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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Intermarriages Among Harlem Pioneer Families

At the beginning of the 18th century, the little isolated community of Harlem consisted of half a hundred homes. The small two-story Dutch homes generally sheltered each a half-score or more of sturdy youngsters. "Intermarriage," says Riker, "among the resident families was the rule, and he was thought a bold swain truly who ventured beyond the pale of the community to woo a mate."

This simple, natural practice of marrying among neighbors was fraught with consequences not to be foreseen by the 30 families who constituted the village of Harlem two centuries ago. As a matter of fact, all--or very nearly all--of those who today bear the names of the 23 original patentees of Harlem and the 700-800 hundred others of different surnames who later married into these families are knit together by ties of kinship of which few are aware.

The wish tree is originally a Dutch wedding tradition. Guests wrote a message or wish on a note and hung it on the tree, which was then to bring the wishes to life.

The children and grandchildren of the patentees were nearly all cousins. Some 250-300 children and grandchildren of the original settlers were all closely bound by ties of blood relationship. Fifty years after the village was settled, or about the end of the first quarter of the 18th century, there was scarcely one of the families of the patentees who was not related to every other of the 25 or 30 families who first settled the village and they were not further removed than the fourth degree.

The following list of intermarriages of the children of the patentees may interest some of their descendants:

Of the Waldron family, Resolved Waldron had four daughters. Aeltje married Johannes Vermilye; Rebecca married first Jan Nagel and afterwards Jan Dyckman; Ruth married first Jan Delamater and afterwards Hendrick Bogert; Cornelia married Peter Oblinus. Their brother Johannes married Anna Van Dalsen. These marriages resulted in ties of close kinship between the seven families of Waldron, Nagel, Dyckman, Vermilye, Oblinus, Delamater and Bogert.

Of the Bussing family, Arent Harmanse Bussing, the patentee, married Susan, the daughter of Jan Delamater. His son Peter married Rebecca, daughter of Johannes and Aeltje Waldron Vermilye. John and Margaret Bussing married, respectively, a daughter and son of Cornelis Jansen Kortright. Elizabeth Bussing married Matthew Benson and Engeltje married Abraham Meyer. Of Peter Bussing and Rebecca Vermilye's four children, two married Bensons and two Meyers/Myers.

Of the Dyckman family, Jan Dyckman married first, Madeleine, the daughter of Daniel Tourneur, and after her death, as already mentioned, Rebecca Waldron, who was at the time of her second marriage the widow of Jan Nagel.  Jan Dyckman's son Jan married his cousin Deborah Nagel, while his sister Magdalena married Deborah Nagel's brother, Jan Nagel II. Jacob Dyckman married Jannetje Kiersen; Sarah married {text missing here}; sister Rebecca married Joseph Hadley, and their daughter Mehitabel Hadley married her cousin Isaac Vermilye.

Of the Meyer/Myer family, Adolph Myer married Maria, the daughter of Johannes Verveelen, and their children married respectively into the Van Dalsen, Benson, Bussing, Waldron, Lent and Haringh/Haring families; while their grandchildren married into the Dyckman, Waldron, Bussing, Delamater and Kortright families.

Of the Vermilye family, Johannes Vermilye's daughters--besides Rebecca, who married Peter Bussing--Maria married Peter Kiersen; Sarah married Teunis Van Dalsen; and Hannah married Jonathan Odell, the great-great-grandfather of one of New York's governors.  And in the two following generations of the Odell and Vermilye families and the Dyckman family, there were no less than ten intermarriages of cousins belonging to the three families. Aeltje Vermilye, a granddaughter of Johannes and Aeltje Waldron, married John Kortright.

Maria Vermilye, sister of Capt. Johannes, the patentee, became the second wife of Jean de la Montagne and her children married into the Bogert, Bussing and Kortright families. Nicasius de la Montagne, the son of Jean de la Montagne by his first wife Rachel De Forest, married Christina Roosevelt.

A Dutch trouwbeker, or wedding cup, from which the bride and groom drank

Of the Tourneur family, Daniel Tourneur's children married into the Kortright, Oblinus, Dyckman and DeVoe families, while his grandson Jacobus married a granddaughter of Laurens Jansen Low.

