| || Notes for Catherine* Lothie:|
Register of the Early Settlers of Kings County, Long Island New York
PRAA or PRAT, PIETER, (or PIERRE PRAT,) a Huguenot from Dieppe in Franc e, as per Brn ch. rec.; emigrated in 1659 with w. and family, residi ng at first in N. A. and afterwards settling in Buk. He m. Catharine d au of Abm Lothie, who after his death m. June 10, 1663, Joost Casparse Spr ingsteen. He d. Mar. 6, 1663, at Cripplebush, Brn. See p. 322 of Vo l. 2 of Stiles's Brn. Aug. 26, 1659, Derick Janse agreed to convey to "Pie rre Prat" for 300 gl. a bouwery with house and barn at Gowanus, between t he lands of Teunis Nyssen (Denyse) and Jan Pietersen Staats, as p er p. 6 of Lib. B of Flh rec. No evidence of this agreement being consumma ted. Issue:--Peter Junr; Adam, bp. Feb. 6, 1660, in Brn, d. Feb. 8, 166 0; Abraham, bp. Mar. 5, 1662, in Brn; and Annatie, who m. Jan Jansen. Sign ed his name "Pierre Prat."
HISTORY OF FLATBUSH
Brooklyn Standard Union
August 27, 1928
Flatbush avenue, at Church, is one of the liveliest spots in the city.Cl ean, up-to-date, hustling, any city would be proud to point it out as o ne of its attractive corners.Two important street car lines intersect
there; a few blocks away is an important station on the BMT, and in the op posite direction is an important station of the IRT subway.
On one side of the street, on Church avenue west from Flatbush, a fine n ew theatre is being built, while across the way, on the east side of Flatb ush avenue, another theatre has been in operation for fourteen years.Opp osite the older theatre is one of the best known and most popular restaura nts, not
only in Brooklyn but in New York.Along Church avenue, for several bloc ks [ea]st of Flatbush, are attractive shops and restaurants, including [ne ]at little tea rooms, while on the side streets are some of the most attra ctive apartment houses in the city.
Altogether a bright, lively, hustling city scene any time of the year a nd any time of the day or night.Especially attractive is the scene duri ng the school year when the thousands of boys and girls who go to Erasm us Hall High School crowd the streets, a picture of eager modernity.
Typical Village Church
But in the very heart of this scene of bustling, eager modern life stan ds a monument to the past.On the southwest corner of Flatbush and Chur ch is a neat little church, quite in the style of village churches everywh ere in this country, surrounded by the inevitable graveyard.The chur ch is manifestly an old building, but neat, clean and strong.It is the w ork of the sturdy Dutchmen who were the pioneers of Brooklyn.As it stan ds it was built in 1796 and the first sermon preached in it was in the Dut ch language by Domini Schoonmaker.
But the building of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church as it stands tod ay is not the first church on that spot.It is the successor to a chur ch that was built in 1702 and which in turn is successor to one that was b uilt in 1654 by special order of Gov. Peter Stuyvesant.The Reformed Prot estant Dutch Church
is still in active operation after a long and illustrious history going ba ck to the very dawn of white settlement on Long Island.It is the pare nt church on all Long Island and for many years was the only one.
Built in 1654
In 1633 a church had been established in New Amsterdam and the residen ts of Long Island had to make a long, tedious and often dangerous journ ey for divine worship.In 1651 what is now Flatbush began to be settled a nd in 1654 the peppery Governor ordered that a church be established ther e.For a long time
it was the only house of worship for the men and women of Midwout, Breuckl en and Amersfoort.Lest you wonder whether the communities as named a re in the province of ??ornrecht, Maasrecht or Dronin??n, let us hast en to add that they are better known as Flatbush, Brooklyn and Flatlands.
The second church building played na illustrious part in the Revolution, t he church bell often being rung to herald the approach of the British troo ps before the capture of the town in August, 1776.
As recently as twenty and even ??teen years ago the Reformed Protestant Du tch Church seemed to be quite in place.Surrounded by the busy life of t he city, there were about it nevertheless plenty of comfortable, leisurely -looking houses with fine lawns and shaded with trees, principally in Chur ch avenue.But all that has changed.The church now stands alone amid t he hurry of the city, a memory of the past.
