Tag Archives: New Netherland

Dutch Influence on the American Kitchen Lecture


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Senate House State Historic Site will host noted author and food historian Peter G. Rose on Saturday September 22, 2012 at 1pm. She will be giving a talk “The Influence of the Dutch on the American Kitchen.” The program is free and open to the public.

Peter Rose lectures on historic Dutch foodways throughout the country. She illustrates her talks with paintings of the Dutch Masters and has spoken at many museums with holdings of such Dutch art all over the country, including the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard’s Fogg Museum and The National Gallery.

Rose has worked as a food writer and contributed a syndicated column on family food and cooking to the New York – based Gannett newspapers for over 20 years. She has written articles for magazines including Gourmet, Hudson Valley Magazine and The Valley Table. In 2002 she received the Alice P. Kenney Award for her research and writing on Dutch food history.

Senate House State Historic Site is part of a system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the site is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events please call the site at (845) 338-2786 or visit the State Parks website at www.nysparks.com.

Lecture: The Excavations of Fort Orange


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Dr. Paul Huey, now retired as archeologist for the New York State Historic Sites system (Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation) who will present a talk on the history of Fort Orange and the excavation in 1970 and 1971 of archeological remains of the fort ahead of the construction of Interstate 787, an event which inspired a revival of interest in the history of Albany in the Dutch period.

Fort Orange was a trading center built by the Dutch West India Company in 1624. The fort was located outside of Beverwijck (present-day Albany), to the south and near the river bank. In 1647, Petrus Stuyvesant, representing the West India Company as director of New Netherland, began to allow private traders to build houses inside the fort. Other traders built houses close to and outside the fort, which Stuyvesant considered to be illegal.

Consequently, Stuyvesant established the settlement of Beverwijck as a town at what he considered a satisfactory distance away from the fort. The fort and all of New Netherland were taken by the English in 1664 during peacetime. The fort was retaken briefly by the Dutch who then returned it to the English, and it was finally abandoned in 1676 by the English. The English then built a new fort on the State Street hill in Albany.

The event is hosted by The Friends of the New York State Library and will take place on September 26 2012 from 12:15pm – 1:15pm at the 7th floor Librarians Room, at the New York State Library, Madison Avenue, Albany, NY. To register for the program, go to: http://www.forms2.nysed.gov/nysl/trngreg.cfm

Illustration: Location of Fort Orange on today’s Albany’s riverfront from Len Tantillo’s Visions of New York State. Digital copy courtesy The People of Colonial Albany Project.

Touring Old Mine Road: The Esopus-Minisink Trail


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The other day, driving home from Kingston, I could not help but notice the sea of New York State Education Department signs (NYSED) that lined the roadside. The blue and yellow plaques are designed to alert those passing by of significant historic events that had occurred somewhere in the vicinity of the signs. These signs made me think about when I lived in Boston and followed that city’s Freedom Trail. Continue reading

12th Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar Saturday


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum are hosting the 12th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar at the NYS Museum in Albany this Saturday, September 15, 2012. A complete list of topics related to Northeastern Native American culture from prehistory to present is included below, along with the days itinerary.

9:00 – 9:30 Registration -
9:30 – 10:00 Welcome & Board Introduction: Mariann Mantzouris & Kevin Fuerst
Presentation of Colors by the Mohican Veterans

10:00 – 10:30 JoAnn Schedler
Mohicans in the Civil War
JoAnn Schedler, BSN, MSM, RN and a Major, US Army Nurse Corps Reserves (Retired). She served over twenty years with the 452 Combat Support Hospitals (CSH) of Wisconsin. She is a life member of the Mohican Veterans and Reserve Officers Association and a member of the American Legion in Gresham, WI. In 1985 to present she serves as a founding board member for Indian Summer Festival. She serves on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Tribal Historic Preservation Committee and the Constitution Committee and is a Peacemaker for the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Court. She was the first Nursing Instructor for the Associate Degree Program at the College of the Menominee Nation 2008/ 2009 and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nurses since 1992.This continues a presentation given last year on this subject.

10:30 – 11:00 Judy Hartley
Mohican Diet and Disease in Pre-contact America.
Written information by early Dutch explorers as well as oral histories transcribed by missionaries has provided insight into both the diet and general health of the Mohican Indians at the time of the arrival of
Henry Hudson in the early 17th century. From these sources as well as current-day research, it is possible to capture the essence of Mohican daily life before the arrival of Europeans.

Judith Hartley grew up on the Stockbridge-Munsee/Band of the Mohicans reservation in northern Wisconsin. Her mother was a Mohican who was active in tribal governance—serving for years as the elected tribal treasurer. Judith left the reservation upon high school graduation to attend college. She has a B.S. degree in biology and worked for years in pharmaceutical research. Currently she has obtained an MBA and has worked for the past 22 years for Roche Diagnostics Corporation, a global pharmaceutical and health care company. As retirement approaches, Judith endeavors to give something back to the tribe by way of historical research, poetry and speeches concerning her people.

