Gerret Dircksen Croesen, my 9G grandfather, was born in the year 1637 or 1638 in a village in the northern region of the Netherlands known as Winschoten in the providence of Groningen. It lies very near the present day border with Germany. There are several variations of the name Croesen including Krusen, Kroesen, Kruzen, Kruser, Crusen, etc., many of which were used by or applied to the same family, or, sometimes, even the same individual. English and Dutch versions of the same given name were often used interchangeably by the same individual.
The 1600's were the Golden Age of the Netherlands. The country became the leading sea power in the World. Its merchant fleet tripled in size between 1600 and 1650 and Dutch ships supplied about half the world's shipping. Expanding trade made Amsterdam the world's major commercial city and gave the Dutch the highest standard of living of any nation on earth.
The Dutch West India Company was founded in 1621. The purpose of the company was to carry on trade with the new world and western Africa. In 1624 the Dutch West India Company colonized New Netherland which consisted of parts of present day New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware. In 1626 the famous purchase of Manhattan Island was made. Enterprising Dutch bought the island from the Indians for a small amount of trade goods.
Sometime before Gerret turned 23, he emigrated to the newly established Dutch colonies in America. Gerret was hired at a very young age by the West India Company or one of its subsidiaries to go to New York and work. It is not known what his occupation was.
In what was to become the Borough of Brooklyn, Gerret met and married a woman two years younger than himself, who had been born in this country. Her name was Neeltje Jans Staats. At age 23 Gerret married the 21 year old Neeltje in the Dutch Church in Brooklyn, New York.They settled down together in Brooklyn and nine months after their marriage, on July 16, 1662, they had a son, Dirck Gerretse Kroesen. A year latter they had their second child, a girl whom they named Elsje. Their next child wouldn't be born for five years.
Perhaps Gerret had been a seaman and was on a voyage. We may never know for sure, but by 1667 he was in Brooklyn for a time as his third son, Cornelius, was born in1668. Then a daughter, Catherine [Tryntje], was born in 1670 and Jan, another boy, was born in 1672, indicating that Gerret was often in or near Brooklyn during those years.
When Gerret was 34 years old, with four children, there was another pause in his family growth. Five more years would pass before more children would be born. The couple had their next little girl, whom they named Annetje, in September of 1677. Two years later Hendrick was born in 1679, and the last child to be born, who would carry his father's name, was Gerret, born in 1680.
Gerret senior, at the age of 42, had nine children in his family, the oldest of whom was 18 years old and the youngest, a baby. On March 7, 1680, shortly after his new daughter was born, Gerret died. His death undoubtedly changed matters drastically for the Croesen family. His wife, it is believed, never remarried but, instead continued to raise the little family probably with the assistance of her oldest son Dirck. Neeltje lived until her youngest daughter was 15 years old before she herself passed away at the age of 55.