The Holland America Historical Society was founded on September 9, 1989 by a small group of friends and correspondents interested in the part played by the people from The Netherlands in the development of the North American continent or  "The New World".

We are open to anyone interested in reading, writing or learning about it and is an independent group, not connected with any governmental, religious or political organization.

It is our hobby, or as the Dutch say, our "liefhebberij".

  " The story of the origins of American freedom and democracy
must ever be a subject of interested inquiry."

Laurens A. W. van der Laan, Founder.

Correspondence to :

The historical topics include :

The establishment of New Netherland in the New World.

1.  NEW NETHERLAND,  a.  history
                                            b. genealogy

     in the  English  colonial period.

3.  The William and Mary period: THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION.

4.  U. S. INDEPENDENCE  and the Dutch.




8.  HOLLAND-AMERICA LINE - "A bridge across the ocean"

These topics will be explained on the next pages.

The establishment of New Netherland in the New World.

The Netherlands

First........ a note of explanation:  We are talking about the people of a country in Western Europe called: The Netherlands. It's neighbors are: to the east: Germany, the south: Belgium and the west and north: the North Sea. Across the North Sea, to the west are England and Scotland; to the north is Norway.

The Netherlands, once also called: the low lands, was so designated because about half of the country was originally very swampy and below sea level. Through the ages it's people, called the Netherlanders or the Dutch, have managed to reclaim sections of land from the water by means of levees, which they call dikes.
This reclaimed land, mostly very fertile, is called a polder. But in order to keep the water out, pumps are constantly at work. In the olden days polders were drained by means of windmills, later steam and now diesel or electric powered engines.

In the sixteenth century these low lands belonged to the King of Spain and were divided into seventeen provinces. The only national religion was Roman Catholic. The Spanish governor was head quartered in Brussels.  In the 1500s protestantism started to spread throughout Europe.

In the year 1568 the nobility of the low lands, lead by a.o. Willem van Nassau, Prince of Orange, petitioned the governor for religious tolerance. This was denied and thus started a rebellion or war, that lasted eighty years. Willem was declared an outlaw, a price was put on his head and he was shot twice by a sniper, the last being fatal.
He is remembered as "the father of the fatherland". The Dutch national anthem is still sung in his honor.

The end result of this war was a division. The southern provinces remained Spanish and thus called: the Spanish Netherlands and exclusively catholic. The northern provinces won their independence and became known as:


The Republic of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands

There, a "reformed" church, based on the protestant teachings of the divine John Calvin,  became the national religion. But others were tolerated as well. After all, that was what the sufferings of the many years of war had been all about.

In those days, the Republic, as it was called for short, was the only country in the world allowing it's citizens their own interpretations of the bible. And thus, many individuals, families or groups, who wanted to follow their protestant divines or preachers and were oppressed in their homeland, came to the Republic.

In addition many of the Jewish faith found a new home and it goes without saying, that a large percentage of the population remained catholic. All citizens, old and new, enjoying their new freedom and peace of mind, made the Republic the envy of the world and resulted in, what is known in Dutch history as: "The Golden Age."

Among some of these early groups settling in the Republic was one from England, followers of a preacher called John Brown, and referred to as: Brownists.
They arrived in Amsterdam in 1609, but soon moved to Leyden. By 1620 they, and their brethren still in England, decided to remove to the "New World". Thus the first ship: Speedwell sailed from Delfshaven [now a part of Rotterdam] on July 21, 1620 for Southampton, where the Mayflower had been awaiting their arrival.

They set out together, but were forced to return, when the captain feared that the Speedwell might sink because she was "so leakie". They returned to Plymouth and crowded some of her passengers on the Mayflower.
Others had to stay behind and sail on the next ship; the Speedwell was sent to London for repairs.

The Mayflower, packed to the gunwales and with 102 passengers crammed on board, 41 from Leyden, finally sailed on September 6th.  Not all the passengers were "saints", as the Brownists called themselves; the great majority were "strangers", i.e. merchants and adventurers, members of the Church of England on their way to seek economic opportunity, resisting all attempts to convert them to "ye trueth". They made landfall at Plymouth Rock on November 10 and became known as the Pilgrim Fathers [and mothers.]

The seven independent provinces of the Republic were: Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, Gelderland, [the City and Lands of] Groningen and [the former dioceses of] Utrecht and Overyssel. Each had their own government called "Staten".
Each province sent delegates to 's Gravenhage [The Hague], where they formed the "Staten Generael", to handle the matters of concern to the entire nation and it's growing overseas possessions. The "landschap", now province of Drenthe joined shortly afterwards.
The sections of Vlaanderen (Flanders) and Brabant, separated from the rest at the time of the final peace settlement in 1648, were governed by the States General.

