Witt-Claes Janßen (a.k.a. DeWitt)

Birth Date - d. 10 November 1659

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

Death Record from Andries Bible

From the Bible of Andries and Jannetje [Egbertszen] 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 notes saved in the 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
TGE 2. i. Family 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
TGE 3. ii. Family 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 [prob. Blanchan], 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.)

Mattys Mattysen is the son of Mattys Jansen [Van Keuren], who died before 21 March 1663, and Margarita Hendericks; he is stepson of Thomas Chambers, who married Margarita after Jan died. Mattys has siblings, including a sister Catrina. See for example 20 March 1668 below (Kingston Papers pp. 402-403), where Mattys says he is nearly of age and able to cultivate his own land, so he seeks to be released from guardianship.

Jannetje DeWitt

named for her mother’s mother?
TGE 4. iii.
baptized 12 February 1662, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - d. 1744
witnesses/sponsors: Jan Jansen [probably Jan Jansen Van Brestede, who is married to Barbara’s sister Marritje; they live in Manhattan], Jannetje Sebyns [Barbara’s mother], Elsje Jans [Elsje may be Barbara’s aunt? sister-in-law? If Jannetje Sebyns is Jannetje Janssen, both Jan and Elsje could be siblings of Barbara’s mother.]
parents: Tierck Claesse de With, Barber Andriesse
m. [when? where?] Cornelius Swits, son of Cornelius Claessen Swits and Ariantje Trommels.
[Not to be confused with: 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 (see her page for further details).
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.)
burial location (possibly Rochester, Ulster County?)

Claes DeWitt

named for his father’s father
TGE 5. iv. (as Klaes)
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.
burial location

Jan DeWitt

named for his fatherís paternal grandfather; also for his uncles (his mother’s brother Jan is witness at his baptism; his father also has a brother named Jan)
TGE 6. v. Family 4.
baptized 14 February 1666, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - died probably before 13 April 1701; see notes below
witnesses: Marten Hoffman, Jan Andriesse, Amerens Claessen
parents: Tierck Claesse de With, Barber Andriesse
married Wyntje Kiersted date and location
burial location
He is named third in his fatherís 1698 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. Janís brother Jacob gets the same settlement. The terms of the will are that Tjerck’s wife Barbara retains possession of all his property until her death. By the time she dies (1714), Jan is no longer around to receive his 500 schepels of wheat.
See Anjouís collection of Ulster County wills (full citation in Sources below), where (p. 118) Jan is described as living in Mombaccus. His will is dated October 29, 1700, when he is “sick and lying in bed.” It is not clear whether he is present at the baptism of his last daughter, Jannetje, 13 July 1701. Wyntje Kiersted is described as his widow when she remarries in 1702. At the baptism of his nephew Johannes (MVDW 25, son of Andries) 13 April 1701, witnesses are Jacob de Wit and Wyntje Kiersted, described as widow of Jan DeWitt, though the record is confused. (Church record doesn’t quite match the family Bible, but the church dates seem accurate.) The will is executed in 1715, perhaps when Wyntje dies.

Geertruy DeWitt

named for her mother’s sister (also other ancestors?)
TGE 7. vi. Family 5.
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
married Hendrick Hendricksen Schoonmaker (1665-before 1718, 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. (Evans, p. 6, says Jochem Schoonmaker is one of the original settlers of Rochester.) 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.)
burial location (probably Rochester, Ulster County? or Kingston?)

Jacob DeWitt

named for ??? (mother’s side?)
TGE 8. vii. Family 6.
Birth Date (maybe 1670?) - 1739
no baptism record in Dutch Reformed Church record: in spring 1669 a Lutheran pastor arrived in the colony, and subsequent children may have been baptized in the Lutheran community
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.
burial location

Rachel DeWitt

named for ??? (mother’s side?)
TGE 9. viii. Family 7.
Birth Date (maybe 1672?) - Death Date (7 January 1745 per Find-A-Grave)
no baptism record in Dutch Reformed Church record: in spring 1669 a Lutheran pastor arrived in the colony, and subsequent children may have been baptized in the Lutheran community
m. Cornelius Bogardus
See NYGBS Record Vol. 84 No. 4, October 1953, p. 233, for a citation from the Bogardus–Van Tine Bible noting her passing: “174(6?) is our mother in heaven asleep; (died) the 7 of January.” Further notes on Rachel’s page.
burial location: Old Dutch Churchyard, Kingston, New York (U.S.A.), per Find-A-Grave, which lists sources for more information
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
TGE 10. ix. Family 8.
Birth Date (maybe 1674?) - 1703
no baptism record in Dutch Reformed Church record: in spring 1669 a Lutheran pastor arrived in the colony, and subsequent children may have been baptized in the Lutheran community
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.
burial location

Peeck DeWitt

named for relatives on father’s side? (It is possible his father’s godfather was Peke Aytken in Groot Holum, who married his father’s half-sister)
TGE 11. x. Family 9.
Birth Date (maybe 1676?) - Death Date (after 1730)
born in Kingston or Hurley, New York
no baptism record in Dutch Reformed Church in Kingston: in spring 1669 a Lutheran pastor arrived in the colony, and subsequent children may have been baptized in the Lutheran community, for which no record has been preserved
m. Maritje Janse Vandenburg [1] 2 January 1698, Manhattan (banns posted 10 December 1697)
(Evans, p. 6, says “At the time of his first marriage he was living in New York City.”)
m. Maria (Teunis) DeMott [2] 1723 date and location (possibly Dutchess County; see Notes on Peek’s page)
He is named sixth in his father’s will.
burial location (possibly in the Mount Marion vicinity, Saugerties? See notes below and on his page about where he lived and moved, and burial location of his daughter Anna, for example)

Tjerck DeWitt

named for father’s mother’s father
TGE 12. xi.
Birth Date (maybe 1678?) - Death Date
no baptism record in Dutch Reformed Church record: in spring 1669 a Lutheran pastor arrived in the colony, and subsequent children may have been baptized in the Lutheran community
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.
As it turns out, probably neither Tjerck nor Andries survived until the death of their mother; when she died, the next eldest surviving son, Jacob, handle the division of the estate.
burial location

Marritje DeWitt

named for mother’s sister?
TGE 13. xii. Family 10.
Birth Date (maybe 1680?) - Death Date
no baptism record in Dutch Reformed Church record: in spring 1669 a Lutheran pastor arrived in the colony, and subsequent children may have been baptized in the Lutheran community
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]
burial location
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 ???
TGE 14. xiii. Family 11.
baptized as Aefje, 14 January 1684, Kingston, N.Y. (Wildwyck) - Death Date (6 July 1726 per Find-A-Grave)
witnesses: Lucas Andriesz (uncle), Cornelis Switz (brother-in-law?), Jannetie de Wit (sister)
parents: Tirck Claasz, Barbara Andries
married Jan (John O.) Pawling (1681-1733) 23 August 1712
According to Gustave Anjou, she moved to Philadelphia
burial location: per Find-A-Grave, she died in Perkiomen, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and is buried at Pawling Cemetery, Schwenksville, Montgomery County, where her husband is listed as Lieutenant John O. Pawling, born in Hurley 20 October 1681, died 5 May 1733. His parents are listed as Henry Pawling (1650-1692) and Neeltje Roosa (1655-1745), both buried in Marbletown; Henry came from England with the Duke of York’s expedition in 1664; Neeltje was from Gelderland in the Netherlands. [Henry probably is not the same Henry Pawling, from Buckinghamshire in England, as the one listed in Philadelphia land grants ca. 1683. See notes on Aagie’s page for more details.]
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


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
     b. Peach War
     c. Unrecorded Interactions
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
     c. The Groote Stuck
     d. Gender Perception and Property Transfers: English, Dutch, Esopus
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
     b. Differing Understandings of War: Goals and Methods
12. 1663 Esopus Campaign

a. July
    i. Troubling Language
    ii. Albert Heymans Roose: No Ordinary Hothead
    iii. Where Do the Esopus Live?
    iv. Tjerck and Slaves: Indirect Benefits
b. August
    i. Permission to Harvest: Dilemma of Safety vs. Survival
c. September
    i. Alcohol and Prejudice
d. October
e. November
    i. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Six: New Lots in Wildwyck (1663)
    ii. Curtains for You: Story of a Wall
    iii. Lieutenant Van Couwenhoven: A Guy Who Gets Around
f. Estate Auction
g. December
    i. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Seven: Albert Gysbertsen I (1663)
     ii. Slavery and Dutch Social Justice in New Netherland

13. 1664
     a. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Eight: Albert Gysbertsen II (1664)
     b. Tjerck Claessen DeWitt, Longtime Slave Owner
     c. Tjerck’s Terms in Office
     d. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Nine: Wildwyck and Nieuw Dorp (1663-1668)
     e. Boats and Canoes (1664)
     f. British Takeover (1664)
14. 1665
     a. Things That Go Bump in the Night
     b. Beer and Skittles
     c. Keeping the Peace
     d. Two Faces of Justice
15. 1666
     22. Wrapping Up Ida’s Estate (1666)
     a. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Ten: De Laet Exchange, Redux (1666)
     b. Fracas at Chateau DuBois
     c. New Schoolmaster
     d. The English Reconfirm Dutch Land Grants
     e. Newfound Maturity
16. 1667
     a. The Nicolls Inquest
     b. The Demise of Secretary Matth. Capito
     c. Labor Practices
17. 1668
     a. Nieuw Dorp, Redux (I)
     b. A New Governor: Francis Lovelace (1668)
     c. Nieuw Dorp, Redux (II)
18. 1669
     a. Nieuw Dorp, Redux (III)
19. 1670
     a. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part XX: Kingston-Hurley Road
     b. Nieuw Dorp, Redux (IV)
     c. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part XX: Selling House to Edward Wittiker
     d. The Whole (Amster)dam Family
20. 1671
     a. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part XX: Not in Kingston Anymore?
     b. Tjerck, Martin Hoffman, Frederick Phlipsen
21. 1672
     a. Succession (1672)
     b. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Eleven: De Laet Exchange, Redux Redux
     c. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part XX: Richard Cage Land in Marbletown
22. 1673
     28. The Dutch Take Over Again, Briefly (1673)
     b. Where Does Tjerck Live? Part XX: Building a New House
23. 1674
     29. British Again (1674)
24. 1675
     a. Just Another Local Property Transaction (1675)
     b. End of Dutch-language Records (Kingston Papers)
     c. King Philip’s War
XX. 1676
XX. 1677
XX. 1678
XX. 1679
XX. 1680
XX. 1681
XX. 1682
XX. 1683
XX. 1684
XX. 1685
XX. 1686
XX. 1687
XX. 1688
XX. 1689
     31. Leisler’s Rebellion (1689)
     31a. Loyalty to Leisler? (1689)
XX. 1690
XX. 1691
XX. 1692
XX. 1693
     a. Like Father, Like Lucas (1693)
XX. 1694
XX. 1695
XX. 1696
     33. Jan’s Perilous Journey (1696)
     33a. Amsterdam Grave Locations
     33b. British Records of The Beaver
XX. 1697
XX. 1698
XX. 1699
XX. 1700
XX. 1701
34. More to Follow (extended family, further property acquisitions)
35. 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. Sometimes that makes for slow reading. But the goal is to include all the records here, in one place.

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 and family Bibles to various church records to court minutes. The process of publishing these valued records, as early as the 1800s, has divided them according to category (ecclesiastical records) or geographic origins (Fort Orange court minutes) or type (personal correspondence, company records) in such a way that closely related entries are almost inevitably 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. Update September 2023: I have filled in a lot of the documentary record through mid-1665. There’s more to go, including more carefully tying together various records with what else was going on in Tjerck’s life at the time. Further update September 2023: I have filled in a lot through the end of 1666. Update 1 October 2023: All the Kingston Papers records involving Tjerck through the end of 1667, including all of Volume I, are entered in the timeline below. Several notes from other sources, notably Documentary History volumes, still need to be added for the post-1663 years. 8 October 2023: Notes from Kingston Papers are complete through end of 1668 (not including Secretary’s Papers, which follow the chronological collection of council meeting minutes. 4 November 2023: All of Kingston Papers has been digested, and anything that had to do with Tjerck (plus a good bit more) has been put into the notes below—both Secretary’s Papers and regular council minutes. Also, all pertinent entries from Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York (DRCHSNY) Volume XIII for the years up to 1675 (the start of King Philip’s War) have been entered below. Frequently these entries give context to what is going on in Kingston, what is going on in Tjerck’s life, even when they do not involve him directly. This means that very nearly all of the Dutch-language documentation of Tjerck’s life is included here. What remains to be added is the story of his next 25 years, living in the English colony, to be found in documents that are written in English and (mostly) have never been published.

Genealogical numbering: What this site really needs is an index, but that will have to wait for later. In the meantime, to help sort out one Henry or Tjerck or John or Hillitje from another, I have started filling in the numbers assigned to each descendant by Mary Veldran DeWitt in her compendium ca. 1970. Some DeWitts were not included in her research; they have no numbers, for now. Where applicable, I have also included the numbers assigned by Thomas Grier Evans in his 1886 family tree, much shorter but also helpful in some places. (He for example is more likely to list baptism locations, which makes it easier to take the research a step further.) These are not numbers I have assigned, but they will help readers connect many of these pages with other records already published.

On this page, absent an index, a simple search using the “Find” command in most Web browers will turn up all kinds of connected information on many people and other topics. Please remember, in searching for anyone by name, that spellings of the same name vary widely, so try a lot of variations. Where I have been able, I have also tried to include referential notes to help readers follow some of these mini-threads interlaced through the tapestry of a rich life.


“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

“[H]istory is not the past — it is the method we have evolved of organizing our ignorance of the past. . . . It’s what’s left in the sieve when the centuries have run through it.”
—Hilary Mantel, BBC Reith Lecture 1, 13 June 2017, as quoted in Richard Cohen’s Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past (cited by historian Douglas Brinkley)

“It’s my working theory that pinning down what happened is always the first step to understanding why it happened.”
—Thomas Powers, The Killing of Crazy Horse (2010)

“All history is somebody’s family story.”
—Grace Elizabeth Hale, Los Angeles Times, 30 October 2023 (In the Pines)

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 frequently; 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.

I have not explored university records from this era to look for Tjerck. He could have gone off to school, either at Leiden or at a church academy or elsewhere. I suspect he did not, but it’s not impossible. We know from written records that he could sign his name; various testimony over the years suggests he kept an account book to record his dealings with others, as was typical in a day with no cash registers, credit card receipts, or bank accounts as we know them. (Most transactions in North America, where cash was in short supply, were in trade items like oats or wheat or beaver skins, often with the exchange value specified in a contract, or in “sewan” or “wampum,” the strings of shells and beads used as symbolic currency by the North Americans who lived in the vicinity before the arrival of Europeans. Sewan or sewant is also called peag or peague in the English colonies toward Massachusetts.)

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. Tjerck is 14 years old, still living in the Esens area, when she registers as a congregant in Enkhuizen, married. It would not be a surprise to find that asa young man setting out from home, Tjerck also moved to Enkhuisen, or somewhere else connected to the sea routes that linked communities along the Frisian coasts. The pattern in this family is that as its members disperse geographically, they stay in contact with each other, siblings making visits and frequently living adjacent to each other in new places, separate but interdependent. (We know they shared an inheritance; they may have kept other economic ties as well. For Annetje’s 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).” (Auctions are commonplace in the colony for various reasons. Consider David Grann’s description in The Wager [2023, Doubleday, New York] of what happens when a sailor dies at sea: “Any of the deceased’s personal effects, his clothes, his trinkets, his sea chest, were collected for auction, to raise money for his widow or other family members; even the most hardened seamen often offered exorbitant bids.” See for example the auction of odds and bobs from the estate of Henderick Cornelissen, ropemaker and probable Lutheran, in Wildwyck in March 1667, Kingston Papers pp. 639-641, when his fellow townsmen bid on bundles of flax and schepels of seed.)

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).

An entirely different type of house is a building, on a lot, where people live. Frequently, particularly in the early days, these were made of wood, essentially very large crates, and they could be moved from lot to lot. Watch real estate transactions: Sometimes a person buys a lot; sometimes a house and lot; sometimes just a house. See for example Kingston Papers pp. 229-230, where Christoffel (“Kit”) Davids discusses at length a “demolished” house he bought from Juriaen Westphael, who had bought it from Thomas Chambers, with the idea in mind that it would be rebuilt, then split, then carted to a new location. See also 25 January 1668/9, in Kingston town council (Kingston Papers, p. 421), when 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 he bought the house, but his impression was that Tjerck would deliver it. Tjerck says the house is across a bridge; moving it is Crispel’s problem.

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, in 64 canoes, 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, 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.”

Peach War

Looking at the Peach War a bit more closely: The timing seems deliberately aligned with Stuyvesant’s departure from the town in late August, with “seven armed vessels and 317 soldiers,” per Wikipedia. Stuyvesant had been instructed by the Dutch West India Company to take over the villages on the Delaware River (called the South River at the time, as the Hudson was called the North River and the Connecticut the Fresh River) that collectively made up the colony of New Sweden, which had been around since 1638. New Sweden’s Governor, Johan Risingh, struck his colors on 15 September without a fight. (See Charles Gehring’s description of the moment in Hodie Mihi, Cras Tibi,” from New Sweden in America, also refer to Document 18:14, on p. 39 and surrounding pages, in Delaware Papers, from New York Historical Manuscripts, Vols. XVIII-XIX, “A Collection of Documents Pertaining to the Regulation of Affairs on the South River of New Netherland, 1648-1664,” translated by Gehring, published by the Holland Society, New York, and Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1981. Because of Old Style–New Style dating, it is not always clear whether events took place on the 15th or 25th of the month.) The news of his surrender would have taken some time to get to the villages around New Amsterdam (from New Castle to New York is a bit over 100 miles, so even fast runners would have taken a day or so), but the departure of the fleet, and its progress along the coast, would have been well known.

And the Munsee action at New Amsterdam, while clearly a calculated show of force, for most of the day was not fatal. The “invaders” broke down doors, ransacked houses, showed violence to the Europeans, but didn’t fire a shot or kill anyone all day. They overwhelmed the Europeans with their numbers and essentially took control of the village, a fairly characteristic technique used by local villages as a means of asserting dominance in territorial negotiations, but demonstrating they could take over—at a time when they knew the town was unprotected—seems to have been their focus, rather than eradicating the settlment. The Dutch response, under the command of Cornelis van Tienhoven, who was the village “Fiscal”—a titled position in the administration that involved various types of enforcement of rules, but in this case left him in charge while Stuyvesant was away doing the WIC’s bidding—was to call citizens to arms and mount a guard, and also apparently to sell a lot of brandy to the visitors, as well as perhaps for Tienhoven to enjoy some himself, but not to counterattack.

At the end of the day, as the intruders prepared to depart, a scuffle broke out on the land of Hendrick van Dyck (a former Fiscal). It appears he found a Munsee woman picking peaches in his orchard. Whether she was a leader (entirely possible; frequently groups of Munsee were guided by female elders) or just another member of the community, the record suggests that he killed her. (Stuyvesant says it was a man, and Van Dyck beat him to death, according to “the wife of Aert Willemsz,” p. 27 Bontemantel Papers cited below; he also says “much brandy” was sold to those occupying the town.) Then Van Dyck was injured by an arrow, and then Van Tienhoven ordered the guard to open fire. After that, three Munsee and three colonists were killed, as the Munsee continued their departure. The way Wikipedia tells it, two groups of Munsee then headed across the Hudson, one to attack Staten Island and one to attack Pavonia, roughly where Hoboken is today, on the strip of land in modern New Jersey that’s immediately north of Staten Island.

Stuyvesant’s report said that 100 Europeans were taken captive (mostly women and children) and 40 killed. He said 28 farms were destroyed, a lot of grain burned, and 500 head of cattle taken or killed. This is all per Wikipedia, which cites a 1995 Charles Gehring article as its source. Gehring in turn cites “Extract of a letter from Stuyvesant to the directors, 30 October 1655, Bontemantel Collection, New Netherland Papers,” NYPL, see pp. 27ff. From the information available above, it is not clear how many of the losses were suffered in Manhattan, and how much of the damage was to farms and settlements on the other side of the river. It seems unlikely that the attackers would take cattle with them as they retreated across the Hudson.

North American farming villages grew corn, beans, and squash, but didn’t keep livestock, so it’s not likely the invaders would have taken cattle, swine, etc., at all; it’s more likely they killed them as an invasive pest, as a way to protect their agricultural investments. A common complaint in interactions between communities, up and down the Eastern seaboard, was that the European immigrant farming communities would let their livestock roam, probably deliberately in some cases, and the grazing cattle and pigs decimated the nutrient-rich fields of the farmers who had originally settled the area.

(On a separate note, Stuyvesant sent a private letter two days previous [ibid pp. 25ff], in which he says he lacks confidence in Johan de la Montaigne, and holds “our officers responsible for the massacre.” He notes that Fiscal Tienhoven is “much hated” by “even the English,” and recommends he be sent somewhere else for his own safety. In a 7 November letter, p. 33, Stuyvesant calls de la Montagne “an evil instrument, so that we are nourishing a serpent in our own bosom,” and says he “uses seditious language.”)

I have not been able to decipher whether the attacks in Pavonia and Staten Island took place only after the withdrawal from Manhattan, as Wikipedia suggests, or whether they were the central goal of the action, taking place before and during the Manhattan visitation, and the occupation of New Amsterdam was just a way to tie down the flank while the primary objective was accomplished. (Note the striking similarity to the tactics used at the start of the Second Esopus War, described in more florid detail below, when the Esopus focused the brunt of their attack on the New Village, burning it to the ground, but at the same time filtered into the stockade at Wildwyck in an apparently nonviolent encroachment, making sure the attack on the Nieuw Dorp would not be thwarted by a counterattack. When the Dutch raised the alarm about the attack on the New Village, the battle was also joined in Wildwyck.)

Blame for the conflict and the losses in the Peach War was assigned to Van Tienhoven, who was alleged to have been “filled with liquor” when he gave the command to fire. While the “collective trauma” experienced by the colony should not be underestimated, it’s also important to guess that the inhabitants of New Amsterdam, Fort Orange, and the settlements across the river from Manhattan were as aware as Stuyvesant of the forces at play. They surely knew he had left them exposed when he sailed to the South River, and he acknowledges that the general perception among the settlers, fair or not, was that Van Tienhoven was the one whose bad decision at a critical juncture turned an assertive but not deadly incursion into a violent attack with extensive losses on both sides. (It was in Stuyvesant’s interest to cast Van Tienhoven as the proximate cause, drawing attention away from Stuyvesant’s role in leaving the colony undefended.) The consequences were without doubt traumatic, but the colonists seem to have understood that judgement errors on their side had contributed to the outcome. Stuyvesant, for one, did not call for revenge or retribution, though he did put some effort into recovering the settlers who had been taken captive in the conflict.

One plausible explanation for the attack (cited by Russell Shorto in The Island at the Center of the World, among others) is that the native political structure in what today is New Jersey was taking seriously its treaty with the colony of New Sweden, and counterattacking the invaders from Manhattan who had sailed to attack the Munsee’s allies in New Sweden. (Treaties often included an explicit or implicit promise of mutual aid; spheres of influence were common.) The Dutch speculated that the Swedes had bribed the Minquas to attack New Amsterdam.

The Dutch do not seem to have considered the possibility—at least not in any official documents—that the Raritan and Hackensack communities had been nursing objections to the settlements in Pavonia, or in the strip of land just north of Staten Island, around what today is Bayonne, for some time. Perhaps the occasion of Stuyvesant’s departure simply offered an ideal opening for the local leaders to mount an attack, entirely of their own volition, not because they had a complaint against New Amsterdam, nor because they were defending New Sweden, but because of recent European incursions on the west shore of the Hudson. Pavonia had been home to at least some European settlers since 1630 (see 12 July 1630 patent of Michael Paauw for a tract in Hoboken, extended southward 22 November 1630), but considerably more patents had been given to European settlers starting in 1646 and 1647, particularly down in the area around today’s Bayonne and Communipaw (Gemoenepae in patents issued at the time). As in the case of the Second Esopus War, it may well be that the established settlements on Staten Island and at Pavonia had achieved acceptance, but the Dutch grants north of the Kill van Kull had created friction, perhaps because of different understandings about who had rights to which land. As late as 1674, the rights to live and farm at Secaucus were still being litigated between colonists and the original inhabitants.

As with most human decisions, multiple factors may have contributed to the start of the conflict, but it appears that the bulk of the damage was done in the Communipaw settlements, which suggests where the biggest complaint may have been.

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.

Unrecorded Interactions

Dutch church records from the Albany area were not well kept until about 1683, leaving us in the dark about baptisms and marriages as well as probably other stories. Although Manhattan became the administrative center of the colony, the Albany nexus (Fort Orange, Beverwyck, Rensselaerswyck, and surrounding clusters of farms on both sides of the river) had a larger population for many years. In 1683, the church records commence with a list of current members (Records of the Reformed Dutch Church of Albany, New York, 1683-1809; see Sources below for full citation). Then the names of new members get added as they move to the area and join the church.

The Dutch ministers took great pride in the number of native North Americans who were converted to Christianity. So we have a few, starting in 1690, and periodically after that. Very typical entry:

On July 11, 1690, the following 3 proselytes from among the heathens (after having been taught by us the mysteries of the faith and the doctrines of Jesus Christ, and they had made a public confession of same in the church) were admitted to the communion of the Lord’s holy and most worthy Supper, and consequently on the 13th participated with the congregation in the communion:

Paulus, dead; Laurens (dead) and Maria, married people. The first named was baptized by us Dec. 26, 1689, and the two last mentioned were baptized by the Jesuits, but had been afterward instructed by us in the Christian religion.

I am curious to see how many of the “heathen” are accepted to the church with the notation “dead” after their name. (This is a translated transcription of the manuscript record, so I can’t see which notes were made at the time of the original entry and which were added later. In some cases, evidently a clarifying note was inserted later.)

Skipping forward to 1695, we find an entry of interest:

1695, Dec. 26. The following proselytes were accepted after confession:

Pieter, dead; bapt. Oct 26, 1694;
Tierk, went to Canada and turned papist.
Agniet, the wife of Tjerk, was bapt. Dec. 31, 1693.

There are few Tjercks in the record here, as you might imagine. It’s not a common Dutch name. By 1695, Tjerck Claessen has long since moved to Wildwyck down the river, so he doesn’t show up anywhere in these church records (not even as a witness, I think). There are a couple of other places where the name comes up. But it is an odd name for a “heathen” to choose, unless he knows someone with that name.

We have no age for Tjerck the heathen, other than to know that he is old enough to be married.

And we know of at least one Tjerck who, before he got married in 1656, had a child with a woman who was not his wife.

It does make one scratch one’s head and think about what our man Tjerck was doing out in the woods all that time when he was supposed to be clearing timber. By 1656, he’s married and keeping busy.

In Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Volume IV, p. 281 (for full citation see Sources below), we find another intriguing reference to a Tjerck, apparently a Mohawk (Maquas) who went to Canada (or had been sent there) and was expected to return, in a conversation between the English and the leaders of the Onondaga at Albany, 9 June 1697.

Another, more far-fetched idea about non-Europeans named Tjerck:

Records show Tjerck’s “eldest daughter” was taken by the village’s Esopus neighbors in a raid in 1663. Eventually, the Dutch records show all the villagers who were taken captive were returned, but there’s no specific record to show who came back when. We assume Tjerck’s daughter was returned, and we assume that the daughter taken was Taatje, the eldest daughter named in Tjerck’s will. I don’t think there’s any other reference, really, that says Taatje was the daughter taken, and that she came back. If it did happen that way (as is most likely), she must have had quite a story to tell her children and grandchildren. (It would have been considerate for someone to have jotted it down, for future historians.)

But . . . if that eldest daughter was not ever returned, if she was instead adopted into the Esopus village (as was standard practice among the Munsee peoples and other nations up and down the Eastern seaboard), and presuming she married and had children . . . it could explain how a child outside the European communities came to have the name Tjerck. This is an extraordinary conjecture, and not likely. There’s no supporting evidence, and what peripheral evidence there is suggests that Tjerck’s eldest daughter (who would have been named Taatje after his mother, as was standard practice at the time) probably was returned at some time, eventually, probably by spring 1664. But if you’re hunting for ways a Mohawk might have been given the name Tjerck, possibly a Mohawk born in the 1670s, to be showing up in local records by the 1690s, that would be one solution.

Unpublished English-language records may hold further clues.

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. See Kingston Papers p. 38 where Barent Sybrantsen van der Hout says Jan Lootman owes him 36 guilders for “freight and board,” presumably sailing up and down the Hudson, and Willem Mertense, evidently another skipper, says Hey Olfersen Roseblom owes him 14 guilders “for freight from [Manhattan] to [Esopus]; Hey “admits having come here with [Willem] in his vessel.” In 1664 (Kingston Papers p. 172), Peter Stuyvesant asks Jan Joosten for 60 guilders “passage money for taking him, wife, children and baggage in Dirck Smith’s yacht from the Manhatans.”

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. See, for example, Kingston Papers p. 565, where Albert Gerretsen in his will says he is “from Embderland.”)

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. (She was possibly named for Tjerck and Emmerentje’s half-sister Annetjen, with whom Tjerck and Emmerentje had probably stayed on their way from Holum to the ship that would carry them across the Altantic. Annetje, in Enkhuizen or Amsterdam, could not be there for the baptism of her namesake, so her half-brother Tjerck would have to do.) 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 council 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. A photo of the council minute itself, damaged at the edges by fire, can be found here, in the digital collections of the New York State Archives.) 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 or, in the English colonies, peag or peague: 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. Flipsen (Phlipsen) is a well known financier in the colony, and Tjerck later is involved in other transactions with him.

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 Beverwijck during this gap? Some thoughts and timelines to put together:

  • Tjerck leased a house in Beverwijck 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, and their toddler son, would not be there?
  • Tjerck and Barbara’s second child, Taatje, was probably born in 1660, but there’s no baptism record to suggest when or where. The first official gathering in the new church in Wildwyck (the Dutch name for the new village at the Esopus), led by Domine Hermanus Blom, is 26 December 1660.
  • Tjerck, who seldom is absent from records for long, reappears in Beverwijck town records in June 1660 and then on 1 September 1660 (see “Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Five” below) in Fort Orange he records a trade of his house in Beverwijck for farmland belonging to Johanna De Laedt (née Hulter, now married to Jeronimus Ebbingh) in the Esopus (“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,” or about 140-145 acres, 57 hectares; see p. 169, Fort Orange Records 1654-1679). It seems reasonable to think that Tjerck would not trade his house for a pig in a poke: We might estimate that he was familiar with the farmland he was trading for, perhaps from having spent time there.
  • The first European settlers in the Esopus (see “Esopus Background Story” below) came down from the Rensselaerswyck area around 1652-53. Other Europeans drifted down in dribs and drabs over the next few years, acquiring land and in some cases building homes—not all clumped together, but scattered around the open fields. By 1658, enough Europeans had moved to the area that the original farmers there, the Esopus Indians, had expressed various concerns about conflicting land uses; Peter Stuyvesant told the Europeans on 31 May that they had to move their houses to stand within a newly built stockade, for protection in case of an attack. (In the end, the attack that sparked an armed conflict was made by the Europeans against the Indians, not the other way around.) So from 1652-1658, we can estimate that an enterprising timmerman would have found plenty of work in the area, clearing woodland, building houses, carting lumber, working on a stockade. (The first sawmill in the area probably was that of Barent Cornelis Volge [Volckerts?], near Saugerties, in the mid-1650s; he provided lumber for Rensselaerswyck, but also would have been a good source for building materials as folks started moving down to the Kingston-Wildwyck area. [get a good reference for this])
  • Martin Hoffman, who eventually became Tjerck’s brother-in-law, is noted as being in the Esopus around the start of the “First Esopus War” in September 1659. (See “First Esopus War Breaks Out,” below.) Hoffman and Tjerck likely had many other opportunities to get to know each other, and Hoffman may have also been well known to skipper Lucas Andriessen, Tjerck’s brother-in-law (all three were members of the colony’s Lutheran contingent). So his presence in the Esopus doesn’t mean he and Tjerck had to be there at the same time. But it fits in well if Tjerck was there working as a woodsman or carpenter at the same time as Hoffman was there working as a soldier.

This is all strictly speculation. There is no record (that I know of) that says Tjerck had contracted to work and live in the Esopus for any span of time. I don’t think we have any record that shows he was in the Esopus, at all, before 9 June 1661 (see below) when he is described as a “husbandman, dwelling in the Esopus.” As to the lack of records mentioning him in Beverwyck, the absence of records is not the same as a record of absence. (Likewise, he could have traveled to Quebec or Curaçao, for all we know.) But the circumstantial record suggests that it’s at least a reasonable guess he (with or without Barbara) sailed down to the Esopus to live for a year or so, probably still working as a timmerman or carreman, before trading his Beverwijck house for land there in 1660.

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 (see above), 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. See also Esopus Background Story below.)

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 1652-1660, 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; it set sail from Amsterdam/Texel 31 August) 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 1660, 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. When Kit Davids gets a patent to 36 morgens of land at the Esopus on 25 September 1656, his neighbors are described as Thomas Chambers and Johan de Hulter (deceased). The 27 March 1657 patent Johanna de Laet gets for 500 morgens (she is Johan de Hulter’s widow) adds Jurian van Westphalen to the neighborhood. 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 (see here). 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.) De Laet and her husband Jeronimus Ebbingh, who is also well off, continue to own land in the Wildwyck/Kingston area and remain involved in business there for some time to come, visiting periodically and appearing in records at least into the 1670s.

On 26 December 1660, in Wildwyck, the day after Christmas, a small collection of settlers take Communion for the first time in the brand new church. Most of these are people we will see frequently in the records of the town over the years to come, many of them figuring in Tjerck’s life in the little frontier village as it grows: Domine Hermanus Blom and his wife Anna, Jacob Joosten, Jacob Burhans, Matthew Blanchan and his wife Madeline Jorissen, Antony Crespel and his wife Maria Blanchan, Andries Barentsen and his wife Hilletjen Hendricks, Margriet Chambrits, Geertruy Andriessen (not the sister of Barbara’s who lives in Beverwijck with her husband Jan Tomassen; this is a longtime resident of Wildwyck/Kingston who is widowed and remarries a few times over the years), Schout Roelof Swartwout and his wife Eva Swartwout, Cornelius Barentsen Slecht and his wife Tryntje Tyssen, Albert (sometimes Allert or Aldert) Heymanse Roose and his wife Wielke DeJongh. Thir names are inscribed in a memorial plaque today in the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, not on the same site as the original chapel inside the stockade, but the same continuous congregation nonetheless.

In 1661 Tjerck was taxed for the erection of a church in Hurley, not far from Kingston. (This is mentioned in various secondary sources, but what is the original 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? Something may have been corrupted here.) 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.) This power of attorney creates unanticipated tangle later, when Dievertje Volkerts, wife of Pieter Jansen, on 10 April 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 228), asks for a balance still owed on this note; apparently Jan was not able to collect the complete 250 guilders from Mr. Folckertsz. Later, an extension of the same case, Jan’s son Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck in Wildwyck (KP pp. 273-274, 26 January 1666; also p. 268, 29 December 1665) asks his uncles Tjerck and Marten Hofman (his mother’s brother and brother-in-law, respectively) for 30 schepels of wheat, “as attorney for Pieter Jansen Van Hoorn.” See notes below on the respective dates.

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 13 September 1661, at the second session of the Wildtwyck village council, Tjirick Classen already has a complaint to file, against “Femmetjen” (Kingston Papers p. 3; this is probably Femmetjen Albers). Femmetjen doesn’t respond (although Femmetjen is there to file a complaint against Gerrit van Campen for payment of 12 guilders), so we don’t know what the disagreement was. This is the first in a long stream of appearances by Tjerck at village council meetings, sometimes as a plaintiff, sometimes as a defendant, for a few years as a member of the council, and sometimes as a witness or on other official business.

On 28 September 1661, Tjerck is present once again to pursue his complaint, and Femmetjen again defaults (Kingston Papers p. 4). (See 30 June 1660, above, in Fort Orange, when Tjerck’s sister Ida, married to Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck the shoemaker, seeks payment of six guilders, eleven stivers, for an unknown debt, from Femmetjen Albers.)

On 11 October 1661 (Kingston Papers, p. 5), at a town council meeting in Wildwyck, Tjirck Classen “demands of Roeloof Swartwout [the local Schout, pronounced “scout,” a kind of sheriff-bailiff-enforcer of council rules] payment of three and a half schepels of wheat, and also of seven schepels of wheat assigned to him by some one else.” The reason for the debt is not stated, but the council orders the Schout to pay promptly, using seed-corn instead of wheat.

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. [Evert is listed also as a defendant, apparently in a different complaint, but the record is not clear, and may be missing some notes.] At the same session, Tjirick Clasen files a complaint against Pieter Hillebrantsen, but Pieter is not there (he’s a “Default”), so we don’t get to hear what Tjerck’s complaint is.

On 8 November 1661 (Kingston Papers, p. 7), Tjirick Clasen is called to court by the Schout, but he does not appear. This may be some continuation of Tjerck’s settlement from 11 October, in which the Schout owes him payment on a debt, or it may be a first attempt by the Schout to bring Tjerck in for carting during the harvest, which is discussed on 22 November. It is not out of the question that Roelof Swartwout, the Schout and secretary of the council, is enforcing rules strictly against Tjerck because Tjerck called him to account for the unpaid debt.

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.” This costs Tjerck 6 guilders. (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). See Kingston Papers p. 77, where the council assesses a fine against Juriaen Westphael and his field hands, because “at a time when, under the general agreement of the community, he ought to have assisted other farmers with his people,” he instead used his field hands to mow his own field, against explicit rules that said nobody was allowed to go into the fields without an armed escort. Technically the fine is for going outside of the village without an escort (required by 1663 because of a recent attack on the village), but the judgement is imposed in the context of making your own hay when you were supposed to be assisting the community.

On 24 November 1661 (DRCHSNY XIII p. 212), an intriguing list of alcohol consumption in Wildwyck is published. Beer and wine sales are taxed in the village, and the annual totals give us some idea of who in the town were the heavier drinkers, or at least who bought the most. (See “Court Appointments” below for further discussion of the system for collecting liquor taxes.) Tjerck’s name is low on the list; he has paid 8 guilders (probably over the course of a year). The biggest taxpayers are: Hendrick Jochemsen, 75 guilders; Jacob Burhans, 71; Barent Gerritsen, 65; Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, 70; Albert Heymans Roose, 55; Domine Hermanus Blom, 58; Thomas Chambers, 84; Gysbert Gysbertsen, 52; and Matthew Blanchan, 51. This appears to be the tax for personal consumption; Louis Dubois, who (at least later) runs a tavern in town, comes in at a modest 11 guilders.

On 3 January 1662, Tjerck, apparently annoyed at the Schout (Kingston Papers, pp. 11-12; 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. (Tjerck submits his claim “without proof,” which suggests that he had not written down in his account book the transaction in which the claim arose. Ordinarily a person is supposed to write down each payment or debt in their account book, and that can be produced before the council as evidence that the debt is legitimate. Several examples of account books like this exist, in the DeWitt family and elsewhere. Tjerck’s claim is rejected here because “Tjirick Clasen cannot prove the debt.” Sometimes a defendant will “admit he owes the debt,” in which case proof is not needed. In some contested cases, the council will appoint an arbitrator to try to sort out the conflicting claims.) In the same council session, “Tjirick Clasen” demands 8 schepels of wheat from Pieter Hillebrantsen, and Huybrecht Bruyn demands 6 schepels from Tjerck. Pieter is ordered to pay Tjerck 2 schepels per week until the debt is paid, and Tjerck admits he owes Huybrecht the 6 schepels, which he promises to pay within six weeks. (Bruyn on the same day asks for 16 schepels of wheat from Barent Gerritsen “for wages earned.” At the 10 January session [Kingston Papers p. 13], the work is described as “mason work,” and the exchange rate is defined as 3 schepels of oats = 1 schepel of wheat. The record does not specify why Tjerck owes Bruyn the 6 schepels.)

On 17 January 1662 (Kingston Papers, p. 15), Dirck Willemse owes Mathys Roeloofsen 10 schepels of what (“according to account”: These debts are all supposed to be written down carefully in a person’s account book, which is then used as proof in a hearing like this), but Dirck says that he has a claim against Tjirick Clasen (I don’t think I know what this claim is), and he says Mathys can collect 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 about 1657 and 1659-60). By 1662 they owned No. 28 of the “New Lots” at Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 230). Sponsors for the baptism were Jan Jansen (probably Jan Jansen Van Brestede, who is married to Barbara’s sister Marritje; they live in Manhattan), Jannetje Sebyns (Barbara’s mother?), and Elsje Jans. (Elsje may be Barbara’s aunt? sister-in-law? If Jannetje Sebyns is Jannetje Janssen, both Jan and Elsje could be siblings of Barbara’s mother.)

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, although some people living there probably maintained burger right in Manhattan, if they traded back and forth.)

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.

In the event of a conflict of interest, when a member of the council was either a plaintiff or a defendant in a case, that council member was expected to recuse himself and let the other schepenen decide the judgement. See, for example (Kingston Papers pp. 67-68), the session on 1 May 1663, when only two council members and the Schout are present for a regular meeting. The first case on the agenda is a personal dispute between the Schout and two hired hands. The two schepens who are present make a decision, but the Schout then requests a revision because “there is not a full Bench.” In the next case, one of the council members (Tjerck in this case) is the plaintiff. “The Court resolves not to decide between parties at present, because only the Schout and one [council member] occupy the bench.” The third case also involves Tjerck, but not as a complainant or defendant, so Tjerck is allowed to participate in the ruling.

