Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Gysbert op den Dyck

Male Bef 1605 -

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  • Name Gysbert op den Dyck  [1, 2
    Birth Bef 25 Sep 1605  [1, 3
    Baptism 25 Sep 1605  St. Willibrord, Wesel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3
    Gender Male 
    Person ID I36853  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of LD, Ancestor of LMW
    Last Modified 10 Jan 2024 

    Father Lodowigh op den Dyck,   b. Abt 1565, of Wesel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Aft 1614 (Age ~ 50 years) 
    Mother Gertrudt van Wesek 
    Marriage Bef 1597  [3
    Family ID F21660  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Katherine Smith,   b. England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Abt 1664 
    Marriage 24 Sep 1643  [1, 4
    +1. Elizabeth Updyke,   b. Bef 27 Jul 1644   d. Between 25 Dec 1712 and 25 Apr 1716, Quidnesset, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location (Age > 68 years)
    Family ID F21659  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 8 Nov 2021 

  • Notes 
    • According to Mary Ross Whitman (citation details below), following the Spanish occupation of Wesel, his family is believed to have gone to Amsterdam. He is said to have arrived in 1630 at Lloyd's Neck, Long Island, from whence he soon went to New Amsterdam. Whitman points out that if these dates are correct, he arrived during the directorship of Peter Minuit, who was himself a native of Wesel.

      From The op Dyck Genealogy, citation details below:

      Came before 1638, to New Amsterdam (New York); there married Catherine Smith, Sept. 24, 1643. Remained among the Dutch in New Netherland until the English capture in 1664. During a great part of these thirty years, was an officer of the Dutch West India Company; Commander of Fort Hope, Commissary, one of the Eight Men, Marshal, Tithe-Commissioner, frequently sat in the Council, and assisted in making Indian treaties. Owned a residence on Stone Street, N.Y., the whole of Coney Island (part of which bore his name), a farm at Hempstead and another at Cow Neck, Long Island.

      Gysbert signed his name op d Dyck in his two autograph signatures which have come down to us, Jan. 25, 1644, and Aug. 19, 1649; the same form of signature to his deposition on the Hempstead records at Roslyn, April 3, 1659, is probably also in his own hand. This is the very form in which his father's name was written at the baptism of Gysbert in Wesel. The Pastor at Wesel informs us that this d always stood for den, thus making the op den Dyck which Gysbert's ancestors had been called in Wesel since 1283, and probably earlier. The Dutch Church records in New York call him often op ten Dyck, which also was a frequent form at Wesel. The Dutch documents and official records spell his name as op Dyck, or more frequently Opdyck; the latter form has been followed by the transla-tors and the historians, and it will be followed by us as it was doubtless the name by which Gysbert was generally known among the Dutch here. His Rhode Island descendants, associating with only English-speaking people, wrote their name Updich, and finally Updike; and they wrote Gysbert in its English form, Gilbert.

      The New England books describe him as "a German physician of some celebrity who settled on Lloyd's Neck, L.I., and came to Rhode Island when Col. Nichols reduced N.Y. in 1664." This is probably derived from the authority of his great-great grandson Wilkins Updike of R.I., but we have doubts about Gysbert ever having been a physician. However, there is truth in other portions of this tradition, and there may be in all. Perhaps a confusion has arisen from the title "Doctor" which in German is a degree of learning and not of medicine. Gysbert may have been graduated with the German degree of Doctor from the Wesel Academy, then famous in Europe. He was well educated; his associations, official positions, reports, even his signature, show this. He must have spoken German from his birth, Dutch from his emigration, and English from his marriage.