Capital city of "The Republic" was from that time: Amsterdam, which became a center of banking and trade.
Amsterdam is still the "capital city" of what is now "The Kingdom of The Netherlands."
The Hague is still the "seat of the government".

* * * * * * *

By 1609 however, in the middle of the war as it turned out to be, a truce of twelve years was negotiated with Spain.
Besides the question of religion, they now demanded the break-up of the "V.O.C.", the United Eastindia Company.
Dutch merchants had started to unite in trading companies or partnerships for joint protection against the ships of war of Spain and the ships of capture of their allies at the port city of Dunkirk, a nasty bunch.

All products from the East- and West Indies were under Spanish control, because of their earlier discoveries [Columbus] and annexation of Portugal. In those days the world had been divided between them. An early sore point for other European royals.

But the merchants of their "low lands" used to get these products directly in the Spanish and Portuguese ports. Because of the war however, Dutch ships became subject to confiscation.

Thus in 1602 the Dutch East India  Company or "V.O.C." was started and became an instant success.  In 1609, they equipped and sent out a vessel called: "De Halve Maen" (the Half Moon), under the command of captain Henry Hudson, an Englishman, to see about a route to the East Indies 'around the north'.

On the traditional route 'around the south', i.e. South Africa, ships not only passed Dunkirk, Spain and Portugal, but also the "barbarians" in North Africa. They used  white sailors as slave power to row their galleys and so to capture unsuspecting merchant ships, floating purposely around in their waters for lack of wind power in their sails - an easy prey.

So the answer was thought to be a northern route. The British explored north-westerly and the Dutch, north-easterly.
Names like Barents Sea and Nova Zembla still remind us of those early explorations.

However, the "Half Moon" was stopped by the ice-pack and the crew wanted to go home. Upon Henry's insistence, they decided to try the westerly route again. He had been there before. And so it was that Hudson eventually arrived at the river, which now bears his name; proceeded as far north as he could, but had to turn back at the waterfalls.

Henry Hudson and the crew, returning to Europe, made their first landfall at southern England, where the ship was confiscated and Henry jailed as a traitor. The V.O.C. demanded their ship back. The ship's navigator mailed the journal to Amsterdam, where it was published. Henry was released from jail, after he promised the king that he would only serve him. He subsequently discovered Hudson's Bay [Canada] and perished there.

No northern route in those days. And it was the submarine USS Nautilus, to first complete this voyage, under the ice pack.

That is enough of basic background to place you in the historic swing of things.

Now our Society's topics

                                                                      Adriaen Block Eylandt


The Dutch period on the North American continent is from 1609 to 1664 and 1673 to 1674.

It encompassed the region from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Cape Hinlopen, at the Delaware Bay.
The area was "discovered" in 1609 by captain Henry Hudson and the ship: "Half Moon" = "De Halve Maen". Upon their return, the ship's journal was published, which sparked  interest in the newly discovered lands.

Subsequent trips were made by captains Christiaen Hendricksz. and Adriaen Block, who explored this section of coastline and drew up a detailed map. In 1613 the States General in The Hague granted a three year exclusive charter to a trading partnership called the "New Netherland Company."

In 1618 a proposal was made to form a large joint company with exclusive rights to all the newly discovered lands of Africa, America, Magellanica and Terra Australis.

[Australia was called by the Dutch: "New Holland". The name New Zealand is
still around, as is Tasmania, named after Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer.]

Due to the political situation in Europe, i.e. England and Sweden had started their "Thirty Year War" and the United Provinces still had their truce with Spain, all further action was delayed.
The "New Netherland Company" continued to trade on a "per voyage" basis.

In 1621 the truce was over and the fighting resumed. The United Provinces became allied with England and Sweden in the war; which was finally settled at Munster, Westfalia in 1648. - For the Netherlands after 80 years and for England and Sweden after 30 years.

On June 3, 1621 the Dutch West-India Company was formed and received an official charter, but it took until June 21, 1623 to raise enough capital. Finally on July 16, 1623, the first ship "Makreel" = Mackerel, sailed from the Texel roadstead, north of Amsterdam, under the "Geoctroijeerde Westindische Compagnie" or "G.W.C." flag, completing the round-trip to New Netherland in almost nine months after spending the winter stuck up the frozen "North" river.

