages, and since he has allowed the sale of liquor on board his ships when he sails to the Esopus with the Marsepinghs aboard, it’s not a great wonder that they want to make sure he “should return with them” to Manhattan; perhaps sensing Couwenhoven’s utility, “all the officers agreed.” Cregier says no issue has come up in the Esopus regarding Marsepingh prisoners. Replying to Stuyvesant’s instruction that he should establish better rules for villager behavior, Cregier says “An order and find has been established regarding the wagons,” and he says he will crack down on “mischiefmaking and disobedient men.” Regarding priorities and staffing (since Stuyvesant has asked him to send some militia members south to help protect farm towns closer to Manhattan), he says that “we will see to bring in the grain or the corn from the fields and when the harvest is over, then I shall see how many soldiers we can spare here.” (The harvest, as it turns out, continues into December.) He does send home six volunteers from Long Island (New-Utrecht), so they can work on their harvests at home.

Probably from the same packet of letters that traveled south with Van Ruyven, we find a partial record also of a 3 August meeting of the War Council at Wildwyck. This is an interesting artifact, because it suggests that (as would be very typical) someone did keep minutes of the War Council meetings, and (especially to the degree that these were joint meetings with the Wildwyck town council) these might have filled some of the holes in the record from Kingston Papers of what the town council was up to during these months. As it happens, this meeting record (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 287) is only partial, and it may be that many other minutes were lost or destroyed. The discussion at the meeting, probably with Van Ruyven in attendance, and triggered by the contents of the letter Van Ruyven brought north with him from Stuyvesant, starts (in the fragment that remains) on the topic of how to attack Esopus villagers who have gone to live in Catskil or Highland villages; Cregier notes, as the Dutch often do, that his soldiers can’t distinguish among the tribes. He notes that the Maquaes say all Catskill villagers “above Sagertjen” (no doubt Saugerties) are friendly to the Dutch; he does not want to alienate friendly inhabitants by attacking the wrong locals. Rather than committing to an attack, he seeks the advice of Stuyvesant, but says he’ll send out a party to try to learn more. Cregier prioritizes “with all possible assiduity the bringing in of the harvest,” and he notes that most of what he knows of the Esopus comes from Christoffel Davidts, “for he is well acquainted . . . and without him little or nothing could be accomplished.” The War Council discusses sending soldiers back to Manhattan and determines that the soldiers are all required for current activities; “none of the soldiers stationed here now could be missed . . . we number not more than 155 men now after the departure of the savages and volunteers.”

On 3 August, after the Secretary leaves, with Cregier’s letter to Stuyvesant, “5 of the Hon[ora]ble Company’s Negroes” and 41 “Indians,” Cregier instructs two parties to sit out in the field watching (probably guarding farmers as they work the fields; harvest is overdue), and “one in Ambush,” i.e. hidden reinforcements in case the attackers see farmers out in the fields unprotected and take the bait for a second attack. “They saw nothing and returned in the evening.” (This seems to be a standard deployement; see August 6 entry, p. 59.) The War Council pardoned Jan Hendricksen and released him, upon “promise of better behavior in the future.” Cregier sells the three horses that the expedition had retrieved from the fort they found, which is the sum total of their gain from the journey and labor (DHSNY IV, p. 57).

If the best defense is a good offense, then maybe the best move when the people you’re protecting are starting to get restless under your command is to issue fresh orders, especially when your boss in Manhattan has sent instructions to crack down on malefactors. At any rate, that is what Martin Cregier and the War Council did at a big meeting on 4 August, a Saturday (DHSNY IV, p. 58). Cregier convened the Council of War (ahem, the “valiant Council of war”), invited the town council to join the meeting, and decreed: “Whereas we learn by daily experience that many, as well military as freemen,” have been going outside the town on a regular basis (it’s harvest season), it becomes necessary “so that none may at any time fall into the hands of the barbarous Indians, our enemies,” to require consent from everyone before they go outside the town wall, “whether to cut grain or for any other business whatsoever it may be.” Also, it has been noted that “families [?] every day unnecessarily waste and fire off powder and ball,” maybe to mark the arrival of a convoy, or perhaps for hunting, or maybe because they thought they saw a shadow moving in the treeline. This appears to be more an issue among the militiamen than among the townsfolk. At any rate, firing a weapon is forbidden without permission of a superior officer. The edict against going outside the town wall without an escort and official permission turns out to be a major sticking point among the people who have made their homes in Wildwyck (many of whom are still missing family members who are in the hands of the Esopus attackers). Curiously, it also does not conform to Stuyvesant’s take on the current status regarding safety from further attacks (see his note from August 9, below), though admittedly he is not on site, and we have seen other places where, relying on secondhand and thirdhand information, he misunderstands the situation on the ground.

Permission to Harvest: Dilemma of Safety vs. Survival

On a handful of occasions up to now, Cregier has mentioned that he has armed men in the fields with the villagers, protecting them as they harvest. From their initial plea to Stuyvesant in June, we know that the villagers expected to have to start their harvest in early July, and they sought protection in the fields. Cregier is trying to help with this.

But this 4 August decree that nobody may go out to harvest without permission and an escort highlights a critical problem. Cregier has a limited number of men available, and they can’t be protecting the harvest and scouring the woods for kidnap victims at the same time. Over the next several weeks, with a few exceptions, he specifies pretty much six days a week that he has two companies in the fields protecting the reapers, and a third in “ambush,” ready to jump out and add to the defense if an attack comes. (No attack ever comes.) It appears he is doing his best to provide protection. The harvest goes on for some time.

And yet it’s not enough. A look at the numbers: The main village of Wildwyck had 39 assigned lots in it (put a source here; there’s a list of who had which lots, from when they were taxed for wall maintenance etc.), and the new village had 20 (give a source here too). There was some duplication (some double lots, and some farmers who had lots in both locations), and not every house belonged to someone who necessarily was farming (Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck, for example, was a shoemaker with a tannery), but we can guess that there might have been 50 or 60 farms in the area, some of them made up of multiple fields.

No doubt Cregier’s soldiers could provide cover for more than one field at a time. But we find in Wildwyck court by mid-September that 20 different individuals have been accused of violating the edict about getting permission and an escort before going out to harvest. If you had a field that was ready to harvest, you were faced with a tough decision: Wait your turn, until Cregier assigns soldiers to protect you, possibly after rain has come and ruined the crop? Or go out without permission and bring in what you can, knowing you are subject to a fine, and hoping you won’t be attacked while you’re in the field? Keep in mind that the town was coming out of a very lean winter when livestock had been lost to the cold and lack of forage; without an ample harvest, everyone knew lives would be at stake.

So we see some villagers making the decision that they would rather pay a fine and get their harvesting done, and other villagers deciding to wait their turn. Either could have dire results. We see in Wildwyck court (Kingston Papers, pp. 76-79 for example) that farmers who used multiple hands to help with the harvest could end up being liable for hundreds of guilders in fines, even though, as Juriaen Westphael complains, “the promises given him were not fulfilled at mowing time” (p. 77). (See pp. 113-114 where fines of 425 guilders total are reaffirmed to him on 27 December, Aert Jacobsen owes 200 guilders.) On the other hand, Annetje Tacks (pp. 128-129) faces large debts by 26 February 1664 and “says she is not able at present to pay . . . as she already lacks bread, pork, meat, etc., in her household, and, further, that most of her crops were left on the field last harvest because of the war.” The court tells her to pay her debts regardless. (Numerous other entries in the Kingston Papers tell more of the story: Her husband Aert Pietersen in winter 1662 had mortgaged his entire 1663 farm yield to Gysbert Imbroch; by 1664 Aert is described as having chosen to absent himself from the village, and Annetje has declared she wants nothing to do with his debts. This farm was already struggling when the war came. And yet clearly the rules about the harvest did not help. In the end, the farm is auctioned.)

Either harvesting without permission or waiting for permission to harvest could both be ruinous. Cregier evidently had promised to provide escorts for everyone when they had to harvest, but clearly he just didn’t have the manpower to make good on his pledge. The court generally doesn’t go into much detail on its reasoning, but we see repeatedly that it does not offer any forgiveness to those who, desperate to keep their families fed, harvested without permission or escort.

Also on 4 August, a Mohican arrived at Wildwyck from Fort Orange (DHSNY IV, p. 59?) with a pass from Vice Director Jean La Montagne, the father of Rachel La Montagne, carrying a letter to Gysbert Imborgh (Monsieur La Montagne’s son-in-law) and to Hendrick Jochems. The letters offered little news. The same Indian (apparently) was sent back to Fort Orange with a letter inviting Christoffel Davids at Fort Orange to come down for a visit and “important business” to be explained when he arrived. (See 3 August council minute cited above for more on why leaders would like to see Christoffel Davidts back in Wildwyck; we find a few days later that “Kit” Davidts headed for Manhattan rather than Wildwyck when he got this invitation; he claims there that he must have misunderstood the request.)

Sunday the 5th passed without event in Wildwyck (DHSNY IV, p. 59?), except the arrival of Thomas “the Irishman” from Manhattan. (Thomas Chambers? Cregier doesn’t know these people quite the same way they know each other, and he may describe them differently in his notes than the way they’d describe each other in, say the local court minutes. Thomas Chambers often upriver is called Thomas Clabbort, because as a carpenter, he was the one who brought clapboard-style construction techniques to the colony. But he’s English, so Cregier might think of him as “the Irishman.” Cregier usually refers to Thomas Chambers by his full name, so more likely Thomas “the Irishman” is a different person, one of the sloop skippers from New Amsterdam. A possible candidate is Thomas Willet [see Wikipedia], born in Barley, Hertfordshire, between London and Cambridge, not Ireland. Willet was a skipper; he moved first to a trading post in what today is Maine, where he became familiar with North American languages; when the French forced the British out, he moved south to Plymouth, then to Rhode Island; he traded with the Dutch colony, helped iron out disputes, and after the British took over New Netherland, he was appointed the first mayor of newly renamed New York on 12 June 1665. The index of DRCHSNY XIII notes his appearance several times in Vols. XII and XIII; I have not yet had a chance to review these entries and compare them to the times when Cregier says “Thomas the Irishman” showed up at the Redoubt. Note that by 13 August [see below], Stuyvesant notes that “Mr. Willet’s yacht has been received to-day” at Manhattan, with news from upriver. Christoffel Davidts, who was at Fort Orange, is on Willet’s yacht, having skipped past Wildwyck despite his invitation to come there. Perhaps Willet’s yacht, after touching at the Redoubt on the 5th, had time to get to Fort Orange by, say, the 7th or 8th, then return to Wappingers Falls by the 12th and Manhattan by the 13th?) This is the ninth Sunday since the attack, and Cregier, despite being a great burden and nuisance to the town—restricting harvest activity with his rules, using valuable horses and wagons and workers, probably consuming a fair amount of food, and certainly creating strain through using a large share of the slim amount of lodging available in town to house his rough troops—has recovered no missing wives, no lost children, no kidnap victims or captives.

On Monday 6 August, following the new official protocol, Cregier in Wildwyck “Sent a party of 32 men to lie in ambush, and two detachments with the reapers.” Same pattern is followed through the following Saturday (11 August). On Friday 10 August some yachts “touched at the Redoubt” long enough to drop off letters from Manhattan before heading on toward Fort Orange (DHSNY IV, p. 59?).

By Thursday 9 August, Cregier’s 3 August letter to Stuyvesant has arrived in Manhattan, together with the portion of his journal he sent with Van Ruyven, and the Massepingh soldiers who insisted on returning to Manhattan with Lieutenant van Couwenhoven, plus the six volunteers from Long Island who are returning to their harvests. (The same ship probably carries a letter from De Deckere at Fort Orange; see Stuyvesant’s note to Cregier 14 August, p. 289.) Stuyvesant responds (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 287-288) with some clarifications about Esopus who are “hiding” in Highland and Catskil villages to avoid Dutch reprisals. Stuyvesant adds, perhaps more wishfully than based on evidence, that “We cannot imagine, that the Esopus will gather in any large numbers in your neighborhood, but believe, they will rather scatter in small parties and make . . . attacks upon the country people here.” For this reason, he asks again that Cregier release some soldiers from duty at Wildwyck so they can defend downriver settlements. He notes that the soldiers’ wives in particular would like to see them back at home, and he notes the difficulty of continuing to supply such a large detachment in the Esopus.

Also on 9 July, in Manhattan, Stuyvesant sends Lieutenant van Couwenhoven back north, with written instructions (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 288). Stuyvesant says the Esopus are hiding “among the Wappinghs and Highland savages”; the Wappinghs are generally south of Wildwyck, and the Catskills north; the Highlands are south of the Wappingh lands, around modern West Point. Cregier still holds Wappingh hostages at Wildwyck, including, apparently, a brother of the leader, even though there’s no real evidence that the Wappinghs were involved in the original atack on Wildwyck, nor that they have any hostile intentions. (More than once by now it has been noted, in reports at Manhattan, Wildwyck, and Fort Orange, that the primary complaint of the Esopus, leading directly to the attack, has been the Dutch presence on the “Groote Stuck,” which the Esopus felt had not been properly paid for. The Wappinghs, and any other local peoples, were not parties to this disagreement.) Stuyvesant sends Van Couwenhoven to inquire at the Wappingh village regarding the European prisoners, and regarding the Wappinghs’ intents, doing what he can to keep the peace, negotiating “in the best possible manner, without using threats of war.” Stuyvesant offers a ransom, or reward, of 100 guilders for each returned hostage. For the first time Stuyvesant also introduces the option of accepting an armistice proposal, if no other means of getting back the prisoners bears fruit. Cautiously Stuyvesant authorizes the release of the Wappingh prisoners from Wildwyck, acknowledging that “little will be accomplished . . . [unless they] are first exchanged.” Aware that the Wappingh hostages are his only tangible pawns, he says first the release of Wildwyck captives must be “agreed upon, promised and executed. This is judged absolutely necessary.”

For this entire week at Wildwyck, there is no sign at all in Cregier’s journal that he is doing anything to hunt for the missing captives or to pursue the people who had attacked the village. On Sunday the 12th, Cregier sends two convoys to make the 3-mile trek to the Redoubt on the riverfront, picking up the mail and “Mr. Gysbert’s wife,” who has returned from Fort Orange, where she was no doubt visiting her father (DHSNY IV, p. 60). Ten Sundays have gone by, and almost all the captives are still missing, with barely a trace of news to hint at where they are or what condition they are in, whether they are even still alive.

The weekend comes and the weekend goes in Wildwyck, and Cregier, who in earlier years in New Amsterdam had been a tavern keeper, realizes there was a rule he forgot to make when he issued his new regulations on August 4. He gets together the “valiant Council of War” and draws up a new Ordinance, for “the observance and enforcement of discipline among the Military,” and to maintain better order “as far as possible.” Characteristically, rather than issuing orders to the militia to comport themselves with more discipline, he blames the villagers for letting the soldiers get sloppy drunk, “not only on week days but especially on the Lord’s Rest and Sabbath day, unfitting them for their proper duties, & more especially creating confusion and disorderly conduct” (DHSNY IV, p. 60).

The new rules are detailed, and they mostly blame the tavern keepers who give these soldiers credit or take their property as pawns for later payment: 1) The militia members have been issued supplies that are supposed to be paid for with their monthly wages; no soldier, “be his rank whatever it may be,” is allowed to trade any of these supplies “for any strong drink.” 2) No one selling “strong drink” (is this meant to include beer?) is allowed to “take in pledge or endeavor to embezzle any property belonging to the military” as payment for the drink. (This actually repeats an existing ordinance from 27 November 1662; see DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 232.) 3) Nobody selling strong drink is allowed to do so “on the Lord’s Rest and Sabbath day much less entertain any clubs, whether before or after the sermon” (previous rules had restricted the hours on Sundays when taverns could operate; this closes them completely, a precursor to common “Blue Laws” that lasted into the 20th century). 4) Anyone selling liquor is warned not to sell “either on credit or on account . . . on pain of not being paid” (DHSNY IV, p. 61).

Nowhere is a rule made that soldiers must restrict their own alcohol intake and stop getting drunk and causing trouble for their hosts.

In Manhattan on Monday 13 August (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 289), Thomas Willet’s yacht arrives from upriver; it apparently came down from Fort Orange, carrying Christoffel (“Kit”) Davidts, who said he had been told to report to Manhattan first before returning to Wildwyck. So Willet’s yacht must have skipped Wildwyck, but it did stop at “the Wappinghs Kil” (no doubt present day Wappingers Falls), where it intersected with Lieutenant van Couwenhoven long enough for him to write a letter and send it down to Stuyvesant with a report of progress so far (the letter itself does not appear to be part of the surviving record). Stuyvesant sends back a note to Couwenhoven, a mite alarmed that “Capt. Willet’s son tells us, that the Wappingh savages are very bold and come on board 10 and 20 at a time.” Couwenhoven, who sells brandy to natives of many stripes, probably is less concerned at this than Stuyvesant, who warns him “not to trust them much.” Stuyvesant (who must be confident Couwenhoven will still be at Wappinger’s Falls by the time his note arrives) urges van Couwenhoven to hurry on up to Wildwyck; he also says that if the wind won’t push Van Couwenhoven upriver, he should at least weigh anchor and sail back and forth from one side of the river to the other, to “run less danger” from the “savages.”

On 14 August in Manhattan, Stuyvesant sends a note upriver to Cregier; he says he is sending it with Kits (Christoffel) Davidts, “to prevent mistakes”; Stuyvesant doesn’t think Davidts misread his letter from the Wildwyck council as much as intentionally came first to Manhattan; “according to my opinion you will not be much benefitted by his services” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 289).

Tuesday and Wednesday, August 14-15 (DHSNY IV, pp. 61-62), Cregier at Wildwyck sends out 50 reapers to the Nieuw Dorp, “called the Great Plot, and sent with them about thirty wagons and Ensign Neissen with a convoy of Eighty men; gave him orders to remain there all night with the reapers and the binders.” The New Village (today’s Hurley and the farms around it), burned completely in the June attack, had apparently been the sticking point that caused the conflict in the first place. We see it referred to sometimes as the Groote Stuck (i.e. the Big Piece, the Great Plot; see notes above), and it appears that both the Dutch and the Esopus realized that this was some of the choicest farmland in the area. At different points we see them promise it to Stuyvesant or others; Tjerck’s land from Johanna De Laet was probably part of this. Whatever the confusion was over ownership and use, when the Esopus saw settlers building homes there and starting to build a wall around their new village, the former farmers of the Groote Stuck feared losing it forever, which precipitated the attack. The farmers are probably aware of this, and although they do not wish to lose their crops, the Dutch must be very conscious that they are about to tread on the land that caused the argument in the first place, and they want to be ready for anything the Esopus might do to stop the harvest (especially knowing what the Dutch did to the fields of the Esopus a scant three weeks prior). They stay overnight “because it was so distant,” a few miles from the Wildwyck stockade. “Brought the grain to Wildwyck as soon as it was cut down” and made into sheaves. No attackers appeared.

In Manhattan on the 15th, Oratamy of the Hackensacks (as translator) and three leaders of the Minisinks meet with the Dutch at Fort Amsterdam (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 289-90) to confirm the peace, noting that the Dutch protect them from the Senecas; they would like a cannon, in fact, for defense against the Senecas (respectfully declined). The Minisinks say some of their farmers have planted “a long time ago” among the Esopus; he would like permission to receive those tribe members back into the fold, partly to build a bridge for negotiations over captive Europeans (respectfully granted). He says they have seen neither captives nor Esopus people, but “one of their young men” had brought a horse down from the Esopus (unclear whether he means the area or the people). The Dutch ask whether any Minisinks might be available as guides to help the Dutch find the Esopus and the missing villagers; the Minisinks say they want to try negotiating with the Esopus to get some captives back, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll help the Dutch more directly. The Minisinks receive four coats and pieces of cloth for their courtesy.

On the 16th and 17th, it’s back to harvesting the fields closer to Wildwyck; two parties of soldiers go into the fields each day with the reapers. A ship comes through from Fort Orange; Heer Decker is on it, just touching briefly before he continues on down to Manhattan. Cregier gives three English soldiers leave to sail with him “and return” (DHSNY IV, p. 62).

On the 18th, a Saturday, Cregier sends three detachments into the fields with the reapers; he also sends Ensign Niessen and 55 men to “some plantations of Esopus Indians planted with maize” about three (Dutch) miles from Wildwyck; they depart “about ten o’clock at night.”

The 19th is a Sunday, and with strong drink forbidden, Cregier himself heads down “with fifty men and sixteen wagons to the burnt Village to fetch grain; came back to Wildwyck about eight o’clock.” Summer evenings get dark late, and it’s cooler in the evening, no matter what you’re doing. The area can get quite humid and buggy. Cregier does not mention church services, but we might guess the morning is devoted to devotions (DHSNY IV, p. 62). Ensign Niessen comes back from “the Indian maize land. Neither saw nor noticed any Indians.”

Another week has gone by—eleven Sunday sermons now since Tjerck’s daughter was snatched away—with no apparent attempt to recover the captured settlers. Cregier doesn’t refer to them in any way during this entire week—he seems prepossessed with the harvest—but in the homes who are missing loved ones, no doubt the larger mission is remembered well.

Also on the 19th, Christoffel Davids arrives at Wildwyck from Manhattan in a canoe, bearing letters from Manhattan (including no doubt the one noted above from 14 August, from Stuyvesant, in which he calls Christoffel “Kits Davidts”) and from [Lieutenant] Pieter Couwenhoven, who is anchored in a sloop on the river (probably still at Wappingers Falls). The letters include rumors of activity among “the Esopus Indians together with the Manissings and Wappingers”; Couwenhoven says the Indians make a big ruckus on the banks every night. He has tried to coordinate with a “Sachem” to learn more about “the captured Christians.” Christoffel Davids himself says he “slept one night with the Indians in their wigwams—that some Esopus Indians and Sachems were there who had four Christian captives with them, one of whom, a female captive, had secretly told him, Davids, that forty Esopus Indians had already been near our fort to observe the reapers” (DHSNY IV, p. 63). One can imagine what must have gone through the mind of someone like Tjerck when he heard this story—a female captive? Do you know who it was? What kind of shape was she in? Did she send any other messages? It is worth noting that apparently communications between the natives and the settlers were good enough, across language differences, to exchange fairly detailed information. Kit Davidts seems comfortable with the local tribes and apparently can communicate well; Couwenhoven, who seems involved with trading liquor to locals against the Dutch rules, also seems to be able to speak with and understand North American languages.

The valiant Council of War asks the Schout to remind everyone not to go out into the fields without an escort.

Christoffel Davids, not to be a buzzkill, “also informed us” (DHSNY IV, p. 64) “that the Indians had on shore several bowls and gourds with brandy, which they obtained daily from the Sloops, as the Indians had informed him they could get as much as they required and whatever powder and lead they wanted.” Cregier says (possibly making the note after the fact) “that the woman who is on board the sloop with Lieutenant Couwenhoven brought four ankers of brandy with her from the Manhatans [about 40 U.S. gallons, or 160 liters], but none of it came ashore here.” (Fried, p. 86, explains that this is Aeltje Sybrants, wife of gunner Matthys Roelofsen, and the Indians she sells brandy to are Long Island allies of the Dutch. He adds that two of her sons were taken in the attack, returned on August 24. We can picture a bit of how this works: She has brandy, which she is using to help persuade the friendly Wappingers to help her get her sons back from their Esopus captors. Cregier and Stuyvesant may scowl at the methods, but Couwenhoven and Sybrants are doing what they can to win the trust of people who can help. A further note: When the record shows that something in Wildwyck happened “in the gunner’s house,” keep in mind that his wife sells liquor. The event might be described not so much “at his home” but more “at the gunner’s tavern.”)

On the 20th, a Monday, Lieutenant Couwenhoven, after tarrying a few days at Wappingers Falls to reconnoitre, perhaps trading brandy for intelligence, arrives with his sloop at the Redoubt, bringing “a Christian woman and boy with him; says he gave about Eighty guilders for the youth, and promised to give our captive Squaw for the woman. Left ninety guilders in pledge for her; the Council of War disapproved” (DHSNY IV, p. 64), but Couwenhoven says “the Indians promised him to bring in, within two days, all the prisoners they had,” so he wants to get down there to the meeting spot with the native woman quickly. He also notes that he saw “two Mohawks coming from fort Orange in a canoe” with “full four hundred pounds of lead and over three hundred pounds of powder in the canoe.” The Dutch woman (none of the kidnap victims have names in Cregier’s telling) “was brought to bed of a young daughter on entering the Esopus Kill”; she must have been about six months pregnant when she was captured in June. (This could be Femmetje, recently married to Joost Ariaens; other women captured from Wildwyck were “deaf” Hester Douwe and Grietje, Dommelaer’s wife. Eight women were kidnapped from the New Village too, and it could have been any of them; see DHSNY IV, pp. 43-44.)

Summer rains have begun (or continued), “and the farmers could not go out in the fields to reap or to bring in the grain.”

On the 21st, a Tuesday, Cregier lets Couwenhoven take “the two [Wappinger] Indians and the Squaw which we had prisoners, but he is not to leave them out of his hands before we have our prisoners back” (DHSNY IV, p. 64). Cregier gives Couwenhoven a long and detailed written instruction sheet with words to that effect. After being escorted down the trail to the Redoubt, Couwenhoven sets sail, and “A party was also in the field with the boors” (p. 66), by which O’Callaghan (the English translation is his) likely means the boers, or farmers.

On the 22nd, a Wednesday (DHSNY IV, p. 66), Cregier sends one party with the reapers and two to lie in ambush, “but it commenced raining about noon and they came in. The rain came down in such torrents that the boors [boers] were obliged to take up the Bridge lest it be carried away as it was three weeks ago. It is to be feared,” although the harvest has been in full swing for at least three weeks now, “that considerable grain will be destroyed in the field for want of reapers, in consequence of the great rain that has fallen, for a great deal of grain lies under water and the farmers on average have not harvested above one fourth part of it.”

The rain also “carried away several of the palisades of the fort.” On Thursday the 23rd (DHSNY IV, p. 66), Cregier issues orders to the villagers to repair the stockade, with a sense of urgency. The Court (which does not have any meeting notes from this time, though Tjerck and his fellow council members surely were around) answers that “it cannot be done at present, inasmuch as the grain in the field is almost ruined, and it is necessary to draw it home as soon as possible with the aid of all hands.” No doubt the “boors” have noticed, day after day after long hardworking day, how many soldiers are milling around watching for Indians while the relatively smaller number of farmers toil away under the hot beating sun. The note rejecting Cregier’s order is signed by the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, and the secretary appointed by Stuyvesant, Mattys Capito (whose wife was killed in the attack, and who lost all his clothes and possessions when his house was burned).

Meanwhile, the reapers keep working, with two detachments out in the field watching.

On Friday the 24th, the reaping continues, with two detachments visible and one in ambush. The reapers must wonder whether the soldiers shouldn’t be off in the forest somewhere looking for an Indian village. Cregier receives a note from Couwenhoven, who to the surprise of nobody has surrendered the native woman he promised to release; he sends home “an Indian, a Dutchman and two captive christian children belonging to the wife of the gunner who was on board the sloop with said Couwenhoven” (DHSNY IV, p. 67). (Fried, p. 86, says these are the two sons of Aeltje Sybrants and gunner Matthys Roelofson.) Slowly the captured settlers are starting to drizzle back into town. Couwenhoven asks for more supplies, particularly more gunpowder (“the cry among the Indians is all for powder and brandy”). The Dutch settlers have discussed paying as much as 100 guilders for each returned captive; surely Couwenhoven’s method is at least more frugal.

Cregier is unimpressed and on Saturday the 25th (DHSNY IV, pp. 67-68) sends back a note telling Couwenhoven that he’ll have to answer to Stuyvesant himself for acting against orders, but suggesting that recovering the rest of the kidnap victims would go a long way toward vindicating his strategy. Meanwhile, the reaping continues, with two detachments of soldiers “with the reapers in the field and one in ambush.” At no time during any of this do the reapers get attacked by Esopus soldiers.

Cregier also apparently sends a letter to Stuyvesant on the same southbound sloop, together with the latest continuation of his journal; see Stuyvesant’s note in reply, DRCHSNY XIII, p. 292 (Cregier’s letter does not appear in the record). He apparently asks for shoes (the local shoemaker and his wife, Tjerck’s sister Ida, were both killed in the June attack), and although the journal said (see 22 August) that “the grain is spoiling in the field through rain and the lack of mowers and that the farmers shall hardly be able to bring in one fourth part among themselves,” Cregier’s letter predicted “so good and bountiful harvest, as we have not had in three years.” The letter is sent south in the hands of Rev. Harmanus Blom, who will be taking some time off from the continuing travails at Wildwyck.

Couwenhoven, back at Wappingers Falls, apparently sends a note on the 25th to Stuyvesant; the note does not appear to have survived in the record, but Stuyvesant’s reply of Monday 27 August has (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 290-91; Stuyvesant adds in his note to Cregier at Wildwyck, p. 293, that he is enclosing to Cregier a copy of Couwenhoven’s letter). Stuyvesant expresses “regret” that “until now you have been able to accomplish only little or nothing, except to ransom three children and a woman”; Stuyvesant notes that releasing the Wappinger woman in exchange for the Dutch captives was not according to the instructions Couwenhoven had been given. Stuyvesant is “pleased to learn . . . that the chief of the Wappingers has . . . promised to release all prisoners within four days” (i.e. by the end of the month); Stuyvesant hopes it comes out that way but cautions Couwenhoven in case it does not. Stuyvesant does not want Couwenhoven to “be the first to show signs of hostility,” but he says that if the Wappingers don’t drive away the Esopus who are among them, and if they don’t “turn over such of our prisoners as are among them or in their country,” that would count as a hostile sign. He recommends that Couwenhoven threaten that if the Dutch come looking for the Esopus among them, some Wappingers are likely to be killed. (Couwenhoven, and probably Davidts, seem able enough to distinguish Wappinger from Esopus, as maybe some Wappingers might be able to tell the difference between an Englishman and a Dutchman and a Frenchman and a Frisian, but not every European will have this level of discernment.) Stuyvesant notes that “according to your letter,” the Esopus and Wappingers “still keep together,” and the prisoners from Wildwyck are “mostly hidden among the Wappinghs with the Esopus savages.” He recommends that Couwenhoven, with his small force, not try to attack the Wappinghs and Esopus, “for the first blow must be . . . a sure one, else it would do more harm to us and especially to our poor prisoners.” Stuyvesant says he is sending “the requested brandy and powder,” and he closes his note with encouraging words.

The 26th is a Sunday, the twelfth since the attack, and Cregier records that in addition to escorting a party with “supplies and some soldiers’ wives” coming up from Manhattan, he had a party out in ambush at “the newly burnt village”; he does not mention any harvesting. Rev. Blom is out of town, on his way south to Manhattan. Who leads Sunday services?

Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday August 27-28-29, Cregier again does not much except to have his soldiers protect the reapers in the fields. Since the expedition at the end of July, this is all the soldiers have done. They are being housed and presumably fed by the town, and they stand out in the fields while the farmers do their work, but they aren’t doing much in the way of recovering the missing family members of the villagers (DHSNY IV, p. 68). Discipline is starting to fray among the soldiers.

In Fort Orange, on the 27th, La Montagne and Van Rensselaer send Stuyvesant a short note (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 291-292, in answer to his letter of 9 August) to let him know that local tribes (“Our neighbors are the Maquaes, Sinnekus, Mahicanders and Katskil”) have all confirmed peace, and in the back country some Catskill have even helped Eldert de Gojer with his harvest; local farmers have been warned that there could be an uprising, but no Esopus have been spotted in the vicinity.

Stuyvesant on the 27th in New Amsterdam sends a note back to Cregier in Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 292-293), giving him permission to try a military action against the Esopus if he thinks it will work; Stuyvesant says “I have ordered the skipper” of the sloop carrying the letter to Wildwyck (an attached note suggests two skippers, Tomos Lodewjck and Claes Loek?) to wait for Cregier’s orders before returning, since Cregier might need a sloop to help with an attack. Stuyvesant leaves any military action to Cregier’s discretion, but more emphatically, “you and the Council of War are hereby expressly commanded and charged to send immediately after having made the attempt 60 soldiers under Lieutenant Couwenhoven, to be stationed here in the villages of New-Haerlem, Bergen, and elsewhere.” In this letter, Stuyvesant also expresses concern over the progress of the harvest, which is critical for winter food supplies for the whole colony. He says, “you give us [in Cregier’s 24 August letter] hope of a good and bountiful harvest, as we have not had in three years, but you say in your diary of the 22nd . . . that the grain is spoiling in the field through rain and the lack of mowers and that the farmers shall hardly be able to bring in one fourth part among themselves; this seems to be a contradiction.” The yacht that will carry the letter north, it turns out, does not sail until the 29th “on account of contrary winds” (the storm system that brings rain in Wiltwyck probably also hits Manhattan); Stuyvesant is uneasy that “we have as yet heard nothing from Lieutenant Kouwenhoven.” He suspects the prisoners were not brought forth and Couwenhoven took some rash action and got into trouble. He reiterates that further action is up to Cregier’s decision, but encourages “every effort to obtain our prisoners from the Wappinghs by consciencious [sic] means and in friendship,” suggesting that “it would be better at present not to attempt anything against them,” unless Cregier feels that by surprise he can gain the upper hand. Then he repeats that the important thing is to send “50 or 60” soldiers south again, ASAP.

On Thursday the 30th, Lieutenant Couwenhoven arrives back at the Redoubt with the company’s yacht. He has not recovered any more captives, but he does bring news that the Esopus are building a new fort. Cregier “Convened the Council of War and they resolved and concluded to attack with one hundred and twenty men the Esopus Indians who reside in their new fort about four hours farther than their first fort which we had burnt” (DHSNY IV, p. 69; this has to be before Stuyvesant’s 29 August letter has arrived, but it mostly matches what Stuyvesant indicated). Cregier doesn’t repeat the part about how long it took to get to the old fort the first time, and how they never did get the cannons there, and how by the time the war party got there, all the inhabitants had left long ago, warned well in advance of the Europeans blundering and stumbling through the forest with all their impedimenta. Cregier issues rations to the soldiers who will go, “but as it began to rain in the afternoon we did not set out to day.”