Pioneers Buried There
The graveyard is particularly interesting.Kept in immaculate order, as w ould be expected from the orderly Dutchmen who established it and have ke pt it, not a stone has fallen.But most of the inscriptions are indeciphe rable, after centuries of buffeting by storm and wind.Almost illegibl e, the fine old Dutch names are occasionally visible.A few of the inscri ptions, still vaguely legible, are in Dutch.
The lawn is laid out beautifully.There are no more mounds over the coffi ns of the long-dead Dutch pioneers, but the grass is green and well kep t, and signs warn one not to trespass.It is so quite and peaceful th at it is hard to imagine that one is standing in a community of the dead s urrounded by the clamor of a very live city.
Off to the side is the new church house, completed in 1924, a fine old bri ck and limestone building, looking for all the world like a college hal l.In the basement you can hear the shouts of youth playing games in t he gym, and you more than half expect to see boys and girls in trick colle ge clothes stroll from the doors laughing and ??ging.
Across the street, on Flatbush avenue, is the splendid building of Erasm us Hall High School, built in 1904.Fronting Flatbush avenue, it looks ou twardly like any one of the magnificent school buildings the city suppli es to its youth, but stroll through the great doors and into the yard, a nd you are again transported into another world.
In the courtyard and completely surrounded by the great modern structure a re the older frame structures of the old Academy.For, unlike the other B rooklyn high schools - or most of them, at least - Erasmus has a histor y.The courtyard of the school is a lovely place, with grass plots, el ms and oaks and poplars, and with the walls of the new building covered wi th ivy.There is a flavor of an old college in
the Erasmus yard, more like a real campus than many of our colleges.
A step from Flatbush avenue, and you are in the old Dutch past of Flatbus h, in the churchyard.Another step, and you are in the ivy-clad, cloister ed halls of Erasmus.
The history of Erasmus Hall dates back to 1786, when the first wooden buil ding was erected.The school, named after the great Dutch scholar Desider ius Erasmus, was founded by a number of Dutch clergymen of Flatbush.It c ontinued as a distinguished institution of learning until about 1899, wh en it was taken over by the city and incorporated into the school syst em as Erasmus Hall High School.
It is a fact forgotten by most Brooklynites that as recent as 1896 Flatbu sh was a separate city, and only in that year did the towns of Flatbush a nd Flatlands become incorporated into the city of Brooklyn, which then f or the first time included all of Kings County.Even today Flatbush is se rved by a water system of its own, artesian wells operated by the Flatbu sh Water Works serving water of a flavor and a hardness
unknown in any other part of the city.
First Inland Settlement
Midwout or Vlacke Bas was the first inland settlement in what is now the t erritory of Brooklyn.It was the fifth settlement in Kings [paper left o ut a line or two] been built in a densely wooded region between 1630 and 1 634.In 1651 Governor Stuyvesant granted a patent to the "indwellers a nd inhabitants of Midwout for a parcel of meadow-land, or valley, lyi ng on the east northeast of the Canarsie Indian planting grounds."The or iginal patentees were Jan SNEDECOR, Arent VAN HATTEN and Johannes MEGAPOLE NSIS.
The early history of Flatbush was filled with boundary disputes with the t own of Amersfoort (Flatlands) and the Rockaway Indians.In 1670, for exam ple, Eskemoppas, Sachem of Rockaway, with his brothers, Kinnarimas and Aha waham, claimed the land on the ground that the Canarsie Indians had no rig ht to grant it.The Flatbush burghers, in order to avoid trouble, paid t he Rockaways again for the land they
It was in 1685 that the boundaries of what was variously called Midwout, V lacke Bos or Flatbush, were definitely fixed by a charter granted by Gover nor Thomas Dengan.Among the fine old Dutch names on the charter are tho se of
Aries Jansen VANDERBILT,
Ditimus Lewis JANSEN.
Names Changed Later
The names of the town - Midwout and Vlacke Bos - mean, in Dutch, the middl e-woods, and the flatlands covered with tresses, or bush.Both names we re used indiscriminately until the beginning of the Eighteenth century, wh en the more English form of Flatbush finally prevailed over Vlackebos or V lacke Bos.
Local government began in 1646 with the selection of a "schout" or "Crime- righter," the first one being Jan TEUNISSEN.There were also local court s, performing minor magisterial functions.With British rule the forms ch anged, but there still were overseers, all of whom had Dutch names.
