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Genealogical History Of Hudson And Bergen Counties New Jersey

Originally published in 1900
Cornelius Burnham Harvey, Editor

Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

A great majority of the pioneer settlers of Bergen and Hudson Counties were emigrants from Holland, or descendants of persons who had emigrated from that country and settled on Manhattan Island or Long Island. The rest were English, French, Germans, and Scandinavians. What brought these to the shores of America? What led them to settle in New Jersey? Who were they? The limits of this article will permit of only a brief reference to the two principal causes which impelled them to leave their native land, overcrowding of population in Holland and the desire to better their condition.

More than a century had elapsed since the Augustinian monk, Luther, had nailed his ninety-five theses on the church door at Wittenberg. That act had, at last, wakened into activity all the dormant forces of christendom. During the Middle Ages all learning and religion had been controlled by the Roman hierarchy. All that time the papacy had been a confederacy for the conservation of learning, against the barbarism and ignorance of the times; and so long as the pontiff retained the character of chief clerk of such a confederacy his power remained irresistible. But as soon as he abandoned the role of chief clerk in spiritual affairs, and assumed that of secular prince, the great revolution began. His former friends became his enemies. The British schoolmen led the way in the revolt, followed by Wickliff, Huss, Jeronie, and others. The breach kept widening, until all the countries of Western Europe started like giants out of their sleep at the first blast of Luther's trumpet. In Northern Europe the best half of the people embraced the Reformation. The spark which the monk had kindled lighted the torch of civilization, which was to illuminate the forests of the Hudson in America.

At no time since this terrible contest began had the Catholic monarchs of Europe been more persistently active and relentlessly cruel toward the believers in the new religion than at the beginning of emigration to New Netherland. The bloody conflict known as "The Thirty Years' War" was then raging with all its attendant horrors. Nevertheless, Holland, of all the circle of nations, had guaranteed safety to people of every religious belief, and enforced, within her own borders at least, respect for civil liberty. As a result she had become the harbor of refuge and the temporary home of thousands of the persecuted of almost every country; the Brownists from England, the Waldenses from Italy, the Labadists and Picards from France, the Walloons from Germany and Flanders, and many other Protestant sects, all flocked into Holland. Across her borders flowed a continual stream of refugees and outcasts. This influx of foreigners, augmented by the natural increase of her own people, caused Holland to suffer seriously from overcrowding, particularly in her large cities. A learned Hollander, writing at that time, said of the situation: "Inasmuch as the multitude of people, not only natives but foreigners, who are seeking a livelihood here, is very great, so that, where one stiver is to be earned, there are ten hands ready to seize it. Many are obliged, on this account, to go in search of other lands and residences, where they can obtain a living."

In the few years preceding 1621 several voyages of discovery and adventure had been made by the Dutch to New Netherland, but no colonies had been founded. Letters from these voyagers declared that New Netherland was a veritable paradise – a land "flowing with milk and Honey," traversed by numerous great and beautiful rivers, plentifully stocked with fish; great valleys and plains, covered with luxuriant verdure; extensive forests, teeming with fruits, game, and wild animals; and an exceedingly fertile and prolific soil. These and many similar letters aroused and stimulated many of the discontented and unemployed of Holland to emigrate to New Netherland with their families in the hope of being able to earn a handsome livelihood, strongly fancying that they could live in the New World in luxury and ease, while in the Old they would still have to earn their bread by the sweat of their brows.

