August 25, 2013

Van Kouwenhoven – A New Beginning


Wolfert Gerritsen Van Kouwenhoven was born in the tiny Dutch village of Kouwenhoven, Province of Utrect, near Amersfoort in 1584. He married Neeltje (Cornelia) Jansen, Jan 17 1605 in the Dutch Reformed Church in Amersfoort.
Wolfert farmed with his father. He had no education and signed his name with a stylized capital "A" indicating he was from Amersfoort. Leading up to 1624 farm land was getting very scarce and unrest with the Hapsburgs was getting worse. The Hapsburgs were former Dutch rulers.
In 1624 he signed with The Dutch West India Company for 5 years to farm land in America. So in April 1625,at age 41, Wolfert Gerritsen Van Kouwenhoven took his wife, Neeltje, his three living sons and left Holland for America .His sons were Gerrit age 15, Jacob age 13, and Pieter age 10. They left on the "de Eendracht" the fourth boat load to leave Holland.
What a difficult decision this must have been. They left the only world they knew and left all their families, their friends, their home, their possessions and went into an unknown world with unknown challenges. After surviving more than 2 months at sea, they landed on Manhattan Island sometime around the end of June beginning of July 1625. Initially they were given Bouwerie #3 and later to Bouwerie #6 on lower Manhattan.
Wolfert was made "bouwmeester"(head farmer), which meant he would be "in charge" and earn 10% more. Neeltje dealt in the fur trade.
Jan 12 1632 signed a contract with Kiliaen Van Renesselaer to manage both Renesselaerswyck and Manhattan Island. In 1653 he was sent by the colony to the States-General in the Netherlands as a Commissioner. In 1654, he served as a Schepen on Nieuw Amsterdam and in 1657 was made a Burgher, (Townsman).He served on the citizens Council of Eight Men.
Son Gerrit farmed with his father and pioneered farmland in The Flats also called Nieuw Amersfoort, (Flatbush), Breuckelen, (Brooklyn), and Lange Eylandt, (Long Island). This provoked the Indians as they thought the Dutch were expanding into their territory. The Van Kouwenhovens moved back to Nieuw Amsterdam (Manhattan). He was Capt of the Burghers Guard.
Jacobs served as Capt LT in Stuyvesant’s Dutch Army. He was selected to The Council of 9 Men in 1647, the first permanent popularly elected representation body in the colony. He was one of the first Burghers of Nieuw Amsterdam, sat on the Court of Arbiitrators and was Delegate of New Netherlands to The Hague in Holland. Owned a brewery in Nieuw Amsterdam.
Pieter was one of the first magistrates of New Amsterdam, was member of the Schepens Court was Surveyor General of the colony, was delegate from New Amsterdam to the Convention of 1 643 was Lt on the Esopus War and signer of the peace treaty with the Esopus Indians in 1664, and was an interpreter for the Algonquin Indians. Owned a brewery and a tavern in Nieuw Amsterdam.
Some Interesting Facts
Van Kouwenhoven surname was Suype also spelled Sube, or Zuben.or Supe. Wolfert took the name of an old estate where they lived in Holland.
There was no letter "C" in the pure Dutch alphabet. Names known by in America; Van Couwenhoven, Couwenhoven, Cownnover,Covenover, Covenhoven, Coven over, Counover, and the first referenced that I found for Conover was 1774 in records of Egg Harbor, NJ.
Notable decendents: Both Roosevelt U.S. Presidents (51hgeneration), Cardiology pioneer William B Kouwenhoven, actor Mike Douglas.
Namesakes: Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, Kouwenhoven Lane, Brooklyn
The Van Kouwenhoven line has served in every war America was involved with from the French and Indian war to present.
Lorraine Smith