      He is often called Mr., and Sieur, on the Dutch records, titles of unusual respect in those days. He was a friend of Gov. Kieft, Secretary van Tienhoven. Fiscal de la Montague, and Burgomaster Cregier, all of whom officiated as sponsors at the baptisms of his children; and he himself was in demand as sponsor for baptisms of the children of others. Gysbert must have been attractive to both young and old. At the age of 38 years he won the heart of the young English maiden, and the marriage met the approval of her father Richard Smith, a man of standing and wealth and so scrupulous that he once refused his consent to the marriage of another daughter to an Englishman who later became Sheriff of Flushing. At a time when Director Kieft and the citizens of New Amsterdam were in bitter conflict, Gysbert, although an official and friend of Kieft, had the entire confidence of the people. His repeated appointment as Commander of Fort Hope, and the incident at the Stadt Huys, show that he was a man of known courage, yet wise and prudent. In all the many difficulties and trying situations of the early Dutch settlement, he bore himself creditably.

      At Hartford Gysbert had often to argue the Dutch rights to the country. Their claim dated from 1609, when Amsterdam merchants sent Henry Hudson in the "Half Moon" with twenty Dutch and English sailors to find a shorter passage to China. He found no short cut to China, but he discovered and anchored in the Delaware River, and then discovered the Hudson River and sailed up it to what is now Albany, landing frequently among the Indians. The Dutch were then an independent nation and their right to claim possession was indisputable, as the territory thus explored was unoccupied by any Christian prince or people. Thereupon Dutch merchants sent many vessels to trade in furs with the Indians, ascending rivers and creeks. The Dutch mariners May and Block were the first to explore Delaware Bay and Long Island Sound; Cape May and Block Island still bear their names. Rhode Island is the Dutch "Roode" (red) Island. In 1614 the Dutch had small forts on the Hudson River and a trading house just below Albany. An Amsterdam company made an excellent map of the Dutch discoveries from Latitude 40° to 45° and was given an exclusive grant for a time; the country was named New Netherland, and Dutch vessels explored and traded here largely. All this was before the landing of the Pilgrims in New England in 1620. The Dutch colony was in fact the earliest permanent European settlement in North America excepting those by the Spaniards at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1584--by the French at Quebec in 1606--and by the London Company in Virginia in 1607. These just grounds for the Dutch possession of New Netherland could not be honestly met. Yet England, with her usual thirst for dominion, claimed the whole of North America, simply because Cabot had sailed along the coast and had ocasionally seen land.

      The Dutch settlement was composed neither of religious refugees as in New England, nor of needy adventurers as in Virginia, but was a commercial enterprise of the most successful Holland merchants who were in full sympathy with their home government and church. From 1621 the Government of New Netherland was given entirely into the hands of the Dutch West India Company, under a charter from Holland, with power to appoint governors, maintain soldiers, administer justice, make treaties with the Indians, and to control trade, under the direction of a "Board of XIX" in Holland; the States General agreeing to assist with money and twenty vessels in case of war. This commercial character of its government was fatal to the Dutch Colony; for its Governors sought only to increase the profitable traffic of the West India Company, neglected the settlement of the country, and by their arbitrary conduct discouraged their colonists.

      Peter Minuit, of Wesel, was the Director (Governor) of the colony from 1626 to 1632; van Twiller from 1633 to 1637; William Kieft from 1638 to 1646. Gysbert Opdyck may have come to the colony with Peter Minuit from Wesel, or under van Twiller, as the records before 1638 are entirely lost excepting the land-patents. Although he was a German from Wesel, he was doubtless not without consideration whenever he came, for the people of that town had been like brothers to the Dutch from time immemorial, their city had been the city of refuge from Spanish religious persecution for the Hollanders of the 16th century, and we find the "Yacht Wesel" among the earliest vessels coming to New Amsterdam.

      In 1638, the first year of the records which have been preserved, we find Gysbert Opdyck as the Commissary of Fort Good Hope, and from then until the English capture in 1664 we find him mentioned on the records, in one capacity or another, in almost every year except those in which the records are again missing.

