The following is from the New Netherland Register, Volume I, Special Number No. 6, Pioneers and Founders of New Netherland, The Vosburgh Family, by Royden Woodward Vosburgh.
The name of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh appears in the records, as a settler in the colony of Rensselaerswyck as early as August in the year 1649; beginning with Easter in 1651, he paid rent to the Patroon of 16 florins a year for a house lot, north of the Patroon's house. In the "Oath to the Patroon taken by all the householders and free men of the Colonie, November 23, 1651," we find among the names, Abraham Pietersz Vosburg. On April 15, 1652, he was given permission by the Court to continue building his house, notwithstanding the location. On the same day, Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh and Derrick Janssen were appointed surveyors of buildings: they were sworn in two days later. The duties of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh as surveyor of buildings also appear to have included the surveying of land; he held this office up to 1654 and probably later. He was by trade a carpenter; and he contracted with the authorities to build the first bridges at Beverwyck.
On March 17, 1654, a warrant was issued to the treasurer, "in favor of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh, carpenter," to the amount of 200 florins, for building two bridges. On May 19, 1654, he was fined for not finishing the bridge over the Second Kil. That he experienced difficulty in completing his contract is shown in the Court Minutes, for on May 30, 1654, he stated that work on the bridge over the Third Kil would be begun in eight days. Further difficulties in the completion of the work took place in June, and he was compelled to employ Andries De Vos as his attorney to protect his interests. On September 2, 1654, a warrant was issued to the treasurer, "in favor of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh for his work on the two bridges in Beverwyck." But this did not settle the matter by any means, because as late as May 1, 1655, the Court granted him delay in paying his fines for not completing the work on time.
Through his occupation as carpenter and bridge builder, Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh became a sawmill operator and owner. Hans Jansz Enchuys, or Hans Jansz from Rotterdam, conducted several sawmills in the colony. On September 30, 1656, Hans Jansz and Abraham Pietersz Vosburch obtained a lease of the water power on the creek south of the farm of Jan Barentsz Wemp. The lease commenced January 1, 1657, and ran for six successive years; rent, 100 guilders or 100 good merchantable boards and two pair of fowls each year. A condition of the lease was that the lessees were not to sell liquor to the Indians. A sawmill was erected on the creek, which was in later years known as Wynant's Kil. Hans Jansz was more or less of a silent partner in this enterprise; at least his name never appears again in the records in connection with it. On August 26, 1658, Abraham (Pietersen) Voschborgh brought a suit against Wynant Gerritsen (Van Der Poel); he complained about Wynant Gerritsen's absence from the sawmill and that he had not put in his full time at work there, according to their contract; the case was referred to arbitrators for settlement.
On January 29, 1657, Abraham Pieterse Vosburgh proposed to sell his house and lot in Beverwyck to the highest bidder. The lot was 10 rods deep and 4 rods wide; it was next to Thomas Clabbort's (Chambers) lot. This paper is imperfect and unexecuted and there is no evidence that a sale was made, but it is important as it shows that Thomas Chambers was his neighbor, this being the Thomas Chambers who was one of the early settlers at Esopus (Wildwyck or Kingston).
The last events in the life of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh are found in the documents relating to the early history of the Esopus settlement. After a hostile demonstration by the Esopus Indians, Director Stuyvesant visited the place in the month of June, 1658. The following is from his journal covering the visit: "Four carpenters came also on the 18th engaged by Mrs. de Hulter to remove her house, barns and sheds (within the stockade) and on the 19th three more, whom I had asked and engaged at Fort Orange to make a bridge over the Kil. They were also to help the others remove their buildings, for which they had asked me before my departure for Fort Orange."
While there is no mention of the name of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh at this time, there is a strong supposition that he was among the carpenters that came from Albany; this is strengthened by the fact that Director Stuyvesant went to Albany from Esopus "as we were much in need of a few five and six inch planks for building a guard-house and some carpenters to help us at our work," according to his journal. (See suit brought by Geertruy Vosburgh, in 1661, for payment of boards delivered at Wildwyck.) The outlying settlers withdrew within the stockade for better protection, and no further severe encounters with the Indians took place until September, 1659. The documentary history of what transpired in that month is somewhat obscure; the facts, however, as far as they relate to Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh, are definite and clear enough to admit of no doubt.
Thomas Chambers engaged eight Esopus Indians to break off corn-ears for him, while he was gathering his crops for the winter. On Saturday, after the day's work, he unwisely gave them a quantity of brandy, probably as a reward for good service during the week. The Indians retired a short distance away, and after drinking the brandy they became noisy and quarrelsome; the supply being exhausted, they tried to obtain more brandy from Chambers, but were unable to do so. The debauch continued well on into the night, and after a time soldiers were sent out from the fort to ascertain the cause of the disturbance. When the reconnoitering party approached the Indians, for some unexplained reason they became alarmed (possibly by the rustling of the bushes in the wind) and thinking that they were being attacked, they fired upon the drunken savages and one of the Indians was killed. As a direct result of this ill-advised and apparently unprovoked night attack, Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh lost his life. The Esopus Indians, always warlike and troublesome, were quick to revenge themselves upon the settlers. The next morning, Sunday, they began to make threatening demonstrations, and a dispatch was prepared to be sent up the river to Albany, to notify the Vice-Director of the turn affairs had taken. After dispatching the letter to the General, on a yacht hired for the purpose, by Jacob Jansen Stoll and Thomas Clabbert, the escort party while returning to the Fort were surprised by the Indians, and "at the tennis-court near the strand they allowed themselves to be taken prisoners."