In 1621 the "States-General" took steps looking toward relief from the situation, the gravity of which they now fully comprehended. On June 3 they granted a charter to "The Dutch West India Company" to organize and govern a colony in New Netherland; and in June, 1623-4, an expedition under Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, of Amsterdam, carrying thirty families, most of whom were religious refugees, came over to New Amsterdam and began a settlement on the lower end of Manhattan Island. Mey, not liking the job of being director of the new colony, soon returned to Holland, leaving matters for a time in charge of William Verhulst, who was succeeded by Peter Minuit in 1626. This first colony was not a success. The colonists were "on the make." Aside from building a few rude bark huts and a fort, they busied themselves dickering with the savages for skins and furs. They tilled no ground, and for three years were non-supporting. On the 1 th of June, 1629, the "States-General" granted a bill of "Freedoms and Exemptions" to all such private persons as would plant any colonies in any part of New Netherland (except the Island of Manhattan), granting to them the fee simple in any land they might be able to successfully improve. Special privileges were also granted to members of the West India Company. Whoever of its members should plant a colony of fifty persons should be a feudal lord, or Patroon," of a tract "sixteen miles in length, fronting on a navigable river and reaching eight miles back."

As yet only exploring parties bent on trade with the savages had traversed Bergen and Hudson Counties. No one had ventured to "take up" any lands there. But now, under the stimulus of the bill of "Freedoms and Exemptions," one Michael Pauw, then burgomaster of Amsterdam, was impelled, for speculative purposes no doubt, to obtain from the Director General of New Netherland, in 1630, grants of two large tracts, one called "Hoboken Hacking " (land of the tobacco pipe) and the other "Ahasimus." Both of these tracts were parts of what is now Jersey City. These grants bore date, spectively, July 13 and November 22, 1630. The grantee gave one place the name of "Pavonia." Pauw failed to comply with the conditions set forth in his deeds and was obliged, after three years of controversy with the West India Company, to convey his "plantations" back to that company. Michael Paulesen, an official of the company, was placed in charge of them as superintendent. It is said he built and occupied a hut at Paulus Hook early in 1633. If so, it was the first building, of any kind erected in either Bergen or Hudson County. Later in the same year the company built two more houses : one at Communipaw, afterward purchased by Jan Evertse Bout, the other at Ahasimns (now Jersey City, east of the Hill), afterward purchased by Cornelius Van Vorst. Jan Evertse Bout succeeded -Michael Paulesen as superintendent of the Pauw plantation, June 17, 1634, with headquarters at Communipaw, then the capital of Pavonia Colony. He was succeeded in June, 1636, by Cornelius Van Vorst, with headquarters at Ahasimus, where he kept "open house" and entertained the New Amsterdam officials in great style.

In 1641 one Myndert Myndertse, of Amsterdam, (bearing the ponderous title of "Van der Heer Nedderhorst,") obtained a grant of all the country behind (west of) Achter Dull (Newark Bay), and from thence north to Tappan, including part of what is now Bergen and Hudson Counties. Accompanied by a number of soldiers, Myndertse occupied his purchase, established a camp, and proceeded to civilize the Indians by military methods. It is needless to say that he failed.

He soon abandoned the perilous undertaking of founding a colony, returned to Holland, and the title to this grant was forfeited. Early in 1638 William Kieft became Director General of New Netherland, and on the first day of May following granted to Abraham Isaacsen Planck (Verplanck) a patent for Paulus Hook (now lower Jersey City).

There were now two "plantations" at Bergen, those of Planck and Van Vorst. Parts of these, however, had been leased to, and were then occupied by, Claes Jansen Van Purmerend, Dirck Straatmaker. Barent Jansen, Jan Cornelissen Buys, Jan Evertsen Carsbon, Michael Jansen, Jacob Stoffelsen, Aert Teunisen Van Putten, Egbert Woutersen, Garret Dirckse Blauw, and Cornelius Ariessen. Van Putten had also leased and located on a farm at Hoboken. All these, with their families and servants, constituted a thriving settlement. The existence of the settlement of Bergen was now imperiled by the acts of Governor Kieft, whose idea of government was based mainly upon the principle that the governor should get all he could out of the governed. His treatment of the Indians soon incited their distrust and hatred of the whites. The savages, for the first time, began to show symptoms of open hostility. Captain Jan Petersen de Vries, a distinguished navigator, who was then engaged in the difficult task of trying to found a colony at Tappan, sought every means in his power to conciliate the Indians, and to persuade Kieft that his treatment of them would result in bloodshed.