11:00 – 11:30 John M. Smith
Esopus Indians and the Ulster County Trader
Findings from a recently discovered Dutch account book of the fur trade in Ulster County are discussed that provide new insights into the lives of Esopus individuals and their families in the early eighteenth
century.

John M. Smith is an independent historian and contributing author to New York State Museum bulletins, the Hudson River Valley Review, and co-editor with Dutch Historian and translator Kees Waterman in the forth coming book Munsee Indian Trade in Ulster County, New York, 1711-1732.

11:30 – 12:00 Katy L. Chiles
Hendrick Aupaumut: An Eighteenth-Century Mohican Diplomat
This paper provides an introduction to the work of Hendrick Aupaumut, an eighteenth-century Mohican diplomat. A sachem who fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War, Captain Aupaumut was tapped by President Washington to serve as a diplomat to the British-allied Miami and Shawnee leaders who fought against white settlers. Aupaumut’s 1792 manuscript, a record written for U.S. governmental officials, was printed in the 1827 Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. This talk muses over Aupaumut’s “errors” in spelling and grammar, including one interesting clause: “these white people was” (sic). One might be tempted to assume, like his original interlocuters, that Aupaumut, as a Native American who had yet to master the English language, constructed a sentence with flawed subject-verb agreement. However, unlike U.S. officials who wrote that the manuscript contained  many “incorrectnesses” (sic), Chiles argues that Aupaumut’s peculiar locution astutely explored the most contemplated concerns of early America: could the many former white British subjects ever become one  people? What would the process of becoming “E Pluribus Unum” actually look like? Could people be both singular (denoted by the number of the verb was) and plural (denoted by the number of the demonstrative adjective these), and, most importantly for Aupaumut, how would all this effect how white settlers would interact with both his own and other Native American tribes? Furthermore, by comparing Aupaumut’s manuscript with the Society’s Memoirs, this presentation illustrates how editorial practices used by Aupaumut’s publishers conditioned the “original” text and allows us to consider Aupaumut’s intellectual sovereignty.

Katy L. Chiles teaches and writes about Native American and African-American literature, early American literature and culture, and critical race theory at the University of Tennessee. Her work has
appeared in journals such as PMLA and American Literature and has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Transformable Race and the Literatures of Early America. This summer she was honored to do research at the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation in Bowler, Wisconsin. There she was able to share her work with and to learn from Sherry White, Nathalee Kristiansen, Leah Miller, and Betty Groh, all of
the Mohican Nation, Stockbridge-Munsee Band.

12:00 -1:30 Lunch on your own. Eating areas are located in the museum  should you want to bring your own lunch. There are three restaurants within two blocks of the Museum.

1:30 – 2:00 Karen Hess
The Coeymans Family and the Mohicans
One of the largest 17th century land transactions between the River Indians and European settlers was transacted in 1672 by Maghshapeet, sachem of the Katskill Indians, to Barent Coeymans, Dutch colonial
miller. Confirmed as a patent in 1673, and awarded a royal confirmation in 1714, this vast tract of ancient tribal lands south of Albany stretched foreleven miles along the west bank of the Hudson River and westward twelve miles into the wilderness. The history of this patent, the home of two divergent cultures, and the relationships of Barent Coeymans and the Katskill Mohicans, will be explored in this
presentation.

Karen Hess is preparing a book about Ariaantje Coeymans whose portrait hangs at the Albany Institute of History & Art where Mrs. Hess is a docent. She has presented her research at a NYS Historical Association conference as well as other historical societies. An essential element of the story of this colonial woman is her family’s intriguing relationship with the Mohican Indians.

2:00 – 2:45 Eric Ruijssenaars
A Dutch Founding Father: Abraham Staats
In 1642, surgeon Abraham Staats and his wife Trijntje Jochems emigrated from Amsterdam to Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s vast estate, Rensselaerswijck (now part of Albany and Rensselaer counties). Staats’s job was not simply to treat ailing residents but also to advise the Patroon. He  served as a magistrate of the court. Outside of court, he was often called on to resolve disputes between his neighbors. Well respected  within Rensselaerswijck, Staats was also something of a diplomat. Entitled to trade in beavers, he learned the Algonquin Indian language and was, therefore, able to act as an intermediary between colonists and Native Americans. The sloop Staats purchased to further his commercial  interests placed him in contact with leaders in New Amsterdam (New York City) and allowed him to develop a personal relationship with Peter Stuyvesant.

Eric Ruijssenaars studied history at Leiden University graduating in 1988. He has written two books about Brussels and the Brontës (published in 2000 and 2003), is co-founder of Brussels Brontë Group in 2005. He started a bureau for historical research in Dutch Archives, in 2002. In 2011/2012 Eric was chosen Senior Scholar in Residence at the New Netherland Research Center in Albany.