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. (There’s also often a tax on farmland, and revenue is raised through taxing alcohol sales; see DRCHSNY XIII pp. 229-230 for a sample tally of income and expenditures for the town.) 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 (typically once a year) 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 promised to pay (at the end of the term) 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. For examples: On 23 April 1655 in Fort Orange, 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). And in Wildwyck, on 16 August 1664, the office of excise farmer is auctioned off (Kingston Papers pp. 159-160, which describe tax rates in detail on various types of alcohol); the winning bid for collecting the excise for the coming year is 357 guilders. Additional rules about making and selling liquor and getting a liquor license are spelled out on p. 161. See also pp. 707-708, for details on the burgher and tapster excises when they were farmed out in November 1671. (Tapster is defined as “wines and beers and distilled waters,” going on to mention “burghers laying in rum for their own consumption,” burgher excise is for “domestic good beer” [“small beer” is also mentioned], “foreign beer,” “French or Rhine wine,” rum, brandy, “distilled water.” The distinction probably is between what’s bought at retail for own use vs. what’s bought to be sold at a tap house.) See further discussion of the “farmer” position as it evolves in August 1665 and 1666, below, and for a list of who paid how much (and village totals) in 1661, see 24 November 1661 above (DRCHSNY XIII p. 212). Totals for 1662 (1003 guilders) are on p. 230 of DRCHSNY XIII.

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. Hey, a carpenter, is far from well heeled: On 31 October, Willem Mertense has to go before the town council to get Hey to pay 14 guilders for his trip back from Manhattan on Willem’s ship (KP, p. 38). Hester is described elsewhere as “deaf Hester”; Hey may have thought it would be easier to steal from someone who could not hear him.

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 28 November 1662 (Kingston Papers, p. 48), the Schout fines Barent Gerretsen 12 guilders “because [Barent] made two exit openings in the fortress or long palisades.” Tempting as it is for each lot owner to cut a hole in the town wall so that it’s more convenient to come and go without having to walk all the way to one of the main gates, it’s a huge no-no: This compromises the safety of the entire village. The whole reason for the stockade was the Dutch-instigated war with the local Esopus villagers a few years previous. It’s foolish and selfish to assume it’s safe to start cutting holes in the town’s bulwark of protection. The rule against making openings in the palisade wall was issued on 27 November in Manhattan; see the document here at the New York State Archives. Again it is curious that someone is prosecuted for the violation apparently before word of the rule would have had time to reach the northern towns in the colony.

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.” Apparently Barent thinks it’s a big joke that the council would fine him for cutting a hole in the town wall.

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” (probably a tavern), 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. (This settlement is started, but its life is cut short in June 1663. See 6 April 1668, p. 416, and 3 September, p. 417, for the point when the new British governors reboot the idea.)

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.

The Groote Stuck

Prominent in the early history of Kingston, whether it was called Esopus or the Esopus or Wildwyck at the time, is a rich farmland referred to by the Dutch as the Groote Stuck, on what today is called the Esopus Creek, somewhat south and west of the prominent hill where the original Kingston stockade was built in 1658, at the instruction of Peter Stuyvesant, to provide protection for Europeans who had started drifting into the area as farmers.

The general history of the Dutch colony, which until the mid-1650s was mostly an afterthought for the West India Company, compared to their much richer and more expansive projects in Brazil, was that a little outpost town had been established for a few dozen families at the southern tip of an island that fronted a large natural harbor, enclosed and protected by what came to be called Staten Island and Long Island, which faced each other across the narrows that formed the harbor entrance. The outpost town itself—New Amsterdam—was not much to write home about, but it was the seaport connection for the more important trading station far up the Hudson (today’s Albany, New York), Fort Orange, with its sister communities Beverwijck and Rensselaerswyck. (The ij and y are mostly interchangeable; wyck or wijck just means “place,” and is pronounced wike, to rhyme with bike. Whether either name is spelled -wyck or -wijck is mostly a matter of habit, not a matter of “correct” or “incorrect” orthography.) Fort Orange was where Europeans would trade with local tribes who were plugged into a network of trade and cultural connections linked by trails that extended deep into the interior. (Keep in mind that until Europeans brought horses to North America, all travel was by foot.) Europeans wanted hats made of beaver skins, but they did not know the continent well. The people who lived in the Hudson Valley knew where the beavers were, and they were able to procure pelts and bring them to Beverwyck. This was a pretty simple setup.

When the WIC’s Brazilian enterprise succumbed to Portuguese intrusion in the mid-1650s, the Company was left with a large management infrastructure that had lost its main project. The bureaucracy began to shift attention and resources to its other upstart colonies, including New Netherland. As more people moved to New Netherland (generally a lot of people from other European sources, seeking opportunity, and not as many people from the Netherlands, where life was good in the Golden Age and there wasn’t much incentive to leave), different resources were needed, and more resources were needed. A growing colony, with children and families, needed food, schoolteachers, some of the comforts of home, like beer and brandy and bread, window curtains and books, nails and silverware. There were some farms on Manhattan and the western end of Long Island, and some farms across the Hudson from Fort Orange, but somewhere in this time frame, some folks up in the Fort Orange area observed that midway between New Amsterdam and Fort Orange, at the spot where a pair of creeks known today as the Rondout and the Esopus flowed into the Hudson, sat a valley of rich farmland that Europeans had not yet settled or put to use. (This valley is actually set back from the Hudson by a few miles, so it was not obvious to folks making the journey between New Amsterdam and Fort Orange by river, the primary means of transport in the colony. It took explorers and trades who were poking around looking at things deeper into the forest to notice the valley was there.)

Europeans had not settled here, but that didn’t mean the valley was unoccupied. The tribe of local people called Esopus by the Dutch (though that probably was not what they called themselves, much as the English name for Germans is not even close to what Deutschlanders call themselves) had farmed here for centuries, and their villages were scattered around the area. The Esopus people, like most of their neighbors, didn’t put a high value on beaver skins; beavers were just one of many animals that could be hunted and put to various uses. (The Dutch used beaver pelts for currency; all up and down the Eastern seaboard, local villages had been using strings and belts of seashells for centuries, called wampum or sewan.)

European agriculture, with its fields dedicated to single crops, didn’t look much like the agriculture practiced by the people who had farmed the eastern part of North America for many generations, and while the Europeans recognized the value of a wide, open field for growing food, they may not have seen that many of these fields already were under cultivation. Consider a description of Wampanoag planting mounds, in cleared fields, in Lisa Brooks’s Our Beloved Kin (for full citation see Sources below), p. 33:

By midsummer, the corn [maize] stalks likely reached toward the sun, tassling, drawing bees to light among them. Beneath the stalks, squash vines would extend across the mounds, wide green leaves expanding to provide shade, blossoms beconing to bees. From among the leaves, bean tendrils would spiral around the stalks, climbing toward sunflowers and sunchokes, delicate white flowers promising fruit. Working alongside the plants, the women would have coaxed soil up the mounds with noninvasive shells and hoes, ensuring the shallow corn roots were protected, not only by squash leaves but their own hands. The Plymouth and Portsmouth settlers might have seen a terrible chaos of tangled vines. But this “ecological cornucopia” had its own order, a network of relationships that fostered long-term sustainability.

(Brooks cites as sources William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983), pp. 44, 75; and Jane Mt. Pleasant, “A New Paradigm for Pre-Columbian Agriculture in North America, Early American Studies 13, No. 2, Spring 2015.)

Brooks cites the description of Edward Winslow as he first laid eyes on community farmland along the Kteticut trail in 1621 (Brooks pp. 38ff), which he describes as “clear, save of weeds which grew higher than our heads.” (Part of the reason the land might have appeared so empty, she notes, is that epidemics had swept through North American populations and reduced their numbers sharply shortly after the Europeans arrived.) Winslow and his successors viewed the open fields as “uncultivated land ripe for husbandry.”  Brooks goes on to note:

Absent from Winslow’s description was recognition that the land was already successfully managed. Native women and men had over time developed complex systems of horticulture and forestry that fostered diversity and long-term sustenance. . . . While some fields had been emptied by epidemics . . . others lay fallow as part of a cyclical horticultural system. For example . . . the ancient planting grounds on the west side of the Kteticut, which had appeared “overgrown” to Winslow, were resting. In a few years, these old grounds would be burned. . . . In the spring, the women would turn ash into the soil, mixing with decayed leaves and grasses in a nutrient balance. Then women would rebuild their mounds, starting the planting cycle anew. . . . The abundant open forest Winslow witnessed was a cultivated environment, annual controlled burns encouraging the growth of nut trees and edible plants, inviting game and facilitating hunting and gathering.

(Brooks also notes that that native practice was compatible with grazing deer, which wandered from place to place and ate here and there, but was highly vulnerable to European cattle and pigs, which tended to stay in one location and eat everything, then move on.)

Brooks describes (p. 48) how

The [Wampanoag] women had located their fields in the fertile floodplains of Kteticut in part because of the river’s cycles of revitalization, to which their agriculture was uniquely adapted, with the annual spring runoff renewing and replacing the soils. Settlers’ conversion of the land, including the deforestation of the open, parklike woods . . . disrupted this cycle severely. . . . As English farms spread, the streams dried in summer while insects, worms, and disease increased, affecting plants in the fields and marshes, even as English monocrop planting and plowing drained nutrients from the soil, increasing settler demands for land.

We can’t assume that Esopus farming practices were identical with the Rhode Island Wampanoag systems described here, but a lot is familiar, right down to the annual flooding, which became a prominent part of the early European settlement of the valley along the Esopus River. Summer floods swept away bridges, impeded transportation, drowned crops, on a regular basis, as recorded in various European accounts.

(Tjerck, and some of the other settlers with roots in Holstein and other Frisian coastal areas, would have had a different experience with coastal flooding, which the farmers of Ostfriesland tried mightily to thwart. The storm floods of low-lying areas even in the Netherlands generally were associated with destruction of livestock and human lives, and the storms that brought seawater into fields tended to ruin them for agriculture.)

Into an agrarian culture like Brooks describes, insert a few enthusiastic Europeans who are aware that their colony needs new sources of grain and other foods, and we see the start of a cycle that is familiar throughout the story of European colonization of North America and other places. First a few settlers arrive, and they bargain for permission to put up homes and use some land. Then a few more arrive, and a few more, and their animals forage unfenced into the local fields, with mounds of delicious foods, and gradually conflicts and misunderstandings start.

(The Dutch Esopus colony, for various reasons, also developed into a local center for brewing beer and distilling brandy. The council minutes of the mid-1600s show a startling number of quarrels and debts tied to brass distilling pots and other equipment. That’s really a separate story, but Esopus beer was well known and widespread in its day.)

In the Esopus area, the large planting fields called the Groote Stuck by the Dutch were a big temptation for farmers who had come over from Europe, and they became a point of contention with the locals who had lived and farmed there for many generations, as the Dutch colony started to expand and take more land for its own use. The Groote Stuck was really at the northern end of a long narrow valley that to this day is a fertile cropland, interspersed by woodlands. Over the next few decades, the Europeans would push deeper and deeper into this valley, until its former inhabitants no longer had a single village there to call their own.

Worth mentioning: Things change, and the agrarian practices of the Eastern woodland communities had not been around forever, any more than John Deere tractors or central-pivot irrigation systems in use today. The cultivation of maize in mounds with other crops had probably reached this approximate form around 1000 C.E., so about 500 or 600 years before Europeans (who had never known maize) arrived and disrupted a pattern that had been followed for generations. If we look back at European agriculture in the year 1000, or specifically at the agriculture and political communities of the Frisian marshlands along the North Sea in that era, we also would see considerable change and development, as well as disruptions deriving from various cultural intrusions and technological innovation.

On 4 July 1662, in a town council session in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers p. 35), Tjerck has a complaint against Pieter Jillessen (Hillessen?), who does not respond.

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 31 October 1662 (Kingston Papers p. 39), Tjerck says Jan Lammersen owes him 21 guilders. The debt is owed in seewant (wampum, bead strings, a common form of exchange), and Tjerck says he was paid one beaver (skin, also a common form of exchange), worth 12 guilders. Jan “admits the debt, but says he worked one day at harvest time, and demands five gldrs. for this. [Tjerck] says his other laborers worked for one schepel of buckwheat, and that he pays no more.” The council orders Tjerck to pay the buckwheat and Jan to pay the balance owed.

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; see also O’Callaghan, Documentary History of the State of New-York,Vol. III, p. 59, Albany, 1859, possibly the original transcription?). 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). The Hendrick Albertsen who appears from time to time in Kingston records is never linked to Jan Albertsen as a brother or mentioned in the administration of Jan’s estate.

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?)

By 28 November 1662 (Kingston Papers pp. 43ff), Tjerck is back at the regular council meeting, and Gerrit Herregrens is demanding from him “payment of two schepels of wheat,” for unspecified reasons (p. 45). The outcome is not recorded.

On 21 December 1662 (Kingston Papers pp. 46-47), in Wildwyck, Tjerck signs as a witness to a settlement between Gysbert van Imbrock and Aert Pietersen Tack, involving money owed (558 guilders) and a crop of grain.

On 9 January 1663, at a regular Tuesday session of the Wildwyck council (Kingston Papers p. 52), “Tjirick Classen de Wit and Sergeant Christiaen Nissen, under power of attorney from the Lord General Pieter Stuyvesant,” raise a concern regarding Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, who shows up frequently in these pages, often as a bit of a no-account. Apparently either Stuyvesant or Stuyvesant in combination with Tjerck and Sergeant Nissen (who appears later in the narrative when he does not come to assist the village after the Esopus attack) “have become sureties” for Slecht, for 1900 guilders, a considerable amount, and they are concerned that he is not producing the corn that is supposed to make good on his debt. The nature of the original debt is not discussed here, but if Slecht does not pay, his underwriters—the “sureties”—will have to. The council mostly punts it back to Tjerck and Sergeant Nissen, instructing them to “take turns each week, and every day to carefully watch the quantity of corn threshed and delivered,” and authorizing them also “to appoint two watchers to watch the corn, at the expense of defendant.” (Corn, in the old British usage, could mean any number of grains, not just the maize that grows on cobs and is popped in movie theaters. I have not looked up what Dutch word was originally used here, but the reference to threshing makes me think the debt was to be paid in something other than maize.) Tjerck immediately takes out a charge of 107 guilders against Slecht, “in the hands of Juriaen Westvael,” who maybe is being hired as a corn watcher. It’s curious that Stuyvesant would pick Tjerck to represent him. They don’t have any special connection to each other. It’s not such a surprise that Stuyvesant would ask one of the militia NCOs to represent him. But if we consider that Tjerck may have lately been in Manhattan to pick up his sisters and his brothers after their trip over from Europe, it’s possible to imagine Stuyvesant sending him back to the Esopus with a new project.

On 23 January 1663 (Kingston Papers p. 54), Tjerck and Albert Gysbertse (who both sit on the local council) are used as references by Gommert Poulussen, who says they know he is an attorney for Willem Mertense (who is apparently trying to collect on a claim against his . . . brother? . . . Aert Mertense Dorn).

The council holds a special Saturday session on 29 January 1663 (Kingston Papers p. 56), at which “Hester Douwens, or her attorney in the absence of her husband,” demands payment from Tjirick Classen deWit of 332 guilders “for goods and jewelry furnished to defendant.” Mention of jewelry is interesting: We see by the following year that Tjerck’s sister, newly arrived in the colony, is in some way engaged in selling jewelry (a bracelet with pearls), as well as perhaps clothing (see 29 January 1664 below, in Manhattan). Hester Douwes, who is kidnapped later in 1663 along with her daughter, is referred to elsewhere as “deaf Hester” (see 29 June 1663 below); her husband is Barent Gerritsen. Was Tjerck buying jewelry from Hester for his sister to sell in Manhattan? (Or was it Christmas gifts for his wife, daughters, sisters?) Tjerck says he and Hester settled “verbally,” in front of her husband, and what he owed was 26 schepels of wheat, 1 schepel of onions, and 500 bricks. The council asks both Hester and Tjerck to bring their records later to help sort this out. At the 20 February session (p. 61), the accounts get settled, and Tjeck promises to pay.

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 20 January 1662 (1661 O.S.), in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Peter Tallmann, an interesting character in his own right, logged a deed for some land in what today is Rhode Island, which he said he bought from the native leader Wamsutta. As described in Lisa Brooks’s Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War (2018, Yale University Press, New Haven & London), “Six days after Tallman’s deed, a ‘terrible’ and ‘prodigious’ earthquake struck the Wampanoag country. As darkness set, the land trembled beneath the cover of snow and a deep howl arose from below. As the rumbling intensified, the earth ‘shook the houses’ of the English and ‘caused the Inhabitants to run out into the Streets.’ Over the course of a month, ‘three violent shocks’ shook the land, knocking people to the ground and tearing chimneys from English roofs. . . . The rumbles continued through spring, and ‘the earth did not cease to quake until the following July.” (Brooks lists several sources for this account in her footnotes.) The earthquake she is describing is actually probably the Charlevoix shake of 5 February 1663, which was 25 January 1662 as the British would have called it (O.S.), a year after the Tallmann deed is dated.

On 6 February 1663 (Kingston Papers, pp. 59-60), back in town from his year visiting relatives in Europe and setting up now to settle down to raise his family in Wildwyck, 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.

(This brook—like all the other places hereabouts—probably had a name already, before the Europeans came around and layered down their own names, their own stories, on top of everything that had been cultivated before. What the previous occupants had called it has been lost to the memory inscribed in the written record, but the old name probably had a story of its own, as we would expect of the supplanted local names for places like the Groote Stuck, the Rondout Creek, the Hudson River, or any number of local hills and valleys renamed by European immigrants. The written record shows the eponymous tannery Jan got land for continued in this place for decades, under various operators. Eighty-two years later, at the May 1744 regular sessions of the Justices of Ulster County, an order was promulgated that the “Tan pits on [the] southwest side of Kingston [are] to be filled up or kept shut to prevent children or cattle from falling into them” [“Ulster County Court Records 1693-1775,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 1, March 1973, p. 67, translated and edited by Kenneth Scott, F.A.S.G.] If the court is giving the owner the option of just covering them without filling them in, it sounds as if the owner may consider them of some value, still potentially usable. But the gist of the order suggests that nobody was using them anymore, or even keeping an eye on them.)

6 February is also when the council decides to charge 36 stivers for each case heard, “at the cost of the loser,” in order to pay rent for “the place where the ordinary sessions” are held. Since nobody knows who the loser will be until the case is heard, the fee has to be fronted by the plaintiff until judgement is issued by the council. There’s not a town hall per se, but the village is starting to set up proper quarters for community business. Tjerck evidently votes in favor of this charge, as we see on 4 December 1663 (see below), when he refuses to pay the fee (having spent every stiver he had buying back his sister’s items from her estate at an auction three days prior).

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. We also see him signing a couple of notes of obligation as a witness in this period.)

On 15 February 1663 (Kingston Papers p. 64, indexed erroneously as p. 54), in Wildwyck, Tjerck signs as witness a document recording an agreement between Evert Pels and both Roeloff Swartwout and Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, who are guardians for the children of the deceased Mathys Jansen; Evert borrowed 1000 guilders from the estate and agrees to pay it back in two years, with 120 guilders per year as interest (a 12% rate).

On 21 March 1663 (Kingston Papers pp. 137-138), Jan Broersen and Jan Jansen van Oosterhout sell Thomas Chambers a parcel of land below Wildwyck, about 10 acres, situated between the land of “the children of Mattys Jansen, deceased” on the north and Mattheus Capito on the south. Jan and Jan say the land was granted to them by patent “dated April 25, 1663,” which sounds like a mistake, since that is after the date of sale to Chambers. Tjerck witnesses the deed.

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? In later years the British make a careful distinction between the Groote Stuck and the second piece, as they set out parcels and lots for houses and farms; see for example DRCHSNY XIII p. 447 from 1670; see also Nieuw Dorp, Redux, I and II, below; the British, though, also define three “Stucks” down by Marbletown, so this may not be the same at all] 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 1663 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).

Gender Perceptions and Property Transfers: Dutch, English, Esopus

Lisa Brooks, in Our Beloved Kin (for full citation see Sources below), covers in some depth the common but incorrect assumption on the part of the British in this period that property rights are held by men, not women. Under English law that held true; the practice of couverture meant that women were not owners of property; their fathers might leave them property, but the ownership transferred to their husbands, and the women had neither ownership nor control of “their” estates.

The British, assuming that property was held only by males, documented transfers of property in their North American colonies with reference to men from the indigenous population (typically described as sachems, or leaders, on the understanding that a local leader was empowered to trade away the land of an entire village). The documents typically include the marks or signatures of the men named by the British as the principals.

The folks who had been living here before the British saw property in a different way, and they were also much more of a matriarchal society than the British seemed to realize. The word squaw, which has come to be understood as an offensive term in today’s usage, is a mishandling of the word saunkskwa, which is just a leader who is a woman. (The British often refer to a saunkswa as a sachem-squaw or sometimes squaw-sachem. I claim no specialty in North American languages; I’m repeating what others have said, notably including Brooks. See her extensive note 18 on p. 355 for numerous sources. “Squaw” in November 2021 was officially declared to be derogatory in the U.S. by Department of Interior Secretarial Order 3404; hat-tip to Lauret Savoy for noting this in “Confronting the Names on This Land,” from A Darker Wilderness, p. 103, full cite elsewhere on this page.) The British interpreted this to mean “wife of the leader,” but a saunkskwa was a leader, often hereditary, regardless of gender or who her spouse was—and in fact she might have multiple husbands over time, but she remained the leader of whatever place or people she belonged to. Her role in the community was inherent in who she was, not in who she was married to. Her husband was not the leader, or a property owner, just because he was married to her, and local understanding did not give him the power to make any agreements about the property of the saunkskwa, British confusion notwithstanding.

(Note that in this political system there were also male leaders; it wasn’t exclusively matri- or patri-archal. Typically, also, the women in local communities were the farmers and growers, where the British expected the workers in a planting field to be men.)

The Dutch system of property ownership did not make the same gender distinctions as the British. Under the Dutch system—as well as in Ostfriesland, where Tjerck had come from—women could and frequently did own land, completely in their own names. A man who married a woman who owned property was generally not assumed to have taken any ownership role in her property, although she probably would encourage him to farm it. Court records repeatedly make this distinction in various ways. An easy example: When Tjerck’s father died, the local court records show his property—actually the farm of Tjerck’s mother—transferred to one of Tjerck’s sisters, and when she died, the property did not go to her husband (though he tried to take possession, for him and his new wife), but to her children and, later, to her siblings. A further easy example: Tjerck acquired his property in the Esopus from Johanna Hulter, not from her new husband, although he acknowledged he was aware of the exchange. Both in the Netherlands and in the Dutch colony we see this principle in numerous records. Women were frequent property owners, buyers, and sellers.

(This is not to say the Dutch kept a gender-equal society. Women were not named to the town councils, or as Schouts or other officers; they were not ministers or tax collectors or named as brandy distillers or shoemakers or schoolteachers, though they may well have had a hand in their husbands’ occupations.)

It is interesting, then, that the Dutch records of property transfers between Europeans and those who occupied the land before them, as well as treaties, court testimonies, peace negotiations, and all kinds of other interactions, are almost entirely with male members of the local communities. The Dutch don’t seem to recognize indigenous women as property owners or leaders in their communities any more than the British do.

This is not to say that the land the Dutch took in the Esopus had “belonged” to men or to women before them, or to whole communities, or had been “owned” in a way that would lend itself to any kind of legitimate transfer of rights. Possibly when the Dutch traded for land in their colony, they were speaking to the correct individuals, who really were entitled to make real estate deals.

But it’s worth remembering that the names appearing at the bottoms of some of these Dutch documents may not have been the names of the actual leaders of the communities the Dutch were engaging, nor those who had a right, by local community understanding, to speak for the land.

(Wayne Lee, in “Peace Chiefs and Blood Revenge,” p. 734, cited fully below, notes that “European traders and diplomats almost invariably conducted negotiations with war chiefs, or younger members of the council who served as spokesmen for the real power behind the curtain.”)

By the 1660s, the Dutch colony had been around for four decades, and some of the people living in it had been born here and spoke local languages. Probably some people in the colony were more familiar than others with local culture and social (or political) structures. That knowledge may not always have worked its way into official Dutch records.

(Also perhaps of interest: The British educated members of the indigenous communities, teaching them to read and write in English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew; Harvard from its earliest days served as an institution of higher learning for people from local communities as well as immigrants from Europe and their children. The Dutch didn’t really establish any comparable institution of higher learning in their smaller colony. So the documentary record from the British colony includes letters and other records written by people of local heritage, as well as the accounts put together by the British. In the Dutch colony, just about everything we have on record was written by the Dutch, reflecting primarily their version of what took place.)

Worth observing, without making too big a deal of it: Generally the local communities were organized more as a network of relations, often along extended family lines, with much property regarded as communal, where the European communities were organized in a more definitively ranked hierarchical structure, with individual family units treated as distinct from each other, and private property being assumed as the norm. Neither of these characterizations is absolute: Within the European community, there were ample examples of extended family networks and interdependent relations sharing resources among close associates, and within the pre-existing communities of the area, there would typically be a shared agreement that certain individuals were leaders, suggesting at least a loose order akin to a hierarchy. Property, real and otherwise, might be recognized in general as communal, but indigenous villages often skirmished over property and other disputes. Nonetheless, it is helpful in understanding interactions and misapprehensions between the two communities to recognize that some of their preconceived notions about social order differed. On both sides, the humans were humans, and their motivations were complex and informed by many different layers of allegiances.

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 first printing press on the Eastern seaboard arrived in 1638 at Harvard; the Spanish had installed on 100 years before that in Mexico City); 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.

On 5 June the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, puts together a certificate “stating that . . . Matthys Roelofsen,” known also as “the gunner,” husband of Aeltje Sybrants and proprietor of a drinking house, “sold brandy to the savages, according to the testimony of the savages themselves.” The Schout, as it happens, does not get an opportunity to present this certificate to the town council for adjudication until 18 September (Kingston Papers, p. 73).

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

“[F]or most people in the world, war simply arrives at their door, an unwelcome invader. It is not the carefully orchestrated series of causes, effects, strategies, and evens that historians often construct in the aftermath. . . . For most mothers and many fathers, the goal of war is merely striving to ensure that their children will survive.”
—Lisa Brooks, Our Beloved Kin, 2018

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. I have not been able to determine when she finally came home.) 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.) The attack puts the village under extreme economic stress as well, which shows more over the months to come: Homes burned, possessions lost, crops in the fields that cannot be tended or harvested without a military escort, “a large number of animals” lost, according to the account of Domine Blom (DRCHSNY XIII p. 373).

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.)

Henricus Selyns in a 9 June 1664 note to the Amsterdam (Dutch Reformed) Consistory (DRCHSNY XIII, not XII, p. 384), observes that Domine Warnerus Hadson, who had been sent to the “South River” (i.e. Delaware) as minister, died on the trip over from Europe; Selyns says “the children remain unbaptized” there since Dom. Welius died, but beyond that he thinks a minister is “necessary” to get someone down there promptly because some who live there “speak disrespectfully of the sacred scriptures,” and, worse, “there is among the Swedes a certain Lutheran minister, who leads an unchristian life.” He does not name Laers, but the reference is clear. He mentions also “a person who has chosen the Lutheran ministry after first having been a schoolmaster which doubtless would have done no great injury to the sheep wandering without a shepherd, were it not for the unchristian life of the aforesaid minister.”

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.

Differing Understandings of Armed Conflict: Goals and Methods

Europeans by now had a long history of war, going back to Caesar’s Gallic Wars and beyond, even to the handed-down oral history of the Trojan War. In living memory the settlers in the Dutch colony had lived through the Thirty Years’ War and others. Europeans were familiar with a certain machinery of warfare, of armies and navies and strategies and campaigns, of how to arrange brigades on a battlefield and how to besiege a city. Wars were fought to establish political, economic or religious control (or a mix thereof) over a defined region.

In this place where the Europeans had come, the established population had a different set of habits when it came to armed conflict, with somewhat different intentions that drove different behavior. Understanding this helps us make better guesses at why conflicts developed the way they did, and it may shed light on areas where the European settlers made decisions based on imperfect appraisals of what their neighbors were about.

Particularly as the decades rolled by and the two populations had much more intercultural contact, driven largely through trade, we tend to see individual colonists making more accurate appraisals of their neighbors’ current temper than their leaders did. The colonists had day-to-day familiarity with what was normal and what was unusual; their leaders did their best but were prone to being surprised (positively or negatively) by developments that did not match their doctrinal expectations. (The colony’s Dutch and later British leaders also had incentive to be more cautious, protecting the larger establishment, where individual settlers had incentive to take greater risk, sheltering behind the protection of the colony’s figurative walls to extract individual economic gain.)

Wayne E. Lee has taken a deeper look at many specific instances of armed conflict involving the original inhabitants of the eastern areas of North America, elucidating some typical behaviors that follow distinct patterns depending on the situation and goals of the parties involved in the conflict. In “Peace Chiefs and Blood Revenge: Patterns of Restraint in Native American Warfare, 1500-1800” (The Journal of Military History 71, July 2007, pp. 701-741, published by The Society for Military History, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA), he lists some of the goals that would suggest different methods of attack or defense: “Groups could gain or protect territory at the expense of others, incorporate prisoners into their population as kin or as labor, and even impose tribute on other peoples. Above all, the killing of a member of one group mandated revenge on the perpetrator’s people.” He describes a constant, “nearly endemic” state of low-grade armed conflict among most of the groups along the Eastern seaboard, hastening to clarify that “war among European nations was equally endemic” (p. 14, The Cutting-Off Way; see Sources below).

Europeans newly arrived and becoming familiar with the behavior of their new neighbors would have to guess at future behavior based on limited previous experience. The so-called “First Esopus War,” by all accounts, started with an unprovoked killing, by European belligerents, of peaceable workers hired from nearby villages, sitting around a campfire at the end of a long day. The local response would fall into the category Lee describes as “mandated revenge . . . Blood demanded blood.” The “Second Esopus War,” although Wildwyck villagers might have assumed it would play out in a similar way, was a case of a dispute over territory, which typically called for a different type of warfare. In retrospect, we can see how the aggressive behaviors diverged in character. The folks living it on the ground at the time did not have the luxury of reading scholarly speculation on how the situations might play out differently. They had to protect their own as best they could, with limited intelligence on what the attackers might try next. As the campaign continued through the summer and into the next winter, the European strategy was not static; it evolved as leaders reassessed the state of the conflict, and as the situations on both sides changed.

(Local behavior during conflict adapted as the Europeans came into contact with the existing populations, as Lee and others have noted. Lisa Brooks, in Our Beloved Kin, points out the Wampanoags’ “recognizable adaptation of the English practice of mounting criminals’ heads on pikes” after a raid on Mattapoisett during King Philip’s War, p. 152. Introduction of European technology, such as metal axes and arrowheads, then gunpowder and rifles, also changed things, as did the powerful force of overseas trade, which upended local economic balances and complicated local politics with the invisible strings of foreign influence. Each “side” viewed the other as a possible threat and as a potentially useful ally. Lee also points out that, although general trends and patterns can be identified, martial behavior was not uniform from place to place on the Eastern seaboard, from village to village or tribe to tribe, or from year to year.)

Lee describes the 22 March 1622 Powhatan “Massacre” on English settlements around Jamestown, Virginia, which bore striking similarities to the 1663 Esopus attack on Wildwyck (pp. 705-707). Both came after significant expansion in European settlement, beyond what had been anticipated by the people who had occupied the land previously. Both attacks had been telegraphed in advance by Indians who had relationships with the settlers, giving the European villages a chance to prepare. Both took the form of surprise attacks at a pre-arranged signal. (As Lee notes, p. 709, “The use of surprise to attack a fortified village was a standard raiding technique.”) Both events involved considerable killing—these were not false alarms, but serious attacks. “Tellingly, however,” Lee notes of the Powhatan attack, “there was no follow-up. Having administered their lesson, the Powhatans went home.” Lee says the “lesson” administered at Jamestown was “that the English should remain within their proper area.” This was not a war. It was a swift punch, a warning shot.

Lee notes the Powhatans “surely expected retaliation, even as they would from another Native society, but they would not be caught unawares.” He also points out that the English “did not respond . . . in the expected manner,” with an isolated raid. The English countered instead “according to their own model of continuous campaigning . . . usually failing to catch very many Indians, but deliberately and thoroughly destroying their towns and crops,” with the goal of taking control of more land.

Lee observes that it was typical in raids like this, when they were between two established towns, for the attackers to take hostages, not as prevention against counterattack, and typically not to ransom, but as part of a (violent) form of cultural exchange, where having some community members who had been adopted into the community from various nearby towns was considered a way to strengthen the bonds between adjacent groups, to deepen understanding. As Lee notes, the captives might be considered potential adoptees (through marriage or otherwise), or they might be brought back simply to alleviate a labor shortage, “to replace dead kinspeople” (p. 730; see also “both to assuage grief and to restock their own population,” p. 729). (Lee also notes, p. 721, that “rape of enemy women” during a conflict was generally prohibited in Native American societies, vs. “European soldiers’ propensity to indulge in rape as a perquisite of war.” Native combatants, on the other hand, were more likely to try to capture women and children to bring home, with an eye to restocking their populations, which ran counter to European norms; see p. 732. Young men or warriors were less desirable hostages. Europeans, and captured Europeans, had different expectations about the return of “hostages” after a battle than the native peoples may have had; see p. 736-737. Tjerck and Barbara, for example, probably would not have taken kindly to the idea that their first daughter might be raised in an Esopus village as a way of strengthening the bonds of peace, nor might they have cared much to take in an Esopus child to raise in exchange.)

This is a very different motivation from the capturing of hostages in a “revenge” raid, after an unjustified killing. “A prisoner,” Lee says, “particularly an adult male, became the target for the captors’ rage. . . . Elaborate and extended rituals of torture unto death existed in many of the Eastern Woodland cultures” (p. 730). He speculates that this “may have played a role in limiting the need for further warfare,” since “the lengthy and elaborate rituals . . . practiced on a few individuals” may have satisfied the revenge motivation and reduced “the need for killing greater numbers” (p. 732). This second form of hostage taking matches better the episodes the Europeans witnessed after the initial killings in the “First Esopus War.” They reasonably feared the Second “War” would go in the same direction, but they probably were mis-estimating the causes and intents of the 1663 raid.

Lee spends some time (p. 713-715) shading in the nuances of a “blood feud,” considering the difference between a killing that took place within a town (both killer and victim were from the same group of people) and an “intragroup” killing, as when a European killed a member of a native family (or vice versa). Later treaties between Europeans and various local political groupings spelled out carefully how justice should be meted out after an intragroup killing in such a way as to avoid further war. Lee notes that typically the indigenous practice of “tit-for-tat” killing was “limited in scale,” where the European notion of retaliation was “much more thoroughly lethal . . . a no-holds-barred retaliation.” Where European communities were motivated to take more land, this may have been as much a convenient excuse as a real philosophy of action. (Brooks in Our Beloved Kin frequently notes that the intent of a native raid was less to kill the enemy than to surprise, to startle, to intimidate them into choosing a less frightening course of action.)

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). (For pronunciation of sachem, see Kingston Papers p. 229, 20 April 1665, where the plural is spelled Sakimaas. The Dutch, possibly mangling a term in the language of their neighbors, probably pronounce sachem something like “sock ’em.” See “About the Use of Troubling Language,” below. The British, judging from manuscripts of the time, seem to have pronounced it “satchem.”) 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 1663, 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 notes also “a large number of animals” were killed, which has a profound effect on village life and economy, as well as food supply for both villagers and the soldiers who will soon arrive to protect them (DRCHSNY XIII p. 373). European livestock, particularly cattle and swine, were a frequent source of complaint among the people who had graciously granted these immigrant settlers some space in which to farm and build homes: There weren’t many fences around, and farm animals tended to gravitate to mounds of food and destroy crops in a hurry, where wild deer would more typically sample a few leaves and wander away.

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.)

Later on he filled in even more language: “the dead bodies of men lay here and there like dung heaps on the field, and the burnt and roasted corpses like sheaves behind the mower” (DRCHSNY XIII p. 373).

The night of 7 June 1663 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 1663 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 10 June 1663, 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 1663 (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 1663, 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 1663, 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 as 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, on 14 June 1663 Stuyvesant appoints Matheus Capito as Secretary of the town council, at the council’s request. Roeloff Swartwout, the Schout, who up to now as been serving double duty as secretary at council meetings, records faithfully but perhaps a little archly that “At the request of the Court his Honor the Director-General has consented, that Matheus Capito may serve as Secretary here and directed us to record it.” (Capito doesn’t get a formal job description until 21 April 1664; see DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 367-368, instructions to the Clerk of the Wildwyck council.)

(For more on Capito, see “The Demise of Secretary Matth. Capito” below. Capito, a Lutheran from Mecklenburg on Germany’s Baltic coast, had arrived in the colony in May 1647, married Elsje Pieters in 1650, bought a house and lot in 1651 in Manhattan and built a second house on the lot. Faced with financial difficulties, he had sold the first house and in 1660 was forced to sell the second to pay his debts. By 21 March 1663, q.v., he has property “below Wildwyck” and apparently is serving as the “Mustermaster” of the “trainband,” the village militia; see DRCHSNY XIII pp. 236-237. In the attack on Wildwyck, Capito’s wife is killed and his house burned, so again he finds himself penniless. Stuyvesant knew him from when they had sailed together to Manhattan in 1647; Stuyvesant had never liked Swartwout, who was imposed on him by the W.I.C. Directors in Amsterdam. It would not have taken much persuading to get Stuyvesant to appoint Capito at least as a sinecure, and in fact Capito seems well suited to his role. He fills in missing documents in the village records; see Kingston Papers pp. 46-47, when on 25 October 1664 he adds a copy of a payment record that he believes should have been included before, with a rather sniffy remark that “This note was neglected to be entered by the ex-Schout and Secretary, Roelof Swartwout, and I have entered the same here.” 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 by Kreider], and, like Tjerck and others, probably continues to prefer Lutheran services while he is in the Esopus.)

By Friday 15 June 1663, 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 [Mohawks] 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 1663, 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 [Mohawks] 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 18 June 1663 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 19 June 1663 (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 20 June 1663, 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.”  (He apparently lived just south of the Redoubt, across the mouth of the Rondout Kill, or creek, from the main landing. He had a bit of a reputation as a wild man. Note Kingston Papers p. 213, 12 February 1665, when court messenger Jacob Joosten refuses to cross the creek to summon Kit to appear before the town council, “unless he is provided with a guard of two soldiers, but he personally and alone did not intend to imperil his life” by confronting Davids.) 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 1663, 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 1663, 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). One is put in mind of Jill Lepore’s observation in The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (1999, Vintage/Penguin/Random House), that English settlers, under similar circumstances a decade later, were missing a “loud shout from extremely disgruntled but very nearby neighbors, communicating a complex set of ideas about why they were waging war” (p. 112), misreading what Wayne Lee calls “messages, acts of communication intended to provoke a change in white-Indian political relationships” and instead interpreting the attacks as “messages from God” (Wayne Lee, “Early American Ways of War: A New Reconaissance, 1600-1815,” The Historical Journal, Vol. 44 [2001], Issue 1, pp. 269-289, Cambridge University Press).

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 (Mohawks) 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 1663, 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 1663, 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 29 June 1663 (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 know 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 29 June 1663 (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 1663, 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.


By 1 July 1663, 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.”

On 3 July 1663, Lieutenant van Couwenhoven and his delegation come back from trying to raise volunteers among the English towns on Long Island (the ones that belong to the Dutch colony, that is); they report (document available here at the New York State Archives). that the English aren’t much interested in helping the people of Wiltwyck defend themselves or recover any hostages.

Tuesday 3 July 1663 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 (Mohawks) 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 4 July 1663, 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 1663 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 1663, 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. With some exceptions, 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.

Some of the terms the Europeans used were (with varying accuracy) their attempt to repeat words their neighbors used in their own languages. Among the colonists there certainly were many who were able to converse with the surrounding population in varying degrees, as someone moving to Italy might learn Italian to one degree or another and start using (or misusing) words like casino or majordomo. For pronunciation of sachem, for example, see Kingston Papers p. 229, 20 April 1665, where the plural is spelled Sakimaas. The Dutch, possibly mangling a term they thought they had heard from their neighbors, probably pronounce sachem something like “sock ’em” and consider it the correct title, like lieutenant or viscount or marquess. Some of these terms (like “squaw”), no matter their origins, are considered offensive today.

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.

(Note that I also am not particularly careful or consistent on this page with Dutch terms like Schout or Schepen, sometimes using schepens as an Anglicized plural, sometimes schepenen.)

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. For more on this galliot, “a mid-sized merchant vessel with a shallow draft, especially useful for river expeditions . . . Owned by the City of Amsterdam . . . occasionally chartered” and sold to “some Englishmen” in 1662, see Jaap Jacobs, Julie van den Hout and Jeroen Dewulf’s “The Journal of the Galliot Nieuwer Amstel: A 1660 Voyage to Curaçao from New Amsterdam,” 2022, brill.com/nwig, p. 5.) 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 1663 council 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” (DRCHSNY XIII p. 318; pretty sure it appears in more than one place; 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—at times the only member—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 (Nieuw Dorp), 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.

