Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wolfert Gerritse Van Kouwenhoven 1579-1662




Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven
Born 1579 
Died 1662
Neeltgen Jacobsdochter
daughter of
Born 1584
Died 1658

Children:

Gerret Wolfertse Van Kouwenhoven 1610 – 1645
Pieter Wolfertse Van Kouwenhoven 1614 – 1701
Jacob Wolfertse Van Kouwenhoven 1615 – 1670



Wolpert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven, one of the founders of New Amsterdam (New York) and the founder of our family in America. He was one of five "head farmers" first sent by the Dutch West India Company to New Netherlands in 1625. Wolphert came with his wife Aeeltje Jans, whom he married January 17, 1605, in the Dutch Reformed Chuch at Amersfort, Holland, and their three surviving sons, Gerret, Jacob, and Pieter.



1605

Marriage to Neeltgen Jacobsdochter
Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands  
at the Reformed Church; Marriage banns were published on 9 Jan 1605

1611

First appears when he signs a document in 1611 in which he agrees to assume the debts of his wife's deceased parents from the other heirs for 100 guilders. Other documents during the 1610s show his occupation as baker, but he was buying, equipping, and evidently losing money running a "bleach camp," which bleached cloth. 




The first reference to Wolfer Gerritse when WulphertGerrits signed an agreement with his stylized A. According to the terms of that document, he agreed to assume the property and debts of the deceased parents of his wive Neeltgen Jacobsdr from the other heirs for 100 guilders. Her brother Herman Jacobsz also signed this document as well as her brother in law  Willem Dircx who was married to Aeltgen Jacobs Petergen Petersdr, the underage daughter of her brother Peter Jacobsz, had already received 50 guilders on December 15 1611. Wulphert Gerritsz and his wife Neeltgen Jacobdr sold a bleachercamo outside the Coppelpoort of Amersfoort to HendrickJanss and his wife HasgenbThonis for 1,200 Carolus Guilders, the occupation of Wolfert is not disclosed in this document on March 22 1612. 





1612
On Mar 22, 1612 Wulphert Gerritsz and his wife Neeltgen Jacosdr sold a bleachcamo outside the Coppelpoort of Amersfoort to Hendrick Janss and his wife Hasgenb Thonis fo 1,200 Carolus guilders, the occupation of Wolfert is not disclosed in this document.



Wolfert Gerretsen Van Couwenhoven was from Couwenhoven, a little village or hamlet a short distance Northwest of Amersfoort, in the Province of Utrecht, in the Netherlands. This is shown by the "Van," which precedes Couwenhoven in his name. Historians claim, however, that he was born in Amersfoort, or Eemsfort, an ancient city, the name of which is derived from the River Eem, on which it is located. This city, which in 1841 contained twelve thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine inhabitants, was formerly surrounded by a wall with twenty embattled towers which were destroyed in 1829. 

map of Amersfoort, Netherlands showing the location of Cowen Hooven



1615
On Apr 14, 1615 
Wolphert took part in a curiious agreement with Herman Zieboltz of Amsterdam, before Johan van Ingen an officer of the court of Utrechet. The name of the Amsterdammer suggests that he was a German or that he was of German descent. His name is also spelled Syboelt and Zyeboltz in those documents. According to a "donatiaq iner vivos" (gift to a living person) Ziebolz gave Wolphert two morgans of turf ground near Cologne in recognition of services rendered )but not payment for them). No monetary amount is mentioned for the services or the turf ground. In a second document of the same date issued by the same officer of the court of Utrecht, Ayeboliz made a debt owed by mim by Henrick Adrianesz and Adriaen Adriansz over to Wulpher Gerrits baker and Cornelis Wynantsz inkeeper. This second document authorized Wulpher Gerritss and Cornelis Wynantsz to assume ownership of the two morgens of turfground mentioned in the first document. These documents create the impression thaqt Zieboltz was unable to pay Wolfert money that he owed him, that the Amsterdammer made over a debt on which he had not been able to collect, and that Wolfert may have agreed to these vague terms because he would otherwise not be able to retrieve anything from his business dealings with the Zieboltz.
1616
On May 16, 1616 Wulpher Gerritss baker appeared as a witness before Johan van Ingen officer of the court of Utrecht, in a case in which Willem Gerritz miller testified that Griet Maes was evading the city grain tax. The document does not specify that Wulpher and Willem were brothers, and if such were the case, it is likely that this would have been discussed in the document.


On Oct 28, 1616 Hendrick Janss and Haesgen Thonis made the last payment on the bleach camp which they had purchased from Wolfert Gerretse and Neeltge Jacbsdr, and the property was made over to them.



In the seventeenth century, a bleach camp was a capital intensive, seasonal business which required the labor of relatively many workers. Profits were meager because the buyers of the finished product and the suppliers of raw matierials such as lye were generally the same persons, and they acted to keep theri costs and thus the profits of the bleachers love. There were three types of bleaching activities, and the skills and experience reqiuired of workers was generally so high that each bleachery specialized in but one sort of material: Yarn (garenblekerij), woven cloth (lijnwaadblekerij), or clothing (klerenblekerij). In all three cases, the material was first generally cooked in a lye solution and later spread out on green grass for many weeks in small fields surrounding the bleach house where it was kept damp. Later, iot was cookled in a solution of wheat meal before being again spread on the field for a lenghtly period, the entire process requiring about three months. The consequences of this long procedure was that o9nly wealthy people were the customers of clothing bleachers because only they could afford to part with many items of clothing for so long a time. No equipment of the bleach camp listed in the purcahse document for Wolphert are given. So no indication of what type of bleachery Wolphert purchased. The bleach camp he sold in 1612 included a bleach table meaning it may have been a cloth bleach camp.


It does not appear that Wolferts endeavor as bleacher met with great success, and this may have been caused by a general malaise in the weavers trade in Amersfoort in this period, which in turn lay on a lack of capital. Because Wolfert's work was dependent on this industry, he was limited as a businessman by the lack of sucess of the parent industry.


Occupation - Baker
Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven purchased from Aert van Schayck and his wife Anna Barents a house on the Langegraft in Amersfoort whch lay between the hosue of the aforesaid Aert on the one side and that fo Henrickgen Barents widow of Aelbert Conrneiss on the other side, while the breadt of the house lay on the Lieverrouwestraet (Dear Lady Street). Wolphert was listed as a baker.



on Jan 30, 1617 at Langegraft, Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands.
On between Feb, 1617 and Jul, 1617 Within a short time, Wolpeher palced three mortgages on this house. Perhaps the transactions with Zieboltz were unprofiatble, and this was one of the causes fo his need for money. On Feb 15, 1617, Wulpher Gerritss baker and his wife Neeltgen Jacobsdr borrowed 100 guidlers from the Armen te Amersfoort on which he agreed to pay 6 guilders per year. On May 16, 1617, Wulpher Gerritss baker and his wife Neeltgen borrowed 200 guilders from Cornelis Baecx van der Tommen at a yearly interest of 12 guilders. On Jul 25, 1617, Wul;phur Gerritss baker and his wife Neelttgen Jacobsdr borrowed 250 guilders from Anna Goerts widow of Franck Frandkss at 15 guilders interest per year. 
On Jan 3, 1618 Wulphert Gerritsz and his wife Neeltgen Jacobs purchased a bleachcamp outside the Coppelpoort of Amersfoort with Hubert Lambertsz Moll and his wife Geertgen Cornisdochter as thier partners. They borrowed 500 Carolus Guilders from Ghijsbert Cornelisz van Cuijlenburch, a citizen of the city of Utrecht, at an annual interest of 25 guilders and 20 stivers. In addition, Hubert Lamberts and his wife Geertje Cornelisdochter contracted a special mortgage ofr 400 Carolus guilders with the consent of Wulffert Gerritsz and his wife. On the no9rth side of the property lay the River Eem, on the east the city moat and on the south and west the heirs of Gerrit van Speulde. This propety came with two other mortgages: 200 guilders to the Poth and 600 guilders to Jo. Catharina van Morendael not yet conveyed to her. In a codicil, Wulpher Gerritsz baker and his wife Neeltgen Jacobs become party to the mortgage of Hubert Lambertsz Moll and his wife Geertge Cornelis for 400 guilders with interest on Ghijsbert Cornelisz van Culenborch with restriction that Wulpher would pay 150 guilders in the year 1618 and thereafter be free of oblicgation.


In the margin is a notation that Dirck van Cullenburch as heir of his father Gysbert van Culenburch acknowledged that the obligation on the mortgage was fully paid on Mar 5, 1628.



