Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ancestor Stories: Thomas Webster and Simon Janse Van Aersdalen

House built in 1670 when Thomas was in MA. Photo from Wikipedia.
Thomas Webster was the 4th son of Governor John Webster of the Connecticut Colony.  Thomas settled in Northampton, Massachusetts, but remained near Hartford, Connecticut for some time. In 1670, he was indicted with Edward Scott at Springfield for defaming the Sabbath by traveling with their carts the night before the first Sabbath of the month of September, coming to Westfield from Hartford, it being after midnight before they ended their travel. Soon afterwards Thomas settled in Northfield. In 1675, Northfield was attacked by Indians, and the settlement broken up. Driven back by the Indians, Thomas made Hadley his home for awhile. In 1677, he was freed from his military training due to a problem with his eye. In 1679, he swore allegiance again at Hadley. When the Indian disturbances and King Philips War ended he returned to Northfield where he died. His will was filed in 1686 in Northampton. His widow was Abigail, daughter of George Alexander of Northampton, and she died before 1690. In 1690, a second Indian devastation rendered the Northfield property worthless for several years. Their seven children lived with the Alexanders and other relatives, locating in later years in Lebanon, Connecticut becoming “first settlers”. The seven children were Abigail (died an infant), Abigail, George, John, Elizabeth, Thankful, and Mary. Contributed by Ella Mabie with source from "History and Genealogy of the Gov. John Webster Family of Connecticut," By William Holcomb Webster & Rev. Melville Reuben Webster, Rochester, New York, E. R. Andrews Printing Company, 1915.

"Main Street" for the province, the Noort Rivier, was one of the three main rivers in New Netherland. In maritime usage, North River is still the name for that part of the Hudson between Hudson County and Manhattan. Photo from Wikipedia.
Simon Janse Van Aersdalen
was a potter living in Amsterdam when, at age 25, the Dutch government asked him to go to New Amsterdam to see if it was possible to build a pottery business/industry in the new world.  Leaving his wife and two young children in Amsterdam, he arrived in New Amsterdam in 1653.  Four years later he was preparing to return to Amsterdam when he received word that his wife and children had died - victims of the plague.  His parents had also died since he had left Holland, and he decided to stay in New Amsterdam.   
     In 1658 he married Pieterje Claese Van Schouw in Flatlands, and they started their family a year later.  Once married, there is little evidence that he pursued his original craft, pottery, but it is known that he turned his attention to things civic, religious, and acquiring land.  He was first appointed a Magistrate 3 May 1660 and held the position in 1661 and 1686. He represented Amersfoort at the "Convention Holden at New Amsterdam," 13 July 1663. He was a member of the Provincial Congress in1668. He was a member of the Dutch Church in 1677 and a Deacon in 1686.    Following the transfer of New Amsterdam from Holland to the United Kingdom, he took the Oath of Allegiance to Great Britain 30 Sep 1687, and was a freeholder in 1698.  Starting in 1665, he began acquiring land, which he continued to do through 1686.  During this period he and Pieterje had five more children, two boys and three girls. By the time he signed the Oath of Allegiance, he had been in this country for 34 years, and “had become prosperous and an outstanding member of the religious and civic community”.     
     A census taken in 1698 for Kings County, New York listed Simon’s house as containing 2 men, 3 women, and 1 slave.  The other man was his son, Jan, then 22 years of age.  In 1700 Simon sold three 15 acre lots to his oldest son, Cornelis.  The last record of Simon’s good deeds was in February 1710; a note in the Deacon’s Book of the Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church shows that the largest sum, 40 guldens, was donated by Simon.  Simon died in October of that year, when he was 83 years old.  It is believed that all Van Arsdales (Van Osdols, Van Ardalens) in America are descended from Simon. Contributed by Jean Hart with sources from "The register of the New Jersey Society of the Colonial Dames of America," By National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of New Jersey;and Excerpt from "Six Hundred Years of Van Arsdale Family History" by Charles R. Vanorsdale, 1997.

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