2:45 – 3:15 William Staats
Hoogeberg, the Staats Family, and the Mohicans.
Staats Island (or the Hoogeberg: the “high hill.”) has been in the Staats family since the mid-17th century. The Joachim Staats homestead, dating from 1696, remains a family residence. Many generations of the family are interred here overlooking the beautiful Hudson River. This is  where Colonel Philip Staats saved the life of the Mohican, Ben Pie, in the late 1700s. It is no longer an island but remains a place of great history with many stories to tell.

William Staats graduated from SUNY Albany with an MS in Education in 1957. Bill grew up at Staats Island near Castleton-on-Hudson, NY in the 1696 Joachim Staats homestead. He taught in 1965-66 at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and also taught for several years in Hudson High School and for 35 years in the accounting and computer areas at Hudson Valley Community College. In 2009 he authored Three Centuries on the Hudson River.

3:15 – 3:45 Francis “Jess” Robinson
Ceremonialism and Inter-Regional Exchange Two Millennia before the Fur Trade: a View from the East Creek Site
The East Creek cemetery was excavated between 1933 and 1935 on the southeastern shore of Lake Champlain by representatives of the Museum of the American Indian- Heye Foundation. Despite its unfortunate desecration, the site contains rare and remarkable evidence of the elaborate ceremonialism and long distance exchange obtaining during the Early Woodland period (ca. 3,000-2,000 cal yr BP). While the presentation will concentrate on some of the more salient aspects of the site and what it suggests about the Native groups participating in the Early Woodland interaction sphere, mention will also be made of the analogies that one may cautiously advance regarding trade and exchange during the contact era.

Francis “Jess” Robinson is a PhD Candidate at the University at Albany-SUNY, a Research Supervisor at the University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program, and a current adjunct faculty member in
the Anthropology Department at UVM.

3:45 – 4:00 Kevin Fuerst
The Lebanon Spring: A Work in Progress
Kevin Fuerst, NAI President, long-time board member, and New Lebanon Town Historian will provide a status update on his efforts to preserve the famous curative Lebanon Spring and interpret its Native American associations.

4:00 – 4:15 Closing Remarks and Retreat of the Colors” by Mohican Veterans to conclude the conference.

Fort Hunter: ‘Who Owned The Fort?’ Talk Tuesday


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Tricia Shaw, the education coordinator at Schoharie Crossing, will share her latest research in a lecture entitled “Who Owned the Fort?” sponsored by the Friends of Schoharie Crossing on Tuesday.  The presentation will explain the Fort Hunter’s history and trace the families who lived at the confluence of the Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek including the Mabee, the Enders, the Putman, the Wemple and the Voorhees families. Continue reading

Introduction to Schenectady Genealogy Resources


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The Schenectady County Historical Society will offer a workshop entitled “Introduction to Genealogy Resources in the Grems-Doolittle Library” on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 2 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady.

Participants will explore the resources available for genealogical research in the Grems-Doolittle Library and learn to develop strategies for best utilizing the library’s collections in researching Schenectady-area ancestors from the 17th through the 20th century. The workshop will also include time to conduct research in the library.

Registration is required; limit of 16 participants per workshop. The cost is $5.00; free for Schenectady County Historical Society members.

For more information, or to register, contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian/Archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society, by phone at 518-374-0263, option 3, or by email at librarian@schist.org. The Schenectady County Historical Society is wheelchair accessible, with off-street parking behind the building and overflow parking next door at the YWCA.

Len Tantillo: The Edge of New Netherland


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A uniquely illustrated history of New Netherland, New Sweden, early North American fortification design, and the construction of Fort Cashmir (New Castle, Delaware) has been published for the New Netherland Institute. The Edge of New Netherland by L. F. Tantillo explores life in the Dutch colony and competition between European powers by focusing on the construction of regional forts, and the trade they engendered.

Tantillo provides readers with new insight into life on “the edge of New Netherland,” where two small groups of colonists – one Dutch, the other Swedish ­– fought to control access to the Delaware River and thus the trade in Indian furs, and later, English tobacco. Decades before British forces captured this territory in a power grab that remade colonial North America, fortifications were built and re-built, deals made and settlements established.

While The Edge of New Netherland (L.F. Tantillo, 2011) examines, in beautifully illustrated detail, the broader aspects of daily life on the Dutch, Swedish, English and Indian borderlands of North America, it focuses on the history of one wood and dirt fortress. Built in 1651 by the Dutch and destroyed in 1664 by the British, Fort Casimir largely failed as a defensive bulwark, but it helped anchor the growing settlement of New Amstel, now New Castle, Delaware.

The Edge of New Netherland includes more than 100 drawings accompanied by explanatory text, a historical overview of the Delaware River by Charles T. Gehring, and commentary by Peter A. Douglas.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

New Netherland: Kenney Award Applications Due


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The New Netherland Institute is the recipient of an annual grant from the Alice P. Kenney Memorial Trust Fund. This grant enables the Institute to award an annual prize of $1,000 to an individual or group which has made a significant contribution to colonial Dutch studies and/or has encouraged understanding of the significance of the Dutch colonial experience in North America by research, teaching, writing, speaking, or in other ways. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed. Persons or groups to be considered for this award can be involved in any pursuit of any aspect of Dutch colonial life in North America. Emphasis is on those activities which reach a broad, popular audience in the same way that Alice P. Kenney’s activities did.