Cregier sends a note to the Wildwyck Schout and town council requesting that they furnish 20 horsemen to go with the expedition. The town council answers, after consulting with the farmers, “that they were well disposed to do their best for the public interest, but find at present that the horses fatigued from the harvest, are unfit to be rode by men.” The council requests that the mission be put off “for six or seven days until the harvest be completed as the grain yet in the field is already injured” (DHSNY IV, pp. 69-70).

This is an elegantly worded response, but the conversation between the council and the villagers appears to have been less delicately couched. On September 23 (see below), the Schout brings Allert Heymans Roose into court on a few complaints, one of which is that he would not chip in a horse for the expedition. When the case is continued on November 6, it comes out that Allert and Tjerck (who is on the council) had been standing by the village gate, watching the troops and equipment coming and going, when Allert asked Tjerck how many horses would go along with the expedition. Tjerck said 16, and Allert said there weren’t enough farmers to provide that many unless those with double farms (i.e. Tjerck) provided two each. (Note that Roose has a double lot inside the stockade; see Kingston Papers, pp. 118-119.) Then they fell into an argument over who has done more, or less, to help the rescuers. Tjerck and Allert both had children kidnapped in the June attack, and this expedition is being formed in an attempt to rescue them. That does not seem to be enough to inspire either of them to try to outdo the other in helping the expedition get outfitted properly (see Kingston Papers, pp. 92, 102).

La Montagne and Rensselaer’s 27 August reassurance notwithstanding (and likely not yet arrived), in Manhattan on 30 August (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 294) the rumors are flying that “8 tribes of savages had united to kill all the Dutch on the North River, Fort Orange included.” (This is from Sara Kiersted, wife of Hans Kiersted, one of three doctors in Manhattan mentioned in Stuyvesant’s latest note to Cregier. Sara and another woman in town, say they got the news from a “savage.”) Possibly in response, the council polls Oratam, chief of the Hackensacks, about whether he has heard from the Minisinks since they met with the Dutch on the 15th (see above). He says a Minisink chief headed for the Esopus “about 8 days ago to see, whether he could not ransom some prisoners” and says he’ll share any news when the chief gets back. He mentions (as Couwenhoven reported in Wildwyck, and probably also in a note to Stuyvesant) that the Esopus are making a new fort and planting more corn a few hours from where their old village was destroyed by the Dutch.

On the 31st, a Friday, “It rained somewhat all this day, therefore the expedition must rest for the present.” Cregier asks the town council and Schout, in person, “whether they could not get some horses to accompany us in the attack so that we may be able to place the wounded on them if we happen to have any. After great trouble they obtained six horses from a few, but spiteful and insulting words from many. One said, Let those furnish horses who commenced the war. Another said, I’ll give ’em the Devil—if they want any thing they will have to take it by force. The third said, I must first have my horse valued and have security for it; and so forth with much other foul and unbecoming language, not to be repeated” (DHSNY IV, p. 70).

The townsfolk of Wildwyck have been putting up with Cregier and his soldiers since July 4, and from the sound of it they are not growing more impressed with his command. So far, he has sent out a single expedition and planned another, but he and his men together have not rescued a single hostage. A few have been returned to the village, but not visibly by Cregier and his efforts. What he has done is restrict the villagers from going out freely to harvest their grain, more of which is being ruined every time it rains. Cregier, who is telling the story, may not be expected to highlight his own weaknesses, but we can see in the reactions of the villagers what they think of his whole enterprise.

September

The wet weather continued to hang over the farmland as the harvest proceeded; on 1 September, a Saturday, two yachts from Manhattan arrived, stalling departure of the next rescue expedition another day. An escort party had to be sent to the Redoubt, and another was out in the field with the reapers. Plans were made to set out at first light Sunday, but it rained all night, so the party did not leave (DHSNY IV, p. 70).

Sunday the 2nd (DHSNY IV, p. 70) heavy rain pushed back the expedition’s departure yet another day. We might guess that at the Sunday services, Domine Blom would regularly offer up prayers for the restoration of the missing family members of the townspeople; this is the thirteenth week since they were taken, but Domine Blom has left for a spell. The grass will be starting to grow now on the graves of those who were killed, and the harvest is going forward without the missing. In Tjerck’s house, the laughter of his daughter is gone, and the chatter of both his sisters is missing; Emmerentje has moved downriver to the relative safety of Manhattan, living with Barbara’s brother or sister, possibly shuttling between their houses. The new baby, Jannetje, is just over a year and a half old now, no doubt walking and learning to talk. Barbara must be as worried every day as Tjerck is about the whereabouts of their missing little girl, whether she is even still alive.

On Monday the 3rd—what would be Labor Day in the same place today—Cregier at last heads off, “about one o’clock in the afternoon,” with 22 men in his company, 24 in Lieutenant Stilwil’s company, seven freemen and “two of the Hon[ora]ble Company’s Negroes.” They also take Christoffel (“Kit”) Davids to translate, and a Wappinger as a guide (DHSNY IV, pp. 70-71). “We got eight horses with very great difficulty from the farmers, as they were so very unwilling and could not be brought to give us any.” Thomas Chambers evidently took pity on the party and “without any solicitation, presented me with two. . . . Several of the others, who would not give any, used much offensive language to the [Schout] and to the company’s officers.” The party gets three [Dutch] miles to the bank of the Rondout Creek, camped, and had “great rain” overnight.

Tuesday the 4th is not much better; with all the rain, the water and current in the creek make it impossible to ford. Cregier “sent six men immediately on horseback” back to Wildwyck to “fetch rope and axes to make a raft or some other convenience to cross the creek; they returned to us about ten o’clock,” with three axes and some rope. By 2 p.m. the party had crossed the river, and with “considerable rain” still falling, they marched about another four (Dutch) miles, no doubt soaked to the skin, in wet boots and with wet gear, if not from the river crossing then from the rain. They camp.

On Wednesday, September 5, two days short of three full months since the attack on Wildwyck, Cregier at last makes major progress. This is the first Wednesday of the month, a day designated by Stuyvesant on 26 June for prayer and fasting, with no work to be done, but Cregier and team do not dally. They set out at daybreak and march till noon, when they come upon the outskirts of the fields surrounding the location where the Esopus village is building a new fort. “We discovered two Squaws and a Dutch woman; who had come that morning from their new fort to get corn,” he explains (DHSNY IV, p. 71), but the expedition can’t cross the stream to where the women are “without being seen and then discovered.” Skirting the fields, they progress another two hours through the woods and arrive “within sight of their fort, which we discovered situate on a lofty plain.” (See Fried for more discussion of the likely locations of the old and new forts.)

Cregier’s plan was to sneak up and get right under the fort, but he gave half the company to Ensign Niessen to lead—the same guy who, on the day of the attack in June, had been headed toward Wildwyck, saw the town under attack, and heroically led his soldiers back to the riverbank to preserve their capability to defend the village, and was then promoted for his bravery—and sure enough, Niessen somehow manages to get his half of the force spotted by “a Squaw, who was piling wood there and who sent forth a terrible scream” (DHSNY IV, p. 71).

Caught by surprise, the Indians lose the skirmish, though blows are landed on both sides. By Cregier’s count, in addition to “their Chief, named Papequanaehen,” the Esopus village loses 14 “warriors,” four women and three children, “but probably many more were wounded.” The Dutch side counts three killed and six wounded, but for the Dutch the most important part of the day is probably the recovery of 23 captives. The Dutch also capture 13 of the Esopus villagers, including “an old man who accompanied us about half an hour but would not go farther. We took him aside and gave him his last meal” (DHSNY IV, p. 72). One of the Esopus children dies along the way, leaving the Dutch with 11 captives.

Cregier complains that there aren’t enough horses (!) to carry the wounded, so one of his casualties has to be carried on a litter by two able men. (Not so long ago he said he had eight horses total; he has six wounded—is he riding one of the other horses? Are they being used for supplies? Worth noting along the way: We don’t know exactly what Tjerck does for a living, but we do know that when he lived in the Beverwijck area, he was employed at least sometimes hauling logs out of the forest, for which he probably used horses. More than once we have records of him leasing or buying or trading horses and other livestock; any good farmer would have been glad to have a team in the fields with him. Since the 1600s, the horses of East Frisia and Oldenburg were bred carefully, and East Frisian horses are still in demand today. Among his other farming activities, did Tjerck breed horses?) So he convenes the Council of War, which determines that the risk of having more men wounded if they tarry to cut down the Esopus maize is too great, since they already can’t carry as many wounded as they have. Instead the soldiers plunder the village, finding “considerable booty, such as bear skins, deer skins, notassen, blankets, elk hides,” and plenty else they had to leave behind (DHSNY IV, p. 72). “We destroyed as much as we could; broke the kettles into pieces; got also twenty four or five guns, more than the half of which we smashed and threw the barrels here and there in the stream, hacking and breaking in pieces as many as we could.” They find about twenty pounds of gunpowder, belts of wampum, and set off, laden with their spoils.

None of this would be considered ethical today, under the Geneva Conventions, except maybe the destruction of the weapons. Probably at the time the Dutch would have treated a captured village of European enemies in much the same way. But it is hard not to compare Cregier’s treatment of the Esopus village with the way the Mansfelder troops had treated many an East Frisian hamlet 45 years before, and to assume the cultural impact on the Esopus would have been similar. The Mansfelders’ names were cursed in Ostfriesland for decades after their brutal occupation. One might not expect the Esopus to feel much differently. “A portion of them is entirely annihilated,” Cregier writes (DHSNY IV, p. 73). “Wherefore praise and thanks be given to God Almighty.”

Cregier’s journal appears to have been written in fits and starts, not kept on a daily basis. So some entries foreshadow what happens a few days hence. In his entry for September 5, he notes that an Esopus child dies in Dutch hands; on the 6th (DHSNY IV, p. 74) he describes it in greater detail as the Dutch force makes its way back to Wildwyck. Just beyond the creek that runs by the Redoubt (today called the Rondout, different from the Esopus Creek, but he calls it the Esopus Kill), “died the Indian child, which we threw into the creek.” Fried alludes to this, with a raised eyebrow, as in keeping with Cregier’s “characteristic sensitivity.”

On Friday the 7th, the war party arrives back at Wildwyck, about noon. Peculiarly, Cregier makes no mention of any welcome or huzzahs; one gets the feeling that he leaves out whole stretches of events that he feels would be awkward, for whatever reason, to retell. It is hard to imagine that on the return of so many villagers, the farmers did not drop their tools and raise a day of feasting and solemn prayer. Whatever the quiet or raucous celebration was, Cregier does not paint the scene (DHSNY IV, p. 74).

I don’t think there’s any specific list of which villagers were returned to their families as a result of this mission. Did Tjerck’s daughter come back? It is hard to tell. He does not seem to have recovered completely by later in the year; perhaps his daughter is still among the missing?

Saturday the 8th, for Cregier, is as bland as many days that came before (DHSNY IV, p. 74): “An escort attended the reapers in the field; returned in the evening without having seen any thing. Christoffels Davids departed.”

On Sunday the 9th, having recovered the majority of the captives (but not all: as late as late March 1664, at least three are still missing), Cregier releases two officers, seven wounded “and some sick,” and 29 other soldiers to return to New Amsterdam (DHSNY IV, p. 74); he sends with them a letter (now lost, but see DRCHSNY XIII, p. 294, where the colony council refers to it in their response to him on 13 September) describing the latest expedition. He has destroyed two Esopus villages now, and a lot of their winter food; he must feel it is safe to let some soldiers return to Fort Amsterdam. (Trouble is also brewing with the English villages on Long Island, and Stuyvesant is itching to get his militia back to enforce his rule out there.) Domine Blom is still in New Amsterdam, on a short leave. (Stuyvesant, when on the 24th he shares the news of the raid with his collague in Curaçao, p. 297, says 27 Esopus were “dead on the field, besides the men, who were wounded or shot while swimming across the Kil or little river and whom the current took away, 22 captured christians were retaken and 19 savages fell alive into our hands.”)

By Monday the 10th, in New Amsterdam, news is starting to trickle in of Cregier’s successful raid on the new Esopus village. A Hackensack named (by the Dutch) Pieter comes to the fort and reports thirdhand that the Dutch “had made an expedition against the Esopus four days ago, that 30 Esopus had been killed together with some women and children and that our men had also taken from there our prisoners, who were with them.” The council promises the Hackensack a new coat if the news is true (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 294). The colony council also mentions a visit from Oratam, the Hackensack chief (unless “Pieter” is another name for him), in a note to Cregier on 13 September (p. 295).

Stuyvesant, in a note he sends from Boston to Curaçao on the 24th (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 297), indicates that the 10th is when he leaves New Amsterdam for New England. As he is “on the point of leaving,” he is handed a letter by “Capt. Willett” (p. 296; is Captain Thomas Willett the same person as “Thomas the Irishman”?); the letter was sent on 6 July by Colonel Temple (Fernow identifies him as “Sir Thomas Temple, Proprietary and Governor of Nova Scotia”) to Willett, but Willett thought it should be shared. (I don’t find a copy of the letter itself anywhere.) Apparently the letter discusses relations between the British and “the Northern savages”; the colony council forwards it to “the authorities at Fort Orange” on the 21st, explaining that “we have had no prior chance, until now, as since [the 10th] no yachts have left.” (We see, in various notes described below, that the council sends a note to Cregier in Wildwyck on the 13th, in a boat that arrives on the 15th; on the 17th Matt Seeu’s yacht leaves Wildwyck for Manhattan, and on the same day “Thomas the Irishman” arrives in Wildwyck, suggesting another ship moored at the Redoubt. The Irishman departed Wildwyck for Manhattan on the 19th, arriving by the 21st; on the 20th, the colony council sends a shipful of “meat, hard bread, socks, shoes, etc.” to Wildwyck on “the yacht of the Spaniard,” and then, on the 21st, they finally forward the letter from Colonel Temple, which will travel through Wildwyck en route to Fort Orange, apparently carried by Gerrit Visbeeck, p. 297. I suppose this means that all the other ship traffic described was strictly between Wildwyck and Manhattan, not adding the extra leg to make a further stop at Fort Orange.) Stuyvesant apparently saw the note before he left for Boston, and probably left instructions on how to handle it. See 21 September notes below for further discussion.

Monday the 10th in Wildwyck is back to reaping, until it starts raining hard around 3 in the afternoon and the farmers and their escorts return to the village (DHSNY IV, p. 74); the rain continues “the entire day” Tuesday. Wednesday two boats arrived from Fort Orange; we learn one of the crops in the fields is hemp, which the reapers are “pulling” under the watchful eye of Cregier’s troops. Thursday “it rained all day”; Friday too.

In New Amsterdam on Thursday 13 September, the colony council sends a note to Cregier; Stuyvesant, they say, was just leaving for Boston (10 September) when they got Cregier’s 9 September letter describing the successful expedition to recover captives from the new Esopus village and discussed it with him. The council says they will try to raise volunteers again from the English villages on Long Island, and they tell Cregier not to send down Couwenhoven yet with 20 more soldiers; they are needed in the Esopus right now for mop-up work, destroying fields and food, and tearing down the walls of the new Esopus village, “which we understand must necessarily be done sooner or later” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 295). The council sends up bacon, saying that meat will follow, also socks and shoes (these apparently are sent on the 20th).

Saturday 15 September “it was again rainy weather” in Wildwyck (DHSNY IV, p. 76), but a boat arrives from Manhattan with the letters from “the Heeren Councillors, dated 13th September.” This is fast work getting upriver, just two days from Manhattan. Cregier notes that the “Council of War” has enacted an ordinance, by which we can assume they have met. The contents of the new ordinance suggest that as the rains drag on, discipline among the troops is still wanting: “it is found by daily experience that several of the military . . . without permission . . . leave their posts . . . either to work with the farmers or on some other pretence.” Therefore, 1) No one may leave his post without permission; 2) No one may steal anyone else’s gun, powder, or lead; 3) No one may “begin any quarrel on guard, much less come drunk or to drink there”; 4) Everyone should “hold himself in readiness with his gun, duly provided with powder and ball”; 5) No one shall switch positions without taking his “proper hand and side arms.”

Sunday the 16th in Wildwyck, “Nothing occurred and no detachment was sent out” (DHSNY IV, p. 76); this is the fifteenth Sunday since the Esopus attack. Domine Blom is still in New Amsterdam; on Tuesday he sends his oft-quoted letter to the Classis in Amsterdam describing the June attack and its aftermath.

Monday the 17th (DHSNY IV, p. 76), Maet Seeu leaves Wildwyck with his boat, headed back to Manhattan, carrying “two sick, Peter Andriessen and Jan Coppenou, and two horses for Monsieur Verlet” plus empty barrels; Cregier gives him a 32-man escort from Wildwyck to the Redoubt. It is not clear whether Peter Andriessen is any relation to Barbara Andriessen; in Amsterdam we can find baptism records for a Peter (10 September 1637, Oude Kerk) and a Barbara (8 September 1641, Nieuwe Kerk) Andriessen, apparently brother and sister; their parents are Jannetje Jans and Andries Lucassen. If those are the same two noted here, Barbara Andriessen would have been 14 years old when she married Tjerck in 1656, which one would expect would raise eyebrows and require special permission, though it would technically be legal. Andries is a common name, and Andriessen is not an unusual patronymic; if the Pieter Andriessen here is the one from the Oude Kerk in 1637, he is 26 years old by now.

In what may be seen as a further sign of eroding discipline, “a small straw cabin in which a soldier resided” at the Redoubt was burned, “but nothing can be ascertained as to how the fire originated. Meanwhile the Soldier lost all his property.” When Cregier says “Nothing else occurred this day,” we can probably understand that no reapers or soldiers went into the fields (DHSNY IV, p. 76).

On the next day, Tuesday the 18th, “Two detachments were out . . . with the reapers in the field and at the Great Plot, and 20 men in ambush” (DHSNY IV, pp. 76-77); we see Cregier distinguishing the “field” from the “Great Plot” (Groote Stuck).

Also on 18 September 1663, in New Amsterdam, Domine Blom, who as Wildwyck’s minister had been there in June and witnessed the attack, wrote his letter to the Classis in Amsterdam including the vivid description of the attack’s aftermath cited above, adding that “The Indians have slain in all twenty four souls . . . and taken forty five prisoners, of whom thirteen are still in their power.” He says “twenty two of our people in captivity have been delivered out of their hands,” but that still leaves 10 he is not counting (ERSNY, p. 535, citing DHSNY III, 582-583; correct citation is pp. 962-963).

On the 18th of September, a Tuesday, we find a regular Wildwyck town council meeting is held for the first time since 24 July; this may be a sign that the town is slowly returning to the rhythms of life that had seemed ordinary before the Esopus attack. (Cregier noted that “Thomas the Irishman” arrived on the 17th; if by this he means Thomas Chambers, that may be connected to the return to the regular town council meeting schedule. He leaves again on the 19th. Probably “Thomas the Irishman” is a completely different person. Also, this may not be the first meeting since 24 July; it may be just the first meeting for which we have a written record. There are hints that Cregier’s War Council met jointly with the Wildwyck town council, and the minutes from those meetings may have been lost.) Many items of business are on the agenda; a lot has been going on since the court’s last meeting. Cregier has a few items to take up, for starters (DHSNY IV, p. 76): Stuyvesant and the colony council have sent a note promising to send “additional soldiers and a party of Marseping Savages [O’Callaghan says these are Marsepeagues from Fort Neck in Queens County], to seek out and subdue as much as possible the Esopus Indians, our enemy” (this is probably the 13 September letter found in DRCHSNY XIII, p. 295), so Cregier asks the Wildwyck council whether they can “allot two or three houses in this village to lodge, provisionally, the aforesaid force whenever it shall arrive.” The council confers and responds that they “have induced Pieter Jacobsen to give his mill for 40 to 50 Soldiers, and the [Wildwyck] Court will do its best to find out quarters for the Savages.” Curiously, this interaction is not found in the minutes of the town council meeting, though clearly that was the context in which it took place.

(Another mill owner in town is Matthew Blanchan, father-in-law of Louis Du Bois; Matthew does not get along well with Tjerck: see Fried, Early History of Kingston, pp. 125-126, for a longstanding court entanglement, running at least from 1664-1668, which may at least partly explain why the DeWitt family ultimately ends up running its own mill on the Green Kill south of Hurley, where the roads and a lake still bear their name today. Louis Du Bois has a wife and three children captured in the Esopus raid; Matthew Blanchan had two children taken; see DHSNY IV, p. 44.)

At the 18 September Wildwyck court session (Kingston Papers, p. 73), a complaint is filed against Matthys Roelofsen for selling brandy to “the savages” (for whom Wildwyck is named: Wilden = savages) on 5 June 1663, two days before the attack on the village. (Matthys is the gunner married to Aeltje Sybrants, also accused of selling liquor to the Indians; see complaint against her below. Note that this couple had two children kidnapped in the attack; it appears that Aeltje, in company with Lieutenant Couwenhoven, who also has been known to sell brandy to local tribes, probably bargained directly with the Wappingers the month before for the release of her children; the brandy no doubt was a potent tool in her chest of negotiating tools.) Hester Douwesen (“Deaf Hester,” who was taken prisoner in the Esopus attack, together with her daughter; her husband, Barent Gerretsen, was killed, and both their houses were burned) says Hey Olfertsen, deceased, owed her seven schepels of wheat. (This devolves from the long series of quarrels between Barent and Hester on the one side and Hey, a carpenter they had hired to build a house; see “For Want of a Nail” above.) The court says it will administer the estates of those killed in the attacks, and then settle this with her and other creditors (KP, p. 73). The court (KP, p. 74) appoints Tjerck Classen de Wit and Albert Gysbertsen (both of them council members on the court) to administer the estates of those who died without heirs: Willem Jansen Seba, servant; Henderick Jansen Looman, brewer’s helper; Dirrick Willemsen, “inhabitant.”

At this 18 September session, the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, files complaints against more than twenty villagers for going into the fields to harvest without permission or proper escort, violating the ordinance issued 4 August (Kingston Papers, pp. 72-73). Jacob Joosten, the court messenger, among those named for violating the rule, asks “whether he is not permitted to support his family.” Most of the other defendants are not present; they are listed as “defaults,” the general term for someone who does not appear to contest a case. (A few defaults are generally allowed before the court gets testy and threatens to pass judgment notwithstanding; sometimes someone is avoiding the court, but it’s not uncommon for a person to be out of town on other legitimate business on a day when the court meets.) Considering the number of days on which Cregier notes that his soldiers have been out in the fields to escort reapers, it appears that he is devoting resources to the task, but considering the number of villagers accused of going out without escorts, it appears that his resources are not enough to allow everyone to harvest at once when they want to. They must be moving from field to field, not protecting all fields every day.

The members of the town council present at this session, along with Swartwout, the Schout: Tjerck, Thomas Chambers, Albert Gysbertsen, Gysbert van Imbroch. (Thomas Chambers had a slave killed in the Esopus attack; Tjerck had a daughter kidnapped and his sister’s family killed and burned; Gysbert van Imbroch’s wife had been captured; the court secretary Matthys Capito’s wife had been killed, his house burned. Of the members of the Wildwyck council, only the Schout and Albert Gysbertsen appear to have escaped direct loss.)

Immediately following the minutes from the 18 September council session, we find entered the inventory of one of the villagers who had died heirless in the June attack: Hendrick Looman. The inventory is taken at the house of Juriaen Westphael (where Looman’s property evidently resides; he was a brewer’s helper, and we have seen before that “house” can mean a drinking house rather than just a home), “in the presence of the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, and two Commissaries, Albert Gysbertsen and Tjerck Classen De Witt, and along with the expected clothes and sundries, and some brewing kettles, includes (for example) a gelding (Kingston Papers, pp. 74-75).

The 18th was a Tuesday, and evidently busy for Tjerck, with a town council meeting and an estate inventory afterward; on the 19th, “Thomas the Irishman” sailed back to Manhattan. Cregier’s journal notes “Two detachments were out in the field with the reapers,” so the rain must have let up, and the harvest continued (DHSNY IV, p. 77).

On the 20th, a Thursday, “Two detachments were out at the Great Plot [Groote Stuck] by Tjerck’s to cut oats and to plough (DHSNY IV, p. 77). It’s not clear whether the oats were Tjerck’s, or whether the field was next to Tjerck’s; it’s interesting that Cregier seems to say the detachments were cutting and ploughing, though it seems more likely they were escorting the farmers. On Friday the 21st it sounds as if the same project is under way, with two detachments out, “one with the ploughers, the other with those drawing home the oats.”

In Manhattan on the 20th (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 295-296), the colony council is negotiating with “the chief of the Marsepinghs” (who is not named) regarding the conditions under which he will lead his soldiers north to fight side by side with the Dutch; he says he has 44 men. He requires “a piece of duffel each and he himself a coat besides”; he insists that the Marsepinghs be allowed to keep any booty rather than having to surrender it to the Dutch; their “request was granted this time . . . because they showed a disinclination to go, if it was not conceded.” Everyone agrees the tour of duty will not last longer than a month. Stuyvesant is still in Boston; on the 24th he sends from there a note to the Vice-Director at Curaçao (p. 297).

On the 20th, by “the yacht of the Spaniard,” the colony council in New Amsterdam sends north “meat, hard bread, socks, shoes etc.” to Cregier in Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 296).

“Thomas the Irishman” arrives in Manhattan from Wildwyck, carrying a letter to Stuyvesant from Cregier, presumably dated the 19th; the colony council replies on the 21st (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 296; Fernow says this note is from “Director Stuyvesant,”, but see note below). They explain that they sent provisions “yesterday by the yacht of the Spaniard,” and they are sending 40 Marsepinghs north today with Couwenhoven as reinforcements for Cregier’s expeditions. (The ship that carries Couwenhoven and troops will make its way to Fort Orange as well, carrying the note from Nova Scotia described below, which is handed to the Fort Orange authorities by Gerrit Visbeeck—captain of the ship?) The council instructs Cregier to destroy the Esopus “castle” and their food stores. They mention “two negroes” who are evidently still with Cregier; these will be slaves that belong to the WIC. (Fernow, as translator and editor, says this note is from “Director Stuyvesant,” but Stuyvesant’s movements make this problematic: In his 24 September letter to Curaçao, p. 297, he says he left New Amsterdam “14 days ago to-day,” so on the 10th. On the 13th, p. 295, the council says he was “on the eve of leaving for Boston” when Cregier’s 9 September letter arrived; the council handles correspondence in his absence on the 13th and 21st, pp. 296-297. On the 24th he sends a note to Curaçao from “Boston in New England,” p. 297, so he is still there. Could his note of the 21st have been sent from Boston also? How would Cregier’s letter have gone there? No location is specified, and the note is unsigned; it is written as “we,” not Stuyvesant’s frequent “I.” Fernow presumably saw the original when he translated it; Stuyvesant’s handwriting is distinctive and would likely identify the author clearly even without a signature, now or to his 1600s recipients. Without seeing the handwriting, for now I will guess that this note is from the colony council at New Amsterdam, not from the absent Stuyvesant.)

On the 21st, the New Netherland colony council at New Amsterdam (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 296-297) finally forwards to Fort Orange the note that Stuyvesant got from Captain Willett as Stuyvesant was on the verge of leaving for Boston on the 10th. Though several ships have sailed back and forth between New Amsterdam and Wildwyck in the meantime, the council explains that “we have had no prior chance” to pass this note on to Fort Orange, “as since [the 10th] no yachts have left.” The note is at last passed to the authorities at Fort Orange by Gerrit Visbeeck (p. 297). In the note, “written by Colonel Temple [Governor of Nova Scotia] to Capt. Willett under date of the 6th of July,” Temple complains about the Mohawks (a.k.a. Maquaes; the French call them Iroquois) “making war on the Indians in his government,” i.e. in the geographic area where he is in charge. (This is a continuation of an ongoing situation; for example see the letter from WIC Directors in Amsterdam to Stuyvesant on 26 March, pp. 239-240. For more on Temple and Nova Scotia/Acadia, see Wikipedia articles on each; in February 1662 Temple, having traveled to London to answer French claims, was granted Acadia and Nova Scotia and made governor there for life. His headquarters were near today’s Castine in Maine; he also visited Massachusetts. All of this seems pretty far north and east of what might be considered the Dutch sphere of influence around today’s Albany.) Willett passed the note to Stuyvesant; Stuyvesant, leaving for Boston, gave it to the council to handle; the council passes it to Fort Orange, requesting that they “inform the Maquaes at the first opportunity of the complaints of our English neighbors” and try to establish “a permanent peace . . . between them and the Northern savages.” Should the Maquaes refuse peace, they should be warned that they “willl be shortly attacked by the English neighbors and the savages” under Temple’s governance. The council in Manhattan offers to help, particularly in conveying messages by ship. The Fort Orange and Rensselaerswyck authorities, when they receive the correspondence, on the 26th and 27th take this up with the Maquaes, who have further complaints and comments, and then report back with a note to New Amsterdam (pp. 297-299). At the meeting with the Maquaes leaders, apparently Tjerck’s brother-in-law Jan Tomassen (a town council member there) is one of the translators (p. 298).

On the 22nd, a Saturday, Cregier has a detachment out with the ploughmen again, but “about midnight” he also sends a party out to head to a spot “along the Kill” (the Rondout?), about two hours’ march south of Wildwyck, to where some maize had been growing. Cregier apparently wants to deprive the Esopus of any food. The soldiers “found only a small patch of maize, as it had all been plucked by some straggling Indians or bears. Our people took away the remainder, but ’twas of little value. The Indian prisoners [told him] that a small spot of corn had been planted there principally to supply food to stragglers who went to and fro to injure the Christians” (DHSNY IV, p. 77).

Sunday the 23rd, Cregier sends out another midnight expedition to destroy corn planted in small patches by the Esopus, this time apparently up by the Sawkill and Saugerties. Meanwhile, he sends a convoy to the Redoubt “to bring up bread for the garrison” (DHSNY IV, pp. 77-78). The expedition returns Monday afternoon to report that the corn appeared untouched for some time, unhoed (aangehoocht) and plundered by wild beasts. They bring home what they can; they also say that this is “beautiful maize land,” suitable for many farms and European style plowing. Domine Blom is still absent from Wildwyck; he arrives back the next day.

Monday the 24th (DHSNY IV, p. 78), Cregier has more escorts out “to bring in the oats and buckwheat, and sent one to the Redoubt, as Domine Blom had arrived in the Spaniard’s yacht, and some supplies had also been sent” from Manhattan.

Tuesday the 25th, Cregier has an escort in the field again “with the ploughmen” and another continuing to bring up provisions. “A soldier named Jurien Jansen . . . was reaching for a squirrel” and fell out of a canoe at the Redoubt and drowned. Cregier sends “some horses and wagons to fort Orange which were required by the owners” (DHSNY IV, p. 78). (These are probably going up to Jan Thomase and Volckert Douw and the other farmers from the Beverwijck area who had included them in leases of fields at the Nieuw Dorp, or Hurley; see 4 May 1662 above, and 23 June 1663, as well as 16 August 1662.) One might be excused for thinking this lets us know that Cregier no longer expects to need them in expeditions around Wildwyck. But as soon as four days later, he is once again scrounging for horses for a new expedition (p. 79).

Wednesday the 26th, “Lieutenant Couwenhoven arrived at the Redoubt and Wildwyck with some Marseping Savages,” so Cregier sends an escort down to bring them up with their supplies. Apparently on the same boat, again, is Aeltje Sybrants, “the gunner’s wife,” who “again [see 19 August, the last time she did this, also on Couwenhoven’s ship] brought a quantity of strong drink along, which she retails as well to Indians as to Christians, without making any exception as to habitual drunkards, and furnishes them with so much that they cannot distinguish even the door of the house, and then, coming out, fight with and strike the Indians” (DHSNY IV, p. 78). So “in order to have sober and proper men to march,” Cregier sends a note to Swartwout, “the Sheriff of this Village,” ordering him “to notify and forbid the tappers or retailers of strong drink” to “sell strong drink to any one, be he Christian or Indian” (he refers to them as “the Natives our friends, the Marseping Indians”; O’Callaghan here does not translate Cregier’s text as “savages”). (See 18 September court session above, when Aeltje’s husband, Mattys Roelofsen, is brought to court for having sold brandy to the “savages” on June 5, two days before the attack on the village; see also 9 October below, when several people dutifully report to the court that Aeltje said publicly that Swartwout could wipe his ass with this order. And again a reminder: Aeltje and Mattys had two kids kidnapped in the Esopus attack.)

Alcohol and Prejudice

Cregier in his journal or in official records generally does not fault his soldiers for their behavior, though we do not have a record of what he said directly to them by way of discipline or keeping order. He generally does not blame their misconduct on their own choices; he blames alcohol or the people who sell it to the soldiers. As an extension of this, he apparently finds it not just unremarkable but even taken for granted that when his soldiers get drunk, they will “fight with and strike the Indians,” even their allies, even the ones who had traveled here with the soldiers and so might be well known to them. This is not meant to be a treatise on Dutch perceptions of other cultures, but it should not escape notice that Cregier’s assumption is that Dutch militias will naturally get physically violent with non-Dutch people (or perhaps just non-European people?), even those who are there to help them.

On 27 September, a Thursday, Cregier sends a company into the field “with the ploughmen” and another to the Redoubt to bring up provisions (DHSNY IV, p. 79).

On 28 September, the War Council contracts with Derrick Smith to hold his boat at the Redoubt until Cregier and his troops return from their imminent expedition, so that he can bring back to New Amsterdam any surplus troops, plus the (friendly) Marseping “Indians”; Smith will be paid 8 guilders a day to wait. Cregier has a detachment out in the fields “with the ploughmen” (note that they are no longer reaping; they are now plowing), and some of the friendly Marsepings have been “out in the bush shooting.”  They say they saw signs of where the Esopus have gone (DHSNY IV, p. 79).