      The West India Company managed each of their three distant settlements, Albany, Hartford, and on the Delaware River, by a Commissary who was in each case Commander of the soldiers at the Fort and was in full charge of all matters pertaining to that colony. As early as 1623 the Dutch had settled six men and two families on "Fresh" (Connecticut) Eiver, had commenced to build a small trading-post or fort, and carried on a brisk fur-trade with the Indians. Up to 1631 the Dutch were the only Europeans who had visited what is now Connecticut. In 1633 they had bought from the Indian tribes "most all the lands on both sides of the river," and at Saybrook Point where the arms of the States General "were affixed to a tree in token of possession." They completed "Fort Good Hope" on the site of the present city of Hartford, building a redoubt on the edge of the river and fortifying it with two cannon. But now the Puritans, growing weary of their barren New England soil, cast longing eyes upon the fertile valley of the Connecticut, ungratefully forgetting that Holland had been their refuge and home against the religious persecutions of the English Crown during twelve years before they embarked in the Mayflower for the American wilderness. Massachusetts asserted the English title to Connecticut, and a party from Plymouth passed the Dutch fort on the pretense of coming to trade, but immediately set up there a small house for which they had brought the materials concealed in their vessel. Director van Twiller sent a band of about 70 men in a warlike manner with colors displayed to dislodge the intruders, but the Plymouth men stood upon their defense, and the Dutch force withdrew, averse to shedding the blood of their fellow-protestants when only land and not principle was involved. The Dutch were the bravest nation in Europe; alone, they had defeated the mighty empire of Spain; later they drove back the armies of Louis XIV of France. But the West India Company's administratien of New Netherland aimed at trade, not at territory; it could not appreciate the territorial greed of the English, and temporized until it was too late. The Dutch Governor sent a protest to Massachusetts, showing the Dutch title by discovery, purchase, and possession, adding very sensibly -- "In this part of the world are divers heathen lands that are empty of inhabitants, so that of a little part thereof there needs not be any question." The New Englanders pushed on, built a fort, settled at Springfield, and soon far outnumbered the Dutch in Connecticut. This was the state of affairs when Gysbert Opdyck was sent there with a very small body of troops. In 1639 the English had 50 houses in Stratford, 100 houses and a fine church in Hartford, and more than 300 houses and a handsome place of worship in New Haven, -- while the Dutch had only Fort Hope. Gysbert's only possible course was to "hold the fort." Disgusted with so unpleasant a position, and receiving no reinforcements, he resigned his office Oct. 25, 1640, and returned "to the Fatherland."

      After his departure the same troubles continued and increased. In 1641 the English again tried to drive out the Dutch from Fort Hope by continued annoyances and interference with the cultivation of the land around the Fort. Governor Kieft started two yachts with 50 soldiers for Hartford, but they were recalled to defend Staten Island plantations against hostile Indians. The matter was discussed in Europe and the English ambassador at the Hague privately recommended that the English in Connecticut should "crowd on, -- crowding the Dutch out of those places where they have occupied." Lord Say wrote to the Dutch ambassador in England that there were only five or six Hollanders on the river, and more than 2,000 English. The inhabitants of New England were said to number 40,000; all the Dutch in America were certainly not one tenth so many.

      Gysbert's "black boy," who died from accident at Fort Hope, was his slave. The West India Co. agreed to supply as many negroes from Brazil as the colonists might be "willing to purchase at a fair price." Gysbert's explanation of the circumstances of the death was received as final and his word was not questioned.

      Gysbert must have soon tired of the old Fatherland, for he reappears in 1642 at New Amsterdam, appointed Commissary of Provisions, with an assistant. We find this office described in a report by the Board of Accounts to the College of XIX in Holland in 1644: "It would be advantageous for the company to keep a well supplied store and cellar there, in order to accommodate the inhabitants, at a certain reasonable price, either for money or produce, which will otherwise be overvalued or monopolized by the private traders. But if private individuals are allowed to continue trading, a fixed price ought to be placed on their imported wares." The accompanying estimate of expenses states: "Commissary of the merchandise and store goods, 720 florins" per year. This salary was the same as that of the Fiscal and the Secretary, and was exceeded only by that of the Director, the Vice Director, and the Clergyman; we must recollect too that money was much more valuable then than now. We find Gysbert again entitled Commissary on the Council Minutes, twice in 1645, and twice in 1646. He appears to have been firm in protecting the property of the Company, and he was sustained by the Council. The office was an important one, as it controlled the principal trade in supplies to the colony which has since grown to be New York city, New York State and New Jersey.