1618
On Sep 17, 1618 Wulphert Gerritss baker and his wife Neeltge Jacobs contracted a mortgage with Coenraet Fransz, former mayor of the city of Amersfoort, for 100 guilders at an annual interest of 6 guilders, with the house of Wulphert on the Langegracht as security, which house lay between the house of Aert van Schayck and that of Hednrickgen Speldemaeckster.
1622



On Nov 5, 1622 Wolphert was appointed guardian over the five under aged children of Willem Gerritsz Couwenhoven.
From NYGBR 
Wulffer Geridtz, bleacher residing by the Coppelpoort and Harman Willemsz citizen of Amersfoort as "bloetvoochden" (blood guardians) of the five sons of Willem Gerridsz Couwenhoven, namely Gerridt, Willem, Jan, Harmen, and Willem the Younger, none of whom had yet reached the age of majority, made an agreement with the mother of the children Neeltgen Willemsdr the widow of Willem Gerridtsz assisted by the owner of Cowenhoven the honorable Johan de Wijs.


This document indicates that Wolfert Gerritse had a brother Willem and that he was the tenant of the farm ouwenhoven which was owned by Johan de Wijs. This document indicates that Wolfert is connected to the Couwenhoven by Hoogland. It is at the same time possible that he was also linked to the Couwenhoven near Woudenberg because he was a son of Gerrit Willemsz van Couwenhoven, but documentation for this has not been discovered.
1623


On Mar 24, 1623 Beermt van Munster made a deposition under oath before the lieutenant, the schout, and the schepenen Dam and Bronchorst at the request of the (police) officer. He stated that the previous Saturday afternoon he had caught a bucket of fish by the Coppelpoort bridge and had given half of it to Wulphert the bleacher according to an agreement which they had made, and that Beernt had caught a small number of fish threafter. Wulpher and Harmen 

Teut then took these fish from Beernt, and they would not divide them with him. Wulpher took the net and tried to give it to his wife. Harman hit Beernt in the eye with a weight in the net, but by then, it was ripped. Beernt then went to the defense of his wife, and Wulpher drew his knife and threatened him without harming him. Dirck Gerritsz, stevedore, using well-chosen words, separated the people from each other. On April 1 1623, Dirch Gerrisz was heard at the request of the officer and made a similar deposition under oath.


On Jun 11, 1623 Hubert Moll and his wife Geertgen Cornelis sold a bleach camp to Wulpher Gerritsz bleacher and his wife in which they had been residing. This was situated in Amersfoort outside the Coppelpoort. The property description differs slightly from that given for the land transaction of 1618, but the mortgages are the same. It is likely that this is the same ground that Wulpher Gerritsz and Hubert Moll purchased then. On the date of purchase in 1623, Wulpher Gerritss sold this property to Monsieur Jacques Chiese Cuirass(ier) of the company of his Princely Excellency (Maurits?) and the purchser assumed the mortgages.


This is the last document pertaining to Wolfert Gerritse that has been discovered in the archives of Amersfoort.




1625
Arrival to New Amsterdam, New Netherlands
his wife and family on a ship of the Dutch West India Company which sailed in the expedition of the ships Mackerel, Horse, Cow and Sheep.

Until his return to Holland in 1629, Wolphert farmed Bouwerie (farm) No. 3 in New Amsterdam and, through his wife, engaged in the profiable fur trade.

While in Holland, Wolphert signed a six year lease with the Dutch West India Company for Bouwerie No. 6 (about 91 acres). He also contracted with Kiliaen Van Rensselar, patroon of Rensselarwick (comprised of many thousands of acres along the Hudson including most of present day Albany) as a factor or director and to be in charge of Bouwerie No. 7 in New Amsterdam, All this bore tribute to Wolphert's reputation for competence and dependability.




1628
Mortgage paid in full (see notes under 1618)
In the margin is a notation that Dirck van Cullenburch as heir of his father Gysbert van Culenburch acknowledged that the obligation on the mortgage was fully paid on Mar 5, 1628.


1630
Upon his return from Holland May 24, 1630 on De Eendracht (The Unity), Wolphert farmed Bouwerie No. 6, and for about two years served under contract with Kiliaen Van Rensselar.

Van KOUWENHOVEN emigrated with his family from Amersfoort, Utrecht, in the Netherlands in 1630 as the superintendent of Kiliaen VAN RENSSELAER'S property of Rennsselaerswyck. Later, he cultivated a farm on Manhattan Island, but he spent part of his time on his bouwery (or farm) of Achtervelt. He died sometime after 1660.

Until his return to Holland in 1629, Wolphert farmed Bouwerie (farm) No. 3 in New Amsterdam and, through his wife, engaged in the profiable fur trade. While in Holland, Wolphert signed a six year lease with the Dutch West India Company for Bouwerie No. 6 (about 91 acres). He also contracted with Kiliaen Van Rensselar, patroon of Rensselarwick (comprised of many thousands of acres along the Hudson including most of present day Albany) as a factor or director and to be in charge of Bouwerie No. 7 in New Amsterdam.
File:Manatvs gelegen op de Noot Riuier.jpg
To zoom in to see the farms on this map, go here:
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl  The farm numbers cited above are shown beside the names in the box on the bottom right

1636

On June 30, 1636, Wolphert purchased land on Long Island called Keskateuw from the Indians, Here was established the first known white settlement on Long Island. Wolphert called his "plantation" Achterveldt, shown on the Manatus Map of New Netherlands as Farm No. 36, near the Indian long house of the Keskachau Tribe. Wolphert's house, surrounded by palisades, was the focal point of the village of New Amsterdam (later called Flatlands).

On the 16th day of June, 1636, Wolfert Gerretsen and Andries Hudden bought from the Indians and obtained from Governor Van Twiller, on the 6th day of June, 1637, a Patent for the "Westernmost of the three flats on Long Island, commonly known as the little flats/' and called by them Castuteeuw, or Kaskateuw, which Patent was ratified on the 22nd day of August, 1658; to which premises Wolfert Gerretsen removed, and on which he immediately commenced a settlement, and where he died in 1662

From Wikipedia - 
Achterveld is a village in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is a part of the municipality of Leusden, and lies about 8 km east of Amersfoort.

On 16 June 1636 Wolphert Gerritsen van KOUWENHOVEN and Andries HUDDEN bought the westernmost of three tracts of flat, fertile land, Jacob VAN CORLAER or CURLER purchased the center one. His property included a neck of land which was given the name of Vriesens Hook. This later was part of Flatlands Neck.
Nova Belgica et Anglia Nova (1635). John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.


     Before describing Blaeu's map, it should be mentioned that there is some lack of agreement among scholars as to why the name Nova Belgica (New Belgium) appears so often on Dutch maps of New Netherland. The correct explanation is that there is no Latin equivalent of "New Netherland," and that Nova Belgica was its closest Latin approximation. It is also true that many of the settlers of New Netherland were French-speaking Walloons, who were Protestant refugees from Spanish rule in the area that later became known as Belgium. It has occasionally been maintained that the name was adopted in their honor.[9] There is no documentary evidence for this, and in the seventeenth century the name Belgium was applied to both the southern and the northern provinces of the Netherlands (in 1648 the northern provinces were known officially as Belgium Foederatum and the southern provinces as Belgium Regium). Belgium only became established as the name of a country separate from the Netherlands in 1839. Thus, it appears clear that on seventeenth-century maps the name Nova Belgica had no special meaning other than being the Latin equivalent of New Netherland.[10] This is confirmed by the usage on the Blaeu map, where names are often given in both Dutch and Latin—e.g. Niev Nederland and Novvum Belgivm or Niew Engeland and Nova Anglia.
http://www.dyasites.com/maps/nysbook/Chapter2b.htm

1638

On *7uly 26th, 1638, Andries Hudden sold to Gerret Wolferson (son of Wolfert Gerretsen), fifty morgens of (land, or) his onehalf of the district of Achtervelt, Long Island, for fifty-two gallons of Hollands, which he owed Gerret." 

1639
On ''August 2nd, 1639, Wolfert purchased of Hudden his interest in a house, barrack, barn and garden on said Patent, called 'Achtervelt,' and, September 16, 1647, he purchased of Hudden all his interest, not previously disposed of, in the original Patent." 
 