On Saturday the 29th, Cregier convenes the War Council, and they resolve “to set out on another expedition against the Esopus Indians next Monday”; each man will be issued 3 lbs. of biscuit, 1 lb. of powder and 1lb. of ball. As per usual, Cregier does not have enough horses for the expedition, so he requests that the Schout and Schepens get 16 horses from the residents of Wildwyck by Monday. He has another detachment of troops escorting ploughmen, and another down to the river to bring up provisions (DHSNY IV, pp. 79-80).

Sunday the 30th brings September to a close; in the afternoon, Cregier issues everyone their biscuits, powder, and balls (DHSNY IV, p. 80).

October

As Monday dawns on Wildwyck, Cregier sets out with 102 military troops, 46 Marsepings, 6 freemen, and 14 horses of the 16 he had requested (DHSNY IV, p. 80). They march 9 hours and end up 7 (Dutch) miles from Wildwyck; the day is uneventful, but they “had considerable rain in the night.”

On the 2nd, Cregier marches on, and by 2 p.m. comes to the “new fort” where the Dutch had attacked the Esopus on 5 September. Cregier and team poke around the remains, gawking at the corpses, some partly eaten by wild animals; they knock down some corn and throw it into the river. No Esopus are spotted, though he sends out scouts in various directions (DHSNY IV, p. 80).

Wednesday the 3rd is about the same; no Esopus can be found, but the Dutch destroy some more corn (DHSNY IV, pp. 80-81). Throughout the colony, this will be for the Europeans a day of prayer and fasting, designated such by Stuyvesant on 26 June, in reaction to the Esopus attack.

On the 4th, Cregier’s crew pulls down the palisades from the fort and burns them. They head out about 10 a.m., “on our return” (DHSNY IV, p. 81) and cover about 4 (Dutch) miles; rain falls all night. He learns that two Hackensack tribesmen who had stayed behind at the fort actually intend to walk back to Hackensack from there rather than heading back to Wildwyck; they told their friend that the distance is not much different. Cregier notes that they both had company-issued rifles.

Friday the 5th brings rain (“incessantly,” DHSNY IV, p. 81), but they march on. Overnight, one of the horses they borrowed strays and gets lost in the forest. They make Wildwyck by nightfall, with not much to show for their weeklong expedition except a lost horse and two lost guns. He notes: “The course from Wildwyck to the Indians’s burnt fort lies mostly South Southwest across several large creeks, some of which are breast high [Fried notes it has been raining rather a lot], some not so deep. The way is very bad and hilly,” he says, but “in some places is very fine land.” This foreshadows the Dutch and English settlement pattern over the next several years: In searching for the Esopus attackers, they have inadvertently discovered a lot of even better farmland than the area they have occupied up to now, near the river. Turns out that once you get further inland, the fields look even better. Kingston will lead to Hurley will lead to Marbletown will lead to Shawangunk, and so on.

Saturday the 6th (DHSNY IV, p. 81) Cregier sends escorts (probably with troops and supplies) down to the Redoubt, but we see no escort for the farmers (who must have had no escorts all week?). He does not mention rain, but it has been a very wet week.

Sunday the 7th, the 18th Sabbath since the attack finds many villagers still missing. Cregier sends an expedition of 60 to the Sawkill east (?) of Wildwyck, to destroy some further corn. It never seems to cross his mind that for all the difficulty the townsfolk have had harvesting, since he requires them to wait for an escort before leaving the city gates, it might be handy for them to have a store of corn to help them make it through the winter. This time the troops come back “each with a load of maize having thrown the remainder into the creek” (DHSNY IV, p. 81). Of greater moment: “About noon, to day, a [European] girl was brought up from the Redoubt who, the day before had arrived on the opposite bank there and was immediately conveyed across” (the translator takes this to mean that the girl was spotted on the southern bank of the Rondoubt where it meets the Hudson, not that she was spotted all the way across the Hudson). The girl (Cregier never mentions a name) says she had escaped from a captor who lived “in the mountain on the other side of the creek about three miles from Wildwyck where he had a hut and a small patch of corn” (DHSNY IV, p. 82). Cregier sends 41 men under the indomitable Ensign Niessen and Lieutenant Couwenhoven. They leave Wildwyck about noon and reach the hut about sunset (the sun sets early in October); “having completely surrounded” the hut, they take it by surprise, “but found it empty.” The do find the recent harvested corn the girl described; they burn some and set some aside to bring back. It’s too dark to travel now, so they stay the night at the hut. In so doing, they miss what sounds like a rowdy Sunday in town; see the court session on October 9 below for details. Cregier doesn’t mention it in his journal, but apparently Aert Jacobsen desecrated the Sabbath by taking a load of beer to his house, then went on to say the Lord God would avenge himself against the town council for keeping farmers from mowing without permission and an escort. Arent Jansen shot off his gun and was arrested by Cregier, and then Paulus Thomassen, drunk, shot a gun at the house of Aert Doorn, then said this was a gun that was loaded a long time ago (which sounds like another reference to long festering discontent, breaking into open rebellion) and told the Schout the gun would be pointed at him one day. Apparently the Schout may have knocked him around a bit while he was resisting arrest.

Monday 8 October, after the troops return from the emtpy hut, Cregier and the War Council decide to send Lieutenant Couwenhoven and the Marsepings and about 40 Dutch soldiers back to Manhattan the next day. They have 11 Esopus prisoners they’ll also send back (DHSNY IV, p. 82), and a Wappinger still being kept for unclear reasons. No talk of assisting the farmers on this day.

Tuesday 9 October Cregier sees everyone off on Derrick (Dirick) Smith’s yacht; he doesn’t bother sending an escort to protect the soldiers en route to the river. The horse lost on the recent expedition returns to Wildwyck. There’s no talk of assisting any farmers. In Cregier’s words (DHSNY IV, p. 82), “Nothing else happened.”

Numerous people in Wildwyck might beg to differ. There was what sounds like a long and somewhat raucous town council meeting, it being a Tuesday. Plenty of townspeople have plenty to complain about.

Kicking off the 9 October Wildwyck town council session (Kingston Papers, pp. 76-80), the Schout again raises complaints against at least 19 people who had gone out to mow without consent and protection—a significant mutiny in a village of this size, with only 39 lots in the main village, and another 20 or so in the Nieuw Dorp nearby. Employers argue over whether hired hands should pay the fines. In the case of Juriaen Westphael, the council orders defendants to pay the full fine, because Westphael “ought to have assisted other farmers” with his hired hands, but instead kept working his own fields when the community needed him. Westphael also refuses to cooperate with the administrators of the heirless estates.

In the case of Aert Jacobsen (Kingston Papers, p. 79), who also mowed without protection or permission, the Schout adds that “defendant said the Lord God would some time avenge himself upon the Lords who are here on the bench,” and Aert does not deny it. The council orders Aert to submit his reasons for saying so. The Schout goes on to accuse Aert of desecrating the Sabbath by taking a load of beer to his house. (On 23 October, when the case comes back before the court [p. 89], the Schout asks for a fine of 1,000 guilders; the court fines Jacobsen 25 guilders instead, after he “humbly asks forgiveness . . . if he said anything which unguardedly escaped his lips.” The Schout protests and asks for an appeal; the council turns around and reduces the fine to one pound Flemish, or six guilders. One gets a feel for the council’s attitude toward Roelof Swartwout in his role as Schout, and its understanding of the strains the townspeople are living with every day.)

In yet another case of obstreperous villagers (Kingston Papers, pp. 81-82), the Schout complains that on 7 October (a Sunday), after Arent Jansen discharged a gun and was arrested by Captain Lieutenant Cregier, “another shot was fired, at the house of Aert Martensen Doorn.” When the Schout went to investigate, he found Paulus Tomassen there, drunk, and after Paulus admitted he had “fired off a gun that was loaded long ago,” he went on to say, “See here, Schout, I’ll shoot you some day.” Then he resisted arrest, going “so far as to hit [the Schout] on the head, so that he stumbled over.”  The court agrees he needs to be imprisoned. At a later session (pp. 87-88), Paulus says “he neither beat the Schout nor knocked against him, but that he warded off the beating which the Schout gave him on the street.” (In the end, his punishment is to work for one month on the village’s dam.)

Then there is the case of Aeltje Sybrants (Kingston Papers, pp. 82-85), wife of gunner Mattys Roelofsen, who apparently, on being told of the War Council’s order not to sell liquor to Indians or to members of the militia (who had to be ready to march), told Schout Swartwout that he could either “cleanse his anus (beg your pardon)” with the order or “kiss my anus.” For her unruly behavior, and as an example, she is fined 100 guilders, to be paid within two weeks.

On 9 October 1663 (Kingston Papers, pp. 75-76), Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, “representing his son Hendrick Cornelissen Slecht,”  says he is not required to comply with these rules, adding that the only council with proper jurisdiction here is “the Supreme Council” in Manhattan. (Slecht is the one whose wife called Heer de Decker a bloodsucker; see her court case above.) He also refuses to cooperate with the court in trying to sort through the inventories of the people who died without heirs. The court orders him to be confined until he agrees to cooperate. (While the court is still sitting, apparently a long session, he sends a written request to be allowed permission to return home to check his accounts for the estate inventory; see p. 80.)

Wednesday the 10th, Cregier (perhaps reminded by yesterday’s meeting that the farmers are concerned about being able to bring in their crops) sends a detachment out in the field again with the ploughmen, until “about noon as it began to rain hard.” Louis the Walloon went looking for his oxen, and (DHSNY IV, pp. 82-83) “as he was about to drive home the oxen, three Indians, who lay in the bush and intended to seize him, leaped forth.” Thinking fast, he dodged an arrow, hit one of the attackers with a pole he had in his hand, and escaped through the creek, running back to town to raise the alarm. With characteristic efficiency, Cregier sends two detachments “instantly” to counterattack, but of course the three attackers are long gone before the two detachments get there. An hour’s search yields naught.

Thursday the 11th, now that it appears there’s really a reason to want an escort (DHSNY IV, p. 83), “Two detachments were in the field with the ploughmen and one in ambush; returned in the evening without seeing any thing.”

Friday the 12th, two parties are out in the fields again, and then about noon Reyntje Pieters arrives from Fort Orange with Thomas Chambers and Evert Pels. They bring a 26 September letter from Elbert Herbertsen (note how infrequently ship traffic moves between Wildwyck and Fort Orange) and news that “Peter the Fleming,” who lives on the east shore of the Hudson “opposite Bethlehem,” was warned by a friendly Mohawk “to depart if he wish not to be killed,” saying that all the Indians east of the Hudson were gathering to attack Fort Orange (on the west bank). On Sunday the 7th (Cregier calls it Monday), Peter the Fleming had brought this news into town, saying the Mohicans and Catskills were abandoning their fields and offering to sell them for cheap. (Reyntje left Fort Orange with his yacht on Monday the 8th.) Chambers says in Fort Orange many Dutch are using canoes to remove corn from plantations that have been abandoned by the native tribes. The friendy Mohawk apparently said that five Indian nations had gathered together on the east side of the river, three miles in from Claverack, 500 soldiers strong: Mohicans, Catskills, Wappingers, Esopus, and another group from further east. Cregier digest this news (DHSNY IV, pp. 83-84) while he sends two escorts to the Redoubt to bring up provisions; they return to Wildwyck “together with the detachments that had been out in the field with the ploughmen,” which suggests that the field being worked that day was between Wildwyck and the river, i.e. where the heart of Kingston is today.

Saturday the 13th, the three visitors take off with their yacht (possibly this is the Company’s yacht; see DRCHSNY XIII, p. 299 when it arrives in Manhattan on the 15th), headed back to Manhattan, and two other yachts touch briefly at the Redoubt, en route upriver from Manhattan to Fort Orange. Cregier has a detachment in the field with the ploughmen and one in ambush; he sends another to the river to bring up supplies, including beer, which he distributes to the soldiers (DHSNY IV, p. 84).

Sunday 14 October (DHSNY IV, p. 84) Cregier sends a convoy to the Redoubt to bring up some cattle “which had arrived from Fort Orange.”

Monday 15 October (DHSNY IV, pp. 84-85), Cregier has contemplated the prospect of an attack by native nations, and he decides to issue an order insisting that the people of Wildwyck get serious at last about repairing the stockade wall around the village. By his description, “the fort lies open at divers points”; he notes that the 23 August instruction to repair these walls has mostly not been heeded, and he disclaims liability for damages if the town is attacked, “this fortress being at present incapable of defense—and there appears no disposition as yet to repair it.” Meanwhile, he sends two convoys out to escort the ploughmen, with a third ready in ambush. “Hans the Norman” arrives from Fort Orange with his yacht and word that “full seven thousand Indians had assembled at Claverack,” but Cregier says “it looks somewhat like fiction.”

In Manhattan on 15 October, the New Netherland colony council meets (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 299-300) to hear the news reported by Cornelis Steenwyck: “Last night at about 9 o’clock Secretary van Ruyven was with me at my door to tell me, what a Northern savage had related at Jan de Schilder’s house,” which is that the remaining Esopus had banded together with the Wappingers, the Mohicans, the “Kichtawangh, Wiechquaeskeck and other River savages . . . 500 or 600 men strong,” with a plan to “destroy first all the Dutch plantation over the River at Hoboocken, Hasimus, the corn-land” and then Manhattan, “to burn, to kill everybody or take prisoners . . . and that it should be done in a few days.” About noon, the Company’s yacht arrives from Wildwyck with letters from Cregier bearing similar tidings, as reported to him on the 12th. The colony council decides not to decide anything until they can inform some of the city’s council members too, “to hear their advice and to inform them of . . . the low state of the treasury, the want of provisions, clothing and other necessities for the troops.” After due deliberation, the joint councils decide to send “16 or 20” troops up to Harlem to protect the settlement there, “and two yachts, each manned by 10 or 12 men” up the Hudson to “prevent the designs of the savages and divert them as much as possible.” To Wappingers Falls the council sends “Two yachts, namely the Company’s and that of the Spaniard.” They sail under the command of Lieutenant Couwenhoven.

Couwenhoven’s written instructions (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 300-301), signed by Stuyvesant, tell him to determine the truth of the rumors, and if they are true, he is supposed to find the narrowest part of the river and sail back and forth to intercept any canoes coming downriver. If the rumors aren’t true, “then he must sail up the river with both yachts to the Wappings . . . and treat with them about the ransoming of the rest of the Christian prisoners.” While he does this, he is instructed to keep learning more about the strength of the local tribes. “If he could make an armistice for some time . . . it would be well.” Couwenhoven is sent with a “savage prisoner” who is brother of the chief; Couwenhoven is not supposed to let him return to his people “unless 3 or 4 captured Christian children can be obtained for him.” If Couwenhoven can’t find “the Highland savages,” he must assume the worst, take as many men as he can onto the Company’s yacht, and send the Spaniard back to report.

On the 16th, in Manhattan, Stuyvesant sends “Mr. Verbraack and Sergeant van den Bosch” behind Couwenhoven, to meet him at Kichtawangh (Fernow, I believe, says this is today’s Sleepy Hollow) and join the expedition (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 301).

Tuesday 16 October, in Wildwyck, Cregier gets up in the morning, sends two detachments out with the ploughmen and a third to the river, “and nothing else happened” (DHSNY IV, p. 85). He sure is making good use of his time.

Court sessions start to come more regularly again. At the session on 16 October (Kingston Papers, p. 86), Captain Lieutenant Martin Cregier notes that Lieutenant Henderick Jochemsen “has suffered and is yet suffering inconveniences from the militia who use his home as a guard house, which makes it burdensome to him”; Cregier requests that a proper guard house be built for the militia. (Other records at this time refer to a guard house as if it actually exists; what is described here in the court minutes may be more of a barracks for the militia to stay in when they are not on duty. Hendrik Jochemsen’s house and lot are adjacent to the town gate.) The council notes that no materials are available at present for building a guard house; they ask Jochemsen whether he can put up with the militia in his home for another four to six weeks. He has housed them now since June 7. For his troubles, they offer him 50 guilders as recompense.

At the session on 16 October (Kingston Papers, p. 88), at the request of Captain Cregier, the council also decrees a community work day on 22 October, when all villagers must help rebuild the village wall, using logs “at least two feet in circumference,” or about 8 inches in diameter, and 13 feet tall, “the thicker the better.”

Wednesday 17 October Cregier sends two detachments into the field with the farmers, posts one in hiding in case of an attack, and sends a fourth down to the river. “Nothing occurred to-day” (DHSNY IV, p. 85). Apparently restless, he decides to post another ordinance, this time to the soldiers under his command: He has learned that some soldiers from the Redoubt, at the river’s edge, have been drifting up to Wildwyck without any orders to do so; he instructs them to stay put at the Redoubt.

Thursday 18 October he gets an answer from the Wildwyck council (DHSNY IV, p. 86) regarding his plea for the town to reinforce its palisade wall. The council has asked each “farmer” to repair the wall by his own lot, using logs at least 8 inches in diameter (about 20 cm), 13 feet long (about 4 meters), and required “the others, being inhabitants or Burghers occupying 34 lots,” to work on the wall from the Water gate (probably in the north wall by the creek? there is also a “gate near Hendrick Jochemsen’s”) “unto the lot of Arent Pietersen Tack,” which must be an open area that doesn’t abut anyone’s lots. (This suggests that “farmers” had lots abutting the stockade, perhaps making it easier for them to cut unpermitted entrances so they could go in and out to their fields, but others might have had lots within the stockade, not right up against the wall itself.) The council says the repairs will take place starting Monday the 22nd, and roll will be taken. (This action was taken at the council’s Tuesday meeting, two days before, which Cregier must have attended, especially since the town council and the Valiant Council of War seem to be holding joint meetings during this period. With so few people in the town, it seems an odd formality for Cregier to make such a fuss over the official response. But he’s filing reports with the New Amsterdam council showing them that he’s working hard at his job, and he doesn’t have much else to show for what they’re spending to protect the town. He has to fill his pages with something that makes it look as if he’s doing some good.) Cregier notes that he has two detachments out in the fields, and one at the Redoubt.

Friday 19 October, and again Saturday 20 October, Cregier’s only observation is that he has two detachments each day in the fields with the farmers, and a third “in ambush,”  along with sending an escort down to the Redoubt. By late October, we can guess the nights are coming sooner, and the days are getting crisper, but the weather apparently is holding up well, as is typical in the area, for farmers to finish up a season of harvesting and working in the fields (DHSNY IV, p. 87).

Sunday October 21st is the 20th Sunday since the attack, and Cregier’s only remark is that “nothing occurred” (DHSNY IV, p. 87).

In Manhattan, life is more lively. On the 21st, Stuyvesant sends a note upriver to Lieutenant Couwenhoven, who apparently has sent a report back to New Amsterdam (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 302). Couwenhoven apparently found that there had been no uprising, and he went on to try to get some Wildwyck captives back, as instructed on the 15th (see above). Stuyvesant reiterates that the high-value prisoner Couwenhoven has (brother of the Wappinger chief) should be worth two or three Dutch children; the offer so far is just one captive for one captive. Stuyvesant says maybe that will be all right, if Couwenhoven can get the leaders to come down and parley in New Amsterdam with him, to renew the peace, “the sooner the better, for I would like to go to Fort Orange before the winter” to smooth over the issues between the Maquaes and the Mohicans under the British, “so that each tribe may go quietly hunting beavers.” Stuyvesant urges Couwenhoven to learn more about “where our prisoners are”; to assist, he sends Andries, “the son-in-law of Paulus, the guardian,” who apparently speaks North American languages well.

For the entire next week in Wildwyck, Cregier’s entire scope of activity seems to be getting up in the morning and sending detachments out with the farmers, plus escorts down to the river (DHSNY IV, p. 87). He mentions that on Friday the 26th, his escort is “in the woods with those cutting palisades,” but he does not mention the work that the farmers evidently are doing on the town wall, nor does he say he has assigned any of his men to help.

On 26 October, Couwenhoven must return to Manhattan; Stuyvesant in his 7 November note to Cregier (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 302) says Couwenhoven had renewed the peace with the Wappings “about 12 days ago . . . according to his written and verbal report,” suggesting that he had come back to town in person. He returns to the Wappings on the 31st (“yesterday a week ago”) on Rut Jacobsen’s yacht.

On 23 October 1663 (Kingston Papers, p. 90), the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, strikes a little closer to Tjerck’s affairs. He seeks three fines from Ariaen Gerretsen: 25 guilders for taking his horses out into a field and “carting for Tjerck Classen,” 50 guilders for going out into the fields without permission or escort, and another 25 guilders for “refusing to cart in the service of the Honorable Company” when needed. Note that Tjerck is a member of the council and is present at this session. Ariaen says he was working for Tjerck when he went out without escort or permission. He also says that when the company asked him to cart, “he was there at the time and carted the biggest load.” The court says that “the defendant must show that Tjerck Claesen made himself responsible” for his violation of the rules. Ariaen says he can show this.

In court at this session (Kingston Papers, p. 91), Tjerck also makes the complaint against Evert Pels that Pels “at harvest time caused one of [Tjerck’s] pigs to be shot.” Pels demands proof. The court instructs Tjerck to produce this proof.

Friction has developed with many villagers; one is Albert Heymans [sometimes Aldert or Allert Heymans Roose] (Kingston Papers, p. 92); see 7 July above when he threatened to shoot two Wappinger tribesmen against the specific orders of Martin Cregier. Now Albert has apparently accused the court of “being deceitful in carrying out their ordinances, and that they did not do justice.” The court instructs the court (!) “at its next session, to furnish proof of the foregoing complaint.” Perhaps more to the point, the Schout also says that on 30 August, Allert, “when lawfully called upon . . . to furnish a horse for the expedition against the savages, would not say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ . . . but said he would first see what the gentlemen [i.e. the court, referring at least to Tjerck and possibly others] were going to do.” At this newly established frontier outpost, resources of all types are in short supply: housing, horses, food, manpower. Patience runs thin, particularly as winter draws near and the fields have to be harvested, with the survival of the village at stake. Providing horses for the militia’s expedition is just one of many sore points. When the court takes up the matter again on 6 November (after examining a dispute over an allegedly stolen pillowcase), Allert provides more detail (Kingston Papers, p. 102): “I was standing in the street near the guard house looking at the people going out, and then asked Tjerck Claesen how many horses would go along with the expedition against the savages, to which Tjerck answered, ‘sixteen.’” Allert says there aren’t enough farmers to provide that many horses, unless those with “double farms” (including Tjerck’s) provide two horses each. Tjerck and Albert then argue about who has done more to help the expeditions. Allert seems to feel that the council members are imposing burdens on other villagers and then not contributing their fair share to the common good.

Worth noting also, in the same 23 October session (Kingston Papers, p. 93), the Schout goes after Geertruyd Andriessen (no relation), for having three times gone into the fields to harvest, without escort or permission, once with four wagons and once “with two wagons, and having a gun in the field.” (He also badgers her “for carrying fodder for her horses on a Sunday.”) Geertruyd “answers that she was several times refused a convoy, and therefore she was obliged to gather in her grain herself without a guard, for fear that the rain would spoil it.” This starts to show how much of a burden the August 4 ordinance was, although it was intended for the villagers’ safety. Geertruyd is a plucky woman; she has at this point been married twice and widowed twice, and she is still carrying a gun out into the fields to harvest her own grain when the required escort can’t be had. The court sustains the fine. (One of her hired hands seems to be Warnaer Hoorenbeeck; see KP, p. 98.)

None of this, apparently, is worth a mention in Cregier’s journal.

Sunday October 28, Cregier’s only remark is that “Nothing occurred” (DHSNY IV, p. 87). The rest of us might well wonder how the work is going on mending the town wall, whether it meets Cregier’s approval, whether it is getting in the way of working on the fields as harvest season nears its close and the weather gets colder with every passing week. To Cregier none of these are concerns.

Monday and Tuesday 29 and 30 October, Cregier’s two standard detachments are out “with the wood cutters” (DHSNY IV, p. 87) instead of with any doing any farming, so we can tell the town is still hard at work on the stockade. Cregier does not mention it at all, nor any farming.

By the 30 October 1663 Wildwyck town council session (Kingston Papers, pp. 93-100), as the harvest continues, the town council has combined forces with the “Council of War” for a joint session, including Captain Cregier, his ensign, and two sergeants. The conflicts over harvesting without escorts continue. (Some villagers are cited for multiple offenses, but many of these complaints may date back to harvesting that was done between the August 4 date of the ordinance and the 18 September court session when many of these people were first named as offenders.)

Our old friend Cornelis Barentsen Slecht is back, apparently tired of his imprisonment in the guardhouse; Swartwout still wants 75 guilders from him for working in the fields without permission and a convoy. Slecht “admits having worked in the field without permission and convoy, and says the Schout came—without a convoy—to the field and fined him for a second offense. [Slecht] adds that he was fully able to defend himself, and therefore did not need a guard.” The court offers him the choice between paying the full fine and settling amicably with Swartwout; Slecht says he would rather pay the full fine than settle. The court charges him the full fine, “as he behaves very obstinately.”

Swartwout also fines Pieter Bruynsen for the same reason; Pieter says “he is not willing to settle with [Swartwout], nor does he intend to pay one stiver” of any fine. Henderick Aertsen also admits working without permission or convoy and says “that he had sufficient means of defence.” A number of other stubborn villagers repeat the same situation. The court intends to imprison them all if they refuse to pay.

A curious case is that of Jacob Joosten, fined 75 guilders for the same cause. Jacob Joosten is the court messenger, and Swartwout, the Schout, has complained lately that he’s not very useful (Kingston Papers, p. 93). Joosten complained in turn that he has not been getting paid the agreed upon fees. Joosten’s defense against the accusation that he was harvesting without permission or escort is that “he must earn his living here or elsewhere.” The court excuses him, “for cause.” (See also Kingston Papers, pp. 72-73, when he is named probably for the identical offense, and he asks whether he may not be allowed to harvest to support his family.)

Wednesday 31 October Cregier is preoccupied with a military court trial (a “Valiant Court Martial” in his words) for Gerret Abel, who on Monday was caught coming to Wildwyck to get drunk, “in contravention to the ordinance” of 17 October. Abel (DHSNY IV, pp. 87-88) says he had come to town to get some wheat ground, but the Valiant Council of War sees through his excuses and demotes him from cadet to regular footsoldier, with a cut in pay, then restricts him (again) to the Redoubt until further orders. Meanwhile, the townsfolk are still cutting more trees to reinforce the town stockade; two detachments are protecting the wood cutters. (We know from Beverwijck records that Tjerck worked in the woods up there for some time felling trees and hauling them from the forest. He is not mentioned here, but we can guess that he was involved in this project here too.)

October 31 is also when Stuyvesant later reports Lieutenant Couwenhoven set sail again from Manhattan for Wappingers Falls (see notes above and on November 7), on Rut Jacobsen’s yacht. Hallowe’en is a tricky time to be heading toward Sleepy Hollow.

November

Thursday and Friday November 1 and 2 (DHSNY IV, p. 88), Cregier at Wildwyck has no remarks other than to say his troops are out protecting the wood cutters. This makes two full weeks of work the townsfolk have put in on repairing the walls of the settlement. We can guess they’re making some kind of progress, but we don’t see any recognition of this from Cregier.

On Saturday 3 November, Cregier has a detachment go down to the Redoubt “to carry rations,” and “another party was at the Great Plot [Groote Stuck], but did not notice any thing” (DHSNY IV, p. 88). This might suggest that a little farming got done, between the work on the stockade and the approach of winter. It is possible that by now all the harvesting that’s going to get done this year has been finished, and that’s why it makes sense now to devote energy to repairing the wall before the snows come. Nobody expresses this in so many words, though, so we have to guess between the lines to imagine what’s going on.

November 4 is another Sunday, the 22nd since the attack on the village. Life at Wildwyck still has not returned to normal; the militia is still occupying the city; the “Valiant War Council” is still issuing edicts and instructions to everyone, and the final hostages still have not been returned to their families. Anyone whose loved ones are still missing must wonder what has been happening to them while they have been in captivity—have they been sick? Have they been fed? Are they being abused? Are they being made to work? Are their captors hostile? And with winter closing in, and so much of the food storage for the Esopus tribe destroyed, anyone whose loved ones might end up spending the winter in captivity must be uneasy about their prospects. Cregier’s only remark this day is “Nothing done” (DHSNY IV, p. 88).

On Monday 5 November, we see Barbara’s brother Lucas Andriessen has come up from Manhattan to visit again (Cregier calls him Lucassen; or possibly the ship he refers to is the ship of Barbara’s father?); he has brought back some “freemen belonging to Wildwyck,” though we can only guess who they were. Does this mean Tjerck’s brother Jan has also come back to Wildwyck from staying in Manhattan? Who else arrived? It’s not a big town (DHSNY IV, pp. 88-89). What Cregier does not mention, though the villagers would have been well aware: Wednesday’s monthly day of prayer coincides with the fifth month since the day of the attack, making it a natural moment to commemorate those who were lost in the June 7 attack on the village. The community appears to be gathering in remembrance and prayer, though to read Cregier’s journal you might never guess it. This is more of the “characteristic sensitivity” Fried notes in Cregier’s writing.

Tuesday 6 November Cregier (with no real explanation) sends two soldiers “to accompany Arent Moesman to Beeren island near fort Orange” (DHSNY IV, p. 89; a note adds that the island is “opposite Coeymans”). He has an escort party down to the Redoubt, and since they’re down there, they “lay there in ambush until the evening, but saw nothing.” It’s not really clear what they’re doing this whole time they’re “in ambush,” or why they would lie in ambush near the Redoubt one day, somewhere else another day. Cregier does not mention harvesting or plowing, but says he had “Another party 25 in number . . . at the Great Plot.” This party also saw nothing of note.

At the regular town council meeting on Tuesday 6 November (Kingston Papers, p. 102), the Schout, apparently miffed that Allert Heymans is still arguing about whether the council members are contributing their fair share to the common good, accuses him of challenging a council member on 7 July, four months previous. At a war council meeting, Swartwout says that Allert called out “anyone at this meeting who is a friend of these savages.” (See 7 July notes above, from a journal entry on 28 July by Martin Cregier.)

In more mundane business, at the 6 November meeting (Kingston Papers, pp. 102-103), Tjerck requests permission to use as a garden plot “the place outside of the retracted curtain wall, up to the place of the old removed curtain wall, lying east of [Tjerck’s] lot and west of the lot of Aert Otterspoor.” The original stockade was expanded westward in 1661, allowing room for many more lots; Tjerck was allocated one of these (see above). The first impression of Tjerck’s request makes it sound as if his lot is in the first row outside of the location of the old curtain wall, opposite the spot (inside the old curtain wall) where Aert Otterspoor’s lot sits. But no one named Aert or Otterspoor is on the list of original lots in the village (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 230). In the list of new lots, we find Aert Pietersen Tack (Lot 31) and Aert Jacobsen (Lot 29), right next to Tjerick Claesen (Lot 28). Is Aert Jacobsen the same person as Aert Otterspoor? No; they are separate people, as we see from a quarrel over a strawberry patch outside of town that both hope to use (see Kingston Papers, p. 186, 230). This requires further study.

Aert Otterspoor in Kingston Papers is indexed in regard to several land transactions. A few years after Tjerck’s petition for a garden plot adjacent to his lot, on 29 April 1665 (KP, p. 562) Aert sells to Cornelis Barentsen Slecht “his lot . . . granted him . . . by the late Heer Director General Petrus Stuyvesant,” the lot being “in Wildwyck near the Mill Gate, close to the water of the Mill Gate, eastward.” (Versteeg indicates that his signature may give Aertse as a patronymic. Slecht has lately petitioned for land closer to town because he says he’s getting older and has trouble getting around.) Just before that, on April 13 (KP, p. 559), someone else’s land sale refers to Otterspoor’s land outside of town. On 20 May, a few weeks later (pp. 562-563), Juriaen Westphael sells to Aert a different “certain parcel of land” bought from the Esopus, outside of town. Curiously, on the same day, Aert sells what sounds like the identical piece of land to Walran du Mont (pp. 563-564). On 16 October 1666, perhaps regretting his decision to sell his lot by the Mill Gate to Slecht in 1665, Aert asks the town council to give him a little piece of land where he can build a house, “because age and ill health are rendering him weak.” The council gives him “the point near the little water gate,” (KP, pp. 305-306), which sounds as if it’s outside of the stockade. The suggestion is that he does not have a house inside the stockade he can use, and his farmland is inconveniently far from town. In 1669 (KP, p. 429) he apparently buys Matthew Capito’s old house in town (likely Lot 17). In November 1673 (KP, pp. 501-502) he has rented his house to Albert Govertsen. On 24 December 1670 (KP, p. 691), further papers (not executed) attempt to make final the transfer of Capito’s house and lot.

The 29 April 1665 transaction makes it appear that Tjerck’s lot in 1663, just west of Aert Otterspoor’s lot, would be near the Mill Gate. (The original Dutch text might reveal that the translation reversed who was east or west of whom: It might make more sense for Aert to be west of Tjerck, instead of the other way around. It is also possible that the reconstruction of the wall damaged in the 1663 attack moved it slightly further west than it had been; Tjerck’s request is timely if the new wall encloses a little more room than it did before.)

Curtains for You: Story of a Wall

As in so many questions of where things were and detailed analysis of records Marc Fried sheds light on the question of the wall—the stockade—around Wildwyck and its 1663 rebuilding. This may help us zero in on where Tjerck’s lot was inside the village at the time.

In DRCHSNY XIII, on a plate between pages 84 and 85, we find a map superimposing the approximate location of the 1695 stockade on the modern layout of streets in Kingston:

Fernow Map of Stockade 1695

Annotations added by D. Bradley, after Marc Fried analysis.
To expand to full size, click on the picture.