      The Council of New Netherland, holding sessions at New Amsterdam (New York), enacted all the laws, decided all questions of policy, and was also the highest Court of Justice. Governor Kieft formed his council of himself and his Secretary, reserving two votes for himself; but this led to such general complaint that he generally adjoined two or more officers or citizens, and we find no one more frequently called upon to act thus than Gysbert Opdyck. While sitting as Judge, Gysbert was on one occasion challenged for bias, but his impartiality was soon acknowledged and the challenge was withdrawn.

      The Dutch Church was a power in the colony, and we find Gysbert connected with it in many interesting ways. The church of Holland agreed substantially in belief with the church of England, English prelates and churchmen conformed without scruple to the doctrines of the established Dutch church. King James of England sent a bishop and other church delegates to the Synod of Dort, and the Dean of Worcester, after his return, constantly wore the gold medal of the Dutch Synod. The Dutch clergymen were admitted to livings in the church of England without reordination by an English bishop. Strange to say, the English puritan refugees also found the belief of the church of Holland almost the same as their own, and urged only a stricter observance of the Sabbath. The real secret of the difference was that English churchman and English puritan each wished his Church to govern the State; while the Dutch resolutely kept Church and State separate, and it is to their example that our country now owes its religious freedom.

      The colonists at Manhattan first worshipped in the loft of the horse-mill. In 1633 a plain wooden church, "like a barn," was built on what is now Broad Street between Pearl and Bridge Streets, and near it was erected a dwelling for the first clergyman sent out from Holland, Domine Everardus Bogardus. Bogardus, like all Dutchmen, believed in plain language, and soon called Governor van Twiller "a child of the devil," and threatened him with "such a shake from the pulpit as will make him shudder." Bogardus was censured in Holland, and petitioned the next Director, Governor Kieft, for leave to return and defend himself before the Classis. But Kieft declared that the Domine could not be spared and asked the Classis to protect "their esteemed preacher." Bogardus married the Annetje Jansen, who owned the 63 acres now in possession of Trinity Church, concerning which has arisen the much litigated claim of the heirs of Anneke Jans. Gysbert Opdyck and Bogardus were warm friends, Gysbert acting as sponsor at the baptism of his son, and dining with him at the tavern.

      In 1642 Governor Kieft resolved to build a stone church within the fort, and chose the wedding feast of Bogardus's daughter, "after the fourth and fifth round of drinking," for starting a subscription. The next morning many of the guests regretted having made such large subscriptions, but "nothing availed to excuse." Gysbert was active in the building of the new church, and his signature appears upon the building contract. The church was "of rock-stone," 73 ft. long, 50 ft. broad, and 16 ft. high. It was in this building that Gysbert was married, that he baptized his children, and officiated so often as sponsor.

      When Governor Kieft attempted to collect taxes from the Indians and by many unwise acts brought on a bloody Indian war, fining and banishing leading citizens who opposed his policy, Bogardus thundered from the pulpit: "What are the great men of the country but vessels of wrath and fountains of woe and trouble. They think of nothing but to plunder the property of others, to dismiss, to banish, to transport to Holland." Kieft in return absented himself from church, and encouraged the soldiers to fire cannon, beat drums, and indulge in noisy amusements during the sermon hour. But the "Breeden Raedt" is wrong in saying that Gysbert joined Kieft in absenting himself from church from Jan., 1644 to May, 1647, for during this period Gysbert baptized two of his children. The Domine continued his censures, and was summoned by Kieft before the Council. Finally friends of both, foremost among whom was no doubt Gysbert Opdyck, brought about a reconciliation.

