Saturday, December 15, 2012

Evert Pels, My 8G Grandfather

Evert Pels, my 8G grandfather, from Stettin, Pomerania, his wife, and a servant came from Amsterdam, Holland, to the colony of Rensselaerswyck in 1642. While still in Amsterdam, on June 5,1642, he was engaged as a brewer for the term of six years. He was to travel to the Colony of Rensselaerswyck to work for the Patroon, KiliaenVan Rensselaer, [who remained in Holland, but had engaged others to administer the Colony for him and his partners who formed a Board of Directors for the Colony.] Evert Pels and his wife came on the ship Den Houten. and landed in New Amsterdam, now New York City. They then went up the Hudson River to Beverwijck, now Albany, New York. 

Evert Pels was a freeman. He paid his own way to the Colony and was, therefore, not indentured to the patroon for a number of years as were those who bound themselves as servants to the patroon for a number of years in exchange for passage to the Colony. The document, dated June 3, 1642, that gives the details of Evert Pel's emigration does not give the name of his wife, Jannetje Symons., but we now know that she is the wife who came with him from Amsterdam. Nor does the memo give the name of the servant who came with them.

Evert Pels was a very enterprising man. After his six year contract as a brewer was finished on February 28, 1648, he leased a farm on Papscanee Island for six years, at f560 a year, but after building a new house and barns, he transferred the lease Jan 14, 1649, to Juriaen Bestvall and Jochem Kettelheym. [Both of whom had come to the New Netherlands on the same ship as Evert. These were two men who had come to the colony by contracting with the patroon to work for six years as laborers. Their time was now served and they were able to lease a farm and work for themselves.] Evert Pels turned the farm over to them on March 25, 1649. 

November 18,1649, he leased jointly with Willem Fredericksz (Bout), a farm in Greenbush, for which he is charged in the accounts with an annual rent of f400, from May 1, 1649 until 1661 when he moved to  Esopus; the same day he also leased the saw-and grist-mill in Greenbush, for which he is charged with an annual rent of f125, from May 1, 1649, till May 1, 1658. He also owned a sloop on the river and a lot on Broadway in Manhattan which he sold in 1656. In 1657 he sent down to New Amsterdam 2100 beaver skins. He advised the Director of the colony on horses and other farm animals.

In the Colony of Rensselaerswyck, they were living on a frontier. The village of Beaverwyck was adjacent to Fort Orange, which was established to conduct the fur trade with the Indians. Even the name Beaverwijck reflects that the fur trade with the Indians was the main purpose for the settlement at Albany. There were fewer than 1000 settlers living from New Amsterdam to Fort Orange. The settlement went as far north as Albany for two reasons, 1) because the level of the Hudson River, raises one foot there at high tide, and that is as far as the sailing ships could travel up the river to bring trade goods and supplies from Holland and to transport the fur pelts down the river to New Amsterdam; and 2) the Mohawk River flows into the Hudson River near Albany which allowed Indians from western New York to bring furs more easily. Traders did not travel about the Indian nations to trade for furs. Instead, the Indians brought their furs to Beaverwijck and the trading was conducted there. Goods coming from Europe were unloaded from the ocean-
going ships at New Amsterdam (now New York) and reloaded on a river yacht for transport up the river to Beaverwijck. (The trip up river took several days.) The colonists were living in the midst of several Indian nations. The settlements did not go very far inland from the river. Their surroundings were really primitive. They lived in log houses and the town was surrounded by palisades.

In 1661 Evert Pels, his family, and a number of friends bought land in the Esopus [the region around the Esopus river where Kingston, New York, now is].

It appears that Ever Pels and his family moved to the Esopus in April, May, or June of 1661. At the time of the move, Evert Pels and Jannetje Symons had seven children. Their names and approximate birth dates are given as follows:
Hendrick, born about 1643-44;
Jannetje, born about 1646;
Evert Evertse, born about 1648;
Clara, christened 10 Sept. 1651;
Marie, born about 1653-55;
Elizabeth, born about 1657; and
Sara, christened, 3 July 1659.
Two more children were born in the Esopus:
Rebecca, baptized 13 Nov. 1661 and
Symon baptized 29 March 1665.

The following History of the Esopus region is from Peter R. Christoph’s Introduction in “The Kingston papers”, published by the Holland Society of New York, together with quotes from the Kingston Papers:

The earliest known sale of land in the region of the Esopus involved a parcel sold by the Esopus Indians to Thomas Chambers, a carpenter and farmer residing at that time in Rensselaerswyck. The patent was confirmed on June 5, 1652.  Throughout the early history of the settlement, the presence of the Indians cast an ominous pall over the whole community. They were particularly vulnerable in their scattered houses and were often at fault for the bad relations with the natives. Director-General Peter Stuyvesant [my half 9th great grand uncle],  recognized the danger to them, and, at his urging, the settlers signed a bond on May 31, 1658, agreeing to erect a palisaded village and demolish their separate dwellings. Then on the night of September 20, 1659, a group of settlers and soldiers senselessly shot three Indians, killing one of them. The result was the First Esopus War, which did not end until the signing of a peace treaty on July 15, 1660.