As Fried explains (Early History of Kingston, pp. 163-167), the original, smallest location of the stockaded town was in the northeast quarter of the later stockade. As the town grew, new settlers wanted more lots so every family could have a house of their own. (This is at the same time as lots were being marked off and passed out at the “New Village,” which became Hurley. Population expansion in this period was considerable.)

When we see “new lots” assigned in 1661, they are in a newly expanded area of stockaded town to the west of the original fortifications. This extended the town to the brink of the higher ground still present in Kingston today, overlooking the Tannery Brook. (Just before the June attack on the village, Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck asks permission to take a lot on the brook so he can build a tannery; he is a shoemaker and will make good use of a local source for leather.) Fried observes that the western edge of this hill probably was gradually excavated away over time to fill in the grade of the brook.

The first, maybe minor, expansion of the town was in just 13 lots (May 1661, XIII, p. 195), “under the condition that every one enclose its breadth . . . with palisades.” This suggests that those 13 lots were the closest of the “New Lots” to the original stockade. By the time another 18 lots had been given out, the new outline of the town has pushed as far as the Tannery Brook, but that would suggest that Tjerck’s lot (one of the last given out) would be on the western edge of town, not next to the original stockade wall. This fits with the idea of a location near the Mill Gate. See Diamond, pp. 18-19, about the location of the mill pond, which was formed by damming the Tannery Brook (which flows northward): “Pieter Cornelissen Louw ran a mill . . . from c. 1661 on. . . . The mill pond was produced by damming up [Tannery Brook]. . . . Near the mill dam was a gate in the stockade known as the ‘Mill Gate,’ which allowed people to leave the stockade, cross the dam, and proceed down present day Hurley Avenue” toward Hurley. The location was near the Louw-Bogardus House on Converse Street, “near the northwest corner of the stockade” and the dam.

Fried Map showing Louw-Bogardus House

Later expansions take the town limits further south, and further south again, in two steps. With each expansion, the walls need to be rebuilt and extended. As the town grows, part of the stockade that used to be at the edge of town becomes unnecessary, since it now is in the middle of the village. We don’t have many details about repairs and reconstruction, but we can guess that the old wall would have been dismantled (in the 6 November council minutes, we see the word “retracted”), with any of the old logs still in decent condition possibly being reused in the new stretch of “curtain wall,” as the stockade is frequently called.

Some further discussion of the growth of the town and the stockade extensions, together with numerous maps and photos, plus pictures of artifacts from this period and others, can be found in an Ulster County article on archaeological excavations of the Matthewis Persen House, which the article says was originally the home of Gysbert van Imbroch, who served the village as a doctor, and his wife Rachel La Montagne, who was kidnapped in the 7 June attack. (The house, “thought to have been constructed after the burning of Wildwyck” and before Imbroch died in 1665,  is on the southeast corner of John and Crown streets, which by some rendering would put it outside of the stockade; the exact location of the south curtain wall of the 1661 stockade was found during the excavation, as well as remnants from the 1663 torching of the town. No lot is assigned to Dr. Imbroch in the list on DRCHSNY XIII p. 230, among either the new or original lots within the stockade.)

Tjerck is given Lot 28 in the 1661 extension of the village. Based on his 6 November request, we might guess that his lot is just to the west of the original stockade wall, and he is asking for a garden plot between his house and the old wall. By comparison, see the perplexity in the Ulster County article linked above over the location of Dr. Imborch’s garden plot (p. 3), either inside or outside the stockade.

Wednesday 7 November marks 5 months since the attack on the village; Cregier notes that “nothing was done,” but on this day uses the excuse “This being a day of Prayer” (DHSNY IV, p. 89). Nothing was done, perhaps, by Cregier and his men, but other people apparently did rather a lot, rescuing more of the hostages Cregier was sent up here to save. “In the evening Pieter Wolfertsen [Lieutenant Couwenhoven] arrived at the Redoubt with Rut Jacobsen’s yacht; brought with him two Christian children which he had in exchange from the Esopus Indians for a Squaw with a big girl; brought back the other Indian prisoners; brought also the Wappinger Sachem whom Couwenhoven had detained in the yacht.” Cregier consistently does not identify which hostages are recued (or, with a few exceptions, which ones are still missing), but any hostages being rescued has to be good news, and the movement of some of the “Indian prisoners” back to the village, no doubt with plans to use them as pawns to exchange for other European captives, suggests more is afoot. Wolfertsen reports that “a Christian woman is kept a prisoner by the Wappingers, and that he had detained the Chief in her stead until they should surrender the Christian woman.” After all this, Cregier feels it necessary to reiterate: “Nothing else occurred.” Then he mentions, “Couwenhoven said that he has concluded a ten days’ truce with the Esopus Sachem.” In a later entry, on 14 November, Cregier clarifies that the truce started on 5 November. This armistice matches Stuyvesant’s written instructions to Couwenhoven.

So the news in Wildwyck is generally good, but in Manhattan it somehow gets reported differently: Stuyvesant on the 7th (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 302) sends an urgent note to Cregier by way of the Company’s yacht, telling him that “to our great regret,” Lieutenant Couwenhoven was surprised by the Wappings on Saturday the 3rd; Rut Jacobsen’s “yacht was captured and burnt and the 6 or 8 men with him were murdered and he him self taken prisoner.” Stuyvesant does not say where he got this news. He sends “about 2000 pounds” of meat for the garrison, and instructs Cregier to return to Manhattan, “to consider,” but also proposes that perhaps Cregier should just attack the Wappings in revenge. The letter and the provisions arrive at Wildwyck on the 13th.

Lieutenant van Couwenhoven: A Guy Who Gets Around

Lieutenant Pieter Wolphertsen van Couwenhoven is well versed in many aspects of the colony; he is from one of the families that came here in the very early days, before Stuyvesant, before Van Twiller and Kieft. The first governor Wolphertsen probably knew was Peter Minuit. Wolphertsen’s father, Wolfert Gerritsen van Couwenhoven, apparently was born in Amersfoort, in the Netherlands. (I have not verified this. Wikipedia reports with a question about reliability that he was born 1 May 1579 to Gerrit Suype Van Kouwenhoven and his wife Styne Sara Roberts.)

Wolfert married Neeltje Jacobsdochter 17 January 1605 in Amersfoort, then after baptizing three sons (Gerret, 1610; Jacob, 1612; Pieter, 1614) came to New Netherland in 1625 for the WIC. The Dutch started building Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan in 1625; in 1626 Minuit bargained with the original inhabitants of Manhattan Island for the Dutch to be allowed to stay there. Minuit was the one who moved the headquarters of the colony south from Fort Orange to establish New Amsterdam.

Wolfert van Couwenhoven returned to the Netherlands in 1630, then signed up with Kiliaen van Rensselaer to come back and manage Rensselaer’s farms; he returned to North America on the Eendracht (see Wikipedia page for numerous sources). He left his contract with Rensselaer early, in 1632, leased a garden (or farm) in New Amsterdam for a few years, and then on 6 June 1636 was granted a patent of several hundred acres on Long Island, which he called Achtervelt; it was roughly where Flatlands, Brooklyn is today, near King’s Highway and Flatbush Avenue. In the 1650s he served the colony in various official posts; Wikipedia places his death in 1662, seeking a citation for that. As is the case for many early settlers, the branches of his family tree stretch far and wide through North American history; Wikipedia lists many descendants of great repute, though one can imagine, by the law of averages, that some may have been spectacular failures as well. The family carries the curious distinction that the progenitor of the Vanderbilt family, Jan Aertsz from De Bilt in Utrecht, originally came to New Netherland as their indentured servant, in 1650.

So Pieter Wolphertsen probably came to New Netherland no later than 1630 (I have not checked this), when he was 16 years old. By the time we see him in 1663 he is a veteran of five governors of the colony; he has seen all kinds of settlers arrive and has done a lot of trading with native North Americans as well. He did business at first with his brother, a miller, and then set out on his own as a brewer.

Pieter Wolphertsen might be played by Errol Flynn in the movie version of the colony’s history; he apparently got around nimbly. On 2 December 1640 he posts banns in Manhattan to marry Hester Simons [Daws?], widow of Jacques de Vernuis, but on 7 January 1642 he signs a declaration before Cornelis van Tienhoven, colony secretary, that he adopts Aeltje Pieters, “my own daughter, whom I have begotten and procreated by Maria de Truy”; he releases Cornelis Volckersen, Maria’s “husband and guardian,” from the duties of fatherhood, and says he will bring up Aeltje “as a god fearing father . . . ought to do by his own legitimate daughter.” Wolphertsen (who by 1663 speaks native languages) signs with a mark but says he will “let her learn to read.” (Note closely that he sends written reports back to Stuyvesant when he is off on expeditions; does he too learn to read later, or does he have a scribe write the reports for him?) Another signer on the document is Philippe du Trieux, possibly Maria’s father?

We have seen above that the New Jersey tribes have complained about Pieter Wolphertsen selling liquor over there with a note he claims is from Stuyvesant authorizing him to to do it (he probably can’t read the note himself, and he probably knows they can’t either). He spends considerable time on more than one visit to the Wappingers along the Hudson during this period, negotiating the recovery of European captives from Wildwyck. He seems to get along well with people, whether Dutch or native North Americans. More than once in this period we find Aeltje Sybrants on his ship between Manhattan and Wildwyck; she is cited for selling brandy to natives, against regulations. Aeltje is the wife of Matthys Roelofsen, “gunner,” and their children are among the kidnapped; she is along and possibly a key negotiator (possibly using brandy as leverage) when their children are recovered on Wolphertsen’s ship, through the assistance of the Wappingers. So it should be noted as well that on 22 November 1665 in Manhattan (p. 31, New Amsterdam Marriages) Pieter Wolphertsen posted banns to marry Aeltje Sibrants, both of them widowed; I have also seen the as 4 November, but the Evans book says the 22nd. Church records also report that Pieter and Aeltje baptize a son, Petrus, in New Amsterdam on 27 February 1669 (p. 94, New Amsterdam Baptisms), with Pieter’s brother Jacob looking on as witness, together with Magdalena van Couwenhoven, whose identity I haven’t tracked, but obviously a relative. (To keep the search more interesting, as well as having a daughter Hester, named for his first wife, Pieter—or someone—apparently has a daughter named Aeltje van Couwenhoven, who marries Bernardus Hassing and has several children, so many entries in church and civil records under that name belong to the daughter, not to Aeltje Sybrants. Pieter van Couwenhoven seems close with Claes Bording[h], appearing as godfather for most of the children Claes has with Susanna Marsuryns [Martyryn] Lees [Lues]. Frequently a co-sponsor is Hester Simons, his wife at the time.)

And what became of Matthys Roelofsen, gunner, husband of Aeltje Sibrants? You can’t make this stuff up: In Kingston Papers, p. 144, the last mention we have of him is on April 1, 1664, when Jacobus Backer (at the meeting as a representative for Peter Stuyvesant) tells the town council (I am not kidding) that he has a “special order from the Honorable Lord Director General [i.e., Stuyvesant] to dispatch said Matthys Roelofsen to the mountains” on a secret mission, which he is not allowed to discuss with the council members, “unless they are authorized.”

Stokes says Pieter Wolphertsen took on more debt than he could repay in Manhattan, then left for the Esopus (I have not checked the Stokes account). Some sources say he was briefly imprisoned for complaining that the court was unjust before he left in disgust. Various sources list him as a brewer in Elizabethtown in New Jersey in 1688 (maybe a tax roll?); there’s some dispute over whether he married Josynthe Thomas on 19 May 1699 (which seems unlikely from his age, 85 if still alive—more likely this was a grandson or grandnephew of the same name?). I haven’t checked any sources (there are various published genealogies and numerous Websites), but Peter Covenhoven, or Conover, is said to have “purchased land in what is now Atlantic County in 1695, between which date and 1698 he took up 150 acres in one tract, also 250 acres bounding on Great Egg Harbor River and Patconk Creek.”

Thursday 8 November (DHSNY IV, p. 89), despite sending an escort to the river the day before to retrieve the recovered captive children (who arrived late in the day), Cregier decides to go “myself, with an escort to the river side to bring up to Wildwyck the Esopus Indian prisoners & the children with the Wappinger Indian captive, being in all 9 in number.” (Cregier somehow got word from the river the night before about the arrival of the yacht with all these people; it’s not a short walk to the Redoubt, and usually he sends an escort to protect any party. Whatever his first impulse was on getting word that two more hostages had been recovered—and even if a truce had nominally been concluded—it probably was more sensible to wait until daylight to bring them up. Also not to be discounted: After a day of prayer and fasting, Cregier might not have been completely compis mentis when the messenger arrived from the Redoubt the night before.) It turns out that there may have been some misunderstanding about the Wappinger chief: He’s on the boat, with a friend, who had come on board willingly; they appear not to be hostile. (This matches the earlier experiences with the Wappingers.) He says he’ll be glad to bring the European woman back “in six or seven days”; it is not clear why it would take so long, or why he did not just bring her along in the first place. Cregier describes the Wappingers cautiously as “at present our friends” and tells the chief that “if he brought back the Christian woman we should then let his brother go together with another prisoner.” (DHSNY IV, pp. 89-90. Are these the Wappingers that got taken by the Europeans many months ago, way back on 7 July when they came to the village on a friendly visit and were interrogated by the Valiant Council of War? No wonder the chief wanted to check out the situation and get a promise before releasing his last bargaining chip.) Cregier lets the Wappinger chief and his companion go, giving him a bark canoe to return home in. “Nothing else happened to-day as it rained unceasingly.”

Friday 9 November (DHSNY IV, p. 90) “It still rained considerably”; Rut Jacobsen leaves to sail north to Fort Orange. We are on Day 4 of Lieutenant Couwenhoven’s 10-day truce with the Esopus.

Saturday 10 November, Cregier has an escort out with the wood cutters; apparently work on the village walls is still proceeding (DHSNY IV, p. 90). From the amount of rain reported to date, this sounds like wet, muddy work, and the weather will be getting colder too, though so far no freezes have been reported.

Sunday 11 November (DHSNY IV, p. 90), Cregier sends a party down to the river “with bread for the people in the Redoubt.”

Monday 12 November, on Day 7 of the 10-day truce with the Esopus, Cregier gets not much done, other than having a detachment again “out in the bush with the woodcutters.” (The Esopus with a very few exceptions have not been aggressive since their original attack on Wildwyck. We might guess that their proposal of a truce was designed more to protect them from attack for 10 days than to change their already passive posture toward the Europeans.)

Tuesday 13 November in Wildwyck, there is no news specifically from the Esopus whose truce is on Day 8, but at the Redoubt, the WIC ship (which left Manhattan on the 7th) arrives with provisions and Stuyvesant’s somehat panicked letter about how Couwenhoven was captured and his ship burned. The WIC ship is followed by (on unspecified conveyance) the Wappinger leader (“Sachem”) who had come up last week and promised to bring home more of the European captives from the village. Couwenhoven seems to be doing a good job of winning his cooperation. The chief has with him eight fellow Wappingers and “a female Christian captive” (of unspecified identity), “whom he had purchased from the Esopus Indians and which had promised us.” Couwenhoven and Thomas Chambers bring everyone up to Wildwyck, huzzahs are raised all around, and Cregier records the moment in lofty langugage: “I am come to perform my promise which I gave on board the Yacht at the Redoubt” (DHSNY IV, p. 91). Cregier, ever generous, puts them up at Thomas Chambers’ house and makes sure they are given food. “Otherwise nothing occurred today.”

Tjerck on this night sounds as if he had an enormous blowout tantrum; his neighbors report to the Schout (see entry for 20 November Kingston town council meeting) that he, “armed with a drawn knife, openly quarreled in his house, acting as if he wished to kill every man, woman and child.” Their description sounds more like one of concern for his well being than a simple complaint of bad behavior; everyone has bad days, but they seem to be underlining that this particular explosion was well beyond the norm. (Albert Gysbertsen in particular is a neighbor of Tjerck’s, who lives on land he bought from Tjerck; they serve together on the town council. He typically is someone who seems to be an ally of Tjerck, not one with an ax to grind or a quarrelsome relationship. It’s out of character for him to want to get Tjerck into trouble, which is why this seems more like someone acting out of genuine concern, trying perhaps to protect Tjerck from himself.) We can guess that Lucas Andriessen is still in Wildwyck, staying with Tjerck and Barbara; he arrived a week ago, probably bringing Jan and Emmerentje back up from Manhattan for the day of prayer, and we see him depart in early December. (He may well have left and come back without being noted in Cregier’s journal.) We might also guess that Tjerck’s behavior is not that of a father who has got his kidnapped daughter back from the Esopus attackers yet. The timing of his explosion makes it seem like the reaction of someone deeply stung by the celebration and self-congratulation of others while his little girl is still in the woods, still in peril, still in the hands of the enemy. We also know that Tjerck has been counting through the items in his slain sister’s estate (the official inventory, filed with the town council on 20 November, is dated 14 November), and he is no doubt already feeling the stress of someone trying to come up with the funds to buy back as much of her property as he can afford. On top of that, the court and the church have been quarreling over who should administer the estate; Tjerck, a Lutheran, is probably particularly annoyed that the Reformed Church, which has persecuted him, would have anything to do with administering her estate, but it’s also grating just to have any tussle over how the painful process should be handled. All of this snowballs, and maybe the return of a hostage and everyone else’s celebration and kind treatment of the Wappinger leader are the last straws that push Tjerck over the edge.

Wednesday 14 November in Wildwyck (DHSNY IV, p. 91), the Council of War gets together and determines that a good policy would be to release the Wappinger they’re holding without cause, together with “one of the Esopus captive Squaws . . . and a little sucking infant.” The Wappinger leader accepts the hostages graciously and “requested that we should live with him in friendship,” offering the Dutch a bow and arrow as a token of comity. The Dutch give the Wappinger leader a couple of “pieces of cloth,” sometimes called “duffel,” which is common as a barter or token of friendship (see 10 May 1663 above for another example). The English phrase makes them seem inconsequential; perhaps they are longer and more useful (bolts of cloth?) than they sound. (See Janny Venema, Deacon’s Accounts 1652-1674 Beverwijck/Albany, for some further descriptions, p. xvi: duffel is “thick woolen cloth; the name comes from the town of Duffel near Antwerp. Also a winter coat made of duffel.” Venema also defines an ell, a unit of cloth measure, as about 27 inches.) Everyone shakes hands, and the “chief promised us to do his best to obtain back for us all the prisoners from the Esopus Indians.” Cregier notes that the next day is the 10-day limit of the truce; apparently the truce was bought from the Dutch with the promise that by the end of that time the Esopus would produce the balance of the missing European hostages, apparently to be delivered at the Redoubt. The War Council resolves that the sloop (possibly “the Company’s Yacht” that had arrived the day before?) should remain at the Redoubt through the next day, to be ready for the moment when the Esopus arrive to turn over the remaining hostages. “What the result will be,” Cregier ruminates (DHSNY IV, p. 91), “time will tell.” Cregier closes by noting that “A soldier named Juriaen Helm died to day.” Soldiers apparently have names. (The Company will need to pay someone for his services, and probably for his loss.) Hostages and townspeople don’t.

Thursday 15 November, the final day of the truce, no Esopus and no hostages arrive at the Redoubt (DHSNY IV, p. 91). “A vessel arrived from fort Orange with cattle,” but no sign of any of the townsfolk who are still missing. Cregier does not comment on the missing hostages, nor the final day of the truce.

Friday 16 November brings no further news (DHSNY IV, p. 91). A yacht (unspecified) comes down from Fort Orange, bound for Manhattan.

Saturday 17 November (DHSNY IV, p. 91), Cregier departs for Manhattan with some of the soldiers, “leaving in Wildwyck about sixty soldiers under the command of Ensign Christian Niessen.” Cregier, who had been instructed by Stuyvesant to return to Manhattan (see Stuyvesant’s 7 November note), is gone a full month, not returning until December 19. Niessen picks up the journal entries in his absence.

Sunday 18 November, with Cregier gone (DHSNY IV, pp. 91-92), Niessen notes that on Saturday “the fourth person” arrived in Wildwyck, “Jan Hendricksen Van Baal.” The entry sounds as if part of it is missing (three other people?). Van Baal arrived in the yacht of Abraham Staats; he reports “that two Dutchmen were killed by the Savages between [Communipaw, New Jersey] and the Maize land,” a location that requires better identification. (Communipaw, near Jersey City, is on the shore of the Hudson opposite the southern tip of Manhattan; this puts the attack fairly close to New Amsterdam.) Today, Sunday, Niessen has “them” (all four men?) escorted back down to the river. The topic of the 10-day truce with the Esopus and their promise to bring back all the missing European hostages seems to have been dropped completely.

Monday 19 November (DHSNY IV, p. 92) begins a long, quiet week in Wildwyck, to hear Niessen tell it. Niessen sends a party to the Redoubt, has provisions brought up, discharges a guy at the Redoubt, sends two more in his place, distributes half a pound of powder to each militiaman, sends detachments to the riverside with grain—on Tuesday he mentions sending “a detachment to the woods to draw out timber,” but other than that he seems even more detached from life in the village (harvest? wall repairs?) than Cregier did.

By Monday the 19th, Cregier must still be on the river, heading south to Manhattan, because Stuyvesant, impatient, sends a rather testy letter north (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 304); he has not had news since he sent his last letter north 12 days ago: “We are very much astonished and displeased, that during all this time not a letter or word of news has been received from either [Lieutenant Couwenhoven] or you and that the yacht is detained [at the Esopus] contrary to our written and verbal orders . . . because we had so plainly commanded you to come down” to Manhattan. Stuyvesant says he has learned (from Abraham Staats, who by now is at Wildwyck) “to our great joy and delight, that [the tale of the burned ship and Couwenhoven’s capture] was not true and that [Staats] had spoken with [Couwenhoven] and Rut Jacobsen near the Esopus river.” (The timing here is odd: Niessen places Staats at Wildwyck on the 18th, and he arrives with news of Dutchmen killed near Communipaw, so he has been to Manhattan. If he spoke to Couwenhoven near Wildwyck sometime around the 7th, he would have had time to get to Manhattan and back to Wildwyck . . . is that when Stuyvesant spoke to him? Why did Stuyvesant not send his annoyed letter back with Staats, instead of waiting till the 19th? It’s odd timing, but not impermissible.) Stuyvesant suggests that under the circumstances, perhaps a revenge attack on the Wappingers should “be deferred . . . if it cannot be carried with prospect of a good success.” One starts to imagine why people like the Wappingers might have mistrusted the clumsy Dutch.

On Tuesday 20 November 1663, we find Tjerck in court at the regular town council meeting in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers,pp. 103-105), and he hasn’t had a good week. Worth observing: On 1 December, he will auction the estate left by his sister Ida and her husband Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck. She was the sister who was here with him in the colony when no other family members were; she was the one who went back home with her little baby daughter and came back with another brother and sister. Tjerck has had other crummy times in his life, but this has to rank as one of the more stressful periods he’s put up with.
(1) The Schout, young Roeloff Swartwout (appointed by the Amsterdam Directors over the protests of Peter Stuyvesant), reads a complaint that Aeltje Wygerts and Albert Gysbertsen (see 13 December 1663, also 17 February 1665) told him, “on November 13, Tjerck Claesen, armed with a drawn knife, openly quarreled in his house, acting as if he wished to kill every man, woman and child.” Swartwout recommends that for the time being Tjerck not be allowed to sit on the court.
(2) In other business, Tjerck has a bone to pick with Evert Pels, regarding the matter of a killed pig. Tjerck has a sworn statement against Pels. Pels would like to question the witnesses in person, and he would like to be paid for his corn, which he says the pig damaged.
(3) Tjerck says Albert Gysbertsen (see (1) above) bought land from Tjerck a long time ago; the time for paying for the land expired in April 1663, and Tjerck still has not been paid; he would like to have his land back. Albert explains that he’s waiting to see the deed to make the final payment; the court tells the two to settle it between themselves. (Note that they both serve as members of the court.) The context of this might be that Tjerck is trying to collect as much cash as he can in advance of the auction of his sister’s estate; it appears that he wants to acquire as much of her estate as possible for himself, but he must do it by bidding for it at auction, so all parties involved can be satisfied that the value he offered for it was fair.
(4) Speaking of the upcoming auction, Tjerck files with the court an inventory of the estate of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck [and Tjerck’s sister Ida], made November 14 (the day after his big blowout with a drawn knife), and requests that someone else in addition to him be appointed curator of the estate, and that someone be made guardian of the minor children. The court says that Domine Blom and the Reformed Consistory (in the person of Allert Heymans Roose, who bickered with Tjerck over horses to pursue the “savages” on 23 October; see court session 6 November, KP p. 102) have forbidden an accounting of the estate, so the decision has to be made by the Supreme Magistrates in Manhattan. (See also KP, p. 111, the Consistory’s response to the Kingston Court on 18 December, a rather starchly worded answer to the Court’s November 4 note about releasing estates for the town council to administer instead of the church.)
It hasn’t been a good week for Tjerck.

(Worth noting: Tjerck has not, in the records, been appointed as administrator for his sister’s estate. He was one of the administrators formally designated by the council for the estates of those who died without heirs, but apparently in the case of a family that left heirs, the court does not need to appoint an administrator; it can fall without offical action to a family member—or we might simply be missing a record.)

Pieter van Couwenhoven and Martin Cregier must have made it to Manhattan, because on the 21st, Peter Stuyvesant gives him written instructions for his next mission, to the Wappingers again. (He seems to get on well there. Stuyvesant mentions on p. 305 that he got “written and verbal reports of Lieutenant Couwenhoven” on the 20th, suggesting that Couwenhoven who signed his name with a mark in 1642 can now read and write, a good thing for a guy who keeps getting written instructions from Stuyvesant.) The Lieutenant is supposed to go to determine the inclination of the Esopus and Wappingers to a truce. (Stuyvesant is still going on the premise that the Wappingers have been at war with the Dutch, as part of the whole fracas with the Esopus. There’s not exactly evidence that the Wappingers have been more than go-betweens, though more may have been known at the time than got committed to writing. The Wappingers, at any rate, seem to get along famously with Van Couwenhoven, and they are the ones who (even though the Dutch are holding their chief’s brother hostage) one after another keep bringing captives from the Esopus back to the Europeans. Apparently the Wappingers sent a messenger to the Governor of New Haven to ask him “to act as mediator” (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 304-306). The Wappingers say they “had never done any ill to the Dutch nor tried to do.” Stuyvesant notes that on the 17th, the Hackensack and Staten Island chiefs appeared at New Amsterdam with “some of the most prominent matrons of this place,” sent by the Esopus and Wappingers to seek peace. (Notes for the meeting on the 17th don’t seem to be part of the record.) Apparently on the 6th and 7th, at Wappingers Falls, Couwenhoven met with the Esopus chief himself, who “came to him on board and declared frankly, that he was ashamed to speak, that he neither could nor would continue at war with us any longer.” This is not just a significant step for Couwenhoven, having established enough trust with the Wappingers that the Esopus chief would come to parley with him under their protection, but also an important validation of the two-prong strategy of the war so far, in which Cregier in Wildwyck carries on military action, both attacks and protection, while Couwenhoven seeks communication and exchange. Cregier’s attacks, and destruction of food stores, appear to have broken the will of the Esopus; now they come to Couwenhoven to sue for peace. Couwenhoven will go with Sergeant Pieter Ebel and Harmen Douwesen, “all three well versed in the savage tongue.” They are authorized to “continue and renew” the peace with the Wappingers, and “to make peace with the Esopus, when the balance of our prisoners have been released.” Instructions are to remind the Esopus that “winter is before the doors and the yachts cannot go much longer,” so they had better make haste in their deliberations. Several options are given for where the Esopus and Wappinger and Dutch leaders can meet. Stuyvesant repeats explicitly that “the six captured Christians must also be exchanged and delivered, before we can make peace.” Pieter Jansen van Kuyck is sent along too, “to note and write down everything properly” (can Couwenhoven read and write after all?). Stuyvesant preserves the option that if the Esopus prefer, and if they are ready to turn over the last of the Wildwyck hostages, they can all go up to Wildwyck before coming south, to collect the Esopus women and children who are being held by the Europeans. (The Wildwyck hostages never do get returned in 1663, and long into the spring of the following year their whereabouts are still unclear.) Last but not least: Stuyvesant is getting itchy to get back the cannon and other military equipment that are up at Wildwyck. With the Esopus suing for peace, they seem less necessary up there. (The Lower Hudson tribes keep repeating their peaceful intents too, but the English on Long Island are another question, and Stuyvesant may be starting to get a sense, rightly, that the British would like to see the Union Jack flying over Fort Amsterdam.) Should the Esopus and Wappingers and the Dutch negotiators head north before coming down to settle the peace, Couwenhoven and team “shall bring away from the Esopus the three bron[z]e pieces . . . saddles and bridles . . . also the powder cart and the large rope . . . so that they may be laid away here until better use and service.” Stuyvesant will get more impatient to get these items back as the weeks go by.

Worth noting: Martin Cregier, who came downriver with Couwenhoven, is not being sent back to Wildwyck just yet. Stuyvesant has another mission for him (see notes below).

On the same day (the 21st), no doubt to go upriver in the same ship, Stuyvesant at New Amsterdam sends a pair of notes to Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 306-307), clarifying his stance on who should administer the estates of people who were killed with no wills and no known heirs. First to the town council, he acknowledges “abuses” by the Consistory there but says the Consistory complains that “what is collected in the community either for the church or for the poor” is being administered by the town council, when it should be administered by the Consistory; he instructs that control should be returned to the church. He sees fit to add a postscript, clarifying that the “money proceeds from such estates shall be placed in charge of the overseers of the poor,” which mostly seems to mean the Consistory. The he writes a somewhat more substantial note to the Consistory, chiding them for not getting along better with the town council, which “properly” is really supposed to be the body administering the estates of those who died intestate. He instructs the Consistory to get out of the town council’s way, and he in general instructs both sides to get along better. Domine Blom gets the note and writes back on 3 December, telling his version of how the supervision of the intestate estates got so confused (p. 311); he believes the church’s request for information was moderate and justified, and suggests that the town council overreacted and misrepresented what actually took place. (Albert Heymans Roose, the one the council sarcastically calls “the Consistory,” since he’s the only deacon in town, is still missing his eldest daughter, captured by the Esopus in June. We see her mentioned for example on 29 November, below, in one of Niessen’s entries in the Cregier journal.)

Saturday 24 November (DHSNY IV, p. 92), two yachts arrive at Wildwyck, that of Reyndert Pietersen and “the Spaniard.” Sunday 25 November “Nothing happened.”

On the 24th at Fort Orange, LaMontagne and Van Rensselaer again unite to send Stuyvesant the latest news (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 307-310). For a little while they have been observing that the Maquaes (a.k.a. Mohawks) have abandoned their fields and vanished from the area; now the Dutch have discovered that, together with the Senecas, they have headed off “to march against their enemies,” taking a roundabout route to avoid being spotted by the Dutch. The Fort Orange leaders also say the Catskils have reaffirmed their peaceful intentions and said they have nothing to do with the Esopus; La Montagne and Rensselaer ask Stuyvesant please “not to molest” them. They attach a transcript of a 28 July conversation between the Mohawk chief Adogodquo (“alias the Big Spoon”) and the “Indians of Agawam,” clarifying that nobody from these parts has killed any Maquaes; the dastardly deed was committed by the Sowquackicks over at the head of the Connecticut River. This much is reported by John Pynchon, in Springfield; the Dutch translate it on 22 October to Adogodquo, who says it all sounds very fine but “peace would be so much firmer” if the inhabitants of Agawam would also send him gifts. (Of note: The guy who translates this to Adogodquo is Jan Thomas, presently a member of the Fort Orange council, but also known as Tjerck’s brother-in-law; his wife and Tjerck’s wife are sisters. Tjerck’s father-in-law, Andries Lucassen, was also noted as an interpreter between Europeans and North Americans.) There’s also some back and forth from 10 October about whether the Esopus are coming to attack the Fort Orange area; long story short, they don’t. Jan Thomase, Tjerck’s brother-in-law, polls the native leaders on what they know about this, and they say they have already blocked the Esopus five times from attacking. They thought the Dutch already knew this. Keesien Way, from the Catskil tribe, “complains that, when he comes here, the Dutch pull him by the ears and call him an Esopus rascal.” The combined town councils apologize, offer presents, and say they’ll try to redress any injuries he has been dealt. The Esopus are referred to as “savage,” but the Catskills are called “our brothers.” Keesien Wey says, “We shall keep the peace firmly and inviolably.”

Monday and Tuesday the 26th and 27th begin what sounds like another quiet week for Niessen and his contingent of 60 soldiers. He sends an escort down to the river to bring supplies up to the town, then sends another convoy back down to take grain to the Redoubt (DHSNY IV, p. 92). As with Cregier, there is no expression of urgency or concern regarding the missing captives, the Esopus promise to bring them back, no plan to do anything about them—just take the supplies back and forth to the town and the Redoubt. There’s no commentary on coming winter or the repairs to the stockade or anything else. Just shuttling things back and forth to the river.

Things turn up, a bit, for Tjerck, after the many low points of last week: On Monday 26 November (Kingston Papers, p. 105), Tjerck comes back to the court, to re-present the estate inventory made November 14. He says that he went to speak with Domine Blom and the Consistory, and they said “after reading the aforesaid inventory, that they did not want to have anything to do with the estate, as there were heirs.” (Ida’s part of the estate spins out to her several brothers and sisters, some in North America, some in Europe, one already deceased, so her share will go to her kids. It is not clear where Jan’s part of the estate goes, but Tjerck asked more than once for a guardian to be appointed for the children who were still minors. In a simple estate, with no heirs, the church might want to get involved, as some of the estate value could go to the alms fund or other churchly purposes. If there are heirs, and particularly because the inheritance seems complicated and maybe because it involves a guy who apparently waves a knife around as if he wishes to kill every man, woman and child in the house, the Domine might well prefer not to get involved. Or perhaps after Tjerck’s big blowout the church just decided that they didn’t have to play hardball over every single detail, and it might be kinder just to let a brother clearly still grieving handle things in a manner he felt was most fitting.) The court appoints, “for the estate left by Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck,” Evert Pels as curator (see 20 November 1663, Item 2), with Hendrick Jochemsen as guardian. This leaves Tjerck as curator of his sister Ida’s part of the estate.