In particular see 7 June 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 251, 28 May Old Style), when Wyntie, Allert’s wife, “requests a certificate” from the town council, something along the lines of a letter of recommendation, “concerning the conduct of her husband here at Wildwyck.” Rather than an effusive, flowery description of what a good guy he is, the council describes in some detail what a nuisance he has sometimes been, mentioning only in passing (or in contrast) that he had actually served on the council: 1) He had Pieter Van Hael arrested in 1662, illegally, because Pieter had said he “did not get full weight of some butter received” from Allert; 2) In 1663, he opposed Stuyvesant’s order regarding looking after the town cattle, “on which account an uprising among the burghers could easily have originated.” The certificate goes on to note that after the War Council and town council had promised safe passage “to two highland savages,” Allert went after them “with a loaded gun for the purpose of shooting them dead,” and that on 14 February 1667, “when the burghers here were tumultuous,” Allert “treated [the council] very contemptibly by despising our authority . . . and furthermore has often behaved disrespectfully in opposing decrees.” See further discussion below (14 February 1667 being an example) of the conflicts between the town inhabitants and the British garrison, but not all of Albert’s disagreeable behavior might be blamed on unjust provocations of figures of authority.

On Sunday 8 July 1663, 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 1663, 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 [Mohawk] 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, also available here at the New York State Archives) 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.” (See 30 March 1662.) 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 1663 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 15 July 1663, 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 (Maquas) 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. In 1670, when English Governor Lovelace has the whole area surveyed, the Groote Stuck is estimated at 300,000 rods in size, or 1,875 acres, nearly three square miles, DRCHSNY XIII p. 447.) 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 (Maquas) 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 1663(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 1663(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 21 July 1663, 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 24 July 1663 (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, the council’s newly appointed secretary, Matthew Capito (see 14 June above), takes up his pen and starts taking notes on court events, where the record previously was in the handwriting of Roeloff Swartwout, the Schout. At this session Albert Gysbertsen says Aert Martinsen Doorn caused Albert’s pig to be killed.

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 1663. (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 24 July 1663, 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 1663 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 1663, 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 27 July 1663, “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 26 July 1663 (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 Enslaved Labor: 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 direct enslaver in 1663, it is worth pausing to acknowledge that he certainly benefited here and elsewhere from the presence of enslaved laborers—men, women, and children—in the colony.

The West India Company, and the colony directors, individually and as a body, as well as many private residents of the colony, all were directly involved, repeatedly, in various aspects of the trafficking of human beings as chattel slaves. Pulling examples somewhat at random from the written record, see for example 6 August 1655, when the colony council imposes a 10% tax on “every slave exported from New Netherland.” See 17 April 1657, when a slave (not named) is charged with theft from “Widow Morris,” and the Fiscal is instructed to arrest him. On 7 November 1661, the burgomasters of New Amsterdam (the local town council, rather than the colony council) asked for a gift of “four able bodied negroes for the use of the city.” (Slavery was the lowest rung on a ladder of unpleasant labor practices; even servants who were not slaves ran away and were compelled to return and serve out their time; see 21 October 1652 for an example.)

The enslaved Africans who went on Cregier’s expedition were probably —in the language of the time—“owned” by the West India Company, which had a pool of people held in bondage who were sometimes used for company business and sometimes leased out, as one might rent a horse or other property. Individuals in the colony also “owned” humans in bondage by this time; note for example that a slave belonging to Thomas Chambers was killed in the initial Esopus raid. (I certainly hope it goes without saying that the enslavement of human beings 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 of the Company’s enslaved workers 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 kidnapped from far-off places and forced to work were required to fill in the gaps, without deriving any financial or long-term benefit for their labor.

For an example of decreased costs, see 25 October 1661 (Kingston Papers, p. 5) where Tjerck is ordered by the town council to pay Evert de Waelsman wages of 2 guilders per day for unspecified labor, and two schepels of wheat for two days of mowing grass.

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—and the trade in human beings—is legal, will almost inevitably gain from the practice, even if their benefit is indirect. If a shoemaker has a worker who is enslaved 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 human beings in bondage. The enslaved person does not get to participate in any of these transactions. (Particularly later, under the British, the law specifically forbade inheritance within enslaved families and effectively prevented property ownership. Again, the rules change somewhat over time, but the net effect remains the same: No accumulation of wealth, no intergenerational wealth transfer. See Nicole Saffold Maskiell, Bound by Bondage [full citation below, in Sources], p. 157, where she discusses the 1704 New Jersey law that prevents even freed slaves and their children from enjoying “the right to pass down or inherit property.”) 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 men, women, and children in bondage in the colony.

(As far as I know, the enslaved families in the colony were predominantly of African descent, though some had been traded by way of the Caribbean or South America. All of the ships documented as coming to the Dutch colony carrying slaves were bringing them from Madagascar, though other ships also came with slaves that could have been from many other places. 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; notably some of the Esopus captured in the “First Esopus War” had been sent to Curaçao to be sold. By a point a few decades into the history of the Dutch colony, some of the enslaved people 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. A specific complaint among slaves that had been granted freedom by the colony’s Council was that their children were still enslaved and had to work as slaves in the homes of Company bigwigs and favorites, among them Martin Cregier. 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 kept enslaved human beings, 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, with noted slave traders and importers like the Livingston family, which kept the notorious slave market in Manhattan busy for many years.) 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 people kept as enslaved captives 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 28 July 1663 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 28 July 1663, 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 (Mohawk) 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 29 July 1663 (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 30 July 1663, 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 31 July 1663, 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 1663 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.”

“Tjerck Claesen de Witt has refused to furnish his Wagon and horses.”
From the New York State Archives Digital Collections.


On the first of August 1663, 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 1663completely 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 1663, 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 1663, 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.

(Who is Thomas the Irishman? 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? Note also a reference to “Capt. Tomes Chamberssen” in 1666, Kingston Papers p. 146; this may just be a reference to Thomas Chambers, or it may be someone else.)

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.”

Stuyvesant’s letter is addressed to Pieter Wolphertß, lying on the North River, by the Wappinghse Kill. He is concerned that “Capt. Willet’s son tells us, that the Wappingh wilden are very bold and come on board [Wolphertsen’s ship] 10 and 20 at a time.” Lieutenant Pieter Wolphertsen van Couwenhoven probably is letting the Wappingers get familiar and relaxing his relations with them very much on purpose. From the New York State Archives Digital Collections.

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, 14-15 August 1663 (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 15 August 1663, 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 16 and 17 August 1663, 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 18 August 1663, 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 of August 1663 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 19 August 1663, 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 20 August 1663, 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 [Maquas] coming from fort Orange in a canoe” with “full four hundred pounds of lead and over three hundred pounds of powder in the canoe.” (Regarding capacity of canoes for carrying large quantities of people or provisions, see “Boats and Canoes” below.) 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 21 August 1663, 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 22 August 1663, 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 24 August 1663, 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 25 August 1663 (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 1663) 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 1663 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 of August 1663 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 27-28-29 August 1663, 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 27 August 1663, 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 [Mohawks], 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 27 August 1663 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 30 August 1663, 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 23 September 1663 (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 6 November 1663, 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. Roose contests this 9 December, p. 190, but the council reaffirms that his lot, which he says was “granted him as a single lot,” is “larger than two common lots.” Mattheu Blanchan may be the one with the original double lot; see argument about preacher’s salary 20 January 1665 p. 197 and Peter Stuyvesant note 8 September 1665 p. 248, which refers to a 24 March judgement that is not in the record.) 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 1663 reassurance notwithstanding (and likely not yet arrived), in Manhattan on 30 August 1663 (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 31 August 1663, 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.


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 2 September (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 3 September 1663—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 7 September, 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 9 September, 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 10 September 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 17 September (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. See also 26 October 1668 below for more details from council minutes when they complain about each other’s behavior.)

At the 18 September 1663 Wildwyck council 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 council (KP, p. 74) appoints Tjerck Classen de Wit and Albert Gysbertsen (both of them council members) 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). This is one of the estates the church tries to take over (see 6 November below). By 22 July 1664, when Juriaen Westphael asks for the money he is owed, Tjerck and Albert Gysbertsen, the estate administrators, report that the estate owes more money than it has. As late as 6 January 1665 (p. 193), Juriaen Westphael is still asking Tjerck, as curator, for a final accounting of the estate. Westphael has charged the estate for his expenses keeping up the horse during the winter (see 23 October 1663, p. 91). Note that Looman had a “partner,”  Jan Gerretsen (6 October 1665, p. 253).

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 20 September, 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 20 September, 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 21 September 1663, 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 23 September 1663, 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 25 September 1663, 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 1663 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 1663below, 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 1663, 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).


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 Rondout 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 1663, 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 1663 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 1663 (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 October 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 of October, 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 (Maquas) “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 1663 (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 1663 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. (Ariaen also says the only reason he had his horses out in the field was “that he was not allowed to keep them in the Fort, but that they had to find their fodder in the field where his children were.” The council notes that his children weren’t supposed to be in the field either without an escort, and instructs Ariaen to settle up with the Schout on that count too.)

In council at this 23 October 1663 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.

At the same 23 October 1663 council session, Tjerck, with Albert Gysbertsen, “curators of the estate left by Hendrick Looman” (KP, p. 91), asks Juriaen Westphael whether he knows anything more about this estate. Juriaen’s assistance would be very helpful, since Looman was living at his house (likely brewery) when he was killed (see 18 September above, pp. 74-75. Juriaen is stabling a horse for Looman (or his estate); on 21 November, below, Juriaen warns that with winter coming on, the expenses of a horse were likely to pile up quickly. Juriaen says he knows nothing more about the estate, other than “perhaps that, among the effects of Jan Albertsen, there were uppers for two pairs of shoes.” (Since Tjerck is also administering the estate of Jan Albertsen and his wife Ida, Tjerck’s sister, this is useful knowledge for that case too.) We find out later (see 6 November below) that Juriaen has been told by the church not to share any information or cooperate with the council regarding Looman’s estate. The church wants to settle the estates rather than letting the council administer them.

Tjerck also at this 23 October 1663 session (KP pp. 100-101) in his role as curator of the estate of Willem Jansen Seba asks Cornelis Barentsen Slecht something to do with an accounting of a “matter” between him and Seba. The court gives Cornelis 14 days to come up with the accounting. See 6 November 1663 below for further exposition.

Friction has developed with many villagers; one is Albert Heymans [sometimes Aldert or Allert Heymans Roose] (Kingston Papers, p. 92); see 7 July 1663 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 council instructs the council (!) “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. (He signs his name Alaerdt Heymansz Roose.) Worth observing: Alaert says folks with “double farms” should provide two horses each. On 29 January 1664, when Domine Blom has to ask the town council to go resident by resident and demand each home’s share of the Domine’s salary (Kingston Papers pp. 117ff), Allert Heymans Roose is revealed to own a double lot, so “He must pay for the double lot twenty guilders, being in proportion to other single lots which must pay ten guilders” (p. 118).

Worth noting also, in the same 23 October 1663 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 1663, 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.


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 1663, 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 1663, 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 1663, 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.)

Also on 6 November 1663 (KP pp. 100-101), the council, and Tjerck, wrangle with Cornelis Barentsen Slecht and “the Consistory” over something to do with the estate of Willem Jansen Seba, which Tjerck was nominated to oversee, since Willem died without any heirs. Tjerck two weeks previous asked for an accounting of whatever the matter is.

Cornelis tells the council that “the Consistory has enjoined him against rendering an account.” There’s a substantial shoving matching going on between the church and the council over who is supposed to (or has the right to) administer the estates of those who died without heirs. The council verifies with the Village Messenger (Jacob Joosten) that indeed the Consistory sent Cornelis a formal instruction not to render any accounting, “and says he notified Cornelis . . . not to pay any bills for Willem Jansen Seba, and that, if he should do so, said payment would not be audited.”

The council summons the Domine (Hermanus Blom), who “answered that he could not attend to-day.” Next the council summons “the Consistory.” There is some dry humor here. Ordinarily the Consistory of a church is a body of deacons, elders who govern the church. In this case, in Wildwyck, there is no group of deacons, plural, who make up the Consistory. Wildwyck has a Consistory consisting of one guy, Albert Heymans (Roosa). In referring to him as “the Consistory,” the council makes the point, in a roundabout way, that this really is a bit of a boondocks congregation, perenially strapped for cash, and doesn’t have the administrative heft to handle multiple estates. The council at least consists of multiple appointed members and is able to take action, nominate curators for the estates, and so on. The Consistory comes shuffling in when summoned, and confirms that for the estates of both Willem Jansen Seba and Hendrick Looman, the Domine and Consistory “forbade Cornelis Barentsen Slecht and Juriaen Westphael to pay anything to any one.”

There’s a jurisdiction here, and the council “resolves to refer this record to the Director General [Stuyvesant] and Council of New Netherland,” in Manhattan, which they do. The Consistory, Allert Heymans Roosa, is prickly and doesn’t get along with Tjerck, among others. He is the one who on 23 October 1663 was described as complaining to Tjerck that Tjerck should send along more horses to pursue the people who kidnapped some of the villagers. The Consistory, and no doubt the Domine, would prefer that the proceeds from the estates of those who died with no heirs be given over to the church for its funds for paupers. The council doesn’t exactly argue with this, but the council has asked Tjerck and Albert Gysbertsen to administer the estates, collection any funds owed to the estates and settling any debts owed by the estates. These don’t have to be conflicting missions. In fact, the Church and Consistory are working against their own interest in the case of Looman’s estate; he was a brewer’s helper living at the house (probably brewery) of Juriaen Westphael, so he was not rich. Juriaen is still stabling a horse of Looman’s; on 4 December Juriaen warns that with winter near, the expenses of the hourse are piling up quickly (see below). By 22 July 1664, when Juriaen Westphael asks for the money he is owed, Tjerck and Albert Gysbertsen, the estate administrators, report that the estate owes more money than it has. As late as 6 January 1665 (p. 193), Juriaen Westphael is still asking Tjerck, as curator, for a final accounting of the estate.

This comes up again as Tjerck tries to settle his sister’s estate; see 20 November 1663 below. See also 18 December below, the Consistory’s reponse to the council, and in particular 18 December (p. 111), the Domine’s response, in which he says the estates the church is wrangling to manage were taken “ecclesiastically,” not seized.

Stuyvesant responds on 21 November; see below. See also KP p. 107, 4 December 1663, where Juriaen Westphael asks the council to administer Looman’s estate and the council reiterates that the church has put up obstacles, and the Colony Council in Manhattan has to decide the matter. Juriaen notes that he “is stabling a horse which belonged to the aforesaid Looman, and, winter being near at hand, this will cause great expense to the estate of the deceased.”

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Six (No. 28 of the New Lots in Wildwyck)

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 26 October 1666 (16 October O.S.), 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.)

See also KP p. 344, 22 March 1667, where Ariaen Gerretsen Van Vliet requests “the corner opposite the house of Tjerck Claesen for the purpose of building a cottage there.” He appears to be talking about a lot that is right up against the town stockade, or “curtain wall,” and sound defense practice requires that no other structures be built up against the wall, either inside or outside. The council turns him down because “the curtains shall not be built on.” This suggests that Tjerck’s house inside Wildwyck is near a corner of the town wall.

Possibly referring to the same location, 30 October 1669 (KP p. 436) “Carsen the cooper” asks permission to “erect a little house in the bend opposite Tierck Claesen’s.” If this is a bend in the creek, it would be Tjerck’s property outside of town, but if it is a bend (or corner) in the town wall, then Tjerck in 1669 is still living inside the stockade. This time the council grants permission, “under condition that [Carsen] shall cover the house with a board or tile roof [i.e., not thatch] and build a brick chimney to prevent fire.”


Curtains for You: Story of a Wall

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out

—Robert Frost, “Mending 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.

(Some further notes on the establishment of New Amsterdam: Minuit made his deal with a group who maybe did or maybe didn’t really have the right to speak for that bit of land. Hickory trees grew right down to the water at the southern tip of the island, and hickory wood, strong and supple, was good for making bows. A lot of groups probably had visited the grove to gather the wood that grew there; the name probably means “place where we gather [wood for] bows,” and it refers not to the whole island, but to the hickory grove at the southern tip. Minuit, as far as I know made an arrangement for the Dutch settlers to use the area at the tip of the island—not for the whole island—and probably the first thing the Dutch did, unaware that the grove was a valuable resource, was to cut down all the trees and use them to build a fort and some houses.)

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.

In an interesting record from the Wildwyck town council meeting of 28 November 1662, before the Esopus attack (Kingston Papers p. 43), Pieter Couwenhoven demands payment from Cornelis Barentse Slecht of 437 guilders, a fairly large amount, “for wages earned, as per obligation made out to Albert Jansen.” Couwenhoven is not the one who did the work; he is representing Albert Jansen. Couwenhoven also goes after Jacob Stoutenburgh for a 1659 debt for seed-corn; Albert Jansen in this case was the one who bought the corn together with the defendant. Pieter Couwenhoven evidently was familiar with Wildwyck even before he was sent there to see about rescuing any hostages.

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 Viele, from Kniphausen in Ostfriesland, 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? (See Register of the [New Netherland] Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647, pp. 6-7, for the full document; full citation in Sources below.)

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). (See also complaint by a Tappan tribe member 16 February 1664, DRCHSNY XIII p. 358, that Pieter’s brother Jacob and Jacob’s wife sold him brandy in exchange for a gun “in pawn,” and now Jacob won’t return his gun.) 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 date 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.”

In the end it did not go so well for Matthys, the onetime constable of Esopus (see DRCHSNY XIII, p. 154). On 26 April 1664, in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 371-372), a sad inquest is held into his demise, in which some of the witnesses describe what took place. In the chamber of the Colony Council (a body superior to the various village council scattered around the colony), “before the Director-General and in presence of Sarah Kierstede, the interpreter, appeared Oratam, the chief of [Hackensack]; Ejachke; and Aeltie Sibrants, the widow of Mattys Roeloffsen, the gunner, who had been killed 8 days ago by the Wapping savages.

“Ejachke says, he has been sent by Metsewachset, the chief of Kichtewangh, to inform us of what the savages had said and reported. . . . [T]he common Wappings, or as they are usually called the “barebacks,” say, that their chief has received from Pieter Wolphertsen 30 strings of wampum and three coats of cloth; the common Wappings have become jealous and dissatisfied on that account.” The chief didn’t tell anyone about it, Ejachke says, but kept the bribe for himself “and so he told us here [in Manhattan], that all his people were satisfied to have peace,” but this was all without the knowledge of his people—they say.

Ejachke goes on to tell the story of an Indian (tribal affiliation unclear) from Haverstraw, who “arrived with meat near the Fort at the Esopus, and the [Dutch] soldiers came out from two sides and took him prisoner and locked him up”; he was released eventually, and Ejachke emphasizes that even after that mistreatment the people of the tribe (which tribe?) “were not angry.”

The timeline here is not abundantly clear, nor is the sequence of events that led to the killing of Roelofsen. But Ejachke goes on, skipping past the killing of Matthys: “two squaws and a man have taken [Aeltie], widow of the killed Matthys Roelofsen, by the hand and said, the savage, who has killed your husband, is also going to kill you, go with us into another house. She did it and shortly afterwards the said savage, who killed her husband, called Eihtaworis, came into the house and wanted to kill her, but he was at first prevented by the other squaws and men,” and at last “Sewechenamy, the chief of the Esopus [note: not the Wappingers], would not allow it and prevented him saying, We are about to make peace . . . and you come and kill a Dutchman and want now to kill also this woman and thwart everything: the said chief then gave a string of wampum to [Aeltie] saying, Go with that as with our safe conduct to the chief of the Manhattans [i.e., Stuyvesant] and tell him, that we are not guilty of this murder, but desire to make peace. . . . [T]ell him further, that all the men and squaws are very sorry for the murder and weep over it.”

This is an interesting story. Why does it start with the story about Wolphertsen’s bribe to the head of the Wappingers? How is that connected to the murder of Mattys?

Aeltie is present at the hearing, and she says “that in the main it had happened so, but that many more and other words had been spoken in their kinterkasien” (a kind of conference). Ejachke is asked whether he was actually there for any of this, and he says “No, but another savage called Keentakain, who had brought this captured woman to them and did not dare or would not come [to Manhattan], had requested him to go with [Aeltie] and tell us.”

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 1663 (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 1663, 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 1663 (DHSNY IV, p. 90), Cregier sends a party down to the river “with bread for the people in the Redoubt.”

Monday 12 November 1663, 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 1663 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 1663 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 1663, 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 1663 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 1663, 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 1663 brings no further news (DHSNY IV, p. 91). A yacht (unspecified) comes down from Fort Orange, bound for Manhattan.

Saturday 17 November 1663 (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 1663, 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. This is an ongoing dispute. See 4 December and other entries.
(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, and they are supposed to be working together as well to settle the estates of those who died in the June attack and left no heirs. In addition, they are neighbors.) 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 Couwenhoven 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 [probably at least Sarah Kiersted, a frequent translator, particularly for Oratam of the Hackensack community; see for example 10 July 1663 above, and several other instances],” 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 (21 November 1663), 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 him (Allert Heymans Roosa, who does not get along with Tjerck; see above, for example, on 23 October) 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 1663 (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 1663 (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 1663 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 1663 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 1663; 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.)


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 custody 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.

At the ordinary town council session on Tuesday, 4 December 1663 (Kingston Papers pp. 106ff), we see how strapped for cash Tjerck must feel he has become: He refuses to pay the small fee of 36 stivers for courtroom rent that is required of anyone bringing a case before the council. He brings a complaint against Jonas Rantsou, demanding that he pay Tjerck 5 schepels of wheat. Jonas says he has an account that differs from Tjerck’s; the council asks them both to produce written records. Then he has a complaint against Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, who is not present; “Plaintiff refusing to pay thirty-six stivers towards the amount agreed to be paid for the Court room, none of the parties summoned by him will be admitted within.”

Roelof Swartwout, the Schout, on 4 December 1663 continues badgering Tjerck about his blowout drunken spree from November (see 13 November and 20 November above); Swartwout asks the council for Tjerck to “be punished by banishment and confiscation of his estate.” Evidently Roelof is pretty angry at the situation. Tjerck wants the witnesses who filed a report against him to swear to their reports before the council (the Schout has their written statements), and he says one of the witnesses is inadmissible because he’s supposed to be a witness on Tjerck’s side. The two witnesses show up to swear to their statements, and even then “their oath is prevented by [Tjerck] himself, who is not willing that they should take it before the Honorable Court.” Tjerck asks for four days to settle the dispute with the Schout, which the council grants.

Tjerck (p. 107) on 4 December 1663 also “requests that justice be done him in his case against Albert Gysbertse” from 20 November (in which he said Albert had not paid for land he bought from Tjerck, so Tjerck wanted the land back), but the council returns to the question of why Tjerck won’t pay the court fees required: “he is not willing to do the proper thing about the Court room, for which he himself voted.” The council further adds “that he has forbidden several parties summoned by him, to appear with him before the Honorable Court,” and points out too that “he himself has neglected the appeal.” (In Tjerck’s defense, it has been a busy few weeks.)

At the same 4 December 1663 council session (pp. 107-108), Evert Pels complains that Tjerck “had summoned him four times before the Court and did not himself even appear the fourth time”; he wants to be compensated for the inconvenience, “and also further makes claim for the damage done last summer by Tjerck Claesen deWit’s pigs to the corn on [Evert’s] land.” The council appears to be bending over backwards to make accommodations for Tjerck in his time of difficulty; it asks Evert to come back at the next session with the same claim in writing.

Cristiaen Niessen, now an Ensign after turning around last summer instead of riding to the town’s assistance when it was under attack, recommends improvements to the city wall; the council agrees (p. 108).

5 December 1663, the first Wednesday of the month, will have been a day of prayer, as designated by Stuyvesant on 26 June.

On Thursday 6 December 1663, 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 4 August 1663 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. (More than likely he brought Jan Claessen and Emmerentje Claessen up from Manhattan for the 1 December auction of their sister Ida’s estate.)

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.”

There’s a little more context to be considered here: The three gentlemen named in the complaint, along with Lucas, are among the colony’s bigger financial wheels.

  • See 1-3 April 1664 below for a touch of commentary on how Nicolaes De Meyer helps keep Wildwyck afloat (and makes himself a tidy sum) by loaning money to a number of residents who have found themselves in very hard situations after (in many cases) losing houses or more in the 6 June attack on the village, and then not bringing in the harvests they expected for many reasons, including having to wait for mandatory escorts to take them into the fields to work.
  • Frederick Phlipsen (Philipse) is a Manhattan merchant from a well-to-do Dutch family who over the decades puts together a significant fleet of trading vessels and does business (including trade in enslaved people) as far as the east coast of Africa; he eventually (under the British) is given a large manor north of Manhattan on the east shore of the Hudson that today includes parts of the Bronx, Yonkers where he lived, and well up into Putnam County, including places like Sleepy Hollow. (See also below at 8 August 1671 where he and Tjerck and Martin Hoffman, one of Tjerck’s brothers-in-law, are involved in some transaction together.)
  • Jeronimus Ebbingh, also a seriously successful businessman, is no less than the new husband of Johanna De Laet, from whom Tjerck bought his first tract of land in the Esopus. Ebbingh was present at the 1 December auction, q.v., of the estate of Ida Claesen and Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck; he bought the ill-fated lot on which their house had stood, probably Jan’s shoemaking workshop as well, which had been burned in the attack when they both were killed. Ebbingh and/or his wife also probably loan money to Wildwyck villagers in their time of need; see on this page 23 March 1672, when a house and barn are discussed that were bought at auction on behalf of Juffrouw Ebbinghs, as well as 9 May 1664, the auction of farming implements and furniture of Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, again on behalf of Johanna DeLaet. DeLaet was herself well off, separate from Ebbingh (her father had been one of the Directors of the W.I.C.; see discussion above). In 1670 Ebbing is listed as owner of 1,000 acres (a little over a square mile) of land “within the precincts of Kingston” (DRCHSNY XIII p. 446); I have not researched when he got this land, but it may be the balance of the land originally owned by Johanna De Laet.

So not only was Lucas (we might guess) impatient to take advantage of fair winds and tide, which wait for no man, but at least three of the other people also heading south, together with a large cargo of grain, probably considered themselves to be on important business, and above trifling with some petty ensign who was frantically telling them to wait until he finished blotting the ink on a note to his boss at Fort Amsterdam.

The council minutes don’t always tell you this stuff. The court secretaries probably knew most of the personalities involved, and it might not have crossed their minds to mention anything beyond a person’s name, since any contemporary reader would have known who that was and been able to guess why they were treated a certain way. Later readers have to decipher a bit the associations that would have been evoked in the colony at the time by the simple mention of a person’s name. The council minutes don’t mention what anyone wore to a meeting either, but that would have suggested a lot about an individual as well.

On Monday 10 December 1663 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 Wednesday 12 December 1663, in an eyebrow-raising sarcastic letter to the colony directors in New Amsterdam, the Schout and council at Wildwyck note that Allert/Albert Heymans Roose “has shown himself more than once as an instigator of quarrels” (DRCHSNY XIII p. 318; pretty sure it appears in more than one place; see Fried p. 113). The tone of the letter is pretty arch; it is enough to give Stuyvesant cause to suspend Schout Swartwout for his insolence. On 19 December, having received their letter (pp. 319-320), he appoints Matthew (Mathys) Capito as a provisional replacement Schout. (Swartwout is reinstated 14 February 1664 after apologizing, see below.) Stuyvesant is himself fairly tart in his tone, showing he can give as good as he gets, if put to it. He says the council members can resign if they like, but tells them that anyone who does resign will be banished “from the village and its jurisdiction”  for six months. He notes that “without doubt this will be the last yacht going up or down before the frost sets in.” He leaves it to Captain Lieutenant Cregier to decide whether he should stay the winter at Wildwyck or return to Manhattan. (Cregier, currently in Manhattan, will be on the ship carrying Stuyvesant’s letter upriver; see 19 December below.)

On Tuesday, 18 December 1663, Roelof Swartwout is listed as the Schout, present at the regular town council 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 will be listed as “Provisional Schout” (p. 111) in a special session: Stuyvesant’s letter of 19 December has arrived, suspending Swartwout. Swartwout is absent in a case brought against him that day 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.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Seven (Albert Gysbertsen I)

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. See also 9 March 1666, further down, when the same land comes up again, after Aeltje remarries; Roelof Swartwout still represents her, now with her new husband.

On Tuesday 18 December 1663, at a regular town council meeting in Wildwyck (KP pp. 109-110), Tjerck demands payment from Jonas Ranstou of five schepels of wheat. Jonas says he owes 4 1/2, not 5, and notes that Tjerck already attached 19 guilders that Christiaen Andriesen (“the soldier”) owed Jonas. This comes back before the council on 29 January 1664 (p. 123), when it is noted that Christiaen “is dead” and cannot testify. Jonas offers to pay Tjerck if Tjerck will take an oath that he never got paid by Christiaen. Tjerck declines to take the oath. It frequently appears that Tjerck’s account books leave something to be desired; the council often asks him to come back with more clear accounting. He may not trust his figures himself.

By the 19 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 his Manhattan home 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 O’Callaghan names 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. Eyeballing the distances involved, and looking at the next day’s travel, modern-day Piermont might make more sense for the night anchorage. Piermont Pier extends from the west bank of the Hudson and offers a similar shelter, but it is man-made and would not have been there in 1663. The older name for the town of Piermont was Tappan Landing; before the pier was built for the Erie Railroad, there was a kind of marshy hook here that provided a smaller shelter from the river currents. Piermont is by the modern town of Tappan, not as far upriver as Teller’s Point. Possibly Cregier and O’Callaghan are correct, and nightfall found the yacht at Teller’s Point.)

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 1663, with Christmas almost upon them, Cregier reports “No business” (DHSNY IV, p. 96).

Monday 24 December 1663, for Christmas Eve, Cregier gives Roelof Swartwout his walking papers, handing him (and the town council) the 19 December 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 pleased with” the change and congratulates Capito. Cregier’s audience is Stuyvesant. It’s hard to imagine the council members being enthusiastic about Stuyvesant’s letter reprimanding them for their tone in their last letter.

The Christmas Eve 1663 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 1663 (DHSNY IV, p. 97), Cregier does not mention Christmas (in keeping probably with the general Calvinist perspective that holidays are overdone and folks should be more attentive to being good and pious every day, rather than laughing and gorging themselves on sacred days; see 12 February 1664 below), 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 1663, 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.)

Thursday 27 December, two days after Christmas, finds Domine Blom in a sour mood, or perhaps it’s the Consistory, Allert Heymans Roose (Kingston Papers p. 111). The “Reverend Consistory” sends the council a note saying that the Consistory “is really astonished that the Honorable Court meets on Sunday, as there are enough other days in the week, and this is the reason why the [council members’] pew in the Church is vacant Sunday morning and afternoon [!].” This continues the sarcastic tone of the council’s 12 December note to Stuyvesant and Stuyvesant’s peppery 19 December riposte. Roose is probably somewhat pleased with himself, having seen Swartwout’s wings clipped by the boss.

Friday 28 December 1663 (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.

(The request for gunpowder and lead for self-defense of the town is legitimate, but it does come conspicuously close to New Year’s Eve, when some celebratory shooting is commonplace.)

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.

On Saturday 29 December 1663, at a special session of the town council (Kingston Papers pp. 115-116), Tjerck goes after Roelof Swartwout (no longer Schout), saying that he bought a horse from Roelof, and paid for it, and took delivery, and then Roelof came to Tjerck’s stable and took the horse back. Tjerck presents his account book showing the payment and a receipt. Roelef says no, the payment was never made, and he requests a copy of the receipt. The council tells the two to square up their accounts “in the presence of the Provisional Schout, [Matthew] Capito.” The case continues on 31 December, with Tjerck found to still owe Roelof 24 more schepels of wheat. Tjerck is told to pay the court costs.

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 (recently dismissed 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.


Sunday 30 December 1663 (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 1663 (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.

Probably Roeloff Swartwout is on the same ship with Cregier as he heads south. It appears that on 14 February 1664 (see below), Swartwout is in Manhattan, asking for his job back.

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.”

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.” (The document itself can be seen here, damaged around the edges by fire, at the New York State Archives.)

In short order after that we find on 5 February the complaint against Lysbet by the Fiscal (a colony official; document itself is here), 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.)

[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.


On 4 January 1664, in Wildwyck, Ensign Christian Nyssen pens a letter to Peter Stuyvesant and the Colony Council in Manhattan. Nyssen has in hand a note from Stuyvesant and the Council members, which he says is “well understood” (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 354). “I do not clearly understand” the orders in the letter, he says. He notes that Captain Cregier left in the Company’s yacht on 31 December, together with 7 soldiers from the garrison. The river is freezing over if not frozen; I don’t think any ships remain at the Redoubt to carry anything anywhere. Nyssen notes that “There are many sick here among the military as well as the inhabitants of a strange disease.” (See November 1662 letter from Fort Orange commander Johannes La Montagne to Pieter Stuyvesant about epidemic of “kinderpocken” at Fort Orange, 15 ill among 1,000 inhabitants, 12 dead, mostly children, referred to by Janny Venema in a 28 April 2020 interview with the Times Union of Albany, New York. I have not found this letter among the published translations of colonial documents, though it may be where I have not looked.) Apparently Stuyvesant has asked for more soldiers to be sent back to Manhattan, but Nyssen is at a loss as to how to get them there. They can’t go on a ship with the river iced over. They could go overland, but it’s winter and they could be stranded in snow or worse. The river is the usual highway. Nyssen says he has received the letter from Manhattan overland, “brought by two savages, one called Hastang, the other Wamassaan, a Wappinger, as he says, who came in place of the dispatched savage Neskabetssin.” Nyssen notes that Wamassaan “has had part in the murder here,” probably referring to the June 1663 Esopus hostilities. Wamassaan apparently “took prisoner the son of Derick Jochemsen.” Nyssen says he will try to forward to Fort Orange the letters the Directors sent for the team there, “with two Dutchmen. I could not find savages here to employ on such an errand.” As to how to send any soldiers back to Manhattan, if the Council will “send here further orders by a savage,” i.e. not by the river, “for the return of the soldiers overland,” then he will tell such soldiers as are well enough to make the journey. (The soldiers Nyssen sends north arrive at Fort Orange 8 January; see p. 355. La Montagne and Rensselaer at Fort Orange send a note south to say that various war parties of Indians have passed through on 11-12 December without event; they were returning from an expedition into Maine where they lost 30 or 40 of their company. They send their response overland with a “savage,” who agrees to carry the letter for “a sailor’s rug and 20 guilders in wampum,” total value 100 guilders. Nyssen adds his note to the packet on 11 January as the messenger comes through on his way south; he says, pp. 355-356, the disease among the soldiers and settlers “doe[s] not diminish, but increases daily.” The notes reach Stuyvesant on 17 January.)

By 14 February (see below), Roeloff Swartwout, the suspended Schout, is in Manhattan, asking for his job back. He might have sailed down with Cregier on 31 December, or (with the river frozen) he might have gone south overland, with the messenger from Fort Orange who passes through Wildwyck 11 January on his way to New Amsterdam.

On 17 January in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 356), Stuyvesant writes a note to the council in Fort Orange, letting them know that the Esopus who attacked Wildwyck last June are “scattered here and there among other tribes, who have to support them, for they have nothing to eat, their corn is ruined.” They are suing for peace, “promising to return the few Christan prisoners, still among them, within two months.” A note on 23 February (p. 361; see below) describes the hostages as “Christian children.”

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. (He owned a home in Amsterdam and eventually married there.) 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. (By 11 March, see below, the debts are still open, and the Schout is restless to hear when they will be settled. Tjerck’s response in March is that he’d rather not stand surety for his siblings; he is feeling the pinch of his own debts. This is a change from his January response. The same issue also comes up in a court session 26 February.)

(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 the church calendar, the first full moon after the March 21 equinox is due on Thursday April 10, making Easter Sunday April 13. That means Ash Wednesday will be February 26, and Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) February 25. (Meeting records show February 26 was a Tuesday, so the calculation here is a day off somewhere.) On 12 February (Kingston Papers pp. 126-127), Domine Hermanus Blom sends the Wildwyck town council his annual glum remonstrance admonishing all good Christians not to go wild on Shrove Tuesday but to abjure “the public, sinful and scandalous Bacchanalian days of Fastenseen [Shrove Tuesday], coming down from the heathens from their idol Bacchus, the God of wine and drunkenness, being also a leaven of popery, inherited from the pagans.” Specifically he asks the council to proscribe the celebration “by proper ordinances, while we admonish against and publicly reprehend those abominations, so that . . . we may thereby do some good for this place and its inhabitants, their bodies as well as their souls,—the more so as we are passing through such woeful times of God’s judgment over us in this place, inflicted because of our sins.” He goes on at some length: “[W]e are still under [God’s] rod, and his sword of war still threatens us. . . . ‘And then shall the inabitants be gay in their sins, while the land mourns, and we are called on every month to fast, to weep and to mourn?’ [Joel 2]” Domine Blom and his Consistory are a regular laugh a minute. The Reformed Church, particularly in this period, follows John Calvin’s line of reasoning and is not big on observing Lent or Ash Wednesday or Mardi Gras, noting that they are not festivals commanded by the Bible. (Various denominations have held the same perspective on Christmas over history.) Martin Luther (under whom Calvin had studied) took a somewhat more nuanced view, suggesting that dietary restrictions and works of penance had been misunderstood by the church fathers who came before. He was not opposed to observance of Lent, but he preferred that it be focused on improvement of the soul. There are still a lot of Lutherans in Wildwyck, Germans and Frisians and Swedes and their ilk, who are accustomed to the Lutheran way of ushering in Lent. Even the Calvinists are familiar with it. Blom turns up his nose.

On 14 February 1664 (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 357), a Thursday, former Wildwyck Schout Roelof Swartwout composes a humble note to Peter Stuyvesant, asking for his old job back. He acknowledges he signed a document that offended Stuyvesant, but now he perceives that signing it was “a grave mistake.” Swartwout notes he has a wife and eight small children; he would like to be gainfully employed. The Council at New Netherland reinstates him, in a document also dated 14 February. Swartwout apparently made the trip south to appear and plead his case in person. See pp. 358-359, 18 February, when Stuyvesant sends him north again.

On Sunday 17 February 1664, at the Dutch Reformed Church in Wildwyck, Tjerck and Barbara baptize Claes DeWitt, a brand-new son, probably conceived in happier days before the Esopus attack on the village. Up from Manhattan to serve as witness is Barbara’s brother Lucas Andriessen; also present are Tjerck’s brother Jan Claessen and Barbara’s sister Geertruy Andriessen, “from Fort Orange” in the record, though she and her husband Jan Tomassen may actually live on their farm across the river at Papscanee. Also listed as witness is Tryntje Tysssen. Claes is not mentioned in his father’s 1698 will, but he is probably the Claas de Wit who sponsors the 28 September 1684 baptism of Jacob, son of Andries de Wit (his brother, Tjerck and Barbara’s eldest) and Jannetie Egbertz. Tjerck and Barbara now have two boys (7 years old and newborn) and two girls (2 and 4 years old).

On Monday 18 February 1664 in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 358-359), Stuyvesant writes a note to Wildwyck to let them know he is sending the Company yacht north to collect “30 to 40 soldiers” and bring them back to Manhattan. He notes that “there is no peace concluded yet” with the Esopus, so he recommends the people of Wildwyck should “keep a good watch with your inhabitants and the few remaining soldiers.” (Thanks, Pete!) He leaves it to the discretion of the council and the commander of the shrunken garrison (Nyssen) to decide whether it’s safe to carry any grain down from the village and farms to the Redoubt. Stuyvesant writes a separate note to Nyssen, clarifying that “If the yacht is prevented by ice from coming into the Kil [the mouth of the Kil forms the shallow landing at the Redoubt], then you must send them overland to where the yacht lies with their empty bed ticks and a blanket for every one; their remaining movables and baggage to follow by the next yacht.” (Note that “yacht”  in these communications is just another word for a small ship, without the connotation of luxury the word has in current usage.) After Stuyvesant composes his careful instructions, a note is attached to them, saying “On account of the sudden frost, the foregoing letter has been brought back, as the yacht could not get in the Esopus for the ice.”

On Saturday 23 February 1664 at Fort Amsterdam in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 361-362), a delegation of Hackensack and Staten Island leaders arrives to discuss officially ending the war between the Dutch settlers and Esopus villagers in the Wildwyck area. (See 17 January above.) The delegation is led by Oratamy, a senior leader who has been a sachem or principal (“chief”) in similar parleys for some time; he notes that he is stepping down, and a leader named Hans will take his place. Oratamy explains that Seweckenamo, “one of the chiefs of the remnant of Esopus,”  has decamped to the South River (Delaware) for a time, and he says the Esopus “desired very much his return, so that they could then exchange the captive Christian children against the captive savage prisoners and conclude a peace.” He brings an otter skin as a token of good will. The Dutch council answers that they had hoped to see the captured children all returned by now, but they are willing to extend the armistice another 14 days. The Dutch promise to offer more gifts in exchange when Seweckenamo comes with the captured children. (See 6 March below, and 25 March after that.)

On Tueday 26 February 1664 at a council meeting in Wildwyck (Kingston Papers, p. 128), Gysbert van Imbroch (the town doctor) 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.

Cheerful Hermanus Blom, the Domine, submits a letter to the Wildwyck council on 26 February (Kingston Papers pp. 130-131), requesting again that he be paid his salary; he asks whether he should take his complaint to the Colony Council in Manhattan. He says he blames the council more than the congregation. He leaves it to the council to judge “whether it is not a sad and grievous thing that a minister of the Word of God is, as here, compelled, with such trouble and pains, to seek for, and request of and through the Court, his long since earned salary, the which has never been seen or heard of anywhere in Christendom.” The council notes that it will again remind the parishioners to pay their shares of the minister’s 1663 salary (see 29 January above). By 1666 (p. 290) the Domine has upped his game to taxing the council with “the souls which should perish in consequences of the discontinuance of his ministry” should he not be paid, which “will have to be answered for, before God.”