Criteria for Nominations:

* Candidates for the award can be nominated by members of the New Netherland Institute, by historical organizations, or by the general public.

* Nominations should be in the form of a nominating letter or statement (1-2 pages long)detailing how the nominator became aware of the nominee, which of the nominee’s activities led to the nomination, how those activities qualify for the award, and what the perceived impact is of the nominee’s activities.

* Nominations may also include illustrative materials which demonstrate the nominee’s activities such as maps, brochures, photographs of exhibits.

* Nominations may also include up to three one-page letters of support from other persons.

* Three copies of all material must be submitted.

Selection Criteria:

* The winner shall be selected by a four-person committee consisting of the Director of the New Netherland Project, two members of the New Netherland Institute and a representative of the Alice P. Kenney Memorial Trust Fund.

* The committee shall consider (1) if the nominee qualifies for the award, (2) how significant the nominee’s contributions are, (3) how large the audience is, (4) how great the chances are for continued influence, and (5) whether the materials are historically accurate and based on the most recent primary and secondary research.

Send nominations by April 4, 2012 to:

The Alice P. Kenney Award Selection Committee
New Netherland Institute
P.O.Box 2536, Empire State Plaza Station
Albany, NY 12220-0536

E-mail: nyslfnn@mail.nysed.gov

New Netherland: Hendricks Award Submissions


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The Annual Hendricks Award is given to the best book or book-length manuscript relating to any aspect of the Dutch colonial experience in North America until the American Revolution. The Award carries a prize of $5,000 as well as a framed print of a painting by Len Tantillo entitled Fort Orange and the Patroon’s House. The prize-winner, chosen by a five-member panel of scholars, is selected in May or June. The Award is given at a ceremony in conjunction with the annual New Netherland Seminar, held in September. Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.

Two categories of submissions will be considered in alternate years:

(1) recently completed dissertations and unpublished book-length manuscripts (2012), and (2) recently published books (2013). If there is no suitable winner in the designated category in any particular year, submissions from the alternate category will be considered. In addition, submissions from the previous year will be reconsidered for the Award.

Criteria: Entries must be based on research completed or published within two years prior to submission. Manuscripts may deal with any aspect of the Dutch colonial experience as defined above. Biographies of individuals whose careers illuminate aspects of the history of New Netherland and its aftermath are eligible, as are manuscripts dealing with literature and the arts, provided that the methodology is historical. Co-authored books are eligible, but edited collections of articles are not, nor are works of fiction or works of article length. An entry may be a self-nomination, an outside nomination, or in response to invitations to submit from Hendricks Award readers.

Submissions will be judged on their contribution to the scholarly understanding of the Dutch colonial experience in North America and the quality of their research and writing.

Three copies of a published book or three clear, readable photocopies of the manuscript must be submitted on or before March 15, with a letter of intent to enter the contest. Copies cannot be returned. Alternatively, submissions may be in pdf format.

Address entries to:

The Annual Hendricks Award Committee
New Netherland Institute
Cultural Education Center, Room 10D45
Albany, NY 12230

Send PDF submissions to nyslfnn@mail.nysed.gov; use ‘Hendricks award’ in the subject line.

‘Girl With a Pearl Earing’ Coming to the Frick


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The Frick Collection has announced that in the fall of 2013, it will be the final venue of an American tour of paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague. This prestigious Dutch museum, which has not lent a large body of works from its holdings in nearly thirty years, is undergoing an extensive two-year renovation that makes this opportunity possible. Between January 2013 and January 2014, the Mauritshuis will send thirty-five paintings to the United States, following two stops at Japanese institutions.

The American exhibition opens next winter at de Young/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, traveling on to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for the summer of 2013. A smaller selection of ten masterpieces will be on view at The Frick Collection in New York from October 22, 2013, through January 12, 2014. Among the works going on tour are the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, neither of which will have been seen by American audiences in ten years.

Illustration: Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665, oil on canvas, 44.5 x 39 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Hendrick Vrooman Family Being Celebrated


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The Schenectady County Historical Society (32 Washington Ave., Schenectady), will hold a celebrate the life and legacy of Hendrick Meese Vrooman, a Dutch settler who came to Schenectady in 1664 and was ultimately killed in the 1690 Massacre. Vrooman was the father of Adam and Jan Vrooman, who came with their father from Holland and many of whose descendants still live in the Schenectady and Schoharie County area.