Flatbush was the scene of some heavy fighting during the Battle of Long Is land in August, 1776, but it was in the British hands from the Independen ce year until 1783, when the war came to a close.
Following the Revolution the town of Flatbush grew slowly and quietly in to a lovely country town, with shaded streets, beautiful homes, schools, c hurches, fire companies, and even local newspapers.It was isolated fr om the main part of Brooklyn, but there were certain problems that h ad to be met, such as the boundaries of Prospect part, some of which enter ed the limits of Flatbush, but all of which was claimed by Brooklyn.
Flatbush was cut off from Brooklyn by long stretches of open country, by t he hill running the entire length of the south side of Eastern parkway, a nd by imperfect transportation.The hill, now one of the most attracti ve residence sections in the Greater City occupied by apartments on Presid ent, Union and Montgomery streets, up to a very few years ago was a desola te wilderness covered by squatters' shacks and inhabited by grazing goats.
Joined Brooklyn in 1896
Only in 1896 did Flatbush, then a lovely country village, incorporate itse lf into the city of Brooklyn, there to remain two years, until the organiz ation of Greater New York.For years Flatbush meant shaded
streets and fine homes: such thoroughfares as Beverly and Cortelyou roa ds being studded with frame mansions of exquisite beauty.
The Brighton Line was a suburban railroad, at first drawn by locomotives f rom Fulton street and Franklin avenue through quiet and seething country s cenery to the open country beyond about Avenue H.
Of course, there are few traces of Flatbush left as it used to be years ag o.Even the old boundaries are forgotten.Today Flatbush, in the popul ar mind, means that section of Brooklyn approximately from Ocean parkw ay to about Schenectady avenue, and from the park to Sheepshead Bay, a mo st unscientific conception.The fine old homes still exist on Beverly ro ad and Cortelyou road, and on Newkirk avenue, as they did thirty years ag o, and the Church avenue car, running from Rockaway avenue to Flatbush, st ill runs through some unoccupied territory.
Landmarks Are Gone
But nearly all the landmarks have gone.The Flatbush Gas Company has lo ng been merged into the Brooklyn Edison, which, in turn, is now merged in to the new billion-dollar city-wide consolidated company.
The Flatbush Water Works maintains its office in a store at Lenox road a nd Flatbush avenue, but it had been taken over by the city.The Bright on Line is an important link in the city-wide transportation
system, with only a shuttle making the delightful trip between the pa rk & Franklin avenue.
All in all, Flatbush is like everything else in New York and Brooklyn, a h ustling, eagerly active, city community, with attractive shops and theatre s, with restaurants, schools and churches, with banks and
libraries, and with a certain mellowness that the old history of the to wn sheds even over the towering apartment houses on Ocean avenue.
- end -
Transcriber :Mimi Stevens
New Yorkers since 1624, the Rapeljes are on a mission to keep their histo ry alive
By Steve Wick
The name of the baby was Sarah.
She was born on June 9, 1625, in a log settlement called Ft. Orange, along side the river named after Henry Hudson. Her birth was a momentous eve nt -- she was the first baby born in the fort, and the first additi on to a tiny Dutch community that went by the ambitious name of New Nether land.
Her parents were Joris Jansen de Rapelje and Catalyntje Trico. The year be fore, the couple had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from the Netherlan ds on board a ship called the Eendracht -- the Unity. After arrivi ng in a great harbor, they had slowly tacked north up the river more th an 130 miles before dropping anchor at the site of the fort.
There, with only a handful of settlers to keep her company, surround ed by an unimaginably vast wilderness inhabited by thousands of Indians, S arah was born.
Years later, when she lived on a farm on Long Island, she was hailed as t he first European child born in the colony that would become New York Stat e. She was given a land grant by Dutch authorities in honor of her pla ce in the colony's history.
"I'm sure she knew all her life she was special," said Peter Rapelje (pron ounced Rap-el-YAY), a 12th generation descendant of Sarah's. "The Unity w as the first ship of Dutch settlers to arrive. There were ships before, b ut they were for explorers and fur traders. Now, families were coming ove r. Joris and Catalyntje had gotten married just before they left the Nethe rlands. In the beginning, they may have had to stay on the ship while F t. Orange was being built."