In  the spring of 1624 arrived the ship: "Nieu Nederlandt" with a small number of settlers = "huysgezinnen". They are referred to as "the Walloons", i.e. protestant families from the Wallonia region of the southern Netherlands, now the independent nation of Belgium.  Many had migrated north to the Republic. Most had also settled at Leyden and probably were inspired by the "Brownists", who already 1619 had petitioned Maurits, prince of Orange to be allowed to settle in New Netherland, but had been turned down.
This had been too early. Politics..., as explained before.

Upon their arrival, they found the first "kommis" of the West India Company, Jan Jansz. Brouwer and some men in residence in their floating office, a yacht of 16 "lasts" called: "De Omvallende Nootenboom" = the falling nuttree , which had been confiscated from their owners, the former New Netherland Company.

This vessel now became the first residence of the Walloons, until suitable housing ashore had been completed. With each new ship arrived more colonists, i.e. settlers, and slowly the white population started to increase.
They were all in W.I. Company service.

 Forts for trading with the Native Americans were set up:

Along the Hudson River:
Named by the Dutch, "Noordt Rivier" = North River:
Fort Orange, now Albany, New York
Fort Amsterdam, now New York City
At  the Delaware River:
Called: "Zuijdt Rivier" = South River:
Fort Nassau,  now Gloucester, New Jersey
Fort Beversreede at the Schuylkil = Hiding creek, now Philadelphia, PA.
Fort Casimir, now New Castle, Delaware

At the Connecticut River:
Called: "Versche Rivier" = Fresh (water) River:
Fort The Good Hope, now Hartford, Connecticut.

Some of the colonists were initially spread over the various forts, where most were soon killed or threatened by the Indians. Only those of Fort Orange survived, thanks to early friendly and continued relations maintained with the large Mohawk nation in that region.

In 1626, Governor Pieter Minuit was able to purchase the island of Manhattan and three "oyster" islands in the bay, i.e. Ellis, Liberty and the former "Robben" = seal, from a local Indian tribe.

In our to-day's world of abundance, inflation etc., it is difficult to understand the price paid for this property,  i.e. goods worth $24., with which those Native Americans were quite happy.
They must have been surprised, in their world and way of thinking, that white people would pay for such things as land and have them make marks by writing on something called paper, which we call a property deed or by the Dutch: "grondbrief" or "ground brieff".
It surely is a pity that the Indians did not have a written language, from which we could have learned more of their history, in their own words.

Anyway, it had been decided, that for everyone's mutual safety, all the white civilian employees would reside together on Manhattan island, in a housing area outside the fort, eventually called New Amsterdam. They were protected by water on three sides and on the landward side by a "cingel" = moat and a "muur" = wall, now Wall Street.

At the other forts, small detachments of soldiers, would guard the corporate interests, together with a resident agent called "kommis", who would do the trading during the season, with the various Native American nations.

Smaller sailing boats, called sloops, maintained the connections between Fort Amsterdam and the other forts. During the winter months the rivers would freeze up and the forts could not be reached with wooden vessels of any size.
At Manhattan the water was brackish and would not freeze, thus New Amsterdam/ New York was an early year-round port.

By 1629, the West India Company [W.I.C.] and the States General decided to open New Netherland to private developers, called "patroons", to encourage more settlements and further cultivation of this fertile, but mostly wild country.

The deal was, that a patroon (individual) or patroonship (more than one) would get an option of a sizable square section of land along either of the three rivers i.e. the North, South or Fresh, for the initial period of five years. If in that time they would have a population of fifty souls and supplied with tools and lifestock, their contract would be extended.

A number of those "adventurers" undertook the challenge, all at their own expense and risk of course. They sent over a ship to explore the site possibilities and to report back.

Thus, a whaling station was started by those of the established "Noordtse Compagnie" at the Delaware Bay called "Swaenendal", but their hunters were unprotected and soon killed.

On the westbank of the North River lands were purchased like Communipaw, Paulus Hook, Van Vorst, Hoboken and Weehawken in 1630 for the 'Colonie Pavonia" which failed. By 1634 the West India Company bought this endeavor from the patroon.

The colonies at the mouth of the Fresh river and below Fort Hope did not get off the ground.

In later years there were other tries, such as on Staten Island [twice]; the "Achter Kol", i.e. the area what is now Newark, NJ and "Tappaen" now Nyack, NY.
But the united Indian nations to the west of the Hudson river were hostile and those early tries all failed. There were a number of wars between them and us.