A letter written by Vrooman in 1664, along with many other letters, were seized by the English from Dutch ships during the 17th-century Anglo–Dutch wars. These seized letters were recently discovered in the archives in Kew, England. In Vrooman’s letter, he comments on the changing rule in the colonies from Dutch to English, and describes his life in Schenectady: “It has been a good summer there. Very fine corn has grown there and the cultivation was good and the land still pleases me. At snechtendeel [Schenectady and the surrounding area] the land is more beautiful than I have ever seen in Holland.”

The Dutch national television station KRO will be filming this event for its program “Brieven Boven Water” (roughly translated as “Surfacing Letters”). The program attempts to make contact with living descendants of people who wrote the seized letters.

Descendants of Hendrick Meese Vrooman are especially encouraged to attend this event; the Grems-Doolittle Library staff and volunteers can help trace lineages back to the Vroomans. Please contact the Librarian for assistance.

The event will be held at the Historical Society on Thursday, February 9, at 2:00 p.m. The cost is $5.00 for the general public; Free for Schenectady County Historical Society members. For more information, please contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian, 518-374-0263, option 3, or by email at librarian@schist.org.

Illustration: Map of Schenectady in 1690, courtesy Brown and Wheeler Family History.

Albany Institute ‘Lives of Abraham Staats’ Sunday


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This Sunday, January 29 at 2 PM the Albany Institute of History & Art will host Dr. Eric Ruijssenaars as he tells the life story of Abraham Staats, a Dutch founding father of Albany. Ruijssenaars is a Senior Scholar in Residence at the New Netherland Institute, and operates the research firm Dutch Archives. The event will be FREE with museum admission.

The lecture will examine Abraham Staats’ varied roles in the Capital Region, beginning with Staats’ 1642 emigration from Amsterdam to Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s vast estate, Rensselaerswijck (now part of Albany and Rensselaer counties). As a surgeon, Staats not only treated ailing residents, but also acted as advisor to the Patroon. He served as a magistrate of the court; and outside the court, he was often called on to resolve disputes between his neighbors. Well-respected within Rensselaerswijck, Staats was also something of a diplomat. Entitled to trade in beavers, he learned the Algonquin Indian language and was therefore able to act as an intermediary between colonists and Native Americans. The sloop Staats purchased to further his commercial interests placed him in contact with leaders in New Amsterdam and allowed him to develop a personal relationship with Peter Stuyvesant.

Following the talk, guests are invited to explore Albany’s Dutch colonial history by visiting the permanent exhibition Traders and Culture: Colonial Albany and the Formation of American Identity, located on the third floor of the museum. The Albany Institute of History & Art is located at 125 Washington Avenue, Albany. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with a valid ID, $6 for children 6-12, and FREE for members and children under 6.

Photo: The Abraham Staats house, which he built, is currently the oldest home in Columbia County.

Mabee Farm to Host 1700s Colonial Festival Dinner


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The Mabee Farm’s in Rotterdam Junction will play host to prominent 18th century citizens of the Schenectady area during a Colonial Festival Dinner, the featured event of the Schenectady Heritage Area’s Annual Schenectady Colonial Festival.

Participants are likely to meet General Schuyler, soldiers on campaign, a Sachem of the Mohawk Wolf Clan, merchants or land speculators working for the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, and several members of the Mabee Family and their household. Part of the Mabee’s farm in Rotterdam Junction, the inn was frequented by military leaders, Native American traders, bateau men and many others traveling the Mohawk River. Continue reading

Books: Selected Rensselaerwijck Papers


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Papers from the New Netherland Institute’s annual Rensselaerswijck Seminar has long served as a platform for local historians to present their latest research on the only successful patroonship in New Netherland.

A Beautiful and Fruitful Place: Selected Rensselaerswijck Papers, vol. 2 (SUNY Press, 2011) includes papers delivered at the seminar from 1988 to 1997 and features New Netherland’s distinctive regional history as well as the colony’s many relationships with Europe, the seventeenth-century Atlantic world, and New England, these cogent and informative papers are an indispensable source toward a better understanding of New Netherland life and legacy.

Leading scholars from both sides of the Atlantic critique and offer research on a dynamic range of topics: the age of exploration, domestic life in New Netherland, the history and significance of the West India Company, the complex era of Jacob Leisler, the southern frontier lands of the colony, relations with New England, Hudson Valley foodways and Dutch beer production, the endurance of the Dutch legacy into nineteenth-century New York, and contemporary genealogical research on colonial Dutch ancestors.

Edited by Elisabeth Paling Funk and Martha Dickinson Shattuck, the newest volume of papers includes chapters from Rensselaerswijck Seminars on domestic life in New Netherland, the Age of Leisler, New Netherland and the Frontier, The Persistence of the Dutch after 1664, The Dutch in the Age of Exploration, Manor Life and Culture in the Hudson Valley, Family History, Relations between New Netherland and New England, The West India Company and the Atlantic World, and more.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Shirley Dunn: Early Dutch House Rediscovered


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What follows is a guest essay by Shirley Dunn, a historian of Rensselaerwijck and the Mohican.