"These buildings, erected prior to July 9th, 1638, and testified on the 22nd of March, 1639, by Gillis Pietersen Van de Gouw to have been built by himself and the Company's carpenters, were of the following dimensions: the house 26 feet long, 22 feet wide, 40 feet deep, including a small chamber at the side, with the roof covered above and around with plank, and having two lofts above one another, and also being set around with long palisades; the bam 40 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 24 feet deep, all Dutch measure; a bergh with five posts 40 feet long/' 
 
"The following is a copy of the inventory of the chattels on the 
farm July 9th, 1638": 
 
"Three milch cows, 1 yearling cow, 1 young calf, 2 old mares, 1 mare of one year old, 1 new wagon, and appurtenances, 1 iron harrow, 1 heifer of two years old, 2 old oxen, 1 young do., 1 stallion of three years, 1 gelding of four years old, 1 wheel plow and appurtenance, some farming utensils necessary for the bouwery." 
 
"Also about sixteen morgens of land sowed with summer and winter wheat, and a garden stocked with a quantity of fruit trees; 1 yawl with appurtenance." 

"Wolfert Gerretsen's heirs conveyed, 25th of March, 1666, the main portion of these premises to Elbert Elbertse Stoothoff' 
 
''The settlement was first named New Amersfoort, in honor of the place of Wolfert's nativity ; afterwards commonly known as 
the Baai, or Bay, and since as Flatlands' 





1645
Montanus' view of New Amsterdam, 1645

Montanus' view of New Amsterdam, published in 1671, most probably reflecting the
situation of about 1645.
Source:
"America Explored", by Adrian Johnson,
The Viking Press, Inc.,New York, NY, 1974

1647
"On March 18, 1647, Comdlis Jacobson Stille obtained a Patent for Bouwery No. 6, previously occupied by Wolfert Gerretsen Van Kouwenhoven, containing twenty-eight and a half morgens on Manhattan Island' 
 
"It lay along the present south side of Chatham Square, coming down to Pearl Street, and was known as Bouwery No. 6." 





1648
Drawing from 1648 - Wikipedia
New Amsterdam (Dutch: Nieuw-Amsterdam) was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement that served as the capital of New Netherland. It was later renamed to New York City.

1656
Map of Long Island, Showing Amersfoort
(look to the left, and a little below, the L in Lange Eylandt)


============================================================

eginning in 1636, a handful of New Amsterdam residents bought large tracts of farmland in an area of western Long Island in which the soil was unusually fertile. Eleven years later, there were enough residents to warrant naming the place as a town. Amersfoort recalled the city of Amersfoort, near Utrecht, in the Netherlands. By 1654, the town was sizable enough to have magistrates, militia officers, and of course taverns. The following year the neighboring town of Midwout, which was building a church for the use of all area residents, was forced to ask the council of New Netherland to order the citizens of Amersfoort to help cut and haul timber for the church. By 1656, the residents had taken on more responsibility for their religious welfare: they joined with Midwout in petitioning that the residents of Breuckelen help them pay for a minister for the church.


Under the English, Amersfoort became Flatlands. Today Flatlands is a neighborhood of southeast Brooklyn that occupies a small portion of the original town's area.


1657


The old Dutch records show that he was one of the Burghers of New Amsterdam in 1657. 

What is a Burgher?
Between 1657-1668, New Amsterdam ran a system of citizenship, meant to protect the interests of the citizens against the commercial competition of non-resident traders. The system recognized 'great burghers' and 'small burghers'.


This, in effect, created a certain 'aristocracy' as it confirmed the positions of the most powerful families in the colony. Besides the fact that the title of 'great burgher' was hereditary, one of its privileges was access to the highest public positions in the colony.


Nevertheless, the system had fundamentally democratic principles, because everyone could become a citizen of both types - depending on a few rules and the payment of a fee. Per 1657, twenty citizens were privileged as 'great burghers', whilst a further 216 became 'small burghers'. More citizens acquired the status throughout the existence of the system.
http://www.geni.com/projects/New-Amsterdam-Notable-Citizens



1660

The Stadhuis (City Hall) of New Amsterdam

Depicted in 1680 as it was recorded to have been in 1660 or so

1662
Death
Flatlands, Long Island, New Netherlands  
between 2 Mar 1662 and 24 Jun 1662


A Dutch deed and what purports to be an ancient English translation thereof, dated April 27, 1662, from Jacob and Pieter Van Cowenhoven, both sons and executors of Wolphert Gerritsen Van Cowenhoven, deceased, likewise the executors or administrators of Gerrit Wolphert of Cowenhoven, deceased, William Gerritsen, Jan Gerritsen of Cowenhoven and Roeloff Martinse, husband of Neetie Gerritsen Van Cowenhoven, Elbert Elbertsen father and overseer of Mary Gerritsen, likewise one of the legitimates of Wolfert Gerritsen Van Cowenhoven, her grandfather, to Elbert Elbertsen, conveying to said Elbertsen a certain parcel of lands and farms lying in ye towne of Amersfort (Flatlands) with all the housings and land, valleys and meadow, cattell, with all the dependents thereof, freedoms and privileges and all which the said Wolphert Gerritsen, deceased, did possess, according to the patent of Gov. Van Twiller dated June 6, 1636, and endorsed by Gov. Stuyvesant, 24 Aug., 1658.


"On April 27, 1662, Elbert Elberts6 Stoothoff purchased of the Executors of Wolfert Gerretsen Van Couwenhoven and his heirs, for five thousand guilders, in good, strong 'wompom,' payable in four years, one-fourth in each year, the lands and farm. With improvements thereon, *known by the name of Achtervelt,' which the said Wolfert possessed; said land^ being the premises which Andries Hudden and Wolfert Gerretsen Van Couwenhoven purchased of the Indians, and which are described as the 'Westernmost of the three flats named Kaskuteuw, lying on the isl?ind named by the Indians Suanhachy, between the Bay of the North River and the East River; in breadth from a certain meadow, or valley, and stretching about westerly to, and into the woods ; which lands were patented to them by Governor Wouter Van Twiller, 16th of June, 1636, and by a confirmatory Patent of 22nd of August, 1658, grant- ed by Governor Stuyvesant to said Wolfert Gerretsen Vaa Couwenhoven' 




1665
Brooklyn neighborhood of GERRITSEN BEACH was named after Wolphert GERRITSEN (aka Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven), who, was granted 15,000 acres of land from the West India Company. 

In 1665, his descendant, Hugh GERRITSEN, a farmer, built a tidewater mill off Burnett Street. A century later, the mill was still operational and supplied Washington's troops with food supplies. It burned down in 1931. 



New Amsterdam by Carol Allard
New Amsterdam by Carol Allard.

New Amsterdam by Peter Schneck



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In the October 2004The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, Review, published and article titled Wolfert Gerritse in the Netherlands: Further Thoughts About the Van Couwenhoven Family This article follows.

WOLFERT GERRITSE IN THE NETHERLANDS:
 Further Thoughts About the Van Couwenhoven Family
BY WILLEM VAN KOUWENHOVEN
The purpose of this article. Several years ago, I made a study using documents about Wolfert Gerritse van Couwenhoven which Marcel Kemp had sought out at my request in the archives of the district Amersfoort in the Netherlands.[1] The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society was kind enough to publish this in THE RECORD as "Wolfert Gerritse in the Netherlands." (2] During the intervening time, I have developed several points of criticism about the article which pertain to the views which were expressed there about Wolfert's first wife Aeltge Jansdochter, the birth order of Wolfert and his brother Willem, the date on which the tenancy of Willem's son Jan on the farm Kouwenhoven was terminated, and the projected picture of Wolfert's childhood.
Wolfert Gerritse in recent literature. Additional information has been published in the meantime by Marcel Kemp and Gerard Raven as "Boerderij Kouwenhoven en de familie Van Kouwenhoven 1400-1650" in De Bewaarsman,[3] the publication of the Historische kring Hoogland, the Historical Society' of Hoogland. (The farm Kouwenhoven is located in the neighborhood Coelhorst within the former district Hoogland, which is now a part of the district Amersfoort.) Gerard Raven was co-editor of De Bewaarsman when the article was published. In addition to information about the early history of the farm that appeared in Kemp's article "De herkomst van Wolfert Gerritsz, stamvader van de Amerikaanse familie Van Kouwenhoven" in the 1996 Jaarboek van bet Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie[4] and in the above-mentioned article in THE RECORD, the article in De Bewaarsman contains information about a tenant on the farm in 1536, insights into the lives of the tenants in the period 1620-1650, and a report of the construction of a brick manor house on the farm during the eighteenth century by a new land owner, as well as the history of the farm to the present day. Only the material that pertains to the critique of the article in THE RECORD will be dealt with in this discussion.

Information about Kouwenhoven, its neighborhood Coelhorst, and the local Chapel Coelhorst were included in the booklet "Hoogland-West," the issue of De Bewaarsman for April 2001. The material about the chapel will be recounted in the portion of this critique that deals with Wolfert's childhood.