During the entire New Netherland period, only "Colonie Rensselaerswijck" succeeded.
It was located around Fort Orange and it's later residential village called : "Beverwijck", now Albany, the capital city of the State of New York.
This was a partnership and there were ten shares, one owned f. i. by Johan de Laet, who wrote the annual reports of the W.I. Company.

As administrator and executive in charge, served Killiaen van Rensselaer, a major share-holder, who gave his name to this enterprise. He gave instructions to try and secure sections of land around Fort Orange, but the WIC. 'kommis' Bastiaen Jansz. Krol wrote, that the natives were hostile and patience was required.  This must have been the Moheghan nation.
In any case by 1630, when van Rensselaer sent over his first men under a four year contract, complete with farm equipment, seeds, as well as goats, they were able to start clearing away and sow the first sections of land of their colony.

Not only human beings of different trades, but livestock, smith- and carpenters tools, milling stones, bakers, pots and pans, bricks etc. - everything had to be imported until there were enough men, women and children to handle the farming, process their products, make or repair tools, build houses, barns etc., etc. They all had to eat, of course and at the same time supply the company ships for their return voyage to 'patria' as the homeland was called.

It is easy to understand the enormous risks, financial and otherwise, that were involved. By 1634 there were more than fifty souls, as well as a number of farms under cultivation.

Rensselaerswijck had passed the first hurdle and qualified to go on.

By the late 1630s, the W.I. Company provided additional "freedoms" and allowed small businessmen and individuals to try their luck in land bought or rented directly from them. Many company employees and soldiers, as well as free slaves, applied for discharge and were granted patents for land. Enterprising early New Netherland residents had at first been able to make land deals directly with the locaI Indian tribes. The company effectively put a stop to this.

For instance, a Walloon = "Wael", called Joris Jansz. Rapalje or in French: George de Rapaille and his wife Cateline Hieronimusdr. (or Jeronimusdr.) Tricot, she was from Paris, France, bought a section of land across the East River = "Oost rivier" from Manhattan, which was promptly called "de Waelebocht", when more Walloons joined them.
Through the years, this land became known as "the Walabout", the later site of the former Brooklyn Navy yard, between the "Brooklyn" and "Manhattan" bridges.

Another early person, from the town of Amersfoort, called: Jacob Wolfertsz. Van Couwenhoven bought a section, which was promptly called: New Amersfort and later became the village of "Flatlands".

The directors of the West India Company had not been happy with this developing trend and from now they would do the negotiating with the Indians for land and a person or persons in company would get a patent from them, for which was required an annual rent.
In other words, the W.I.C. became a patroon - almost like owning a condominium to-day.

In 1654, at the time of the first Anglo/Dutch war, the city of Amsterdam decided to purchase a section of land from the W.I.C. in New Netherland along the South River and start a colony below fort Casimir called: "Stadts Colonie Nieuwer Amstel" = City Colony New Amstel with the town of New Amstel - now New Castle, Delaware.

As mentioned before, New Netherland was an overseas province of the Netherlands, except that the territory was run by a corporation and under a director, who was also in charge of the company soldiers as general.

However, the "vreye burghers" = free citizens, i.e. those not or no longer in the employ of the company, had the same rights and privileges as those  in the homeland. The burghers could come and go when and where they pleased. Eventually they wanted their own say in local affairs with a "burghermeester" and "schepenen" = mayor and councilmen.

It is very difficult for us in to-day's society, where everything is taken for granted, to understand how we arrived at our rights and liberties, developing through the years.

By contrast, take New England. Their main population in the early years were mostly groups with a religious background, different from the established church, i.e. the Anglican - or Church of England, where the monarch is also the head of the church since King Henry VIII separated from the Pope in Rome. He or she ruled his or her subjects.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. He was seen as a Calvinist. After his death in 1625 was followed by his son Charles I, considered somewhat "enlightened". Charles was eventually beheaded and England became a republic also. But that is another story.

But some of the groups of dissenters in New England, after they among themselves did not see eye-to-eye there as well, decided to move to New Netherland.

In this way New Netherland had it's "English" towns on Long Island ['t Lange Eijlandt"];

"Gravesande",  became the village of Gravesend,
"Vlissingen",     became Flushing,
"Heemstede",   became Hempstead,
"Rustdorp",      became Jamaica,
"Middelburg",   became Newtown.

In addition, on the mainland there was "Oostdorp", which became Westchester and "Nieu Veere" i.e. Greenwich, Connecticut.
The "Dutch Towns" on Long Island were:

"Nieu Breuckelen" = Brooklyn,
"Nieu Amersfoort" = Flatlands;
"Werckhoven", renamed "Nieu Utrecht" = New Utrecht;
"Midwoudt", " Oostwoudt" and " 't Vlacke Bosch" = Midwood, alias: Flatbush,
"Boschwijck" = Bushwick and
"Mespath", alias: Dutch Kills, which became part of Newtown and Bushwick.
"Nieu Aernhem" , near Bushwick, did not get started.