The topic of Tjerck’s and Jan’s and Emmerentje’s debts to the separate estates of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck and their sister Ida Claesen comes up again on 26 February (Kingston Papers pp. 129-130); it is resumed on 11 March.

Winter weather continues: On 1 March 1664, a Saturday, in a special session, the Wildwyck Town Council responds to a 29 February request from the Council of War, in which the Council of War asked that the stockade’s “curtain wall” be reinforced at last with new “palisades” (upright poles) filling in the holes where many were missing, so the wall would be more of a wall, less of a fence. The Town Council notes that “the severity of the winter season does not permit any digging of the ground to fill in vacant spaces with palisades, though the palisades obtained for this purpose lie here ready.”

On Thursday 6 March 1664, in the Council chamber at Fort Amsterdam (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 361-362), Oratam, principal leader of the Hackensack, together with his designated successor Hans and another Indian named Kastangh, arrives accompanied by Minisink chiefs Memmesame, Meninger, and Mamarikickan.(See 23 February above.) They have brought, as well, “one of the captured children (it was the child of Jan Lootman, the baker at the Esopus) in token of their good hearts and friendship towards the Dutch.” They bring a quantity of deer skins as well; it is customary among the tribes who lived here before the Europeans to exchange gifts with just about every talking point at a formal meeting. They note that the Senecas have threatened the Minisinks, but the Minisinks have made a mutual-aid agreement with the Minquaes from the Delaware River. The leaders ask the Dutch to recommend whether they should stay where they are or move, and they offer more deer skins “in token of their good heart,” saying that they “do not expect any cloth in return,” but only request when they visit that “they may be well treated and have something to eat.” Apparently an Indian woman (“squaw” in the translation) brought the child, and she is given 20 guilders in wampum. The council tells Oratam that it will “by the first yacht” after the winter freeze send to the Esopus “for one of the captive Esopus savages and surrender him to them.” The Dutch offer wampum and “heavy money” (actual coinage) as honorary gifts, and dicuss options in regard to the thrats of the Senecas. (See 25 March below.)

On Tuesday, 11 March 1664, at a Wildwyck council meeting, Tjerck Claesen deWit has a quibble 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. This claim came up previously on 26 February, p. 128.)

At the same session (11 March 1664), we see some additional notes about church money and church expenses. Jan Willemsen Hoochteyling, deacon (there’s a new deacon on the Consistory!), presents accounts “showing that of the Church money . . . and from the poor money,”  a total of 514 guilders “have been expended for building the parsonage here.” The Church would like to be reimbursed for the expense (Kingston Papers pp. 132-133). The council says that “as there is no money in the treasury,” they are asking the deacon for an extension until Stuyvesant arrives and comes up with some way to reimburse the church. Paulus Cornelisen (p. 135) asks for 108 guilders “for bricks furnished for the parsonage.” The council answers that during the interregnum between council terms, “the books of the retired [council members] have not yet been written up; it therefore does not know how much money there is in the treasury.” See also continuing discussion on p. 137, which mostly reiterates the same.

At the same session (11 March 1664), Mattheus Capito (still described as Provisional Schout, though Swartwout was reinstated 14 February; see above) tries to settle once more the matter of money owed to the estate of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck (Kingston Papers, pp. 136-137; this actually came up on 26 February as well, pp. 129-130). Evert Pels is the curator of the part 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.” This is different from the answer he gave on 29 January (see above, p. 120), when he offered “himself as surety and principal for his brother Jan Claesen deWit . . . to secure any balance if his share be not sufficient.” In January Tjerck also glibly added the guardian of Jan Albertsen’s minor children, Henderick Jochemse, as surety.

This also came up on 26 February (Kingston Papers pp. 129-130).

There is some dispute about whether Tjerck posted security already. The councils raises its eyebrows when it learns that Evert and Henderick, without letting the council 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). The council does not appreciate Evert’s and Henderick’s taking matters into their own hands, but it’s worth noting that on 26 February (p. 129), they both asked to be removed from the curatorship, “as they cannot agree with [Tjerck] who is a joint guardian.” If they weren’t allowed to quit, they asked the council to at least “please sustain them” in their dispute with Tjerck. Tjerck at the time said he had “not been unreasonable about furnishing security.” At the time the council instructed Tjerck to “furnish security for the full amount, satisfactory to” Evert and Henderick. So if the council doesn’t like the job they’re doing, it sounds as if both Evert and Henderick would be happy to be fired.

The money Tjerck refers to that is owed by him, his brother Jan, and his sister Amerens (Emmerentje) probably is mostly tied to the 1 December 1663 auction of the estates of Jan and Ida (see more complete description above, on that date). Tjerck took on the largest share of debt in buying Ida’s goods back from the estate; his sister and brother also indebted themselves, but to a lesser degree. On 29 January, above, Tjerck owes the estate 852 guilders; Jan (already absent) owes the estate 201; the amount of Emmerentje’s debt is not specified. We don’t know exactly what any of them bought. It is not completely clear why, as beneficiaries of the estate, they would have put themselves into debt to increase the estate’s value. These may have been purchases for reasons of sentiment, or the Claessen siblings may have been aware of value in some of Ida’s goods beyond what would have been apparent to other, more casual buyers. This family seems, in general, protective of shared family wealth, defending it against encroachment by outsiders—particularly the nest egg that they describe as having come down from their mother’s mother. (See Jan’s vigorous defense of the family’s farm in Ostfriesland, discussed elsewhere, even after no family members were still living on it.) Tjerck and Jan together bought, it seems, more than 2/3 of the total value of 1510 guilders’ worth of items auctioned. Ida’s estate is not finally settled and divided until 13 March 1666; see below. The total value of the estate—just her portion, not Jan’s—is 1921 guilders.

Our old friend Pieter Wolphertsen van Couwenhoven brings an interesting report to the Colony Council in Manhattan on 15 March 1664 (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 363-364), foreshadowing the British Invasion. He has maintained good relations for some time with the non-European townsfolk who lived here before the Dutch colony, and like some other longtime settlers in the colony he is able to converse with them in their languages. He and his brother trade with them (notably liquor), but he seems to have warm social relations in their villages as well. He reports that on 15 March an Indian (no tribal community is named) “came to my house and said, Friend I must tell you something.” Wolphertsen’s friend tells him that the English have approached the Esopus and the Wapping communities and told them that the English plan to take over first Long Island and then Manhattan and the rest of the Dutch colony, imminently. (The Wappings, on the east shore of the Hudson around Wappingers Falls, occupy a region that stretches east as far as northern Connecticut, so they have interactions with both the Dutch in New Netherland and the English further east.) Wolphertsen’s friend tells him the Esopus and Wappings “had expected to kill all the Dutch and drive them away, as the English of Westchester had promised.” The English had said they would take the colony, but “If the Dutch do not surrender willingly,” the Indians would have to help the English kill the Dutch. The translation here is funky, but it sounds as if the English had promised the Esopus that they could have their ancestral lands back. The tribes sent a party “About 8 days ago” to Westchester with “a lot of peltries, consisting of beaver, otter, bear, elk, fox and raccoon skins” to formulate a plan. The English were happy to take the skins, but now they said the killing would have to wait a year, “but if you will sell the land on the Wapping and at Haverstraw, we shall pay for it.” The Indians left “very discontented and said, ‘It is better, we make peace with the Dutch, the English are only fooling us.’”

The council undertakes to send Wolphertsen “and 2 or 3 others, conversant with the savage tongue,” to investigate further at Wappings (Wappingers Falls). On 23 March they get back with their report. They “arrived on the 20th off the Highlands,” and met right away with various folks from the village there who more or less corroborated what Wolphertsen had heard at his home on the 18th. The expedition stayed overnight. The leader Sacsigout came aboard with a company of 7 and said no decision would be made for 30 days.

On 25 March 1664, a Tuesday, at the Council chambers in Fort Amsterdam in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 364-365), an official delegation from the local native community, still not including any Esopus leaders, sits down with Dutch leaders to offer gifts and make proposals. Oratamy, chief of the Hackensacks, represents their proposals; the leaders who have arrived are “Mechtsewach, chief of Kichtawan, on the east side of the North [Hudson] river; Messachkewath, chief of the Wappings; Nipamick, chief of Wiechquaeskeek, in place of his brother Sauwenarach.” They have brought one more Dutch child, “which they have bought from the Esopus savages for 31 strings of wampum, for whom they ask nothing whatever, not even a bead.” Oratamy says he has delivered six prisoners before now to Lieutenant Couwenhoven, and one more, whom he bought from the Esopus. One of the rescued prisoners, “a large girl, had promised him some wampum, but had neither given nor sent it to him.” (See 6 March 1664 above, and prior dates.) Oratamy says their combined communities “had not asked for war nor intended it, although they have been accused of it, and that they still desire to live in peace with” the Dutch. The Dutch in return give back a captured native child. The Dutch do a little math and figure that one of the prisoners Oratamy is counting was born in captivity; they run down a list of what the Indians have been given in exchange for the returned hostages, including three captives. They say if the “large girl” promised wampum, “it shall be given.” The Dutch say that as long as everyone comes in peace, the Dutch are inclined toward peace as well; they note that they could have attacked the tribes and ruined their corn as the Dutch did to the Esopus. Echko, who has been sent by the chief of the Neversinks, reports that “the English pressed him very hard” to sell them the land of the Neversinks, but the chief told the English that the Dutch had already paid for it. He warns that “they could not keep off the English any longer,” so the Dutch had better get busy and buy it and “erect a house there.” The Dutch express gratitude for the preferential treatment, but “as long as we were engated in a war and had no stable peace,” the time was not right for building new houses; besides, “now it was too cold and the kils too full of water, to view the land. We would come to see it, when the corn planting began.”

On Wednesday 26 March 1664, after the visit of local leaders to New Amsterdam (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 365-366), Stuyvesant writes a note to Ensign Niessen and the council at Wildwyck, sending it with Lieutenant Van Couwenhoven. He says the previously delivered hostage child was sent north with Claes Bordingh; this one is a boy, but “we do not know whose it is.” Possibly this means the child is too young to know how to speak? Stuyvesant says the chiefs who came “have reported, that there are only three more captured Christians among the Esopus . . . in the interior, whom they have promised to do their best and get them and deliver to us.” He asks the council to send south the two women and three children who are still prisoners at Wildwyck. Stuyvesant frequently repeats that the previous occupants of this land are not to be trusted: “no reliance can be placed upon the statements of this uncivilized, treacherous and mendacious people nor credit be given to what they tell” (p. 372). Wolphertsen seems to trust them more, and they seem to trust him in return. He probably has considerably more experience working with them.

Tjerck’s Terms in Office

On Thursday 27 March 1664, the council at Wildwyck nominates five candidates for Peter Stuyvesant to choose among as replacements for the two council members who are reaching the end of their terms in May (Kingston Papers, pp. 138-139). Tjerck’s name is not on the list for re-appointment. His term has been draining. He probably is relieved to have that responsibility off his shoulders. Stuyvesant in Manhattan receives the nominations 3 April 1664 (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 366) and selects Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh and Hendrick Jochemsen as the new council members.

Some of Tjerck’s terms in office as schepen:

  • 1662-1664: Tjerck has served as schepen (town council member) since he was named by Peter Stuyvesant 27 April 1662.
  • 1668-1670: He will serve as schepen again 1668-1670, having been re-nominated for a two-year term 26 March 1667/8, p. 405. He is sworn in as council member 21 April 1668, p. 409. On 3 June 1670, p. 445, he is thanked for his services as he steps down; he was not re-nominated on 26 April 1670, p. 442.
  • In 1671, despite being nominated 25 April 1671, p. 458, he is not chosen; see 23 June 1671, p. 465.
  • Evans, p. 4, says Tjerck is again chosen as a council member 4 March 1689; I have not had a chance to confirm or clarify, but that date would put it right at the end of the term of Governor Nicholson, on the brink of Leisler’s ill-fated rebellion.

As fence examiner:

  • On 7 July 1665 the Wildwyck council creates the position of fence examiner and names Tjerck to be one of three.
  • On 18 May 1666, Tjerck’s position as fence examiner is renewed.
  • On 27 April 1669, Tjerck (who is in his second term as schepen) is apparently no longer a fence examiner. Council appoints “besides Hendrick Aertsen” two new examiners.
  • It appears on 3 June 1670 he is no longer a fence examiner.

See each of the above dates in the timeline below for more information on these events.

On 27 March 1664, at Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 366), Ensign Nyssen writes a note to Stuyvesant, presumably to send south with the council nominations, to let him know that nothing special has taken place since the official end of the armistice with the Esopus, particularly “on account of the heavy snowfall and now lately on account of the freshets.” He says he had hoped to make an expedition to the old Esopus fort to have a look around on 21 March “but was prevented by the thaws and freshets, which filled the kils, also by the inconvenience to get through with soldiers at this season.” He notes that he has not yet sent any of the garrison south as requested, although he is now sending “two men, Barent Holst and Otto Jansen, both sick and cripples.” He does not mention the arrival of Claes Bordingh bringing Jan Lootman’s child (boy or girl?) who was released back to the Dutch in Manhattan on 6 March. In a 26 April letter to the Directors of the W.I.C. in Amsterdam, Stuyvesant repeats that only three “Christian” prisoners have not been recovered, and that the “very heavy snowfall during the winter and the consequent high water in all kils and creeks, but especially the lack of shoes and socks for our soldiers,” have prevented a more vigorous pursuit.

On Monday 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. See below the petition they present on the town’s behalf 25 April 1664 in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, p. 369), as well as some of the surrounding dates and documents as answers are given regarding several adjustments to improve the way the town is governed.

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 (see below at 8 August 1671 where Phlipsen and Tjerck and Martin Hoffman, one of Tjerck’s brothers-in-law, are involved in some transaction together; Phlipsen and De Laet’s husband Jeronimus Ebbingh are both Manhattan merchants and well off; see 3 December 1663 too, as well as 20 November 1664 where it appears Phlipsen’s lot in Wildwyck is adjacent to the one Ebbingh buys from the estate of Ida Claessen and Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck) ; 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.

Also on 1 April (a good day for recording financial obligations), Tjerck signs as witness a document establishing a debt Juriaen Westphael owes to “Mr. Nicolaes de Meyer, burgher and inhabitant of the city of Amsterdam in New Netherland” (i.e., New Amsterdam, Manhattan) for a total of 108 schepels of grain and 6 beaver skins, plus 33 guilders in seewan (wampum), at 10% interest per year. Juriaen Westphael mortgages his land south of Wildwyck “between the land of Thomas Chambers, across the Great Kill, and the land of Aert Martensen Doorn,” and he further puts up his “lot lying in Wildwyck near the lot of Albert Heymans Roose, on the one side, and next to the lot of Tjerck Claesen deWit, on the other side” (Kingston Papers p. 140).

A lot of the townspeople and farmers of Wildwyck and Nieuw Dorp are in tight financial straits since the conflict over the past year with the people who used to farm these fields. Nicolas de Meyer, in New Amsterdam, is willing to loan people money to help them get back on their feet. On 3 April (Kingston Papers p. 146), Tjerck witnesses yet another mortgage document, this time between Jan Jansen van Amersfort and Mr. de Meyer, for 112 guilders “in beavers, at eight guilders a piece,” with 10% annual interest. A note attached from de Meyer says that on 24 November 1666, Captain Tomes Chamberssen (Thomas Chambers?) took over the mortgage. (Thomas Chambers is Jan Jansen’s father-in-law; see “Keeping the Peace” below.) For further transactions with De Meyer, among others, see 22 and 26 November 1664, Kingston Papers pp. 549-550, between De Meyer, Aert Martensen Doorn, and Juriaen Westphael.)

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. This is a tense time, with a lot of villagers under extreme financial duress. See 9 May 1664 below, when Cornelis Barentsen Slecht’s things are sold at auction. Tjerck and Swartwout may have been there to take an inventory before the court-ordered sale.

On the same day, 4 April 1664 (KP pp. 147-148), Tjerck witnesses a loan from Nicholas de Meyer to the Schout, Roelof Swartwout, worth 35 schepels of winter wheat, at 10% interest. De Meyer attaches a note saying that this clears up “all obligations” Swartwout had to him up to that date, suggesting that this was not the first time Swartwout had borrowed money from De Meyer. (Swartwout keeps borrowing; see pp. 260-261, 25 November 1665, when Meyer comes to the Wildwyck court to collect on a 423-guilder note from Swartwout, from 8 April 1665, with a house and lot in Rensselaerswyck as security. This mortgage comes up again 17 November 1666, p. 309, when the council has to admonish Swartwout to stay current on his payments. See also pp. 582-583, 25 November 1665, which refers to the above agreements and adds Swartwout’s house in Wildwyck as security, plus his land in the new village—Nieuw Dorp, Hurley, probably just farmland and not a homestead—and three milk cows.)

On 7 April 1664 the barn of Aert Pietersen Tack is auctioned by Albert Gerretsen (who bids on it; he may be settling a debt Aert owes him: Aert “absented himself” from town leaving his wife with nothing but debts, Kingston Papers pp. 540-541); Tjerck as a council member is a witness to the execution of the court order, together with Albert Gysbertsen (Kingston Papers pp. 536-537). Probably the barn is being sold with the understanding that the buyer will move it to their property; it is not a “barn and lot.” (On 13 May, pp. 540-541, Aert’s deserted wife, Annetje Ariaens, has the court inventory his possessions, including “a farm containing 20 morgens of arable land” between Tjerck’s farm and Jan Willemsen Schoon’s. The “house and lot” and farmland are sold at auction 7 October, pp. 543-544, to Sweerus Teunissen, for a total of 1495 guilders.) Henderick Cornelissen, rope maker (Lyndraeyer) wins the bidding, at 600 guilders. (This may be the barn he leases to Ariaen Gerretsen Van Vliet on 27 September, pp. 542-543. On 11 February 1667, pp. 634-635, the council reconfirms the sale and transfer of title, with the date in Kingston Papers shown in error as 7 April 1667.) On the same day (pp. 537-538), a horse (called ’t Swartje, or “the Blackie”) of Aert Pietersen Tack is also sold, by Gysbert Van Imborch. Tjerck buys it, for 200 guilders, in wheat, at three guilders per schepel of wheat. Tjerck probably can’t really afford this horse. The next day (p. 538) he sells it to Albert Gysbertsen, his neighbor and fellow council member, at the same price and on the same terms. Albert apparently can’t pay for it either; on 3 December Willem Montagnie (the church voorleser, schoolmaster, and eventual council secretary) buys it for 156 guilders (p. 551).

(The auction of Mr. Tack’s things is troubling to Maritie Meynders in Rensselaerswyck, widow of Jan Barentsen Wemp, to whom Mr. Tack owed 1500 guilders, from a 16612 note; see Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Eight below. Maritije takes her deep concerns to the Colony Council in Manhattan 25 April 1664, DRCHSNY XIII pp. 370-371. The Council asks the Wildwyck council to look into the matter and sort it out.)

On 10 April 1664 an Englishman (unnamed) comes to Wildwyck, together with Claes Tyssen; Ensign Nyssen sends Stuyvesant a note about it on 21 April, because it raises Nyssen’s suspicions (DRCHSNY XIII p. 368). Nyssen says the Englishman first said he was interested in buying some land from the Dutch, and then, still with Tyssen, headed north to Fort Orange. (Nyssen says he is also sending his daily journal, not reproduced in these notes.) Nyssen says he later found out that “this Englishman must have been a spy,” because first he said he wanted to live among the Dutch because the English had treated him poorly, but then he said “that the English would take and possess this place [Wildwyck], Fort Orange and the Manhatans within 6 or 8 weeks.” Nyssen asks whether in a case like this he should arrest the suspicious foreigner.

Nyssen also says “the farmers are busy to bring their summer grain into the ground, as far as they can do it at this season,” and he notes that “I am also waiting for provisions for the soldiers here, for only one barrel of meat is left in the storehouse and I have no peas.” He adds a breathless postscript: “the miller here refuses to grind” for the Company, “because his account has been returned to him unpaid.” This is probably persnickety Matthew Blanchan, who doesn’t get along with Tjerck and thinks the council is out to get him. He doesn’t grind for Tjerck either, and they both point fingers blaming the other; see 26 October 1668 below.

Wildwyck is still a smallish settlement, but it is growing. At first it was just a bunch of folks who had come down from the Fort Orange area to build homes and set up farms, then Stuyvesant proclaimed it an official town and set up a local government with a council and a Schout. Mostly up to the time of the Esopus attack (June 1663), the Schout (Roeloff Swartwout) took minutes at the council meetings, but then Stuyvesant appointed a Secretary as well (see 14 June 1663 above), growing the bureaucratic headcount of the community by one. (Stuyvesant had never cared much for Swartwout, but he may have appointed the Secretary, Matthew Capito, partly as an act of charity; Capito’s wife had been killed and his house burned in the Esopus attack. Secretary Capito seems like a fairly sharp and mild-mannered guy, compared to the Schout, who is educated and capable but seem to get into a lot of disagreements with people.) On 21 April 1664 in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 367-368) the Colony Council comes up with an official job description for the Wildwyck Secretary. He will keep council minutes, sending copies “once or twice during the year” to Manhattan; he can collect 12 stivers for each order the council makes. He also can draw up petitions for those who wish to come before the council, and he can charge 16 stivers per petition for those in civil cases, 20 stivers for petitions regarding injuries or minor crimes, and for making out certified copies of judgements he will be paid 24 stivers each.

On 31 March 1664 above, the town chose Gysbert van Imbroch and Thomas Chambers as special representatives to travel to Manhattan at Peter Stuyvesant’s invitation. On 25 April 1664 in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 369-370) they present an official draft of some proposals, which may have been discussed in person before being written up.

  1. They ask for more clear instructions to be given to the Wildwyck council, as the council at Beverwyck has.
  2. They ask for the court to be given more latitude to act independently during the winter, when “no news can be obtained . . . for 4 or 5 months” while the river is frozen and snow covers the footpaths that connect villages. (Council says yes.)
  3. They ask for more clear instructions for the Court Messenger (another low-level official position, below Schout or Secretary; the messenger carries summonses to people who are being asked to respond to complaints, as well as other court business). (Council says this will be arranged.)
  4. They say the schoolmaster “is making rather absurd demands for schoolmoney from the children, which compels many people to keep their children at home.” Can we give him a fair salary instead? (Council asks how much he is charging. Once they know that, “further orders will be issued.”)
  5. See No. 3 above. They ask for clarification of “the division of the fees for summons between him and the messenger.” See 21 April job description for Secretary, above.)
  6. Is the Schout or the Secretary supposed to run auctions now? (Secretary runs voluntary auctions; Schout runs the ones ordered by the council, a.k.a. “executions.”)
  7. Is the Schout or the Secretary now the official jailer? What about “executioner”? (This is the person who makes sure fines and judgements actually get paid, often by selling property to cover the cost of debts. Wildwyck doesn’t have a lot of hangings.) (See above.)
  8. The people and town, since the hostilities with the Esopus, are heavily in debt. They ask that the “tapster’s excise” for liquor tax can be sold off annually by the town council to raise funds, and to make sure nobody can sell liquor without having a licence. (Council says it wishes there were some other solution, but for now the plan is approved. Half the excise is to go to reducing the town’s debt.)

On 26 April 1664 in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 372-373), Stuyvesant puts together a letter to the W.I.C. Directors in Amsterdam, letting them know about the colony’s progress. He notes that colony expenses for the last year have been 80,000 guilders, while revenue has been not more than 30,000 guilders, so the colony is operating at a significant deficit. Among the reasons he lays out for the revenue shortfall: He says the wars among various indigenous communities (Seneca vs. Mohican vs. Maquaes vs. whomever), often encouraged by Europeans with ulterior motives (France and England; the Dutch colony’s documents mostly show an inclination toward encouraging peace) have disrupted the supply chain that brings beaver skins from deep in the wilderness to trading outposts like Fort Orange. The Dutch trade beavers, but they don’t go out in the forest (mostly) to collect the skins; they need the indigenous communities to go trap the beavers all across thousands of miles of wilderness and bring the skins to town. In other words, for all that Stuyvesant has some fairly nasty things to say about how you can’t trust a native, and for all the the Dutch call them all, generically, “savages” (wilden), the colony leans on them (and on the vagaries of Dutch hatmaking fads) for its profitability.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Eight (Albert Gysbertsen II)

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). The same 20 morgens of land is described also on KP p. 540, in the same way, 13 May 1664 when his wife Annetje Ariaens prepares to sell it and other personal property to pay of debts “because her husband Aert Pietersen Tack has absented himself.” Like Tjerck, Tack has the farmland outside of town and also a “dwelling and lot at Wildwyck,” inside the stockade. The location and other neighbors of both his parcels are more carefully described in the deed recorded 7 October 1664, pp. 652-653

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.)

On 9 November (N.S.) 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 620-621), Pieter Hillebrants, husband of Aeltje Wygerts, records the sale to Swerus Teunissen “a farm situated under the village of Wildwyck between the land of Tjerck Claesen DeWit and the widow of the deceased Aert Jacobsen, 20 morgens in extent.” This matches the description of the land Albert Gysbertsen bought from Tjerck. Sweerus (from Rensselaerswyck) on 7 October 1664 (see above) also bought Aert Pietersen Tack’s 20 morgens, also abutting Tjerck’s, and promptly leased it to a couple of farmers. On 19 April 1667 (KP p. 653; see also p. 652, with reference to the same transaction), Tjerck and Sweerus sign a paper clarifying that Tjerck is making no further claim against the property, although for years Albert Gysbertsen and Tjerck went back and forth over whether Albert had paid for it and Tjerck had given him (or would give him) the deed. On 10 May 1667 (pp. 656-657), Tjerck at last starts to sign the deed but then changes his mind; the document is marked “Has been annulled.”

See also 1 April 1664 above, where Juriaen Westphael says his lot in the town of Wildwyck is between Tjerck and Albert Heymans Roose.

See also Kingston Papers p. 306 (26 October 1666, in an entry dated 16 October [Old Style]), when Jan Joosten requests from the Wildwyck town council about 10 or 12 morgens of “certain woodland, covered with shrubs, extending from the extremity of the lands of Evert Pels and along the lands of Aert Martensen Doorn, to the land of Tjerck Claesen.”

At the regular court session on Tuesday 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.

Also on 6 May 1664, also at Wiltwyck (DRCHSNY XIII p. 373), Domine Blom puts together a colorful letter proposing to Stuyvesant and the Colony Council that 7 June should be kept as a day of remembrance and thanksgiving for deliverance from the 6 June 1663 attacks on the village. On 31 May (pp. 383-384) he gets his wish, with a proclamation from Stuyvesant after the peace has been made official.

On 9 May 1664 (Kingston Papers pp. 538-540) Tjerck and his colleague and neighbor Albert Gysbertsen as council members supervise the court-ordered auction of “all kinds of farming implements and some furniture of Cornelis Barentsen Slecht” for the benefit of Johanna DeLaet (wife of Jeronimus Ebbingh), the one whose land Tjerck traded for when he first moved to the Esopus area. Slecht is in debt to DeLaet (he rents land from her; see p. 540, also on 9 May, when even after the auction he still owes her 79 guilders and change). This is what is meant when someone comes before the council and seeks “execution” of a council order when a debt is unpaid. Tjerck buys a scythe with two sharpeners for 8 guilders, a winnow for 2 guilders, a “signal with the pole” for 3 guilders, and a harrow with iron teeth for 13 guilders. At the end of the auction, Tjerck and his neighbors who bought other items sign up as “surety” for each other, each promising to pay the debts if the others don’t. See 18 November 1664 below, p. 173, when Juffrouw DeLaet tries to collect some of the money.

On 15 May 1664, a Thursday, in the Council Chamber at Fort Amsterdam in Manhattan (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 375-376), appear Seweckenamo, Onagkotin, and Powsawagh, “chiefs of the Esopus,” together with leaders of several other local communities, to make peace at last with the Dutch. Seweckemano does not at first quite get around to asking for peace. He starts by saying that all the other tribes are grateful that peace will arrive at last. The interpreter asks him to clarify. He says yes, he has come to ask for peace. The Council notes that not all the Esopus leaders are there; Seweckenamo says they’re on board with the proposal regardless. The Dutch acknowledge that “they have now returned all our prisoners and got back from us all theirs.” Everyone agrees that peace was agreed to before, then broken. Terms of the new peace: The Dutch get to keep the land “taken by the sword.” No further hostilities. They can come to the Redoubt to trade; a house will be built for them there. The chiefs will take the terms back to their people and get them ratified within 30 days; also, let’s renew this peace once a year. Sarah Kierstede serves as intepreter; the whole thing is signed on 16 May, by Stuyvesant, Chambers, Couwenhoven, Cregier, and many others. Seweckenamo is back on 8 July, pp. 386-387, by himself, to plead with the Council to send food and provisions to his people, who are “mostly sick and very lean because of the want of food.” (Smallpox is mentioned among the Indians as well, p. 380, in a different area.) The first renewal of this treaty comes in October 1665; see below.

In a letter whose date has been shorn off (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 382-383), Stuyvesant tells the council at Fort Orange about the new treaty of peace, and lets them know that the council in New Amsterdam thinks it “proper and necessary” to re-establish the New Village (Nieuw Dorp) south of Wildwyck, and this time to build a proper fort there, moving half the Wildwyck garrison to the new place. The Wildwyck town wall (or “curtain wall”),which has grown longer with time as the number of lots in town has grown, has always been described as built with “palisades,” basically upright logs: trees cut to length with all the branches cut off. For the Nieuw Dorp, it sounds as if Stuyvesant is getting fancy: He wants the council at Fort Orange to get a price for him on 300 to 400 hemlock planks. He tells them to pay for the planks with the excise tax from liquor sales and send them to Martin Cregier at the Esopus. Stuyvesant notes he is proclaiming a day of thanksgiving (see Blom’s 6 May note above), which places the date after 31 May.

On 9 June 1664 in Brooklyn (DRCHSNY XIII p. 385), Henricus Selyns (the Domine who transcribed Tjerck and Barbara’s marriage record from the deteriorating original in Megapolensis’s hand) sends a note to the Classis of Amsterdam (the Dutch Reformed Church’s governing body), stating that “The English have declared, that they would take our town and all Long-Island with flying colors.” What was a rumor is rapidly turning into an open secret.

At a special session on Thursday, 12 June 1664 (KP, p. 152A), Domine Blom seeks better satisfaction from the Wildwyck council in the matter of receiving pay for his services. The council takes note that on June 10 (at a regular session for which we have no minutes?), the council 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 council 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.” By 1666, under the new British Governor, the Domine’s salary has been fixed at 1000 guilders per year (p. 306), and the villagers are being taxed 1 guilder per “morgen of arable land” to pay it, plus 30 stivers per draft horse or ox or milk cow.

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

At this session (24 June 1664), though, he does have some issues to raise. Juriaen Westphael has sent Tjerck a summons, but Juriaen doesn’t show, so we don’t know what the summons is for. But Tjerck has a bone to pick with Roelof Swartwout, the (fired, then reinstated) Schout.

First of all (p. 153), Tjerck wants to be paid 60 guilders “for pasturing three cows, also a bridle loaned [to Roeloff] last year, valued at sixteen guilders . . . also a quantity of wood valued at three schepels of wheat and three guilders.” Swartwout says it wasn’t three cows but two, and he promises to return the bridle and pay for the wood. Tjerck says he was obliged by the council to pasture one cow for Swartwout “as a fine,” but Swartwout instead gave him four to pasture, so Swartwout owes him for three. Swartwout says he has a counterclaim. The council instructs him to bring it in writing on the next meeting date.

Then it’s Schout Swartwout’s turn. He complains (p. 154) that he was “scornfully treated” by Tjerck; he filed a petition on 6 May. There’s apparently some story behind this. Tjerck acknowledges he was working in the field despite the rule requiring an escort, “but says that the Ensign [Niessen] promised” an escort, and then when Tjerck’s “people went out to look for their horses,”  the escort “did not follow. The Ensign and the Schout were at that time with the [escort] on Thomas Chambers’ land to examine the burnt palisades set on fire by a soldier. On their return, the Ensign and the Schout both became intoxicated and then agreed that the Schout [Swartwout] should go with the [escort] to fine [Tjerck] for ploughing in the field.” Tjerck “denies he called [Swartwout] names or threatened him.” The council instructs Swartwout “to submit his proofs in writing.”

Swartwout now returns to the question of the cows (pp. 154-155). He asks Albert Gysbertsen to “testify to the truth . . . with reference to the differences between [Swartwout] and Tjerck Claesen deWit, regarding the pasturing of [Swartwout’s] cows, concerning which [Albert] testifies and declares that he knows that Tjerck Claesen deWit promised to pasture two cows for [Swartwout], for which [Swartwout] was not to advance Tjerck Claesen any money.” The final outcome is not recorded here. The case comes up again on 7 October (p. 163), where more or less the same arguments are made.

Tjerck also (p. 154) says Cornelis Barentsen Slecht owes him either a canoe or the cost of a canoe (some part of this entry seems to be missing). Cornelis “admits he borrowed the canoe, and that he did not return it; adds that it was taken by Jan Willemsen’s man and was used for the benefit of those” who had pastures across the Kill (probably the Esopus Kill). The council says that the people with pastures across the Kill must either pay Tjerck for the canoe “or else substitute another canoe.”

Boats and Canoes

On the face of it, when someone borrows a thing, they should return it: A horse, a tool, a book, a canoe. That much seems like plain etiquette.

With regard to canoes, the actual practice may have been somewhat different. The record in Wildwyck court cases does not show this.

Wayne E. Lee, in The Cutting-Off Way (see full citation in Sources below), discusses the logistics of moving soldiers over small and great distances across the North American landscape both before European contact (when there were no horses, so all movement was by foot) and after European contact (when horses became an option, though for quite some time foot travel was still preferred).

Part of the calculus involved travel over water, typically rivers, and most frequently in canoes. Lee discusses different variants of the basic canoe design (pp. 43-44): Elm canoes “were more fragile and were limited to three to nine people and their equipment.” Birch canoes were available to northern groups, since that’s where the birch trees grew; they were sometimes called “north canoes” and “could mount three, six, twelve, or even twenty-four benches, carrying up to 3,000 pounds, but were light enough for only four men to carry.” Elm and birch canoes were both fashioned from the bark of the tree. Another option was a dugout canoe (pirogue), which took a lot more effort to make, but could be “capable of carrying even larger numbers of people,” possibly as many as 75.

More to the point, though, Lee notes (p. 45) that “there seems to have a been a cultural practice of leaving boats on riversides, where travelers could find and use them (European distinctions between ‘stealing’ and ‘legitimately borrowed’ do not seem to fit properly).” Lee discusses several cases where canoes were either left behind when no longer needed or found at a time of need. There is some suggestion that this had to with how easy it was (relatively) to build canoes when they were needed: Trees were abundant, and it didn't take too long for a traveling party to put together some canoes, but if a canoe were readily available, that would be even better.

It’s a bit of a jump from saying that indigenous practice allowed people to “borrow” canoes that had been left on a riverbank (or even buried nearby) more or less for that specific purpose to assuming that the settlers in the Dutch colony had adopted the same practice. I don’t think it’s documented anywhere that anyone European considered it automatically O.K.

But there are some tantalizing hints.

See Tjerck’s 24 June 1664 case above, for example, when Tjerck says Cornelis owes him either a canoe or the cost of a canoe, and Cornelis freely “admits he borrowed the canoe, and that he did not return it; adds that it was taken by Jan Willemsen’s man and was used for the benefit of those” who had pastures across the Kill. Cornelis doesn’t sound as if he thinks this is out of the ordinary. The council, somewhat constrained by a European sense of rules, says that the people who have been using it must either pay Tjerck for the canoe “or else substitute another canoe,” again suggesting that perhaps canoes are considered interchangeable and almost common property, as long as everyone ends up with as many canoes as they contributed in the first place.

See also 3 November 1664, below, when a few residents of Wildwyck come down to the river (the Hudson) to use a canoe, and the English guards posted at the riverside resist; they are keeping watch over the canoes. The Dutch tell the English that this is “their” canoe, but again it sounds like a case where they simply assumed that a canoe at the riverside was meant to be used by whoever needed it.

On 4 July 1664 (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 385-386), Stuyvesant sends north Willem Beeckman to serve as new Schout in Esopus and also “Commissary.”  Thus endeth the rule of Roeloff Swartwout as Schout. “Commissary” is an interesting term; in some translated documents (e.g. Kingston Papers) it is used for schepen, which on this page I mostly translate as “council member,” although here and there “magistrate” is used. (Many official terms are hard to translate, since most of these positions and governing bodies don’t have exact matches in modern times, or even between the Dutch governing structures and the British. One jurisdiction’s Board of Elders is another’s County Commission; another uses Supervisors, and in Texas the County Judge is mostly the head of the commissioners’ court, which fixes roads and sewers. What I often call the “town council” is translated by many as “court,” which is not wrong; the body serves both functions. The British as far back as 1667 were using “Comissaryes” for “schepenen”; see DRCHSNY XIII p. 415.) In this case, Stuyvesant seems to be naming Beeckman as a kind of Head Schepen, or perhaps Council President. (It is not clear which of his instructions correspond to his role as Schout and which as “Commissary.”) Beeckman has served at the South River (New Castle, on the Delaware). Stuyvesant wants him to take a close inventory of all Company goods and intends to send any future shipments to Esopus in his care. Stuyvesant says Beeckman will call meetings to order and count the votes of the Schepens, “and in case of a tie have the deciding vote.” He should “at the first convenient opportunity” auction off the excise farm; half the proceeds go to the town council to defray debts and expenses.

On 12 July 1664 (DRCHSNY XIII p. 389), at a special combined meeting of both Fort Orange and Rensselaerswyck councils, local tribal concerns overlap with questions about the Dutch colony’s security: A lot of the document is damaged, but enough remains to see that the visitors are concerned about the warlike behavior of the Onejages (Onondagas?), who have been making war on the Maquaes (Mohawks), “and they are dead now.” They say the English are encouraging the attacks on the Maquaes, and “the Onejages had said to them, ‘Brothers, we will not conceal it from you. . . . [T]he English have told and directed [the local tribes] to fight or kill the Dutch and Maquaes . . . . They say also, that 40 ships shall come across the sea to make war here and ask for the surrender of this country.’”

On 22 July 1664 (Kingston Papers p. 158), Juriaen Westphael asks Tjerck and Albert Gysbertsen, the curators of Henderick Looman’s estate, for 127 schepels of wheat to settle debts owed. Tjerck and Albert say there are more creditors than there is money in the estate. See 18 September above (pp. 74-75); Looman was living at Westphael’s house (likely brewery). On 23 October the estate was caught in the conflict between the council and the church Consistory over who should administer it. On 21 November, Juriaen warned that since he was stabling a horse for the estate, expenses were likely to pile up quickly. As late as 6 January 1665 (p. 193), Juriaen Westphael is still asking Tjerck, as curator, for a final accounting of the estate.

On 4 August 1664 (DRCHSNY XIII p. 390), Stuyvesant in a note to the Directors of the W.I.C. in Amsterdam lets them know about the rumors he keeps hearing from local communities about English designs on the colony. Stuyvesant, who has made it clear more than once that he does not trust “savages” and considers their promises worthless (a view not shared uniformly by all his fellow colonists, though there are many shades of gray in evaluating trust), pooh-poohs the persistent stories: Stuyvesant’s team can “not accept this version as true, they believe rather, that it is a fabrication of the Maquaes, to engage us as their allies in this war [among the indigenous communities].” Stuyvesant firmly believes that as long as the Dutch-English boundaries are settled, the native tribes will stop trying to play one set of Europeans against another, “when they see the Christians united and drawing a line.” As my mother used to tell me, “You can tell a Dutchman, but you can’t tell him much.”

On 16 August 1664 (Kingston Papers pp. 159-161), the office of the Wildwyck liquor tax collector (“farmer of the excise”) is auctioned off. Tjerck makes a bid to become the tax collector, but he is outbid by Thomas Harmensen. Tjerck agrees to act as surety for the tax collector. Apparently his credit rating has been improving. On 29 December 1665 (p. 267), Tjerck and Walran DuMont (who also agreed to stand as security for Thomas Hermensen) ask to be released for surety for the debt Harmensen owes from when he took on the job. Thomas answers that he intends to pay the “farm,” as it is called (since he was the “farmer”) in three or four weeks. The council tells Tjerck and Walran to urge Thomas to “precisely and fully pay the amount of his expired farm,” so they can be released from their responsibility. Apparently the system is that you bid a certain amount to get the right to collect the tax, but then you don’t have to pay the bid amount until after the taxes have been collected. See p. 377, 22 November 1667 (12 November O.S.), when Reynier Van Coelen, the current excise farmer, refers to making his “three-monthly amount,” suggesting that payments are expected on a quarterly installment basis.

On 22 August 1664 (Old Style, so 1 September N.S., DRCHSNY XIII pp. 391-392), the English settlers at Westchester on Long Island send a note to His Majesty’s Commissioners complaining about their (mis)treatment by the Dutch. On 27 August (p. 392), a Hackensack tribe member reports that he “heard last night from a Maquaas” on the west shore of the Hudson “some Englishmen [including some kind of commander] had said [to some Indians], ‘Well, the Dutch have so beaten you, what will you give us, if we kill the Dutch?’’ He says the Indians “handed to the English a bag with wampum and promised the land of the Esopus.”