Aeltge Jansdochter, Wolfert's first wife. As first point of critique, the view of Aeltge Jansdochter which was set forth in the article in THE RECORD[5] should be revised - that it was uncertain that the Wolfert Gerritse who married Aeltge Jansdochter on 17 January 1605[6] was the same person as the Wolfert Gerritse who is found in numerous documents in the archives of Amersfoort in the period 1611-1623. M. Kemp expressed this opinion initially in the report of his impressively thorough search for documents regarding Wolfert Gerritse which was first given to this writer, and this opinion was used in the article for THE RECORD. By the time it was published, Kemp had expressed the same view in his article "De herkomst van Wolfert Gerritsz, ..."[7] Because other documents were not found which linked Aeltge Jansdochter to the baker/bleacher Wolfert Gerritse, Kemp hesitated to draw the conclusion that Aeltge was Wolfert's first wife.
This seems overly cautious. Only one Wolfert Gerritse has been found in the numerous other documents from more or less the same period that have been preserved in the records of the district Amersfoort. Although many documents from this period in the district have been lost for various reasons, those that have survived give no reason to surmise that there was at that time a second Wolfert Gerritse in the district to whom the entry in the marriage register might refer. It would then be better to reason that the Wolfert Gerritse of the marriage record is the same person who is found in all of the other documents. It then follows that Aeltge Jansdochter was Wolfert's first wife, that she died shortly after their marriage without bearing any children who survived, and that Neeltje Jacobsdochter, who is shown as his wife in the documents from the Amersfoort archives, was his second wife and the mother of his known children.
Willem Gerritse, Wolfert's younger brother. Secondly, there is a problem in the article with the estimated birth year that was given for Wolfert's brother Willem. While Kemp made no statements about Willem's birth year in his article in the Jaarboek, he and Raven estimated in the article in De Bewaarsman that Willem was born in the period 1580-1585.[8] Since Willem remained on the farm Couwenhoven as its tenant, it was assumed in the article for THE RECORD that he was older than Wolfert, who was born in 1584.1] Yet, none of Willem's five children had attained their majority when their father died in 1622. Thus, none of them were capable of succeeding him as tenant. The family was enabled to stay on the farm because Willem's widow Neeltge Willemsdochter married Peter Coenraetsz., apparently with the approval if not the instigation of the owner of the farm, Johan de Wijs of Amersfoort.[1]

If one of Willem's five sons was but a few months removed from attaining his majority, it would seem that it could have been arranged in one way or another that he become the tenant of the farm, if he was in other respects a suitable candidate for this work. That this did not occur suggests that the oldest son was several years removed from his majority, and this is the tenor of the agreement which the "blood guardians" Wolfert Gerritse and Harmen Willemsz. of Amersfoort (respectively the brother of Willem and the brother of Willem's widow) made with the mother of Willem's children on 5 November 1622.P 1] She was to care for the children and let them attend school and learn to read and write. Such stipulations suggest that some of the children were too young to have learned basic literacy skills at the time of their father's death.

Since Willem's children were not so old when he died in 1622, it would seem that the birth year 1580 that was assigned to him lies too far in the past and that it is likely that he was born several years later. If Willem's children are listed in birth order in the agreement between the "blood guardians" and the widow, Jan would be his third son. He became the tenant on Couwenhoven on 5 July 1636,02] and he married Nellitgen Henricxdr. five days later.[13] Assuming that both father and son married shortly after their twenty-first birthday and that there were three years between each child, results in an estimated birth date of circa 1587 for Willem rather than circa 1580, which was assigned in THE RECORD article.[14] Willem would have been legally eligible to enter into contracts as a tenant only when he reached his majority, which would seem to have been about 1608.

It should be emphasized that this is but an estimate that is based on reasonable assumptions about birth order and birth intervals that have been made in regard to two men. It should be expected that new documents about Willem and Jan could well require further slight corrections regarding their birth and marriage dates. Yet, Kemp's search in the Archives of Amersfoort was so thorough that it is unlikely that further documents about these persons will be found there. Perhaps a reference to them will by chance be discovered in one or more documents from other districts while other matters are being studied.

as the younger son who left home, learned a trade (perhaps with some parental support) and became a businessman. The thought that is being presented here is that although Willem was the younger son, he stayed on the farm, working it and perhaps initially serving as a caretaker for his parent(s) while the older brother Wolfert had years earlier left the homestead, even though it was customary in Hoogland that the oldest son succeed his father as tenant. Wolfert sought to survive in the business world of Amersfoort, where he already resided as a married man when he was twenty-one years old according to the entry in the marriage register of the Reformed Church of Amersfoort, which was located in the St. Joriskerk[15] (St. George's Church). This is a plausible explanation, yet it requires further refinement.

Jan Willemse's tenancy on Kouwenhoven ends. The other tenants on Kouwenhoven about which there is information were not able to labor there many years. Peter Coenraetsz. became tenant in 1622, and by 1638 he had died and was succeeded by Jan Willemsz van Kouwenhoven. While Kemp and Raven argue that Jan was deceased as early as 1646, it is certain that he was no longer living in 1656 when the estate of his mother Neeltge Willemsdr. was inventoried.[16

Kemp and Raven are of the opinion that Jan had died by 1646 since a police report from that year was made by Jan Bartz. who lived on Kouwenhoven.[17] Apparently the thought is that the farm Kouwenhoven was so small that the tenant farmer (pachter) could not have employed a resident worker (knecht), but only day laborers (dagloners) as they were needed. Thus, it could be reasonably concluded that a person who listed his residence as Kouwenhoven must have been the tenant farmer of that date.[18] It is noted that it is a problem that Jan Willemsz. and his wife Nelletge Hendrixdr. would then have had to have had eight children in ten years. Kemp and Raven conclude that Nelletge was forced to depart from Kouwenhoven following Jan's death because none of the children was old enough to become the succeeding tenant.

It would be more reasonable to consider that it would be bad for the health of the wife and the children which she bore if they came into the world made for a healthier farm. Although the `pill' was not yet then known, local populations generally had their own effective means of planning parenthood, even in the seventeenth century. It would then seem better to conclude that by 1646, Jan Willemsz. and his wife Nelletge Hendrixdr. had relocated, that five of their children or so had been born on Kouwenhoven and that the rest were born in their new location before Jan died somewhat more than fifteen years after he had become the tenant farmer on Kouwenhoven. [19]

As a third point then, there is no need to change the view which was expressed in THE RECORD article of 1998 regarding Jan's death date, but it would appear that the family's tenancy on Kouwenhoven likely had already ended by 1646, ten years earlier than was presented in that article.
Wolfert's childhood. What were the circumstances of Wolfert's childhood? Farm work was much harder and heavier than it is now, and it was often necessary to labor in a strong wind in cold, wet weather, which caused severe illnesses. Although it now seems strange, the life of a farmer was similar then to that of a contemporary professional athlete. The training or work began for both early in life, and by the time each was thirty years old, he was already past his peak. While it is now unusual to find an athlete older than forty-five on a team roster, it was then unusual to find a farmer older than forty-five years old on a landlord's list of tenants - not because the older tenant was enjoying retirement in his luxurious villa, but because he had died of exhaustion and illness. Although it would seem that the average lifespan of a tenant farmer in this region did not differ greatly during this period from that of the general population and that it thus was about forty-five years, Jan Willemsz. was younger when he died, and it would seem that this was also true of his father. It would seem that some tenants died several years before they reached forty-five while a similar number lived a few years beyond that benchmark.

It would seem unlikely that Gerrit the father of Wolfert and Willem would have been able to work as a tenant farmer for many more years than the documented tenants of Kouwenhoven Peter Coenraetsz. and Jan Willemsz.[20] It would thus have been unlikely that he would have been able to work as a tenant much more than fifteen years. If Willem became the tenant about 1608, it would then seem that his predecessor may have begun his tenancy about 1593. This is three years later than the estimate given in the above cited article in THE RECORD.
According to the above calculations, Wolfert would then have been nine years old, and Willem six. At first sight, this would seem to suggest that there is something wrong with the assumptions behind these figures, since this would mean that the children apparently were not born on Kouwenhoven, but it is more profitable to reason that insight is thus given into the complex and fragile world into which the boys were born.

There is no document in which Wolfert is listed as a resident of Kouwenhoven or as its tenant farmer, nor for the reasons enumerated above, does it seem likely that such evidence of his presence on the farm will be discovered. Yet, he used the name Van Couwenhoven,[21] and he worked as a farmer and as a farm supervisor. Why the choice for this name? Where did he learn farm work? If he lived and worked on the farm Kouwenhoven as a child, both questions would be answered. Thus, because no better explanation has yet been found, it is reasonable to assume that this farm was his home and work place for a time during his early years.