      "The Indian problem," says Fernow, was solved by the Dutch of New Netherland without great difficulty. Persecuted by Spain and France for their religious convictions, the Dutch had learned to tolerate the superstitious and repugnant beliefs of others. Not less religious than the Puritans of New England, they made no such religious pretexts for tyranny and cruelty as marred the records of their neighbors. They treated the Indian as a man with rights of life, liberty, opinion, and property, like their own. Truthful among themselves, they inspired in the Indian a belief in their sincerity and honesty, and purchased what they wanted fairly and with the consent of the seller."

      But the irascible Kieft undertook a different course which almost ruined the colony. He sent an expedition against the Raritan Indians and killed several of them, on account of a theft which had really been committed by some of the Company's own servants. The Raritans in revenge destroyed a Dutch plantation and killed four planters. An Indian at Hackensack had been sold liquor and then robbed by the whites; he in return while drunk shot a white. His tribe offered in atonement 300 fathoms of wampum, the Indian price for a life; Kieft however demanded the murderer. Just at this time, in Feb., 1643, the river Indians, fleeing from an attack of the Mohawks, flocked in terror, half-famished, to Manhattan where they were kindly entertained. The majority of the colonists believed that the savages could now be easily won back to a sincere friendship. But Kieft declared that God had delivered their enemies into their hands, and, against all opposition, sent at night two troops of soldiers who murdered 130 of the Indian refugees with their women and children, as they lay sleeping in fancied security at the Dutch bouweries of Pavonia and Corlaer's Hook. To add to the lesson of terror the Long Island settlers petitioned for leave to attack the Marreckawick Indians living near Breucklen (Brooklyn), and the Director now submitted the matter to a Council consisting of Bogardus, Gysbert Opdyck and three others, who decided against the attack "as it would draw down an unrighteous war on our heads." What followed is thus described in Broadhead's History of New York, I, 353-5:

      "Kieft, yielding to the advice of Bogardus and others of his council, refused his assent. * * * Nevertheless, if these Indians showed signs of hostility, the director authorized every colonist to defend himself as best he might. Kieft's proviso was unfortunate. The red man's corn was coveted; and some movements of the Marechkawiecks were conveniently construed into those signs of hostility for which the ambiguous decree had provided. A secret foraging expedition was presently set on foot, and two wagon loads of grain were plundered from the unsuspecting savages; who, in vainly endeavoring to protect their property, lost three lives in the skirmish which followed. It only needed this scandalous outrage to fill the measure of Indian endurance. Up to this time, the Long Island savages had been among the warmest friends of the Dutch. Now they had been attacked and plundered by the strangers whom they had welcomed, and to whom they had done no wrong. Common cause was at once made with the North River Indians, who burned with frenzied hate and revenge, when they found that the midnight massacres at Pavonia and Manhattan were not the work of the Mohawks, but of the Dutch. From swamps and thickets the mysterious enemy made his sudden onset. The farmer was murdered in the open field; women and children, granted their lives, were swept off into long captivity; houses and bouweries, haystacks and grain, cattle and crops, were all destroyed. From the shores of the Raritan to the valley of the Housatonic, not a single plantation was safe. Eleven tribes of Indians rose in open war; and New Netherland now read the awful lesson which Connecticut had learned six years before. Such of the colonists as escaped with their lives, fled from their desolated homes to seek refuge in Fort Amsterdam. In their despair, they threatened to return to the Fatherland, or remove to Rensselaerswyck (Albany), which experienced no trouble. Fearing a general depopulation, Kieft was obliged to take all the colonists into the pay of the company, to serve as soldiers for two months. At this conjuncture, Roger Williams, who 'not having liberty of taking ship' in Massachusetts, 'was forced to repair unto the Dutch,' arrived at Manhattan, on his way to Europe. 'Before we weighed anchor,' wrote the liberal-minded founder of Rhode Island, eleven years afterward, 'mine eyes saw the flames at their towns, and the flights and hurries of men, women and children, the present removal of all that could for Holland.'"

