New Netherland: Kenney Award Applications Due

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

Criteria for Nominations:

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

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

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

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

* Three copies of all material must be submitted.

Selection Criteria:

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

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

Send nominations by April 4, 2012 to:

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

E-mail: [email protected]

New Netherland: Hendricks Award Submissions

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

Two categories of submissions will be considered in alternate years:

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

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

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

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

Address entries to:

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

Send PDF submissions to [email protected] use &#8216-Hendricks award’ in the subject line.

Girl With a Pearl Earing Coming to the Frick

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

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

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

Hendrick Vrooman Family Being Celebrated

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albany Institute Lives of Abraham Staats Sunday

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

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

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

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

Mabee Farm to Host 1700s Colonial Festival Dinner

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

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

Books: Selected Rensselaerwijck Papers

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

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

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

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

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

Shirley Dunn: Early Dutch House Rediscovered

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

A surprise &#8220Dutch&#8221 house dating to about 1700 (or just before), located on Route 9J near the Teller Crossing, is for sale. The bricks have been covered with siding and the roof slope has been changed so you would not know it is that old. The original walls, cellar fireplace support, and beams in the cellar, as well as vlechtingen at roofline in the attic, remain in place. All bricks used to build the house were of the thin pre -1703 size.

The house appears on mid-1700 maps and belonged to the farm called &#8220Cost Verlooren&#8221 leased by the Abraham Van Deusen family in the late 1600s and passed down through daughter Jannetje into the Witbeck family. Although it is probably the oldest house in the East Greenbush area, excepting for Staats house, it was hidden by early 20th century siding and missed by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the 1930s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schenectady Reformed Church Archives Talk

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

He will speak at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady’s weekly Forum, following the 10:00am worship service. The Forum is held in the Poling Chapel, 11:15am &#8211 noon. Mouw will speak about Archives of the First Reformed Church: Stories they Illuminate, Facts they Reveal, and Mysteries they Still Hold. Original 17th and 18th century church records, written by founders of Schenectady and the Church, will be shown.

After the Forum there will be a Brunch at the Stockade Inn &#8211 12:15pm, $20/person, across the street from the church. An afternoon Workshop will follow at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue &#8211 a block’s walk around the corner from the Inn. Dr. Mouw invites anyone having early colonial documents, especially any in Dutch, to bring them for a “Show, Translate & Tell” session. Documents in the historical society’s collection will also be part of the program.

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

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

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

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

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