In the earlier article in THE RECORD it was mentioned that a director of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) in the early seventeenth century bore the family name Couwenhoven,[22] and it was suggested that although this man was not a blood relative, his high position may have afforded Wolfert a further reason to use the name Van Couwenhoven in New Amsterdam rather than another reasonable choice of name such as Van Amersfoort or Van Coelhorst. In regard to this, Gerard Raven has commented[23] that the directors of the Dutch West India Company in Amsterdam would not necessarily know that a Couwenhoven was a director of the Dutch East India Company in Rotterdam. It is thus uncertain that it would have been professionally advantageous for Wolfert to use this name. This implies that he used it for personal reasons, that is to say, because he had lived and worked there during a significant portion of his youth.

It is possible that Wolfert and his brother Willem were born elsewhere and that their father only later became tenant on Kouwenhoven. If so, he probably was tenant for six or twelve years at their previous residence. If that is the case, the father likely died within five years of the start of his work on the farm, although he may have lived longer and have seen Willem become the tenant on the farm, in which event he may then have been able to do but limited work because he would already have reached the advanced age of 45 years. Still, there is a considerable likelihood that the father died before either boy attained his twenty-first year. This implies that there was a tenant intermediate between Willem and his father. If that was indeed the case, how were the children enabled to remain on the farm? And their mother? Other siblings? Because of the dearth of documents, it is not possible to answer these questions. There is for instance no testament or inventory for the estate of Wolfert's father in which his patronymic and that of his mother are disclosed with a list of their children, although it is reasonable to think that such documents once existed. It is not possible to ascertain precisely to what extent Wolfert's life and that of his father Gerrit and his brother Willem were in agreement or disagreement with the possibilities and probabilities which have been set forth here. The contours of the pieces of the puzzle do not come into clear view, and it is not possible to seen how they fit together.

Early change of family on the farm Kouwenhoven. Kemp and Raven list the tenant of Kouwenhoven about 1536 and in 1548 as Reyer Pot.[24l In 1564 the tenant was Gherit Jansz;[25] in 1619/20 Willem Gerritsz.[26] As noted above, the tenant in 1622 was Peter Coenraetsz., and in 1636 Jan Willemsz.,[27] while Jan Bartsz. apparently had become the tenant by 1646. Clearly a change of tenant families occurred sometime between 1548 and 1564 and again about 1646. Because of the short life expectancy and the disruptions of death, it is likely that other changes in tenant families on Kouwenhoven occurred during this period which are not disclosed because of the dearth of documents.

It is thus best to be cautious about drawing an easy conclusion that Gerrit the father of Wolfert and Willem succeeded his father on Kouwenhoven and that the family can be found on this farm much further back into the past. This accentuates the conclusion in the earlier article in THE RECORD that there is insufficient basis to conclude that there was a family relationship between Wolfert Gerritse and the Gherit (Gerrit) Jansz. who in 1564 was listed as the tenant of Kouwenhoven.[28] Kemp described him as a suitable candidate to be the father of Wolfert Gerritsz. and Willem Gerritsz. In his article, he placed brackets around the name [Jansz. Couwenhoven] in his "Genealogie Van Couwenhoven" to indicate that the names within the brackets were merely hypothetical for Gerrit Jansz.[29] He was certain that the father of Wolfert and Willem was Gerrit, and it was speculative if the father was Gerrit Jansz. Couwenhoven.[30] This thought is repeated in the article in De Bewaarsman with the cautionary observation that Gerrit Jansz. would have been unusually old if he were the father of Wolfert and Willem.[31]

A further weakness in the thesis that Gerrit Jansz. and Wolfert Gerritsz. were father and son is that the patronymic Gerritsz. (son of Gerrit) is largely the basis for asserting that this relationship exists while Gerrit together with Willem, Jan and Hendrik are the most common Dutch given names. Gerrit occurs as frequently as Willem in the registers of marriages and baptisms during this period. It is not surprising then that a tenant bore the name Gerrit Jansz., and without further documentary evidence, there is insufficient basis to assert that he was the father of Wolfert Gerritsz. It should be noted that Kemp has cautiously refrained from doing this.

Religious life in Wolfert's childhood, the Coelhorst Chapel. A discussion of religion and worship can be added to the treatment of Wolfert's childhood. The Coelhorst Chapel, which was built about 1350, stands just around the corner from the farm Kouwenhoven. This proximity evokes a picture of Wolfert trudging on Sunday mornings with other family members and residents of the neighborhood Coelhorst through the snow to worship services in this building. Yet, the historical story differs greatly from this.
About 1350, the residents of Hoogland no longer had to attend mass in Oud-Leusden, which was several miles south of Amersfoort while their hamlet then stood several miles northwest of the more northerly city.321 They received their own chapel, which was dedicated to St. Nicholas, who was not only the patron saint of farmers in areas that had just been placed under cultivation, but also the protector from floods. The Reformation brought a step backward to this little settlement. In 1580, Catholic services were forbidden by the provincial parliament of Utrecht, and the church was closed. It seems to have been the intention of the Protestants to hold their own services in this building, which during the intervening two centuries had been endowed with the income from several farms, but a pastor could not be found. It was not until 1655 that it could be arranged that Reformed pastors from the region would hold services in turn in the chapel. In the meantime, itinerant priests had offered the mass for the faithful without interruption at other places in the neighborhood such as the manor house Hoogerhorst, until Hoogland was again assigned its own priest in 1640.33 Ill feeling was likely generated when the chapel was close[d and its income was not used for many decades for services in that building or for pastoral care for the local residents. Perhaps as a result, the Protestant families gradually departed from Coel[horst in the seventeenth century so that the hamlet was almost exclusively Catholic in the eighteenth century as is noted in another source.[34] This has remained unchanged in subsequent years.

It seems unlikely that such negligence by the administrators of the local Reformed church would have generated interest for that church and its teachings in Wolfert. When he lived in Coelhorst, it would seem that there was little that would have attracted him to the Reformed church. This may explain why none of his children are to be found in the baptismal registers of Amersfoort or Leusden. In a later period when he cultivated contacts with Reformed businessmen such as Killiaen van Rensselaer, he may have found it expedient to affiliate with their church. Perhaps it is for this reason that he is listed on 13 August 1651 as a witness of the baptism of Albert, son of Albert Albertszen, at the Reformed church in New Amsterdam.[35]


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A document described as the oldest surviving land deed for Long Island land was auctioned Wednesday for $156,000 in Manhattan.

The deed, signed by Dutch Colonial Gov. Wouter von Twiller at "Eylandt Manhatans" on June 6, 1636, confirms the purchase of 3,600 acres from the Lenape Indians. The land is known as Keskachauge, and constitutes a large portion of present day Brooklyn.

The winning bid was more than three times predicted, and for almost four times the opening bid of $40,000 "It is without question one of the oldest Dutch documents in private hands," said Jeremy Markowitz, head of Americana sales at Bloomsbury Auctions, a Manhattan auction house where the sale took place. "It is the first deed for land on Long Island."

Markowitz describes the deed as one of the earliest examples of private land ownership in the colony controlled by the Dutch West India Company.

"It is amazing it survived, being over 370 years old and preceding the first private land ownership in Manhattan."

Markowitz said the deed was signed a dozen years after the founding of the Dutch colony by von Twiller, the successor to the first and better known governor, Peter Minuit.

"We know from the records of the Dutch West India Company who received land deeds," Markowitz said. "There are only about a dozen land deeds that preceded this one" and they are for tracts north or south of present day New York City.

The 13-by-18-inch document, written in ink in Dutch, confirms the purchase of the land in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn from the Indians by Wolfert Gerritsz van Couwenhoven and Andries Hudde.

The auction catalog carries a price estimate of $50,000 to $75,000 but auction organizer Markowitz said that range was very conservative and there has been a lot of interest from institutions and private collectors.

On the reverse side, there is a reaffirmation of the original transaction in 1658 and signature of another more famous governor, Peter Stuyvesant, who amended it to say the sole owner of the property was Kouwenhoven. The endorsement was a result of the proclamation by the Dutch West India Company in 1652 that annulled all private land purchases and took all the land back

"It came from a private collector," Markowitz said. It has been auctioned several times after being held by the Kouwenhoven family for centuries.