      Kieft became alarmed and ordered a day of fasting and prayer. As soon as the savages had planted their corn, they burst upon the settlements. The River Indians plundered Dutch boats and killed fifteen colonists; the Westchester Indians murdered Ann Hutchinson and her family, who had fled from the religious persecutions of Massachusetts and had settled at Pelham Neck; the Long Island tribes devastated the colony of Gysbert's father-in-law at Mespath; the Hackinsacks and Nevesincks laid waste the plantations in New Jersey and murdered the whites; on Manhattan Island itself no more than five or six bouweries were left. The colonists all took refuge within the fort, which could muster only 50 soldiers, 200 Dutch citizens and some English, against 1,500 savages armed with muskets. For the protection of the few remaining cattle at pasture, a strong north fence of palisades was built on the line of the present Wall Street. The next year, 1644, the Dutch forces carried the war into the Indian homes, attacked them in their fastnesses, slaughtered 120 savages on Long Island and 500 at Greenwich, Connecticut. Many English who had come away from the Puritan discipline of Massachusetts and taken the oath of allegiance to the Dutch government here, were enrolled in the little Dutch army; there also arrived 150 Dutch soldiers from Brazil. The tribes near Manhattan were still hostile and unsubdued. It was resolved by the Council, including still again Gysbert Opdyck, to employ a friendly Long Island Sachem and his warriors against the enemy. The wily chief used policy instead of force and brought friendly messages from the chiefs of the tribes, which resulted in peace after five years of war.

      Hitherto we have found Gysbert always as an officer and friend of Kieft, but the Director had found the plan of retaining all power in himself and the Council, selected by him, beset with many difficulties. The people had been accustomed to the republican government of Holland and its "free cities," and when Kieft first proposed to make war upon the Indians, had refused to raise money until they were allowed to select popular representatives called the "Twelve Men." These opposed the war and demanded reforms in the government. The Director immediately dissolved them, but in 1643 the Indian crisis had again compelled him to call a meeting of the colonists who thereupon elected new representatives called the "Eight Men." Kieft found these still more independent and troublesome, for they dared even to send remonstrances to Holland against his reckless management and arbitrary rule, and to petition for his removal. The Director fined and banished and forbade appeal to the Fatherland, all in vain; the Eight denounced him only the more strongly. In the following year, 1645, we find among the Eight men elected were Gysbert Opdyck and his father-in-law Richard Smith; a remarkable proof of the confidence of the colo-nists in Gysbert's fairness and judgment, considering his intimate relations with Kieft. This year the "Eight Men" succeeded in making with all the Indian tribes the great Treaty of Aug. 30, 1645, signed by Gysbert and all the Eight Men, celebrated by a day of general thanksgiving, and securing a peace which was not disturbed during ten years.

      It was at the very worst of the Indian war that we find stout-hearted Gysbert taking to himself his young wife and living in his house on Stone Street. His home was no doubt, like all others in the town at that date, a plain one-story structure encased with slabs, surmounted with a steep roof containing perhaps two stories of garret, and in the rear a wide outside stone chimney and oven. The first two years of his married life must have often seen Gysbert and his vrouw taking refuge in the Fort at the Battery, from threatening savages. His residence must have been a pleasant one. The old citizen of New York now looks back with regret to the days of his youth, when a short and pleasant walk carried him from his office to his home. Still more he envies the earlier generations, who lived over their stores and their counting-houses at the lower and pleasanter part of the island. But it requires an effort to imagine the position of Gysbert's house,--within a few hundred yards of the Battery on the one side and of the East River on the other, with unbroken breezes from river to river, open view of the Dutch ships coming and going on the bay, and pleasant pasture fields at the rear. How we would like to have sat on his wooden stoop, under the shade of an old forest tree, while the drums beat at the fort, the children fished on the grassy bank of the river, and Gysbert smoked his pipe and told sadly of the departed glory of old Wesel. But gone too, now, and long forgotten, is the glory of Stone Street. Trade reached it and then left it, and few now know the street. Short, curved and lined with brick warehouses bearing closed iron shutters, it is at mid-day as quiet as a street of tombs.

