Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday's Mystery Ledger, part 1

I came across a very old ledger – but nowhere am I told who it belonged to... I probably could figure it out if I knew where it was from, so I am hoping for some help. If we put our collective eyes and genealogical detective skills together, we might just come up with some answers.

There is a lot of information between these pages, cover to cover. Sometimes it is confusing as things don't necessarily go from page to page in chronological order... if space was found between old lines, new entries were squeezed in...

I would like some help solving a mystery, and along the way, someone might find out something about a relative... lots of names and dates in here, even if they are not in any consistent order or format. I also find it interesting what people paid for what...

When I first looked through this ledger, I wasn't sure how useful it was – but eventually I broke a couple of brick walls, finding people mentioned as “son of”, “wife of” etc. So good luck!

What I know – its a ledger – upstate New York – probably Albany, Rensslaersville, Coeymans, Greenville, Westerlo – in the general area of Albany, Schoharie County, etc... Maybe someone will notice a pattern of names that can help identify the exact community. 

It appears to be a combination of employment records and things sold, and lots of other stuff tossed in for good measure, including sawing occasional planks and a recipe here and there...

I will transcribe and post a few ledger pages on Mondays and hope for the best. I will do the transcription in page order, which means the dates will jump around a bit. Maybe our collective noggins can solve the mystery of where it was (names should help) and who it might have belonged to... So here we go! My notes and running commentary are in brackets...

[The ledger is “hard bound” although coming loose a bit – remarkable condition for almost 200 years. Inside front cover, there is a glued on stamp about the size of a business card, that is affixed to the upper left corner.]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Writing Wednesdays #3: Something Fishy...

A cold and blustery weekend, with ice (and 12" of snow last Thursday & Friday), made for a good "indoors" weekend... so I returned to one of my favorite families, Hans Dreper and Maritie Pieters. Maritie had a reputation for "petty quarreling." [1] She also said what was on her mind, and apparently didn't candy coat her opinions either - a tendency that occasionally placed her in a courtroom. So pigs weren't the only thing that gave Hans and Maritie headaches... on at least one occasion, fish did too!

Maritie evidently had been shopping for herring on a warm spring day (plankton eaters, herrings tend to be plentiful in the cool northern waters from May through August, a time when they are high in fat yet before mating season... the herring were caught in nets and and salt bine-cured in large barrels, sometimes with the addition of spices - the exact recipes were, of course, secret...). With different recipes for curing herring, obviously, herring purchased from one vender or another might be more or less to a given individual's liking.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Book Nook: Beverwijk, by Janny Venema

My Book Nook includes my take on books I have found useful - if not essential - in researching the Dutch Colonial line of my family tree. From time to time, I will post and review some of my favorite books in the Book Nook (as well as some of those I picked up and thought were duds). Like all self-selected lists, my Book Nook is idiosyncratic and reflects my preferences and interests. I should also give you a fair warning - I love books and read several a week (I also don't sleep a lot). Some books I plan to review here in the Book Nook are very old and no longer in print, but a review may help you to determine if you want to go to the effort of finding the book on interlibrary loan. Other books may just have been released. I have amassed a vast collection over the years; some books I have found useful and some not so useful. But enough... on to the book for the edition of the Book Nook.

BEVERWIJK: A DUTCH VILLAGE ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER, 1652 TO 1654 (by Janny Venema, State University of NY Press, Albany, 2003).

    I found this book to be an absolute treasure. So now that we have that out of the way, some details. Based on her doctoral dissertation, Ms Venema presents a fascinating view of quite a cross section of the lives of the settlers of this outpost "upriver" on the Hudson. As only a dissertation can do, she looks at vast a number of aspects concerning the lives of the settlers that are hard, if not impossible, to find in a single volume. 

For example, Ms. Venema takes the reader through the building of the settlement, how the village was laid out and land distributed, how the settlers dealt with poverty amongst their neighbors, their educational system, the Orphan Masters, medical care, and slavery, to name just a few. In each area she covers, Ms Venema provides background information, as well as rich detail. She incorporates snippets of information on the various settlers - great and small - to demonstrate her points. These snippets on the settlers provide a priceless view of many of the settlers, utilizing the skills of a detailed and meticulous researcher. It is these details that may help you fill out your own family history, and possibly find someone who has been "missing".