The document has minor soiling and a small hole affecting two words where the deed is dated. The text reads:

"We, director and council of New Netherland, residing on the island of Manhattan at Fort Amsterdam ? herewith testify and declare, that today, date underwritten, before us personally appeared Tenkirau, Ketaun, Ararikan, Awackouw, Warinckehinck, Wappittawackenis, Ehettin, as owners; Penhawis, Kakappeteno being present as chiefs of the district, ? have transferred, ceded, surrendered and conveyed as lawful, true and free possession, as they therewith transfer, cede, surrender and convey to and for the behalf of Andries Hudde and Wolphert Gerritsz the westernmost of the flats called Keskateuw belonging to them on the island called Suan Hacky between the bay of the North river and the East River of New Netherland?"

According to Markowitz, on June 6, 1636, Wolfert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven and Andries Hudde purchased jointly the 3,600 acres. The same day Jacobus Van Corlear bought an adjoining tract, and 10 days later a third was purchased.

Together, these three tracts in present day Brooklyn constituted an area called 'Castuteeuw,' 'Kestateuw' and 'Casteteuw.'" The name is thought to be derived from the Lenape word for "where grass is cut."

The catalog notes "the sale of these lots was a significant event and constitutes among the earliest examples of private land ownership in New Netherland. At the time, it was highly unusual for land to be owned by anyone except the Dutch West India Company." And most land was leased rather than sold.

Colonial records show the first private purchase of land in the colony of New Netherland occurred in 1629, in present day Delaware. The 1636 purchases collectively are the seventh purchase of land in New Netherland, and the third in the present state of New York. The first private land sale on the island of Manhattan was recorded two years later.

Corlear purchased the land for speculation but Gerritsz van Kouwenhoven settled on the westernmost of the three plots and constructed a dwelling and laid out a plantation that eventually became the settlement and town of Flatlands. The pioneer called his estate Achterveldt and his dwelling stood near the junction of Kouwenhoven Place and Flatbush Avenue.

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From The Book
The Conover Family

WOLFERT GERRETSEN VAN COUWENHOVEN, 
or Wolphert Gerritse Van Couwenhoven, son of Gerrit, as the middle name of Gerrit or Gerret, with the suffix "se'' or "sen" denotes, ancestor of all persons in America bearing the name of Conover, or, as it has been variously spelled, Kouwenhoven, Kovenhoven, Covenhoven, Couwenhoven and Covenor, emigrated to America, to that section then called New Netherlands, now New York State, in 1630, and settled with other hardy and courageous colonists at Rensselaerwyck, near Albany, then Fort Orange, where he held a very important position, that of Superintendent or Manager of Farms for the Patroon, He later removed to New Amsterdam, now New York City, where he cultivated the "Bouwery," or "Farm No. 6," in the company's employ. 
 
The old Dutch records show that he was one of the Burghers of New Amsterdam in 1657. 
 
Wolfert Gerretsen Van Couwenhoven was from Couwenhoven, a little village or hamlet a short distance Northwest of Amersfoort, in the Province of Utrecht, in the Netherlands. This is shown by the "Van," which precedes Couwenhoven in his name. Historians claim, however, that he was born in Amersfoort, or Eemsfort, an ancient city, the name of which is derived from the River Eem, on which it is located. This city, which in 1841 contained twelve thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine inhabitants, was formerly surrounded by a wall with twenty embattled towers which were destroyed in 1829. 
 
On the 16th day of June, 1636, Wolfert Gerretsen and Andries Hudden bought from the Indians and obtained from Governor Van Twiller, on the 6th day of June, 1637, a Patent for the "Westernmost of the three flats on Long Island, commonly known as the little flats/' and called by them Castuteeuw, or Kaskateuw, which Patent was ratified on the 22nd day of August, 1658; to which premises Wolfert Gerretsen removed, and on which he immediately commenced a settlement, and where he died in 1662. 
 
On *7uly 26th, 1638, Andries Hudden sold to Gerret Wolferson (son of Wolfert Gerretsen), fifty morgens of (land, or) his onehalf of the district of Achtervelt, Long Island, for fifty-two gallons 
of Hollands, which he owed Gerret." 
 
On ''August 2nd, 1639, Wolfert purchased of Hudden his interest in a house, barrack, barn and garden on said Patent, called 'Achtervelt,' and, September 16, 1647, he purchased of Hudden all his interest, not previously disposed of, in the original Patent." 
 
"These buildings, erected prior to July 9th, 1638, and testified on the 22nd of March, 1639, by Gillis Pietersen Van de Gouw to have been built by himself and the Company's carpenters, were of the following dimensions: the house 26 feet long, 22 feet wide, 40 feet deep, including a small chamber at the side, with the roof covered above and around with plank, and having two lofts above one another, and also being set around with long palisades; the bam 40 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 24 feet deep, all Dutch measure; a bergh with five posts 40 feet long/' 
 
"The following is a copy of the inventory of the chattels on the 
farm July 9th, 1638": 
 
"Three milch cows, 1 yearling cow, 1 young calf, 2 old mares, 1 mare of one year old, 1 new wagon, and appurtenances, 1 iron harrow, 1 heifer of two years old, 2 old oxen, 1 young do., 1 stallion of three years, 1 gelding of four years old, 1 wheel plow and appurtenance, some farming utensils necessary for the bouwery." 
 
"Also about sixteen morgens of land sowed with summer and winter wheat, and a garden stocked with a quantity of fruit trees; 1 yawl with appurtenance." 
 
 "Wolfert Gerretsen's heirs conveyed, 25th of March, 1666, the main portion of these premises to Elbert Elbertse Stoothoff/' 
 
''The settlement was first named New Amersfoort, in honor of the place of Wolfert's nativity ; afterwards commonly known as the Baai, or Bay, and since as Flatlands/' 
 
"On March 18, 1647, Comdlis Jacobson Stille obtained a Patent for Bouwery No. 6, previously occupied by Wolfert Gerretsen Van Kouwenhoven, containing twenty-eight and a half morgens on Manhattan Island' 
 
"It lay along the present south side of Chatham Square, coming down to Pearl Street, and was known as Bouwery No. 6." 
 
"On April 27, 1662, Elbert Elberts6 Stoothoff purchased of the Executors of Wolfert Gerretsen Van Couwenhoven and his heirs, for five thousand guilders, in good, strong 'wompom,' payable in four years, one-fourth in each year, the lands and farm. With improvements thereon, *known by the name of Achtervelt,' which the said Wolfert possessed; said land^ being the premises which Andries Hudden and Wolfert Gerretsen Van Couwenhoven purchased of the Indians, and which are described as the 'Westernmost of the three flats named Kaskuteuw, lying on the isl?ind named by the Indians Suanhachy, between the Bay of the North River and the East River; in breadth from a certain meadow, or valley, and stretching about westerly to, and into the woods ; which lands were patented to them by Governor Wouter Van Twiller, 16th of June, 1636, and by a confirmatory Patent of 22nd of August, 1658, grant- ed by Governor Stuyvesant to said Wolfert Gerretsen Vaa Cou- 
wenhoven/' 
 
"Elbert Elbertse Stoothoff obt;ained, 1st of November, 1667, from Governor NicoUs, a confirmatory Patent for the above premises, and as pei^ recorded Deeds, wis in possession at the time of his death of at least six hundred acres of upland in Flatlands, being the largest landholder in the place' 
 
"There is no Patent for land on Long Island of an earlier date 
than that to Andries Hudden and Wolfert Gerretsen Van Couwen- 
hoven; and from papers among the descendants of Elbert Elbertse 
Stoothoff, it is evident that farm buildings were erected on the 
premises covered by the Patent prior to its date, showing an earlier 
occupation than 1636' 
 
In the "Bergen Genealogy/' its author states — 
"It may be possible that Wolfert Gerritse, the ancestor of the Couwenhovens of this country, was of noble origin, but if he was, it is certain that he, like most of his companions, had not much of this world's goods to boast of, or he would not have taken the situation of Overseer or Superintendent of the Patroon's farms at Rensselaerwyck/' 
 
To the compiler of this work it is not known that claims of noble blood were ever made for Wolfert Gerretsen. It is believed that this remark of Mr. Bergen was called forth by the perfectly legitimate claim to and use of armorial bearings by the Conover Family. Now, the right to bear arms is not a proof of noble descent, but merely an hereditary privilege bestowed upon the descendants of any man of the rank of gentleman or higher on whom 
a grant of arms was made. 
 
The situation of Superintendent of Farms for the Patroon was an highly important office and would not have been given to a man whose position in life had not accustomed him to command and to the handling of business affairs. 
 