      Gysbert had other property. He owned all Coney Island, duly patented to him by Director Kieft and recorded by the Secretary, as can still be seen on the old Dutch records now preserved in the Albany State Library. The present Coney Island was then composed of three islands, of which the easternmost was know as "Gysbert's Island" for many years; but all three were covered by the patent to him.

      In 1647, the Board of XIX recalled Kieft and granted the reforms demanded by the Eight Men. Kieft sent Kuyter and Melyn, his two boldest accusers, as criminals to Holland on the same vessel on which he and Bogardus returned. The ship was wrecked on the coast of Wales. Seeing death at hand, Kieft begged their forgiveness. He and Bogardus with 80 others were drowned. Kuyter clung to a part of the wreck, on which was a cannon, and was thrown on land, to the great astonishment of the inhabitants, who set up the cannon there as a lasting memorial. Melyn floated safely on his back to shore.

      Now was sent from Holland the blustering Peter Stuyvesant as the new Director of New Netherland. He had lost a leg in an attack upon the Portugese, but he was better at writing Latin than at either fighting or governing. The colonists welcomed his arrival, but his arrogance soon gave such universal offence that they refused to be taxed until they were again allowed to elect popular representatives called the "Nine Men." These, finding their advice unheeded by the Director, their papers seized and themselves threatened with arrest, sent three of their number with a statement of grievances to the States General of Holland who compelled the West India Company to grant a Burgher government to the city of New Amsterdam (New York), and the same freedoms were afterward granted to the Dutch towns on Long Island. This was the spirit shown by our Dutch ancestors in America 126 years before our American Revolution.

      Gysbert took no active part in this matter, because one of the first acts of Governor Stuyvesant was to revive the Dutch claim to Connecticut and to reappoint Gysbert as Commander at Hartford, June 20, 1647. Believing that the new Governor meant now to enforce the Dutch right, Gysbert accepted the difficult position and remained at Fort Hope until 1650. Stuyvesant sent long letters to the New England Governors, claiming as far east as Cape Cod, and made much warfare on paper, but despatched no army or fleet to Gysbert's support, and finally made the "Hartford Treaty" by which the line between the Dutch and English Territory was to run through Greenwich Bay northerly. Fort Hope was now abandoned by the Dutch. During this last three years' stay of Gysbert "at the House the Hope," we find him giving powers of attorney "to sell his account," and to the City Schoolmaster at Wesel to collect 500 "dalers" with eight years interest from a merchant at Wesel. We know nothing of his official employment during the next four years, because the Council Minutes from August, 1649, to November, 1653, are mostly lost. In 1655, he was witness to (and perhaps assisted in negotiating) a deed from the Indians to the West India Co. for a considerable portion of the present State of Delaware for "twelve coats of duffels, twelve kettles, 12 adzes, 24 knives, 12 bars of lead, and four guns with some powder." In this year we find him also selling his land at Hempstead, L.I., in the next year witnessing an Indian treaty there; and in the following year he was still owning laud under cultivation at "Cow Neck" near Hempstead.