A surprise “Dutch” house dating to about 1700 (or just before), located on Route 9J near the Teller Crossing, is for sale. The bricks have been covered with siding and the roof slope has been changed so you would not know it is that old. The original walls, cellar fireplace support, and beams in the cellar, as well as vlechtingen at roofline in the attic, remain in place. All bricks used to build the house were of the thin pre -1703 size.

The house appears on mid-1700 maps and belonged to the farm called “Cost Verlooren” leased by the Abraham Van Deusen family in the late 1600s and passed down through daughter Jannetje into the Witbeck family. Although it is probably the oldest house in the East Greenbush area, excepting for Staats house, it was hidden by early 20th century siding and missed by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the 1930s.

In the early 1900s or before, the slope of the roof of this old Dutch-style house on the river road below the present City of Rensselaer was raised so a second floor could be developed. The newly built second floor portion was covered with white siding on the outside and the bricks on the south gable and the first floor were painted white. This is apparently why the house was bypassed by the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s. Since then, the brick house was completely covered with modern siding late in the 20th century, to preserve the brick.

In the 17th century, the managers of Rensselaerswyck, which was a colony begun by Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, leased out farms along the river below the present City of Rensselaer. A valuable farm near the present-day Hayes Road intersection was leased to Teunis Dirckse Van Vechten. His son, Gerrit Teunis Van Vechten, sold the lease to Claes Van Petten. In 1696, the Claes Van Petten-Teunis Dirckse farm was obtained by speculators Samuel Staats, Barent Rynders, and Joachim Staats. In May, 1699, these men sold the farm lease back to Gerrit Teunis Van Vechten and Jonas Douw, the brother-in-law of Gerrit.

North of the Van Vechten property, another farm had been established in 1639. In 1640 its combination barn-with-residence attached burned down. Later leased by Cornelis Van Nes, who had little success, the farm earned the nickname Kost Verloren, or “Money Thrown Away.” (For details, see Dunn, “Settlement Patterns in Rensselaerswijck,” de Halve Maen Magazine (Holland Society, Lxvii, Fall 1994).

Despite this history, in 1687, a lease for this Kost Verloren farm was obtained by Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen, a carpenter. Van Deusen had been working in the area as a farmer on rented land which was no longer available at Fort Crailo (Correspondence MVR 181-182). In the nineteenth century, part of the Kost Verloren farm was owned by the Teller family. On this latter site, immediately beside a railroad crossing still known as Teller’s Crossing, a gambrel-roofed brick house survived until the 1920s. It was known as the Teller Farmhouse. The gambrel-roofed houses of our area were generally built in the decades after the late 1750s, after the French War wound down. The farmhouse, of which a photograph exists, was probably built in the 1760s. This date is based on a map of the 1750s, which showed only one house in the area. (For photo, see Reynolds, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley before 1776 (1928) pages 84-85, photo 143). The gambrel-roofed Teller farmhouse therefore was not the earliest house on the Kost Verloren farm. Maps indicate it appeared between 1757 and 1767.

An earlier existing house on this farm was mentioned in the renewed lease of 1709 given to Melgert Abrahamse Van Vechten. According to Reynolds, in Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley, page 84, Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen, (First Settlers p. 124) conveyed part of his farm to his daughter, Widow Jannetje Van Deusen Witbeck in 1733. As the stated north boundary line of the land of Johannes Van Vechten, a son of Gerrit Teunis Van Vechten, adjoined Jannetje Van Deusen’s land, we know that Jannetje’s portion was the south part of the Kost Verloren farm. She was his daughter, although not listed in Pearson’s First Settlers. Jannetje was the widow of Thomas Janse Witbeck who had been buried two years earlier on Papscanee Island in 1731.

Jannetje Van Deusen had married Thomas Janse Witbeck at the house of her brother, Rutger Van Deusen, in 1702. Since Rutger Van Deusen was a son of Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen, we know that Jannetje was his sister.. Rutger had married Wyntje Harmense in 1692 (Pearson, First Settlers of Albany Co.) Rutger is identified as a linen weaver. Can I speculate? Possibly Widow Jannetje agreed to take care of her father in his declining years, in exchange for title to the land she already lived on. Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen was buried on Papscanee Island in 1742.

A map of 1757 shows one house in the area of Kost Verloren. This house is most likely today’s surviving Hurley house obliquely opposite the former Teller Crossing and Teller Farmhouse (now gone). According to evidence remaining in the Hurley house attic and cellar, it was a one-and-a half story steep-roofed Van Rensselaer-style tenant house, possibly built at the time of Jannetje’s 1702 marriage. Alternately, this could be her father’s house from before 1700, or an unidentified early house on Kost Verloren. It is unlikely it is her brother, Rutger’s house, since he may have lived in Albany (1702 list).