IN TERMS of European settlement, the Rapeljes are the first family of N ew York. A retired Grumman engineer, 64-year-old Peter Rapelje lives in Gl en Cove and is the keeper of a trove of family records dating to coloni al days that chart the family's history. These records show that with in a year of her birth, Sarah moved with her family to a log fort at the s outhern tip of Manhattan island and, shortly after, to a farm across the h arbor on Long Island. This meant that the Rapeljes were in the first gro up of whites to live on Manhattan, and in the first group to buy land fr om the Indians and move to the settlement that would be called Brooklyn.
Not only are the Rapeljes one of the very first families of Long Island, t hey are one of Brooklyn's last farm families. Hundreds of family record s, plus a collection of glass plate negatives taken in the 1890s by Pet er Rapelje's grandfather, an engineer and amateur photographer, document t he last days of the family's farm in Brooklyn.
"The photographs show the farmhouse, and the barns, and it all looks ve ry rural," Rapelje said. "Yet in some of the pictures you can see tenemen ts and buildings in the background as well as the arrival of the first sub way line. The family farm shrank until there was little left of what it h ad been. The house and the last section were finally sold in 1925 and imme diately built on."
From Sarah's birth at Ft. Orange, to the family's purchase of farmla nd on Long Island in the 1630s, to her brother Jacob's death at the han ds of Indians on Manhattan island during the genocidal Kieft War,through t he American Revolution when a Rapelje was taken prisoner by the Britis h, to Peter Rapelje's work at Grumman during the glory years of the moon l anding -- the generations of the family serve as mileposts in the long ro ad of our history.
New York and its origins.
Legend and Reality.
According to the legend, New Yorkwas founded in 1626 by the Dutch in t he southern part of Manhattan Island.Some schoolbooks, history books, te levision broadcasts - and down to cigarettes makers -even say that the f ounder of New York was named Peter Stuyvesant.
The reality is somewhat different...
It is in May 1624 that the "Nieu Nederlandt", a ship chartered by the We st India Company, arrived in sight ofManhattan Island. The vessel carri ed about thirty Belgian families: most of them were Walloons accompani ed by a few Flemings.
The passengers were soon dispersed: eight men were left at the lower pa rt of Manhattan and erected there a fort -on the site of the present Bat tery Park. Four couples and eight men were sent to the Delaware River, whe re they also built a fort (near the present town of Gloucester, New Jersey ). Two families and six men were sent to the Fresh River (now Connecticut ), where a small fort was built, on the site of the present city of Hartfo rd. About eighteen families remained on the "Nieu Nederlandt" and proceed ed up the Hudson. They finally landed near the present city of Albany (cap ital of the State of New York).
Those first steps in the colonization of this territory were actually t he follow up of a process that started a century earlier.
It is indeed in 1524 that the French expedition led by the Florentine Giov anni Da Verrazzano discovered the New York bay for the first time. King Fr ancis I being at war with Spain, the information was sent to the Record Of fice. During the next tens of years, the Spaniards were almost the only on es who showed interest for the New World and exploited its resources.
In 1555,Charles V abdicated in favor of his son Philip II. His intoleran ce soon brought the Netherlands in the chaos. The Duke of Alba, sent by t he King of Spain, imposed a merciless repression towards the protestant s, in rebellion against the misuses of the Catholic Church.
The excesses of the Inquisitionleaded to a massive emigration of Walloo ns and Flemings to the North of the Netherlands, Sweden, England and Germa ny, to the "Gueux" (beggars) rebellion, and to the secession of the Northe rn Provinces, which took the name of United-Provinces. The southern Provin cesstayed under the yoke of the Spaniards and continued to undergo the p angs of war.
In order to avoid any confusion, it is important to know that in the sixte enth century, the Netherlands covered a partof North of France and Lorra ine, Belgium, Luxembourg and the present Netherlands. Its inhabitants we re called the Belgians, and the maps represented the country in the sha pe of a lion: the "Leo Belgicus".
During the same difficult period, in Antwerp, was born Willem Usselinx. S on of a family active in the spices trading, he was later sent in Spain, P ortugal and the Azores Island for his education. On his return from the Az ores in 1591, Usselinx decided to leave Antwerp for Holland. Knowing how m uch Spain's wealth was coming from the American colonies, he wouldn’t re st until he convinced the Dutchmen to settle colonies in the New Worl d, in order to fight the Spaniards.