Of the Verveleen family, in addition to the connection by marriage between the Verveelen and Meyer families, already noted, there is that established by the two grandchildren of the old ferryman, Johannes Verveelen. Bernardus and Jacobus married, the one a Delamater and the other a Nagel.

Of the Bogert family, Jan Louwe Bogert's two daughters, Margaret and Cornelia, married a Haring and a Quackenbos {Quackenbush} respectively, while his granddaughter Jannetje became a Waldron and his great-grand-daughter Anna married Jacobus Roosevelt.

Of the Nagel family, Jan Nagel and Rebecca Waldron had a son Jan, who married his cousin, Magdalena Dyckman.  Another son, Barent, married Jannetje Kiersen and a daughter, Johannes {sic: Johanna} became the wife of William Waldron.  Sarah, their granddaughter, married Peter Oblinus, and her sister Deborah married Benjamin Waldron.

Of the Brevoort family, Jan Hendricus Brevoort's grandson Hendricus married a Delamater; William Haldron's grandson Cornells married Anetje Meyer and Jan Kiersen's daughter Jannetje married Jacob Dyckman.

Of the Oblinus family, Joost Oblinus' daughter married Isaac Vermilye and his grandchildren married respectively into the Nagel, Tourneur and DeVoe families. The children and grandchildren of Laurens Jansen Low intermarried with the Bogert, Delamater, Tourneur, Oblinus and Meyer families; and those of Cornelis Jan Kortright into the Dyckman, Benson, Bussing, Quackenbos {Quackenbush}, Delamater, Meyer and Vermilye families.

Dutch wedding wooden shoes


{edited slightly by Madehlinne}

Pierce, Carl Horton, William Pennington Toler and Harmon De Pau Nutting, New Harlem past and present: the story of an amazing civic wrong, now at last to be righted (New Harlem Printing Co., 1903)

Monday, February 13, 2012

List of Original Patentees of Harlem

The following is a list of the names of the original Harlem Patentees and Associates:

John Delavall,

Resolved Waldron,

Joost Van Oblinus [Oblienus],

Daniel Tourneur,

Adolph Meyer [Myer],

John Spragge,

Jan Hendricks Brevoort,

Jan Delamater,

Isaac Delamater,

Barent Waldron,

Johannes Vermilje [Vermilye],

Lawrence Jansen [Low],

Peter Van Oblinis [Oblenus],

Jan Dykeman [Dyckman],

Jan Nagel,

Arent Harmanse [Bussing],

Cornelis Jansen [Kortright],

Jacqueline Tourneur,

Hester Delamater,

Johannes Verveelen [Van Valen],

William Haldron [Holdrum],

Abraham Montanie [De La Montanye],

Peter Parmentier,

Jan Louwe Bogert,

Johannes Benson,

Charles Congreve,

Zacharias Sickels,

Marcus Tiebout,

John Kiersen,

William Holmes.

Settling Harlem, New York

Harlem, named after the original Harlem in the Netherlands, was founded by the Dutch on a site which is now almost the geographical heart of New York City. Patterned after similar villages in France and England, this little settlement of about 20 families received power to own, buy, sell, or distribute property, elect officers, assess members, build churches, hold court and govern itself in the exercise of an authority common to corporate towns of the day.

Attempts at earlier settlement on the northern end of Manhattan Island had proved futile but began in earnest with the arrival of Hendrick (Henry) de Forest, his brother Isaac de Forest and their sister and brother-in-law, Rachel and Dr. Jean Mousnier De La Montagne, Franco-Dutch immigrants in 1636.

 Hendrick and Isaack lost no time in seeking a favorable situation for a plantation. They came prepared to earn their living by raising tobacco, for which it was said the New Netherland soil of Manhattan Island "on account of its great fertility was considered well adapted." A stretch of rich bottom land in the northern part of the island was soon selected. This tract was called Muscoota (the flat land) by the Indians, who had doubtless already cleared and cultivated a considerable part of it.  The Muscoota included all the Harlem River lowlands from Hellgate to High Bridge.