The political situation in Europe remained unsettled. England had it's civil wars and became a republic under Cromwell.After the monarchy had been restored, King Charles II, who himself had found refuge in the Netherlands no less, sent a fleet into the bay of New Amsterdam to demand the surrender of New Netherland. After lengthy conferences, a set of terms of surrender protecting people's rights, religious thinking, ownership of property etc. along the Dutch lines, was agreed on and signed by governor Pieter Stuyvesant and the king's representatives.

King Charles II, a protestant, had meanwhile presented New Netherland, [he was certain he would get it] to his brother James II, Duke of York, who was a catholic. New Netherland became the province of New York; New Amsterdam was renamed New York City. The province was eventually split up and the province of New Jersey created and divided in an eastern half and a western half. The Dutch settlements along the South River, first became the "Lower Counties" of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania [named after William Penn and his followers, the Quakers] and later "Delaware",  the "First State" of the United States.

On August 7, 1673, during a third Anglo/Dutch war, a Dutch fleet of 21 ships under Admiral Cornelis Evertsen arrived in New York bay, off Staten Island and demanded the surrender of the fort. On August 9, New York became New Netherland again, New York City became New Orange; Kingston, once called Esopus and Wildtwijck, became Swaenenburgh, named after the admiral's flagship the Swan and Albany became Willemstadt, after Willem [Hendrick] III, the Prince of Orange.
Army captain Anthony Colve, became the new governor.

By March 6, 1674 a peace had been negotiated. In exchange for New Netherland, the English gave to the Dutch their settlements on the "Wild Coast" of South America, i.e. Surinam, Berbice and Essequibo.
The treaty was eventually ironed out and ratified by the States General.

On  October 19 the ship "De Zeehond" [Seal], captain Hendrick van Toll, arrived at Fort Willem Hendrick to arrange for the transfer of New Netherland back to the English.
On November 1 governor Sir Edmond Andros, knight arrived.
On November 22, 1674 the "Zeehond" sailed for The Netherlands.

This ended the Dutch period in North America.




As a result of the many inquiries by those seeking their family roots among the early New Netherlanders, a separate New Netherland Genealogy Club was started in 1992.

During the late 1800s, genealogical research became a hobby for many people. Many such societies were formed and the results of the research done by their members, were published in their publications. Efforts were made to have the many New Netherland, English colonial and early United States documents translated and put in order. Many had been lost through accidents, neglect and/or the war of independence. Furthermore, many church records continued to be kept in the old-dutch language, and especially the old-dutch script was difficult to decipher and thus translate. Many of the Jersey Dutch, Yankee Dutch and Mohawk Dutch families continued to speak their old language well into the 1800s, when English completely took over.

And even though much of the basic research had been done between the 1870s and 1920s, much of this remained unavailable to others. For many, many years questions remained unanswered. Updated research, published in those house organs of local societies and groups, was neatly put on shelves. Many of the books of the 1800s etc. have been and are still being reprinted today, thus the mistakes of the past, continue to be interpretations for new research.
Many authors quote from each other, thus mistakes become fact etc. etc. A vicious circle.

Your editor, finding himself in this web of confusion, decided to do something about it. After all we have computers with immense memories, information can be exchanged almost instantly via the Internet etc. Thus in 1993, he became a spare time, unpaid, data entry clerk and started to manually computerize any and all records, manuscripts, documents, articles, publications etc. in a

 "New Netherland Historical Data Bank" to create a
"Population Register of New Netherland".

This is an immense and on-going affair, as from time to time this information, now in the computer, can be easily sorted, compared and edited, thanks to the invaluable assistance and input of John Elshof, a computer specialist, who created our HAHS GenBase program. Now all we have to do is keep on adding and comparing, thus our base is slowly growing. A work in progress.

Now if the "New Netherland Project" of the New York State Library at Albany and the "Holland Society" of New York are financially able to continue to bring forth publications of what remains to be translated, it would seem that by

        the year 2009, the four hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson's trip,
        we should be able to present a better, neater and more orderly story of our

Dutch-American heritage.

Map of The City of New Amsterdam, Manhattan Island, Colony of New Netherlands,  Anno 1660


    in the English colonial period; "KNICKERBOCKERS".