Tjerck Claessen, Longtime Slave Owner

Every generation confronts the task of choosing its past. Inheritances are chosen as much as they are passed on. The past depends less on “what happened then” than on the desires and discontents of the present. Strivings and failures shape the stories we tell.
—Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, as quoted in A Darker Wilderness, edited by Erin Sharkey

What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget

—“The Way We Were,” by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, and Marvin Hamlisch (as performed by Barbra Streisand)

It is not clear at what point Tjerck began to keep enslaved workers for his own use. 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 enslaved African people being used as farm and domestic laborers. A shoemaker might keep in bondage a single enslaved person; a farmer might use more. It would be unusual to find more than 6 or 8 enslaved people in a household, and not every household included slaves. Enslavement was not legal in Europe, but European powers allowed it in the colonies they administered. The West India Company kept a number of enslaved captives, beginning (well before Tjerck and his siblings arrived in North America) with some who had been traveling on a foreign vessel captured and brought to New Amsterdam. Some enslaved Africans 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 people who have been captured and enslaved are brought from a variety of places. (By the late 1600s, Madagascar is a source for many.) The WIC leased out its enslaved workers, and private individuals also owned slaves. By the 1700s, enslaved workers 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 his enslaved workers 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.

Sean M. Kelley’s American Slavers: Merchants, Mariners, and the Transatlantic Commerce in Captives, 1644-1865 (Yale University Press, 2023) focuses more on the 1700s but includes research on the Dutch and English practice in New Netherland and New York.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Nine (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.

See 20 October 1670 when Tjerck sells “a house, lot, barn and two stacks” apparently in Kingston to Edward Wittikar (Kingston Papers, p. 687). In the volume of translations in Kingston Papers, this comes right after an undated contract (pp. 685-686) in which Tjerck contracts with Cornelis Cornelissen Van Sterrevelt and Roelof Hendericksen to build a house and barn, possibly on the new land that Governor Lovelace allowed him to build on (24 January 1669/70, or 8 April 1669?), in light of Governor Nicolls previous promise to let him build there. Nicolls was governor 1664-1668, and he confirmed many patents and permits previously issued by the Dutch administration.

In 1671 Tjerck’s name is not on a list of residents of Kingston (KP pp. 461-462).

On 25 June 1672, Governor Lovelace officially deeded Tjerck the land “lying near Kingston in Esopus,” which probably is the land Tjerck originally got from Mme. de Laet in exchange for his Albany house. Tjerck when he moved to Kingston was given one of the new lots inside the village stockade (Stuyvesant made a policy of not letting people live in houses outside the stockade at first, for their protection), but eventually Tjerck had a house built on this land in the Groote Stuck, straddling the Esopus Creek, and he was able to sell his lot in Kingston. (An undated contract for two carpenters to build the house appears in Kingston Papers pp. 685-686 ca. 1669-1670; the contract, now executed, is repeated on 21 August 1673, KP pp. 739-740.)

Since the British administration is new to the territory, it’s sensible for Tjerck to confirm his title to the land.

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.

The British Are Coming

On 29 August, at Fort Amsterdam, a “very distressed and anxious” Stuyvesant and his Colony Council write a somewhat panicky note to Wildwyck, telling the commanding officer there (Cregier now? Nyssen?) that “English ships, four in number, have arrived in the bay yesterday and cast anchor near Nayack [Long Island just opposite Staten Island, today Fort Hamilton, at the base of the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge], intending, as the report goes, to bring first Long and Staten Island under the King’s authority and then attack also this, the principal place” (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 392-393). Stuyvesant would very much appreciate it if Wildwyck would send down all the soldiers they can spare.

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. Fort Amsterdam was renamed Fort James, for the King’s brother, the Duke of York (and future King).

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.)

A couple of sharp changes that take place with the British administration of the colony: First, everyone from the Dutch colony suddenly becomes Dutch, in the eyes of the new government. Anyone non-English must be Dutch, so the folks who before were Frisian or Danish or Prussian or Walloon or Swedish or French or anything else, Lutheran or Dutch Reformed or Huguenot, now are just, to the English, Dutch. (To this day, in Anabaptist communities in Pennsylvania, the casual generic word for something from the modern, non-Amish world, like television or modern clothing styles, is “English,” an echo of this 1600s distinction.)

The second change is highly visible in records and introduces some confusion but never appears to have any significant impact on daily business: The English bring their official calendar, so all dated documents now have two dates—the “New Style,” “N.S.” date, which matches the Gregorian calendar still in use in 2023; and the English “Old Style,” “O.S.,” or Julian calendar, which is 10 days behind the N.S.calendar, so the 4th of the month O.S. is the 14th N.S. In England, also, the new year does not begin until the end of March, so December 1667 is followed by January 1667 O.S., then February and March 1667, then April 1668. This frequently is expressed (for the first three months of the year) January 1667/8, where it is understood that the Dutch would call this 1668, even though the English are still calling it 1667. Not everyone keeping official documents always gets this right.

An additional change is slower to come: The Dutch typically use morgens as a measure of land; the British use acres. For a considerable time, land that was granted by the Dutch in morgans is still described in morgens. When the British deed land, however, they are more likely to describe its size in acres. (See, for example, 6 April 1668 below; large land grants may also come in “English miles,” as on DRCHSNY XIII pp. 402-403. Few of the grants made under Nicolls specify the size of the land being described.)

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.”

Numerous accounts (books and online sources) discuss the details of the handover of New Netherland to the British (and the repercussions over the next few hundred years of Western history); I’ll include just one description for now, that of Rev. Samuel Drisius, in a letter to the Classis of Amsterdam, 15 September 1664 (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 393-394). He says on 26 August “four large men-of-war or frigates” showed up, “well mounted and manned.” They carried “a commission from the King of Great Britain to summon this province to surrender. . . . The people here were not a little frightened.” Much negotiation followed. The Royal Marines were disembarked at Gravesend and then marched “on foot over Long Island to the ferry opposite this place. The frigates came up under full sail on the 4th of September. They had put all their cannons on one side,” facing Manhattan. Stuyvesant, undermanned and facing a shortage of gunpowder, put on a brave show, but the jig was up, and he was persuaded to negotiate terms of surrender, “in order to prevent pillage and bloodshed.” Drisius makes two other observations: “It is stipulated in the articles [of surrender], that the religious teaching shall continue as before and the ministers shall remain. . . . The West India Company owes me quite a sum, which I hope and desire will be paid.”

During the first several months of British administration of the colony, clearly a lot was done and numerous significant decisions were made. Perhaps because everything was still being set up, or perhaps for other reasons, the trail of documents from Manhattan in this period, particularly regarding Wildwyck, is thin. We can see from the council minutes in Wildwyck that changes were being made and communicated to the little village upriver. The garrison of Dutch soldiers who protected the village is replaced by an English garrison, and the seeds of conflict start to germinate. But the English-language documentation has not caught up with what has been published in translations of Dutch records. In Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, the next notable document pertaining to Wildwyck is the English Governor’s renewal of the peace treaty that ended the Esopus conflicts, in October 1665 (see below). The documentary record under Governor Nicolls remains sparse through 1668; as soon as he is replaced by Governor Lovelace, the bureaucratic pace picks up again.

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 (this is the husband of Barbara’s sister Geertruyd Andriessen; they probably live across the river from Fort Orange, at Papscanee). Roelof says he has arrested Foppe Barentsen over the debt, and Foppe “went away.” The record ends there.

On 7 October 1664 (Kingston Papers pp. 543-544), the effects of Aert Pietersen Tack are sold at auction in Wildwyck. Aert apparently left town, probably knowing he was broke. He left behind his wife Annetje Ariaens, a house and lot inside the Wildwyck stockade, farmland outside the town wall adjacent to Tjerck’s at the Groot Stuck, and various goods. (See previous mentions of the story pp. 540-541 and in other places. Annetje goes on to marry Jacob Jansen; see p. 400, 20 March 1668.) Tjerck bids on the farmland, but it’s bought by Sweerus Teunissen (1,130 guilders for 20 morgens; Swerus is from Rensselaerswyck; deed is recorded on pp. 652-653; see p. 546 when Sweerus leases it to Hendrick Aertsen and Jan Barentsen Kunst, for 250 guilders a year; the tenants agree to build a barn on it, and also get the house in town, which Sweerus bought for 365 guilders, as part of the bargain; also see “Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Eight” above, when Sweerus buys a nearby 20 morgens from Pieter Hillebrants on 9 November 1666 that used to belong to Tjerck, pp. 620-621; Tjerck has borrowed money from Sweerus previously; see 8 March 1667 below, p. 339, when he is asked to pay it back; Swerus Teunisen is Van Vessen, p. 714, when he sells farm, 7 February 1672 N.S.). Tjerck buys an “old mare” for 242 guilders; he bids on the “young mare,” but doesn’t win (Aert Jacobsen wins at 238 guilders). He buys a cow for 111 guilders.

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.

Worth noting, because it comes up again, with increasing urgency: The terms of surrender between the Dutch and the English specified that in Manhattan soldiers would not be quartered in regular houses, so long as there was room for them in the fort. In places like Wildwyck, where there was no regular housing for soldiers (Dutch or English), presumably the rule would not apply. Eventually Governor Nicolls (see 6 April 1668 below) sets aside land strictly for the soldiers, and under Governor Lovelace shortly thereafter a “furthest New Dorp” is set up, which eventually becomes Marbletown. This is set at a considerable remove from Wildwyck/Kingston, and reduces off-duty contact between villagers and soldiers even more. Eventually we see families intermarrying between these communities, including DeWitts.

On October 21-26 1664, in Manhattan (DRCHSNY II pp. 74-77), most male residents were required to take an oath of allegiance to England (specifically the King). A Johannes De Witt is on this list; Martin Hoffman does not appear. Lucas Andriezen is on the list. No such oath is recorded in Wildwyck at this time.

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.

On 30 October 1664 (Kingston Papers pp. 548-549), Tjerck buys two cows, “one having borne six, the other three calves,” from Jan Jacobsen De Vries, “resident of the Manhatans,” who promises to send the cows to Tjerck “in March next or with the first ship.” The transaction is recorded in Wildwyck (Kingston), so presumably Jan was in town to make the deal. Tjerck will pay 140 schepels of oats for the cows, to be sent down to Manhattan on the same ship that brings the cows up. The contract specifies that Tjerck takes on any risk of ownership “as soon as the seller shall have put them on board.” Presumably if anything happens to them before that, during the coming winter, Jan takes the loss. (To this day this type of condition is typically spelled out in a commercial transaction.)

As the English take over the colony, conflict, confusion, and miscommunication among the Dutch and English begin almost immedately. On 3 November 1664 (Kingston Papers pp. 176-177), a few Dutch townsfolk come down to the river bank to use a canoe, and the English guards who have been posted at the redoubt to keep watch over the canoes resist. Firearms are brandished, threats are made, and a minor physical altercation takes place before the Dutch are able to communicate to the English that this is their own canoe and they should be allowed to use it. On consideration (p. 180), the Schout fines the Dutch settlers for the violence. (See “Boats and Canoes” above for more discussion of “ownership” of canoes and situations when the Dutch may have considered it simply fine to take any canoe that was available.)

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. This case comes up again at the end of the winter, on 10 April 1665 below (p. 226).

Johanna De Laet at this session (p. 173) asks for 30 schepels of wheat from the proceeds of “the judicial sale of the effects of Cornelis Barenten Slecht.” The council instructs Roelof Swartwout, who conducted the auction (“vendue”) to pay her. (Auction was 9 May 1664, KP pp. 538-540; see above.) Then Juffrou De Laet produces a copy of the council minutes from 28 March 1662, when council members Tjerck, Albert Gysbertsen (now deceased), Evert Pels, and Allert Heymans Roos (also the church’s Consistory) “took it upon themselves to pay.” The council says she should address the issue with those individuals. Swartwout brings this up again on p. 176 (same session), asking that the new Schout, Willem Beeckman, be tasked with collecting payment from the buyers from that vendue who have not yet paid.

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. Or: Was this a horse that Albert Gysbertsen bought either from Ida’s estate or someone else’s estate, and Tjerck is trying to collect in the name of the estate?) 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 (probably 7 April?), 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. This probably is the horse that is re-sold at a second aucion 3 December 1664 (p. 551).

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.) See 16 December below for Gysbert’s complaint that Tjerck is paying him just dribs and drabs.

On 20 November 1664 (Kingston Papers p. 549), Tjerck and Evert Pels (who are administrators together of the estate of Tjerck’s sister Ida and brother-in-law Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck), together with Henderick Jochemsen (who is the appointed “guardian of the minor children” of Jan Albertsen, probably from a previous marriage), sign over title to the lot Jan and Ida owned in Wildwyck, which was bought by Jeronimus Ebbingh on 1 December 1663 (at the estate auction). Frequently Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck, who evidently is one of the children of Jan Albertsen, will sign documents like this as a witness, although he is not a direct party to the transaction. In this case, he does not. (See an apparently unfinished lease contract between “Albert Govertsen from Steenwyck” and Evert Pels, pp. 550-551, 3 December 1664, which might be a misnomer for Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck.) The price paid for the lot is not named in the deed, and no house is mentioned; Jan and Ida’s house is generally understood to have been burned in the June 1663 attack on Kingston when the couple were killed, together with their toddler daughter. The deed does mention “opstal” on the lot, which might refer to a shed, or the ruins of the house, or some other minor improvements like a fence or, as Versteeg puts it, “structures of small value.” The lot is a corner lot, with Frederick Philipsen to the north and streets on the south and east. (See below at 8 August 1671 where Phlipsen and Tjerck and Martin Hoffman, one of Tjerck’s brothers-in-law, are involved in some transaction together; Phlipsen and Ebbingh are both Manhattan merchants and well off; see 3 December 1663 too.) Lot line to the north is 8 rods, 3 1/2 feet; to the south is 7 rods, 3 feet; to the east street frontage is 5 rods 5 inches, and to the west (the document does not describe who is to the west) 5 rods.

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 town council (KP, p. 188), Gysbert Van Imbroch, who is a current council member (and the village doctor), 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 council orders Tjerck to pay “in such grain as he has received of plaintiff.” See 26 February 1664, above, and 18 November as well, and 20 January 1665 below; the debt apparently arises from “liquor furnished at the public auction” of the effects of two villagers who were killed in the Esopus attack in June 1663. Tjerck is an administrator of their estates.

On Tuesday 16 December 1664 (Kingston Papers p. 190), Allert Heymans Roose “requests that Tjerck Claesen, Albert Gysbertsen [deceased now] 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”; Allert says he has “sustained much damage.” The court says it issued a decree about this previously, but doesn’t come up with the date. (On 6 March 1663, pp. 63-64, Hendrick Jochemse, who had some farmland “near the wood opposite the Kill,” requested that adjacent property owners be ordered to fence in their pastures; the council agreed and issued the order. In October 1663, p. 88, the council instructed lot owners inside the stockade to repair their fences. See further discussion of fences below on 7 July 1665, p. 243, when Evert Pels complains about having to chase pigs off his field, twice, because Aert Martensen Doorn’s fence needs to be repaired; Tjerck is asked at that time, with others, to inspect the situation, as well as being appointed a regular fence inspector. The commission is renewed, p. 297, on 18 May 1666.)

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 29 December 1664, Roelof Swartwout sells various farming implements at auction (Kingston Papers pp. 552-553); Tjerck buys a bore and an adze for 12 guilders.


On Tuesday 6 January 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 193), Juriaen Westphael asks Tjerck, as curator, for a final accounting of Henderick Looman’s estate. Henderick Looman was killed in the June 1663 attack on Wildwyck; he was a brewer’s helper, apparently living at the house (probably brewery) of Juriaen Westphael. Because he had no heirs when he died, the council appointed Tjerck and Albert Gysbertsen (now deceased) to administer his estate (see 18 September 1663 above, pp. 74-75). On 23 October the estate was caught in the conflict between the council and the church Consistory over who should administer it. On 21 November, Juriaen warned that since he was stabling a horse for the estate, expenses were likely to pile up quickly. On 22 July 1664 (p. 158), when Juriaen asked the curators for 127 schepels of wheat to settle debts owed, Tjerck and Albert said there were more creditors than money in the estate. At this time, rather than closing the estate, the council notes that “there are some debtors to said estate living at Fort Orange,” and asks that they be written to. On 3 and 10 February 1665, a sale of Looman’s effects is discussed; Tjerck is said to have taken some money from the estate (pp. 203, 210). Apparently the estate sale was more than a year ago, so probably in late 1663 or early 1664. On 17 February (below) Tjerck asks to be relieved of his duties, particularly because his co-curator has died.

At the same council session (Kingston Papers p. 194), the Schout brings charges against Foppe Barents; he says “that last Saturday [3 January] during the evening, a soldier Ridsert Keesschie [Richard Kaysky?] complained to him that Foppe Barents has bothered him and called him names in his quarters.” We learn on 20 January (p. 198) that the soldier is quartered at Tjerck’s house. Foppe “first said not to care a snap for all the English, and that the English soldiers had come hither for the purpose of plaguing the farmers, and to rob the country, and he further said, ‘When spring comes, we shall kill all of you,’ and while passing through the house, he snapped his nails against his teeth, saying to care as much for the English and for their King.” Foppe denies the accusation.

Tjerck misses a council appearance on Tuesday 20 January 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 195), to which Willem Beckman (the Schout) and Gysbert Van Imbroch have summoned him over various issues. The Schout would like to hear direct testimony from Tjerck about the accusations against Foppe Barents, since the insults took place at Tjerck’s house. Tjerck apparently said at the first summons (p. 198) “that he had no time because his help was in the woods,” and on his second summons, when the messenger said he must come “or that the court would fetch him,” he said “that he could not come, ‘but if the court [wants to] fetch me, it knows where I live,’ whereupon the court sent the officer for him, but did not find him at home.” Because “he obstinately refuses to appear,”  the council fines him 50 guilders for contempt. Tjerck rather pointedly misses an appearance again on 27 January.

Gysbert Van Imbroch’s complaint, it turns out (Kingston Papers p. 210), after Tjerck ignores two more summonses, is that Tjerck owes Van Imbroch 31 guilders “as curator for the estate of Henderick Looman . . . for liquor furnished at the public auction of Looman’s and Seba’s effects.” Van Imbroch notes that Tjerck “has taken some money . . . from the estate of Looman, and [Van Imbroch], for more than a year, has been left unpaid.” This is not Gysbert’s only claim against Tjerck; see 16 December 1664 above, and other dates named there, as well as 3 February below.

On Wednesday 28 January 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 202), a great alarm is raised because Captain Manning at Fort Orange has sent a note to Christoffel Berrisfort, Commander of the Militia at Wildwyck, saying “that about 3,000 savages were to appear at Fort Orange,” presumably to attack the fort. At Wildwyck, “a savage has examined the palisades around the village,” so everyone is concerned. The ground is too hard to put up new palisades to reinforce the stockade walls, but a joint meeting of the town council and the War Council decides that on the 29th “the burghers shall be called to arms,” and the palisades will be improved with breastworks, and the local English garrison will be activated, “being four men for each of the three principal points.” (Does this mean the garrison is 12 soldiers?) John Charp, “an English soldier, shall be employed as assistant-gunner for the cannon in the village.” Nothing further seems to come of this alarm. See 2 April, pp. 25-26, for another similar alarm.

On Tuesday 3 February 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 203), Tjerck again skips a council meeting to which he has been summoned; it’s not clear whether he’s busy and shorthanded (as he claimed on 20 January) or just doesn’t want to appear. By the end of the meeting he seems to have shown up at last. The list of people who would like to see him has grown: Willem Beeckman, Juriaen Westphael, Gysbert Van Imbroch, Thomas Chambers, Arent Jansen, Willem Beeckman (again). Willem Beeckman makes a claim against Tjerck for 206 guilders “for the auction of Frederick Claesen’s and other expenses”; the reference is obscure. If “Frederick” is a misreading for “Tjerck,” it sounds as if the Schout has sold at court-ordered auction a horse that belonged to Tjerck, in order to raise funds to pay debts that the council had judged to be overdue. Even so, the account is still confusing. Tjerck “admits the debt but says not to be able to pay in wheat.”

At the same 3 February session (p. 203), Gysbert Imbroch still wants 30 guilders “for expenses incurred at the sale of Henderick Looman’s effects.” He notes again that Tjerck has taken some money from the estate. (See 20 January above, p. 210.)

In response to Domine Blom’s annual complaint about insufficient salary (pp. 205-206), the Schout goes after a few villagers for non-payment of church dues; Tjerck, the Lutheran, is required to pay a share of the salary of Blom, who preaches the Dutch Reformed faith. Beeckman, the Schout, wants 101 guilders in beavers plus 39 guilders in “heavy money” from Tjerck. Tjerck says he is willing to carry out the obligation, but right now he can’t do more. The council instructs the Schout “to proceed against” Tjerck, probably meaning to sell more of Tjerck’s property, noting that “for the past three years” (i.e. under the Dutch as well as the English), the fee for the Dutch Reformed minister was set at 1 guilder per morgan of farmland. See p. 209, which restates the 14 August 1664 council edict under Stuyvesant.

The Schout also wants to be paid his fine for contempt of court (see 20 January above); Tjerck says he has no intent of paying (Kingston Papers p. 206). But he does allow himself to be examined over the insults Foppe Barent has allegedly been tossing in the direction of Richard Keesey. Tjerck says what he heard was Foppe saying “You [English] are here with the farmers to get something to eat, and they themselves haven’t got anything to eat.” Tjerck acknowledges that Foppe snapped his teeth with his nail, but says he never mentioned the King, and Tjerck is willing to take an oath to that effect.

On 4 February 1665 (Kingston Papers pp. 206-209), Aert Jacobsen and his wife Annetje Gerrets complain to a special session of the council that “Christoffel Berrisfort and five English soldiers . . . entered their house fully armed and took from them by violence a ham”;  Daniel Botterwout wounded Annetje in the arm “while he was cutting loose the ham in the presence of the court-messenger Jacob Joosten.” Aert apparently has been quartering a soldier, Thomas Marcham, and Aert says that on 29 January he gave him “provisions for a whole week” and confirmed with him they were enough. Then Marcham (apparently stationed down by the river, at the redoubt) “sent Samuel Olivier for bread which [Aert] gave him,” and then Tomas Elger “for meat and pork.” Aert and Annetje turned down Elger, saying they had already given. Juriaen Westphael and his wife add a similar complaint; “their” soldier is Edward French. For a week at the Redoubt they had given him on 29 January “nine lbs. of meat and pork, a loaf of bread weighing eight lbs. and two heads of cabbage,” which French said was enough. Tomas Elger also came to Jurian’s house demanding more. The court scolds Christoffel Berrisfort, commander of the garrison, and requests him to bring all the English soldiers to the court at 8 p.m. the following day in order to read them again the instructions given to the garrison by Governor Nicolls, “to prevent any disasters.” On 5 February the council draws up an official protest expressing fear that continued treatment of this sort could end up in “disasters and rebellion,” which they wish to avoid. (The Schout further complains that “this morning, after the drummer had drummed off the guard, the entire corporal’s guard which had had the watch last night” had come to his house with Pieter Gillissen “who is under arrest,” and got the Schout out of bed to get Pieter discharged and take off his shackles. The Schout wants him back under arrest. The court messenger reports that Pieter has taken off into the woods with Roelof Swartwout.) On 20 February (p. 218), the council sends a formal request to the Governor that he provision his soldiers better with meat and pork, to avoid similar future conflicts, as well as gunpowder “for the security of this place.” (Note that as of 20 February, the river is still not navigable, from midwinter ice.)

At a regular council meeting on Tuesday 10 February 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 210), Tjerck again ignores summonses from Gysbert van Imbroch, Thomas Chambers, Juriaen Westphael and Arent Jansen. Arent wants “91 [schepels] of wheat which he has earned with [Tjerck] by working, and says that he [Arent] has nothing to dress himself, and not to be able to satisfy others, his creditors.” The court instructs the Schout, Willem Beeckman to proceed with the execution (i.e. seizing and auctioning property) against Tjerck for 206 guilders owed. (Something is missing here. See also p. 260, 24 November 1665, when Arent asks the council to proceed with execution for 54 schepels of wheat based on the judgement of 17 February, p. 215, which mostly echoes the 10 February judgement.) On 3 March (p. 225), Gysbert asks the council to proceed with “execution” for his claim, and the council instructs the Schout to act on that debt as well. (Separately, note that at this meeting we see the church Consistory has two more new members, Willem Beeckman and Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh, p. 212.)

On 11 February 1665 (Kingston Papers pp. 212-213), Tjerck signs a promissory note before witnesses Thomas Chambers and Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh, confirming that owes 11 guilders “in good merchantable winter wheat” to Swerus Teunissen of Rensselaerswyck, “on account of a cow bought by [Tjerck] from the estate of Aert Pietersen Tack.” (See 7 October 1664 above; Tack is the one who “absented” himself from Wildwyck when his debts got too burdensome, leaving his wife to sell what he had and sort out the rest.) Interest rate is 10% per year, starting 18 November 1664; Tjerck promises to pay on 18 November 1665.

On 17 February 1665, in a council meeting at Kingston (Kingston Papers, pp. 214-215), 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.” (See 6 January above, and other dates indicated there.) At the same meeting, Juriaen Westphael again badgers Tjerck for “payment coming to him from the estate” of Looman, and Tjerck once more notes that until accounts at Fort Orange are settled, the estate cannot be liquidated. At last the council heeds Tjerck’s request, “because the liquidation does not properly take place and the estate is not administered to the satisfaction of the creditors.” Jacob Burhans and Aert Jacobsen are appointed in Tjerck’s place, and Tjerck is ordered to pass over the account books and other paperwork to them. (On 3 March, p. 225, Jacob Burhans begs off because of his age, and Roelof Swartwout is handed the baton.)

On Tuesday 3 March 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 224), Evert Pels, as curator for the estate of Tjerck’s brother-in-law Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck, is working through a series of unsettled debts owed to the estate. He asks Evert Prys for 64 guilders “as per book,” probably meaning it shows up in Jan’s account book as unpaid. Prys says Tjerck already paid this, “per his order.” The council instructs Prys to pay as requested, and says he can settle up with Tjerck some other time. See 10 April below (p. 227). (Evert Prys, perhaps Price, is probably with the English garrison in town; he is referred to 23 January 1667 (p. 384) as Jan Joosten’s soldier, in other words the soldier who is quartered with Jan Joosten. Prys does other side jobs: See 8 and 15 October 1667, pp. 370 and 375, when he apparently is a “servant” or assistant to Reyner Van Coelen in collecting excise taxes on liquor sales, and may be living with him as well.)

On 2 April 1665, in a special session (Kingston Papers pp. 225-226), a “savage has warned us that the Esopus savages are planning mischief against our village.” Watches are alerted, and the gates are “properly provided, for the purpose of being closed.”

On 10 April 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 226), Tjerck also faced Peter Stuyvesant himself, apparently right there in the court room, over payment for a cow Tjerck had bought from Stuyvesant. This goes back to 18 November 1664, when Stuyvesant wanted his money or to have the cow back. Tjerck admits he owes, “and requests time” since he’s short on resources. Stuyvesant says time’s up. Tjerck asks the council to appoint two people to appraise a cow from his stable for return to Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant has claims against some other villagers in the same session. Apparently the river is open now for navigation.

In the same 10 April session (pp. 227-228), Evert Prys revisits his 3 March dispute with Evert Pels, as curator of the estate of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck. He still wants the estate to erase the debt, because he says Tjerck paid it. Pels says if Tjerck will swear he paid 20 schepels of wheat, he will reimburse Prys (who was instructed to pay the original debt on 3 March). Tjerck is not willing to swear to it, “but says that he is able to prove, through his brother [is Jan Claesen DeWitt in town?], that he took the wheat to Jan Albertsen’s. This is all at least a couple of years ago. Council says that if Tjerck won’t swear he paid it, Prys still owes it and can’t be reimbursed. This comes before the council again on 24 November 1665 (pp. 259-260), when Tjerck explains that back when this originally happened, and Jan recorded the debt in his account book, Prys “received some cans of brandy” from Jan (Tjerck’s brother-in-law). That's why Jan recorded the sale. Jan’s account book evidently still shows the debt as unpaid, which is why Evert Pels is trying to collect it—to square up all of Jan’s accounts, so the estate can be closed. Tjerck says he paid the 20 schepels of wheat to Jan, for the brandy (for reasons unspecified). Prys agrees “it is true that he has received wine, but he knows not how much.”  He adds that “he settled with Jan . . . according to his book,” and he asks Tjerck for proof that he [Prys] received more wine than Jan’s book shows. Tjerck says he can come up with proof. The council says that unless Tjerck (and Prys) can show something more clear, their judgement of 10 March (that Prys still owes the debt) stands. On 8 December (pp. 264-265), Tjerck produces “a certificate signed by Ariaen Gerretsen and Jan Jansen Van Oosterhout” stating that Prys “got one day, between morning and night, at several times, in an earthen can made to contain two pints of beer,” some brandy from Jan. Prys agrees he got the brandy, in the can, but regarding the quantity, he refers again to Jan’s account book. Prys continues to maintain that Tjerck already paid, once, for all the brandy he bought that day. Tjerck seems to be trying to suggest that maybe Prys bought more than what Tjerck paid for. The council repeats that their judgement of 10 March stands.

Carrying forward with the complicated estate in the same 10 April 1665 session (Kingston Papers p. 228), Dievertje Volkerts, wife of Pieter Jansen Van Hoorn, has a note that says Jan Albertsen got 250 guilders from Douwe Meyndertsen. (Apparently Douwe signed the I.O.U. over to Pieter?) Dievertje says 80 guilders “Dutch money” is still owed on the note. Curators (Evert Pels and Tjerck) and heirs all agree that Jan didn’t get “any more for the 250 gldrs. Dutch money than 200 gldrs., and that there is a balance of 50 gldrs., and say that they have a receipt for the same.” Council says either produce the receipt or pay the larger amount. This request refers back to the power of attorney that Pieter gave to Jan on 22 August 1661 (see above) when Jan was planning to sail to Europe; Jan on that trip apparently was not able to collect fully on the amount Pieter said he should get in Hoorn. The money, according to Pieter Jansen, was supposed to be given to Jan by Mr. Pieter Folckertsz, schoolmaster in Hoorn. It is not clear whether Pieter Folckerts and Dievertje Volkerts are sister and brother. Later, on 26 January 1666 (pp. 273-274), Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck, no doubt the son of Tjerck’s deceased brother-in-law, “as attorney for Pieter Jansen Van Hoorn” asks Tjerck and Marten Hofman (another brother-in-law) for 30 schepels of wheat, from the estate of Jan Albertsen. See also 29 December 1665 (p. 268), and 6 April 1666 (p. 290), when Martin Hoffman seeks an attachment against funds that “friends” of Jan Albertsen in Europe may have.

And Marten Hofman comes before the council (again: River must be open for navigation now!), and asks for a copy of the accounting of the estate to date (Kingston Papers p. 228, still 10 April 1665). Everyone agrees to sit down with him, with two witnesses, to show what’s been done so far, “and what remains.” On the 17th, before he heads back to Manhattan (pp. 560-561, O.S. 7 April), the estate administrators and guardian—Tjerck, Evert Pels, Henderick Jochemsen—give Marten Hofman, “co-heir” of the estate (since he is married to Ida and Tjerck’s sister Emmerentje), a power of attorney “for the purpose of collecting and demanding such amounts and moneys of such persons living on on near the Manhattans, or of those who, coming from Fort Orange, he should meet on the Manhattans” who still owe money to the estate, “as it has been shown to him in a list made up from the [account] book of the deceased . . . to pass a receipt for the payment,” or to take court action to enforce the debt if necessary.

Hoffman and Stuyvesant probably head down river again on the same ship 18 April; see statement Hoffman witnesses 3 December 1665 on a return trip (Kingston Papers p. 584), confirming that Stuyvesant granted his farm in Wildwyck to his son, Niclaes Willem Stuyvesant during this visit.

A special session on Monday 20 April 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 229) considers a fresh letter from the Governor. He is planning a visit. He has instructed the town to be careful to keep all “small gates” in the stockade wall “firmly” closed. He would like to meet with the principals of the indigenous villages to review any claims they have on land, so that he can resolve them. At the same session arrangements are made for bidding out the job of taking care of the town’s cattle.

On Tuesday 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). (Does this take place during the Governor’s visit?)

In a special session on 18 May 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 232), Mr. Berrisfort (Beresford?), commander of the English garrison, complains that his soldiers are quartered among “common people who have no food”; he wants to move them to be quartered with “farmers who are provided with more food.” The farmers, when consulted, complain that they don’t have much food either, particularly meat and pork. Tjerck is already on record as quartering at least one soldier. (See 3 and 4 February 1665 above for discussion of hungry soldiers demanding food, and which soldiers have been quartered with which townsfolk. See also 2 March 1666 below, when Tjerck won’t give “his” soldier enough food and as a result the village gate leading to the fields below town is closed for everyone. Note that on 7 July 1665, p. 243, Evert Pels complains about 30 pigs belonging to Aert Martensen Doorn; Tjerck raises pigs too, which are accused of causing damage to crops; see pp. 190, 107-8, 91.) It is resolved that “those having some wealth shall be burdened with a second soldier” until further developments. (See also p. 233 where we see Daniel Botterwout is the soldier staying with Allert Heymans Roose. We see issues here of the right to bear arms. That plus the quartering of soldiers both made their way into the Bill of Rights more than 100 years later.) Berrisfort is planning to arrest Allert Heymans Roose for making trouble and send him down to Manhattan for trial. (Roose and friends, p. 234, say the problem was that Botterwout came home drunk and started demanding things Roose didn’t have, then started looking for a fight. See also p. 236 where “it was rumored that the soldiers had chased Allert Heymans’ wife and children out of the house.”) Cornelis Barentsen Slecht complains that “his soldier” sometimes brings home three or four others “and forces [Cornelis] to draw for them the good beer.” Cornelis is afraid to refuse. Berrisfort says he will tell the soldier not to do this anymore (p. 233).

On 2 June 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 236), Tjerck is referred to as a sergeant of the militia. So he has served (and will again serve) as a member of the town council, as a fence warden, and as a sergeant of the militia—in addition to pasturing cattle for other village folk, doing some carpentry, mistreating his helpers, and raising more kids than he can shake a stick at. See 23 June below (pp. 240-241) for Tjerck’s observations as he settles into his role as sergeant. (On 16 July 1665, p. 243, we see Thomas Chambers as captain of the Burgher Guard, and Tjerck and Cornelis Barentsen Slecht as the sergeants.)

Tuesday 23 June 1665 (Kingston Papers pp. 239-240) we learn a little more about Tjerck, his trade, and who works for him. Severyn Tenhout says Tjerck has “beaten and pushed” him, both while he’s working for Tjerck and when he’s in the guard house, and he wants to be paid for his work and released from his contract. Tjerck says he “ordered [Severyn] to drill holes in the railing of the hill and that [Severyn] left his work and went to the barn, on which account [Tjerck] followed him, in order to make him return to the work which [Severyn was] not . . . willing to do; [Tjerck] slapped him two or three times about the ears. [Tjerck] further says that he ordered [Severyn] to peel the first and while [Tjerck] was absent, [Severyn] left his work, and went to have a talk with Pieter Hillebrants, whence either [Tjerck’s] servant girl or wife went to fetch him.”  Tjerck requests that Severyn be made to “serve out with him his legal time.” Severyn says Tjerck “first struck him while he was drilling holes in the railing of the hill, because [Severyn] did not understand boring very well, not being a carpenter.” Tjerck says he’ll give Severyn other work; Severyn still would like to be released, “on account of the bad treatment by his master.” The council tells Severyn he’s still obliged to work for Tjerck, but also admonishes Tjerck to treat Severyn decently, “as a helper ought to be treated,” and says if Tjerck “shall again improperly treat” Severyn, Tjerck will have to pay him his full wages and release him. See also 17 April 1668 (p. 406), when Tjerck is accused by Tomas Van Mercken of giving him a beating instead of payment for his work. Tjerck says Tomas behaved very improperly when he was beaten, threw a cup of beer in the fire and left his job “about six weeks before the expiration of his time.” See also 21 April 1668 (p. 407), when the Schout accuses Severyn of drawing a knife against Tjerck on 4 April, after Severyn on 23 January says Tjerck owes him extra wages for time missed during harvest (p. 383). (See also p. 285, 16 March 1666, when Severyn is presented with a laundry bill by Lysbeth Graffort, either 6 or 7 or 9 schepels of wheat for a year’s washing. See also p. 444, 31 May 1670, when Jan Thyssen complains that he hired Severyn for two months and Severyn for two months and Severyn skipped out three weeks early.)

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Along with indoor plumbing, podcasts, and the Hammond B3 organ, one of the profound cultural developments of late modern living is the ubiquity of light sources. London didn’t get gas lamps on its streets until 1802. Hitchcock’s Gaslight wasn't released until 1944. In 1665 a night watch on uncobbled lanes in a remote colony village would have had limited options for lighting his way when there was no moon or when clouds obscured the stars. Candles were expensive and impractical for walking outdoors. Lanterns were a possibility. On 23 June 1665 (Kingston Papers pp. 240-241), newly appointed Sergeant of the Civic Guard Tjerck Claesen De Wit observes that on a moonless night, when villagers allow their cows to meander unmolested on the footpaths and byways of the town, the appointed watch may on occasion be obstructed from the faithful completion of his sworn duties, and further, “in time of need or alarm,” the gentle creatures might obstruct the speedy assembly of the townsfolk.

Keep in mind the physical layout of the town of Wildwyck: A stockade wall (“curtain wall”) made of “palisades” surrounds the village, which is divided into lots. Each lot has room for a house but also a fairly substantial garden (“bouwerie”), which could be used for growing vegetables or hanging laundry, for letting livestock wander or keeping an eye on children. Larger fields and pasturage were outside the town, and every morning farmers would issue from the town gates to go work their fields. Typically a community cowherd was designated to take most of the cattle out to pasture; sometimes other arrangements were made. (This comes up from time to time in court records, where someone complains that the cowherd wasn’t doing his job right.) Because there were wolves and panthers and bears and other threats to slow-moving livestock, typically the cattle would be herded back into the village at night, for individual owners to get evening and morning milk. Within the town, most lots were not fenced; dirt roads separated rows of lots and led to the village gates. (Lots that were set against the town wall frequently were equipped with unauthorized doors or gaps between palings that would let the owners slip and and out of town without having to walk all the way to the main gate.)

Tjerck calls this situation to the attention of the town council, which passes a new directive. The record shows that the council has “heard complaints that the round cannot, by night, freely and without obstructions pass along the streets, because the cattle are lying here and there in and about the streets . . . for fear of stumbling and falling over said cattle lying down during dark nights”; a fine of one “daelder” is assessed for anyone letting their cattle roam henceforth. Further, the council, “finding that some residents, here, do not scruple to obstruct the streets with firewood, lumber, wagons . . . even keeping and putting them in the middle of the street,” also directs everyone to “clear the street of the aforementioned obstructions.”

This is not the last time this will come up. See 23 June 1671 (Kingston Papers p. 464), when the council orders villagers to clear stumps and loose wood from their yards and “the Lord’s streets,” and furthermore “nobody is further permitted to leave any animals at night on the streets, because the streets cannot be used at night on account hereof.” Fine is 10 guilders for first offense, 20 for second, TBD by council after that.

Possibly worth a consideration: The whole purpose of a night watch is to see things, at night, in the dark, when others are sleeping. Cows and wagons typically are pretty large. Even by moonlight a good watch, if he were expected to spot brigands lying in wait to perform dastardly acts, might also be able to identify a cow before “stumbling and falling over” the slow-moving lump. Every one of us probably has stumbled over something we should have seen, sometimes even in broad daylight. And a proliferation of cows might have made it hard to get through some streets. But it’s also possible, on these dirt paths, that what was hard to see at night was not just the cows, but also, possibly, the traces that cows leave behind them, liquid and solid, which are smaller and might be missed by a watchman in worn-out boots. Removing the cows from the public thoroughfare would also help reduce these smaller indignities. Nobody complained about them, specifically. But they might help resolve the puzzle of why the council would feel it was important to remove large, lumbering beasts from the roads in order that keen-eyed watchmen might not stumble and fall over them.

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?]. New Amsterdam going forward is now known as New York.

(Nicolls in 1665 refers to the area as “the Esopes” and “the Sopes”; see below. According to the Ulster Historical Society Collections from 1860, Volume I Part 1 p. 51, Governor Lovelace [who succeeded Nicolls in August 1668] established a commission to found two new villages, laid out by Henry Pawling; commissioners were appointed 11 September 1669, and on 17 September they “proceeded to organize two new villages, the furthest one of which they named Marbletown, from the abundance of limestone found there, and the nearest one Hurley, from the name of Lovelace’s ancestral home on the Thames, in Berkshire, England. On the 25th of September ‘the town formerly called Sopes was named Kingston’ by the commissioners. This was also in compliment to Lovelace, whose father had married the widow of William Hyde, of Kingston Lisle, near Wantage in Berkshire.” See Colonial Manuscripts, XXII, 99, 1-27; see also pp. 71-72 of Collections, identifying Hurley as the location of the “Nieuw Dorp” settlement that was built under Dutch administration.)

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. (See notes on double dating at the top of this page.)