Many books of this type are a rather dry recounting of facts and statistics. While Ms Venema provides a strong dose of statistics and numbers, she also adds what is missing in so many other volumes: the context - the backdrop against which the settlers of Beverwijk played out their petty quarrels and experienced their triumphs. Ms. Venema also explores key professions, such as blacksmiths, bakers, brewers and tavern keepers. Rather than merely highlighting these categories of workers, you will find detailed tables telling you who did what and when, allowing you to trace your ancestors and their economic endeavors across time.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

(my) Writing Wednesdays #2

Or also known as: How I am trying to write a family history even my grandkids will want to read 
Just what stage of my writing am I at? I hope I am beyond procrastination... and that I will move things towards fruition rather quickly this year. BUT! It wouldn't make me feel very happy if my kids and grandkids took snoozers while reading my great tome (or worse yet, quit and went to play a video game). I can't just gin out the facts or the snoozer route is a definite possibility here. My solution is to provide some context "up front." Without context, it is really hard to imagine what is going on...

Imagine for a minute that I am describing a task to you that I want you to complete. I say, "It really is simple. First you get everything together in one place. Then you separate everything into different groups, unless there isn't much, in which case just one group will do. Although generally it is best to do fewer at a time, or you can end up making expensive mistakes. And really, the end of this task seems to never be in sight. Once the task is finished for the time being, however, you have to arrange everything into different groups again and then put them in their correct place." 

Not a particularly clear set of instructions, is it?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moving right along...

It has been a bit of a busy week, but so far I am keeping with my resolution pace of at least four hours a week on the family history. I am still "detailing" the chapter on Pieter Stoutenburgh and Aefje van Tienhoven. By today's standards, they were quite the bunny rabbits (figuratively speaking) with at least nine children baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church. It appears, however, that the majority of their children did not survive childhood - perhaps that was one reason why Pieter worked for the OrphanMasters and even took in an orphan or two now and then.
  • Enjeltje [Angelica] was baptized 20th August 1651. Rachel van Tienhoven, Aeltje's sister-in-law, is listed as the baptismal sponsor. Unfortunately, Enjeltie lived only a year, dying before sometime before 1652. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's COLD in them thar hills!

It has been soooo cold! I sometimes claim that I left Minnesota after my first year on the job there it snowed eighteen inches on Halloween – and I am only half joking. I really hate being cold. Okay, that is Part 1 (stay with me on this). Part 2 is that I realized I never delivered on my I might turn to Willem Abrahamse Tietsoort and his battle with a bear on Manhattas (Manhattan),” in my earlier posting (New Years Eve). So just keep those “Parts” in mind as you struggle hopelessly to find the common thread in today's post. 

Willem & the Bear (via some background information) 
Abraham Willemszen and Aechtje Jans had a son, Willem Abrahamse Tietsort, who was born in 1648 and baptized 2nd August of that year in Nieuw Amsterdam.i Abraham, who was a carpenter, was tragically killed in a duel on 12th November 1649. He died on the 13th,ii leaving his 18 month old son and a pregnant wife. His wife remarried the widower, Pieter Casparszen van Naerden sometime between 1649 and 1652 (when her first child with Pieter Casparszen was born). Essentially our Willem was raised by his stepfather. One can imagine that Pieter took his new role to heart, and raised the boy as his own, teaching him the “manly” arts of hunting and fishing. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

(my) Writing Wednesdays, #1

Or also known as: how I am trying to write a family history even my grandkids will want to read
I have been collecting information for about 15 - 20 years now, but the detail work on the family history just never seems quite cooked (or I may have convinced myself to believe that because the task ahead is so daunting!). However, consistent with my New Years resolution for 2011, I decided I had better start writing. Now. As in today... I was waiting to dot every "i" and cross every "t", but I wasn't getting any information "out there" for my kids and grandkids. Quite simply, with a few thousand names I was working on (including siblings, etc.), I was overwhelmed. And I do have a day job. So before sitting down to write, I had to figure out how to divide my task into workable "chunks" (and then recognize that I might occasionally be issuing "supplements" for family members as new information become available - let's get realistic here). 

At this point, my first step was to find a good organizing theme. Although I could start "in the beginning" and organize from greatest grandparent forward, even I find this a bit tedious and at times downright confusing to be readling and simultaneously trying to keep track of everyone. I could also start "at the end"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Relaxed - kind of...

Well, in the brief hiatus I spent some time in a log cabin with no TV. Yes, boys and girls, you heard me right - there was no television set. Much like our ancestors, we had to make due with a variety of parlor games. So I got to thinking, what type of parlor games did the settlers of New Amsterdam play, assuming they had the time? So I did what any red blooded 21st century person would do - I googled it! What I found really interesting is that the game of Double Dutch - which is now a competitive varsity sport in New York's public schools - (you know the one - two jump ropes) was probably played by the people who lived in New Amsterdam at the time of the Castello Map.  If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself by clicking Double Dutch