Despite the war and the uneasiness of the ensuing peace, the population of the community continued to grow. By May 2, 1661, the hamlet had been named Wildwyck by Stuyvesant. About May of 1662 a second community was established nearby, called Nieuw Dorp (New Town) [now Hurley] which was settled by former residents of Beaverwyck and Wildwyck. The farmland bought by Evert Pels was between Wildwyck and Nieuw Dorp.

The fragile peace ended on June 7, 1663, when the Indians burned Nieuw Dorp and attacked Wildwyck. On that morning a number of Esopus Indians entered Wildwyck [now Kingston] to sell their produce, corn, and beans to the settlers. Between 11:00 and 12:00 in the forenoon, some people on horseback, rushed thru the Mill gate, from the village, crying out “the Indians have destroyed the village.” Upon hearing this, the Indians fired a shot and attacked the settlers at every house with axes, tomahawks, rifles, and pistols. Sixteen settlers were killed and a number were carried off as prisoners. Everts Pels’ son Hendrick was one of those who were carried off. He was not found until a year and a half later. By that time he had married an Indian girl and had a child. He lived among the Indians for the rest of his life. The resulting loss of life, concern for settlers taken hostage, and heavy loss of property had a long-lasting effect upon the community. A peace treaty was concluded on May 15, 1664. This was the Second Esopus war

Next new trouble came to Esopus from a new source. English forces sent by the Duke of York seized New Amsterdam on September 8, 1664; on the 25th Wildwyck was placed under the authority of the Duke. New Netherlands and New Amsterdam were renamed New York and Beaverwijck became Albany. The name Wildwyck fell into disuse, the new community was generally referred to as the Town of Esopus. Peter Stuyvesant retired to the life of a private citizen and the residents of Esopus struggled to adjust to the change in rule. It was not easy. All the problems of life under an occupation force faced the settlers. They were compelled to board soldiers in their homes and to suffer insults and abuse from the armed troops. Reaction against such treatment culminated in the Esopus Mutiny of February 4, 1667. This armed threat to English rule subsided after a few hours . Governor Richard Nicholls wisely chose to mete out punishment to soldiers as well as civilians, but incidents continued to occur.

The court of Esopus assigned that original settler, Thomas Chambers, and Evert Pels meet with the British to try to settle the matter as follows: “Thomas Chambers, Captain and overseer, and Evert Pels overseer, are hereby authorised, by the Court to acquaint Captain Broadhead, the answer of the Inhabitants, that Cornelis Barentsen Sleight by him Imprisoned, might be Relaxed, out of his Imprisonment, for to prevent further trouble and danger; and in Case the afore said Cornelis Barentsen Sleight, hath offended the said Captain Broadhead, that the said Broadhead (according to the Governor's Order:) Should sue him to the Court, for to be Examined and Corrected, dated in Wiltwyck this 4/14 of Feb. 1667. Wm Beeckman, Jan Joosten, Roelof Swartwout.”

“In answer to this above standing, Captain Broadhead Replyes, that he will keepe Cornelis Sleight in apprehension, as Longe he thincks good, and in Case the Inhabitants will fetsh him by force, that he Would Waight uppon them, dated in Wiltwyck this 4/14 off Feb. 1667"

On September 17, 1669, Nieuw Dorp was renamed Hurley. On April 6, 1668, Governor Nicolls granted land in a new patent at the Esopus to a number of his soldiers. A village was established there, which, under his successor, Francis Lovelace, was named Marbletown on September 17, 1669. On the same day Nieuw Dorp was renamed Hurley, and on September 25, Esopus became Kingston. The official pronouncement was made on April 25, 1670. Thomas Chambers, the original settler in the region, was rewarded by Governor Lovelace by having his house and land enfranchised as the manor of Fox Hall on October 16, 1672.

The war in Europe between England and the Netherlands reached New York when a Dutch force under Anthony Colve recaptured New York City around July 30-August 9, 1673. Esopus was reduced by the Dutch around August 15. Colve became Governor General on September 19 and re-established Dutch rule. Among other changes Kingston was renamed Swaenenburgh. However, under the Treaty of Westminster, the colony was returned to English control on November 10, 1674. Edmund Andros became Governor on that day and Swaenenburch became Kingston once again.
On this August 5, 1672, it was resolved to dispatch Evert Pels and Robbert Gouldsberry to New York for the purpose of receiving information about the state of affairs at New York. And each of them shall receive a schooner of wheat per day for their trouble. It was also resolved that Capt. Chambers, at the least report, shall call the burghers here to arms in the village, and then to send delegates to the troops, and in the meantime to act in accordance with the reply we shall expect from them.
Instructions of Evert Pels, A. Jansen, court messenger, and R. Gouldsberry: 1) They shall immediately depart for the purpose of learning the condition of affairs at New York, because we have been informed that there are some Holland vessels there for the purpose of taking the country; 2) They shall sail in a boat until they shall meet some yacht or Christians whom they shall ask how things are in New York, and having received trustworthy information shall return immediately and report to us. August 5, 1672, at Kingston, by the honorable court at Kingston, (Signed) W. LaMontagne, secretary.

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