Revolutionary War veteran Abraham Vandal was a Dutchman from New York who fought in both the Battle of White Plains and the Battle of Long Island. He later settled in a region that became Fayette County, West Virginia. Abraham pronounced his surname, Wendell, with a “V” sound, so the Continental Army spelled it with a “V”. His descent was from the first settlers of New Netherland, who had immigrated to the New World a century before he was born. Some had lived in New Amsterdam (New York City), and others had settled at Fort Orange (Albany). [To see what life looked like in 17th century New Netherland, here are some historically accurate L. F. Tantillo paintings: http://lftantillo.com/17th-century/ .]
One of the earliest and best known immigrants was Evert Jansen Wendell. Evert was born at Emden, a town situated at the mouth of the River Ems, which had been part of Hanover and Prussia at various times. His family had lived in Rynland, where they fled to escape persecution by the Duke of Alva. Sometimes his name is shown as Evert Janzen/Jansen. He served with the Dutch West India Company 1640-1642, came to New Amsterdam, and then married Susanna Du Truiex. He lived for about five years in New Amsterdam before moving to Fort Orange (Albany). On Feb. 8, 1647, he bought a lot in Fort Orange, where he was a ruling elder of the Dutch Church (1656), Orphan Master (1657), and magistrate (1660-1661). In these capacities, among others, he appears in several court cases listed in Fort Orange and Beverwyck Court Minutes 1648-1652. Evert was buried under the old church then standing at the corner of Yonker and Handelser (State and Broadway) in Albany. In some records he is listed as a cooper. Because of the prominence of Evert and his descendants, much was written about them in the early history of New York, and it is not difficult to construct an almost complete family history.
Two of his immigrant ancestors were Major Abraham Staats and his wife. He was listed on the ship “Den Houttuyn,” which sailed June 1642 from Holland to New Netherland. Only Abraham’s name is shown–Abraham Staes, surgeon–but he paid for two people and ended up in Ft. Orange. Later, he began trading with the Indians for beaver pelts. The Abraham Staats house is said to be the oldest house in Rensselaer County, standing where the Kinderhood Creek flows into the Hudson River. The house had been built in 1640, before he arrived, but he made an additional land purchase from the Mohicans. He has been classified as a non-resident proprietor although he lived and practiced medicine in Fort Orange and served on the council as president. The Court Minutes for 1648-1652 of the Colony of Rensselaerswyck indicate that he held the office of raetspersoon from Feb. 5, 1643 to Apr. 10, 1644, and from that time was Presideerende, or presiding officer. For years, he was also a skipper on the North River, commanding the sloop Claverack, plying the waters between New York and Albany around 1684. He married Catrina Jochemse (daughter of Jochem Wesselse.) Some have reported that Abraham had two wives – Tryntje Jochems and Katrina Wessels. However, it is possible they are the same person since Tryntje is a nickname for Katrina. His will states: “In the name of god, Amen. Appeared before me, Robert Livingston, of Albany, on the 21 day of April, 1683, Major Abraham Staats, who leaves his estate to his wife, Tryntie Joachims, during her life, and then to his children, Sarah, Isaac, Joachim, Samuel, Elizabeth, and Abraham Staats, Jr. and to Bruyne, son of Catharine Staats, deceased.”
Jacob Theunizen De Kay married Hellegonde Quick, who was born in New Amsterdam in 1640. Jacob, however, was born in Thuyl, Netherlands, in 1633. He married Hellegonde in the New Amsterdam Dutch Church in 1658, and they eventually had seven children.
Johannes Pieterszen Van Brugh and his wife, Catrina Raeleffse, were both born in the Netherlands. Some information about them can be gleaned from Johannes’s will of 1696: “Johannes Van Brugh, Sr., New York, December 22, 1696, merchant, ‘being weake in body,’ calling to mind that all Flesh must yield unto Death. Leaves all estate to wife Catrina during her life or widowhood. Whereas our daughter Elizabeth Rodenbergh, now wife of John Donaldson, of New Castle in Delaware, has due unto her the like proportion as her sister Lucretia Rodenbergh, as by her . . . marriage with said John Donaldson dated March 29, 1691, the same is to be paid.” The will also leaves to son Peter Van Brugh a tract of land he has purchased for him, on the Delaware River, next to John Donaldson’s . . . The rest of the estate went to children, Elizabeth Donaldson [his wife’s child by first husband], Helena, wife of Teunis De Kay, Catrina, wife of Henry Renssellaer, Anna, wife of Andrew Gravenoet, Johanes, and Mary, wife of Stephen Richards.