Wolfert had five sons, none of whose birth dates are exactly known. The births occurred between 1610 and 1620, however, and an approximate date has been given to each in this work in the order in which they are supposed to have been born. 
Issue: 
 
2. GERRET WOLFERSEN COUWENHOVEN, born 
circa 1610. 
 
3. Jacob Wolfersen Couwenhoven, bom circa 1612. 
 
4. Derick Wolfersen Couwenhoven, born circa 1613. 
 
5. Peter Wolfersen Couwenhoven, born circa 1614. 
 
6. Jan Wolfersen Couwenhoven, bom circa 1616.


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http://www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/Town/dutch/cbkouw.html

On 16 June 1636 Wolphert Gerritsen van KOUWENHOVEN and Andries HUDDEN bought the westernmost of three tracts of flat, fertile land, Jacob VAN CORLAER or CURLER purchased the center one. His property included a neck of land which was given the name of Vriesens Hook. This later was part of Flatlands Neck.

Van KOUWENHOVEN emigrated with his family from Amersfoort, Utrecht, in the Netherlands in 1630 as the superintendent of Kiliaen VAN RENSSELAER'S property of Rennsselaerswyck. Later, he cultivated a farm on Manhattan Island, but he spent part of his time on his bouwery (or farm) of Achtervelt. He died sometime after 1660.

His son Gerret, who was born in 1610, married Altie, daughter of Cornelis Lambertse COOL, and made their home on his father's property where he died about 1645, leaving four young children: Willem, Jan, Neeltje and Marritje.

Willem was born in 1636 and was married twice. His first wife was Altie BRINCKERHOFF, his second Jannetje MONTFOORT. On 1 November 1709, he sold to his and Jannetje's son William all of his Flatlands property including part of Vriesens Hook which he had added to his original holdings.

Son William, known as Willem Willemse (b.7 March 1686 d. 19 January 1769) married Annetje, daughter of Lucas Stevense VOORHEES, on 5 June 1709. It was probably at that time that he built the house on Vriesens Hook in which they made 
their home.

Their son Gerret (b.11 November 1726 - d.23 September 1777), who married Antje LEFFERTS on 7 May 1748, inherited the property and left the Vriesens Hook farm with its house to his son Peter who was known as Peter KOUWENHOVEN.

Peter (b.25 September 1753 - d.27 May 1787) married Lammetie LOTT on 10 May 1777. After his death, Lammetie married John (Johannes), DITMARS, but, on the death of John, returned to her KOUWENHOVEN home, the property of her son Gerret KOUWENHOVEN (b.5 September 1778 - d.8 February 1854) who married Maria BERGEN on 15 December 1805 
and who was Supervisor of Flatlands.

Gerret's son Cornelius BERGEN KOUWENHOVEN, who was born on 6 March 1818, decided to have a home of his own when he married Mary Ann WILLIAMSON on 6 September 1838.

The time for building houses like one's ancestors had passed. A Flatlander's house must be modern, therefore classical in appearance. So, on the northern extremity of his father's Vriesens Hook farm, Cornelius erected a tall stately mansion with pillars two storeys high. He painted it yellow with white trimmings. He put the kitchen in the basement. The only Dutch custom he followed was to face his house to the south.

Mary Ann was expecting her first baby so he had to hurry to finish it if the child was to be born in their own home. They moved into the house in December 1839 and their little girl was born 13 January 1840. Other children followed in rapid succession until the birth of a namesake Cornelius BERGEN KOUWENHOVEN (b.2 July 1851 - d.20 February 1943).

Cornelius Jr. married Anne J. WERNER and took her to live in his father's home which he later bought from his father's other heirs.

Before the William KOUWENHOVEN house was demolished, its lovely old mantel was removed and put in the Cornelius KOUWENHOVEN'S dining-room. Its heavy, bisected front door, precious heirlooms and valuable old papers found a resting place in the newer house.

That house has seen many changes. Flatlands Neck Road, including KOUWENHOVEN Place on which it stood, was improved and its name changed to Kings Highway. The driveway to the house was incorporated in the new street and the house moved and turned to face the west. Now it is the home of Miss Grace KOUWENHOVEN who is tenth in descent to live in the 
locality that Wolphert Gerritsen van COUWENHOVEN settled in 1636.


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At the time of the Dutch settlement on Manhattan Island there was no letter "C" in the pure Dutch alphabet, so the head of our immigrant family spelled his name van Kouwenhoven.  Very shortly after his arrival the Dutch adopted the letter "C" and many of the family made a change to the new form, and at about the same time dropped the "van" thus spelling the name Couwenhoven.

Many persons are under the impression that a family, to be worthwhile, must have descended from royalty.  After reading histories of the old royal families and following the newspaper accounts of the present possessors of titles, we are glad to report that we have yet to find any royal taint in the Kouwenhoven blood.  Beekman, in referring to the descendants of Wolfert Gerritsz says, ". . . .I do not know of any of this name who have been convicted of any infamous crime.  Their family history is remarkably from from all dishonorable stains."  To us that is much more to be desired.

Wolfert Gerritsz Van Kouwenhoven, the founder of the American family, was at times called "Van Amersfoort" (VRBM, 161) and sometimes "Van Kouwenhoven," although usually only by his patronymic "Gerritsz."  It is certain that he came from an estate named Kouwenhoven in the neighborhood of the city of Amersfoort in the Netherlands.  The late G. Beernink, a genealogist of Nykerk, the Nertherlands, published in 1912 in Volume 12 of the Werken of the Society Gelre, certain references to the settlement of the Colony of Rensselaerswyck in which he said:  "Wolfert Gerritsen, a man in his fifties, has already been at the Manhattans and was to be head-farmer.  From an estate last occupied by him under the jurisdiction of Hoogland, near Amersfoort, his descendants adopted the name 'Van Couwenhoven,' although his family name was Sube, Zuben, Supen, which appears even before 1400 in the Veluwe (Province of Gelderland).  Although of equally good ancestry as Van Rensselaer and Van Slichtenhorst, fortune had temporarily turned its back on him . . . . His father, Gerrit Wolferts Suype, having married Styne Roberts, was, as a prominent citizen, buried in the chancel of the church at Nykerk, on December 12, 1604.  His son, Pieter Wulpherts, who like another son, Jacob Wulpherts, afterwards lived in America, declared his intention to marry at Amersfoort in 1639."  (Translation by A..J.F. van Laer, New York State Archivist.)  Mrs. Van Laer further attached a note calling attention to the fact that, while of the work of the late Mr. Bernink was as a whole reliable, no references had been given and until further researches were made one should use caution before accepting his findings as final.

Although Wolfert Gerritsz was long believed to have first come to this country in 1630, it is certain that he was here earlier.  The publication in 1924 of the so-called Van Rappard Documents under the title New Netherland Documents showed that "Wolffaert Gerritsz," unquestionably Van Kouwenhoven, was one of the five "head-farmers" first sent out by the Dutch West India Company.  The literature on the subect of the first settlement of Manhattan Island is extensive and is summarized in Stokes' Iconography of Manhattan Island and DeForst's The Settlement of Manhattan in 1624 (1935).  Stokes has this to say:  "The author believes that enough evidence has now been presented to convince even the most scepticalsic)that the Fongersz-Hulft expedition, which sailed shortly after April 22, 1625, with the five 'head-farmers' and the cattle, settled permanently on Manhattan Island; that Verhulst's expedition, which arrived a few months earlier, brought over the 'hired-farmers'" (ICON, 5:xvii).  It is known that the first farms on Manhattan Island were occupied in 1624 by leases which ran for six years and since Wolfert Gerritsz occupied one of these farmers, it would seem reasonable that he arrived in 1624.  But the "special instructions" from the West India Company of April 22, 1625, seem to state that the "head-farmers" were leaving the Netherlands at that time and Wolfert Gerritsz was certainly one of that group.  His arrival may therefore be given as in the year 1625 and it may be considered as certain that he reamined there for several years, probably until late in 1629.  The farm he occupied during those years as the original Bouwerie No. 3 (VanW.,5)

The second phase in the activities of Wolfert Gerritsz came with his entrance into the employ of Kiliaen Van Renssalaer, first Patroon of the Colony of Rensselaerswyck.  Van Rensselaer, an absentee landlord, had realized from the beginning of his entry as a colonizer that the success of his experiment depended on self-sustaining farms and that a mere trading post was unlikely to survive as a profitable enterprise.  Consequently he forbade his agents and employees to enter the fur business and urged them to establish families on farms.  Wolfert Gerritsz was in the Netherlands in 1630, following the close of his tenancy of a farm on Manhattan Island.  He was not only familiar with conditions in New Netherland but he was an experienced farmer.  Van Rensselaer engaged him and sent him out with his first settlers, the party sailing on the ship de Eendracht, which cleared the Texel on March 21, 1630, and arrived in New Amsterdam on May 24th of that year.

