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. 

Unlike Davy Crocket, we don't know whether or not Willem “kilt him a bar when he was only three,” under the tutelage of his stepfather. But we do know that when Willem was about fifteen, he had an encounter with a bear that ended up in a Court dispute (luckily, or otherwise we wouldn't know about it). 

On 13th November 1663, Willem's mother sued Cornelius Jansen van Hoorn on behalf of her son. According to the suit, Willem had been out hunting on an island and shot a bear. While he was attempting load the dead bear into his boat, van Hoorn came by and claimed that since he (van Hoorn) had been chasing the bear that Willem shot, that he was entitled to half the meat. Not only that, but he forced Willem to “toss up” (something like flipping a coin?) to determine who would get the skin. 

van Hoorn won the toss so took the skin. But fairness prevailed and the Court ruled that the Willem was entitled to the skin. We can imagine that when all the proper steps were taken (I have no idea how you prepare a bear skin), that Willem used that old bear skin to keep warm in front of a fire on cold winter nights, sipping a cup of hot buttered rum. 

Which, of course, brings me to a recipe for hot buttered rum mix. I have had the recipe for this mix for over twenty-five years (o-my-gosh, that is a quarter of a century!). I got it from a friend who lived down the block (Gerry Kennedy – I have no idea where she got it), and have given it a small embellishment or two. It is really yummy, and can be made with rum flavoring for kids and other small creatures. Enjoy!

Hot Buttered Rum Mix:
   1 pound dark brown sugar
   1 pound confectionary sugar
   ½ pound room temperature butter (real)
   1 quart soft French vanilla ice cream (top quality)
   toffee chips (toffee bars that you have hit several times with a hammer)
   cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc.

Mix all ingredients together and keep in freezer in a tightly covered container. Great to have on hand for the winter and holidays. 

To serve, mix 2+ tablespoons of the mix with one jigger of dark rum (I like the "pre-spiced" type) and enough boiling water to fill to the top of a drinking mug, mixing to dissolve. Add a cinnamon stick stirrer and top with unsweetened whipped cream and a sprinkle of fresh grated nutmeg if desired, as well as some "toffee chips".

By the way, I was unable to find in the records who it was that killed Abraham in the duel and what the duel was about. Does anyone know or have a source?

i     Dutch Church Records: 2 Aug; Abrham Willemszen; Willem; Jan Willemszen Van Amsterd., Jan Dirckszen Van Amsterdam, Grietie Hermans, Mary Geeraer
ii    The Colony of New Netherland: a Dutch colony in seventeenth-century America, by Jaap Jacobs, page 59.   


  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  2. Thanks, Bill - so far I have found it useful - and will do on the ancestor tidbits!