The crafty and selfish governor turned a deaf ear to all warnings and advice and continued to goad the Indians by cruel treatment and harsh methods of taxation. In 1643 an Indian – no doubt under stress of great provocation – shot and killed a member of the Van Vorst family. This first act of murder furnished a pretext for the whites and precipitated what is called "The Massacre of Pavonia," on the night of February 25, 1643, when Kieft, with a sergeant and eighty soldiers, armed and equipped for slaughter, crossed the Hudson, landed at Communipaw, attacked the Indians while they were asleep in their camp, and, without regard to age or sex, deliberately, and in the most horrible manner, butchered nearly a hundred of them. Stung by this outrage upon their neighbors and kinsmen, the northern tribes at once took the war path, attacked the settlement, burned the buildings, murdered the settlers, wiped the villages out of existence, and laid waste the country round about. Those of the settlers who were not killed outright fled across the river to New Amsterdam. Nor was peace restored between the savages and the whites until August, 1645, when the remaining owners and tenants of farms returned to the site of the old village, rebuilt their homes, and started anew.

Kieft having been driven from office, Petrus Stuyvesant was made Director General, July 28, 1646. Under his administration the settlement at Bergen was revived, grew rapidly, and prospered. Between his arrival and the year 1669 the following named persons purchased or leased lands, though all of them did not become actual residents:

Michael Pauw, Michael Paulesen, Jan Evertse Bout, Cornelius Van Vorst, Myndert Myndertsen Van der Heer Nedderhorst, Abraham Isaacsen Planck (Verplanck), Claes Jansen Van Purmerend (Cooper), Dirk Straatmaker, Barent Jansen, Jan Cornelissen Buys, John Evertsen Carsbon, Michael Jansen (Vreeland), Jacob Stoffelsen, Aert Teunisen Van Puttee, Egbert Woutersen, Garret Dircksen Blauw, Cornelius Ariesen, Jacob Jacobsen Roy, Francisco Van Angola (negro), Guilliaem Corneliesen, Dirk Sycan, Claes Carsten Norman, Jacob Walleugen (Van Winkel), James Luby, Lubbert Gerritsen, Gysbert Lubbertsen, John Garretsen Van Immen, Thomas Davison, Garret Pietersen, Jan Cornelissen Schoenmaker, Jan Cornelissen Crynnen, Casper Stimets, Peter Jansen, Hendrick Jans Van Schalckwyck, Nicholas Bayard, Nicholas Varlet, Herman Smeeman, Tielman Van Vleeck, Douwe Harmansen (T'allman), Claes Jansen Backer, Egbert Steenhuysen, Hartnen Edwards Paulus Pietersen, Allerd Anthony, John Vigne, Paulus Leendertsen, John Verbruggen, Balthazar Bayard, Samuel Edsall, and Aerent Laurens.
All these persons received their deeds, or such titles as they had, from the Dutch, through the different Director Generals.

The English captured New Netherland from the Dutch in 1664, and; thereupon, Philip Carteret, by an appointment of the "Lords-Proprietors" of the Province of East New Jersey, became its first governor. The titles of the settlers of Bergen Were confirmed by Carteret and his council in 1668. In 1669, following his appointments governor, Carteret also granted other portions of the lands in Hudson County to the following named persons:

Maryn Adrianse, Peter Stuyvesant, Claes Petersen Cors, Severn Laurens, Hendrick Jansen Spier, Peter Jansen Slott, Barent Christianse, Mark Noble, Samuel Moore, Adrian Post, Guert Coerten, Frederick Phillipse, Thomas Frederick de Kuyper, Guert Geretsen (Van Wagenen), Peter Jacobsen, John Berry, Ide Cornelius Van Vorst, Hans Diedrick, Hendrick Van Ostum, Cornelius Ruyven.
"The town and corporation of Bergen," as appears by Carteret's charter, had an area of 11,500 acres. Up to the end of 1669 scarce one-third of this area had been patented to settlers. The balance, more than 8,000 acres, was used in common by the patentees, their heirs, devisees, and grantees, for nearly a century before it was finally divided and set off to those entitled to it. As is ever the case under similar circumstances, many of the patentees and their descendants and grantees encroached upon these common lands. "Tom, Dick, and Harry" pastured their cattle on them, made lavish use of the timber, and in various other ways committed waste with impunity. Many patentees caused surveys to be made, presumed to "take up," and used divers parts of the public domain "without any warrant, power, or authority for so doing, without the consent of the majority of the other patent owners," so that in the course of time it could not be known how much of these common lands had been taken up and appropriated. This state of things caused great confusion and numerous violent disputes between the settlers, who, in January, 1714, petitioned Governor Hunter for a new charter empowering them, in their corporate capacity, to convey or lease their common lands, in fee, for one, two, or three lives or for years.

Governor Hunter, in response to this petition, procured a new charter for the town and corporation, known as " The Queen Anne Charter." The power given by this charter had little or no effect in putting a stop to encroachments upon, and disputes between, the settlers about the common lands. Thus matters continued until 1643, when another effort was made by the settlers to protect their rights in the common lands. An agreement was made, dated June the 16th, of that year, providing for a survey of the common lands and a determination of how much of the same had been lawfully taken up, used, or claimed, and by whom. For some reason this agreement was not carried out, and matters continued to grow worse until December 7, 1763, when the settlers appealed to the legislature for re- lief. That body passed a bill, which was approved by Governor Franklin, appointing commissioners to survey, map, and divide the common lands of Bergen among the persons entitled thereto. These commissioners, seven in number, made the survey and division and filed their report and maps on the 2d day of March, 1765, in the secretary's office at Perth Amboy, copies of which report and maps are also filed in the offices of the clerks of both Hudson and Bergen Counties.

In the division made by the commissioners the common lands were apportioned among the patentees, hereinbefore named, and their descendants, as well as among the following named persons:

Michael de Mott, George de Mott, Gerebrand Claesen, Joseph Waldron, Dirk Van Vechten, James Collerd, Thomas Brown, Andries Seagaerd, Dirk Cadmus, Zackariah Sickels, Job Smith, Daniel Smith, Joseph Hawkins, John Halmeghs, Philip French, Ide Cornelius Sip, Herman Beeder, Nicholas Preyer, Sir Peter Warren, Anthony White, Michael Abraham Van Tuyl, Walter Clendenny, John Cummings, David Latourette, John Van Dolsen.
Several other families, namely, those of Day, de Grauw, de Groot. Hessels, Hopper, Banta, Huysman, Van Giesen, Earle, Franzen, Morris, and Swaen, had become residents of the county without having lands granted them. It may therefore be safely said that the families above named constituted nearly all of the original settlers of Hudson County east of the Hackensack River. The westerly portion of the county was included in the purchase by Captain William Sandford from the Parish of St. Mary's in the Island of Barbadoes. Governor Carteret and council granted this tract to Sandford, July 4, 1668. It contained within its boundaries an area of 15,308 acres, extending from the point of union of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers about seven miles northward along said rivers, to a spring now known as the Boiling Springs, or Sandford Spring, near Rutherford. This purchase was made by Sandford for himself and Major Nathaniel Kingsland, also from the Island of Barbadoes, and the same was subsequently divided between Sandford and Kingsland. Kingsland, who became the owner of the northern part (including part of the present Bergen County), resided at what is now known as "Kingsland Manor," south of Rutherford, in Bergen County, while Sandford, who became the owner of the southerly part, resided at what is now East Newark, in Hudson County. Much of this large section of territory remained vested in the respective descendants of Sandford and Kingsland for many years after their deaths.


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