Early Manhattan Island Native American village

Hendrick promptly secured from Director Wouter van Twiller a grant of 100 morgens of land (about two hundred acres) on this fertile plain, extending "between the hills and the kill," that is, from the high land known today as Morningside Heights to a little stream now called Harlem Creek, which ran in a southerly and easterly direction until it emptied into the Harlem River. The northern boundary of the tract was at about 124th Street, while on the south it included the high land in Central Park at about 109th Street. Near this latter boundary was a copious spring or, as the Dutch called it, a fonteyn, which still flows almost as it did then, a rippling brook with little waterfalls, until it empties into Harlem Mere in the northern part of the park.

Montanye's Fonteyn in the early 20th century

Roughly speaking, between 3,000-4,000 acres, every foot of which is now extremely valuable, was granted to the Corporation—the Town of New Harlem—whose first settlers broke ground near the foot of 125th Street and the Harlem River on 14 Aug. 1658. Erf (plural erven) was the Dutch name for a house-lot and morgen (two acres) meaning farm-lots. An owner of erf and morgen-rights was entitled to draw as many acres of the undivided common lands as he held of these rights.

Harlem Original Plot Map, 1670; map drawn by James Riker

Dr. Montagne, whose name has been variously misspelled, a descendant of French Huguenots who--like many other Nieuw Netherlands settlers--had fled persecution to settle in Holland. Jean Mousnier de la Montagne from the time of his arrival in Nieuw Netherland signed himself simply La Montagne, though he was often called Johannes La Montagne or Montanye, and the name was frequently pronounced according to the latter spelling.

Riker's Map of Original Farms and Lots of Nieuw Haarlem

From Gov. William Kieft,  Dr. Montagne obtained a grant of the land on which he had settled and expressed a sense of gratitude for the contrasting peace of his new home in calling it Quiet Dale or Vredendal. The land which Montagne occupied soon became known as Montagne's Flat. The tract, divided by the present line of St. Nicholas Avenue, ran from 109th Street to 124th Street and contained about 200 acres.

Shortly afterward, former director Wouter Van Twiller became interested in the Harlem district and settled on Ward's Island. His friend Jacobus Van Curler pre-empted the flat opposite Ward's Island known as the Otterspoor, a name signifying "otter tracks." This was afterwards sold to Coenraet Van Keulen, a New York merchant, and hence the name Van Keulen's Hook, which clung to this part of the district for more than 100 years after Harlem's founding.

With the ushering-in of spring, Van Curler finished his primitive dwelling and out-buildings on the northern bank of Montagne's Creek and secured a stock of all things necessary for a well-regulated plantation of the day—domestic animals, farming tools, and a canoe for passing to and from New York. At that time, and for a considerable time thereafter, there was no thought of reaching Nieuw Amsterdam except by water.

The success attending these early efforts in the rich soil of Muscoota had by this time spread abroad and had attracted the attention of a Danish capitalist, Capt. Jochem Pieter, who finally settled on the land above 125th Street. His farm, which reached approximately to 150th Street along the Harlem River, was forever afterward known to the patentees as Jochem Pieter's lots. Jochem Pieter's full name was Jochem Pietersen Kuyter. The Dutch, not unlike their American descendants, were quick to abbreviate names. Kuyter, therefore, was always known as Jochem Pieter.

When Jochem Pieter first made known his intention of coming to Manhattan, the authorities offered him the farm he subsequently occupied. Pleased with their generosity, Jochem Pieter hired a ship, invited his friend Jonas Bronck to accompany him, stocked the vessel with fine Holstein cattle and, with the Pieter and Bronck families and numerous herdsmen, arrived in Nieuw Amsterdam in July 1639 and at once took up his residence on the banks of the Harlem.

Bronck, his associate, settled opposite in what is now Bronx Borough--to which he lent his name--and at once started to erect a stone house, covered with Dutch tiles, a barn, tobacco houses and barracks.

A Dutch farm in Drenthe, Netherlands, resembles those that would have been built in Nieuw Amsterdam.

When Hendrick De Forest died in July 1637, Dr. Montagne took charge of the widow's plantation. He also saw to the proper harvesting of her crops and boarded with Van Curler while finishing the house and barn which his brother-in-law had started in the rough.

 Dr. Montagne continued to look after the estate of his sister-in-law until the year following, when a former member of Van Twiller's council, Andries Hudde, married the young widow De Forest. Particularly noteworthy was this event, leading up to the first ground-brief, or land patent, which was issued relative to Harlem lands, "granting, transporting, ceding, giving over, and conveying, to Andries Hudde, his heirs and successors, now and forever" a site owned less than a generation later by the town of Harlem.