Nearly thirty years of stubbornness and efforts were necessary from Will em Usselinx before the West India Company was finally founded in 162 1. It is the one who chartered the "Nieu Nederlandt"...
In 1609, an English sailor named Henri Hudson discovered a great bay wi th a big river flowing into it from the mountains, at a latitude of forty- one degrees north and a longitude of seventy-four degrees west.
Hudson had been entrusted by the Flemings Emmanuel Van Meteren, Judocus Ho ndius and Petrus Plancius to discover a new passage to the land of Tarta rs and to China, on behalf of the East-Indies Company.
While he was exploring the coasts of America on his ship, luck would ha ve him discover, 85 years after Verrazzano, the territory of the future N ew York, together with the river who was going to be called after hi
Jessé de Forest
Jessé de Forest was one of those Walloons who fled the religious persecuti ons. Born in Hainault in 1576, he left his native land and settled in Leyd e, Holland. From that time, he moved heaven and earth to obtain the rig ht to emigrate with his own and other Walloon families to the New World. D uring his stay, he also met English Pilgrims, future passengers of the May flower.
On February 5, 1621, Jessé de Forest sent a petition, written in Frenc h, to Sir Dudley Carleton, ambassador of his Majesty the King of Engla nd in The Hague.It applied for permission to settle in Virginia about fi fty Walloons and French families. Jessé asked to dispose over a territo ry of eight English miles radius. Known as the Round Robin, this docume nt is now preserved in the British Public Record Office.
On August 11, 1621, the Virginia Company gave an agreement in principle, b ut raised some restrictions. The worse one was her refusal to have the set tlers dwell together in one autonomous colony. Jessé declined the proposit ion.
The foundation of the West India Company gave rise to the most clever pl an in the Walloon’s mind.
Proposing his services and those of his fellow countrymen to the Dutch Com pany, Jessé informed her that a group of families practicing various trad eshad the opportunity to emigrate to America, on behalf on the Englis h. Arguing that those colonist should rather be secured for the West Ind ia Company, he wished a quick response,adding that it was a take it or l eave it offer.
The States of Holland, realizing the importance of such an opening for fut ure colonization, immediately consulted the “Bewindhebbers” (Director s) of the Company, who were meeting in The Hague.
On August 27, 1622, after years of efforts delivered by Willem Usselinx a nd Jessé de Forest, the latter finally received the authorization to emigr ate with other families to the West-Indies.
Left on reconnaissance for the coasts of Guyana in 1623, Jessé de Forest d ied on the Oyapok River bank (present borderline between Brazil and Fren ch Guyana), on October 22, 1624.
His daughter Rachel and his sons Isaac and Henri joined New-Belgium ten ye ars later.
From 1615, the region between Virginia and New-England was equally named N ew-Belgium (Novum Belgium, Novo Belgio, Nova Belgica, Novi Belgii) or New- Netherlands.
The name of Belgium refered to the ancient Netherlands, which covered a go od partof the North of France and Lorraine, Belgium, Luxembourg and t he present Netherlands. Its inhabitants were called the Belgians.
Besides, numerous maps from the sixteenth century showed this territory un der the name of Belgium. The latter falled into disuse for the benef it of the Netherlands, and only reappeared in 1789 on the occasion of t he first Belgian revolution.
Several seals of this period remind us that the territories surrounding t he future New York were called New-Belgium. A first seal from 1623, bea rs a beaver - at the time, the trappers were almost the only ones to explo it the country -, encircled by the words "Sigillum Novi Belgii". The se al of the New-Amsterdam from 1654 mention "Sigillum Amstellodamensis in No vo Belgio".
In 1626, Pierre Minuit, governor of New-Belgium, became famous by the purc hase of Manhattan Island. He bought it from the Manhattes Indians in excha nge for glittering beads and other trinkets. The total value was about six ty guilders or $ 24.
Pierre Minuit was a Walloon, born in Ohain, Brabant, who had fled the reli gious persecutions with his family.