On Tuesday 7 July 1665 in a regular council session (Kingston Papers p. 243), Evert Pels “protests against” Aert Martensen Doorn “on account of damage and expense suffered and yet to be suffered through the pigs which came through [Doorn’s] fence, because [Pels] last Friday chased 23 pigs off his land, of which he notified [Doorn], and yesterday, being Monday, he chased more than 30 pigs off his sowed land, and requests compensation for the suffered damage . . . that his grain may be examined and the damages to the same appraised.” Doorn says there’s no way his pigs can get through his fence, and says anyone can come look at it. The council appoints Tjerck, together with Aert Jacobsen and Juriaen Westphael, to go have a look at both Pels’ and Doorn’s fences, and to appraise any damage to Pels’ wheat, and furthermore, “Whereas it becomes necessary to examine the fences around the lands under Wildwyck, so that no damage be caused to the sown crops by pigs or cattle,” the council appoints the same three “as examiners of the fences . . . to examine the same every 14 days or three weeks, and to fine the negligent.” Note that this is for the pasturage outside of the town walls. (Note also that two of three of these fence examiners have themselves been accused as recently as 16 December 1664, above, of not keeping their farms fenced, with resulting damage to their neighbors’ crops.) Gradually both inside and outside the village, the sense of common village use of land is fading, and it’s becoming desirable to have more fixed divisions between properties. Fences come up again on 18 May 1666, when Tjerck and Aert Doorn are asked to arbitrate the dispute. On 22 June 1666 (pp. 298-300), Tjerck actually has to take action as fence examiner to cause a fence to be repaired. On 2 November 1666 (p. 307), the fence examiners again are summoned, to assess the value of 16 schepels of white peas and 10 schepels of oats that have been damaged by pigs. By 6 September 1667 (p. 359, see below) the balance has shifted subtly: Willem Beeckman asks the council to require Roelof Swartwout to fence his field to keep other people’s animals out, rather than having other people build fences to keep their livestock in. Note that the fence examiners, in addition to checking the condition of fences, quite regularly are asked also to assess the value of crop damages when animals get into the wrong fields. (In October 1670 the council gets around to delineating the duties of this position, pp. 449-450.)

At the same meeting on 7 July (Kingston Papers p. 243), reference is made to “meeting the savages,” but it appears that some part of the story is left out (see 16 July below). Thomas Chambers is instructed “to keep watch at nighttime with a full corporal’s guard in both guardhouses until further notice.” See 14 November 1664 and 28 January and 2 April 1665 above for further notes on recent anxieties among the settlers regarding the possibility of renewed hostility from the people whose land they appropriated to establish their village and farms.

A special meeting is held Thursday 16 July 1665 including Commander of the Troops Christoffel Berrisfort, the Burgher Guards, and the usual town council members and Schout (Kingston Papers pp. 243-244). The record says that on 7 July “it was resolved . . . that from now on no more savages shall be admitted into the village,” but the record of that resolution does not appear in these minutes. Apparently already on 8 July Berrisfort’s soldiers had already violated the order. The convoluted excuse: “because they had heard that it was said to be their fault that the savages shall no longer be permitted to enter.” The combined meeting agrees that particularly “because harvest time is approaching, and the greater portion of the population are obliged to attend to the labor on the fields,” no Esopus men will be allowed into the village, although women and children will be allowed in, “for the purpose of buying necessaries.” Berrisfort complains that the villagers are telling the Esopus who want to come into the village that this is all the fault of the English soldiers, so the council instructs villagers not to discuss the reason for the ban with anyone, “much less accuse the soldiers,” but rather to “bridle their tongue” and answer “not to know about this.” From the descriptions, it sounds as if this all arose from some contact between some Esopus locals and a few of the Europeans “near Twaalfs Kil”: Mr. Bolus and Richard Cage, who are British, and Henderick Palingh, who signs his name “Henry Pawling” (see for example 2 November 1665, p. 579) and probably is also English.

Monday 27 July 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 245) we see another special meeting of the council. Governor Nicolls in Manhattan has sent a letter dated 12 July (Old Style, so 22 July New Style; it would have been in response to a letter sent to him possibly 7 July or less likely 16 July that is not in the Kingston Papers record; it may be in one of the Documentary History volumes). Nicolls, for the safety of the village, has instructed “that during the harvest only one gate in the village shall be open, and the others remain closed.” Mr. Berresfort, commander of the British garrison, has been invited to the council meeting. The council requests, in light of Nicolls’ order, and since the harvest is already in gear, that the Mill Gate (on the south side of town, leading to the fields that are often described as “below Wildwyck” and to the Nieuw Dorp, where Hurley is today) be left open with a guard, “because through [this gate] most of the crops will have to be brought in,” and that the Strand Gate (on the east side of town, which opens onto the road that leads to the Hudson landing on the “Strand,” at the redoubt, about two and a half miles away) be the one left closed. Few villagers need to use the Strand Gate on a day-to-day basis. Berresfort answers “that he will not withdraw his troops from the Strandgate on account of the road leading to the Strand, and that the Millgate . . . shall be closed during the harvest.” The notes from the meeting suggest some astonishment on the part of the council and townspeople. reiterating that the Mill Gate “of necessity ought to be kept open” and that “near and about the [Mill Gate] all the farmers, Thomas Chambers only excepted, have their crops.” The council suggests that this is “not at all feasible,” and suggests that instead Berresfort “close both gates, and . . . make a new gate near the Walepoint on the southwest side, where there has long since been a guardhouse, and where even yet the burghers keep a night watch.” Berresfort “[a]nswers not at all to intend to remove his sentinels.” The council, under protest, has no choice but to agree.

This kind of conflict could easily have come up under the Dutch governance of the colony too; the village was used to being fractious even when Martin Cregier was the garrison commander and made rules about harvest or other issues that the villagers didn’t like. But since Berresfort is British, some animosity here is stirred not just against the rule or the commander, but also against the British administration. Each side seems to feel it has its reasonable justification for its preference, but only Berresfort has the last word, for now. The grumbling begins, though: The next item in the minutes, from this same 27 July meeting (Kingston Papers p. 245), is that the farmers of Wildwyck now say “on account of harvesting they are considerably tired,” so they request “to be relieved from the night watch.” The council instructs Thomas Chambers, who is captain of the burgher watch, to reduce the watch staff by half. So Berresfort gets his way on which gate to leave open, for now, but he loses the willing assistance of the townsfolk on the night watch.

And the story isn’t quite over yet. See 2 March 1666, below, when the issue of the gates comes up again, as planting season comes into full swing and the farmers need access to their fields again. The suggestion at that meeting is that part of the reasoning behind keeping only one town gate open was financial: The English didn’t want to pay two sets of sentries. (That’s not directly stated, but it is very much implied.)

The council holds another special session on Saturday 15 August 1665 (Kingston Papers pp. 245-246). In a minor but distinct change from the old Dutch system of auctioning off the position of “excise farmer” to anyone who wants to be responsible for collecting the liquor tax, Governor Nicolls (in Dutch, Richard is spelled “Ridsert,” sometimes with other variations) instead establishes the Schout (currently Willem Beeckman) as the collector, “to whom from now on all wines and beers shall have to be declared, and of whom a permit shall have to be received before the beers shall be allowed to be taken out of the breweries, and the wines will be permitted to be stored in their houses and cellars by the merchants.” See the complaint on pp. 270-271, 19 January 1666, when Henderick Palingh, “Farmer,” says that this combination of jobs made Beeckman at the same time “schout, tapster and excise master,” implying a conflict of interest. Palingh says Beeckman has been receiving wine and not paying the tax on it. They bicker on into the next meeting (26 January, p. 272), dragging other conflicts into the argument.

(To be clear: Palingh, a.k.a. Henry Pawling, is a brewer and runs a tavern, or “house,” and himself has been a farmer of the excise, so he too has been subject to some conflict of interest in the office, though admittedly he was not at the same time the Schout. [Palingh and Thomas Chambers record an elaborate arrangement over the “beer-excise farm” on 2 November 1665, Kingston Papers pp. 578-579, so Beeckman may not retain the excise position for the entire year. On 10 November, pp. 579-581, Chambers sells Palingh his house in town; see also pp. 584-585 and 586-587. Chambers and Palingh/Pawling get into a big tussle over what condition the brewery was in, apparently part of the house purchase, complicated because Chambers continued to occupy the house for a time after Palingh had bought it; see pp. 370-371, 8 November 1667, and other entries.] But the conflict of interest gets worse a year hence: See 14 August 1666 below, when Daniel Broadhead, English commander of the local garrison, wins the auction for the tapster excise. Sure enough, by March 1667 he is saying that he’s not obliged to pay the liquor tax unless Governor Nicolls orders him to. By 16 August 1667, Kingston Papers pp. 358-359, the tapster and burgher excises have returned to civilian hands; Reynier Van Coelen takes both posts. Van Coelen seems to use English muscle to help with collections; see 8 and 15 November 1667 in Keeping the Peace for notes about his “servant” Evert Prys [Price?] who is an English soldier garrisoned with Jan Joosten. Prys’s contract with Van Coelen is on pp. 649-650, 4 April 1667; Van Colen also hires Jan Joosten to be his representative when Van Coelen is away, p. 650. See also Council Appointments above. See also pp. 380-381, 13 December 1667, for a discussion of whether the excise farmer can be a tavern keeper or liquor wholesaler, which has been a common practice; George Hall and Mattheus Blanchan argue that Reynier Van Coelen should not be both a retailer of liquor and excise farmer, and that to do so constitutes fraud. The council says it has specifically permitted Reynier “to retail strong drink,” adding that “no farmer yet, either in this country or anywhere else, has ever been prohibited to retail strong drink.” The conflict of interest seems obvious in hindsight, but at the time no one had ever thought to question the practice. Reynier turns out to be a scoundrel who leaves a trail of debt wherever he goes; see increasingly testy sessions in January and February 1668 as his debts from many sides catch up with him. See also 4 October 1667 when he owes Willem Beeckman for “the sale of negroes,” pp. 361-362, also pp. 650-651 for the 55-beaver “balance of the purchase money for a negro.” Coelen on 15 November 1667, p. 375, asks permission to keep an inn in the town, and on 26 October 1668 [Kingston Papers p. 414; N.S. date would be 5 November], under new Governor Lovelace, asks “to be permitted to retail the liquor he distills.”)

Beer and Skittles

Consider the range of alcohol available in the colony in 1664, from the list on p. 159 when the post of “farmer of the burgher excise” is auctioned:

Spanish wine
distilled waters
others of the same quality
(taxed at 30 stivers per anker)

French wine
Rhine wine
wormwood wine (absinthe? see notes)
others of the same quality
(taxed at 15 stivers per anker, “a hogshead to be reckoned as five ankers”)

good beer
(taxed at 1 guilder per tun)

small beer
(taxed at 6 stivers per tun)

This is as good a spot as any to remember too that a specific agreement in the terms of surrender when the English took over from the Dutch—not just any agreement, but actually the second article of the terms, so high was its priority—was that “All publick Houses shall continue for the uses, wch. now they are for”: Nobody’s going to mess with the tavern licenses.

At the same special session on 15 August 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 246), the council again admonishes “those accommodating the savages through the curtains [the stockade walls] of the village: . . . Indians or savages are offered opportunities to enter from the outside over the palisades, and through this are accommodated and provided with what they want . . . a practice which may have evil consequences.” The council prohibits “the inhabitants . . . their wives, children or servants from providing, through the palisades, the savages with any more drink, food, or whatever else it might be.” The porous village walls are an apt metaphor for the relations between the communities. Again we see the economic interdependence of the people of the European village with the people who have been living here since before the Europeans arrived; both groups have goods desired by the other. There will be a range of perceptions in any subset of people about the relative safety of these interactions, but this is a considerable change from the time when Allert Heymans Roose was ready to “shoot the Savages to the ground, even though [he] should hang for it” (7 July 1663 above). The village authorities still perceive a threat (which is their role), but many in the town seem to have relaxed their attitudes since 1663 about how dangerous it is to interact with the locals—or, perhaps, with some locals. Even the powers that be seem to draw a distinction between allowing women and children into the town and letting men in. But the council would prefer to have visitors use the official gates when they come into town, to control the flow in and out. The villagers, or at least some of them, seem to treat the wall more as an inconvenience than as a protection.

On 9 September 1665, a fairly large auction takes place in Wildwyck, of the estate of Gysbert Van Imbroch, the town doctor, who has died (Kingston Papers pp. 571-575). Along with an extensive inventory of household items (pp. 566-571), Gysbert left a fascinating collection of books, including a Dutch Bible, some Catholic tracts, and scientific and secular works (particularly a lot of medical volumes; total is 9 in folio, 11 in quarto [possibly more; it’s not always clear which are author names and which are separate volumes, and three may be his notebooks, not published volumes], 16 in octavo, 5 in duodecimo, and two in sextodecimo, or 16mo, in addition to dozens of schoolbooks of various sizes). Gysbert’s wife was French, Rachel de la Montagne (her brother Willem in June 1666 becomes the village schoolmaster; their father was a Vice Director of the colony; see above), and his library reflects that too. Tjerck buys a suspending iron with a copper frying pan for 20 guilders, a pair of tongs with a shovel for 8 guilders, two beer faucets, two gimlets, a wine pump, and a tin oilcan for 20 guilders, two pairs of “old man’s stockings” for 10 guilders (p. 572, not to be confused with “filled stockings” and “Iceland stockings”), a keg with vinegar for 14 guilders (p. 573), and a round table for 10 guilders (p. 574).

The books (p. 574) are bought in large part by Henderick Palingh, with some going to Henderick Cornelissen (the rope maker), Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck (who also buys an almanac and some maps, as well as a watch, a scale, a flintlock and some other things), Jan the Smith, Jan Joosten, Roelof Swartwout, Mattheus Capito, Henderick Aertsen, and Pieter Hillebrants. One buys what one can afford, but to some degree we can estimate the buyers of the books are the more active readers in the town. Tjerck is able to sign his name and frequently does, but it’s common to get the impression, from council minutes, that he does not always keep his account books up to date. (He does keep them, in writing.) He is handy as a carpenter and shows sense and wisdom in many interactions, and his judgement is respected enough by his peers that he is chosen repeatedly as a town council member, as a fence examiner, and as an impartial arbiter to help others settle disputes. We can estimate that Tjerck is literate enough to get the job done, but not a recreational reader or writer.

Sneaky Feelings

If the balance of a community’s psyche can be said to include, often, a shared (perceived) nemesis as well as a sense of general contentment with allies of (perceived) common goals—think of how a Los Angeles Dodgers fan feels in a bar filled with San Francisco Giants diehards, or how UCLA alumni come out for a contest between their football team and crosstown rivals USC, or any number of longstanding grudges between various European football clubs—and if the local Esopus villagers were being perceived by the Wildwyck villagers as less of a mortal threat, perhaps more as collaborators in a shared project of survival from season to season, the English who had taken over the colony from the Dutch seemed, in many cases, all too happy to step into the vacuum and give Wildwyck’s harlequin patchwork of Frisians, Swedes, Germans, French, Dutch and here and there British settlers a common obstacle against which to grind an ax. If you can’t complain, it has been said, you may be doing something wrong. Frederick Hossy (an unfamiliar name, probably an English soldier?) appears 21 September 1665 before a special Monday meeting of the council (Kingston Papers pp. 249ff), and he has gossip to share.

Frederick tells the council he “lay down on the bench in the burgher head watch,” perhaps after he had finished his shift, and “one Henderick Hendericksen Van Reyn who also had the watch came in.” Not seeing Frederick was still awake, apparently, he made remarks to Juriaen Westphael and Pieter Hillebrants, who were also in the watchhouse, “that the English soldiers [Hossy’s colleagues?] had gone to Swartwout to fetch a pail of beer, to defraud him, and those were rascally tricks.” He went on to say, “I sat down among the English and heard everything they said, and they thought I could not understand them,” and quotes them as saying, “We behave badly in our lodgings, then we get good ones.” Hossy says Henderick also said the English “are all together sneak thieves,” and then Hossy sprang up, “taking hold of . . . Hendericksen’s coat, and [asked] him who, among the English, had committed rascalities.” He calls Juriaen and Hillebrants to confirm his account.

Juriaen says her did hear Henderick say the English intended to get a pail of beer from Swartwout in the Governor’s name and that “this was a thievish trick,” and that Henderick had said the English “are sitting down and telling each other sneak thieving tricks.” Hillebrants says he was asleep for most of it and can’t really swear what Henderick said.

Henderick admits he said, “after the English had gone for the beer, ‘They are sneak thieving tricks,’” but he denies having said that “all the English were sneak thieves.” He is accused of slandering “the English nation.”

The Schout wants to fine Henderick 50 guilders, but the council, “taking into consideration his guilelessness, he being a person about whom, up to now, never any evil has been reported,” cuts the fine to 24 guilders, “being as an example for others, to keep his mouth shut at other times.” Notably the council, which serves more or less at the Governor’s pleasure (“by the authority of his Royal Majesty of Great Britain, and of the [honorable Lord Governor General],” p. 251), does not examine the accusations Henderick laid, or ask Swartwout whether he had to fetch a pail of beer for the soldiers, or ask any residents whether English soldiers quartered in their homes have behaved poorly and in return been given better lodgings. Henderick is fined for being heard speaking ill of the English, regardless of whether any of what he said was true or fair. It has been common up to now in slander cases, when one of the Dutch colonists says something reprehensible about another, for the slanderer to swear before the court that he knows nothing dishonorable about the injured party. Usually a nominal fine is assessed, often “for the poor,” or for the church, but the matter is dropped. In this case, nobody is asked to swear that what Henderick said isn’t true, but he is fined, fairly heavily, “as an example.” No matter what opinion anyone may hold in private, it’s safer not to be heard calling the English garrison a bunch of rascals out loud.

In 1860 the Ulster Historical Society published Volume I of its Collections, which set out the bylaws, seal, name and organization of the Society (curiously, not the Ulster County Historical Society, but just Ulster), and a first set of copies of some of the foundational documents and other history of the area. This volume is not available (that I have found to date) on archive.org, but it can be read on Google Books. On pp. 52-53 (LII-LIII), we find the commission Governor Nicolls gave to Captain Daniel Brodhead on 14 and 23 September 1665 when he sent him up the river to manage as “Chief Officer of the Militia in the Esopes.” (The Ulster Society probably drew this from other published sources; I haven't hunted it down further, yet. Nicolls also refers to the area as “the Sopes.”) Nicolls tells Brodhead to keep good order among the soldiers, and to resolve any conflicts among them, and “if the complaint be against a Burgher,” to report it to the Schout, to let him take care of it, “and in case you receive not so much justice as you conceive to be due, remit the rest to me and smooth up the business till my directions can be had.”

More specifically, Nicolls underlines that Brodhead is to preserve peaceable relations between the British and the Dutch: “You must avoid harshness of words and heat of passion in all occasions, seeking rather to reconcile differences than to be head of a party. Preserve yourself single and indifferent as to justice between soldiers and burghers.—Give not too easy an ear to private whisperers and insinuators, which may overrule your judgment and beget a prejudice in your mind against the Dutch: For though I am not apt to believe they have a natural affection to [the] English, yet without ill usage I do not find them so malicious as some will seek to persuade you they are.”

Nicolls probably knew Brodhead well enough that we can guess he is foreseeing where Brodhead’s weaknesses are likely to take him; Nicolls is trying to forestall problems. Brodhead, as we see later, was a bit of a drinker, and he got himself into physical fights with the “burghers,” to the point where the people of Kingston sent an official letter of complaint to Manhattan (see below).

Nicolls also established a treaty between the new administration and the local Esopus villages that had run into conflicts with the European immigrants under the Dutch. The original treaty, which include provisions for additional land to be given over by the Esopus, is dated 7 October 1665 (see Collections, pp. LIX-LXI, 59-61, and DRCHSNY XIII, pp. 399-401), and it provides for annual reconfirmations of the terms. To a great degree it repeats many of the terms of the original peace settlement (see 15 May 1664, above) between the Dutch and the Esopus people, although it adds specifics about locations (Kahankson) that previously were described more generally, as lands the Dutch had taken by the sword. Tjerck was a signer of one of the annual renewals, on 19 January 1681. (On the original date of the treaty, see further discussion in the same volume, pp. 97-98. The DRCHSNY record includes fresh signatures dated 25 September 1669, 11 April 1670, 27 January 1671, 5 February 1674 (under Governor Andros), 22 January 1676, unclear date 1677, 23 February 1678, 11 February 1680; additional land is acknowledged with signatures 19 January 1681 and 23 February 1682.)

Keeping the Peace

Thomas Chambers has business before the town council at a special session on Friday 2 October 1665 (Kingston Papers pp. 250-252) that has little to do with Tjerck directly but shines a light on the environment in which all the villagers are used to living.

The little settlement tucked into farmland between patches of forest a couple of miles west of the Hudson has seen two specific outbreaks of bloody violence in skirmishes with the people who had lived here before this town was built, and we also see within the town occasional citations (which do involve Tjerck) where masters treat their hired help or indentured help roughly. (Some workers are hired for a specific wage and some for a specific contract, so a carpenter might be hired to build a house, or a field helper might be hired for several weeks during harvest. Some are indentured for longer specific periods, months or years, along the lines of an apprenticeship, where they are expected to work mostly for room and board, and at the end of that time they will be free to find profitable work on their own. The employer’s role in each of these relationships is “master.”) The town also makes use of enslaved labor, documented at least by 1663 and gradually increasing from that point forward. (The enslaver’s role in this relationship is also frequently noted in documents as “master,” although “owner” is also sometimes used. The practice of slavery in the Dutch and then British colony, a violation of any modern understanding of human ethics, is worthy of a considerably more extensive discussion, though it is not the specific topic here. Tjerck is one of the enslavers in Wildwyck.) Enslavement almost by definition implies a violent relationship between enslaver and subject, whether the violence is overt at any given instance or merely threatened. In addition to wars and various levels of violence between workers and masters, we find note in records of various fights between individuals, sometimes with weapons and sometimes bare knuckle, that might be generally lumped together as “bar brawls.” (Tjerck was accused in at least one of these too.) What level of violence was typical in this era and in this place? What was considered normal, and what overstepped the bounds and by the standards of the villagers was considered something that ought to be punished?

(Perhaps worth noting: The council never hands out punishments that involve a physical element; it can issue fines, or banish people in extreme cases, and it can refer major cases—murder, for example—to a higher court, the Colony Council in Manhattan. So we don’t find judicial prescriptions of corporal discipline in the Wildwyck record, like branding or caning, ear cropping or sitting in the stocks, let alone execution, which was rare in the colony. This is specified more completely in the original charter Stuyvesant gives the council when he set up the administration of the town and gives it the name Wildwyck in 1661.)

The Friday session opens with a complaint by Thomas Chambers against Jan Jansen Van Amersfoort, his son-in-law. Chambers, more or less one of the founders of the colony, and from England, says he loaned Jan two handmill stones; Chambers wants them back. Jan says they were a gift, not a loan.

But the stones don’t appear to be the real issue here. Chambers goes on to say that he has heard Jan called Chambers’s wife, “in public on the street in the presence of the hon. schout and some of the local court, a whore, a hog and a beast.” Chambers requests that Jan either provide some proof of these accusations “or else that he shall be commanded to keep his mouth bridled.” This is the typical formulation when someone has been heard calling names: You don’t exactly call them a liar, even if the person they were talking about clearly is not a witch or a whoremaster or a donkey’s hindquarters. The protocol is that you give them an opportunity to present proof of their allegation, and then if they can’t a proper disciplinary action is determined.

The council says it “is busy enquiring further into this matter,” and will take action as needed. Which brings it to its next case, in which the Schout (Willem Beeckman at this time) picks up the case against Jan Jansen Van Amersfoort. The Schout says that Margarita Hendericks, the wife of Thomas Chambers (!), has filed a written complaint that on 30 September, Jan “has badly treated her daughter . . . and even has called her an old whore, hog and beast, pushing her from his farm by the arm.” The Schout is also accusing Jan of threatening to shoot his wife (Catrina Matthisen, Margarita’s daughter with her prior husband, Matthys Jansen [Van Keuren]). Jan says he doesn’t know “anything at all” about all these allegations.

The Schout goes into more detail, saying not just on September 30 (or September 20 in the Old Style) but also “at diverse other times,” Jan “has badly beaten, pushed, and threatened . . . to shoot [Catrina], on account whereof she fled to the street; also that, about ten or 12 weeks ago, when his wife was in the last stage of pregnancy, he cruelly beat her and threw her out of the house, so that she was taken up for dead and was taken to her mother’s house where she was again nursed like a child.” Not enough? The Schout also accuses Jan of “jumping on his mother-in-law in her own house for the purpose of stabbing her with some sharp object in his hand.”

These behaviors are immediately recognizable to a modern audience as characteristic of a chronic pattern of domestic abuse. The problems are still with us today.

Jan was apparently accused of these things previously, but on 3 March when asked he “treated [the council] very shamefully; . . . [he] gave as answer that the magistrates should first come and treat him to a drink.” (The translator adds an alternate reading: “dat den Magistraet eerst syn gelach soude coomen afbetaelen—which may also mean ‘that the Magistrates should first come and pay for their drinks.’”) The council describes his behavior as “dirty, contemptible, despicable,” and says it “cannot remain unpunished.” The Schout recommends he be banished for three years as a “tumultuous and seditious person,”  and fined 500 guilders as well. The council determines that they will fine him 200 guilders for the Schout and an additional 50 guilders “for the local poor,” and further orders him “to quietly and decently hold and behave himself against his wife and mother-in-law, so that no further complaints for heavier punishment may be brought against him.”

(There is no minute in the Kingston Papers record of the previous hearing on 3 March or 13 March; the record skips from Tuesday 3 March to Thursday 2 April and may be missing entries. But see p. 231, 28 April, where the Schout complains about his “offensive conduct” at the 13 March meeting, and Jan agrees to be sent, by the next available ship, to Manhattan for trial before the Governor.)

For further examples of violent behavior from Jan Jansen Van Amersfoort, see 19 January 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 269), where the Schout reminds him he still owes damages from the time he struck an Esopus villager from a nearby town “with a knife in the chest.” (Compare to p. 202, 31 January 1665, where Pieter Gillissen stabs a “savage” in the rear with a knife, because the victim called him “a drunken dog,” and has to pay medical fees.) He also is stubborn about the topic of paying excise on various alcohol that he either smuggles or doesn’t, with more citations than I will include here at present.

The 250 guilders of fines Jan Jansen has to pay, unsurprisingly, don’t change his personality or behavior. by 21 February 1668 (p. 392), his wife Catrina Matthisen, is back before the council, saying she “is no longer able to keep house with her husband on account of his greatly abusing her every day by pushing and beating and chasing her and her children out of the house, and further by threats to kill her, and further on account of his squandering [habits] so that there are scarcely victuals in the house, and again, last Sunday evening he chased her without cause out of the house with many threats. This is February and the river is iced over for the season, but the council at last determines, “for the purpose of preventing . . . the ruin of wife and three children,”  to have Jan arrested “till the arrival of a ship or yacht,” and then sent away for a year and six weeks “to be separated from his wife,” who will be left “in the undisturbed possession of house and furniture, but he shall nevertheless pay his incurred debts.” This is the banishment that was requested in 1665.

See also 26 October 1672 (Kingston Papers p. 487), below, when Edward Whitacre (Wittiker) is called out for chronic spousal abuse (and general violent behavior; he sounds like a gun enthusiast as well).

Although a low level of interpersonal violence seems endemic, the council does take action when the physical altercations rise above a certain intensity—for example, when a weapon is used or a doctor has to be called. See, for example, the fight between Reyner Van Coelen, excise farmer, and his assistant (“servant”) Evert Prys on 7 October 1667, referenced in Kingston Papers minutes 8 and 15 November 1667 (pp. 370 and 375; Evert, probably Price or Pryce, is an English soldier as well, who has been quartered with Jan Joosten; see p. 384, 23 January 1667/8). Apparently Reyner was delivering an order to the Schout when Evert came up, “drunk and having much talk, and calling [him] names”; Reyner told Evert to go back home “and sleep,” and Evert complained there was “no beer or water to drink” there and continued calling Reyner names. Reyner called Evert a liar and hit him with a halberd or pike, hard enough to break it into three pieces. Reyner says he called the guard to restrain Evert, but Evert bame back with a sword and cut Reyner in the shoulder. Maximum fine would be 300 guilders; the combatants here are fined 50 guilders and 30 guilders.

The very last entry in the Dutch records of Kingston, at a regular council session 13 December 1675, is an account of a brawl between Jan Pietersen and Dirck Hendrix (Kingston Papers p. 536). Jan says Dirck wounded him, and he wants to be paid for “pain money, doctor’s bills, and loss of time.” Dirck says Jan hit Dirck’s wife, Griedt Goyers, on the nose, “so that her nose and mouth were bleeding,” and then Jan challenged him. This apparently all started at “Quick’s house,”  probably a drinking house. Two witnesses (Wybreg Jurriaensen and Joosje Trophaegen) say actually Griedt assaulted Jan, and then Jan hit her so her nose bled, and Jan said “Let [your] husband come—you are a woman.” (Joosje says what Jan called her was “whore,” not “woman,” after telling her to leave him alone.) Griedt tossed back “Ho there, give me a knife.” And then Dirck came “with a sword.”  Jan said, “Come with the same arms I have.” Then “they went to a tree and commenced to fight,” with knives, until “old Machiel [Verbrugge; see p. 572] separated them.”

Henderick Cornelissen, who has been living in town for some time, has an interesting occupation, by which he is often identified in council minutes: He is a rope maker, or in Dutch a “lijndrayer,” literally a “line drawer.”  Some local farms raise hemp as a crop, and he “draws” line from the harvested hemp, after heckling, similar to the way wool or flax are pulled from a distaff (or roving, strick or batt) into yarn or thread. (See pp. 247ff, 8 September 1665, for an interesting dispute between Thomas Chambers, who grew hemp, and Henderick Cornelissen, which reveals some of the economic arrangements that went into the production of rope or canvas.) At a regular council session on Tuesday 27 October 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 255), Henderick notes that the Schout, Willem Beeckman, lately suggested that Henderick had a different profession, also interesting, but requiring a separate set of skills: “whoremaster.” He requests proof from the Schout that this is his new career.

The Schout, perhaps sheepishly, admits that he did call Henderick this, “at the house [presumably tavern] of Jan Willemsen,” so probably after some drinking. Willem says he lobbed the insult as a result of the “difficulty” caused to Willem by Henderick at the tavern; Henderick apparently complained to the Schout that the council had “dealt unjustly with him in the quartering of soldiers,” saying “You always send us one soldier more to our house, than to anybody else.” Willem says Henderick should be disciplined for saying this. Henderick, the ropemaker, “admits having said that one burgher is more burdened with soldiers than another, and that [Henderick] is obliged to pay half of the board of the soldier quartered in his boarding-house.” Rather than discipline the Schout for calling Henderick a whoremaster, the council orders Henderick to prove that the court “burdens one burgher heavier than another in the quartering of soldiers,” or pay a fine, “as an example for others.” Again, this business of forcing villagers to quarter the English soldiers is not making for more peaceable times. The drinking probably doesn’t help much either.

(Henderick’s story comes to an unfortunate end on 26 February 1667, see below, when he is “wounded in the abdomen by Willem Visscher, soldier, and on [3 March] died of this wound . . . leaving neither friends nor last will.”)

Two Faces of Justice

A typical condition spelled out in a peace treaty between Europeans and North Americans is that if anyone from one side should kill anyone from the other, rather than having it spark a big war of retribution, the killer will be handed over to the government of the victim to face punishment. The punishment, it is made clear, will be death.

When William Fisher, an English soldier, kills Henderick Cornelissen, the Dutch rope maker, on 26 February 1667, his punishment is . . . to carry on with his regular employment, to be used as a courier between Sergeant Beresford and Governor Lovelace (see 17 July 1669 below), and to be granted farmland and a lot for a house in Marbletown in 1670 (see “Where Does Tjerck Live? Richard Cage Land” below).

On 24 November 1665 (Kingston Papers pp. 259-260), Tjerck comes back to the council at last with an explanation, still confusing, about Evert Prys and the 20 schepels of wheat that Tjerck paid to Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck, when he was alive, when Evert bought “some cans of brandy” from Jan. (See 3 March above, p. 224, and more complete discussion 10 April, p. 227.) This comes up again 8 December (pp. 264-265).

Also on 24 November (Kingston Papers p. 260), the council instructs the Schout to proceed with execution (i.e. seizure of property followed by a court-ordered sale) against Tjerck for a debt of 54 schepels of wheat based on a judgement from 17 February. Something doesn’t quite line up in this record; see 10 February 1665 (p. 210) for more detail. The larger point, though, is that Tjerck is still struggling to pay his debts. The “execution” probably is the 7 April 1666 forced auction of a cow, which is sold for 210 guilders (pp. 598-599).

On 3 December 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 584) we see Martin Hoffman is in town again, witnessing some papers that have to do with Peter Stuyvesant. This suggests the river is still open for navigation.

At a regular council session on Tuesday 29 December 1665 (Kingston Papers p. 267), Tjerck and Walran DuMont wish to be released as sureties for Tomas Harmensen’s payment when he won the bid to become the excise farmer in 1664. Apparently the deal is that you agree to be excise farmer, then collect the liquor tax for your allotted year, and then from your collections you are supposed to pay the amount you promised when you took on the job. See 16 August 1664 (pp. 159-161) for further discussion.


On Tuesday 26 January 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 273-274), Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck, no doubt the son of Tjerck’s deceased brother-in-law Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck, “as attorney for Pieter Jansen Van Hoorn” asks Tjerck and Marten Hofman (another brother-in-law) for 30 schepels of wheat, from the estate of Jan Albertsen. This request refers back to the power of attorney that Pieter gave to Jan on 22 August 1661 (see above) when Jan was planning to sail to Europe; Jan on that trip apparently was not able to collect fully on the amount Pieter said he should get in Hoorn. This is not the first time Albert Jansen has come before the Wildwyck town council representing creditors of his deceased father’s estate. See 29 December 1665 (p. 268); also see 10 April 1665 (p. 228, probably the judgement referred to on 29 December as 14 April), when Dievertje Volckerts, wife of Pieter Jansen Van Hoorn, apparently first brought this up. See also 6 April 1666 (p. 290), when Martin Hoffman seeks an attachment against funds that “friends” of Jan Albertsen in Europe may have.

On 14 February 1666, at the Dutch Reformed Church in Wildwyck, Tjerck and Barbara baptize Jan DeWitt, a brand-new son. They are establishing a habit of baptizing children in February. Up from Manhattan to serve as witnesses are Tjerck’s sister Emmerentje (Amerens) and her husband Marten Hoffman. The third witness is Jan Andriesse, who is probably a brother of Barbara’s, although there are several other men by that name in the colony. (Which one of them, if any, is Barbara’s brother remains unclear. Assuming she has a brother Jan, he may be living down at New Sweden on the Delaware River, or in Amsterdam; it’s entirely possible he’s a seaman or captain and frequently not living anywhere on dry land.) Tjerck and Barbara now have three boys (9 and 2 years old and newborn) and two girls (4 and 6 years old).

In Kingston on Tuesday 2 March 1666 we find an interesting discussion at a town council meeting of where the town stands a couple of years after the British took over (Kingston Papers pp. 275ff). Willem Beeckman, the current Schout, brings a case against Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh. He says that the honorable Lord Governor General (Richard Nicolls) “at the last harvest” instructed the town to keep one village gate open and one closed at all times. (See 27 July 1665 above, p. 245.) The stockade has two main gates: one on the road leading east to the river landing about two and a half miles away (the “Strand Gate”), and one leading south (the “Mill Gate”) to the tannery, the mill brook, most of the fields south of town, and the Nieuw Dorp, which is more or less where Hurley is today. The garrison commander was determined to keep the Strand Gate open rather than the Mill Gate, which inconvenienced the farmers, who needed to get to their fields every day. Not clear in the record but implied: The Governor’s instruction came because the town could afford to pay only one sentry. So Jan proposed to the Schout that the Mill Gate should be kept open as well, and he said the farmers “had agreed among each other to be willing to give the English sentinel a schepel of wheat per day for this.” Beeckman, the Schout, got together with “Mr. Berrisfort” (Christoffel Beresfort, “commander of the local garrison”  on p. 180, and thus in charge of the sentries) about the proposal, and he says he struck the deal with Berrisfort that the gate would stay open, Beeckman would guarantee the payment, and Beeckman would pay “the largest portion of said sentinel-money.” Beeckman now is asking Jan to reimburse him for the expenses.

Jan says that’s not quite what happened. He says he said nothing about a schepel of wheat per day (42 schepels so far), but he says that “he and Tjerck and [Henderick] Palingh went to see the farmers, and the double farmers [including Tjerck and some others] promised to give six and the small farmers three” schepels of wheat each, and on top of that he says “he met [the Schout] at the Mill gate when the same was again closed, and asked him, why the same was again closed,” when the farmers had agreed to pay to keep it open.

The Schout says Mr. Berrisfort “had closed the gate because Tjerck Claesen did not give food to the soldier, quartered upon him, to go to the redoubt.” And so we learn: The British are requiring townspeople to quarter soldiers, and Tjerck is still just as prickly as ever. Jan says that if “Mr. Berrisfort had a case against Tjerck, he ought to have seen Tjerck Claesen about it,” not closed the gate for everyone else. Schout seems to agree and says yes, and the gate was opened the next day, “and a sentinel was again posted there,” and the Schout still wants his reimbursement for expenses. Jan says “his personal contribution is ready,” but he “complains about the damage, because he was prevented from harvesting, on account of the gate’s having been closed for one day.” The council instructs Jan to personally give the Schout the 42 schepels of wheat, and puts it on him to collect the dues from the other farmers.

The issue of soldiers quartered in the homes of townspeople and demanding from them more food than the townsfolk feel they can afford to share does not go away. See 3 and 4 February and 18 May 1665 above, for example (pp. 206-209, 232ff), and for further discussion.

Wrapping Up Ida’s Estate

Nearly three years after the attack on Wildwyck that killed Tjerck’s pregnant sister Ida Claessen (baptized Tette in Esens) and her husband Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck, and their toddler daughter, it’s getting to be time to close the estate. Tjerck’s eldest daughter was kidnapped in the same attack; he has her back. After a very rough summer, with Dutch soldiers in town to try to recover the hostages, and a winter with a lot of sickness in the village and not enough food, the British sailed in to New Amsterdam harbor and took over the colony the next spring; New Amsterdam became New York, and Beverwijck became Albany. After some consideration about how to handle the situation, the town acquiesced and agreed to be governed by the new administration; Wildwyck became Kingston. The British agreed, as part of the surrender treaty with Stuyvesant, to preserve and confirm ownership of property as it mostly to let the Dutch villages continue under the same policies of local self-administration and religious tolerance, as well as inheritance customs.

(Typically Dutch rule assumed that a husband and wife might have separate property, and when either died, the children of the couple were assigned a guardian, to make sure they received their intact inheritance from the deceased parent, protected from any designs a new stepfather or stepmother might have. [See for example Kington Papers p. 243, where on 7 July 1665 Walran DuMont requests a guardian for his stepchild; on 7 September, pp. 246-247, the council appoints guardians for the children of Gysbert van Imbroch and Rachel Monjeur de la Montagne; other examples abound.] Under English custom, speaking very broadly, women were not considered property holders. Anything a woman might have a right to would be owned by her husband; if a mother died, it was not presumed that any of her property would be passed to her children, unless her husband gave it to them. It was not uncommon, when parents died, for their female children not to receive any inheritance until they married, at which time the title to the inheritance would go to the husband. This is a complete oversimplification of rules and practices, but the treaty of surrender of New Amsterdam specified that inheritance rules among the Dutch would be preserved under the Dutch custom, which was important enough among the Dutch to specify it in writing in the treaty.)

With a Dutch town council still in place, and town business still conducted in the Dutch language, but British rule over the colony, the pieces are in place now for Ida’s estate to be closed. Tjerck’s sister Emmerentje (sometimes called Amarens, baptized Rinelt in Esens) is married to Martin Hoffman, a fellow Lutheran; for now they seem to be living in Manhattan, though Martin sails up and down the Hudson doing business in Albany and Kingston, and even down to New Sweden on the Delaware. The DeWitts’ brother Jan sails back and forth to Europe, so he is frequently absent from the colony for months at a time. He carries news back and forth to the sisters and half-sisters—and their children—living in Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, and Ostfriesland. (He marries in Amsterdam, in 1670.) By now, probably, their oldest half-sister (same father, earlier wife) Ancke is living Amsterdam, after her husband Harmen (from Esens) died, possibly in 1663 flooding in Enkhuizen or in the associated storms. She brought with her a few grown children and some who are still in their teens. Their sister Falde married in Ostfriesland and died after having a few children. Their sister Tiade and half-sister Hilke still live in Ostfriesland, near Esens, not far from where they all grew up, in Holum. Their sister Gretke has probably moved to Amsterdam by now (she marries there in 1669). The bulk of Ida’s estate is treated by the siblings as if it came from their mother’s mother (which matches some other records, notably papework Jan files in Esens in 1684 and 1694 to defend the family farm from creditors and Falde’s predatory widower with his new wife). It belongs to Ida, not to her husband Jan or to the children he had with his previous wife. (Jan’s separate estate is preserved for his children with his first wife, at least one of whom still seems to live in Kingston, Albert Janssen van Steenwyck, of age now to appear before the council and serve as court messenger; those children have guardians appointed by the council, namely Evert Pels and Henderick Jochemsen; see above.) The DeWitt siblings share the estate carefully and in equal shares with each other and with the children of their deceased sister Falde, but not with any of their half-sisters (who are also DeWitts, but who had a different mother). This means the inheritance will be divided six ways.

It is possible that the family wanted to wait to close the estate until Jan Claessen DeWitt had returned from Europe, where he would have communicated with the family remaining there, so he could bring back news from that side of the clan as well as an indication of any preferences they had for the settlement of Ida’s estate. Jan is likely the designee who will carry back shares of Ida’s estate to the family members still living in Europe. Jan was in Wildwyck 1 December 1663 for the auction of his sister’s estate. By early 1664, Wildwyck and Kingston records show he was no longer present in the colony. On a comparable return trip to Europe, Ida had sailed from New Amsterdam sometime around summer 1661 and come back from Europe by late fall 1662. There’s just enough time between 1663 and 1666 that Jan DeWitt could have sailed back and forth twice between New Amsterdam/New York and Europe, or he may have made just a single trip. (Jan does not appear on 3 or 13 March, so he may not be in town at all.)