Wednesday 28 November the pace picks up for the rest of the town too (DHSNY IV, p. 92). There’s still no sign of the Esopus who had promised to bring back the rest of the hostages by the 15th, but the Wappingers are back. “About one o’clock in the afternoon a Wappinger Indian came to Wildwyck with a flag of truce”; apparently he did not need or get a military escort to make his way up safely from the riverside. The Wappinger messenger reports that “a Wappinger Sachem” was down by the river near the Redoubt with a load of venison he wanted to sell. (It is unclear what language is used to communicate.) Niessen doesn’t say whether it’s the same Wappinger leader who brought back hostages before and by now should be fairly well known to the community (it is); he simply turns down the messenger’s request for a wagon to bring the venison up to the village. The messenger says that the rumor in the Hackensack tribe (down closer to Communipaw, where 10 days ago two Dutchmen were reported killed) is that four Esopus prisoners in Wildwyck had died; Niessen has the prisoners brought out to the gate to show that they are alive and well. Niessen sends the messenger back to the river to let the Wappinger leader know that Niessen will come down to meet him tomorrow.

Thursday 29 November Niessen lets the town know that anyone who wants to buy venison can accompany the escort down to the river to do so (DHSNY IV, p. 93). With Thomas Chambers and Sergeant Jan Peersen, Niessen talks to the Sachem, while he sells the venison. He says “he had been to receive the Christian prisoners and should have had them with us before, had he not unfortunately burnt himself in his sleep while lying before the fire; shewed us his buttock with the mark of the burn which was very large.” He says he has six captives gathered together, and he gave 10 fathoms of sewan (beads of currency; 10 fathoms, about 60 feet, is a generous amount) “to another Indian to look up the seventh Christian who is Albert Heyman [Roosa]’s oldest daughter”; it is interesting first that Niessen thinks to mention the identity of one of the captives but also that between him and this Wappinger leader they are able to identify which specific captive he is talking about, even though the captive is not in the Wappinger’s hands yet. This leaves the impression that the Wappinger leader knows exactly who is who, even though Niessen isn’t even able to identify this leader by name. The Wappinger promises to bring “all the Christian prisoners to us in the course of three days, provided it did not blow too hard from the North”; winter is well on its way.

Friday the 30th closes out the month of November; Niessen’s daily entry makes it seem as if it was a quiet day, with nothing to report except sending an escort down to the Redoubt with grain. His entry of the next day, though, fills in rather a lot that went on, which he did not mention in his journal entry (DHSNY IV, p. 93): He sends a letter, also signed by Thomas Chambers, reporting that “three Indians arrived here . . . from the Manhatans,” with a pass, apparently from the Dutch administration. He does not identify whether the visitors are Esopus, Wappinger, Mohican, or from some other group. “But we cannot determine what sinister design these Indians may have recourse to under cover of this pass.” He accuses these “and other Indians” of spying on the village; he says he posted guards in the village to keep the visitors from prying and examining, “as they are strongly inclined to do.” He mentions the visit from the Wappinger leader, saying he had promised to bring back “all the Christian prisoners” within three or four days, although the previous entry specified just seven. Three days from the 29th would mean the hostages should be returned on December 2 (or 3, if the north wind is too strong).

Meanwhile, for Tjerck, December 1 is a big day.

Estate Auction

On Saturday 1 December 1663, Tjerck and the other curators of his sister’s estate hold an auction for everything left behind by Ida (Tette) Claessen De Witt, Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck, and the daughter (whose name we do not know) who was killed with them in the June attack on Wildwyck. To my knowledge, no specific record is left of the auction itself, but we can determine the date from other records (see for example Kingston Papers, p. 549, where the estate curators confirm that Jeronimus Ebbingh bought the site of the couple’s house, which was burned in the June attack). (For records of similar auctions, see for example Kingston Papers, pp. 536-540, and some of the notes following, including an inventory of the items to be sold and a narrative of the offers made, including names of bidders and eventual buyers, amounts bid and amount of the winning bid.) Tjerck submitted an inventory of items in the estate (see 14 November, 26 November; for a similar inventory of someone else’s estate, see Kingston Papers pp. 74-75); by now he will also have gone through the account books of Jan Albertsen and his sister (if she kept a separate book, which under the circumstances she may have); he has had a chance to itemize by now who owed them money, to whom they owed money, any outstanding contracts they had (unclosed purchases, any rentals, etc.), and any other open financial transactions. Anyone with a claim to make against their estate has had a chance to make it. What remains, then, is to sell off the remaining assets and distribute the estate to the rightful heirs.

It appears that Ida’s heirs, since her only daughter was killed, are her sisters and brothers. (One sister, Falde, still in East Frisia, died on 4 May 1663; her children will receive her share of the estate; see Kingston Papers, p. 600. The mother and father of Tjerck and his brother and sisters died in 1647 and 1659, respectively. Ida has surviving half-sisters in 1663, Annetje in Enkhuisen and Hilke in Großholum; since they do not receive any share of the estate, we might surmise that Ida’s wealth was considered to derive from her mother, Tiada Bremers, whose family had a farm in Ostfriesland, rather than from her father, Witt-Claes Johanßen) Jan’s inheritance is more complex: After multiple requests, the court appointed Hendrick Jochemsen as guardian for the minor children who survived the couple; since Ida’s entire half of the estate is divided (see below) among her brothers and sisters, we have to surmise that Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck had minor children who would inherit his half of the estate. No real record seems to survive to indicate who these children were, but a fair guess seems to be that Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck, who appears regularly in Wildwyck and Kingston records in years to come, might be Jan Albertsen’s son. The word “children” is used, in the plural, so it appears that Jan Albertsen had at least one other child who was not yet of age.

For the auction, it appears that Barbara’s brother, Lucas Andriessen, has sailed up from Manhattan (he may have been there since 5 November, when Cregier noted the arrival of “Lucassen’s yacht”; see also 3 December below, when he departs). When he came up, he must have brought with him the (not yet married) Emmerentje Claessen DeWitt; Cregier’s journal notes that when Lucassen arrived he brought with him other people from Wildwyck. We can guess that at least for now Emmerentje has shifted to living in Manhattan, where Lucas and his sister each have houses right across the plaza from the fort; this must seem safer than the relatively exposed Wildwyck (with the stockade Cregier kept complaining had such a porous wall). On 22 January 1664 she is in court in Manhattan over a dispute about payment for some fabric goods (Records of New Amsterdam 1653-1674, Vol. V, p. 10); but we also know that she purchases items at the auction (see below), so we can guess that she has come up with Lucas. Where Jan Claessen DeWitt is living now is anybody’s guess (living with Tjerck and Barbara, helping with the farm? living with Lucas, working aboard the ship? somewhere else perhaps?), but he also buys items from the auction. So the whole family draws together for the estate auction, not so different from how it might be done today.

With the possibility of multiple conflicts of interest, Tjerck—as an administrator of the estate and an heir and a possible bidder on items from the estate, as well as being a member of the town council that will certify the rectitude of the estate’s administration—has done the right thing by requesting that the court appoint an adminstrator and a curator to make sure the interests of Jan Albertsen and his children are properly represented. This will not make his job easier, but it helps anyone with an interest in the estate see that he’s not giving himself any undue advantage. By 29 January 1664 (Kingston Papers, p. 120) we see Mattheus Capito as Provisional Schout (while Roelof Swartwout had fallen out of Peter Stuyvesant’s irascible good favor) and Secretary of the Court requesting of Tjerck and his brother and sister that they provide security for the things they had bought at auction: Tjerck owes the estate 852 guilders; Jan owes the estate (“in his absence”: Jan is not in town for these proceedings, lending strength to the notion that if he lives in Wildwyck at all, it is only part-time) 201 guilders; Emmerentje owes the estate some amount for goods she bought at auction (see KP p. 136), but the amount is not named. (Other people who owe money to the estate for goods from the auction, p. 121: Ariaen Teunissen, 64 guilders; Mattys Roelofsen, 8 guilders; Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, 131 guilders for goods and 208 guilders, together with Jeronimus Ebbingh, for the lot the house used to stand on; Lambert Huybertsen, 43 guilders; others who are in Capito’s list are Jan Barents Ameshof, Ariaen Gerretsen, Dirrick Hendericks, Jacob Jansen, alias long Jacob. The last several people are not present for the hearing, and no specific amounts are named.) Of the 1510 guilders raised at the auction that we have listed in this tally, Tjerck owes more than half. Put another way, the lot where his sister’s house stood sold for 208 guilders; Tjerck owes 852 guilders for what he bought. He has taken on significant debt.

A fair question: If Jan and Ida were killed in the attack, and their house was burned, what of value remained of their property? Clearly something remained; the auction brought in 1500 guilders. But we can compare the situation of Mattheus Capito after the attack (see his letter cited above), who has to plead with the court in New Amsterdam to send him clothes, after his wife is killed and their house burned. He asks for fabric for handkerchiefs and a nightcap; he sounds as if he counts himself lucky to at least have the clothes he was wearing when the attack happened. From his description, we can guess he does not have 1500 guilders’ worth of anything after his house burns. An observation: When the estate is divided in 1666, Tjerck sends shares of the money to his sisters in Europe but not to either of his half-sisters, though both are alive. The impression is that whatever is of value in Ida’s estate might have been tied to the family inheritance of the mother these siblings share, rather than having come through their father, who is also father of their half-sisters (with whom they remain in touch, as we can see particularly in Amsterdam records, where Tjerck’s brother Jan even acts as godfather to his half-sister Annetje’s grandson with the same name, Jan Claessen, son of Claes Harmens, Annetje’s son). If Ida’s estate is connected with a family inheritance, it might be easier to understand why Tjerck and his younger sister and brother are so intent on buying items at the auction: They don’t want to let this worth leave the family. We still don’t really know what was sold at the auction.

When the estate is finally closed and divided two and a quarter years later, on 13 March 1666 (Kingston Papers, pp. 592-593; there was an earlier attempt to close it shortly before that, until the math was found to be incorrect), the total estate value is declared at 1921 guilders plus the balance and overdue interest owed on a 60-guilder note signed in Steenwyck. The lion’s share of the estate value comes from the 1510 guilders raised in this auction. Tjerck, as administrator, owes each of his siblings 178 guilders plus interest, and he owes the heirs of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck about 700 guilders on top of that. Raising this amount of cash will put some strain on his family’s finances for the next few years. We will see the ripple effect as he tries to collect every penny he can of any debts that anyone owes him, and as he considers selling various assets he has accumulated over the years. (How this money eventually got to his family in Europe is a fascinating question; there were safe ways to send money overseas, or just to transfer the obligation with a notarized document, but it would be informative to know whether a family member carried the money to his siblings—perhaps only to someone in Amsterdam who then relayed it on?—or what other emissary might have been entrusted with this mission. We know that Jan, Tjerck’s brother, was back in Amsterdam by 1670 getting married; Grietie, one of their sisters, also moved to Amsterdam, and he could have paid her share then. Martin Hoffman apparently went back to Europe at some point as well, but the timing is unclear, since the power of attorney described by Holgate, apparently written in English, has not been located.)

December

On Saturday 1 December (DHSNY IV, pp. 93-94), Niessen sends away “the three Indians” (he never really explained their arrival the day before), “with a letter to the Hon[ora]ble Heer Director General [Stuyvesant] . . . written in haste.” It sounds as if he has put them on a boat back to Manhattan. He indicates that he will send the current daily journal entries “by the first Yacht,” making it sound as if he doesn’t quite trust the journal entries to go on the same ship with the letter to the Director General. Niessen also anticipates that in a few days’ time more than one shipload of grain will leave the Redoubt for Manhattan. This is the end product of so many months of harvesting under armed protection; it is not only for the people of Wildwyck, who have grown the grain, but for Manhattan as well.

On Sunday 2 December, we get the first mention of “the hard frost,” though no references yet to any snow (DHSNY IV, p. 94). The weather is getting colder; this will affect travel on the river, and likely the return by water of any of the hostages from the village. Because of the frost, “I requested the skippers of the vessels to go down to the Redoubt to examine their Yachts which they consented to do.” Presumably this includes Lucas Andriessen, Barbara’s brother. If he came up November 5, bringing Jan and Emmerentje for the day of prayer marking the fifth month since the attack, and if he saw the state of affairs and stuck around, through Tjerck’s difficult outburst on the 13th, through the estate auction on 1 December, Lucas is probably starting to think about heading downriver again before ice makes travel more hazardous. Every few days seem to bring some fresh promise that the balance of the kidnapped villagers will be returned, with so far little in the way of results. Cregier (Lucas’s neighbor in Manhattan) took off about a week after the day of prayer, together with many of the soldiers who had been sent up for the village’s protection. Lucas has wife and children in Manhattan (unless he brought them on board with him to Wildwyck), and a business partner who no doubt will welcome his return, and the return of their jointly owned yacht. It appears that a few other ships are waiting at the Redoubt, to haul the fruits of the recent (somewhat truncated) harvest back to Manhattan: “In the afternoon, after the Sermon, sent a party to the shore to take down grain and to put it on board.” Another load (six wagons) will go down the next day.

Monday 3 December (DHSNY IV, p. 94), Niessen gets together with the Military Council, and they decide not to comply with a request from Stuyvesant to send down the best of the saddles, pistols, holsters and carbines that had been left behind (in the custoday of “the Clerk, Mattheus Capito”) by Cregier when he departed, along with a sail and three cannon. They write a letter explaining that “we have no smith sufficiently expert” to repair the other equipment they have, “and as the Wappingers come almost daily under pretence of exchanging Christians, to spy out this place which already hath suffered massacre enough,” the Military Council judges that it needs the arms that are “in readiness” already to defend the village.

In the same letter (DHSNY IV, p. 94) we see the first commentary on the repairs the village has been doing to the stockade: The wall “is found as yet to be for the greater part inadequate . . . in many places palisades have been removed from the [stockade wall, called a curtain] and not replaced by others.” Niessen predicts “imminent ruin and destruction” of the village if things don’t get better, and he “demands” that the Wildwyck town council (conveniently not at this meeting) tell the villagers to get the wall in good shape within three days’ time, after which Niessen himself will “do it with the best means he may at present find at hand, and demand repayment therefor when done” from the Wildwyck town council. This is high talk from the guy who was on his way to the town the day the Esopus attackers came to burn and pillage, then turned around and fled back to the Redoubt when he heard about “the mischief committed by the Indians in the village” (DHSNY IV, p. 41). We have seen the villagers hard at work for several weeks now, cutting trees and bringing them into the village to make repairs to the walls. Niessen sounds as if he wants to finish the work and then charge the villagers for what they have already mostly done themselves.

Also on 3 December (DHSNY IV, p. 95), Niessen says he sent a convoy down to the Redoubt in the morning with grain to load on the ships setting out for Manhattan. When the convoy comes back up to the village, he says, they “brought up the Wappinger Sachem and his wife, and Splitnose, the Indian last taken by us.” (Is Splitnose the Sachem’s brother?) The Wappinger leader “brought with him two captive Christian children,”  but he says despite his earlier promise, he could not bring the other five, “because three were at [the Wappinger or Esopus] hunting grounds” and he couldn’t find them, and two more are with a woman who says she needs them to take care of her because she is sick and has no children; she expects to die soon, after which presumably they will be released. He says that “Albert Heymans [Roosa’s] oldest daughter” is “also at the hunting ground,” leaving it unclear (in Niessen’s telling) whether there are really three or four children at the hunting ground. He says he has “already purchased and paid for” Roosa’s daughter; the telling makes it sound as if the Wappingers (or Esopus?) are treating the European children as slaves who can be owned and bought and sold. (This is precisely what became of Esopus prisoners of the Dutch after the First Esopus War a few years ago: They were sent off to the Caribbean as slaves.) We don’t hear the identities of the two children who are returned, but for them Niessen exchanges “an Indian child . . . being a little girl, and three pieces of cloth.”

After all this, four men depart the village, “unescorted . . . with six wagon loads of grain, not being willing to wait for the writings and letters” that Niessen wants to send back to Manhattan aboard their ships. (Domine Blom does get a letter to them in time for it to go down to Stuyvesant; see DRCHSNY XIII p. 311, where he refers to “the hurried departure of the yachts.”) Lucas Andriessen (DHSNY IV, p. 95) “said that he would not wait for the Director General’s nor any man’s letters but be off, as the wind was fair.” From Niessen’s telling, and the court appearance that follows, we can see that the skippers were clearly and intentionally doing this as an affront to Niessen, but the source of their annoyance is less clear: Were they just impatient with his (and Cregier’s) ineffectual leadership, in broad form? Was Andriessen disgusted that once again the Military Council had failed to bring home his niece? Had Tjerck’s daughter been returned at last, and Andriessen saw no point in waiting around longer? We can sense the tension in the conflict at the village gates, but the specific cause of anger remains murky. It is certainly possible that with winter weather looming and evening setting in early, the skippers really did want to take advantage of favorable wind and tide to make good headway before they had to set anchor. But his irritation seems clear.

If Niessen makes any further journal entries from 4 December to 19 December, when Cregier returns, they are not part of the record that has been preserved. Two weeks’ worth of entries are missing.

5 December, the first Wednesday of the month, will have been a day of prayer, as designated by Stuyvesant on 26 June.

On Thursday 6 December in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 311-312), Stuyvesant gives Martin Cregier and Govert Loockermans written instructions for a journey to “the Nevesing country, from Barnegatt to the Raritan”; he is sending them to buy land from the Neversinks, in competition with the English, who “went there in a barge last night.” (Govert Loockermans, who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Stuyvesant and the WIC, has also sailed before with Andries Lucassen, early New Netherlands colonist, father of Tjerck’s wife Barbara and translator for Peter Minuit in 1638 when he bought land on the Delaware from the original owners to establish New Sweden.) Cregier keeps and submits a journal of his visit to the Neversinks, similar to his much longer journal of his mission to Wildwyck to protect the villagers there; see DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 314-316. (On their way down into New Jersey, they run into Pieter van Couwenhoven and his brother Jacob, “going to barter for deer meat.”) They encounter some stiff headwinds from an early storm front, but they do meet the English expedition, which has some Dutchmen along; they trade words about who’s entitled to what here, and what rights the Dutch or English have. Cregier heads back to Manhattan on the 11th, and on the 12th (pp. 316-317) the leaders of the Neversinks sign an agreement with the Dutch about sales of land. Martin Cregier, Govert Lookermans, and Jan Cortelyou, together with Pietre Ebel, “Pieweherenoes, alias Hans the Savage,” and Interenemont serve “as witnesses and interpreters.”

On Saturday 8 December 1663 in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 312-313), we find Luycas Andriesen named with three other men in a complaint that (on 3 December) they drove six wagons, loaded with grain, from Wildwyck to the Redoubt at the shore of the Hudson, to load onto ships for transport. The August 4 proclamation that nobody should leave town without an escort is still in effect. Fiscal Nicasius de Sille makes the complaint, based on a letter from Ensign Christian Niessen, who is trying to keep some degree of order up in the Esopus. The men respond that they had loaded up in front of the Ensign, who was supposed to escort them, and they expected him to follow when they left; they say they have no idea why he refused. So we see Luycas has been able to come to town and no doubt visit his sister Barbara and Tjerck.

The incident is described by Christian Niessen in his journal entry (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 352; also see note above): “In the afternoon, Jeronimus Ebbing, Nicolaes Meyer and Frederick [Philippsen; see p. 312] the Hon[ora]ble Company’s late carpenter, went down unescorted to the Redoubt, with six wagon loads of grain, not being willing to wait for the writings and letters which should be sent by them to the Heeren Director General and Council of N. Netherland; and the Skipper Lucas Andriessen, also, said that he would not wait for the Director General’s nor any man’s letters but be off, as the wind was fair.” Cregier makes frequent notes of ships coming and going; sometimes he does not name them. It’s December, and cold, and there’s possibly ice in the river, and night will fall very early; none of this is mentioned in the documents on record, but this all must have weighed on a sailor’s mind. (Everybody knew everybody in the colony, but note that Cregier knew Lucas Andriessen also as a neighbor in New Amsterdam; see “A Hand in Every Trade” above.) The day before (p. 351), Niessen writes, “on account of the hard frost, I requested the skippers of the vessels to go down to the Redoubt to examine their Yachts which they consented to do. In the afternoon, after the Sermon [it was a Sunday], sent a party to the shore to take down grain and to put it on board.

On Monday 10 December in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 314), Oratamy, leader of the Hackensacks, notifies the council “that the Wapping and Esopus Indians are coming to conclude a treaty of peace.” Apparently Van Couwenhoven’s mission was a success, or maybe it was Oratamy’s own mission: Couwenhoven (“Lieut. Pieter Wolphertsen as interpreter”) appears to be present in Manhattan for Oratamy’s visit. Oratamy refers to the agreement of November 14 by which he sent two messengers up to talk to the Wappingers and Esopus. (When Stuyvesant on 21 November dispatched Couwenhoven north to treat with the Esopus and Wappingers, as noted above, his instructions referred to a meeting with downriver chiefs and “matrons” of New Amsterdam on the 17th; this may be the agreement of November 14 that’s referred to here. No record of the meeting seems to have survived.) The Esopus promise “to come down here with the 5 captive Christians, who are still in their hands, within 8 days.”

On Thursday December 13, 1663, apparently Tjerck and Albert Gysbertsen sign some further contract regarding a land sale. The contract is referred to in court in Kingston on 25 November 1664 (Kingston Papers, pp. 180-181), by then in a dispute between Tjerck and Aeltje Wygerts, the widow of Albert Gysbertsen, since he has died (Kingston Papers, pp. 557-558). If the deed still exists, I have not seen it. Albert Gysbertsen was a former member of the town council, appointed at the same time as Tjerck was (see 27 April 1662 above); their farms were side by side (see 1 May 1664 description), and the land transfered in this dispute may have been some of the original land Tjerck got from Johanna de Laet. Albert and Tjerck together as councilors on the court are in charge of (among other things) processing the estates of those killed in the June 1663 Esopus attacks who died without heirs (see 18 September 1663 entry above). See 20 November 1663 record (above) where Tjerck and Albert have a disagreement over land sold and bought, with Albert saying he won’t make the final payment until Tjerck gives him the deed. The contract referred to in 1664 is likely an extension of the same transaction. Roelof Swartwout, who by 1664 is no longer Schout, represents Aeltje in this case, and insists that Tjerck deliver a deed to the land before she makes the payment. The Court concurs. There is a further complication with regard to the sale of a horse. See 18 November 1664 and 25 November 1664 notes below.

On Tuesday, 18 December 1663, Roelof Swartwout is listed as the Schout, present at the meeting. Mattheus Capito, listed as Secretary, is taking notes (KP, p. 108). (The court requests that the Collector, Jacob Boerhans, pay the Court Messenger, Jacob Joosten, 50 guilders.) But on Thursday, 27 December 1663, Mattheus Capito is listed as “Provisional Schout” (p. 111) in a special session. Swartwout is absent in a case brought against him by Tjerck. Mattheus Capito (p. 112) refers to Swartwout as “former Schout . . . my predecessor.” Later in the session (Swartwout has appeared? p. 114), Swartwout is described as “retiring Schout” when he requests that he be allowed to collect fines from two individuals whose cases were adjudicated earlier; the Court agrees that Swartwout and Capito may split the collected fines.

It turns out that Swartwout was demoted by Stuyvesant; details to be filled in later from other sources.

By the 19th of December, a Wednesday just before Christmas, Cregier has finished what he’s about in Manhattan and is ready to return to Wildwyck, though he’s only going to be there for a couple of weeks before heading south again more permanently. We can’t know too much about what went on in Manhattan while he was there, but we can speculate that something happened that would cause his 12-year-old slave Lysbeth Antonissen to take the extreme measure of burning down his house there in early January when he came back—apparently the very day he came back. The timing seems more than coincidental, but we can only guess. Cregier, of course, says nothing about it in this journal, which was designed for public consumption. On this Wednesday, just shy of the shortest day of the year, after the first hard frost but before the first reported snow of the winter, Cregier set out “About three o’clock in the afternoon” (DHSNY IV, p. 96), with a wind from the west southwest; the first day they get as far as Tappan Hook, which O’Callaghan identifies as Teller’s Point. Cregier says the wind died as night came on, and with the river ebbing back down toward Manhattan, they cast anchor rather than drifting south on the tide. (The location is just north of present-day Nyack and the Tappan Zee bridge; Teller’s Point, a long hook extending from the east shore of the Hudson at Croton, offers a wide shelter from the downstream flow of the river. Tides in the Hudson today, with a rise and fall of up to six feet [two meters] go as far north as the dam at Troy, north of Albany [Beverwijck]; they would go further if the dam weren’t there. The tides are not a direct result of lunar pull; they result from the rise and fall of the tides at the mouth of the river—see this PDF from the Cary Institute for further discussion. The elevation of the river at Troy is only a couple of feet above sea level; the lower 150 miles of the river—200 km—are essentially dead flat.)

By 8 a.m. on the 20th (DHSNY IV, p. 96), the tide had switched (probably for a second time), and Cregier in the WIC yacht was able to drift upstream on the current, but two hours later a wind from the north came up. This meant they could put up sails, but they were beating upwind, slower going than the day before when they could reach on the WSW wind. They made “the Highland” before the tide changed again and they had to set anchor. This puts them (judging from his entry the next day, when they run through the Highlands) right around Peekskill. The Highlands stretch past west point, between Peekskill and Newburgh, where a ridge of mountains cut across the Hudson and narrow it into a deeper, more treacherous passage with high cliff walls and fast-moving currents, the region described in T.C. Boyle’s historical novel—named for the traditional mariners’ name for this part of the river—World’s End. Saving this passage until the current is with you is a wise move. (See Lucas Andriessen’s haste to head south a few weeks ago, knowing that he would have to time his passage through the same waters on his journey back to Manhattan, at a season when daylight hours are short and winter storms can come down on the river quickly. He may have been annoyed with Niessen for other reasons too, but his urge to leave while the wind and tide were in his favor was legitimate.)

Friday the 21st finds Cregier still on the river (DHSNY IV, p. 96); he says the flood tide set in “about two hours before day,” which—since this is the winter solstice—would mean around 5:20 a.m. This is cold weather. The yacht rides the tide through the Highlands by daybreak, to what he calls the kamer, meaning the Dans Kamer, just north of where the constricted gorge of the Highlands broadens out into a flatter pool south of Newburgh. (Literally the dans kamer is a dance chamber, a broad, easy space to move around in. See Footprints of the Red Men: Indian Geographical Names in the Valley of Hudson’s River, E.M. Ruttenber, New York State Historical Association, 1906. See also Susan Fenimore Cooper, “The Hudson River and its Early Names,” in The Magazine of American History, Vol. IV, No. 6 [June 1880], pp. 401-418.) Cregier says the wind calmed by daybreak (7:20 a.m. or so), but between light wind and tides they made it to the mouth of the Esopus Kill (likely today’s Roundout Creek, not the creek today called the Esopus) by 10 p.m. Cregier sends a note up to Nyssen instructing him “to send down some wagons in the morning with an escort” to bring supplies up to the garrison at Wiltwyck.

Saturday the 22nd (DHSNY IV, p. 96) around 9 a.m. the wagons arrive at the Redoubt; Cregier brings the yacht into the mouth of the creek to unload. He notes that overnight (they left the yacht there that night) “it froze . . . so hard that the yacht was hemmed in by the ice.” Judging from their predawn navigation, the weather must be clear enough to see even before dawn, but it’s cold. (The waning moon was at its last quarter on the 21st; see https://www.moongiant.com/calendar/December/1663/. A modern tide chart suggests the tide at the last quarter moon would reach its height at 5:40 a.m. at West Point, rather than switching from ebb to flood at about the same time as Cregier reports; I will let someone else work out the discrepancy.) Back in command, Cregier reports he “sent a convoy to haul stone.” They must be glad to have him back.

Sunday 23 December, with Christmas almost upon them, Cregier reports “No business” (DHSNY IV, p. 96).

Monday 24 December, for Christmas Eve, Cregier gives Roelof Swartwout his walking papers, handing him (and the town council) a letter from Stuyvesant removing the Schout from his office and giving his position (provisionally) to Mattheus Capito, who has been working as town clerk (DHSNY IV, pp. 96-97). Cregier does not belabor Swartwout’s reaction but emphasizes that the town council members were “well please with” the change and congratulated Capito. The weather is clear enough (with evidently no snow on the ground yet) that “A party was sent to the Great Plot [Groote Stuck] to cut oats which happened to be late in ripening, as an opportunity now presented to cut it and draw it home.” (See 20 September entry where a similar party is out at the Groote Stuck “by Tjerck’s” to cut oats. This sounds like a final cutting for the year on the same field, a fortunate stroke given that harvesting has been cramped by the requirement that farmers wait for a military escort to be available before going to work their fields.) Cregier sounds pleased with the yield; he says that 104 sheaves produced 5 skepels of oats.

Tuesday 25 December (DHSNY IV, p. 97), Cregier does not mention Christmas, but he does say that Reyntje Pieters came up from the Redoubt to report that the entrance to the creek was still frozen solid.

Wednesday 26 December, Cregier reports “No occurrence,” and on the 27th (DHSNY IV, p. 97) he reports only that a party was out at the Groote Stuck hauling stone. (It makes sense that after the oats have been harvested would be a good time to go back to the field and continue extracting rocks from it, before ploughing and planting again in the spring.)

Friday the 28th of December (DHSNY IV, p. 97), the sloop at the mouth of the kill is still frozen in solid ice. The captain (Thomas Chambers) and lieutenant (Hendrick Jochemsen) of the Burghery request “a drum according to the promise given them by the Heer General”; this sounds like a ceremony of some kind meant to honor them. The “Drum and appurtenances” were given to them, “By permission of the Military Council.” The officers also give Cregier a formal request for a keg of gunpowder and proportionate lead to be provided to the village for self-defense; we start to see that preparations are being made for the militia to leave the town, returning it to its former status and self-reliance. For now, the “war” is being drawn to a close.

On Saturday 29 December (DHSNY IV, pp. 97-98), a fairly typical ordinance is issued about discharging firearms on New Year’s Eve; it is forbidden as wasteful as dangerous. This is not an unusual annual ordinance (like other annual edicts about not having a boisterous Mardi Gras and other similar celebrations), but it perhaps takes on a fresher urgency since Cregier has just given the town officers a keg of gunpowder and lead. On this day Cregier also takes a party down to the Redoubt “to bring away the guns and other munitions of war” that have been stored at Wildwyck.

Sunday 30 December (DHSNY IV, p. 98) brings rain “almost the entire day,” which melts the ice that has hemmed in the WIC yacht at the mouth of the creek by the Redoubt. (Mr. Fahrenheit, who developed the first accurate mercury-in-glass thermometer, did not propose his standardized scale of temperature measurement until 1724; reading this, we can estimate temperatures from what we know of weather today and from descriptions of hard freezes, frozen rivers and creeks, snowfalls and rainfalls, but a writer at the time did not have a uniform way of describing cold weather with any numerical standard.)

Cregier leaves Wildwyck at last on New Year’s Eve, December 31 (DHSNY IV, p. 98), “the wind Southerly.” Tacking upwind again, they make it through the Long Reach on the Hudson (Lange Rack; see Wikipedia notes on the Hudson and the names for its many sections; by one telling, Long Reach extends “from Danskammer Point (south) to Crum Elbow (north)”), “where we came to anchor in the night about twelve o’clock.”  My guess is that the rain has cleared and they’re trying to reach Manhattan before the next weather comes in. The moon by now should be nearly gone, so all they have to navigate around rocks and shoals is starlight; it’s one thing to be running with the wind and mostly sticking to the center channel of the river, but when you have to zigzag back and forth from shore to shore, it helps to be able to see more clearly where you’re going. Making it through the Long Reach leaves them just north of present-day Newburgh, north of the Dans Kammer and World’s End.

On New Year’s Day 1664 (DHSNY IV, p. 98), Cregier reports beating against a southerly wind “as far as the [northern] entrance of the Highlands where we anchored about 9 o’clock in the evening”; after the tide had stopped coming in, they weighed anchor “and passed through the Highlands where we again cast anchor.” On 2 January the south wind must have died out; they “drifted with the ebb” as far down as Tappan, and on the 3rd, Cregier wraps up his journal in a style unwittingly reminiscent of Conrad: “Having weighed anchor again, drifted down anew with the ebb to the end of Manhatans Island, where we made sail about 8 o’clock in the morning, the wind being westerly, and arrived about twelve o’clock at the Manhatans.”

 

[more to come here]

Tjerck’s sister Ida was killed in the attack, together with her husband Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck and their toddler daughter. (Ida is described as having been pregnant when she was killed.) Their estate is not listed among those with no heirs, and an administrator is later appointed “for the minor children.” Ida and Jan were married recently enough that they probably did not have any other children, and no mention is made of any children in the extensive documentation of the settlement of Ida’s side of the estate. The implication is that Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck, then, must have had other children, who stood to inherit from his side of the estate, but not from Ida’s share of the couple’s property. (Ida’s share was divided among her siblings, who would have been her next of kin, both in North America and in Ostfriesland.) In short order we see Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck mentioned in Kingston records, and he may very well have been one of Jan Albertsen’s sons with a previous wife.

Plenty of bad feelings remain among the settlers of the town, who feel the colony’s directors and the WIC are not helping them enough; the townsfolk, who have lost a number of buildings to fire, are under further strain from having to provide housing, in their homes, for the militia members who have been sent up to rescue the kidnapped colonists and resolve the “war.” The militia does not seem to be making fast progress either at locating the Indians who attacked the town or at rescuing any of the lost family members. It takes some time to recover the kidnapped villagers. New rules are imposed (apparently on August 4) “that no one should go out to mow without the consent of the Captain Lieutenant and a sufficient convoy” for protection.