In 1664, as part of the terms of surrender, the new administration allowed all residents to retain their properties, businesses and especially important in those days for the different groups, their methods of worship.  In one of his early reports, the English governor mentioned that in the former New Netherland he found as many an eighteen different languages spoken.

In New Netherland, all official records were, of course, kept in Dutch. But as a large part of the population was illiterate and many scribes had a different ethnic background, they wrote down and spelled a person's name after what they heard spoken, to the best of their ability.

This situation reversed after the English takeover, now the records had to be kept in English, thus what was written down as a result, was sometimes pretty garbled. In any case the old-dutch and the olde-english has undergone many changes over the years, in the U.S. and Canada, they have their own "English".

But the church records and sermons of the Dutch Reformed congregations, were kept in that old-dutch language till the middle of the 1700s. Some traditionalists refused to change to English and in "Hudson Valley" society, it became chic for many to still be able to converse in Dutch.

The "Colony of Rensselaerswyck" became an English style "Manor", as was "Frederick Philipse Landt", which became the "Manor of Philipsborough" [or Philipsburgh].
Fredrick Philipsz., a carpenter from Bolsward, Friesland province became a successful landowner, but as his descendants were "loyalists" during the American Revolution, these lands were confiscated in 1779. The last lord was buried in Chester Cathedral, England on May 2, 1786.

As the population grew, new sections of land were bought from the Native Americans and opened to white settlers.
The "Dutch" intermarried and had (and still have) a habit to stick together, so family groups went south to Monmouth and  Somerset Counties, of Eastern New Jersey;
north- east into Bergen county of East Jersey [Jersey-Dutch],
"Tappan", separated from East Jersey became Orange and later Rockland counties,  and "Esopus" became Ulster and Dutchess counties of New York, etc. etc. [Yankee Dutch] Communities sprung up around Albany and Schenectady. [Mohawk Dutch]
They all took with them their language and customs.

But remember the "Pennsylvania Dutch" was a later group of Mennonites, fleeing from "Deutschland", which is Germany.

In the 1770s, John Adams, as the Massachusetts representative, on his way to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, wrote in his diary how different New York province looked in housing, dress, conversations of it's people etc. compared to his New England ways and style.

In the 1830's a literary magazine was started in New York City called "The Knickerbocker" and it was the humorous writings of Washington Irving, one of it's contributors, to make fun of those old-dutch groups and traditional customs.

The name Knickerbocker was a degeneration of a Dutch-American family name: Knickerbacker. Harmen Jansz., van Wijhe [Overyssel province, along the Yssel river, between Zwolle and Deventer] was so referred to; once he wrote his name in a document as : Harmen Jansz. Kiesbacker = marbles- or gravel baker.

In those early days many families did not have a last name, so that either their father's name, called patronymic, like Fredrick son of Philip or Harmen son of Jan aforementioned, or a place of former residence, or profession, or nickname became a family's surname name in America. Thus it sometimes happened that members of the same family wound up with different last names.


3. WILLIAM AND MARY PERIOD - the "Glorious Revolution".

When king Charles II died and was succeeded by his brother James II and thus became head of the Church of England, some waves started to disturb the quiet waters; he was a catholic. James started to appoint followers of that faith in important positions and even sent a new governor to New York province.
In the old country members of Parliament tried to figure a way out of this situation, by offering the throne to James' daughter Mary, a protestant. She was however married to Willem III, the Prince of Orange.

Thus in 1688 our Willem sailed across the North Sea to England with a large invasion fleet, met little resistance and within a few days the revolution was over. William and Mary became king and queen of England and James took up residence in catholic France.
The king there had just thrown out his protestant minority called the Huguenots, in 1685.

When this news finally reached North America, (a letter took a minimum of seven weeks, depending on the wind blowing in the sails), the governor fled from New York province. Schenectady, a border town in the north had a surprise attack by those from New France, i.e. Quebec and burned the place down. People were killed and taken hostage.
A former soldier turned prominent merchant: Jacob Leisler, took charge of the situation, appointed himself Lieutenant Governor, put the militia in a state of defense. Wrote the governors of the surrounding provinces for help and Connecticut sent a detachment to Albany, in case there would be another raid from the north.

But with the revolution over so fast, things quieted down somewhat and shortly after "Their Majesties" sent over their new Governor. The story goes that at his welcoming party, the governor got served too much to drink and some of Leisler's opponents had him sign an order for Leisler to be sentenced for treason. This was immediately done and when the governor was ready to start work the next day, he found that Leisler was already hanged.  About ten years later, after petitions from his widow and children, Leisler's name was cleared and the confiscated possessions restored.
The "Papers of Jacob Leisler" are at present at New York University and subject to new research and interpretation.