Jannetje Van Deusen Witbeck’s house and farm passed to an Abraham Witbeck, probably her son, who passed it to his daughter, Jannetje, married to James Cole. He is most likely the Abraham Witbeck who appears at number 45 on the 1767 Bleeker map of house sites. A Melgert Abramse Witbeck is listed on the 1767 map at number 44. He appears to be a son of Lucas Janse Witbeck who in 1692 married Catrina, another daughter of Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen. (Pearson, First Settlers, page 153). By the time of the 1767 map, apparently his gambrel-roofed house known as the Teller farmhouse had been erected, probably number 44 on the map. The two houses were not far apart on Kost Verloren.

According to Reynolds’ research, Jannetje Witbeck’s farm later belonged to Coles, Nortons and Tellers (Dutch Houses, page 84). However, her research related to the gambrel–roofed Teller Farmhouse of the 1760s, which she thought was an older house, possibly Jannetje’s. Thus, this ownership research might apply only until the two properties were separated.

Deeds to the property could be checked at Troy. Earliest deeds might be at the Albany County Hall of Records. In the 20th century, the still standing older house on Kost Verloren belonged to the Hurley family beginning about 1950.

In a landscaped setting, the Hurley house hides its age under white siding and a changed roofline. It has a one-story frame rear kitchen addition. The old interior has been modernized. Stairs lead to the added second floor. However, the house’s age quickly appears. A wall of early bricks lines the steps to the cellar (bricks about 7.5 inches long x 1 ½ high by 3 ½ to 4 across, in various shades of red). Hewn chamfered beams cross the cellar in the Dutch style from wall to wall. The present owner has supported the old beams with jack posts.

The cellar holds proof the house had jambless fireplaces. At the south end of the cellar is a well-preserved, 89 inch long brick arch which once had trimmers at each end. The arch is constructed of the same thin bricks noted above, the arch resting on a row of flat stones protruding a few inches from the cellar wall. The arch extends 33 inches into the cellar to the first beam. This arch once supported the hearth which was above on the first floor. At the north end of the cellar, one projecting support stone remains in the cellar wall, enough to indicate there once was a similar arch there. The other support stones apparently were broken or removed from the north cellar wall to make room for a modern heating unit. An added outside entrance into to the cellar, located beside the south arch, is trimmed with larger bricks from a later date. That there was an earlier rear wing before the present kitchen wing is suggested by the foundation.

The outline of the former tapering chimney (above the former first floor jambless fireplace and the existing cellar arch) is visible on the south gable wall of the attic. A rebuilt chimney (made of thin old bricks) rises to the ridge. The original gable end roof framing, showing the steep slope of the former roof, is visible in this south end of the attic. Along the top of the former gable end wall are vlechtingen (inverted brick triangles) in the Dutch style. They once were part of a standing gable which projected above the roof. The inside of the visible original south gable wall is laid in the thin, early bricks, (now covered on the outside), which remain within the old framing. Above the old wall, 20th century brick laid to fill space under the new roofline can be seen in the gable. A fire in the north gable, which gable has been rebuilt, has removed early attic evidence at that end.

The impression is that this two-room house when built was constructed with early small bricks and had jambless fireplaces at each end. The bricks suggest the house very likely dates to c.1700, give or take a few years. If so, this Van Deusen-Hurley house is a remarkable previously unrecognized survivor of the late seventeenth century or very early eighteenth century.

The existing house with large lot is in good shape is for sale, the asking price $229,900. Those interested in purchasing the home should contact Carla Bakerian of Heartland Properties at (518) 479-5434.

Photos courtesy Shirley Dunn: Above, the Hurley-Van Deusen house in the 1950s (note the beam anchors in the gable); Middle, the hearth support, a brick arch under the original first floor hearth of a jambless fireplace, remains in the south end of the cellar. Note the small size of the early bricks, which are similar to those used throughout the house. Below, the old, small bricks of the Hurley-Van Deusen House at present are covered with siding to protect them. Note the beam anchors, now used for decoration.

Schenectady Reformed Church Archives Talk


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Dirk Mouw, winner of the New Netherland Institute’s (NNI) 2010 Annual Hendricks Award and featured speaker at NNI’s 24th Annual Meeting, will return to the northernmost part of New Netherland Sunday, November 13, 2011.

He will speak at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady’s weekly Forum, following the 10:00am worship service. The Forum is held in the Poling Chapel, 11:15am – noon. Mouw will speak about Archives of the First Reformed Church: Stories they Illuminate, Facts they Reveal, and Mysteries they Still Hold. Original 17th and 18th century church records, written by founders of Schenectady and the Church, will be shown.

After the Forum there will be a Brunch at the Stockade Inn – 12:15pm, $20/person, across the street from the church. An afternoon Workshop will follow at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue – a block’s walk around the corner from the Inn. Dr. Mouw invites anyone having early colonial documents, especially any in Dutch, to bring them for a “Show, Translate & Tell” session. Documents in the historical society’s collection will also be part of the program.

