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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Digging up Roots in New Netherlands

Joan Vinckeboons (Johannes Vingboon),
"Manatvs gelegen op de Noot [sic] Riuier", 1639.

Over the past month I have been reading the book about my family from this post.  It is a compiled genealogy (with footnotes and sources!) from a married couple by the names of William Kenneth Rutherford and Anna Clay (Zimmerman) Rutherford.  Our common line is my most frustrating line currently: the Hayden Family.

I knew that my line descended from John Alden and Pricilla Mullins through marriage into the Hayden family.  I also knew that our common ancestor William Hayden married a woman who had Dutch ancestry.  Besides that I didn’t know much else about their lines.  Very quickly I have learned that I need to do a lot more research.  I mean lots, particularly in the early founding of this area of the country.

Lydia Kierstede married William Hayden about 1748.  Originally from Staten Island, New York her family has deep roots into the New Netherlands colony.  I don’t know much about this time in colonial history, besides the fact that the British took control of the colony during the Anglo-Dutch Wars.  This is now a subject that I am eagerly learning more about.

Various lines of Lydia’s family appear to have been involved in many functions of the colony from the start.  Several lived in Fort Orange, New Amsterdam, and as well as on what is now Staten Island and Long Island.  There were farmers, doctors, an interpreter and a midwife.  While most were simple colonists quite a few were skilled workers employed by the Dutch West India Company.

I never thought I would find roots to this part of Europe.  The lines of German ancestry were not surprising, I have several recent immigrant lines, but it was interesting to see town names in Norway, the Netherlands, and Denmark. This is a whole new area of history, geography, politics, and social history I need to study.  Lots of trips to the library and hours on the computer I guess.

Anneke Jans
Several of the biographical sketches from the book also made me think that I have had a colorful and amazing family from the earliest of times.  I need to do further research, of course I want to see these documents myself is possible, but it is fantastic that I have a bit of a road map to read and use for clues to my past.  Plus, telling my kids about the adventures, trials, success, and failures their ancestors had makes their family real.  I just love hearing my kids ask me if they had relatives who participated in major historical events. 

One ancestor that has grabbed my attention, and the attention of many of her descendants, is Anneke Jans.  I am descended, it appears, through her daughter Sara from her first marriage to Roelof Jansen.  There are many legends, folk tales, and stories that have been built up around her including the exploits of her great grandson to take back land on Manhattan that once belonged to her. 

I plan on writing more over the next few months about these relatives.  This is going to be so much fun!

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