There were thirteen men in the party that was captured. The Sergeant with five soldiers: Thomas Clabbert; Jacob Jansen Stoll, (or Jacob Hab) who was badly wounded; "a carpenter, Abraham by name"; Pieter Dircks and his man; Evert Pelt's (Pels') boy; and Lewies the Frenchman, who was killed. In a letter from Vice-Director La Montagne to Director Stuyvesant, dated September 6, 1659, he states that the capture took place "at the Esopus last Sunday the 21st inst. about two o'clock the afternoon" and in the list of those captured, the name Abraham Vosburgh appears in the place of Abraham, the carpenter.
The next day, Thomas Clabbert was exchanged for a savage, and one soldier escaped during the night, leaving ten in captivity. An account of certain Catskill Indians, giving their story of the origin of the affair is without date, but states that: "Thomas Chambers is free again, have been cut in the head with a hatchet, one has been shot dead, the Sergeant is still living with two others." It is probable that the prisoners who were scalped were put to death shortly after their capture one historian says that they were "burned at the stake," but I have not found the documentary evidence to support this statement, and it seems unlikely that Stuyvesant would have let such an outrage as this pass unmentioned in his dispatches. A letter to Director Stuyvesant from Ensign Smidt of the garrison at Esopus, dated November 1, 1659, states that as a result of the good efforts of two "Mahikander" Indians, two prisoners were returned to the Fort "on the first of this month." They were a soldier named Pieter Lamertzen, and a free man named Pieter Hillebrantzen. Again in a letter from Ensign Smidt to Vice-Director La Montagne, dated November 13, 1659, he says: "it is true we have got back two prisoners, but they keep the boy yet and have killed all the others." The boy of Evert Pels was still in captivity as late as February 24, 1660. According to tradition, his life was saved by an Indian maiden whom he afterwards married, and it is said that he refused to be exchanged or ransomed.
The letter from Ensign Smidt reporting the uprising of the Indians at Esopus, gives the date of the capture as September 20th. But according to the calendar September 21st was Sunday, and the last date is undoubtedly correct. September 21, 1659, is also assumed to have been the date of the death of Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh, as it cannot have been more than a few days from that, in any event.
Although Abraham Pietersen Vosburgh met his death in the prime of manhood, and probably when under the age of forty years, his family was not destined to become extinct. The task of raising his three sons, who became progenitors of the thousands bearing the name Vosburgh in this country fell to his widow, Geertruy Pieterse, a sister of Barent Pieterse Coeyman, the miller of Norman's Kil. The story of her life as it comes down to us is gleaned principally from the Fort Orange Court records. Her name appears before the Court many times, both as plaintiff and defendant. The causes of the suits are often trivial and many of them are not alluded to here; Geertruy was perhaps too zealous in preserving her rights, and in so doing she seems to have made more enemies than friends. The life of the early settlers was not an easy one under the most favorable conditions. She was left a widow with four or five small children, all under the age of ten years; she had to fight her way with this burden in a community where hard manual labor was almost the sole means of livelihood. Her husband's estate consisted of a partnership in the sawmill at Wynant's Kil with Wynant Gerritsen Van der Poel, which was more or less encumbered with outstanding accounts, some being assets and some being liabilities. Her husband kept a book of accounts to which reference is made in one of her suits in the Kingston Court records. As she was robbed of the sheltering arm of a husband, it is not surprising that Geertruy resorted often to the Courts as her only means of protection.
She did not marry again within a year or two as was usually the custom with the early settlers, but remained a widow for nearly ten years and fought her battles unaided. Her second marriage, with Albert Andriessen Bratt, was short-lived and ended in divorce. . . . After her divorce, Geertruy continued to use the name Vosburgh; in fact, as far as the evidence in the records is concerned, it is probable that she never used the name Bratt at any time. This whole unfortunate matrimonial venture can hardly have occupied more than a year and a half.
Translations of two court actions follow. While the events are of trivial importance, they still throw an interesting light on the everyday occurrences in the lives of the early settlers at Kinderhook.
July 5, 1681. Pr. Borsie, from Kinderhook, plaintiff, vs. Geertruy Vosburgh, defendant. Plaintiff says that defendant has accused his wife of theft of her chickens and that she has proofs of it (the accusation). Defendant says that some of her chickens remain with the plaintiff (that is to say, Geertruy's chickens are in the plaintiff's yard) but, he denies having accused her of theft. The Hon. Court, having heard the case, threw it out of court, as being too unimportant to be dealt with, and condemns both parties to pay the costs.