An opening salvo: On Tuesday 2 March 1666, in Kingston, at a regular town council meeting (Kingston Papers p. 278), Martin Hoffman, husband of Emmerentje Claessen DeWitt, says that last year Evert Pels and Henderick Jochemsen—the guardians of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck’s children—sent him notice to come to Kingston to get his share of Jan Albertsen’s estate. He says he told them he would come, but in the meantime not to give his share to anyone else. Evert says he “is ready to render an accounting” of the estate. He asks that the division be supervised by the council, and he asks a salary for his work. The council grants Evert and Henderick 5% of the estate as salary. Several other items are taken up, and then Martin is back. He requests that from the estate of Jan Albertsen (not Ida Claessen), “he may receive 64 glders . . . from a cow which his brother-in-law Jan Albertsen, deceased, sold for Amarens, and received the money for the same.” The council grants his request but says Martin should post security in case his story turns out not to be accurate. See 16 March below for more on this transaction.

On Wednesday 3 March 1666, and again on Saturday 13 March (Kingston Papers, pp. 590-593), in Kingston, New York, all the various administrators of the twin estates 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, “after mature deliberation, and with mutual friendship.” 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.

The first estate tally, 3 March (p. 591, annulled on p. 592 “because at the examination of the accounts the right balance was not there”):

Basic estate: 1,306 guilders, 15 stivers, “light money”
“Light money” is also called “sewan” (spelled various ways) or wampum. It’s a local mechanism of exchange, originally strings of beads or shells as used by the original inhabitants of the area, but by now often valued (at fixed rates of exchange) in beaver skins or various crops, such as corn, seed corn, wheat, or oats. Valued for this transaction in wheat, with a schepel of wheat equal to 6 guilders. 1 stiver = 16 pennies
In addition: 72 guilders, “Holland money”
60 guilders plus 4 years overdue interest at 5%, per 7 Feb 1662 obligation signed at Wildwyck by Laurens Alberts and witnesses, due to Jan
Divided 50-50, so Jan and Ida each are left with estate of: 653 guilders, 7 stivers, 8 pennies in “light money,” plus 36 guilders in “Holland money”
The 72 guilders in “Holland money” translate to 216 guilders in “light money” (sewan), at a ratio of 3 sewan to 1 Holland.
The heirs of Jan hold possession of the entire 72-guilder obligation, which is 216 guilders light money, so subtract 108 guilders from what they are due, and add 108 to Ida’s side
Now Jan gets: 545-7-8
and Ida gets: 761-7-8
(p. 591 erroneously says Ida gets 869-7-8, adding the full 216 instead of just 108)

The corrected estate tally, 13 March (pp. 592-593):

Basic estate: 1,921 guilders, 16 stivers, “light money”
See note above about “light money.”
In addition: 72 guilders, “Holland money”
60 guilders plus 4 years overdue interest at 5%, per 7 Feb 1662 obligation signed at Wildwyck by Laurens Alberts and witnesses, due to Jan
Divided 50-50, so Jan and Ida each are left with estate of: 960 guilders, 18 stivers in “light money,” plus 36 guilders in “Holland money”
Page 592 says Jan gets 916-18, Ida 960-18. Typo? Page 593 refers to “[Jan’s] just half of 960-18 guilders,” so probably yes.
The 72 guilders in “Holland money” translate to 216 guilders in “light money” (sewan), at a ratio of 3 sewan to 1 Holland.
The heirs of Jan hold possession of the entire 72-guilder obligation, which is 216 guilders light money, so subtract 108 guilders from what they are due, and add 108 to Ida’s side
Now Jan gets: 852-18
and Ida gets: 1,068-18

“With which separation and division the aforesaid parties are mutually contented and satisfied, acknowledging that neither the one nor the other has or holds any more right or claim in the abovementioned portion of each other” (pp. 591, 593). See April 12 below for some further notes on estate divisions. It appears that Tjerck has been the custodian for almost the entire assets of the combined estates. Tjerck and each of his siblings get 1/6 shares of the 1,068 guilders, 18 stivers of Ida’s portion: 178 guilders, 3 stivers each. And on 12 April (below) Tjerck acknowledges that he owes Jan’s heirs 698 guilders, 2 stivers, or all but 154 guilders of the total amount they are due from Jan’s estate.

On 16 March 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 593-594), Tjerck and Martin Hoffman, together with some witnesses “invited and requested for the purpose,” sign a document “drawing an amount of 256 gldrs. in sewan” from the joint estates of Jan and Ida, “for a cow and two years’ rent from the said cow, amounting to 64 gldrs. Dutch money.” Martin promises to return the money if it turns out his claim is untrue. See 2 March above for a bit more detail. In settling the estates of Jan and Ida (above, March 13), Holland money was valued at 3 guilders to 1 guilder sewan. For this transaction, it appears to be valued at 4:1.

On Tuesday 6 April 1666, in Kingston town council (Kingston Papers p. 290), Martin Hoffman “requests an attachment against the estate of Jan Albertsen van Steenwyck,” because Martin says he has a claim on “some money which the friends of the deceased . . . in the fatherland have under them, and which belongs to his wife Amerens [Emmerentje] Claesen De Wit.” Martin is still seeking “further information from his friends [Martin’s? or Jan’s?] in Holland.” This is a curious claim. What money would Jan’s “friends” have that Emmerentje might claim title to? This may pertain to the power of attorney Pieter Jansen Van Hoorn gave to Jan on 22 August 1661, which has been a topic between the estate and Pieter Jansen (and his wife Dievertje Volkerts) in recent conversation (see original power of attorney, above, and 10 April 1665, 26 January 1666, 29 December 1665).

On Wednesday 7 April 1666 at Kingston (recorded as Wildwyck), a cow of Tjerck’s is sold at auction “by Lord’s execution,” i.e. at the instruction of the town council, to settle an unpaid debt (Kingston Papers pp. 598-599). Willem Beeckman buys it for 210 guilders, for Hermanus Blom, “preacher.” See 24 November 1665 for the most recent case when the town council told the Schout to proceed with selling Tjerck’s property to settle a debt.

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). Each of these shares is an equal 1/6 of the total 1,068 guilders, 18 stivers that was Ida’s portion of the estate. Tjerck and Jan and Emmerentje, in North America, each get an equal amount.

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. Tjerck says he will pay both Jan’s heirs and Ida’s European heirs in April 1667, with 10% interest per year beginning on 13 March 1666.

I have not found a record of how the money was transferred. Probably Jan was the one who carried it across the Atlantic. Sometimes the actual money (in coins) might be used, but coinage was in short supply in the Dutch colony, likely under the British as well. Local debts were often paid in belts of shells called sewan (as local inhabitants had been doing since long before the Dutch arrived) or in beaver skins or schepels of wheat or other farm products, all at fixed exchange rates, and an overseas debt could be settled in a similar way, by sending lumber or pelts or other goods back to Amsterdam to be sold, with the proceeds used to pay the debt. One way to transfer money overseas without the risk of losing it in a shipwreck or other misfortune was to pay an obligation of someone who was owed money in Amsterdam. If Tjerck in Wildwyck owes Grietje in Amsterdam 10 guilders, and Dave in Amsterdam owes Johnny in Albany 10 guilders, Tjerck can pay Johnny 10 guilders and Dave can pay Grietje 10 guilders, so both debts are settled but no money has to take a high-risk ocean voyage. (For similar practice still in use today, see the system of hawala that helps facilitate exchange in long-distance transactions typically with at least one end in the Middle East, Africa, or India.) This can be done with notarized paperwork, and we see it in other transactions in the colony, though as I said, I have not seen a record of how this particular debt was settled. It was relatively common for people in the colony to have to get significant sums of money to or from Europe, and a range of methods were available.

At Kingston in an ordinary town council meeting on Tuesday 9 March 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 282), Pieter Hillebrants wants Tjerck to deed over 20 morgens of land to him. He’s represented by Roelof Swartwout, the former Schout. Pieter is the husband of Aeltje Wygerts, who was previously married to Albert Gysbertsen, now deceased. Tjerck sold Albert 20 morgens of land, says Roelof. (Tjerck and Albert served together on the council before the British came; Albert was a neighbor of Tjerck’s, having bought some land from him. Together they administered the estates of some of the townspeople of Wildwyck who were killed in the June 1663 attack on the village and had no heirs. See 20 November 1663 above for some discussion between Tjerck and Albert over whether Albert had finished paying for the land or received his deed. See also Where Does Tjerck Live? Parts Seven and Eight.) Tjerck says he is “willing to make out the deed as soon as navigation is again open, because he himself must yet receive a deed of Jeronimus Ebbingh.” This is unclear: Tjerck mostly seems to have bought his land originally from Johanna de Laet—was the land he sold to Albert some different parcel? (All or at least many of the real estate records got reconfirmed in secondary documents after the British took over administration of the colony; some of them were again confirmed in 1674 when the Dutch took over again briefly, and again several months later when the British took over the final time.) Tjerck also kicks up some confusion over a horse; he wants final payment for the horse (100 guilders plus some wheat for damages), “which payment Albert Gysbertsen should have made for him, as is shown by the contract.” Swartwout takes out the record from 25 November 1664 when both the horse and the property were previously disputed, “and the same was delayed on account of nonconveyance of the bought and paid for land,” a longstanding argument between Tjerck and Albert. The court instructs Tjerck to make out the deed and Pieter to pay for the horse, “whereas both parties have been mutually negligent in living up to their contracts.” Tjerck brings this up again on 16 March (p. 285), and the court reiterates its instructions. In the end, Pieter on 9 November 1666 (KP pp. 620-621) sells the parcel to Sweerus Teunissen of Rensselaerswyck, who also bought the 20 acres nearby that had belonged to Aert Pietersen Tack when Aert left town. Sweert leases out his Kingston holdings. Sweerus on 19 April 1667 (p. 653) gets Tjerck to sign a paper stating for the record that Tjerck holds no further claim to the property, since it had been contested for so long. See “Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Eight” above.

Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Ten: 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 north 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.

At a regular court session on Tuesday 6 April 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 288-289), Tjerck is drawn into a long-entangled dispute between Thomas Chambers and the children of the deceased Mattys Jansen, regarding land that Chambers was leasing from Jansen. (Chambers is stepfather to the children, but that does not reduce the friction between the two sides.) Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, representing the minor children, says Tjerck “was present at the measuring of the land [of Jansen and Chambers, and] drew the chain with the surveyor,” then says “some part of said land remained unmeasured,” and asks Tjerck to make a declaration of whatever he knows about this. Tjerck says “the extremity of the brandy corner situated on the Kil has been left unmeasured, and, further two small islands situated on Thomas Chambers’ land have also been left unmeasured.”

Also on 6 April 1666, the Wildwyck (Kingston) Council promotes the names of four new nominees for the council to replace the two whose terms are ending; the Governor in Manhattan will pick from the list the two he prefers. Nominees (Kingston Papers p. 291) are Roelof Swartwout, Cornelis Barens Slecht, Jacob Burhans, Henderick Aertsen. From this list, the Governor picks Swartwout and . . . Thomas Chambers (see 21 June, p. 298). Chambers may not really want the job. See pp. 308-309, when he misses the meeting on 16 November 1666, so “the bench is incomplete,” and his colleagues send a note “of protest” via the court messenger, recording that he has “now and several times before been negligent in attending the session,” which they are obliged to “according to oath and duty.” Should he miss the makeup session the next day, they warn, “we shall be compelled to complain about your absence.” (Possibly Nicolls favors Chambers because he is of British origin, or possibly some other factor is at play.) By 5 July 1667, a hostile witness reports hearing Chambers say (Kingston Papers pp. 352-353), “I do not esteem my commission, because I did not take the oath of office, and therefore I may say what I please.” Chambers denies he said this, but it’s an interesting claim (made in the context of a case where Chambers is being accused of making scurrilous remarks about the English garrison).

Note that as of 9 April 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 599-600), Martin Hoffman is still in town. (He appears to have come up for the various transactions involved in wrapping up Ida’s estate; see above.) He and Tjerck witness a declaration of Geertruyd Andriessen—not Tjerck’s sister-in-law by that name, who lives up at Beverwyck with her husband Jan Tomassen, but the Wildwyck resident who is married, now, to Aert Martensen Doorn. Geertruyd describes a 31-foot wide strip of land “close under the village of Wildwyck” that four years ago she gave to Willem Jansen Stol. Mr. Stol passed, and his widow got remarried, to Albert Govertsen. Geertruyd is confirming that Govertsen can have the garden she previously gave to Stol. This may be the land Govertsen sells to Arent Teunissen on 17 April (p. 602), but the descriptions are different.

A curious record from a special council session on Wednesday 28 April 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 291) connects Kit Davids (Christoffel Davids) with the Bronx; he files papers verifying that he paid Andries Hop (deceased) 1000 guilders over time for “the ‘Bronckenland’ situated through the Hellgate.” (Related to this, see also p. 585, a 5 December 1665 declaration by Kit Davids that he never gave anyone permission to sell his ownership in the Hellgate property, not the widow of Andries Hop nor anyone else.)

Fracas at Chateau DuBois

Tuesdays are the regular council meeting day in Wildwyck (as in Manhattan), but on 4 May 1666 (April 29 Old Style), a Tuesday, the council meeting is recorded as a special session regardless (Kingston Papers pp. 291-295). Daniel Broadhead, Captain of the (English) Militia, is invited. There’s one item on the agenda.

Apparently the day before there was a huge brawl between several of the English soldiers and several of the Dutch settlers, outside the “house” (tavern) of Louis DuBois. It appears to have been fueled by alcohol more than by any particular disagreement. Several parties are called to testify. No conclusion is recorded; this just establishes the record.

First up is Albert (Allert) Heymans Roos (Roose, Roosa), who says he was attacked completely unprovoked, and sustained several injuries. The composite account below is compiled from the testimony of several witnesses:

Allert says he was attacked by five soldiers yesterday.

He returned from his fields to take a broken coulter to the smith to have it repaired. The smith was not home, but Jacob Joosten told Allert that he was at the house (tavern) of Louwies Dubois. Allert, “going thither,” found the smith there and, standing outside the tavern, called him to the door. The smith said he’d be right out. Allert stood back from the tavern, minding his business, waiting.

Mattheu Blanchan says he had taken malt to the mill (probably as part of the brewing process), then “returned the wagon with the oxen to Louwies Dubois.” (Blanchan is the father-in-law of Louis Du Bois; see p. 413, 26 October 1668 [New Style date 5 November].) When he got back, “he heard a noise” inside the tavern, probably a bunch of guests already drinking and getting rowdy, “on account of which he did not want to enter.” He saw Allert arrive and call the smith to come outside.

Richard Hammer (apparently another British soldier) fills in a blank: Inside the tavern, he says he saw “Dirrick DeGoyer drew his knife against Francois Vreeman.” Vreeman, says Hammer, went outside. Thomas Elger tells it a little differently, saying that Dirrick DeGojer was outside the tavern with “a bare knife in his hand,” and that’s why Vreeman “drew his sword against Dirrick DeGojer.” Not only is there some Rashomon effect at play here, and some memories that may be selectively clouded in self defense, but also probably no small amount of alcohol affecting perceptions at the time and memories later. Elger says he “does not know what cause there was” between DeGoyer and Vreeman. Frederick Pietersen says he was at the pub, didn’t see Dirk draw any knife, and didn’t know of any “differences . . . between soldiers and inhabitants.”

Louys Dubois, the tavern keeper, says that “yesterday some residents came to his house for a drink. In the meantime some soldiers also entered to have a drink.” He says he saw Vreeman “being half mad [drunk] had partially drawn his sword.”  Dubois asked Vreeman “to again sheath his sword, which he did.”

Tavernkeeper Dubois says while he was inside the pub, after trying to settle down Vreeman, Hammer “also being mad, said something which [Dubois] did not understand.” Dubois asked him “not to make trouble” in his tavern but “to drink their wine in peace.” Hammer started to draw his sword. Dubois, “with one hand, took hold of the hilt and with the other hand held his sleeve so that he could not entirely draw his sword, and thus holding fast the sword, both of them got outside.” From Dubois’s telling, this all happened even before Allert came looking for the smith.

Dubois says that after he and Richard Hammer tumbled out of the pub, Hammer drunk and with sword half drawn, “Robbert Pekock, intervening, took hold of [Dubois], and dragged him away,” at which point Hammer hit Dubois on the head “with the little stick.” Peacock, says Dubois, took him back into the pub, “and was followed by Ridsert Hamer, who, still standing before the door, struck at” Dubois with “the little stick” again, “whereupon [Dubois’s wife] asked Ridsert Hamer why he beat her husband?” Hammer hit Dubois’s wife twice with the stick, exclaiming, “I want my gloves, or I shall kill your husband!”

Dubois told Hammer, “Come inside and look for your gloves.” Dubois says that then Vreeman, still in the pub, “again entirely unsheathed his sword, not knowing with whom he had a quarrel.” Dubois, seeing this, took Vreeman by the arm and threw him out of the pub.

It sounds as if this is right after Allert, suspecting none of this, had arrived looking for the smith, and agreed to wait outside.

Allert says while he was standing outside the pub, waiting for the smith to come out, “a soldier, named Francois Vreeman, comes outside, walks up to where [Allert] stands,” and in Allert’s telling “immediately draws his sword without having word with or answer from [Allert], and strikes twice” at Allert, apparently not hitting him yet. Allert says (in his words), “You must not do that anymore, or I shall go for you with the piece of the coulter.” Vreeman lunges at Allert again, “and hit him through the coat,” and Allert threw the coulter at Vreeman, “but did not hit him.” Blanchan confirms this. Elger says he saw Allert throw “the smallest piece of the broken coulter” at Vreeman. Pietersen says “he was outside the door . . . when [Allert] arrived with the broken coulter and called the smith outside,”  and he saw Vreeman come out and draw his sword. Pietersen says Allert said “Look out what you do,” and threw the coulter but didn’t hit Vreeman.

Meantime, Richard Hammer came out of the tavern too, and hit Allert on the head with his sword. Hammer says he saw “Allert Heymans struck Francois Vreeman with the piece of the coulter, so that he tumbled down,” but he doesn’t mention seeing Vreeman attacking Allert. Hammer says he “went outside for the purpose of separating them.”

Blanchan says Allert “was retreating to the wagon,” and he saw Hammer’s sword “passed below Allert Heyman’s left arm, but does not know whether or not he wounded him.” Allert says he “takes hold of a stick or piece of wood, which was laying handy, and therewith defended his life,” swinging back at Hammer, who takes another swing at him with the sword. Blanchan says “While defending his life,” Allert clobbered Hammer “(who intended to strike Allert Heymans) with the same stick on the arm, so that he dropped the sword.” Hammer confirms that Allert “grasped a stick, and beat” Hammer. Elger says Allert’s weapon was “the largest piece” of the broken coulter, and says that’s all he knows about the incident. Pietersen agrees that Corporal Hammer came out, drew his sword, and struck at Allert.

Hammer says that next out of the pub was “Ariaen Huyberts . . . with a bare knife, hidden by his hand,” who “stuck” Hammer with the knife. Ariaen says “yesterday, he did not carry his knife, but only the sheath of his knife.” He says yes, he was at Dubois’s tavern yesterday, and “heard, while still being in [the tavern], that the soldiers were fighting on the street,” and “upon coming outside, he saw that his uncle, Allert Heymans, was bleeding.” Ariaen tried to go to Allert, but “three soldiers with drawn swords attacked him [Ariaen], without a word having been uttered on either side . . . and cut through his hat.”

Allert says that the third soldier out of the pub was Thomas Elger, “who also struck at [Allert], and whom [Allert], dealing him a blow with the same stick, also turned off. Pietersen also names Elger, “with his sword drawn.” Blanchan says Allert hit Elger and Elger “whirled around [or grew giddy].” Elger’s account does not include this.

“Tomas Quinel, the fourth, arriving, tried to pierce [Allert] from behind,” but Allert, “jumping about, hit [Quinel] with the same stick, so that he tumbled to the ground.” Blanchan and Pietersen describe this too.

Vreeman, “now again attacking [Allert] with the intention of sticking through him, also received . . . a thrust with the same piece of wood, so that it dazed him, whereupon the fifth, Robbert Pecock, appeared, and intended to pierce [Allert].” Allert, retreating, was followed by Peacock, “who tried to hit him, whereupon [Allert] ran under his sword, and took hold of his body.” Blanchan’s account doesn’t include Peacock, but Pietersen also describes how Allert ran under Peacock’s sword “ant took hold of his body.”.

The other four soldiers now ganged up on Allert from behind and wounded him, as Allet describes, “five times, being three blows on the head and two thrusts, one in his back, the other in the arm.” Pietersen concurs.

Dubois’s telling is that after he threw Vreeman out, Vreeman was “followed by the greatest part, English as well as Dutch,” and Dubois “then closed his door.”

Pietersen says that after the four other soldiers ganged up on Allert, clinging to Peacock’s body, “Captain Broodhead came and ordered the soldiers to desist.”

Ariaen Huberts says “Captain Broadhead arrived and pacified the soldiers and took [Ariaen] to the guardhouse under arrest.” When Ariaen arrived there, “Corporal Ridsert Hamer, who had arrested him . . . immediately hit him with his drawn sword in the head, and cut his hand, and . . . would have murdered him, if another soldier had not set him free.”

It’s probably worth mentioning that Allert Heymans Roose, who has at times served on the council, is a known local hothead, with a streak for resisting authority and some moderate history of violence. (See 7 June 1667 below, when his wife asks for a character reference from the town council; see also No Ordinary Hothead above.) So although this specific attack may not have been provoked at the time, it’s likely that all of these soldiers already knew Allert by sight and reputation. (In his defense, it sounds as if the soldiers were already drunk and belligerent before he ever showed up.) In Allert’s telling, supported by some of the other witnesses, he sounds pretty nimble at defending himself with no weapon but a stick grabbed from somewhere on the ground, spinning and ducking swinging swords from multiple sides.

It does not appear that relations between the English and the “Dutch” settlers (which includes Europeans from a wide set of origins) are improving. The minutes do not include any record of any official action taken in response to this (in American baseball parlance) bench-clearing brawl. The wounds are left to fester.

On Tuesday 4 May 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 295-296), a fresh decree is issued to protect the town from attack from the “savages,” by which the note takers mean not the English troops garrisoned in Wildwyck to protect the town, but the nearby villages of people who have been living here since long before the English or the Dutch, who regularly trade with the European villagers in peace. The powers that be have noticed that during church on Sundays “and days of prayer,” some villagers (who might ought to be busying themselves instead with the Lord’s work, attending the remonstrations of Domine Blom) “trafficking and dealing with the savages,” who are less inclined to bother themselves with Holy Communion. The poo-bahs fear that the Esopus who live nearby “might find opportunity . . . to surprise the village, because the larger portion of the people is unarmed at church.” Naturally there has to be a rule. Henceforth and forthwith, nobody “whatever business he may conduct,” is allowed to “in any manner, traffic or deal with any male or female savage” on a Sunday or day of prayer. Residents are also admonished to “pay heed to the discharge of a cannon which shall be a sign or signal of alarm.” Also, on Sundays the captain of the burgher guard is instructed to tell the Saturday night guard to remain on duty and “make the rounds . . . during religious services, fully armed.”

On Wednesday 12 May 1666, in a special council session (Kingston Papers p. 296), the Schout expresses some further concern that “great multitudes of savages are again appearing in our village, not only of Esopus but also of other nations of savages.” The burgher guard, which heretofore has patrolled mainly at night, when cows do not obstruct the roads and byways of the village, will now also be kept during the daytime. The captain of the guard is instructed to warn the farmers, “through the corporal,” that when they go to the fields to work, everyone should carry a gun.

On 14 May 1666, Tjerck and Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh are asked to appraise a crop. Stuyvesant owns a plot of land called “Reecoppenhoeck.” His representatives, Thomas Chambers and Willem Beeckman, would like Tjerck and Jan to evaluate the winter crop planted on the land by Ariaen Gerretsen Van Vliet, the “former and retiring lessee,” before Lambert Huyberts, the new lessee, moves in. The name of the land (“hoeck”) suggests that it is on a hook either on the river or on a kill. Tjerck and Jan note 3 1/2 morgens of unspoiled grain, but the rest “has either been rooted up by the high water or covered with sand.” (See further discourse on this land, p. 655, 2 May 1667. On 22 May 1666, in a mostly unrelated transaction, Thomas Chambers rents two draft geldings to Ariaen Gerretsen Van Vliet for a year, witnessed by Tjerck and Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck. Rent is 40 schepels of wheat for the team; the horses are valued at 800 guilders together.)

On Tuesday 18 May 1666, at a regular council session (Kingston Papers pp. 296-297), Eduard Wittiger and Joris Porter complain that Mattheu Blanchan’s cattle have damaged their “Indian corn.” They would like to work things out amicably with him; failing that, they want complete restitution. Blanchan says he drove his cattle “into the wood” to graze, and could not watch them there; he notes that “as per the regulations here, everybody is obliged to have proper fences around his land and plantation,” so he should not have to worry about his cattle entering someone else’s fields. He also notes that his cattle apparently followed the cattle of Thomas Chambers, because Chambers had left his gate open. Wittiger and Porter say they are strangers here and didn’t know about this regulation, but that they had warned Blanchan about the situation three or four times, which they thought was sufficient. The council asks Tjerck and Aert Martensen Doorn to investigate and try to find a settlement that works for everybody. (See 7 July 1665, p. 243, when Tjerck is appointed a fence examiner, after a complaint by Doorn about damages to his crops. The appointment is renewed at this session, p. 297.) Porter and Wittiger also summon Jan Jansen Van Amersfort and Lambert Huybertsen, possibly for a similar complaint, but those two do not appear. All three of these cases come up again on 22 June (p. 298), when Tjerck and Aert report that the corn farmers want 150 guilders in damages, Blanchan sticks by his last answer, and nobody has agreed to anything. The court resubmits for outside arbitration.

New Schoolmaster

On Monday 7 June 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 298), Willem La Montagnie requests permission to start a day and evening school, asking also that he be relieved of the obligation of housing soldiers, and that nobody else be allowed to keep a school. The council grants his petition. This town is getting edumacated. See also 27 November 1668 (p. 416), when Cornelis Hoogeboom asks permission to keep an evening school; the court turns him down. See also p. 409, 21 April 1668, when Willem is identified as the voorleser (reader) of the church, and asks to be “favored with the office of secretary and vendue-master [auctioneer], because he cannot remain on his small salary.” On 6 September 1667 (p. 360), after Domine Blom departed, La Montagnie successfully asked for a salary increase. He had been earning money as the “fore-singer” of the congregation, but now he adds 500 guilders annually as the “fore-reader” as well (voorleser). In addition, the council in 1667 grants him free rent; he is “permitted to occupy the front part of the village-house and one-half of the upper floor.” (The council reserves the back part of the house, half the upper floor, and the cellar for its own use.)

Education of the next generation is always political. Parents want their children to be taught the same way as the parents were, and they want their children to be educated in a way that will lead them to success in life. (These goals sometimes contradict each other.) In New Netherland, where Lutherans for years had chafed under Stuyvesant’s heavy intolerance (the United Provinces of the Netherlands were tolerant in law and to varying degrees in practice, but Stuyvesant had to be instructed more than once by the Directors of the W.I.C. to make room for faiths other than the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church), one of the reasons frequently cited when the Lutheran community requested permission to hire a minister of their own was that their children were stuck in the tutelage of the Dutch Reformed parsons hired by the colony, and so they were being brought up under a different set of precepts from the Unaltered Augsburg Confession their parents considered their own. (Baptisms in the Dutch church were another bone of contention.) The English, when they took over the colony, could count noses and see that Anglican parishioners would be outnumbered for the foreseeable future by Dutch Reformed colonists, so they made a point of declaring tolerance to be a principle of their administration, good news for Lutherans too. Presumably if De La Montagne is going to run a school, although he is a reader in the Dutch Reformed Church, it might be at least ecumenical at least in theory. The DeWitts are certainly not the only non-DRC members of the community, and other families would also appreciate having an education available that was not tied to one faith or another. Tjerck and Barbara by now have five children, boys and girls, ranging from infancy to 9 years old, and they’ll be grateful to have a way to teach Andries his letters and numbers.

De La Montagne is an interesting choice for a teacher. In 1668, when he takes over keeping minutes at council meetings, we start to see a series of discrepancies in the dates recorded for the meetings—Tuesdays that cannot arithmetically both be Tuesday, other curious conflicts. He is lettered, both a reader in the church and perfectly capable of keeping fluent minutes. But whatever his educational strengths and shortcomings may be will be reflected in the education of Wildwyck’s next generation. Very likely—I have not checked this—Willem De La Montagne is the son of Vice-Director Jean (Johannes) de la Montagne of Fort Orange, with whom Tjerck previously had business (see for example 25 June 1657 or 1 September 1660 above), and Willem’s sister would be Rachel Montagne, wife of town doctor Gysbert Van Imbroch, who was kidnapped in the Esopus attack in 1663 (she was one of the first captives recovered).

See 27 April 1669 below (p. 433), when on the same day Evert Noldingh requests and receives permission to run a school and Willem Montagne requests a place to erect a distillery. Teaching kids will do that to you.

On 23 October 1671 (p. 467), Cornelis Hoogenboom requests to be appointed schoolmaster, “and to have the village house and lot rent-free” for two years. Request is granted, reserving space in the town hall for religious services and council meetings.

De La Montagne and Tjerck seem to get along well, and down the road we see them involved together in various transactions.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, or the can of worms is opened, or Pandora has unsealed the box, the fence complaints come tumbling out. (This may partly be a result of spring coming into full bloom, with farmers planting their crops for the season and new calves and colts, untrained in their parents’ regular ways, hungrily gobbling any forage they can find.) On Tuesday 22 June 1666, at a regular council session (Kingston Papers pp. 298-300), Tjerck, probably wearing his fence examiner hat, files a complaint against Andries Pietersen Van Leeuven, saying that Andries “refuses to fence in his portion of the common fence running from Aert Martensen Doorn’s land till the fence of Wassemaker’s land.” Andries says he “does not refuse to make the common fence” but says Tjerck “plus others bordering on the common fence also ought to assist.” The council says everyone with a border on the common fence should keep it in good repair, and instructs Tjerck to help, “until the new village shall be again inhabited.” (Interesting observation here, that the farmers are still using the fields down toward the Groote Stuck that caused all the trouble with the Esopus in 1663, but nobody has moved back to the Nieuw Dorp.)

(Wassemaker’s land eventually is known under the British as Washmaker’s land; see DRCHSNY XIII p. 447 for a description of its location, on the boundary between Hurley and Kingston, and size, 148,000 rods, or 925 acres, about 1.5 square miles.)

Andries goes on with a complaint of his own, saying that Allert Heymans Roos keeps using a wagon road through Andries’s land, to get to his fields “under the new village.” Andries would like Allert to be prohibited from this. Allert notes that he has been given this permission historically, and in addition, when Andries asked for his help, Allert assisted with work on a bridge across the Kil. The council gives Allert permission to use the road, but makes him responsible for any damage caused.

Apparently Captain Brodhead has weighed in as well, suggesting that “the fences commencing from Wassemaker’s land through the Kil and further across the Kil till Allert Heyman’s fences ought to be repaired.” The council puts together a work crew: De Heer Beeckman (Willem Beeckman, Schout), Tjerck, Jan Joosten, Allert Heymans, Aert Martensen, Henderick Aertsen, Pieter Hillebrants, Andries Pietersen, Jan Jansen Van Oosterhout, Lambert Huybertsen, Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh, Aert Jacobsen’s widow, and Ariaen Gerretsen Van Vliet. Work day is set for 26 June, the coming Saturday, with everyone meeting at Allert Heymans Roose’s house. Captain Brodhead promises to take care of repairs and ongoing maintenance of the fence on Wassemaker’s land. He will break this promise before long; see 1 July 1667 below.

No council meetings are recorded in the month of July 1666.

On 10 July 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 609), Tjerck appears as a witness to a contract between Albert Govertsen and Henderick Cornelissen (the rope maker); Henderick is buying a crop of oats, white peas, and buckwheat from Albert. (Note that on p. 613, in a separate transaction, Albert is described as “from Steenwyck.”)

At a special meeting on Wednesday 4 August 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 300), the Wildwyck town council decides to reduce the watch rounds by half (“one-half of each half corporal’s guard”), “because the residents [who make up the guard] . . . have requested [the reduction] on account of the present harvest.” (Harvest season may also explain why in summer months there always seem to be fewer regular council meetings.) The council notes that “many of the strange savages have each departed for their own land. And in case we should be informed of any gathering of savages again taking place about this neighborhood, the watch shall again be reinforced as the circumstances may require.” (See p. 344, 22 March 1667, for an increase in the watch the following spring.)

At a special meeting on Saturday 14 August 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 300-301), the council “farmed out the tapster and burgher excise of the wines and beers to be consumed during the next current year, at public auction.” My understanding is that before now wine and beer were both taxed by the same “excise farmer,” but it appears that now the tax collection has been split. Curiously, Daniel Broadhead, commander of the local garrison, who has been known to lift a glass or two himself, doesn’t just bid for the tapster post but wins it, for 575 guilders. In theory anyone can collect the liquor excise, but this puts him in a position where he could potentially abuse his double authority. Burgher excise is won by Henderick Cornelissen for 406 guilders. See 22 March 1667, p. 341, when “captain Broodhead has received 12 half barrels of good beer, on which said Broodhead has been unwilling to pay the excise” (7 ankers of rum are also in question). Brodhead says “he is not obliged to pay . . . unless the hon. Heer Gov. Genl. should order him to pay.” (See 15 August 1665, above, for further discussion of conflicts of interest in the excise collection system.)

Good beer wants the best hops (note that malt is milled locally too), and hops harvesting season comes in late summer and early fall. Copper kettles for distilling brandy are a common topic of legal cases in Wildwyck, and hops come up too. Apparently local hops are harvested in the wild, not just planted and grown by farmers. At a special session on 4 Saturday September 1666 (Kingston Papers pp. 301-302), the council decrees that “nobody shall be permitted to pick or gather the hop growing wild in the woods before September 10 [Old Style]/20 [New Style].” Also, nobody is allowed to pick hops “standing or growing on the farming lands without the owner’s consent,” and “nobody shall undertake to steal from the gardens within or without the village, or from the outside plantations, under penalty of bodily punishment as the case may require.” (Notably, this is the first time the town council has discussed “bodily punishment” rather than a fine. Under the Dutch, any physical punishments were referred to the Colony Council in Manhattan.) The council distinguishes between the “farming lands” outside the village walls and the gardens people keep on their lots within the stockade (the “curtain wall”). Apparently enthusiastic green thumbs plant hops everywhere they can. The council’s decree notes that it is not just Wildwyck residents but also non-residents who are eager to jump the gun. Many, “being possessed by avidity pick and gather said hop before [it is] ripe.” The underripe hops are “not fit for proper merchandise, wherewith the buyer is defrauded, and . . . the other good and valuable hop gathered by others in this place is also under-rated.” The decree is issued in the King’s name. (It is renewed 6 September 1667, p. 359.)

Mattys/Matthew Blanchan (probably called Mathieu by his parents; he seems French), the main miller at Wildwyck, who does not get along with Tjerck (Tjerck sends his grain to Albany at great expense to have it milled there; see 26 October 1668 below), asks permission from Governor Nicolls for a “Horse Mill, on a Small Spott of Ground (as hee alleadges belonging to no particular Parson) near adjoyning to his House.” On 17 September 1666 (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 404-405), Matthias Nicolls, the nephew and secretary of the Governor, sends a note to Captain Brodhead instructing him to “make Enquiry of the Commissaryes and Officers of the Towne” to make sure the story is on the up and up, and if it is, to allow it. Where, under the Dutch, the town council used to communicate directly with either Stuyvesant or the Colony Council, the increasingly common practice under English administration is to use the commander of the garrison as a go-between, giving him a position perhaps somewhat elevated above the local council, rather than on an equal level.

The English Reconfirm Dutch Land Grants

Important business takes place at the “general court of Assizes held at New York on Oct. 1 by authority of his Majesty, in the 18th year of the reign of our Souvereign Lord Charles II by the Grace of God King of England, Scotland, France [!] and Ireland, Protector of the Faith, etc.” (1666). The notice is entered in the minutes of a regular council meeting at Wildwyck Tuesday 23 November 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 315). The upshot: Governor Nicolls has been running the colony since 1664. The court in Manhattan says “both villages and private individuals are negligent in turning in their charters and deeds” to have them confirmed by the Governor and his team. The treaty signed when the Dutch handed over the colony said that local government and individual land holdings would be preserved by the new government, but the Governor would like to get all deeds and charters turned in to make them part of His Majesty’s records. The court of Assizes observes that the old deeds and charters are considered “defective and void in consequence of the order issued previously,” and expects towns and individuals to “come to fetch or request new ones.” The court says “several villages and persons . . . English as well as Dutch, have possession of their land and houses upon condition that they are subjects of the States General of the United Provinces [the Netherlands], which is contraty to the oath and duty to his majesty.” Henceforth and forthwith, “all charters and deeds issued prior to this shall be delivered up for the purpose of being confirmed or renewed by authority of his royal highness the duke of York [the King’s brother], and those having, up to now, no deed shall be furnished one.” Deadline is 1 April 1667. Folks, get your paperwork turned in!

The funny thing about this flowery pronouncement is that none of the confirmations from Nicolls made their way into the published record.

Tjerck is summoned to a council meeting by Henderick Palingh (Henry Pawling) on Wednesday 6 October 1666 but does not appear. He may be out of town, or busy, or he may simply prefer not to come (Kingston Papers p. 302).

At a regular council meeting on Tuesday 19 October 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 303), Tjerck wants Claes Claesen to “carry out his agreement concerning grain sold.” It’s not clear what that agreement was. Tjerck wants to put an attachment on the grain and on wages that Claes earned at Annetje Gerrets’s. The council supports Tjerck.

At the same 19 October 1666 meeting (Kingston Papers pp. 303-304), Cornelis Barentsen Slecht asks “to be relieved of boarding a soldier on account of his poverty and heavy debts . . . and also because he is a single inhabitant,” and he wants to be treated “the same as every other single resident.” The council agrees to reduce his burden, instructing him and Pieter Cornelissen and Jan Jansen Van Oosterhout to split the boarding of a soldier, each one taking one month in three.

The next meeting is recorded in Kingston Papers as Tuesday, October 16, 1666, which would be the “Old Style” date for the 26 October 1666 meeting (p. 304). At this meeting, the council deals with the homeless issue: Aert Otterspoor (pp. 305-306) asks the council “to show him a spot where he may erect a small house . . . because age and ill health are rendering him weak.” Apparently he has no other home. The council says he can use “the point near the little water gate,” which they tell him to cover “with a board roof.” They emphasize that the structure remains village property and tell him to make sure he keeps the gate closed. (For more on Mr. Otterspoor and how he came to be without a house, see “Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Six” above.)

Tjerck apparently skips a regular council meeting Tuesday 23 November 1666 (Kingston Papers p. 314).

On 21 December 1666 (N.S., Kingston Papers p. 630), Tjerck “allows” to Michiel Verbrugge “some [of Tjerck’s?] land for the purpose of growing hops.” The land “is situated along Tjerck Claesen’s farming land along the kil to its left [west] bank when passing the bridge.” From the description, my impression is that the land belongs to Tjerck, but he has not been using it for fields. Tjerck agrees to chop “the trees standing along the bank of the kil, and to remove them.”  (These are an asset with some value, once cut.) Verbrugge will chop 1,000 hop poles, and Tjerck will cart the poles to the acreage, as long as it doesn’t happen “during plowing or harvest time.” The rent is 25 lbs. of hops per year.

Sometime around Christmas 1666, Tjerck suffered a beating from Captain Brodhead and was put under arrest in the guardhouse. The excuse given was that Tjerck “refused to keep Christmas on the day according to the English observation, but according to the Dutch.” (The English still used the old Julian calendar, which was about 10 days behind the modern Gregorian calendar used by the Dutch and other Europeans. The day most of the original colonists would have called 25 December would be 15 December to the British. Note too that different Protestant groups—Calvinist Dutch Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican—had very different beliefs about how the day should be observed, whether it should be treated as any other day or whether it should be celebrated in various ways. Without a more detailed account, it’s hard to guess how the conversation went, but to Tjerck, half the insult may have been in being mistaken for a Dutchman; Tjerck was Frisian, and Lutheran, and not particularly inclined toward Dutch worship.) The references to the beating, which was one of a number of incidents about which the longtime Dutch settlers complained in a 1667 petition to Governor Nicolls for relief from oppressive military presence, make it sound more like a drunken argument in a tavern than an actual judicially administered punishment (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 407, 409). Captain Daniel Broadhead, who personally beat Tjerck and then threw him in prison for not keeping Christmas with the English, had already established in Wildwyck a reputation for erratic, arbitrary behavior and treating the Dutch poorly; his superior, Colonel Nicolls, had warned Broadhead when he put him in charge about mistreating the people he governed (see 23 September 1665 above). Broadhead, in the April 1667 inquest into the settlers’ dissatisfaction with the English garrison, acknowledges Tjerck’s story (“the reason why Capt. Broadhead abused him was because hee would keepe Christmas day on the day accustomary with the Duch, and not on the day according to the English observaçon”) without denying it (p. 409).