The contract between the patroon and Wolfert Gerritsz was dated at Amsterdam on January 16, 1630.  It was to last for four years, but Van Rensselaer could cancel it after one or two years.  Wolfert Gerritsz was to give his time to Van Rensselaer from April to November, when the winter planting would be finished.  If it proved necessary he was to remain during the winter.  His pay was to be twenty guilders a month, but he was to provide his own board.  Upon arrival in New Netherland all the Van Rensselaer  employees were to go before the Director and his Council and formally promise that they would not engage in trade with fur or skins.  Wolfert was to devote special efforts to securing cattle - horses, cows, heifers, sheep and hogs.  Moreover, Van Rensselaer took over one of the West Indian Company's farms on Manhattan Island and placed Wolfert Gerritsz in charge, chiefly in order to get possession of the animals there, so they could be transported north.  This was Bouwerie No. 7, which had been leased to Evert Focken, who died in January 1630.  While Rutger Hendrizzsen Van Soest was the actual farmer on this place for Van Rensselaer, Wolfert Gerritsz  acted as the Patroon's manager on Manhattan Island, his "commis at the Manhatans."  (VRBM.-VanW.-ICON.)*  Van Rensselaer's instructions to Krol, Commissary at Fort Orange, written January 12, 1630, stated that Wolfert Gerritsz had been engaged "to direct provisionally all my affairs concerning the farms and purchase of cattle."  Not the lest of Wolfert's duties was to build a house of Van Rensselaer in the northern colony, a house to be "plain and simple, large and tight (VRBM)."

Van Kouwenhoven on his return to New Netherland in 1630, took up his home on Manhattan Island, and set about his business there at Rensselaerswyck.  By September, he had ploughed (sic) the Fort Orange land.  He took farm animals up the river.  Yet he was soon dissatisfied.  Perhaps it was because his wife and children would not move to Rensselaerswyck, as is know from the patroon's letters.  But it seems more likely that he was already anticipating the ownership of land like many of his friends in New Amsterdam, and Van Rensselaer  would only give leases, although Van Rensselaer  was inclined to be generous with Wolfert Gerritsz .  On January 9, 1632, Van Kouwenhoven wrote to Van Rensselaer in Amsterdam, asking to be released from his contract.  The schout Coenraaet Notelman, a cousin of the Patroon, recommended to Van Rensselaer that the arrangement with Wolfert be brought to an end, and Van Rensselaer did it with a friendly letter, dated July 20, 1632, addressed to "honorable, discreet Wolfert Geritsz:  "I had hoped that you would have settled in my colony, but, as I am told, your wife was not much inclined thereto"  (VRBM: 218).

Van Rensselaer, however, did not abandon hope of again securing the services of Wolfert Gerritsz.  In 1634 he was willing to offer him and his son half or two-thirds of Castle Island on lease, which would make a farm of eighty or ninety morgens, while the other farms in the colony were only forty morgens (VRBM).

During all this time, 1630-1632, when Wolfert Gerritsz was a manager for Van Rensselaer at both Rensselerswyck and on Manhattan Island, he had another contract in force.  When in Amsterdam on his visit of 1630, he signed on January 8, 1630, a lease for Bouwerie No. 6 on Manhattan Island.  This was one of the original West India Company farms and had been held from 1624 to 1630 by Geurdt Van Gelder.  At least Van Gelder held it in 1630 and no earlier occupant is known.  When Van Gelder yielded it to Van Kouwenhoven, the farm had six mares, ten cows, and a bull.  During the time Wolfert Gerritsz had to manage affairs at Rensselaerswyck, the patroon's cousin, Coenraet Notelman, seems to have been in charge of Bouwerie No. 6.  But in July, 1632, Wolfert Gerritsz took full charge and he held the place until July, 1638.  His lease must have expired in 1636 and it was in that year that he acquired the property on Long Island where he was to spend the rest of his life. (VRBM.-ICON-VanW)  As for Bouwerie No. 6 it was released on March 31, 1639, to Jan Van Vorst, and on March 18, 1647, patented to Cornelis Jacobsz Stille (CDM).

Bouwerie No. 6 was on the East River, which formed its northern boundary.  It was south of the present Division Street, east of Catharine Street, and west of Montgomery Street.  The house, which appears on the Manatus Maps showing Manhattan Island and environs in 1639, was east of Chatham Square (ICON, 2:189; 6:134).

On the Manatus Maps also are noted the Long Island lands of Wolfert Gerritsz, which marked his entrance into the land-holding class and in a very large way indeed.  The first record in the long history of this property was made on June 16, 1636, when Van Kouwenhoven and Andries Hudde, an officer of the New Amsterdam government, received an Indian deed for a tract called "Kestateuw."  Another large lot or flat, lying to the east, was deeded by the Indians on July 16, 1636, to Wouter Van Twiller, and a third, between the two others, went to Jacobus Van Curler on the earlier date of June 16th.  Hudde, Van Twiller and Van Curler were all important figures in New Amsterdam and Van Kouwenhoven's association with them is evidence of his good standing.  Of the four men the only serious settler was Wolfert Gerritsz; the others being speculators.  Wolfert Gerritsz promptly moved on to this property, constructed a dwelling and began to farm.  The tract was, of course, far beyond his needs, apparently being about 3600 acres.  His place was first call "Achterveldt," but later became the settlement of New Amersfort - possibly named by Wolfert Gerritsz after his old home - and even later the town of Flatlands.

Wolfert Gerritsz appears to have been an industrious, peace-loving man, for aside from his difficulties over the Long Island lands, he is seldom mentioned in the court records, whereas many of the early Dutch settlers seemed to have spent many days in the presence of a judge.

He was admitted to the Small Burgher right on April 18, 1657, one of the first to receive this dignity (CNYHS, 1885:24).

It is know that the wife of Wolfert Gerritsz came over with him because Kiliaen Van Rensselaer mentioned her, but we have found nothing on the New Netherland records to give her name or even note her existence, until her death.  However, a manuscript, "The Van Couwenhoven Family in the Netherlands and in New Netherland, 1440-1530," by L. P. de Boer, prepared by him after extensive research in Holland says:  "In the marriage record of the Dutch Reformed Church at Amersfoort, which begins with the year 1583, appears the following entry (Translation by de Boer0: Banns registered, 9 January 1605, Wolfer Gerrit's son and Neltgen Jan's daughter, both from Amersfoort, married 17 January."  On December 6, 1656, Peter, the son of Wolfert, asked for an injunction against the execution of a judgment obtained against his brother Jacob. It appears that the father, Wolfert, had guaranteed a debt of Jacob's, and Peter objected to any collection against his father until his mother's estate had been distributed to him and to the estate of his deceased brother Gerrit.  On August 27, 1658, when Peter was himself a schepen and a member of the court, he again mentioned his father's guarantee and said that his mother's property "is not yet divided"  (CDM, 177; RNA, 2:425)

As for the death of Wolfert Gerritsz Van Kouwenhoven, it must have occurred between March 2, 1662, when an action was recovered against him, and June 24, 1662, when his heirs were sued for non-performance (HSYB, 1900, 142).  The estate was still unsettled as late as May 27, 1664, when Govert Loockermans sued for debt and was informed by the New Amsterdam Court that nothing could be done as the money and property "do not rest here in this place" (RNA, 5:67)

Riker in his Annals of Newtown names five sons to Wolfert Gerritsz , but the records clearly show that there were only three interested in the estate of either parent (CDM, 177, 260; RNA, 2:425; Rec., 65:241).

Wolfert Gerritsz Van Kouwenhoven had only one wife, so far as is known, and that all his children were born of that one marriage is certain from the suit brought by the son Peter in 1658 as told above.  These children were Gerret, Jacob, and Pieter, all born in the Netherlands presumably and all certainly brought over from there.

Willem Gerrets, on behalf of his first wife, was one of the three heirs to the Brooklyn grant of hi father-in-law, Joris Dircksen Brinckerhoff, and joined with the other heirs in selling this property on January 16, 1661.

The existence of the original bible of Willem Gerretse, with his own record of his marriages and the births of his children, greatly assists in determining his twleve children.  He states that he married "Altieu Yoris" in the year 1660.  She was Altje, daughter of Joris Dircksen Brinkcheroff, and was the widow of Cornelis Mattys (Matthews).  She died on June 3, 1663 and Willem Gerretse married, secondly, on February 12, 1665, "Jannetie Peters", who was Jannetje,  daughter of Peter Monfort.  She was baptised as Jaannetje on May 8, 1646, in the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam.




1 comment:

  1. Thanks. I enjoyed reading and thinking about our joined family history.

    ReplyDelete