Willing to defend the colonists interests, he also distinguished himse lf by the respect shown to those of the Indians. In his opinion, the harmo nious mix and integration of two cultures - even apparently opposed - w as preferable to the pure and simple throwing out of the weakest or so-cal led less civilized one.
Besides, tolerance was not particularly the strong point of the West Ind ia Company. Feudal organization, the latter enforced a series of strict ru les for all colonists wishing to emigrate to New-Belgium: apart from publ ic worship of the reformed religion, the settlers were required to make ex clusive use of the Low-German - the language from which Flemish and Dut ch are originated - in every public act of the colony.
A lot of family names got a Dutch “camouflage”, like Rapalje for Rapail le or Minnewit for Minuit. Other colonists were simply called by the na me of the Dutch city they just left. The American historian Charles W. Bai rd, in his book “History of the Huguenot Emigration to America”, qualifi ed this type of abuse as "Batavian disguise".
The settlers were also forbidden to weave wool or linen, make cloth or a ny other textile, at the risk of being banished or prosecuted as perjurer s. The secret aim was to protect the monopoly for the imports from Hollan d.
The kindly and protective attitude of Pierre Minuit towards the settler s, and the covetousness of a Director from the Dutch company who want ed to impose his nephew as a governor, made that he was called back in 163 2.
The trails of the Walloons and Flemish people in New York are numerous a nd often unknown: the Gowanus Bay for instance, west of Brooklyn, is nam ed after Owanus, latin translation of Ohain, the native village of Pier re Minuit. The Wallabout Bay, north of Brooklyn, is a deformation of the D utch "Waal bocht" (Walloon Bay)
The name Hoboken, well known district of New York, comes from a municipali ty near Antwerp, Flanders. Communipaw, in Jersey City,is the contracti on of Community of Pauw. Michel De Pauw, native of Ghent in Flanders, h ad also bought Staten Island from the Indians in 1630.
As to Peter Stuyvesant, to whom some people absolutely wish to attribute t he paternity of the founding of New York, he only arrived in 1647, th at is twenty-three years after the landing of the first settlers.
On May 20, 1924, for the tercentenary of the founding of New York, a monum ent was erected in honor of the Walloon settlers, on the site of Battery P ark, in the southern part of Manhattan.
A 50 cents silver coin, commemorating the tercentenary of the arrival of t he Walloons was also put into circulation at the same time.
The government of the United States paid also homage to the firstsettle rs with the issuing of 1, 2 and 5 cents postage stamps.
People may ask oneself why the real circumstances wrapping the foundati on of New York remain, even today, almost unknown in the present Belgiu
The schoolbooks and history books are dumb about the subject. Recently, "G énies en herbe" (Green genious), a game organized by the RTBF (Belgian Fre nch-speaking Radio and Television) between different schools, asked to t he candidates who was the founder of New York. The supposedly good answ er was... Peter Stuyvesant. An answer who teaches a lot about the oblivi on into which the ancestors of the participants... and organizers are fall en!
This oblivion can be explained in different ways. There is one who seems p lausible: the founders of New York being Walloons and Flemish protestant s, Belgium being catholic, and the teaching having been for a long time in fluenced by the Catholic Church, one may assume that the latter deliberate ly occulted this period of our history.
After three hundred and seventy-five years, the Walloon and Flemish settle rs doesn’t seem to have gained the forgiveness of the Catholic Church.
Ill feelings are sometimes persistent...
• Description de la Nouvelle Belgique (by Johannes De Laet - 1640)
• Les Belges et la fondation de New York (by Antoine De Smet - from the Ro yal Library of Belgium)
• Les Wallons, fondateurs de New York (by Robert Goffin, Institut Jules De strée)
• Historique de la colonisation de New York par les Belges (by G. Gomme)
• The Belgians, first settlers in New York (by Bayer)
• History of the Huguenot immigration to America (by Charles W. Baird)
• History of the United States of America (by George Bancroft)
• History of the city of New York (by Martha Lamb)
• Narratives of New Netherland (by Franklin Jameson)
• History of the State of New York (by Dr. John Romeyn Brodhead)
• Memorial History of the City of New York (by General James Grant Wilson)
• La part des Belges dans la fondation de l'Etat de New York (by the Du ke of Borchgrave)
• Willem Usselinx (by Michel Huisman, professor at the "Université lib re de Bruxelles")
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