Teunis (Anthony) Van der Poel was born in the Netherlands, but it is not known if his wife was born there. Teunis (Anthony) was in Beverwyk (Albany) from 1660 to 1687. He was a magistrate in 1671 and owned one-half of Constapel’s Island in the Hudson River. At the time he died, he still owned a home in Amsterdam. The will of Anthony Cornelis Van Der Poel follows: “In the name of god, Amen. The 17 June, 1687, in the 3rd year of our Gracious Sovereighn, James the Second. I, Anthony Cornelis Van der Poel, dwelling at Watervliet in the manor of Rensselaerwyck, in the County of Albany, yeoman, being in health. I make void all former wills, and especially that will made by me and my wife, dated May 12, 1669. My will is that my wife, Catrina Janse Croon, shall remain in full possession of all my estate, for life. After her decease all estate, real and personal, to my three daughters Elizabeth, wife of Benony Van Corlaer; Mary, wife of Anthony Van Schaick; and Johana Anthonesse, wife of Barent Lewis. I appoint my son-in-law Anthony Van Schaick, Levinus Van Schaick, one of the aldermen of Albany, and John Lansing, tutors of my children.” The records of the Dutch Church in Albany show membership in 1683 of Teunis Van der Poel and Catryn Van der Poel. However, Catharina Jans Croon was a member of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam (New York City) between 1649 and 1659.
Captain Goosen Gerritt Van Schaik was another immigrant ancestor of Abraham Vandal. He came to New Netherland about 1636 and was employed by Patroon Killian Rensselaer in 1637 to work for six years. Goosen went back to the Netherlands, but returned to New Netherland in 1646 on the Rensselaerwick. In 1648, Goosen was asked to accept the position of magistrate, which he agreed to do. He took the oath of office as a member of the court of Albany and was a deacon in the First Dutch Reformed Church there. He later became a brewer, and in 1664 he and Philip Pieterse Schuyler purchased the “Halve Maan” (land) of the Indians. In 1675 he and Pieter Lassingh purchased Harmen Rutger’s brewery. Before he married his second wife, about 1657, he made a contract in which he reserved 6000 guilders from his estate for his four eldest children by his first wife. In 1668 he and his second wife made a joint will, he being about to depart for Holland. He died in New York in 1676.
Theunis Thomaszen Quick (1600-1666) arrived in New Amsterdam before 1636 from Naarden, Holland, but the name of the ship is unknown. Theunis was a mason and sometimes signed his name “de Matzelaer van Naarden” (the mason from Naarden). The spelling of the last name is sometimes “Cuyck” or “Kwik”. The records of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York City show church membership during the years 1649-1659 of Theunis de Metselaer (the mason) and Belitje Jacobs, his wife. It is not known if his wife was also an immigrant.
Joachim Wesselse and his wife, Geertruy Hieronimus, were both born in the Netherlands. He was a baker whose name often appears in court records involving various suits. He made a will sometime between 1679 and 1681 and died within the year. His wife had been married before.
Finally, the last of these immigrant ancestors of Abraham Vandal is Brandt Van Neukirke, born in the Netherlands about 1593. All that is known about him is that he was a magistrate. He died in New Netherland (before it was New York) in 1644.
Several of these immigrants lived long enough to see New Netherland become New York, after the British took over in 1664.
Because the Dutch kept meticulous records of births, baptisms, weddings, and wills, it is not difficult to stitch together a detailed and accurate history. These people were literate, industrious, religious, and responsible. Having ancestors like these is a blessing.
Clayton Library in Houston has a wealth of materials for researching the history of New Netherland, and most of it has been translated into English.
*Ship photo courtesy of Charles Hield.
Copyright ©2017-2018 Kitty Steele Barrera All rights reserved
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