 

In a special session on Saturday, 29 December 1663 (KP, pp. 116-117), Tjerck asks the court to restore to him a horse that Roelof Swartwout (retired Schout) sold him, “and for which he paid.” Tjerck submits a receipt and says Swartwout took the horse back from Tjerck’s stable. Swartwout says he was never paid. On the 31st (p. 117), in another special session, the court determines that Tjerck still owes 24 schepels of wheat; they instruct Tjerck to pay the balance and Roelof to return the horse.

On 3 January 1664, Martin Cregier’s “negro servant, Lysbet Antonis,” (evidently a slave) sets fire to his house in New Amsterdam (Iconography, p. 217, which cites further sources, Col. Hist. MSS., Dutch, 258-9 and others). By 26 January he has surrendered his grant to that house and accepted a modified “new patent for a house and garden,” leading Stokes to infer that he had to rebuild the house. This is particularly ironic given that in January 1648 he had been “one of the first fire-wardens of the town” (ibid.).

Slavery and Dutch Social Justice in New Netherland

A bit of a digression from a digression gives us a feel for the context in which Tjerck eventually becomes a slave owner:

The page reference to Col. Hist. MSS. is to Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan’s Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y., 1865; O’Callaghan listed all the documents as he had reorganized them [for this reorganization see introductions to the New Netherland Institute translations of the same collection under Charles Gehring, as well as A.J.F. Van Laer’s 1910 article on the same topic, in Education Department Bulletin No. 462.]. The Dutch manuscripts, dated 1630-1664, make up Part I of O’Callaghan’s list; the Council Minutes take up more than half of this set.

On Page 258 of O’Callaghan’s list, we find Vol. X, Part III of the Council Minutes, where he describes the entry Stokes describes in Iconography from 3 January 1664: “Order for a search after a negro wench belonging to Martin Cregier, suspected of having set fire to his house.” On 4 February (p. 259) we find “Examination. Lysbet Antonissen, a negro woman, native of New Netherland, for setting fire to Martin Cregier’s house.”

In short order after that we find on 5 February the complaint against Lysbet by the Fiscal (a colony official), on 8 February the “Confession of guilt by said negress,” and on 9 February the “Sentence of Lysbeth Anthonissen; that she be conveyed to the place of public execution, there chained to the stake, strangled, and then burnt.” This harsh sentence is immediately followed by an order “Revoking the above sentence, and directing that the woman [in reality a 12-year-old girl] be conveyed to the place of execution as above, that all the preparations for strangling and burning her be made, and then that she be pardoned and returned to her master.” This is how the civilized Dutch administered justice.

(The translations of the actual minutes are anticipated in the New Netherland Institute’s Vol X of Council Minutes, which is still in process as of 2020; these appear to be different minutes from those translated by Fernow in Records of New Amsterdam 1653-1674, which apparently are court records from the town council rather than the colony council.)

What to a modern ear sounds cruel and whimsical (literally Dostoevskian: more or less the same thing was done to him for his participation in political activity in 1849) to the 1600s Dutch sensibility must have seemed apt and more humane than actually carrying out the sentence. The Dutch in administering the colony never had much stomach for capital punishment, perhaps because the community was so small. In another case involving slaves, we see a similar outcome: Jan Premero was murdered in 1641 (see Jaap Jacobs, pp. 205-206, though the story is told elsewhere too); nobody knew who had struck the fatal blow, so the eight Company slaves who were accused drew lots to determine who must die for the crime. At the hanging the rope broke, and “at the request of the onlookers, who saw this as a judgment of God, pardon was granted.” (See p. 87, Scott Christianson, “Criminal Punishment in New Netherland,” from Selected Rensselaerswijck Seminar Papers, https://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org/files/2813/5067/3661/3.2.pdf for more examples of last-minute commutation of death sentences; note that public executioners were black slaves, and in the case of the execution of Wolf Nyssen in 1646, in order to persuade a slave to carry out the punishment, the council had to give “Jan the Negro” his freedom; Christianson’s paper includes more complete source references.)

Stepping back just a bit, we find in Jaap Jacobs’ excellent The Colony of New Netherland (2009, Cornell, pp. 205-206) an older story of what must be the identical “ten-year-old Lijsbet Anthony, property of minister Drisius’s wife,” in 1661 when she “stole some black sewant [the beads, a form of money, were classified by color, each having a different value].” She was sentenced to “a whipping, to be carried out by her mother” in the presence of the schepenen (magistrates, council members, etc.). Here Jacobs cites Fernow’s Records of New Amsterdam Vol. III p. 315, which fills in some further story: Lysbet lived with Jan Jurriaanzen Becker and points an accusing finger at “Barbar, the negress, who lived at Jan the joiner’s,” who stole a silver bell, with more complications about how she believed she had been framed. Lysbet’s mother is “Mary,” who is ordered to “chastise her”; Mary, “with the assistance of Long Anna,” whips her daughter with rods in the presence of the “Worshipful Magistrates.”

We know Lysbet’s father is named Anthony; knowing her mother’s name lets us search for possible family connections, especially since she is described as a native of New Netherland (not that it earned her any burgher right or other benefits). On 1 February 1654 (New Amsterdam Marriages, p. 18), we find “Anthonÿ Mattheuszen” declaring he intends to marry “Maria Anthonÿ, Negres.” The name Anthony was common among Africans in the colony, and we can guess not every slave named Anthony made his way into the church records. Lysbet Anthonis could have been born to a different pair of slaves named Anthony and Mary. But this is the only case where we see an African named Anthony marrying someone named Mary (or Maria).

(The colony church processed marriages and baptisms for slaves and other non-Europeans, sometimes with more zeal than others. The mission of evangelism was somewhat at cross-purposes with the colonists’ general inclination to exploit non-Europeans for labor or other benefits; some ministers, at some times, thought it more important to convert as many “heathen” as they could; at other times, it was apparently inconvenient to have to treat Christians as fellow Christians. In the very earliest records of the church in New Amsterdam, the ninth marriage processed, in 1641 [New Amsterdam Marriages, p. 10], was of Anthony van Angola, widower of Catalina van Angola, to Lucie d’Angola, widow of Laurens van Angola. For a bit more discussion, with the understanding that deeper resources are available elsewhere, see Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland, pp. 172-179.)

The names Lysbeth and Elizabeth are not unusual among Europeans or Africans in the New Amsterdam baptism record, but no baptism appears for Lysbeth as the daughter of Anthonij Matthijszen. On 28 May 1651 (New Amsterdam Baptisms, p. 29), we find “Anthonÿ Matthÿszen Van de Caep, Neger” baptizing twins, Abraham and Jsaacq, sponsored by Simon Cesilien and Lysbeth Francisco. (This is as close as we get to a connection that might suggest he could name a daughter Lysbeth.) On 22 February 1654, 21 days after posting banns, he baptizes a son, Cosmus, with Cornelis Croesen and Maria Portugies for sponsors (ibid., p. 36; Portuguese is often a reference to someone, whether African or European, who came to New Netherland from the Portuguese colony in Brazil, not from Portugal itself). A year later, on 7 February 1655, he baptizes Cecilia, with Simon Conck and Christina d’Angola to witness (ibid., p. 38).

The Dutch colonial government, starting in 1644, created a subclass peculiar to the colony, often called “half-free” people, who had been formerly enslaved. (As others have noted, “half-free” still meant half enslaved.) Enslaved Africans had petitioned the governor for their freedom, using various arguments: They had been promised their freedom before; as slaves, they could not earn enough to support their families. Director-General Kieft decided to free 11 slaves at first, granting them small parcels of land about a mile north of New Amsterdam; he required them to pay an annual quitrent to maintain their freedom (not an unusual condition for people who came to the colony, though usually the token annual fee was for them to keep their real estate). More onerously, he specified that the children of these former slaves were still to be considered slaves and the property of the West-India Company. (See Jacobs, pp. 202-206, for more background and context; other resources go into more depth. See also the New Netherland Institute discussion of slavery, half-slavery, and manumission in the colony.)

Numerous sources discuss this chain of events and look at its many implications; a convenient one to cite here is the City University of New York HERB American Social History Project, at https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/787. Here we can find a list of the original slaves granted freedom as well as others, through 1662; the list is compiled from colonial records and copied from Slavery in New York (Ira Berlin and Leslie Harris, eds., New-York Historical Society and The New Press, 2005, p. 43). In the list we find Catalina and Domingo Anthony in 1643 (likely children of a different Anthony), and then Cleyn (Little) Anthony, Anthony Portuguese, Anthony Congo, Anthony of the Bowery (Garden), and Anthony the Blind Negro. In addition to these five Anthonies (of 27 names in the list, a healthy percentage), we see on 1 December 1655 the colony grants land to Mathias Anthony, who very possibly is the same person we see in the church records above as Anthony Mattheuszen. The timing fits: He goes to church; he is married and has several children baptized in the church.

This may or may not be the family story of Lysbeth Anthonissen, but it at least represents the type of life she would have known as a slave born in New Netherland, very possibly with parents who had been halfway freed, herself owned by the wife of the Domine who may have baptized her, then apparently sold to a city burgomaster who went off and led a campaign in the Esopus against natives who had attacked a Dutch settlement there. Growing up in the Dutch colony, she would have spoken Dutch as a child, as well as possibly whatever language(s) her parents spoke (Portuguese, perhaps, or a language from Africa). This is not meant to be a detailed look at her life, but when we see Tjerck become a slave owner later in his years in the colony, we should understand that the people he describes himself as owning have very human stories like these, and it would be hard to believe that he did not know them.

(Many of the other people named in the HERB list make it into church records too: On 29 August 1649, Anthony Neger baptized Claesje; sponsor was Franciscus Neger; on 22 and 29 August of that year, at least five African fathers baptized children, in what may have been a group event joining the church; on 31 October we find one more baptism of a daughter of “Emanuel, Neger.” On 30 July 1643 [p. 15], we find “Cleÿn Anthony, Van Angola, neger” baptizing a son Anthony, with Jan Augustinus, Neger, and Victorie Paulus, Negrinne, as witnesses. “Anthony Angola” on 14 March 1653 posted banns to marry “Anna van Capoverde.” In the same season, on 2 and 8 February we find “Emanuel Pieterszen, Neger” marrying “Dorethea Angola Negerinne” and “Paúlo Negro” marrying “Anthonia Negrinne.” The list goes on.)

On Tuesday, 29 January 1664, in court at Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, pp. 120-121), Mattheus Capito, Provisional Schout is busy enforcing a series of bookkeeping fines, catching up with people who have not paid their share for the minister’s upkeep and tracking some other standing debts. In the name of the curators of the estate of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck, he asks for 201 guilders from Jan Clasen de Wit, “in his absence,” for goods bought from the estate. (He also seeks 852 guilders from Tjerck for the same reason, and smaller amounts from Ariaen Teunissen, Mattys Roelofsen, Cornelis Barentsen Slecht and probably one or two others. This sounds as if there was an auction of items from the estate, and Capito is making sure the buyers acknowledge the amounts they promised to pay. Auctions in this time were frequently called “vendues.”) It is worth remarking that Jan Claesen deWit is absent at this time. We don’t really have much record of what his profession was, but he seems to have been gone frequently, and he turned up in Amsterdam, and back in Esens, in later years. Was he a traveling merchant? A sea hand? A ship owner? A captain? In this case, since Jan is a co-heir of the estate, and since his brother Tjerck is willing to stand as surety for him, the court is willing to wait for him to return to pay.

(On the same day in New Amsterdam, a court day as it is in Wildwyck, we find Tjerck’s younger sister “Emmerense Claazen,” in a continuation of an disagreement with Jacomyntje Jans that started at the session a week before, over whether Jacomyntje sold Emmerense a bracelet with pearls or just gave them to her in pawn; Emmerentje says she heard it from Jesyntie Verhagen, “residing in the New Town,” that Jacomyntie regretted buying the bracelet in the first place [Records of New Amsterdam 1653-1674, Vol. V, p. 11]. Note that at the same session, the previous case refers to Jan De Witt, miller; we may assume that this is not Jan Claessen, brother of Tjerck and Emmerentje. Jan Claessen [DeWitt] has only recently arrived from Europe and has not yet established himself; the ship’s manifest described him as a general laborer. The Jan De Witt described in the New Amsterdam case has an assistant [servant? apprentice? slave?], Elias Jansen, whom he beat until he bled, the occasion for the case against him. There are multiple Jan De Witts in the colony, and even a Claes Johanßen De Witt, a skipper mentioned in Rensselaer correspondence—but only one Tjerck.)

On 26 February 1664 (Kingston Papers, p. 128), Gysbert van Imbroch appears in court to ask Tjerck to pay him 124 guilders, plus an additional 8 schepels of wheat for Gysbert’s wife, “for merchandise delivered.” Tjerck agrees he owes the money, but points out that “during the war with the savages, he [Tjerck] drove the savages from the plaintiff’s house.” Apparently there is no gratitude. The Honorable Court orders Tjerck to pay the claim. (Van Imbroch comes back and asks for enforcement of this order again in November.) Tjerck is increasingly hard pressed for cash.

On Tuesday, 11 March 1664, in Wildwyck court, Tjerck Claesen deWit has a quarrel with Evert Pels. Tjerck says Evert owes him “two fimmen [or vimmen, plural of vim, the equivalent of a stack of 104 to 108 sheaves] of oats which he loaned him last winter.” Pels says he ploughed 3 days for Tjerck; Tjerck says really 2 1/2. Evidently Evert feels that he should be allowed to keep the oats as pay for his time. The court instructs them to “adjust their dispute before two good men,” which is a common way of saying they should get someone else to arbitrate the disagreement. (Kingston Papers, pp. 133-134.)

At the same session (11 March), Mattheus Capito, still serving as Provisional Schout, tries to settle once more the matter of money owed to the estate of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck (Kingston Papers, pp. 136-137). Evert Pels is the curator of the half of the estate belonging to Jan; Tjerck is the curator of the portion that devolves to Tjerck’s sister Ida (Jan’s wife). For the minor children who survived the couple (the identity of these children remains unclear), Henderick Jochemsen is guardian, speaking for their interest. (In the eventual settlement, no part of Ida’s half of the estate goes to any children of hers; it all goes to her sisters and brothers, or their children. We might guess, then, that any children who survived belonged to Jan and a previous wife, who must have died before he married Ida.) Evert wants Tjerck to give “security,” i.e. more than just his word, to stake some kind of actual property, for the amount he owes as well as for the amounts owed by other people he agreed to be “surety” for. (“Surety” has real implications in this court; it comes up regularly that a person does not pay a debt, so his creditor asks the court to demand payment from the person who stood as surety for the amount.) Tjerck, who is identified here as joint guardian (probably meaning co-curator?), says he doesn’t mind posting security for the goods he bought, but “he will not give bond for his brother Jan Claesen and his sister Amarens Claesen, as he is already bound.” There is some dispute about whether he posted security already. The Court raises its eyebrows when it learns that Evert and Henderick, without letting the court know, already extended the payment period for the amount Amerens owed, to May 1. (Courts then as now take a dim view of having their appointed representatives take action unilaterally, without consulting the court.) “[T]he Honorable Court has been slighted,” in their view. They give Tjerck 48 hours to post some kind of bond, for his debt, and release him from having to offer any further security for Amerens (since, apparently, Evert and Henderick, without consulting the court, already accepted whatever security Tjerck offered in her name).

On 27 March 1664, the council at Wildwyck nominates five candidates for Peter Stuyvesant to choose among as replacements for the two who are reaching the end of their terms in May (Kingston Papers, pp. 138-139).

On 31 March 1664 (KP, pp. 148-149), the inhabitants of Wildwyck select Thomas Chambers and Gysbert van Imborch to represent the village at a special assembly in New Amsterdam, at the invitation of Peter Stuyvesant.

Tuesday, 1 April 1664 is a long court session (KP, pp. 141-145?; no formal end appears to the minutes, but several other dated documents come between the court session and the beginning of the next recorded session, 6 May, on p. 151). Roelof Swartwout is listed again as Schout. Many debts are discussed; some are settled. Johanna de Laet (p. 142) wants 1221 guilders from Cornelis Barentsen Slecht for rent; he has paid 35 schepels of wheat. She discusses impact on sale of another piece of land by Frederick Philipsen; she wants Cornelis’s goods to be inventoried; she wants any money coming to Cornelis. Schout Roelof Swartwout (p. 144) is back from Manhattan with three new ordinances from Stuyvesant. There is no money in the treasury (p. 144). Henderick Jochemsen complains that the Burgher Guard meets at his home, which is used as a guard house, and because they quarrel, he cannot use his house as he wishes. He asks the Court to instruct the guard to stop using his house. The Court says because it has no money to build a new guardhouse, the guard may use his house for one more month, for which they will pay him (from the empty treasury) 20 guilders.

On 4 April 1664 (KP, p. 147), “while engaged with the Secretary [Mattheus Capito?] at Cornelis Barentsen Slecht’s house, a dispute arose between the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, and the Commissary [schepen, council member, magistrate, whatever], Tjerck Claesen de Wit, and, following it, blows were struck. The aforesaid Schout drew his sword against the Commissary, and challenged him to come outside.” Both are fined.

On 1 May 1664, a document in Wildwyck court confirms that Albert Gysbertsen has bought two horses for 400 guilders; he will pay over 4 years at 10% interest (per annum), paying interest only for the first three years and then the principal. The note to be made here is that against his payment he stakes his land, “twenty morgens [about two acres each] of arable land, lying below the village of Wildwyck and between the lands of Aert Jacobsen and Tjerck Claesen deWit.” It helps to know who your neighbors are. (Kingston Papers, p. 149)

More neighbors to help locate Tjerck’s property: On 5 May 1664, in court at Wildwyck (KP, pp. 150-151), attorneys for “Maritije, widow of Jan Barentsen Wemp” appear with a 1 April 1662 statement from “Aert Pietersen Tack” (in court at Fort Amsterdam) acknowledging that he is “really and truly indebted to the worthy Jan Barentsen Poest [Wemp?]” for about 1500 guilders. For this, he mortgages “his farm lying in the Esopus, between Tjerck Claesen’s and Jan Willemsen Schoon’s” (Kingston Papers, pp. 150-51). (See also complaint of Allert Heymans on 16 December 1664, KP p. 190, when he “requests that Tjerck Claesen, Albert Gysbertsen and Aert Jacobsen may be ordered to have their farms fenced in, for the purpose of preventing damage owing to the trespassing of pigs and cattle, on account of which petitioner has, heretofore, sustained much damage.”  This suggests that Allert lives near Tjerck, Albert and Aert. By 1667 [KP p. 352] Tjerck is an appointed examiner of fences [appointed 7 July 1665, KP p. 243, reconfirmed 18 May 1666, KP p. 297], and we find him frequently either being asked to repair his fence or asking others to repair theirs.)

At the regular court session on 6 May 1664, Tjerck is present and listed as a Commissary. This is the last court session recorded in Volume I of the original record (p. 336 in the original record, p. 152 in Kingston Papers). At the next court session, 12 June, Tjerck is not listed, but only two Commissaries are present.

At a special session on Thursday, 12 June 1664 (KP, p. 152A), Domine Blom seeks better satisfaction from the Court in the matter of receiving pay for his services. The Court takes note that on June 10 (at a regular session for which we have no minutes?), the Court turned down the Domine’s request for pay, pointing out that the WIC is his employer, and in response “his Reverence uttered words against one of the Court, several times calling him a ‘snuyver’ (one who sniffs), and further calling the other associates liars, and while going out still saying the following words: ‘You do no less than to take care that my salary does not come in.’” The court observes, as its records for the past several months have shown, that “most of the residents on account of the troubles with the savages, if not actually ruined, have at least suffered very great losses.”

On Tuesday, 24 June 1664 (KP, p. 153), Tjerck is no longer listed among the Commissaries of the court; it appears that his term has run out, according to standard procedure. He gets named to the court again later (cite sources; note that Fried has him stepping down in 1670).

Tjerck Claessen, Longtime Slave Owner

It is not clear at what point Tjerck began to own slaves. Certainly by the time he died, he mentioned slaves (rather proudly) in his 1698 will. At this time in the Wildwyck area it was common to find African slaves being used as farm and domestic laborers. A shoemaker might own a single slave; a farmer might need more. It would be unusual to find more than 6 or 8 slaves in a household, and not every household included slaves. Slave ownership was not legal in Europe, but European powers allowed it in the colonies they administered. The West India Company owned a number of slaves, beginning (well before Tjerck and his siblings arrived in North America) with some that had been traveling on a foreign vessel captured and brought to New Amsterdam. Some slaves were brought from the WIC’s colony in Brazil; some are referred to as Portuguese, reflecting the languages they had been taught to speak when they were first enslaved. Later the slave trade becomes more active, and slaves are brought from a variety of places. The WIC leased out its slaves, and private individuals also owned slaves. By the 1700s, slaves were commonly given living space in cellars and basements; in the 1600s it is not clear how many houses had cellars or basements (see FOCM p. 94 and 97, where references are made to digging a cellar or well, albeit on an empty lot next to a house). More information on this topic can be found elsewhere (see also notes below about some other sources); still more research should be done. Tjerck’s interaction with slaves is hard to piece together from the written record, but it is clear at least that he owned multiple slaves.

(European colonists in various parts of the Americas, including the Atlantic coast of North America, were also known to enslave people from the populations that had inhabited the land before the Europeans arrived. The impression from the Dutch colony is that locally held slaves were African more than from native tribes. After the First Esopus War, for instance, and in the run-up to the Second Esopus War, native negotiators repeatedly asked for the return of prisoners who had been taken by the Dutch and sent to the Caribbean as slaves. They did not mention any slaves from their families or tribes who were being held locally. In Tjerck’s will, he refers to his slaves by the Dutch words negers and negerinnetie, suggesting enslaved people of African origin.)

Janny Venema, in Beverwijck, discusses the early history of slavery in the upriver colonies in more depth (see for example pp. 114-117). For a localized look at slavery in Tjerck’s specific neighborhood, see Hurley in the Days of Slavery, by Olive M. Clearwater and John J. Hofler, Hurley historians, a 39-page pamphlet published in 1986, apparently privately or under the auspices of a local historical society. See also The Worlds of the Seventeenth-Century Hudson Valley (Jaap Jacobs and L.H. Roper, editors, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2014), particularly the Joyce D. Goodfriend article that closes the volume, “Merging the Two Streams of Migration to New Netherland,” a look at the different destinies of passengers on two ships that arrived in New Netherland around the same time (1663 and 1664), one filled with European immigrants and the other with enslaved Africans. Goodfriend uses as one of her sources Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan’s 1867 volume Voyages of the Slavers St. John and Arms of Amsterdam, 1659, 1663: Together with additional Papers illustrative of the Slave Trade under the Dutch, which can be found online at archive.org. Further notes below list some other books with more history and discussion of slavery in Ulster County, New York, and New Jersey from this time through eventual emancipation, which did not come until after 1800.

Robert C. Ritchie in The Duke’s Province: A Study of New York Politics and Society, 1664-1691 (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1977) notes that the ship Gideon of Amsterdam “arrived in New Netherland just before the [British] invasion fleet in August 1664 with 290 slaves” (p. 248, footnote 7 to Chapter 2, citing Amsterdam Notarial Archives [toegangsnummer 5075, in subsection 40, the notarial records of Henrick Outgers], Vol. 3189, [scan 107, page numbered 121, and the next page], 23 March 1666, as seen in a microfilm scan, which Ritchie identifies as N. 8). Arriving in a town of ~1000 people, in a colony whose total population probably numbered in the low thousands, 290 slaves would have been a notable infusion of forced labor, changing the composition of the population, injecting questions of ethics that could no longer be ignored, as might have been possible when the number of slaves in the colony were only a few dozen. Another notable ship carrying slaves directly from Africa to New Netherland (many arrived indirectly, via the Caribbean) was the Wittepaert (White Horse); see O’Callaghan’s 1867 volume cited above for more records.

Wiltwyck and Nieuw Dorp

Between 1663 and 1668, Tjerck and Barbara baptized three more children in Kingston, where they apparently continued to live in town.

The British Are Coming

In September 1664 the British took control of New Amsterdam and renamed it after the Duke of York; Colonel Richard Nicolls took over as Governor.

In late August and early September 1664, British forces took over New Amsterdam, the first of several more or less peaceful changes in power Tjerck and his family lived through, living in the same place the whole time but frequently under completely new governments. The surrender terms negotiated by Peter Stuyvesant agreed that property rights (and inheritance rules) would be respected and the colony’s inhabitants could continue worshiping as they preferred. (The British for many years were not a majority of the colony’s population; the largest congregation would have continued to be the Reformed Dutch Church. It was thus in their better interest to protect the rights of minority religions, like Lutherans, though prejudices among various faiths, and prejudicial behavior, continued to exist.)

On Wednesday, 4 September 1664, in a special court session, the Wildwyck court meets to contemplate what to do “in case the English should approach our village.” They resolve to check the powder supplies because they don’t know how the Esopus people will react to the news; and they decide, not quite knowing whether it is wiser to fight or acquiesce in a takeover, “at the discharge of a cannon, all the burghery shall repair to the head watch, there to receive further orders,” while the officials “seek to parley with the English beyond the gates.”

In a regular court session on 7 October 1664, Roelof Swartwout, former Schout, and Tjerck have some disputes to settle (Kingston Papers, pp. 163-164). Tjerck wants to be paid for pasturing three cows for Roelof, in a repeat of a demand going back to 29 June. Roelof says he agrees he owes for two cows, but that Tjerck was supposed to pasture two more cows “in payment of the fine due from him,” according to the 29 June agreement. The court refers the matter to the arbitration of Evert Pels and Allert Heymans, “good men.” Then Roelof says that Roelof has legally attached 15 schepels of wheat that belongs to Foppe Barents but is in Tjerck’s possession, but that Tjerck assigned his claim to the wheat to his brother-in-law Jan Tomassen in Fort Orange. Roelof says he has arrested Foppe Barentsen over the debt, and Foppe “went away.” The record ends there.

At a special court session on Saturday, 18 October 1664 (Kingston Papers, p. 164), the Schout (these days Willem Beekman) submits “That it is necessary to send some of the Honorable Judges to the Manhatans, to ask of the Governor there a warrant of authority for the continuance of the Court here.” The surrender terms negotiated between Stuyvesant and Nicolls provided for a gradual transition from the Dutch governing system to the English; all current government appointees were to be allowed to serve out their terms. The Schout, sensibly, wishes to get a document affirming this. The court also discusses the quartering of soldiers at Wildwyck, and asks for “linen and blankets for the soldiers quartered here, who have made request therefor, as the inhabitants here are unable to provide them therewith, because a great deal has been destroyed by the heavy war” with the Esopus natives in 1663.

On 27 October 1664 (Kingston Papers, p. 167), the court deals with a delicate issue: The powder and shot kept at the village belong to the West India Company, and the WIC has asked the Schout to send it back to them. The councilors request that the Schout wait to do this until the English governor (Nicolls) has sent replacement powder and shot, so that the village will not be left without any defense against attacks.

At a special court session on Friday, 14 November 1664, a formal communication from the new Governor, Richard Nicolls, is entered in the village record (translated from English into Dutch, then translated back into English in the Kingston Papers, pp. 167-168). Nicolls reaffirms that the current court and Schepen should continue in their duties. He confirms that no one should sell brandy or liquor to the Indians, but contradicts the court’s recent edicts forbidding Indian trading in the village (see KP pp. 164-165), a practice that had made possible the 1663 surprise attack. Nicolls says the Indians shall be allowed to enter the village peaceably for trade, “because I have agreed with the Sachems, for themselves as well as for their subjects, that no injury or violence shall be done to the subjects of his Majesty of England.”

On Tuesday 18 November 1664, a number of cases come before the court (Kingston Papers, pp. 169-177). In the published translation, the Samuel Oppenheim revision of Dingman Versteeg’s original translation cuts off abruptly midsession, and the remainder of the record is in Versteeg’s unedited rendition. (N.B. this also means the session is split between the two distinct indexes at the end of Vol. II.) Peter Stuyvesant, lately relieved of his duties as Director of the colony, has come to visit and settle several claims in Wildwyck. He goes over some issues with Juriaen Westphael (absent, represented by his wife) and Ariaen Gerritsen, then turns to Tjerck (p. 172). Stuyvesant wants 400 guilders from Tjerck for two cows and a calf. Tjerck agrees to that amount but says he already paid 50 guilders (in oats instead of sewan), and he presents a bill for 147 plus 126 guilders of services provided at the instruction of the Director General or Captain Martin Cregier (who directed the militia’s response when they came to Wildwyck after the Esopus attack in 1663). He also asks for two years’ worth of pay, at 150 guilders per year, for his service as a councilor on the Court, “the same as is being done at Fort Orange.” Stuyvesant argues, and the Court agrees, that he is not personally liable for those debts, since they were rendered to the West India Company, so Tjerck has to apply to the WIC for payment. Meantime, the Court says that Tjerck must either pay the balance or return the cattle.

At the same 18 November 1664 session (p. 175), Tjerck seeks payment from Aeltje Wygerts for a horse bought for 200 guilders (in wheat) by her deceased husband, Albert Gysbertsen, on 7 April 1664. There’s a reference to a vendue-master; the horse was probably bought as part of an auction. Aeltje offers to pay 100 schepels of oats now and the balance from next year’s harvest (1665), or else to return the horse and pay for the use of it. Tjerck says he’s not satisfied with the offer. (Reading between the lines, he is doing what he can to raise cash to pay outstanding debts.) The court instructs Aeltje to pay the 200 guilders in wheat.

Then (as the same court session goes on, p. 176) Roelof Swartwout, former Schepen, says that at the court-ordered sale (vendue, or auction) of the effects of Aert Petersen Tack, Tjerck bought a horse, and he hasn’t paid for it. Swartout is trying to balance his books from his time as Schepen (when he served as vendue-master for various auctions, particularly as estates were closed out after the Esopus attack in June 1663). He asks that the court transfer the claim to the new Schout, Willem Beeckman, since Tjerck is negligent in paying. The court agrees.

Then it’s Gysbert van Imborch’s turn (still p. 176). On 26 February 1664 (KP p. 128), he went after Tjerck in court for 124 guilders, plus 8 schepels of wheat he said Tjerck owed his wife, “for merchandise delivered.” Tjerck at the time admitted the debt, but also said that “during the war with the savages, he drove the savages from plaintiff’s house.” The court agreed that the debt should be paid. Gysbert asks the court to proceed with enforcing this obligation. (The threat is that Tjerck’s goods or livestock or farm could be sold by court order to settle his debts.)

On 6 December 1664 (The Beginnings of Lutheranism in New York, Harry Kreider, New York, 1949, pp. 45 et al.), Governor Richard Nicolls officially granted Lutherans freedom of worship.

On 15 December 1664, “in New York on Mantans Island,” the heads of several families petition Governor Nicolls “to grant us the favor of permitting us to call a Lutheran pastor, whom we shall voluntarily support.” Notable among the signers of this petition are “Lucas Aendreesen,” probably Barbara’s brother, and “Marten Hoefmaen,” who since May 16 has been Emmerentje’s husband. (The Lutheran Church in New York, 1649-1772: Records in the Lutheran Church Archives at Amsterdam, Holland, A.J.F. van Laer, editor and translator (billed as Arnold J.H. vanLaer), introduction by Harry J. Kreider, New York Public Library, 1946.)

On Tuesday, 16 December 1664, in Wildwyck court (KP, p. 188), Gysbert Van Imbroch, who is one of the court’s current Commissaries, complains that “after having waited two years, [Tjerck] wants to pay him with ‘dreps,’ and [Gysbert] shows the origin of the debts, and requests in regard to the same that he may be satisfied in wheat, with the interest to the amount of 124 guilders in sewan.” Tjerck admits the debt, “but says not to have anything but ‘opslach’ of wheat. The court orders Tjerck to pay “in such grain as he has received of plaintiff.”

Also on 16 December 1664 (KP, pp. 191-192), the Wildwyck court issues a decree against shooting to celebrate the New Year: “Whereas experience has demonstrated that on account of the shooting on New Year’s many disasters have occurred.”

On 17 February 1665, in court at Kingston (Kingston Papers, p. 214), Tjerck wishes to be relieved of his job as “curator of [the estates of] Henderick Jansen Looman and Willem Jansen Seba,” “because he is alone and his partner Albert Gysbertsen has died.” Tjerck missed a court appearance a month or so before this, at which several plaintiffs made various demands of him. On 10 April, he also faced Peter Stuyvesant himself, apparently right there in the court room, over payment for a cow Tjerck had bought from Stuyvesant. Albert Gysbertsen served for some time as a commissary on the Wildwyck court; he also is mentioned in various cases, e.g. 4 December 1663 (Kingston Papers p. 105), where he is sued by Gysbert van Imborch for 198 guilders in zeewant.

On May 5, 1665, a new court is appointed in Kingston and takes an oath of loyalty to the Duke of York (Kingston Papers, pp. 231-232).

In June 1665 New Amsterdam was officially reincorporated under English law. The New Netherland colony had been granted to James, the Duke of York, brother of King Charles II of England, and Richard Nicolls was made governor. Later, when Charles died and James succeeded him on the throne, the administration of the colony would be unified with the rest of New England, with further turmoil to follow when William and Mary took over from James, but for now it remained a separate colony. In 1667 the English control of the colony was formalized and acknowledged by the Dutch in the Treaty of Breda, at the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. Nicolls ruled under what became known as the “Duke’s Laws”; he gradually introduced more English flavor (and administrators) into the system that had been set up by the Dutch, though many elements remained familiar. The name of Wildwyck was not changed to Kingston until 1669 [check source?].