When in 1775, the now famous "shot was heard around the world" and on July 4, 1776 the United Colonies officially declared their Independence from England, the "patriot" merchants of Amsterdam vigorously assisted "His Britannick Majesty's North American Rebels" with supplies. Many of their ships were captured by the British navy, who had cruisers blockading both the Dutch and American ports.

A new plan was devised. Dutch ships sailing from Holland were henceforth cleared for their Dutch West Indies, especially the island of St. Eustatius, alias: Statia. This island gradually became a well stocked staging base and American ships could sail an easier distance to pick up their much needed supplies. When the first such ship flying the new "United States" flag arrived at the anchorage, the fort saluted the ship as a friend.
This became known as the "First Salute", the very first time that the flag had been officially recognized by a foreign country.

All of this angered the king of England, George III, who was informed almost daily by his ambassador at The Hague. In the final days of 1780 he declared war on The Netherlands, the "Fourth Anglo/Dutch War."

Admiral Romney and a large English fleet had long been under way to capture the island base "Statia". What supplies he found there, ready for shipment to America!

In any case, this [one-sided] declaration of war, was enough for the "Staten" of Friesland province to propose the immediate recognition of the United States of America and shortly after, the States General passed the resolution.
Thus The Netherlands became the second nation, after France, to do so. 
And we have been friends ever since.

The Amsterdam bankers, known as "the bankers of the world", were now able to officially provide John Adams of Massachusetts, with loans of money and letters of credit.
Mr. Adams had been appointed one of the three commissioners of the Continental Congress, residing in Paris. When, during a vacation trip to Holland, it became necessary for him to remain there, took up residence in Leyden, since his sons John Quincy and Charles enrolled in the famous university there.
John Adams was appointed the first ambassador of the United States of America.

On September 3, 1783, King George III officially signed the treaty of peace with the United States. As it happened , that urgent news reached the Continental Congress meeting at Princeton, New Jersey on the same day, that the first Dutch ambassador, Pieter J. van Berckel, a former mayor of Rotterdam, presented his credentials.



The new United States, recognizing the importance of good credit, promptly paid back their loans, when due and on one such occasion, a loan of five million guilders was paid back in real estate. This was due to the following.

After the French Revolution "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity", overthrowing the monarchy, a hero emerged from the ranks named Napoleon Bonaparte, another empire builder. Not only did he free the southern Netherlands from the reign of the ruling Hapsburg family [Spain and Austria], but his troops continued north to 'liberate' the Republic. Here they were welcomed by those of the opposition "Patriot" party. The Prince of Orange, Willem V took up residence in England where he died. This "French Time" as it is called in Dutch history, lasted from 1795 through 1813, when his son Willem VI came back from exile.
(After Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig, Germany, the French troops in the Netherlands had fled the country.)

Thus, early in those troubled days, the Dutch bankers accepted the U.S. real estate deal, consisting of almost five million acres of "wilderness", being western upstate New York from a north/south line at Cazanovia, NY, with village names like Lincklaen and De Ruyter and westwards to the Niagara Falls, south to include about half a million acres of north-western Pennsylvania.

For the development of this land, the Holland Land company was formed, head quartered in Philadelphia, with a land offices in Cazanovia and Batavia, NY. The town named New Amsterdam was laid out, which was later renamed Buffalo, N.Y.
In Pennsylvania the land office was in  Meadville.

Many of the company's local officials were exciles from the Netherlands, members of the opposition Patriot party, who had moved here after their revolution had failed. The Orangists had been able to get support from the king of Prussia in 1788, whose troops restored his brother in law the Prince of Orange Willem V, husband of his sister Wilhelmina.

All these turmoils in Europe brought a new type of immigrant to the new United States, f.i. the royalists from France, including the famous Marquis de la Fayette and political, or Dutch patriots, like the learned Francois Adriaen van der Kemp and his family.



In 1813, when the Netherlands were free again, and after Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo, Belgium, in 1815, the allied powers decided to re-unite the southern - with the northern Netherlands, i.e. the situation as it was before the start of the "Eighty Year War". These Netherlands now became a Kingdom and Prince Willem VI, became King Willem I.

While under Napoleon, the southern Netherlands had also become multi-religious and many of the old time French speaking Walloon families had not been happy with that course of events. And now, after unification, they not only got a protestant for a ruler, but the Dutch language became the official.