September 5, 1682. Andries Jacobse Gardenier, plaintiff, vs. Geertruy Vosburgh, defendant. Plaintiff complains that one of his pigs has been bitten to death on the land of Geertruy Vosburgh and that her land lies open unfenced. Plaintiff asks for damages. Defendant denies that she has caused his pig to be bitten to death and says that her land is not open. The Court orders that the plaintiff's demand be dismissed as there is no proof. Plaintiff to pay the costs.
Both these cases show that Geertruy was a woman of sharp wits and well able to look out for herself, when appearing in court. She had evidently profited by her long experience in other cases, and had learned most of the legal tricks.
The closing years of Geertruy Vosburgh's life were spent at Kinderhook, surrounded by the families of her sons, whom she saw become men of affairs in that community, and in their success in life she must have felt that her early struggles and trials were well repaid.
It seems certain that Jacob Vosburgh was the first one of the second generation to become married, and his eldest son, Abraham, must have been the first grandchild of Geertruy Vosburgh. He set up an establishment for himself at Kinderhook, when he leased from Louwrens Van Alen, on May 7, 1678, a farm and one-half of an island occupied by Pieter Moree. The lease ran for six years; the homestead, which consisted of a house, barns and two haystacks, was surrounded by a fence, valued at 31 whole merchantable beaver skins at 8 guilders the piece. His name was affixed to the lease as Jacob Abrahamse Vosburgh, and his mark, made by himself appears as I A V B. This lease fixes approximately the date of his marriage to Dorothea Janse Van Alstyne.
From 1677 to 1682, a number of unimportant suits appear in the court records, bearing his name; most of the suits were brought against him for debt. On June 12, 1677, Gerrit Teunissen sued Geertruy Vosburgh, for debt due by her son, Jacob Vosburgh. On the same day, Jacob Vosburgh sued Gerrit Teunise, for the expenses of a trip to Wostenhoock, probably by way of a counterclaim. On August 24, 1681, he sold a negro named Terk, to Dierck Hermensz for 37 beaver skins payment to be completed by May 1, 1682. On August 6, 1683, he contributed to the support of the new minister at Albany, Dominie Godfridus Dellius, "one and one half pieces of eight." On the contribution list, his name appears just below the name of his mother, Geertruy,--another proof of his early marriage and indicating that he was the head of a family. On July 16, 1681, Jacob Vosburgh bought from Marten Cornelise Vas, "a bouwery at Kinderhook" consisting of the one-fourth part of the Groote Stuck, containing a house and barn, and also the plow and harrow on the premises. At the time of the purchase, this farm was occupied by Pieter Bosie whose tenancy did not expire until May 1, 1682. Jacob Vosburgh agreed to deliver the winter wheat sown by Pieter Bosie, one-half to Marten Cornelisen (Vas) and the remainder to Bosie. This was the same Pieter Borsie who sued Geertruy about the chickens.
On January 4, 1681, Jacob Abrahamse Vosburgh appeared in court at Albany and took the oath as Constable of Kinderhook, for one year or until further orders; he was authorized to demand from Jochem Lambertse, his predecessor, "the constable staff and the instructions." He held this office until May 5, 1685, when he was relieved from the duties, with the thanks of the Court for his services and "Dirck Hendricks Bye, elected by the majority of the inhabitants of Kinderhook, was sworn in as constable, entering service immediately."
At some time between 1685 and 1697 he removed to Livingston Manor, where he was one of the first settlers. The house of Jacob Vosburgh appears upon a map of Livingston Manor, made on the 20th day of October, 1714, by John Beatty, deputy surveyor. It was situated on the bank of Roeloff Jansen's kil, about five or six miles southeast of the manor house, near a point where the road leading to the manor house crossed the kil. Huntting's history of the Nine Partners tract states that "Justin Vosburg" was with Mr. Livingston and Beatty when the line for the southern boundary of the Manor was surveyed. In some way the name "Justin" has been copied for "Justice," which is probaby the way the name appears in the field book of the survey. On June 6, 1722, the Grand Jury of Albany County sent in their presentment against Jacob Vosburgh, Esq., for giving a judgment which was not in his powery concerning a cow--the property of John Bernhard. This transaction undoubtedly took place in Livingston Manor, which was taken off from Dutchess County and annexed to Albany County in the year 1717. It is evident from the presentment that Jacob Vosburgh was a Justice in the year 1722.
On July 4, 1722, Jacob Vosburgh was elected one of the Elders of the Linlithgo church, and he was installed on the following day. He held this office until his death. On October 15, 1732, Coenrat Ham was installed as an Elder there "in the place of the deceased Jacob Vosburgh." Thus approximately the date of his death is determined; he was about eighty years of age at the time. Jacob Vosburgh was the progenitor of by far the largest branch of the Vosburgh family; in the early generations his descendants remained principally near where he settled, that is on Livingston Manor and in upper Dutchess County.
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