Records in Fort Orange were still kept in the Dutch language, but the English calendar started to be used. The English were still using the old Julian calendar, which was several days behind the Gregorian calendar that had been adopted by the Dutch and many other European nations. Also, the English year began in late March, which meant that after (for example) December 1665, the months of January and February, and most of March, would still be considered 1665 by the English, but would be identified as 1666 under the Dutch system. This complicates the job of anyone who has to write a date on an official document.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Six: The Trade with De Laet/De Hulter, Redux

On 14 (English)–24 (Dutch) July 1666, “Tjarck Claesz de With, farmer, dwelling at the Esopus,” declared that he had “ceded, conveyed and made over” to “Sr. Jeronimus Ebbingh, merchant at New York,” a house and lot in Albany (formerly Beverwijck). The legal description says the lot “adjoins on the east side the public road, on the south side the house of Hendrick de backer [the baker, or breadmaker], on the west side the garden of Hendrick Andriesz [van Doesburgh] and Lambert van Neck, and on the norht side the house of Lambert van Neck; the lot in front on the street wide thirty-two wood feet and four inches, and long ten rods.” Tjerck says he acquired the lot by buying it from Dirck Bensingh.

This property transfer is not quite a sale; it is a confirmation of the 1 September 1660 record. It may have been made necessary by the transfer of the colony from Dutch hands to English hands; property ownership had to be reconfirmed.

Tjerck agrees “to have been fully satisfied and paid for it with some lands in the Esopus, accepted by way of exchange from him, Ebbingh, and his wife joffr[ouw] Johanna de Laet,” on 11 September 1660. He signs his name as “Tierck Clasen de Witt.” (Fort Orange Records 1654-1679, pp. 381-382; pages 617-8 in original.)

Worth noting: According to Beverwijck, Hendrick de backer died in 1661, and his widow sublet their house to another baker, Hans Coenraetsz (see p. 286). See also ERA I p. 400, where Tjerck’s name from this document is transcribed Tjarck Claesse De With; Van Laer references Deeds, II, 236, and Dutch Manuscripts, XV, 48.

Wrapping Up Ida’s Estate

On 3 March 1666, and again on 13 March (Kingston Papers, pp. 590-593), in Wildwyck, all the various administrators of the estate of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck and Ida Claesen DeWitt appear before the council and the secretary, to officially divide the total amounts of inheritance that will be awarded to the various heirs of the estate. Martin Hofman appears as “heir, he being the husband and guardian of Amerens Claesen DeWit, sister of the aforesaid deceased Ida Claesen DeWit. Worth noting: Jan Claesen DeWitt is not present for these sessions.

On 12 April 1666, Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck witnesses an affirmation by Tjerck Claessen DeWitt that he really does owe a total of 534 guilders, 9 stivers, to the East Frisian siblings of the deceased Ida Claessen: 178 guilders, 3 stivers each to Grietje Claesen, to Tjaetje Claesen, and to the children of Faelde Claesen, who died in 1663 (Kingston Papers, p. 600). On the same day, Albert Jansen is again witness as Tjerck affirms also that he owes the heirs of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck an amount of 698 guilders, 2 stivers. The heirs are not named in the document (Kingston Papers, pp. 600-601). (Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck, appointed court messenger for the Wildwyck court in 1665 [Kingston Papers, p. 213], frequently appears as witness to many contracts between individuals in the area.) The exchange rate is fixed at 6 guilders per schepel of wheat.

 

In 1667 (more likely 1666?) Tjerck opposed the British occupation of Kingston and “refused to keep Christmas on the day according to the English observation, but according to the Dutch.” (The Dutch used the old Julian calendar, which was about two weeks off from the modern Gregorian calendar used by the British.) For his recalcitrance he was beaten. The story of the beating, which was one of a number of incidents about which the longtime Dutch settlers complained about in a petition to the Governor for relief from oppressive military presence, makes it sound more like a drunken argument in a tavern than an actual judicially administered punishment. Captain Daniel Broadhead, who personally beat Tjerck and then threw him in prison for not keeping Christmas with the English, was known in the colony for treating the Dutch poorly; his superior, Colonel Nicolls, had already warned Broadhead about mistreating the people he governed. In 1667, Colonel Nicolls sent a commission to Kingston to investigate an uprising among unhappy residents, and the incident between Tjerck and Captain Broadhead was cited as one of many specific grievances. Broadhead was summarily dismissed; less than three months later, he died. Of note: Two generations later, Tjerck’s grandson Johannes married Captain Broadhead’s granddaughter Mary.

On 7 February 1667/8 (Kingston Papers, p. 386), Tjerck together with Allert Heymans Roosa is appointed arbitrator over a quarrel between Hendrik Jochemszen and Reyner van Coelen; Hendrik says Reyner owes him 197 guilders for wages and the use of a plough, rope, and drive; Reyner says he owes only 38 guilders for wages. Reyner is taken to court many times (in this session alone) for debts he believes he does not owe.

A New Governor: Francis Lovelace

In the summer of 1668, Governor Richard Nicolls left New Amsterdam to return to England, and Francis Lovelace replaced him as governor of the British colony.

In 1668 (?) Tjerck refused to sign the oath of allegiance administered by the British, though a “John” DeWitt (perhaps his brother Jan?) and Andries DeWitt (probably Tjerck’s 10-year-old son) did sign it.

On 25 January 1668/9, in Kingston court (Kingston Papers, p. 421), Tierck Claesen complains that Antony Crispel bought “a house, situated across the bridge, for 12 pounds of flax” and never paid for it. Crispel agrees that he bought the house, but says the deal was that Tjerck would deliver the house “here,” meaning to Kingston [?]. It is reasonably common in this era to buy a house and move it to your empty lot. The scrupulous historian will read contracts carefully to see, upon the sale of a house, whether the buyer or seller is responsible for moving it (and here across a bridge!). It is also common enough to see a sale of “house and lot,” or just a lot with no house.

On January 24, 1669-70 (or on April 8, 1669?), the new British Governor, Colonel Francis Lovelace, issued a permit to Tjerck to let him “erect a house and barne with convenient outhouses for his cattle upon his own land at Esopus, lying betwixt Hurley and Kingston,” noting that Tjerck previously had permission from Governor Nicolls to do this and on that promise had provided all the materials to get started. Assuming this land was on the Kingston-Hurley road; the house still stands today, with a beautiful view of the valley of the Esopus Creek.

In an undated and unexecuted contract ca. 1669-70 (Kingston Papers, pp. 685-686), Tjerck arranged with Cornelis Cornelissen Van Sterrevelt and Roelof Hendericksen to build a house and barn, the house 40 feet long, [xx] wide, beams 30 feet long with an overhang on one side, two stories high, with five cross-bar windows, a door frame, a "monastery frame," two round window frames and one more in the cellar. The cellar is to be 15 feet wide and 25 feet long, “having a sufficient depth”; the floor of the house is to be split boards, and the contractors will have to split them. There will be a double chimney, a bake-oven and cooking stove (in the house? or in the basement?), and a loft with four bedsteads of firwood, and a detachable stairway. The barn will be 60 feet long, 30 wide, with a floor of split wood, with a “wolf’s roof” on both ends, and a projection of four feet on one end. Tjerck is responsible for providing all the lumber and materials.

On 20 October 1670 in Kingston, Tierck Claesen De Witt and Eduwart Wittikar appear in court to record that Tjerck has sold Edward “a house, lot, barn and two stacks . . . at present occupied by the grantor [Tjerck] and surrounded by a fence” (Kingston Papers, p. 687). Wittikar will pay Tjerck 360 schepels of wheat in three installments.

The Whole (Amster)dam Family

While Tjerck is busy building homes in Kingston, his brother Jan and sister Grietie are in Amsterdam getting married. References below are to records kept today in the Amsterdam Stadsarchief; all records are under the master access number (toegangsnummer) 5001, which is for church records (vs. notarial archives, etc.)

***

On 25 May 1669 (vol. 493, p. 367, scan 186), Grietie Claes, van Esens, 28 years old, parents deceased (“ouders doot”), assisted by her (half-) sister, Annetie Claes, living at [illegible], posts banns to marry Jan Hendricxe Haen, of Amsterdam (see note below), a ship carpenter, 26 years old, assisted by his mother Hilletje Jans, living by the Reguliertoorn. (Jan signs his name, though he smears it; Grietie signs with a +.)

(The Reguliertoorn today is called the Munttoren or Mint Tower in Amsterdam, on the Herengracht near the floating Bloemenmarkt, where Kalverstraat meets Vijzelstraat. Later entries identify the residence as being on Reguliersdwarstraat—a dwarstraat is a cross-street—near the Mint Tower. This puts the family within a short walk of the Lutheran Church, which dates to at least 1633 and had an active congregation during this period.)

On 9 June 1669 (in the Oude Kerk, vol. 971, Scan 266), Jan Hendricksz Haan marries Gretie Claas.

Then comes baby in a baby carriage, to wit:

We would expect a baby boy named Claes (for her father) sometime around February 1671. No such record seems to exist, though it’s always worth a second look.

Hilletye, daughter, baptized 22 June 1672 in the Lutheran church (vol. 156, p. 49, scan 27); father is Jan Hendricksz Haen, mother is Grietje Claes. Witnesses are listed as Jan Claesz Haen (very likely Grietje’s brother Jan Claeßen de Wit), Aeltje Harmes (probably the daughter of Annetje Claes, Grietie’s half-sister), Hilletje Hansz (probably Hilletje Jansz, the proud father’s mother). First daughter is traditionally named for the father’s mother.

Hendrick, son, baptized 28 September 1673, also in the Lutheran church (vol. 157, Scan 35): Father is Jan de Haen, mother is Grietye Claes de Wit; witnesses are Hilletje Janss, Aeltie Harmens, Cornelies Bloemendael. Traditionally the second son is named for the father’s father.

Sadly, by 2 March 1675, we find Grietje Claesen has died; she is buried (either in the Nieuwe Kerk or the Engelse Kerk, vol. 1056, scan 59, p. 107).

On 12 February 1684, Jan Hendricks de Haen, described as widower of Grietje Claesen de Wit, registers to marry Trijntje Fransen (vol. 694, p. 38), 27. He is registered as a scheepstimmerman (ship carpenter; tape obscures the last two letters of scheeps), living on Regulierdwarstraat.

As noted by Wiard Hinrichs, Jan Hendricks Haen probably comes from a Harlinger family: In Amsterdam’s Zuiderkerk 8.9.1641 (vol. 93, p. 10, scan 6) we find the baptism of Jan, whose father is Hendrick Jans, mother is Hilletgen Jans, godmother is Anna Claes (!).

A few years after that, 22.4.1644 (vol. 460, p. 359, scan 185) we find the couple registering to marry: Heijndrik Haen, van Esens, Schoenmakersknecht, 25 years old, living in the Palm[?]dwarsstraet, and Hilletie Jan, from Vreburg (Friedeburg? Wiard asks), 27 years old, assisted by her sister Gierte Jans. A note adds, “These people were married on 8 May 1644 at Sloterdijk by elder Mathias Meursius”; Wiard finds the record at toegang 5431, vol. 25, p. 96, scan 51, and observes that Sloterdijk in Amsterdam was very popular for weddings; they are the last of 12 weddings that day.

***

On 1 June 1670, a year after his sister got wed, we find Jan Claessen de Wit in the Oude Kerk (vol. 972, scan 5, p. 7), marrying Geesje Hendricks van Velthuijse, widow of Corn. Joosten. The civil registration was entered 17 May 1670 (vol. 495, p. 62, scan 32). He is listed as a huistimmerman (house carpenter) “van Esens,” 25 years old (really 28: he was baptized 1642), and he is with his brother-in-law (swager) Jan Hend [Hendricx] Haen (Grietie’s husband), living in Regulierdwarstraet. He signs his own name; she makes an X for hers.

Geesie comes from Veldhausen, in Germany along the border with the Netherlands, just north of Nordhorn, really still in the valley of the Ems River. This is her third marriage.

On 7 November 1662 in the Nieuwe Kerk (vol. 991, scan 13, p. 20) she marries Harmen Hendricsz, a baker, from Lier (Lieroort, which is the tip of land where the Leda River runs into the Ems). The church record lists only their names, but from the 20 October entry in the civil registry (vol. 483, p. 384) we find that Harmen had previously (27 October 1658) married Judith Hellegers; he was 31, a backergesel or baker’s “flog,” and Judith 25 at the time. They had one son together, Hendrik, 13 August 1659; he is listed as her widower, living on the Prinsengracht, when he marries Geesie. In 1662 she is described as 30 years old (33? 39?), ouders doot: her parents are deceased.

By 14 December 1664 (vol. 991, Scan 39), Harmen Hendricxe from Leer, baker, is listed as “widower” of Geesie Hendricx, living on Prinsengracht, when he marries Elsie Muys van Aken, 39 years old; she living by the Regulierstoorn. “Widower” in this case may mean that Harmen and Geesie divorced; it’s unusual. Aken here presumably is Aachen, in Germany today down by Maastricht, but in a section of Limburg (roughly) that has gone back and forth over centuries in terms of who was running it at any given time.

On 22 July 1668 (No. 969, Scan 259), Geesie Hendricsz, as “widow of Harmen Homvelt, living in the Regulierspoort,” marries Cornelies Joosten Cromwyck, from Woerden, widower of Neeltje Willems Steehouder. Again, “widow” may mean that Geesie had divorced Harmen, since they are evidently both still above ground.

After Jan Claesen marries Geesje Hendricks (who is 38? years old at the time), I am unaware of any record that they have kids.

In 1671 the Kingston court requires all residents to reinforce their sections of the stockade that surrounds the village. Tjerck’s name is not on the list of residents (Kingston Papers, pp. 461-462).

History occasionally interferes with a lively biography: In May 1672 France invaded the Dutch Republic and did quite well; the Dutch still refer to this as the Rampjaar (“Disaster Year”; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Dutch_War, from which I am shamelessly cribbing). The Dutch eventually had to breach their own dikes to flood their own farms to stop the French. Multiple European neighbors got involved, and the English jumped in as well; they had evidently been scheming with the French as early as 1670 to get something started. News of all of this would have reached the English colony via letters and stories carried via merchant ships.

Since the death of William II in 1650 (from smallpox), the Netherlands had been without a strong prince, or Stadtholder. William’s son, William III (all these Williams are known to the Dutch as Willems), was born a week after his father died and was too young to rule. During this time, Johan De Witt (no apparent relation) and his brother Cornelis rose to power and influence, leading the Dutch Republic through a series of improvements and economic successes. (Johan De Witt, by the way, was a noted mathematician as well, studying ellipses, hyperbolas, parabolas and sections of cones in his early career. Later, even as he ran the country as Grand Pensionary, he found time to evaluate the economic differences between life annuities and bonds in a 1671 work that got noticed by Bernoulli and Leibniz, and probably was consulted later by Edmund Halley in his 1693 work on the same problem, studying which would be less expensive for the state and more beneficial for the recipient, including statistical study of probability of death, an early example of actuarial analysis. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_de_Witt.)

But in a rapid turn of events in 1672, under attack from the French, William III, who was by now of age, was elevated to become the new Stadtholder. Johan De Witt, who had not kept up the Dutch army well enough to withstand the French, was lynched by a mob on 20 August together with his brother Cornelis, in a scene vividly described in the opening chapters of Dumas’ The Black Tulip. (Ever since that book was published, amateur DeWitt genealogists in the U.S. have tried to link North American DeWitts to the brothers Jan and Cornelis, to no avail. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that they were distant cousins, but even if they were, the families seemed completely unaware of each other for the entire time Tjerck and his siblings lived in North America.)

Secret Treaties, Religious Wars, English Royal Succession

Technically the elevation of William to the office of Stadtholder was a violation of a secret treaty Johan DeWitt had signed with the English under Cromwell in 1654 at the end of the First Anglo-Dutch War: Through his mother Mary, William III was the grandson of English King Charles I and thus eligible for the English throne; Cromwell, whose rebels had executed Charles I in 1649, wanted to keep any English royals as far from power as possible, anywhere.

In practical terms, since Willam’s uncle Charles II had become King of England in 1660, the elevation of William was probably less objectionable.

The rest of the story: When Charles II dies of apoplexy in 1685, the English throne goes to his longtime Catholic brother James II, who up to then has been Duke of York, Duke of Albany, and proprietor of New York. Then, as Cromwell had feared he might, in the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 William ultimately succeeds his uncle—and by now father-in-law—James II, becoming King of England as well as Stadtholder of the Netherlands.

This is a rapidfire summary, but note that all these changes of power, particularly the Glorious Revolution, had their echoes in events in Tjerck’s home, the English colony of New York.

The Third Anglo-Dutch war meandered along through the next few years in a series of further complications as peace treaties were proposed and countered, alliances made and broken. This gives us some global context for what might have been influencing the English colony over the next couple of years.

On June 25, 1672, Governor Lovelace officially deeded Tjerck the “parcel of bush land, together with a house, lot, orchard and calves’ pasture, lying near Kingston in Esopus.” The deed was a confirmation of Tjerck’s title to the land, now that he had built on it. (On 22 June 1672, Tjerck’s brother Jan and sister Grietje are in Amsterdam, where she is baptizing her first baby, a daughter named Hilletye.)

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Seven: The Trade with De Laet/De Hulter, Redux Redux

On 12 August 1672, Johanna de Hulter, juffrouw, as “attorney for her [step]father Jeronimus Ebbinck,” sells to Paulus Martensz the house and lot in Albany (previously Beverwijck) that was previously (14-24 July 1666) conveyed to her stepfather by Tierck Claesz de Witt, by virtue of patent and conveyance.

Johanna’s mother was Johanna de Laet, who while still a young woman living in Leiden married Johannes de Hulter. They came to New Netherland with their children and servants; Mr. De Hulter died around 1655, and Johanna de Hulter, née de Laet, remarried Ebbinck. The one filing this document is the daughter of Johanna de Laet.

The house location is described as “adjoining on the east side the public street, on the south side the house of Hendrick de backer [the baker], on the west side the garden of Hendrick Andriesz and Lambert van Neck, and on the north side the house of Lambert van Neck, the lot being wide in front on the street 32 wood feet and four inches, and long 10 rods.” Any family connection between Barbara Andriessen and Hendrick Andriesz remains unclear. (Fort Orange Records 1654-1679, p. 543, pages 836-7 in original; see full citation in Sources below. The description of the lot matches the description given in 1666. See also ERA I, p. 496.)

As early as 19 July 1672 in Kingston court we see that news of the Anglo-Dutch conflict has already appeared in the colony: In Kingston court 19 July 1672 [Kingston Papers, pp. 482-483], Adriaen Gerritsen is accused of going on a long and drunken ramble about how “the English, what can they fight, they may fight shit. The States of Holland have money enough, their money fights for them.” Various witnesses, who had also been drinking, debate about the exact content of the argument, but apparently Adriaen was particularly offended that the English would impress poor men into military service. He asked if the English hadn’t been given a good licking. This kind of talk veers dangerously toward sedition, and Adriaen Gerritsen was ordered to post bail in advance of a trial.

On 10 November 1672 (Kingston Papers, pp. 725-726), in Kingston, Tjerck records that he has purchased from “Rigard Caedsie” or perhaps “Caedge” “a certain parcel of land, 10 acres or ten morgen in extent, bounded toward the northeast by Jan Hendry’s, and the land of Thoomas Quynel to the south, situated across the kil, on the parcel nearest to Marble. And further a house, lot No. 9 at Marbelton . . . with all such right and title as Mr. Caeds has possessed the same.” He pays 126 schepels of wheat.

The Dutch Take Over Again, Briefly

In July 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch briefly retook control of the old New Netherland colony, installing Captain Antony Colve as governor. Jaap Jacobs in The Colony of New Netherland (pp. 103-105) probably describes it most succinctly: “With her allies France, Münster, and Cologne [note that there is no Germany; England makes allies of individual city-states in what by the 20th century becomes the nation of German], England attacked the Dutch Republic in 1672. The States of Zeeland dispatched an expedition under the command of Cornelis Evertsen de Jongste with the objective of attacking the enemy in its colonial territories. Although New Netherland was not the primary target [emphasis mine], the Zeeland fleet . . . arrived at the Hudson at the beginning of August 1673. Evertsen decided to make an attempt to recapture New Netherland. The fleet came to lie before New York City, where three English representatives went aboard. . . . [T]he English surrendered on 9 August 1673. Albany was recaptured a couple of days later.” (Jacobs does good work, and his text is footnoted with his sources. I won’t go deeper here, since he is reliable.)

New Amsterdam was recaptured by the Dutch on August 7, 1673.

On 8 July 1673, in a special session of the council at Kingston (Kingston Papers, p. 500), Captain [Thomas] Chambers says there’s a rumor that 21 Dutch ships are “at New York, for the purpose of taking this land,” and suggests posting men at the Ronduyt to keep watch and keep the council informed, in case any ships sail up the Hudson. He asks “how we shall conduct ourselves, before having received orders . . . whether we shall submit?” The council decides to send a special delegation to Manhattan to find out what’s going on: Evert Pels, Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck, Robbert Gouldsberry, each to receive a schepel of wheat a day “for his trouble.” A document is prepared forswearing allegiance to the King in Great Britain and swearing allegiance instead to the Netherlands; careful provision is made for the British residents of the town that—should the town be attacked by the British, who might try to take it back from the Dutch—they are not obliged to take up arms against their countrymen.

On 21 August 1673 (Kingston Papers, pp. 739-740), at Kingston, Tjerck contracted with Cornelis Cornelissen Sterrevelt, “master carpenter,” to build “a dwelling 40 feet long, and as wide as the barn” (see, perhaps, unexecuted contract with the same carpenter 1669-70 above—was the barn already built?). The front gables are to be “of brick up to the front beam,” and there will be “a stove and a pipe up to the chimney,” as well as a “wolf’s roof.” Tjerck “is to furnish the carpenter with a helper, and also during eight days with a rough-chopper for the ceiling and the two front windows. With a door for the loft, and a windlass, and a detachable stairway. The carpenter is to commence work on All Saints’ Day and keep at it until the work is finished.” Price is 100 schepels of wheat. In a curious error, the document says “Cornelis Woutersen” shall receive the payment, not “Cornelis Cornelissen.” The signature is by “Cornelis Coer” (and “Tierck Claszen De Witt”). See 25 September 1674 below, when Tjerck says Cornelis Woutersen has not built his house on time. If this is the same contract referred to there, perhaps Cornelis Cornelissen is an employee, and Cornelis Woutersen the business owner? (Seems less likely.) Stating when construction is supposed to begin is a reasonable condition but not common; perhaps Tjerck already suspected the carpenter would drag his feet in getting to work?

On 2 November 1673 (Kingston Papers, p. 501), the officers of the town take a new oath of office, “in accordance with the election of the hon. Lord-Governor General Anthony Colve—the village was also given a new name”: Swaenenburgh.

Jaap Jacobs explains (The Colony of New Netherland, p. 104): “New Netherland was once again in Dutch hands, and once more a number of places underwent a change of name: New York City became New Orange . . . Kingston became Swaenenburgh, and Albany was renamed Willemstadt. The Dutch intermezzo lasted only fifteen months: on 10 November 1674 the colony was handed over to the English, as a consequence of the Treaty of Westminster.” Jacobs does a good job of teasing out some of the administrative changes that resulted from the oscillation between English and Dutch rule.

For more on the despotic flavor of Colve’s rule, see “The Lost Soldier of Orange: A Brief Biography of Governor Anthony Colve, 1644-1693,” by Artyom Anikin in New York History, Summer/Fall 2015, pp. 336-xx; Anikin goes on to recommend Donald Shomette and Robert Haslach’s Raid on America (1988) and a Dutch volume, C. de Waard’s Zeeuwsche expeditie naar de West onder Cornelis Evertsen den Jonge (1928). Anikin says Colve’s brief period in power was very different from the WIC’s administration of the colony. He notes that Zeeland, although it was one of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, did not always move in lockstep with the national government and its policies, and its relationship with Holland and Amsterdam, whose influence tended to dominate national politics, was often at least competitive if not downright adversarial. Anikin says Colve, who sailed from Zeeland in charge of 64 men but by the time he reached New York (via Africa and the Caribbean) was in charge of 600, “enjoyed the support of Dutch colonists who were eager to overthrow their English rulers” (p. 346), but then he “quickly became a despot . . . Zeelandic, Orangist, and militant in nature. Though he ostensibly restored the previous laws of New Netherland, in reality he monopolized power and ruled as he saw fit.” (p. 347). Anikin says his “regime was far more severe than the Dutch and English administrations that preceded it. . . . [H]e managed to terrorize the colony tremendously, establishing a junta that threatened residents and enemies alike with brutal violence. . . . He employed medieval tortures, enforced curfews, and required passports.” Anikin goes on to cite various punishments such as boring a blasphemer’s tongue with a red hot iron and amputation of thieves’ hands. Anikin suggests that Colve may have been an “embarrassment” to Dutch authorities (p. 350), and notes that he was neither honored nor celebrated at home for his brief tenure in New Netherland.

The Dutch Give the Colony Back

And then in February 1674 the Dutch (in Europe) agreed to give the colony back, and (in North America) on October 11, 1674, Captain Colve officially handed over control to the new English Governor, Major Edmond Andros. In November 1674, the Treaty of Westminster returned the colony to the English; it was called New York once more.

On 18 April 1674, in Swaenburgh, Harmon Hekan records that he has bought from “Tierck Claesen a parcel of land, No. 14, ten morgen in extent, situated under the jurisdiction of Marbeldorp,” for 500 schepel of wheat (Kingston Papers, p. 741).

On 25 September 1674, in court at Swaenenborch (the name the Dutch had used for Kingston when they took it over for the second time), Tierck Klaesen was taken to court for calling Jan Willemsen’s wife a witch (Kingston Papers, p. 521). The trial ended inconclusively, with no final determination of the accuracy of his assertion. Tjerck’s carpenter, Cornelis Woutersen, testified against him. Cornelis had dragged his heels on building a house for Tjerck (see the next case on the same page), which may have contributed to Tjerck’s opinion of his friend’s wife, Barbara Jans. Building season was coming to a fast end in September, so Tjerck now knew he probably wouldn’t have a new house built till spring. Tjerck says Cornelis worked on Joost Adriaensen’s house instead of Tjerck’s. Cornelis says “he is not intend to wait from one year to another and says that he does not intend to build the house, and that Tierck Claesen had no nails. Tierck Claesen says that he did not want the job very badly, and neither did he have nails.” If this is the same contract described on 21 August 1673 above, the contract did not specify that Tjerck was to provide nails, and building was supposed to commence November 1. (As late as 2 October 1665, the Court of Assize in New York had officially tried Ralph Hall and his wife Mary, from Long Island, for witchcraft; see O’Callaghan, Documentary History of the State of New York, vol. 3, pp. 133 et seq. The famous Salem witch trials were February 1692–May 1693, with 19 people executed. To us it sounds somewhat frivolous to call someone a witch, but at the time a true accusation would not have been taken lightly. Nearly three years later; on 21 August 1668, Governor Nicolls officially determined that the allegations of witchcraft against the Halls had not been proven.)

In January 1675, the people of Kingston again were called on to take an oath of allegiance to England and to Governor Andros. (Sylvester, History of Ulster County, p. 68)

Just Another Local Property Transaction

On 4 May 1675, in court at Kingston (KP, p. 534), Willem Trophagen complains that “he has cut palisades for Eduward Wittikar for which Wittikar was supposed to plow [presumably Trophagen’s field]. Instead of plowing he has beaten him with his cane. Eduward Wittikar says that he sold land to said Traphagen for 300 sch. of wheat and that he was to cut 1000 palisades, and Trophagen said that he was to receive a plow from the Manhattans for the purpose of plowing his land, whereupon Wittikar said, ‘When I have time, I intend to assist you for two or three days at plowing.” The hon. court orders parties to prove their assertions.” Traphagen sounds contentious by nature; see O’Callaghan’s Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, p. 258, when on 10 January 1664 a schepen in Bushwick says Traphagen insulted him and called him “a false judge.”

The Netherlands are still reeling from the disastrous events of 1672. By 2 March 1675, we find Grietje Claesen has died; she is buried in Amsterdam (see “The Whole Family” above). Of Tjerck’s brothers and sisters, he lost two sisters in 1663, one back at home in Ostfriesland and one right there in front of him, killed and butchered and burned in a savage attack in her home, and now a third. He has one sister remaining in North America, and one remaining in Ostfriesland, and a brother who goes back and forth between North America and Europe, with a home and wife in Amsterdam. Tjerck’s half-sister Annetje also by now has apparently moved from Enkhuisen, where she raised a family, to Amsterdam, where she lives with her son Claes Harmense de Wit; her husband Harmen Egberts, also from Esens, has died. (This comes from several records, but see the Westfrisian Archive in Hoorn for the collection of registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials in Enkhuizen, 1581-1910, looking specifically under the old books from the Lutheran community in Enkhuiszen, which had its own minister by 1629 and got permission to build a church in 1641; see 26 October 1642, 2 April 1644, 16 December 1646, et al.; specific thanks to Wiard Hinrichs for excavating these.) Anneke seems to be connected to the new Lutheran church in Amsterdam, completed in 1671, which stands near where she lives for some time, on Bickers Island (today adjacent to the train station, on the Amstel River), but she is in touch with her half-brother Jan, who with his wife sponsors the baptism of Anneke’s grandson Jan, on 12 November 1684.

In Ostfriesland, on 22 September 1675, we see Tjerck’s half-sister Hilke has died (Source: Esens Totenregister, inspected in person; she is listed as the widow of Peke Ayken, of Grossholum, 65 years old). When we first find Witt-Claes, Tjerck’s father, in the Esens area, his first wife Falde has apparently died, and he is working on the farm of Peke Aykens’ mother (Grossholum Weinkauf Herd 32); she is a widow as well. Peke is just a boy at the time, and Witt-Claes (who is raising at least two daughters) seems to be more or less running the farm. This is just south and east of the farm where Tjerck’s mother is growing up, all part of (roughly) the same community. Witt-Claes eventually married Tiade, but one of his daughters from his first marriage, Hilke, marries Peke when he comes of age (16 June 1630; she would be 20 years old). It is entirely possible that Tjerck was born on this farm (his mother and father married ca. 1628), and equally possible that he spent his early years on this farm growing up. His mother’s family had their farm nearby, but it is not clear that Witt-Claes and Tiade moved to that farm until later, after Tiade’s brother, who was running the farm, married and moved elsewhere. Witt-Claes had an agreement to run Peke’s farm at least until he was of age and able to run it himself.

It is not clear when Tjerck would have received word that his sister and half-sister had died, but he would have heard at some point.

On 4 September 1676, we find in the Calendar of Colonial Manuscripts a “Description of a survey of 40 acres of land at ye Esopas, at ye Mumbackers, lying at ye Roundoubt kill, laid out for Charrat Clause,” (p. 81) next to several similar survey descriptions at Mombaccus. This very likely is a reference to Tjerck Claessen’s land. (Calendar of N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts, Indorsed Land Papers; in the office of the Secretary of State of New York, 1643-1803, Weed, Parsons & Co., Albany, 1864. Copy consulted was a PDF from archive.org. Hat tip to Marc Fried for pointing this out.)

On October 8, 1677, Governor Andros deeded Tjerck a piece of woodland, containing about fifty acres, at Kingston in Esopus, “to the west of the towne.” This is probably just one more reconfirmation of his title to the land he had been farming for many years now, starting under Dutch administration. As each successive new government took over, property owners sought confirmation of their continuing right to what they had obtained before. Tjerck had other property too, including some purchased directly from native tribes, at Cocksink.

Tjerck and Barbara had six other children whose baptisms were not recorded in Manhattan or Kingston. Possibly they were baptized in Hurley, in the church he had helped pay to build—not too far from the house and farm he built around 1670. It is also easy to imagine that for Tjerck, a staunch Lutheran who had moved to a colony run by Dutch Reformed Church loyalists (who, like their Puritan neighbors in Massachusetts, would have been Calvinist), it was important to have his children baptized in the Unaltered Augsberg Confession. During his early years in New Netherland, no Lutheran ministers were allowed to practice. After the British took over the colony, Lutheran ministers were available, though their records have not survived. It is known that Tjerck’s brother-in-law Martin Hoffman, from Revel, was not just a Lutheran but also emissary on occasion to the Lutheran colony (largely Swedish) at New Castle in Delaware. Tjerck’s brother Jan appears to have carried papers on at least one occasion from the Lutheran congregation in New York to the Lutheran Consistory in Amsterdam, in the 1690s. It is not clear where Barbara Andriessen and her family stood on religion. Tjerck and Barbara’s last daughter, Aefje, was baptized in Kingston on January 14, 1684.

In September 1682, James (Duke of York at the time), Lord Proprietor of the Province of New York, appointed Irishman Thomas Dongan as provincial governor (1683-1688) to replace Governor Andros. (Wikipedia on Thomas Dongan) What had been known as the Esopus now became officially Ulster County. Dongan set up a curious system of government whereby some people in the province of New York were able to elect councils and representatives, and some (including Kingston and Hurley) could not. The free white property holding men of the area put together a petition in early 1684 asking for the right to elect leaders, and Tjerck Claesen de Witt signed it. The governor was not amused, and on 6 and 7 June 1684 he fined the signers for their effrontery.

On 12 November 1684 we know Jan Claesen, Tjerck’s brother, is in Amsterdam: He and his wife Geesje Hendriks are listed as sponsors for the baptism of Johannes Claasen, the son of Claas Harmanse de Wit and Lysebeth Evans (see Amsterdam Stadtsarchief, inventory 5001, vol. 168, p. 94, scan 43). Claas Harmanse is the son of Annetje Claasen, half-sister of Tjerck, Jan, Emmerentje, Grietie, Ida, Falde and Tiade. Claas Harmanse is of course named for Witt-Claes, the father of all of them. Jan Claessen, Claas’s son, thus ends up with the same name as his uncle.