The curious situation is that in Europe there are language borders. In the southern Netherlands there is the dividing line. North of this one speaks a dialect of Dutch, called Flemish and to the south, French. To the east one speaks German.
In to-day's 'united' Europe there are 25 different languages.....

However - by 1830 the southern Netherlands declared their independence and became the Kingdom of Belgium. By 1839 that was officially signed and sealed.

King Willem the First had a sizable task. Besides the situation with those from the south, those northerners of the old-time Republic, were broke. Napoleon had  seen to that, by taxation and requests for financing the maintenance and exploits of his armies. He too had wanted to free the Russians for his empire. Foreign trade had been at a virtual standstill. Thus the country was broke, and nowhere to turn for foreign aid. One had to start rebuilding with the means available.

On top of that, the British king, busy building his empire, had decided to not surrender most of the Dutch overseas possessions placed under his protection in 1795. He kept Berbice and Essequibo, the Cape Province of South Africa, the island of Ceylon [Shri Lanka] and the trading-posts in India and Malaya. Under protest from Raffles, his governor, Java was returned and thus the former Dutch East Indies. This, with Surinam and the islands in the Caribbean, was all that remained.
The Netherlands Trading Company was formed to get things rolling again.

But what upset a large part of the population, was the king's decision to re-reform the Dutch Reformed church, along more liberal lines. In 1834 began the "secession" of orthodocs congregations from this new reformed church. Many more followed and in the 1840s the idea of leaving the old country and find a new home in America became a serious topic of conversation.

In September of 1846, the first such group, lead by the Reverend Albertus van Raalte and his family, as well as fifty-three followers, sailed from Rotterdam on the brig "Southerner" arriving in New York November 18. They had made no decision as to where they would settle, they looked to the region of the Middle West, perhaps Wisconsin, as a fitting place to make their new homes. They eventually decided on Michigan, where they, and those who came later, built towns like Holland, Zeeland, Grand Rapids etc. Others settled in the neighborhood of what is now Pella, Iowa, again others in Illinois and Wisconsin.



After the discovery of gold in California, the idea of a "new life" in the "new world" became more and more attractive for large numbers of Europeans, including the Dutch.
Everyone dreamed of money by the buckets and streets paved with gold.

These immigrants still found some "Knickerbocker Dutch" spoken in New York and New Jersey and many remained in New Jersey towns like Jersey City, Paterson, Midland Park, with it's new factories. Oystermen from Zeeland province moved to West Sayville, on Long Island, New York. Others went home-steading in Texas or the western states or stayed where they found work.

During the twentieth century, the U.S. started a quota system for immigrants to their shores.
And after World War 2, many Dutch citizens, victims of Nazi- or Japanese camps, again found a new start in the United States, thanks to the Refugee Relief Act.

This was the last large group of Dutch ethnic emigrants to America.


8. HOLLAND-AMERICA LINE, "A Bridge Across The Ocean".

When steam engines for ocean going ships became a reality, The Netherlands joined the other European nations in providing a regular steamship service to the United States.
In 1873 the "Netherlands-American Steam-Navigation Company" or "N.A.S.M." was formed and until the 1970s the ocean liners of the Holland-America Line, as the Company became popularly known, like the Rotterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Statendam, Westerdam, Noordam, Zaandam, Ryndam, Maasdam, Veendam, Volendam and many other "dam" ships, maintained a regular transatlantic passenger service.

The freight carrying "dijk/dyk" ships were regular visitors of the Atlantic, the Gulf, and via the Panama Canal,  the Pacific ports of North America.

Those "dam" ships still took an average of eight days to complete a crossing, but the development of jet aircraft cut the travel time to eight hours. In Peter Stuyvesant's days, the trip would take an average of eight weeks, depending on wind and weather.

The transatlantic passenger business became no longer profitable for ships and was taken over by the jumbo jetliners of the

"Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij" or "K.L.M. - Royal Dutch Airlines".

To-day's passengers ships are like floating miniature cities and luxury resort hotels. They offer leisure cruises on all the oceans of the world, lasting a few hours to "nowhere" or one hundred days, around the world.

Freight is still shipped on new type "container" ships or "roll on-roll-off" vessels, while perishable goods are now airlifted, so freshly cut tulips or other flowers and delectable "maatjes" herrings arrive from the Netherlands on the same day.


The New Netherland Project

The New Netherland Museum

Holland Land Company

Plimoth Plantation

Joint Archives of Holland

The Holland America Line

The unofficial Holland America Line Site





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or Dutch-Americans, don't hesitate to mail us
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