Mouw is translator of the De Hooges Memorandum Book for the New Netherland Institute, and he is an authority on the history of the Dutch Reformed Church. Currently a Fellow of the Reformed Church Center, he received the 2002 Albert A Smith Fellowship for Research in Reformed Church History. He is the author of a short biography of Schenectady’s first minister, Petrus Tesschenmaecker, who was killed in the 1690 Schenectady Massacre. Mouw is co-editor with two Dutch historians of Transatlantic Pieties: Dutch Clergy in Colonial America, which includes his Tesschenmaecker biography and will be in print by early 2012.

Mouw’s writing that won the Hendricks Award, Moederkerk and Vaderland: Religion and Ethnic Identity in the Middle Colonies, 1690-1772, rejects the myth prevalent in histories of the Middle Colonies, that the inhabitants of what had been New Netherland and their descendents quickly abandoned their churches and cultural identity, melting into the society and ways of English or American rule. Records in the Archives of Schenectady Reformed shed light on the people of the northernmost part of New Netherland Colony, showing how they remained faithful to their heritage and churches despite the changing colonial linguistic, governmental and religious environment around them.

Mouw earned his doctorate at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, following a master’s degree in history at the University of Iowa and a bachelor of arts in history and philosophy from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Mouw’s work involving Schenectady is of special interest this year as it is the 350th anniversary of Arendt van Curler’s 1661 founding of Schenectady. As Mouw rejects certain historical accounts, scholars, historians, archaeologists and artists in this area have been making discoveries that are leading to new interpretations of Schenectady’s history.

The Forum is open to the public. First Reformed Church of Schenectady, 8 North Church Street in the Historic Stockade, Schenectady, NY 12305 Two church parking lots, Stockade Inn parking lot, and street parking; one block from Bus Station.

1st Jewish Congregation Torah Scroll Exhibition


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Rare and centuries-old liturgical objects, manuscripts, maps and other historic artifacts—including a Torah scroll rescued from the hands of British troops during the American Revolution — will be on loan to the New-York Historical Society beginning November 11, 2011, for the installations The Resilient City and Treasures of Shearith Israel.

The presentations of Treasures of Shearith Israel and The Resilient City at the renovated and transformed New-York Historical highlight the history of religious freedom in New York City and honor the first Jewish congregation to have been established in North America—a congregation that remains vibrant and active today, and is a neighbor of New-York Historical.

Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue, was founded in 1654 by the first Jews to settle in North America: a group of 23 immigrants who came to New Amsterdam from their previous place of residence in Recife, Brazil. From 1654 through 1825, Shearith Israel was the only Jewish congregation in New York City. The congregation met in rented quarters until 1730, when it constructed its first building, which was located in downtown Manhattan on Mill Street (now known as South William Street). Many of the furnishings from the 1730 building are now installed in an intimate chapel, called the Little Synagogue, in Shearith Israel’s current home, consecrated in 1897, on the Upper West Side.

The Torah Scroll will be on display in the Judith and Howard Berkowitz Sculpture Court in the Rotunda of the New-York Historical Society, where it will be surrounded by four late-20th-century views of the New York cityscape by artist Richard Haas. This installation will establish a dialogue between the city’s past and present and help reinforce the underlying themes of diversity, tolerance and resilience that are also addressed in inaugural installations presented in New-York Historical’s new Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History, where visitors may explore the history of the United States as seen through the lens of New York. The many other significant objects on loan to New-York Historical from Shearith Israel will be displayed in the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture.

These loans have been facilitated Norman S. Benzaquen.

Photo: Congregation Shearith Israel, (founded 1655) New York, 1897 building. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Killaen van Rensselaer: Designing a New World


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A biography by New Netherland scholar Janny Venema of one of the founding directors of the Dutch West India Company and a leading figure in the establishment of the New Netherland colony Kiliaen van Rensselaer has been published by SUNY Press.

As one of the founding directors of the Dutch West India Company, he was instrumental in the establishment of the New Netherland colony on the East Coast of North America, becoming one of its first patroons. Although he never actually set foot in the New World, his patroonship, Rensselaerswyck, encompassed much of what is now New York State’s Capital District and survived as a legal entity up until the 1840s.

During the early 1600s, as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was locked in a war with Spain that would last for eighty years, thousands of immigrants came to Amsterdam and greatly influenced the development of the Republic. Among them was Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a young man from a small eastern town on the war front.

Young Kiliaen quickly became part of the culture of the rapidly developing city, where he was trained as a jeweler and merchant by wealthy relatives. He would work within this family network for the rest of his life, to great success.

In this biography, Venema examines the time in which Kiliaen van Rensselaer lived, his surroundings, the rapidly expanding city of Amsterdam, the great trading companies, the jewelry business, and the people in his network. Along the way, she explores his motivations and the powerful role he played in helping to establish a Dutch presence in the New World.

Janny Venema is Assistant Director of the New Netherland Research Center, which is responsible for translating the official records of the Dutch colony and promoting awareness of the Dutch role in American history. She is the author of Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652–1664, also published by SUNY Press in cooperation with Uitgeverij Verloren.

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