On 21 October 1687, Tjerck’s half-sister Annetje, widow of Harmen Egbertsz, is buried in the “new” (1671) Lutheran church in Amsterdam, called the Round church for its unusual shape. The church is right on the Singel and more convenient to Bickers Island, where Annetje at least at some points lives with her son Claes, who has married Elizabeth Evans. Annetje and Harmen raised their family in Enkhuizen, but several of the children have moved to Amsterdam by now. As with other news from Europe, it is never clear how long word of her death takes to reach Tjerck and Emmerentje in New York, but Jan seems to travel back and forth regularly, and other family and acquaintances no doubt do too, so inevitably Tjerck gets the news.

On 1 September 1689, Terrick Claes De Witt and Martin Hoffman are enumerated in “A rool of the names and surnames of those who have taken the oath of allegiance in ye County of Ulstr., by order of his excely. ye Governor.” (See p. 100, The Hoffman Genealogy; the source cited is Documentary History of New York, Vol. I; also see Sylvester, History of Ulster County, p. 69.)

Loyalty to Liesler?

This is an interesting document.

When Tjerck relocated to North America, it was to a Dutch colony. The English took over; the Dutch took it back; the English took over again.

James, Duke of York, had ruled the colony of New York as a proprietary province; in 1685 his brother King Charles II died, and James took over as King James II and VII (James II of England and James VII of Scotland). James, a Catholic, in succeeding his Protestant brother, united all the New England colonies, including New York, in the “Dominion of New England,” and he appointed a single governor (Edmund Andros, who had been governor of the Province of New York before Dongan) to manage the whole Dominion from Boston, with a lieutenant governor (Francis Nicholson) administering the colonies. New York no longer had a full-rank Governor in charge.

Andros arrived in the summer of 1688. In late 1688, the English, nervous at being ruled by a Catholic monarch, deposed James, replacing him with Protestants William III (from the House of Orange, a Dutchman) and Mary II.

On April 18, 1689, a mob in Boston arrested Governor Andros and sent him packing back to London. To keep things interesting, France declared war on England around the same time.

In late May 1689, Lieutenant Governor Nicholson lost the confidence of the townspeople of New York, and by early June he decided it would be wisest to sail for England.

A German soldier and merchant named Jacob Leisler stepped up to fill the void in power, taking over the city first just as a commander of military forces but eventually as a full governor, albeit without official appointment from the Crown. He claimed loyalty to William and Mary, and he tried to unite all the colonies in opposition to the French, with limited success. Even Albany would not give him allegiance, until a French attack on nearby Schenectady in February 1690 changed the thinking of the city’s leaders.

By March 1691, Leisler’s rule was ended, and an offically appointed governor (Colonel Henry Sloughter) took the reins back in the name of the monarchs. The rest of the story didn’t go well for Leisler, and on 16 May 1691 he and his son-in-law (and second in command) Jacob Milborne were hanged for treason.

It is not clear from the Hoffman genealogy, with regard to the 1689 oath of allegiance, to which governor Tjerck and Martin were promising their faith. The full document likely would make that clear.

On Tuesday 2 October 1694, at the Supreme Court of Judicature in New York City, Tirck Claes De Witt (or his attorney Emott) appears on behalf of the defendant in a case brought by Duncan against Smith; the particulars of the case, and Tjerck’s involvement, are not clear from the notes (p. 59, Minutes of the Supreme Court of Judicature 1693-1701, published in 1913 by the New-York Historical Society in a combined volume with Proceedings of the General Court of Assizes, 1680-1682, as Vol. 45 of the Collections of the Society; it can be found in various searchable forms on archive.org). According to the interpretation in the index (p. 222), Tjerck is asking to be made the defendant in the case. The Duncan case comes back before the court on October 1, 1695 (p. 74), “upon the demise of Ward recovered upon Tirck Claes De Witt, of Olster”; Nicoll (as attorney for the plaintiff) asks for judgement to be deferred until the “last day of this terme.” See also 8 October 1696 below.

Tjerck’s brother Jan Claesen lives in Amsterdam with his wife and apparently goes back and forth periodically to North America. At some point probably in 1695, he sails on the ship De Bever under skipper Robert Sinclair, first to London and then on to New York. (The colony is a British colony, and London generally requires that any ship going there should go by way of a British port, for customs checks and other control of shipping traffic. This policy may not always have been tightly honored, but in this case it appears Jan was going by the book. For further discussion of rules about which ships could, or did, sail which routes see Claudia Schnurmann’s article “Seventeenth-Century Atlantic Commerce and Nieuw Amsterdam/New York Merchants” in Jacob Leisler’s Atlantic World, Hermann Wellenreuter editor, Atlantic Cultural Studies Vol. 8, Lit Verlag, Berlin, 2009.)

On 9 June 1696, the Lutheran congregation in New York put together a note to the Lutheran Consistory in Amsterdam, asking for help finding a minister for New York. This letter was carried by Jan de Wit, who was “on his return voyage from New York” (p. 93, The Lutheran Church in New York 1649-1772, translated by A.J.F. van Laer, New York Public Library, 1946). On Wednesday 17 October, the minutes of the Amsterdam Consistory’s regular meeting include the following story (pp. 92-93): “Appeared before us Jan de Wit, who came from New York on the ship ‘de Bever’ and who was taken first by the French and later by a privateer from Zeeland. [Keep in mind this all took place during the Nine Years’ War, which was between France and a European coalition including England, the Netherlands, and some other major powers.] He says that he was sent by our congregation there with letters to this body . . . [which] were taken from him in Zeeland. He requests our intercession for the restoration of these letters.” The privateer was the ship “Blikkenburg,” owned by a Mr. Verborn in Middelburg, and the Consistory resolves to contact him to try to get the letters back from Cornelis Cornelisz, the ship’s master.

Sailing times across the Atlantic were never entirely predictable, and this trip took even longer, with not one but two colorful disruptions on the high seas. Jan de Wit could not have known many details about what was going on in his home on Reguliersdwarstraat while he was away, but if he had arrived as expected, he might have been in time for a sad occasion: On 9 September 1696, his wife, Geesie Hendricx, was buried in Amsterdam, at the Heiligewegs- en Leidsche Kerkhof (Amsterdam Stadsarchief, collection 5001, inventory item 1230, p. 113). In the record of her burial, she is described as the wife of Jan Claese de Wit, and a little note in the margin adds, “in de reguliers,” so we know she was still living in their home on Reguliersdwarstraat when she died. If she was 30 years old in 1662 when she married her first husband, Harmen Hendrics, then by 1696 she would have been 67 years old. Jan was baptized in 1642, so he is 54 years old in 1696.

Amsterdam Grave Locations

For some discussion of various burial locations in Amsterdam over history, see Dodenakkers walking tour of the “lost cemeteries” of the city.

The Leidschekerkhof was in use 1664-1866, replacing the older Heiligewegskerkhof, and can be found at 1e Raamplein 1, “between the current Passeerdersgracht, the Raamstraat where the entrance was, and the Raamplein (filled-in part of the Lijnbaansgracht).” To get there from Reguliersdwarstraat, one would walk up toward the Leidsegracht (similar to walking to the Lutheran church), and then instead of turning right toward the center of town, turn left and away from the heart of town, crossing a few ring canals (Heren, Keizers, Prinsen) before reaching the burying ground.

The Heiligewegskerkhof (Holy Way church yard) was in use 1640-1664. “In a certificate of 8 May 1640 it was established that this cemetery . . . was exclusively intended for those who did not have a grave outside or inside the church. That meant the poor part of the population.” (It may also have included Lutherans, Catholics, and anyone else whose church might not have had burial places.) This old cemetery, whose record books are compiled in the archives together with those of the newer Leidschekerkhof cemetery that replaced it, can be found at and behind Herengracht 434-440, right across the Herengracht from Reguliersdwarstraat.

For Jan’s affidavit describing this journey, with even more details (they set sail from New York 23 June for Virginia to pick up an escort, left Virginia 23 July but 8 days later were hit by a major storm; they made port at “Caap Clara” 27 August—there’s a well known Cape Clara in Gabon, but this seems too far south and does not match the sailing times described; a more likely candidate might be Ponta Delgada in the Azores, known for its parish of Santa Clara since at least the 1580s—and were immediately seized by the French, who brought them to Brest; the Dutch privateer took charge 3 September and had them to Vlissingen by 13 September; it was during this leg of the voyage that Geesie died in Amsterdam), see both the original in the Amsterdam Archive (notarial archive of Hendrick Outgers, toegangsnummer 5075, volume 3332 [1696.10.1 to 1696.11.30], document 289, scans 37, 38, 39) and the undated transcription by Dr. Simon Hart, Amsterdam archivist (toegangsnummer 883, 2.5.5.1 Nieuw-Amsterdam, Vol. 597 [Transcripties, regesten en vertalingen van notariële akten.Zeventiende eeuw], scans 249-250 of 340).

British Records of The Beaver

For more on the ship The Beaver from London archives, see DRCHSNY Vols. III, IV and V; on 25 March 1679 it sailed from New York to London (III.277-8, with reference to a harsh North American winter 1678-79); in fall 1686 it apparently sailed from New York to London with elephant tusks (“teeth”) from Africa, which the Lords of Trade felt had not been procured or declared properly (III.496-7). In mid-May 1689 (18 May?) it sailed from New York to London under master John Corbet (III.585, 592-3, 648), just before the Glorious Revolution put William of Orange and Mary on the English throne and Jacob Leisler took over the colony of New York, ostensibly in loyalty to William and Mary. The ship is mentioned in a deposition 27 February 1689/90 (III.747), and it apparently arrived in New York after another voyage on 25 January 1690/91 (III.757), with a company of footsoldiers sent to put down Leisler’s rebellion, sent to arrive with a couple of other ships.

In 1696, apparently on the same voyage from New York that had Jan de Witt aboard, Governor Fletcher (IV.159-60) was sending “two Frenchmen, Charles Moreill and James Wood, Roman Catholicks” back to England; he had found them “in the two companies that came last from England” and “could not trust them at Albany lest they should correspond with their countrymen of Canada.” Also on The Beaver he sends copies of “papers and instructions” that were sent with “Two Gentlemen of the Council of this Province Mr. Brooke and Mr. Nicoll” on a previous mission; Brooke and Nicoll had been “taken into France” and stripped of all their papers, so DeWitt’s voyage is actually the second time all of these papers have been confiscated. Fletcher also sends copies of a note he got from Connecticut refusing any meaningful assistance, and a list of known Roman Catholics in the colony, who “are disarmed and obliged to give bond with surety for their good behaviour or be confined in prison.”

Robert Sinclair has exceptionally bad luck with the French; we find him captured again in 1704 by “one French privateer of fourteen Gunns who took just [outside of] Sandy hook a ship commanded by one Sinclair who was bound to [New York] from England, on board of whom were all the packetts your Lord[ships] were pleased to send me . . . they are fallen into the hands of the Ennemy” (IV.1121; date is unclear, but this happens apparently sometime between 30 June and 6 November, likely in July). Apparently (IV.1129) arms were also shipped on Sinclair’s ship and taken by the French.

The Beaver, or a ship of the same name, is still plying the Atlantic in 1720, under Thomas Smith; Colonel Schuyler 9 June says he will use it to convey back to London various minutes and notes from a commission involved in investigating French influence in native communities (V.541). On 4 December 1726, Governor Burnet sends “letters and papers relating to the Indian Affairs” on The Beaver, “Matthew Smith master” (V.811); he sends duplicates on 20 December by the ship Alexander. On 13 August 1728, Governor Montgomerie sends his latest report to the Lords of Trade with “Captain Smith in the Beaver,” according to his letter of 30 November in the same year (V.871).

The Consistory’s efforts to recover the New York letters are successful, and after getting them at last on 7 November, they write a reply to the New York congregation, dated 9 November 1696 (p. 94). The Lutherans in New York indicate in their answer that they got this letter on 17 August 1697. It is not clear how the letter was sent (who carried it? Jan at some point did return to Kingston, and may have been the courier), but travel remains complicated: When the New Yorkers send their reply, dated 12 September 1699, it apparently has to go by way of Curacao to reach Amsterdam, and the first copy they send does not arrive. The Amsterdam Consistory takes it up in their regular meeting on Wednesday, 18 November 1699.

In addition to various wars and conflicts going on in various parts of the Atlantic at this time, these were difficult years because of the weather. Summer rains ruined crops; famines sprung up in many places; winters were bitterly cold. The Amsterdam church records show the burials of many children during the winter and spring of 1698-1699.

On Thursday 8 October 1696 (in a session continued from the 6 October session), in the Supreme Court of Judicature at City Hall in New York (pp. 101-102, Minutes of the Supreme Court of Judicature), John Ward, the Sheriff of Ulster, complains that “Direch Claese Dewitt & his Daughter & many others” resisted him when he was trying to execute a writ; the sheriff then complained to Col. Henry Beekman, “one of his [Majesty’s] Justices of [the] peace,” who also refused to help. The Sheriff rounded up 18 of his Majesty’s subjects to assist him in executing the warrant, “he” (Tjerck? or Beekman?) “did Command the said Persons to goe to their Respective homes & not to assist ye sd Sheriff.” The court gives the sheriff another writ for “Delivering Possession unto the sd Plff According to ye Judgmt” (apparently the original issue) and instructs Col. Beekman to appear personally to answer for his alleged resistance. (See 2 October 1694 above for a case of Duncan vs. Smith in which Tjerck asked to be made the defendant; it is not clear that this was related to the writ the sheriff was trying to serve, but it seems likely.)

(I ran into the above reference in Vona DeWitt Smith’s self-published 2004 book—from Trafford Publishing—on the descendants of Tierck “Clafsen” DeWitt, focusing on the line that descends from Lucas DeWitt. The book has a lot of research in it but presents some challenges: Emmerentje, for example, is spelled Emmertine; Grootholum is written Groothelde; small but meaningful inaccuracies like this abound and make the text’s reliability difficult to interpret. Intriguingly, the book on p. 12 discusses a 31-page 1684 lawsuit by Jan Claesen DeWitt obtained by Ambassador Lester DeWitt Mallory from the archive at Aurich, which may be the same one we already know about—which is on 17 pages in the original—or may be a different one. Allegedly the document received by Ambassador Mallory names Tjerck’s mother as Tjaetje Cornelisz, daughter of Cornelis Pieterz of “Oosterbeus, Westeraccum,” a nonexistent place that combines, sort of, two other place names from near where Tjerck’s family came from. It appears that multiple sources have been mistranscribed and then intermixed, without explanation of where the various strands came from. Specifically, saying Tjerck’s mother had a father named Cornelis does not match the written church and civil records from Ostfriesland. The document itself is not found in Vona DeWitt’s book, so it is impossible to evaluate, but it would be nice to find it, so we could determine whether it has more information in it.)

On 4 March 1697 (English style 1698), Tjerck writes his will, suggesting that he believes for some reason he might die soon. It is uncommon in this era for a person to draft a will until they are near death. See links below for more detailed discussion of his will and his brother Jan’s. By 1697, Tjerck is able to describe how satisfied he is with his material successes in life: “Such a considerable temporal estate of lands, houses, negroes, goods, horses, livestock, debts, gold, silver minted and unminted, etc. as the Lord has been pleased to grant me, far above my merits.”

On 31 March 1699, Jan de Witt, in “Kingstowne,” writes his will. He is 56 years old, not an old man by current standards; he has been healthy enough in the recent past to sail across the Atlantic more than once. But by 26 June 1699, he has died, and the will is “proved,” in Kingston. (The justice of the peace before whom Jan’s executors appear is Roeloff Swartwout.) Jan leaves his property in North America to Tiatje Bogardus (youngest daughter of Jan’s sister Emmerentje) and her husband Evert, with a bonus 25 pieces of eight to Emmerentje’s youngest son Nicholas Hoffman; he leaves his property in Europe to the children of his sister Tiaatie, who married Oltman Heertkens, son of the old Deichrichter, and still lives in the Esens area.

On 6 March 1700 (1701 English style), Abraham Lamater and William de Meyer of Kingston, N.Y., appear before a judge of the Court of Common Pleas to prove the will of Tjerck Claessen De Witt, who has died.

 

This account has been pieced together from several sources, which are not all listed here yet, though I do update the source list periodically, and I’m trying to make clear the source for each claim I make in the narrative about Tjerck and his family. A more detailed description of what we know about his life in Esens is on the page of information about his father, Witt-Claes Janßen; there’s a link at the top of this page to go see that. The Witt-Claes page overlaps this page considerably. For a somewhat dated look at where Tjerck came from, before I had made more comprehensive documentary connections between Tjerck in New Amsterdam and his roots in the area around Esens, have a look at my 1998 trip to Ostfriesland, Germany, in search of his Old World roots. (This set of pages includes a page with links to lots of other sites for research into Tjerck, Ostfriesland and other Dutch ancestors.)

For a somewhat dated discussion of some of Tjerck’s family relations, have a look at my excerpts from the record of baptisms in early Manhattan (the page will take a few moments to load; it's big) and at my very cursory excerpt of public records from Albany, NY, regarding Tjerck Claessen DeWitt and possible relatives. A lot of that information has been migrating slowly to this page.

Please also see A.J.F. van Laer’s sage footnote from a collection of old Rensselaerwyck documents, which details some thoughts surrounding the question of where Tjerck may have come from.

Meantime, a few notes from more recent relatives:

E-mail excerpt, June 28, 1999, from Mary Sarah Bradley to Doug Bradley:

I've really got to stop opening big envelopes with lots of letters inside. I went into a plastic box in my closet, which at one time was the only repository of family information that I had. I was looking for the story about Marcus' demise and came across an envelope marked, "Oradell". It was late at night, but I still could not resist looking inside and reading some of the letters from Aunt Dot, Aunt Mae, my mother, Aunt Mary, etc. In a letter that Aunt Mary wrote from Kingston on August 29, 1967 she said,

"Tjerck Claessen was a contemporary of John and Cornelius DeWitt of Dordrecht. He was born in Friesland and came to Dordrecht later so does not appear in the Dordrecht archives. I've found a distant cousin of ours here in Kingston who has been working on this problem on her own. . . . I've asked her to do the research to really prove exactly the relationship of Tjerck Claessen to the Dordrecht. He was a cousin but I think we should get his lineage as far as it is possible to do so. . . . I've compiled records of eleven generations in this country . . . and I have a folder on file for each of the families on the fan-chart . . ."

She did not tell me the last name of the distant cousin, only that she was a writer and had an apartment in NYC.

Pix

The house that Tjerck built:

Click on the picture to see a larger version.
(Photo by Doug Bradley or Mary Sarah Bradley, I forget. Please respect copyright, and ask if you are thinking of using it anywhere.)

The corner nearest the camera is the oldest part of the house, dating from the late 1600s. The original house was one story high and went only as far as the first bench next to what's now the front door. You can see where the front wall caved in at some point and was rebuilt using a different color of stone. If you walk around the house, you can see seams in the stonework where it was extended at various points in its history.

1660 Exchange of Property in Beverwijck for Property in Esopus (Johanna de Laet)

Document images courtesy of the Matthew Ten Eyck DeWitt Family Collection.

Real estate Tjerck Owns When He Dies

Houses and Mills: In his will, describing real property, Tjerck specifies “Lant, huysing, etc.” [land, houses, etc.] and goes on to include “myn soebehoorende Mils,” which Anjou translates as “my mill,” but probably includes more nuance. The Dutch for “mill” is molen (kin to moulin in French or Mühle in German), and the Frisian is mûne; the word used here is probably the English. The intent appears to be to describe plural mills, as if there are different mills corresponding to or belonging to [behorende?] Tjerck’s various properties. Certainly a DeWitt mill was eventually established on the Green Kill; it seems to have existed before Tjerck wrote his will. Many other mills, of various types, were in the area. Settlers needed mills both to grind grain and to cut lumber for buildings, among other uses. The Mombaccus area had mills, and Tjerck may have had one there too.

DeWitt Mill on Green Kill: The DeWitt Mill site was on the Green Kill, somewhat north of the Rondout, south of the town site of Hurley. (Originally the mill site was within the patented boundaries of the town of Hurley, but it was and is separate from where the church and main streets of the town sit.) In 1677 (April 24; see Olde Ulster article), the court of Kingston grants the Green Kill and surrounding valley to Mattys Mattysen [van Keuren], husband of Tjerck’s first daughter, Tjaatje, if he will build a mill there. It is not clear whether he did so. In 1686 (13 September), Tjerck conveys half his interest in the mill “upon the Greenkill within the limit of Hurley” to William West, hoping that West will teach one of Tjerck’s sons to be a miller. The wording suggests that Tjerck is not the only owner of the mill. On 5 June 1709, Johannes Hardenbergh of Kingston (also associated with the Great Hardenbergh Patent, considerably further west), bought 24 acres at the headwaters of the Green Kill, running down to the property limits of William West, with reference to “his predecessors Captn. Thomas de Lavall & Tjerck Clase de Witt.” Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, in her well-researched 1929 book on Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley (see Sources below), says Johannes DeWitt, grandson of Tjerck (via Andries), built the house adjacent to the mill ca. 1736, but it appears that as early as 1686 Tjerck had at least an interest in a mill that already stood, very likely, on the site of the mill that was well known later in association with multiple generations of DeWitts.

Other land: In his will, Tjerck awards his sons Jan and Jacob each 500 schepels of wheat due to Tjerck (in 1698) for a sale of land, location and buyer not specified.

Cocksink: In his will, Tjerck describes land at “Cocksinck” (later in the will spelled “Korcksinck”), for which he says he has paid and received a grant; as governments changed from Dutch to English and back and forth again, it was common for a land owner to apply to the new governor or council for a grant confirming their ownership of land previously held. In 1703, “At a meeting of Trustees of Marbletown . . . Andries Dewitt desires a conveyance for the rest [of the] lowland at Cocksink not patented by John Ward”; the petition is granted. (See Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, History of Ulster County, New York [1880, Everts & Peck, Philadelphia; available in reprints or online] page 184.) The Coxing Cemetery is southwest of modern Rosendale, on the south sideof the Rondout Creek.

Klein Esopus: In his will, Tjerck also describes land he has bought at “Klyne Soopis” (also spelled “Klyne Esoopeis”), in company with William De Meyer. He confirms that he has already conveyed (before the 1698 writing of the will) this land and his land at Cocksink to his son Andries, and specifies that since Andries already owns this land, he does not need to pay his brothers and sisters for any share of it when Tjerck dies; Tjerck says it is not part of his estate. One understanding of “Little Esopus” is that the Esopus name covered a large area around present-day Kingston, with “Klein Esopus” being the part of the Esopus south of the Rondout Creek [Kill] and “Groot Esopus” [Great Esopus] being the area north of the Rondout, which would be by far the larger section. This understanding would put Andries’ land at Klein Esopus adjacent to his land at Cocksink, roughly south of the DeWitt Mill site.
Not yet properly included on this page: Tjerck started out owning land up by present-day Albany and may have continued to own it even after he moved to the Esopus (present day Kingston and Hurley).

Mombaccus: Tjerck owned land in Mombaccus (present day Rochester [the town in Ulster County, not the city on Lake Ontario]).

Hurley and Kingston: Tjerck owned one of the “New Lots” outside of Wiltwyck from a fairly early date, and must have been developing it in June 1663 when the Esopus Indians attacked and, apparently, burned all the homes in the New Lots to the ground. At the time of the Indians’ attack in Wildwyck, Tjerck (according to most accounts) was standing near the mill gate in the stockade that surrounded the town. This would be on the northern side of what’s presently called the Stockade District in Kingston, probably near Front Street and Green Street today. (The mill sat on a little creek just west of the stockade that ran north into the Esopus Creek.) The lists of those killed, injured, and taken hostage in the attack distinguish between settlers in Wildwyck (Kingston) and in the New Village (Hurley). Tjerck’s sister Ida and her family (Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck, her husband (a shoemaker), and their daughter) were killed in Wildwyck, not in the New Village. Tjerck’s eldest daughter was kidnapped from Wildwyck, not the New Village. It appears that Tjerck’s house would have been inside the stockade at Wildwyck, where some homes were burned but many were saved (when the wind changed direction). At the time of this writing, we do not know where Tjerck’s home inside the stockade was or what became of it (nor Ida and Jan’s home site; the house itself apparently was burned in the 1663 Esopus attack?).

At a court session in Kingston on 15 May 1671 (Kingston Papers, pp. 460-462, in which we also find Harmen Hendrix calling Cornelis Wynkoop a “thick bear,” to which Cornelis retorts, “I have not yet been banished!”), the court orders everyone inside the Kingston stockade to tighten up their sections of the wall. There’s a list attached of every property owner inside the wall, with their lot numbers (1 through 43). Tjerck does not appear on this list, so we might guess that by 1671 at least he does not own property anymore inside of the stockade at Kingston. The translator notes that we may infer from the math that the village had a perimeter of 366 rods, probably Amsterdam measure, which would mean it was about 4400 feet.
The “New Lots” settlement, south and west of Wildwyck (Kingston) was sometimes referred to as Nieuw Dorp (the new village); later, under the English, it became Hurley. These lots were large, to include fields for farming; did Tjerck’s lot include a house on the main street of Hurley, or just the acreage where eventually he built a home along the Esopus Creek, on the road from Hurley to Kingston? (The home and 21 acres it stands on today are within Kingston’s boundaries, not in Hurley, and those boundaries would have gone back to the very early days, so very likely the site of his house that still stands was not part of the “New Lot” that he owned.) Also not clear without further study: Is his “New Lot” the land that belonged to Johanna Hulter/de Laet, for which he traded a home in Beverwijck, or is his “New Lot” a separate property, in addition to the De Laedt lot? (I suspect the de Laet lot and the “New Lot” are separate things, but there’s no documentation so far.)

Marc B. Fried in The Early History of Kingston & Ulster County, N.Y. (pp. 139-140) presents a good discussion of the location of the modern “Suydam Farm” stone house that ultimately was built by Tjerck and remained in family hands for more than 200 years. The house as of 2020 is on approximately 20 acres of land and has several wooden outbuildings of different sizes vintages on the same lot; some have been converted (to a garage, a pool house) and some appear to be more or less intact. Fried discusses the multiple contracts Tjerck entered into for building different houses, and looks at whether any of those might represent the house (or outbuildings) that occupy the site today.

Some of the patents from various governors (English and Dutch) to Tjerck for different properties are actually repeats of patents from previous governors. They do not all represent new acquisitions; sometimes they only confirm what he had already acquired.

Tjerck appears to have continued to acquire, trade, and sell property through his whole career in the Kingston area, sometimes in association with other investors, sometimes apparently “on speculation,” maybe with the idea that if he never used it, his children or grandchildren might—a guess that appears to have paid off in later generations.

Sources

I’m just beginning to list sources here. Apologies for not being more complete. I will continue to add to this list as I have time. There are many sources of information on Tjerck Claessen DeWitt, some better than others.

Printed sources:

Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York (formerly named Wiltwyck, and often familiarly called Esopus or ’Sopus), for One Hundred and Fifty Years from their commencement in 1660. Transcribed and edited by Roswell Randall Hoes, Chaplain U.S.N., corresponding secretary of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, etc. New York 1891; available today from Higginson Book Co., Salem, Mass., 508-745-7170. Detailed information about baptisms has been filled in through the end of 1687, marriages through 1701. More information is available. Records begin 1660. Other baptisms may have taken place in Hurley and other locations nearby; also from time to time itinerant ministers would travel through and perform various rites, not always entered in the books.

Die Weinkaufsprotokolle des Amtes Esens, Heyko Heyken, 1998, Upstalsboom-Gesellschaft, Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany

Reynolds, Helen Wilkinson, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776, with an introduction by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Chairman of the Holland Society of New York Special Committee on Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776, originally published in 1929, by Payson and Clarke, for the Holland Society; reprinted in a trade paper edition in 1965, unabridged, by Dover Publications, New York.

DeWitt, Mary V[eldran], private printing, date uncertain: The DeWitt Genealogy: Descendants of Tjereck Claessen DeWitt of Ulster County, New York.This exhaustive record lists only names, dates, and relations: It includes no geographical notes, barely any source information, and no stories or other hints about anyone in it. What it does include is the names of more than 2,845 descendants of Tjerck Claessen, elaborately compiled and connected over years of research, both in archives and on the ground in cemeteries, courthouses and churches. It is the single most comprehensive source extant for the largest number of DeWitt descendants in North America. Notes from the compilation, indicating sources or other information, vanished after the death of Mary V. DeWitt. Some family members felt they may have gone off to the D.A.R., or been discarded, or gone to some other charitable organization that would not have known what they were or what to do with them. Worth noting, however: The Genealogical Society of Bergen County (New Jersey), where Mary Veldran DeWitt grew up and lived for many years, has an extensive collection of looseleaf folders of genealogical information from many sources. One important source for many of these folders is listed as Mary DeWitt. For further information on any of her records, it might be worth a look at the BCGS files, kept (as of 2020) in the Ridgewood (New Jersey) Public Library.

Gehring, Charles T. and Janny Venema, editors and translators, Fort Orange Records 1654-1679, Syracuse University Press, 2009, The Holland Society of New York (New Netherland Documents Series).

Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam and New York: Baptisms from 25 December, 1639, to 27 December, 1730,Edited by Thomas Grier Evans, 1901, New York, printed for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society; reprinted 1968 by the Gregg Press, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. For brevity cited here as New Amsterdam Baptisms.

Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam and New York: Marriages from 11 December 1639 to 26 August 1801, Samuel S. Purple, M.D., editor, printed for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1890, reprinted 2003 by Heritage Books, Bowie, Maryland. For brevity cited here as New Amsterdam Marriages.

Gehring, Charles T., translator and editor: Laws & Writs of Appeal 1647-1663 (New Netherland Documents Series Volume XVI, part one), Syracuse University Press 1991, The Holland Society of New York.

Gehring, Charles T., translator and editor: Fort Orange Court Minutes 1652-1660 (New Netherland Documents Series Volume XVI, part two), Syracuse University Press 1990, The Holland Society of New York.

Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, translated and edited by A.J.F. van Laer, Archivist, New York State Library: Albany, 1908, University of the State of New York (New York State Education Department).

Venema, Janny: Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2003 (simultaneously published by Verloren in Hilversum, The Netherlands).

Fried, Marc B., The Early History of Kingston & Ulster County, N.Y., Ulster County Historical Society, Marbletown, Kingston, New York, 1975, produced by the Publishing Center for Cultural Resources, New York City.

Van Buren, Augustus H., A History of Ulster County Under the Dominion of the Dutch, Kingston, New York, 1923; republished 1989 by J.C. & A.L. Fawcett, Inc., 38-01 23rd Avenue, Astoria, New York 11105.

J. Pearson and A.J.F. van Laer (trans. and ed.), Early Records of the City and County of Albany [New York], and Colony of Rensselaerswyck (1656-1675), Albany, 1869; a 4-volume set. Much of this material is also included in some of the later Gehring (or Gehring/Venema) retranslations of original documents. Sometimes it’s instructive to see different translators’ approaches to the same textual problems, or to compare footnotes. The passages cited here are from PDF copies available at archive.org, rather than original paper volumes.

Andries DeWitt Bible (not available in print, but see photos above and on Andries’ page), courtesy of the Matthew Ten Eyck DeWitt Family Collection.

Albany church records from 1683-1809 were collected by the Holland Society and published between 1904 and 1927, in eight separate Year Books, then republished in book form, with an introduction by Louis Duermeyer (librarian to the Holland Society), in Records of the Reformed Dutch Church of Albany, New York, 1683-1809, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1978, available in a 2003 reprint from www.genealogical.com (Clearfield Company, Baltimore). The introduction, on pp. ix-x, points out the lack of earlier records: “These records, in fact, commence with an introductory note by Domine Dellius noting that no previous list had been kept.” In 1938, a fire destroyed the original Reformed Church records for the years before 1790.

Carl Boyer, 3rd (editor and indexer), Ship Passenger Lists: New York and New Jersey (1600-1825), originally self-published 1978, reprinted 1992 by Family Line Publications, Westminster, Maryland. This is a great compilation volume that collects information from 115 separate sources and indexes them, generally with full attribution to let researchers know where to find original citations.

Online sources:

Tjerck Claessen DeWitt in Court

Record of early marriages in the Dutch Reform Church in Manhattan, available in printed form or online

Record of early baptisms in the Dutch Reform Church in Manhattan, available online

English translations of Dutch colonial records, also known as “The Kingston Papers,” available online. These are the Dingman Versteeg translations. The originals are available on microfilm from the Ulster County archivist, who can be found through the same link. A cross-reference indexing the archive pages to the microfilm frames to the pages in the printed translation can be obtained from Donald Lockhart, dlockhart at rcn dot com, who includes an entertaining introduction about the misadventures of the original manuscript records in the 1800s, before they were at last safely ensconced with the Ulster County archives.

Also see The History of Kingston, New York, by Marius Schoonmaker (1888), a volume thick with detail and transcribed original records.

http://www.ortsfamilienbuecher.de

Reproduced herein:

Wills of Tjerck Claessen DeWitt and his brother Jan, who died unmarried in Kingston, 1699 (1906 Anjou edition). An interesting entry in The Register of Salomon Lachaire 1661-1662 [notary], p. 134, discusses the 1662 sale of a slave by Johannes de Wit, merchant of New Amsterdam, to Joseph Swett of Boston for 2000 lb. of tobacco; Tjerck’s brother Jan is still in Europe when this happens (and a farm hand, 18 years old or so). Other entries fill in more details about the merchant Johannes De Witt, but none of them can be Tjerck’s brother Jan.

Very cursory look at public records from Albany, NY, regarding Tjerck Claessen DeWitt and possible relatives.

The Peltz Record (1948)

The History of Ulster County, New York

The Oberholtzer Genealogy

Research assistance:

Kind thanks to Kay Blaas, Wiard Hinrichs, Dave Ehst, Mark Saunders, Brian DeWitt, Donald Lockhart, Harry Macy, all the previous translators and editors and publishers and preservers of the old documents, and innumerable other sources who helped trace the details of this man’s remarkable life. Special thanks to Tony Schoonover for noticing the discrepancy between the date of Tjerck’s death and the last baptism he attended.

Last Modified: Sunday, November 15, 2020

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