* * *

Newfound Maturity

In 1667, after receiving stories from all sides about friction between villagers and garrison, and after receiving a petition from the villagers to do something to relieve the abusive behavior—the 1666 Christmas incident between Tjerck and Captain Broadhead was cited as one of many specific grievances—Governor Nicolls sends a commission to Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 406-415) to investigate the overall situation and specifically a 14 February 1667 armed uprising among a mob of unhappy residents (nearly the whole town, from the descriptions). Broadhead is summarily dismissed; less than three months later, he dies. Of note: Two generations later, Tjerck’s grandson Johannes married Captain Broadhead’s granddaughter Mary. (Brodhead dies July 1667, so the Christmas when he beat up Tjerck in a tavern had to be 1666.)

In some older sources, this incident is described as illustrating Tjerck’s opposition to the British occupation of Kingston. It’s not clear from the record that Tjerck liked being told what to do by the British any less or any more than he had liked being told what to do by the Dutch. Tjerck by now has served for some time on the local council, and has suffered the complaints and accusations of unfair or incompetent treatment that any civil servant does. He knows from experience how frustrating it is to be expected to fix things, and how thankless the work is. So as much as he may chafe under any administration, he probably understands better now that anyone in charge is just muddling through the best they can and won’t ever be perfect. Tjerck is not singled out during the British inquest in 1667 as an instigator or ringleader among the villagers who take up arms, although he is noted as a sergeant of the village militia.

Tjerck by now is nearing 40 years old; he has a wife and several growing children; he has a house and lot inside the town walls and a farm outside town, as well as extended family in the colony and across the ocean. He knows what hard work is and despair; he has seen what he can do with his own strength of will, and by using the work of others to his advantage. (He has hired hands on his farm and at some point also starts using enslaved people to increase his wealth.) He has more to lose in 1666 than he did in the mid-1650s when he was unmarried and didn’t mind poking Stuyvesant in the eye by leading Lutheran services in Beverwyck. Tjerck still has a hot temper and is quick to box the ears of an assistant he considers incompetent. But he knows how it feels in his stomach to be on the brink of ruin, and in his more ruminative moments—or perhaps when he’s listening to the counsel of his wife—he probably sees the sense of letting others risk loss by being confrontational, while he protects and nurtures his slowly recovering pile. He has seen that it’s easier to preserve his position and build on it than to regain it after catastrophe.

When weighing the complexities of mixed loyalties, it is wise not to underestimate the attractive power of freedom of conscience to Tjerck, his family and his fellow Lutherans. Consider the attitude of Joannes Megapolensis, the Dutch Domine for three decades in Manhattan (and probably the one who registered Tjerck and Barbara’s marriage), as expressed in his April 1669 letter to the Dutch Reformed Classis in Amsterdam (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 423-424): “There is . . . another difficulty. The Lutherans, this spring, obtained a parson from Amsterdam and received him with great pleasure. Therefore I fear, that when [Domine Drisius and I] die there will be a great scattering and diminution of the church.” For a decade and more, Tjerck and the Lutheran community under the Dutch were not allowed to worship freely; Tjerck himself was fined for trying. Megapolensis regards Lutheran worship as a threat to his church. Consistently during their years in North America, well into the 1690s, we see Tjerck and his family (including in-laws) participating actively in strengthening the Lutheran, carrying messages back and forth among congregations, raising funds to build a church, signing petitions to have a pastor assigned. Clearly to Tjerck and those around him, this is important. Where the Dutch colonial administration repressed the Lutherans, the British, in one of their first acts, opened the door to free worship. Tjerck may not like every single thing about the British, but he may be circumspect about his objections in light of some of the benefits he has enjoyed.


Tjerck apparently skips a regular council meeting Tuesday 18 January 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 319; it is possible he is still in Brodhead’s custody). At this meeting (p. 320), the council reads a woeful letter from Domine Hermanus Blom and is “sorry to see that very little has been collected toward [his] salary.” The council will step up its efforts, “do their duty, visit the residents and sharply admonish them to pay in their share.”

On Tuesday 25 January 1667 (15 January Old Style, Kingston Papers p. 320; records include year from New Style, even January through March), Thomas Chambers says he has been balancing his accounts from 1664, and he wants 16 schepels of wheat from Tjerck. Tjerck begs to differ, but asks for time to gather his records. (See more on this at the 8 February and 1 March 1667 sessions, pp. 325-326, 335-336.) Pieter Gillissen asks 5 schepels of Tjerck, “balance of wages during the last harvest.” Tjerck says no, he paid Pieter, adding that Pieter earned half wages, 4 guilders a day, because Pieter “is not able to fully perform his work, or at least has not done so.” Council invites Pieter “to prove at the next session that he was fully competent at harvest time.”

It has come to the attention of the Wildwyck town council that “desecrating the Sabbath is greatly on the increase” in this neck of the woods (Kingston Papers pp. 324-325, 25 January 1667), “notwithstanding the several stringent decrees” issued previously, and the “heavy punishments of wars, bad harvests and other misfortunes . . . which the great God has sent us . . . on account of the disobedience against His will and command not to descrate the Sabbath or Sunday, but ardently to observe the same.” So, in the name of “the Royal Majesty of Great Britain, etc.,” the townsfolk are urged to correct their ways. Never on a Sunday will it be allowed to “drink to excess, to go out for pleasure drives with wagons, sleighs or horses, nor to commit any other improprieties.” The “public innkeepers are forbidden . . . to serve drinks until sunset.” Also, “whereas daily experience has also shown that many residents here are sometimes not satisfied with remaining whole days in the public inns, but even spend entire nights there, and then upon leaving . . . behave most noisily and boisterously in the streets, like mad people,” there’s a new rule. No serving alcohol after 4 in the evening (perhaps 4 a.m.?) or “after the beating of the drum”  at the night watch. The council adds to this 8 February (p. 330) with a decree against wild games like “running at the ring, drawing or clubbing goose or rooster,” partly “for the purpose of preventing drunkenness.” Instead of “uselessly spending his time” on these games, the council recommends everybody “had better exercise his Christian religion with holy prayers and decent conduct.” Shrove Tuesday is probably coming up.

On 28 January 1667 (18 January Old Style, Kingston Papers pp. 329-330), Domine Hermanus Blom requests to be relieved on 5 March of his office as preacher. After that date he is “willing to officiate as preacher out of charity,” but he would like his pay up to that date. Elder Willem Beeckman (who is also the Schout) and Deacon Jan Joosten make his wishes known at the 8 February town council meeting).

On 29 January 1667 (N.S., Kingston Papers p. 634), Tjerck witnesses a contract for plowing and harrowing between Ariaen Gerretsen Van Vliet and Henderick Cornelissen.

On Tuesday 8 February 1667 (29 January Old Style, Kingston Papers pp. 325-326), at a regular town council meeting, Tjerck and Thomas Chambers go over their old accounts from 1663-1664, which Chambers brought up on 25 January. Chambers wants 16 schepels of wheat. Tjerck comes back and says actually Chambers owes him 291 schepels, “originating from four days’ carting” in 1663, “and for three mowers for four days.” Chambers has counter claims. Council asks for further information. See 1 March session below (pp. 335-336). 1663 was an incredibly difficult year for all the farmers in town; many lost large parts of their crops because of restrictions on harvesting after the Esopus attack on the village in June. There was a lot of contention between farmers and the garrison that was there to protect the village, over who would be allowed out to their fields and when. Many farmers skirted or broke rules. So sorting out a complicated set of who did favors for whom in that year could be a feat.

At a special meeting Monday 14 February 1667 (Kingston Papers pp. 330-331; 4 February Old Style), the Wildwyck town council tries to tame a near insurrection by the villagers, who have armed themselves against the British. Captain Broadhead, it seems, is struggling to follow the instructions of Governor Nicolls that he maintain amicable relations with the people of the village. The wife of Cornelis Barentsen Slecht and their daughter report that Cornelis has been “assaulted and wounded in his house by Capt. Broodhead,” and then arrested and taken to the guardhouse. “[D]issatisfaction has arisen among the burghers, and they have armed themselves,” and this angry, armed mob “request” that Cornelis “be liberated from his arrest.” The council responds that it “is not authorized to proceed with violence,” but it has sent for Captain Brodhead. The captain sends word, via the court messenger, that if the council members wish to speak with him, “they should come to him.”  With Brodhead’s militia and the villagers both literally in arms, rather than taking affront, the council resolves that the best way to try to defuse the tension is to send two council members to meet with Brodhead, “in order to acquaint [him] with the request of the burghers, that Cornelis Slecht, their sergeant, arrested by him, may be again liberated from his arrest, for the purpose of preventing further difficulties and disasters.” Proposing further compromise, they suggest that if Cornelis “has in any manner offended [Brodhead], that he shall summon him as per the order of the hon. Lord Gov. Genl. to appear on this account before the local magistrate, for the purpose of then examining and correcting the differences.” This is pretty close to exactly what Nicolls had instructed Brodhead to do, in writing, when he sent him north to keep an eye on Wildwyck. Brodhead is not in a compromising mood. When the council representatives meet with him, to “acquaint” him with the “request,” he “answered that he would keep [Cornelis] as long as he liked, and in case the burghers wanted to liberate [him] by force that he he would expect them.” The council resolves “to pacify the burghers by force of reasoning.” It tells the burghers to go back to wherever they are supposed to be, “to keep quiet and not to undertake anything against the militia,” and that the council would take it up with Governor Nicolls. The villagers reply that Brodhead “and several other soldiers have threatened today and more times to set fire to the village, which induces them to act on the defensive against the militia.” The council “absolutely refused” and forbade them to stand armed against the militia. The situation with the British is not getting better. At the regular town council meeting on 1 March 1667 (p. 337), Cornelis files an official complaint, noting that Brodhead took Cornelis’s sword and hasn’t returned it. The council says it will request Brodhead to return it and will communicate “the whole affair” to Governor Nicolls.

This letter is written and sent (no doubt overland, since the river is frozen for the season and can’t be used), and it triggers a fairly thorough investigation of the whole situation, stretching into the end of April, with documentation and testimony by witnesses on both sides to a whole series of events leading up to the final confrontation (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 406-415). I have not digested this whole series of documents here yet. It includes the allegations of Brodhead beating Tjerck over his observation of Christmas (pp. 407, 409), as well as many of the incidents reported in previous council minutes, and even more once folks start asking questions. (Tjerck is also named in his position as a “Sergion”—Sergeant, not Surgeon—of the burgher watch, p. 409.) Tjerck is the first signer on the 28 April 1667 declaration by the townsfolk explaining why they took up arms on 14 February (pp. 413-414). See also 29 March and 16 April below, and “The Nicolls Inquest” in late April.

The story of Henderick Cornelissen, Lyndraejer (rope maker), comes to an unfortunate end on 26 February 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 340), when he is “wounded in the abdomen by Willem Visscher, soldier, and on [3 March] died of this wound . . . leaving neither friends nor last will.” (See more of his story 27 October 1665, above.) Matthew Capito, who was Henderick’s partner, asks the council to appoint curators for the estate; see 5 March estate inventory (pp. 638-639), which suggests Henderick may have been Lutheran. At a 12 March auction of his estate (2 March O.S., pp. 639-641), Tjerck buys odds and ends: “a small bunch of flax” for 3 guilders, “a drawer” for 8 guilders, a red cap for 2 guilders. Roelof Swartwout buys Henderick’s land for 321 guilders. (See “Two Faces of Justice” above.)

(Arent Teunissen on 22 March, p. 344, requests permission from the council to “allow him a site for making rope [ropery],” filling the gap in production. On 14 March, p. 641, he leased from Tjerck a set of ropemaker’s tools for 3 years, at 4 schepels of winter wheat per year.)

* * *

On Tuesday 1 March 1667 (19 February Old Style, Kingston Papers pp. 335-336), Tjerck and Thomas Chambers come back before the town council with their dispute over who paid what to whom in farming and harvesting in 1663-1664. Tjerck now has a declaration signed by Pieter Hillebrants about how he and two other mowers worked for four days on Chambers’s fields. Tjerck swears by oath to the debts Chambers owes him. Chambers denies it. The council also learns that “it had been agreed that each one [Chambers and Tjerck] should have his turn in proportion of the land, in having and using the mowers, binders and ‘hockers,’ during said harvest time, the one after the other.” The council says it sounds as if they had a lot of agreements that weren’t noted in writing, and says it all needs to be put on paper. On Tuesday 8 March (p. 339), Tjerck asks for more time, until the river is open, so he can procure “proof from the persons at present living at the Manhatans.” The council grants him extra time but also grants Chambers permission to collect on the 16 schepels of wheat that was given him by judgement 8 February (see above).

On Tuesday 8 March 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 339), at a regular town council session, Tjerck works on some additional estate business. He was the executor/curator of his sister Ida’s half of the estate left when Ida and her husband Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck were killed in June 1663. Ida and Jan did not leave any living children together, but Jan apparently had been previously married, and he left behind at least a son (apparently: Albert Janssen Van Steenwyck, who still lives in the area) and possibly other “minor children,” as the legal formulation goes. The council at the time appointed separate guardians to look after the interests of the “minor children.” (Albert Janssen was very nearly of age when his father was killed. He appears in town council minutes not long after in a variety of adult roles, such as becoming a court messenger, bringing cases against various individuals in town, and so on. If there were other children, they may have been younger.) Evert Pels and Henderick Jochemsen were the guardians of Jan’s minor children, but Tjerck seems to have handled all the assets of both sides of the estate, until the assets were divided and the estate was closed. He managed an estate auction (“vendue”), and was responsible for collecting debts and issuing payments. Others helped, from both sides of the family. The estate was closed in 1666. Now Evert and Henderick have brought Tjerck a summons asking him to deliver 50 schepels of oats, “as per a note by Swerus Teunissen, on account of the estate of Jan Albertsen Van Steenwyck.” (On the same day they also ask Roelof Swartwout to settle up on money he owes to the estate.) Apparently when times were tight and Tjerck was short on cash, he borrowed 50 schepels of oats from Swerus on behalf of the estate, and now Swerus, who lives in Rensselaerswyck, is asking the guardians to repay the debt; the guardians are coming to Tjerck, since he handled the estate’s money. Tjerck says he’ll pay the note to “Henderick DeBacker [sic] upon [Henderick’s] arrival” in Wildwyck. Henderick is one of the bakers up at Fort Orange/Beverwyck, and he can’t come down river until the ice thaws and navigation is possible (which shouldn’t be long now). Presumably Tjerck will give the money to Henderick the baker, and Henderick the baker will give the money to Swerus, and Swerus will confirm to Evert and Henderick the guardians that the account is settled. Sweerus Teunissen appears to be a financier and small-scale speculator; we have seen him purchase two 20-morgen parcels next to Tjerck’s farmland. (See 7 October 1664 above, pp. 543-544, 546, 652-653; also see “Where Does Tjerck Live? Part Eight” above, 9 November 1666, pp. 620-621.) Evert and Henderick J. ask Tjerck to write up “a note for the money . . . in regard to the separation and division of [the estate of] Jan Albertsen, deceased. He agrees to give the council an I.O.U. (Note that Henderick de Backer is not Henderick Hendricksz, the baker to whom Tjerck rented a house in Beverwijck in 1656 [see “Where Does Tjerck Live” above, Parts 2 and 3]; he died in 1661, according to Janny Venema; see 1 May 1658 above. Henderick’s wife went on to marry Hans Coenraetse, also a baker.)

At the same regular session on Tuesday 8 March 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 339), Tjerck complains that Marten the mason has not fenced his land, and asks that Marten’s land “may be appropriated for the purpose of fencing the same,” and also to receive payment for the “great damage to his own land” that has resulted from Marten’s lack of a fence. The record is interrupted; no outcome is recorded.

On Tuesday 22 March 1667 (12 March Old Style, Kingston Papers p. 344), at a regular meeting, the town council observes that the English soldiers at the Redoubt landing on the river have increased their guard duty, “and the savages are again expected to arrive.” Apparently a large gathering of native peoples is expected, from all over the area, as was seen last summer. There’s not a note of hostility or any special concern in the council minute, but the council resolves for the time being, while strangers are in the area, to “mount burgher guard during the night, and one-half of said half corporal’s guard shall also watch during the day, and the meeting point shall be at every guard corporal’s or ‘Landpassaet’ in order to then go to their watches in a body.” (For previous reduction in guard, see 4 August 1666, p. 300.)

The Governor in Manhattan has heard about conflicts between the townsfolk and the soldiers of the English garrison, probably from letters sent both from the council and from Captain Brodhead. (See notes at 14 February above, and DRCHSNY XIII pp. 406-415.) On 9 March Governor Nicolls wrote a letter and sent it up the river; it was received on 29 March “through a savage.” (As of 8 March, see above, and 1 March, Tjerck had noted that the river was still frozen over, so the letter probably had to come by land rather than on a ship—meaning it took longer to get here too.) The council note does not include the contents of Nicolls’s letter (it’s probably recorded in other volumes), but whatever the Governor said, it was enough for the council to resolve to post a decree at the village gates (Kingston Papers p. 345): “[A]ll residents of this village are ordered . . . that not a single one amoung them shall undertake to proceed, assist or appear in any act of hostility, whether with or without their arms, to the molestation or annoyance of his Majesty’s garrison, stationed here, under penalty of death.” A crackdown is commencing. See also 16 April below.

On 2 April 1667 (Kingston Papers pp. 646-648), Evert Pels, apparently of his own volition, sells at auction “some farming implements and other effects,” including land. Tjerck buys a wagon for 30 guilders and six sieves for 22 guilders. Lambert Huyberts buys the land (“under the new village”) for 626 guilders; Tjerck is one of his sureties, together with Albert Jansen Van Steenwyck.

On Tuesday 5 April 1667 (26 March Old Style), Tjerck skips a regular council meeting. He is wanted by the Schout, Willem Beeckman, for something, but we don’t know what (Kingston Papers p. 345). The river may have opened up again for travel, and Tjerck had spoken of going to Manhattan to get some records (see 1 March above). At this meeting (p. 347), the council nominates four candidates for the next term, to replace retiring council members Evert Pels and Jan Joosten. Deacon Allert Heymans Roos is on the list, along with Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh (a church elder), and Henderick Jochemsen. Two of these gentlemen are about to be placed under arrest by the Governor, apparently for resisting the British occupation. Roelof Swartwout apparently is also stepping down (p. 350). The Governor appoints Jacob Burhans, Deacon Henderick Aertsen, and Henderick Jochemsen (whom he also has arrested), who get sworn in on 24 May, except Jochemsen, “being absent.” Jochemsen takes his oath on 7 June (p. 350).

At a special session on Saturday 16 April 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 347, 6 April Old Style), the council has received a letter from Governor Nicolls dated 12 April (2 April O.S.). (From the travel time, we can surmise the river is open for travel again. Tjerck is back in town, so the letter may have come on the same ship he took.) At the Governor’s request, Schout Willem Beeckman places under arrest (in the guardhouse) Allert Heymans Roos, Henderick Jochemsen, and Antoni D’Elba (Delva). D’Elba tells the Schout that he doesn’t intend to remain in the guardhouse, so he gets shackled to the wall. (The translation here is a bit unclear; D’Elba refers to bail, possibly asking the Schout to post bail for him: “If you don’t want to go on my bail.”  The minutes record that D’Elba is single, presumably making him a greater flight risk.) Jan Willemsen Hoochteylingh puts himself up as bail for Allert Heymans Roos; Tjerck says he will guarantee Henderick Jochemsen won’t run; Francois Lecheer stands up for Antoni and says he will guarantee his appearance before the court when summoned. The minutes at this session refer to “such crimes as they shall be charged with,” without specifying the charges. (See 9 May session below? the 9 May case does not seem worthy of an arrest warrant; it’s a property dispute between two land owners. Probably the letter itself is recorded in one of the Documentary History series, which could provide more specifics. See also 7 June below, when Allert’s wife requests from the council a character reference for her husband; they pen a rather scathing declaration, which mentions the 14 February fracas with Brodhead but also previous fractious behavior, without any praise for Allert’s service as a deacon or as a council member or as a sergeant of the burgher guard.) (See notes at 14 February above, and DRCHSNY XIII pp. 406-415. At the end of the Governor’s inquest, the villagers deemed guilty of “Rebellious and Mutinous Riot” are Allert Hymens Roos, Anthony Delva, Cornelis Barentsen Slecht, and Ariant Albertson. Brodhead apparently is removed from his position as commander of the garrison.)

The Nicolls Inquest

On 25, 26, 27 April 1667, after receiving stories from all sides about friction between villagers and garrison, and after receiving a petition from the villagers to do something to relieve the abusive behavior, Governor Nicolls sends a commission to Wildwyck (DRCHSNY XIII pp. 406-415) to investigate the overall situation and specifically the 14 February 1667 armed uprising among a mob of unhappy residents (nearly the whole town, from the descriptions). After the investigation, the objectionable commander of the English garrison, Captain Daniel Brodhead, is summarily dismissed; less than three months later, he dies.

The commission consists of Captain Robert Needham, Thomas De Lavall, and Cornelius Van Ruyven (“Justice of the Peace,” kept over from the days of the Dutch colony, when he held a post as Secretary; Nicolls tended to be fairly evenhanded and appears to have made sure some Dutch voices were represented on most bodies under his administration).

Documentation of the inquest is divided into several sections:

  1. The 14 February petition of the “Inhabitants of the Towne of Wiltwyck” (the British spelling), setting forth 18 specific numbered complaints about the behavior of Brodhead and the soldiers of the garrison since Nicolls’s last visit (pp. 406-408)
  2. A response from soldiers in the garrison, also numbered, describing some of the fractious actions of the villagers, including references to “the first Rysing against us,” apparently prior to 14 February, and also mentioning a nickname for Albert Hymans, “the new boore,” which I have not seen elsewhere (“boore” may be the Dutch boer, or farmer, but it’s still cryptic) (pp. 408-409)
  3. Testimony given to the commission under oath (pp. 409-411):
    a. Individual complaints against Captain Brodhead, point by point, from Tjerck (up first; Captain Brodhead acknowledges his story of the Christmas episode, not denying it), Walraven DuMont, and Thomas Chambers.
    b. Then the villagers bring in a document (possibly the minutes from the 14 February meeting, or something taken from it) explaining their behavior
    c. Then the commission hears sworn testimony from several British soldiers: Henry Pawling, Samuel Oliver, Richard Haymour (followed by Dutch settlers Jacob Jonson and Claus Classon), George Hall, Humphrey Ferguson, and Frederick Hussey.
  4. A document from the soldiers describing their perception of the events of 14 February (pp. 411-412)
  5. A copy of the town council minutes from 14 February (p. 413)
  6. A document written by the villagers explaining why they were up in arms, signed by 34 Wildwyck residents, Tjerck at the top of the list (pp. 413-414).
  7. A summary of the proceedings, including charges and evidence against Albert Hymens Roose, Antonio Delva, Cornelius Barenson (Vos, not Slecht), and Ariant Albertson (Albert Hymens’s son, per Marc Fried, p. 122), with guilty verdicts for all, for “Rebellious and Mutinous Riot,” on account of which the commission resolves to “carry downe the foure abovemençoned persons to New Yorke, there to receiue from the honoured gouernour their finall Sentence” (pp. 414-415)

As Marc Fried puts it in The Early History of Kingston, “How long the four men were imprisoned is uncertain, but it is on record that Albert Heymans was back in Wildwyck by February 7, 1668, apparently a free man.” Fried refers to T.D.R. I p. 490, which is p. 386 in Kingston Papers, where at a regular town council meeting a dispute between Henderick Jochemsen and Reyner Van Coelen is referred to Tjerck and Allert Heymans Roosa as arbiters to determine whose claim is correct. (On 16 April 1667, q.v., the Schout had arrested Allert, Henderick Jochemsen, and Antoni D’Elba. Presumably after the inquest Jochemsen is released and the other two are taken into custody, together with Allert and Antoni, to be sent to Manhattan. On 10 May 1667, q.v., the Governor asks the council to take an inventory of Allert’s “property and effects”; on 7 June, q.v., Allert’s wife asks the council for a letter describing his sterling character.)

Fried refers to p. 451 in T.D.R. I for the re-appointment of Christopher Beresford as garrision commander; this is probably KP p. 353, where on 5 July 1667 reference is made to “the commander of the militia here, Christoffel Berrisfort.”

At a special session on Monday 9 May 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 348, 29 April O.S.), Cornelis Barentsen Slecht is brought before the council “in obedience to a verbal order of the hon. Lord Gov. Genl. [Nicolls].” The question seems to be about whether he owned property that he had bought from “the aborigines,” i.e. the Esopus, who formerly lived here. He is making his case “against Thomas Chambers,” who contests ownership of the same land. Cornelis shows evidence by way of documents as well as signed declarations by Juriaen Westphael, Geertruyd Andriessen (the one who lives in town, not the Geertruyd Andriessen who lives in Papscanee and is sister of Tjerck’s wife Barbara), and Jacob Jansen, verifying that they all knew he had bought the land. He shows the council the deed of sale, “a certified village tax bill” based on the 25-morgen property (money that went toward the construction of the parsonage), and a tax bill from 1661 from Peter Stuyvesant. Cornelis has the “sworn surveyor Jaques Corteliou” certify the measuring of the parcel. Then we come to the problem: “Thomas Chambers on May 12, 1664, obtained a deed of said land from the late hon. Lord Dr. Genl. Petrus Stuyvesant, for his step children.” Cornelis would like the ownership restored to him.

Chambers, for his part, observes that the “declarations have not been confirmed under oath,” and he says Cornelis doesn’t have any proof that Stuyvesant approved the land for any specific use, and he says Stuyvesant offered to Cornelis “a parcel of land beyond the new village” in place of the disputed parcel. Cornelis acknowledges this but says he’s still entitled to 8 morgens of the disputed land; he says Stuyvesant wanted to give Chambers 14 morgens of the parcel, not the entire parcel. The council notes that Cornelis never “took possession” of the parcel, and it inspects the tax bills and says Slecht was billed for the land in 1661, but Chambers’s stepchildren in 1664 and thenceforth. The council refers the dispute to Governor Nicolls.

(On the above case, note particularly the proclamation from Manhattan on 1 October 1666, above, which set a deadline of 1 April 1667 for land owners to turn in paperwork to have their holdings confirmed by the British administration. The clock is ticking. In general, also, note that the Wildwyck/Kingston town council generally defers to the Governor of the colony regarding issues of land ownership outside the town limits. Within the town, the council feels enabled to hand out property to some petitioners when the case seems justified. But when residents come before the council and seek either grants or adjudication of property issues in the outlying lands, whether forest or field, the council almost always refers the inquirers to the colony’s central administration in Manhattan.)

At the same 9 May 1667 meeting (Kingston Papers p. 350), Grietje Hendericks, wife of Walran DuMont, wants the council to give her 16 schepels of buckwheat “in the possession of Tjerck Claesen,” because it belongs to Elbert Gerbertsen and Elbert owes it to her. Tjerck does not seem involved in this debt; he’s just the one sitting on the goods.

On 10 May 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 657), at the behest of “the hon. Heeren Commissioners” (the Colony Council in Manhattan?), an inventory is taken “of the property and effects of Allert Heymans Roos.” The short inventory lists his farm, crops, and livestock.

On 7 June 1667, perhaps ominously, Wyntie, “the wife of Allert Heymans Roos,” asks the town council for a letter of reference “concerning the conduct of her husband here at Wildwyck,” probably hoping for a nice description of his years of service to the town as deacon and member of the town council (Kingston Papers p. 351). Instead they put together a biting catalog of the times when he has pushed back against various authorities, whether Stuyvesant, the town council, or the British garrison. It is not clear why Wyntie is asking for this letter (or why Allert is not asking for it himself), but it may be related to the reason the Governor had him arrested on 16 April. (See 16 April above, when Allert is arrested at the instruction of the Governor, and 29 March when the Governor sends up instructions about not engaging in any interference or conflict with the British garrison. See also No Ordinary Hothead above, as well as Fracas at Chateau DuBois, and 10 May 1667 above, when the Heeren Commissioners order an inventory of his property and effects, p. 657.) It says something about the taste Allert leaves in his community’s mouth that at a time when the council had an opportunity to rally behind him and support one of their own against allegations of misbehavior, the instead—to use modern parlance—threw him under the bus. Contrast this with the way the council rallies around Thomas Chambers when he is accused, probably accurately, of impugning the authority of the British administration, 5 July below. His behavior doesn’t change: Already by 23 January 1668 (p. 383), we see him refusing to help cart firewood to keep the town watch warm on cold winter days.

On 25 June 1667 (Kingston Papers pp. 659-660), Jan Hendericks and Frederick Pietersen auction off summer crops and some livestock from the “Rondeeltje,” a plot of farmland with a bit of history. Tjerck buys “One-half of the sowing of 1 and 3/4 sch. of buckwheat,” i.e. whatever that much seed will yield, when it’s ready to harvest, for 19 guilders. The tail end of the auction mentions some buckwheat “standing on the land of Tjerck Claesen, belonging to Aert Martensen Doorn,” but the record does not show that it was sold.

At a special session on 1 July 1667 (Kingston Papers pp. 351-352, 21 June Old Style), Captain Daniel Brodhead “and some other soldiers who are tilling Wassemaker’s land” outside of town are ready to break his promise of 22 June 1666 (see above) that he would take care of repairs and ongoing maintenance of the fence on Wassemaker’s land. They “complain that a portion of the fence . . . is insufficient, on account of which a large number of horses entered, and caused some damage to the maize and other summer crops, and request that said fence shall be repaired by the residents here.” They also request compensation for the damaged crops. Tjerck and Juriaen Westphael, fence examiners, agree that the fence is not adequate. The council orders that “tomorrow, each one of the farmers . . . shall send one man thither with tools” to work together to repair the fence. So much for Brodhead’s word. (The minutes do not mention his June 1666 promise to be responsible for keeping the fence in good repair.) See pp. 353-354 below (5 July 1667), when Frederick Hossy, David Grafford, Antoni Coeck, Willem Houghton and Onfre Fargeson ask for compensation for the damaged crops, as well as p. 360, 6 September, when Hussy and Crafford estimate the damages at 1,040 guilders, which the council deems an outrageously high guess. Note that at this meeting, Christopher Beresford is described once more as the commander of the local garrison; Brodhead has been removed by the Governor, though he is still living in town. As it happens, he will not live another two weeks; he dies 14 July, leaving a wife and at least three children. His descendants intermarry with Tjerck’s at various times. (See p. 363, 25 October 1667, when Brodhead’s wife comes before the council with some questions about oats harvested and threshed from Wassemaker’s field, and p. 368, 1 November, and subsequent sessions, when she comes to the council to settle various other minor debts.)

Thomas Chambers is an interesting character (and deserving of a separate biography). One of the founders of the village, he is British but lived in the colony under Dutch administration long before the English took it over. He is a carpenter, a land owner with aspirations to become lord of an estate; he is married to a Dutch woman, with stepchildren, and evidently is comfortable interacting as well with the local inhabitants of the Esopus villages nearby. He is selected by Governor Nicolls to serve on the town council, perhaps because Nicolls expects his countryman to support the ambitions of the British administration, but Chambers has layered interests and a complex network of loyalties. At a regular town council session on Tuesday 5 July 1667 (Kingston Papers pp. 352-353, O.S. June 26), he takes issue with an insult leveled at him by Henderick Palingh, a tavern keeper, brewer, and sometime excise farmer. Chambers says Palingh called him “a knave or boef, and asks him for reasons for saying so.” Palingh says yes, Chambers is a knave, “because he has caused trouble in his house [probably Palingh’s tavern], and that he called his [whose?] fellow-soldiers ‘rogues.’” Chambers says he can prove he did not molest Palingh in his tavern.

Palingh wants Henderick Jochemsen (like Chambers a member of the current town council, so present at the meeting) “to declare under oath whether he did not hear Thomas Chambers say at the house of Harmen Hendericks that the English who are at present here were banished from England and sent to an island, and that the English took their course to the Manhatans without authority of the King of England, and that Stuyvesant has surrendered the country to them.” This is a heady accusation. It’s plausible that Chambers might have said such a thing, because it’s got some truth to it, but it also sounds a lot like a subject of the Crown questioning the legitimacy of the British rule over the colony, which could be read as treason. Jochemsen says “that he did not hear this . . . but only [says] that a year ago last Shrove-tide he heard [Chambers say] that some English behave in such a manner, cursing, swearing and blustering, as if they were bandits.” Harmen Hendericks says he heard Chambers say “that these Englishmen who are now here, are a party of bandits, and had been sent to some island, and that they thus came here, and that Stuyvesant has given the land to them.” Digging deeper, Palingh goes on to say “that he heard from Eduart Wittiger that Thomas Chambers said, ‘I do not esteem my commission, because I did not take the oath of office, and therefore I may say what I please.” (See 6 April 1666 above.)

Chambers denies all the accusations flatly. He says Harmen’s testimony cannot be allowed. (He describes it as hearsay evidence, which is peculiar since the minutes suggest Harmen testified in person; Chambers also protests that Harmen “has declared his own case,” suggesting that this disqualifies him from testifying in this one; the implication is that Harmen has an axe to grind against Chambers, which he may; see below.) Palingh says Harmen’s wife could be called to testify, but she’s in child bed, so perhaps the court should examine her in her own house.

The council rides to the rescue of Chambers, together with (surprise!) “the commander of the militia here, Christoffel Berrisfort” (what happened to Brodhead?), finding that “Harmen Hendericks is passionately prejudiced against Thomas Chambers, which he showed before the [council] here.” The council tells Palingh that if he wants to accuse Chambers before the Governor, he had better “produce better proof.”

The things Chambers is accused of saying sound well informed and reasonably accurate, and it seems likely that he expressed them, and that the council and Berrisfort believe he said them, and understand that his observations are not without some merit. But it sounds as if the council and Berrisfort would prefer not to lose Chambers to charges of undermining authority just because he expressed what is already pretty well known to the community, whether it is to the Governor’s liking or not. The allegations of Palingh and Harmen Hendericks are serious, and could get Chambers in trouble if pursued. The council indicates with its conclusion that it would support Chambers before his accusers if he were to be tried in Manhattan, so Palingh and Hendericks would be well advised not to try to take their case there. But Chambers too would be well advised to exercise better discretion about who’s in the room when he holds forth.

Somewhat more light may be shed on this by Chambers’s next complaint, at the same 5 July 1667 meeting (Kingston Papers p. 353), that “last Thursday,” 30 June, Michiel Mot pursued him “on the road while [Chambers] was going home in company with Robbert Pekock.” Chambers asks why. Chambers brings as witness “the wife of Joris Hal,” who saw Mot leaving the gate (probably the village gate). Mrs. Hal says Mot asked her where she was going, and she said she was going to fetch her husband to bring him home “so that he should not get in trouble.” Mot told her she needn’t worry about her husband, because “Mr. Palingh is as good a man as your husband, and better when he has a sword.” Mot went on in front of Mrs. Hal, and Mrs. Hal, following him, came upon “Thomas Chambers prostrated on the ground in the road.” Mot then “left her for the woods in the direction of Mr. Palingh, who stood on the knoll of the underwood,” and she saw Mot and Palingh returning home. Mot says he just went outside the village to see “how the trouble would end.” What’s not clear from the record is how the trouble started.

For a continuation of the not-getting-along of Thomas Chambers and Harmen Hendericks, see Kingston Papers pp. 354-355, in the same 5 July 1667 session, when they have different stories about an episode regarding whether Chambers told Harmen to go get Schout Willem Beeckman’s son Henricus to come serve guard duty, or fine him otherwise. Harmen says Chambers instructed him to do this. Chambers says (p. 354) no, he did not. The council fines Harmen 50 guilders for his rudeness to Beeckman.

By 8 July 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 356), at a special Friday town council session, Harmen Hendericksen is declaring that he does not intend to submit to the judgement of the council. The Schout, Willem Beeckman, says that “for the purpose of upholding the authority” of the town council, he intends to take the case (and Harmen) before the Governor, “to inform him of the obstinacy of the aforesaid Harmen Hendericks.” The council says they will send Harmen to Manhattan on the yacht of Reyndert Pietersen, currently at the Redoubt, to answer the complaint the Schout will file. Henderick Jochemsen adds the accusation that Harmen “has called him and Capt. Thomas Chambers rascals and liars”; he has a signed declaration from 7 July to say so.

Now Tjerck enters the scene. On Saturday 9 July (Kingston Papers p. 357, 27 June O.S.), Harmen Hendericks is back before the council, this time with a signed declaration by Tjerck. Tjerck says that “about three months ago,” although Tjerck doesn’t remember the exact date, “at the house of Mattheus Capito with Capt. Thomas Chambers,” Harmen complained to Tjerck and Chambers that Beeckman, the Schout, had called Harmen “a buffalo,” stemming from a fine imposed when Beeckman’s [?] son had apparently skipped serving guard duty. (This roughly matches Harmen’s original story, p. 354.) Pronouns are ambiguous in the translation, but it sounds as if Harmen was assigned to go collect the fine from the Schout, and the Schout didn’t like that. Tjerck says that Chambers told Harmen, “Just remember, [Beeckman?] is no better than any other farmer’s son.” Chambers now tells the council that yes, he did say that. Harmen also has a paper from Joost Ariaens, who says that in April, “at the house of Henderick Martensen,” Harmen, as he was leaving, “spoke to Capt. Thomas Chambers about drawing the son of the schout Willem Beeckman in the watch,” and Chambers ordered Harmen to draw Beeckman’s son into the watch, adding that even if Beeckman is the Schout, his son “shall not be any more exempt” than Chambers’s own son would be. Chambers again affirms that yes, he told the lieutenant to bring in all the young men 16 years and older into the watch. Jan Hendericks says he heard Harmen tell Chambers he had warned Beeckman’s son twice to stand guard, and Chambers again said, “Just remember.” Chambers again affirms this. Henderick Palingh says he heard Chambers, at the house of Henderick Jochemsen, order Jochemsen (“his lieutenant”) to get Beeckman’s son to serve watch. Jannetje Hillebrants heard Jochemsen say “Why should not Beeckman’s son watch as well as my son?” Harmen requests certified copies of the testimony, and he requests that Chambers and Jochemsen go down to Manhattan together with Harmen and the Schout. The council says no, they don’t have to go, but the council sticks by its judgement against Harmen from the previous session. The council advises Harmen “about the difficulties which might result” for him if the Governor judges against him. Having considered which way the wind is blowing, Harmen decides maybe he shouldn’t press his luck. He “admits before [the council] that he was wrong, requesting the schout that the question shall be mutually forgotten, and thus they both, after shaking hands, buried their differences.” The council rescinds the 50-guilder fine it had levied against Harmen, “because [he] himself needs them,” and everyone returns to what they were doing before.

One final note from this episode: Governor Nicolls does get some form of communication telling him what has transpired. On 15 July 1667 (Kingston Papers p. 358) he writes a note to Commander Beresford, which Berrisfort brings to the council at a special session on Thursday 4 August, “in regard to the difference between Capt. Thomas Chambers and Henderick Palingh.” Nicolls “recommends that the same be erased from the minutes,”  finding that Harmen’s declaration “is nul and of no value.”  Nicolls has instructed Beresford to punish Palingh, “so that he shall never more commit such and similar offinces against the bench.”

The Demise of Secretary Matth. Capito

There is an editorial note here in Kingston Papers (p. 358) to say that Mattheus Capito’s handwriting ends with this entry; he dies after this meeting. (See additional note 20 December 1667, p. 382, about “the demise of Secretary Matth. Capito,” in which the council asks the Schout to administer the estate and follow through on public and private business left unfinished by Capito, including auction sales and other village affairs. He is still alive 23 July; see auction notes Kingston Papers pp. 667-668.) The editorial note says that the following entries, made by Schout Beeckman, are harder to read. On 23 January and again on 21 April 1668, below, voorleser Willem de la Montagne will ask for the position of Secretary, much to the relief of probably Schout Beeckman and certainly Dingman Versteeg and later readers of the voluminous record.

“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been time for such a word.”
Macbeth, Act V, Scene 4

Mattheus Capito deserves a better death notice than he got—or, since it would be another 35 years or so before anything like a newspaper was printed on the continent, perhaps we can say he earned what Guy Clark called “a better tear.”

Mattheus Capito was a gifted recorder of life in Wildwyck—not all of life, but the pieces of it that came before the town council, so mostly the conflicts and trouble, not the lazy summer days when a gentle wind blew through ripening wheat and the village cowherd napped under a tree, but the drizzly winter days when the children in town had an unknown fever and the soldiers quartered in homes were eating all the villagers’ meat and bread, leaving the townsfolk with nothing but gnawing hunger and the biting wind. It is through this lens—through the words of the council secretary—that we know so much about the cycle of daily life in Wildwyck. Capito had an ear for language and an eye for detail; in his transcripts we get a feel for what individual settlers sounded like and how they behaved. The tangled folk opera of the community rises from the page in high relief. But there was one council minute that Capito was never going to be able to write.

Many of the individuals we see in the pages of the Kingston Papers have been scrutinized, their tales retold, because their descendants wanted to understand their family sagas, where they had come from. As far as I know, Matthew Capito left no descendants. (On 2 November 1653 he baptized a son, Hendrick, in Manhattan; see New Amsterdam Baptisms, p. 36.) So there are none to pore over his history, and yet it is through his words that so many descendants of the people in this community know who their ancestors were, what it might have been like to live with them. The closest we come to a mini-biography of Capito is in the notes from p. 238 of I.N. Phelps Stokes’s Iconography of Manhattan, which, although it purports to be a work about the physical development of the metropolis from its origins as a rustic, wooded island, includes a striking amount of detail on the lives of the people who turned it into a village, then a city.

On 7 August 1650 in Manhattan, Mathÿs Capido