Words To Remember

"The truth is this--genealogy is our living, and we are busy every minute, [and we] could use more hours." --Jane Wethy Foley, 1942

Friday, January 21, 2011

Missing Dutch Records Found

Colonial Records Arrive Anonymously At County Clerk's Office

KINGSTON, New York--June 1895. Dutch colonial records, many years missing from the Ulster County [NY] Clerk's office, have mysteriously made their reappearance there.

An express package was received by the Clerk was duly opened and was found to contain the long-lost records, along with some others in English.

The Clerk made inquiries and learned the records has been shipped from Quogue, Long Island, New York, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.  Further investigation discovered that a gentleman unknown to the express company had arranged for the package to be delivered.

For many years before their sudden arrival, these colonial records had disappeared under  circumstances not now definitely known.

About fifteen years before this, rumors had been circulated in Ulster County that the records could be found on Long Island.  But a sheriff, armed with a search warrant, whose arrival in New York was heralded with an announcement of the purpose of his visit, found nothing.

In explanation of their disappearance and return, a gentleman interested in searching for genealogical information and known to Thomas J. Van Alstyne, former Mayor of Albany and ex-congressman, made a statement concerning the Kingston records.

"Years ago I, along with a few others, became interested in these old Dutch records at Kingston.  There was very little interest displayed in their preservation, and, being written more or less illegibly in the old Dutch of that early period, they were as a sealed book to most people.

"No translation has ever been attempted, officially or otherwise, and as there seemed to be no prospects of a translation, the records were removed to Brooklyn, where arrangements had been made for a complete translation by an old Dutch scholar.

"The work was scarcely started when the translator was taken ill and died.  Owing to the press of other business, I lost track of the records.  But it seems that when the effects of the deceased translator were disposed of, his executors, knowing nothing of the ownership of the records, but being satisfied that they were of a public character, had them packed in a box and removed to the old city hall.
"I was one of the commissioners having in charge of the building of the new city hall, and when that edifice was completed and the work of transferring the books and papers was underway, this old box of Kingston records came to light.

"While the officials, to whom the records were Greek, were discussing the advisability of consigning the box of 'rubbish' to the junk pile, I happened to come into the room, and at once recognized the records.  I had them carefully boxed and shipped to the Ulster County Clerk's office at Kingston. 

"No word was sent with them, because those who had brought them to Brooklyn were unable to complete the work and thought they might be open to censure for removing them from Kingston and then allowing them to remain so long neglected and in danger of destruction.

"These are the facts of the disappearance and return of the Kingston records, and the mystery is a mystery no longer."

The above image is the first page of the Kingston records recovered in June 1895.

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