After his marriage, Hudde, wishing to visit Holland with his bride, engaged an overseer for the farm and applied to Director Kieft for a patent to avoid all question of title to the property during his absence. Hitherto no similar action had been taken, but Kieft, recognizing the value of the Harlem settlement as a protection against the Indians and recognizing also that settlers would not continue to dwell on and improve property where titles were insecure, inaugurated the custom of giving ground-briefs for Harlem farms, in course of improvement, by issuing the Hudde Patent, dated 20 July 1638.

By the time the newly-wedded pair reached Holland, however, their affairs on this side of the water were complicated by Dr. Montagne's demand for the settlement of a debt of $400 due him for the management of the estate during the widowhood of Mrs. De Forest, now Mrs. Hudde.

View of the Herengracht, Amsterdam

The claim remaining unpaid, the farm was offered for sale for the benefit of the widow. At the auction which followed, Dr. Montagne bid for the property at 1,700 guilders, or about $680, which sum purchased not only the farm, but also the fixtures, house, barn, fences, farming tools and wey schuyt (as the Dutch called the canoe), "domestic fowls, two goats, two milch cows and other cattle, and portions of the recent crops of tobacco and grain." Thus the claim to New Harlem's land called Montagne's Point and Montagne's Flat became merged under one ownership, where it remained until the formation of the New Harlem Corporation.

Claes Cornelissen Swits, a New Yorker, leased the farm which Van Kuelen purchased from Van Curler. The terms of his lease were interesting, showing the progress made by the little Harlem colony in the three years of its existence. The lease, which was executed on 25 Jan. 1639, included two span of horses, three cows, farming utensils and 12 schepels of grain in the ground, for which Swits was to pay rent in livestock and butter and one-eighth of all the grain "with which God shall bless the field."'

Dr. Montagne was yet to find, as did his neighbors, that this retreat was not so peaceful as it first seemed. The Native Americans lurked too near at hand.  Instead of the former quiet of the forest, the squeak of the ox-cart's wheels and the swish of the scythes in the meadow now warned the Manahattans and Wickquaskeeks, the Indian tribes of the region, that civilization was soon to rob them of their beloved hunting grounds.

Pieter Minuit trades for Manhattan Island. The Natives thought they only sold the hunting rights.

Despite Pieter Minuit's purchase of the island and subsequent purchases of the Bronx and Westchester lowlands, the Native Americans became aggressive, declaring that $24 was an inadequate price for the whole of the island, and their tone became threatening.

Gov. Kieft added fuel to the smoldering fire of the Indians' anger by attempting to levy a tax on the surrounding tribes. In vain did Dr. Montagne protest, but Kieft was vindictive. His demands being refused, he ordered an attack on the Raritan Indians. Several were killed, and, in the words of Dr. Montagne, "a bridge had been built over which war was soon to stalk through the land."

Swits was the first to fall in the trail of death which ensued. Kieft unwisely demanded the head of the assassin. New York's Council not supporting him, however, no active measures were taken to capture the culprit. Doubling their precautions, now that one of their number had been killed, the settlers along the Harlem returned to their crops and renewed their labors in the shadow of a constant danger.

Dutch troops prepare to attack Native Americans in retaliation.

Kieft again contrived to blunder in his relations with the Indians and his blunders were always particularly costly to the little Harlem colony. In the fall of the year he ordered the slaughter of some harmless, unarmed Indians who had sought, at the fort, a refuge from their enemies, the Mohicans.

Immediately the Indians rose, thirsting for revenge and swarming like angry hornets from the forests, boldly attacked the Harlem outpost of Manhattan Island civilization, killed some of the settlers and drove the remainder southward to New York.  Such attacks were repeated again and again in the next five years until Montagne and his neighbors were ruined, their cattle killed, their well-filled barns burned, their gardens and fences uprooted, their fields laid waste; and again the forest's silence was broken only by the cry of birds or the twang of the bow.


De Forest, Emily Johnston and Jesse De Forest, A Walloon Family in America (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1904)

Pierce, Carl Horton, William Pennington Toler and Harmon De Pau Nutting, New Harlem past and present: the story of an amazing civic wrong, now at last to be righted (New Harlem Printing Co., 1903)