      In 1656 Gysbert was appointed, by Governor Stuyvesant, Tithe Commissioner of Long Island, and held the office two years. Under the original patents for land in New Netherland, the settlers agreed to pay the tenth part of the produce after ten years to the West India Company. These tenths were now beginning to fall due. Gysbert, in connection with the Schout, was entrusted with full, power and discretion to fix the amounts, to make fair settlements, and to release entirely those who were poor and unable to pay. This was an unusual trust, but he did not abuse it to his own profit. During these same two years he filled the office of Court Messenger, or Marshal, both for the Council and the city government of New Amsterdam. This office is said on good authority to have been "of some dignity." At the same period he was the host of the principal hotel in the city, situated next to the old Stadt Huys, which had recently been changed from hotel to City Hall. In our day the position of chief hotel keeper in New York City is not without importance. In those days of infrequent communications and no newspapers, the stranger must have been indeed a welcome guest, and the inn was the headquarters of general information as well as the resort of the best citizens. Of course the Dutch inn of those days, as well as in Holland, "had in one corner a closet, which, when opened (and, honestly, it was not unfrequently opened), disclosed sundry decanters, glasses and black bottles; and on one side of the room a rack, in which were suspended by their bowls a score or two of very long pipes, each one inscribed with the name of a neighbor, its owner."

      It is doubtful whether many of the residents of New Netherland acquired fortunes. The regulations of the West India Company were exacting and oppressive, and the dangerous neighborhood of the Indians always checked enterprise. The peace of 1645 was not permanent. In 1647, on Stuyvesant's arrival, scarcely 50 bouweries (farms) could be counted, and only 300 men capable of bearing arms in the colony. The savages were still brooding over the slaughter of 1,600 of their people. In 1655, Henrick Van Dyck, the former Schout-Fiscal, killed a squaw who was stealing his peaches. At once 1,900 Indians in 64 canoes appeared before New Amsterdam, landed, roamed the streets, broke into houses aud shot Van Dyck. Attacked by the soldiers and the burgher guard, and driven to their canoes, they crossed the river, laid waste Hoboken and Pavonia, killed or captured most of the Inhabitants and desolated Staten Island. In three days they slaughtered 100 Dutch, took prisoners 150, ruined 300 in estate, and destroyed 28 bouweries. The damage to property was estimated at 200,000 guilders. A state of armed hostility continued until 1660, when a new treaty of peace was made with the Indians around Manhattan. In 1656 a survey of New Amsterdam showed only 120 houses and 1,000 people; in 1660 the city contained 350 houses, almost all of wood; in 1664 Stuyvesant claimed only 1,500 inhabitants for the city. Under their repeated misfortunes our Dutch ancestors found wealth as difficult to retain as to acquire. We judge that Gysbert was no exception, from his wording of some communications to the Council, requesting that he be made Sheriff of Flushing, &c. It is to his honor that he went out of office poor. The lands of the settlers did not become valuable until in the hands of their children aud grandchildren in later and more quiet times.

      We cannot doubt that Gysbert had a legal and valid patent to all of Coney Island, and this seems to be recognized by all the historians. He had never been able to occupy it without danger from the Indians. Wishing to sell a portion of it in 1661, he complained to the Director and Council that the inhabitants of Gravesend were using it for pasture, and in a few weeks he transferred his claim to Dirck de Wolff, a wealthy merchant of Holland who commenced to manufacture salt on the island and who immediately brought suit before the Director and Council to restrain the Gravesend people from pasturing or mowing grass there. The latter resisted the suit on the ground that Gysbert had never taken possession. Stuyvesant was a close friend of Lady Moody, who was rich and influential, owned the greater part of Gravesend, and had entertained him at her house. Besides, Gravesend was an English settlement, had been lately seditious and threatened to join the other English towns on Long Island just at this time seceding from the government of the Dutch to that of New England. Stuyvesant therefore felt it all important to conciliate the favor of its inhabitants, and induced his Council to decide the patent void for want of proof that it had ever been signed by Governor Kieft. Gysbert had mislaid the original patent, but its record by Secretary van Tienhoven had stood twenty years in the Book of Patents, open to general inspection, and had never been questioned. Kieft's bones now lay at the bottom of the ocean; the Secreretary had left New Netherland and was probably not to be found. The matter did not end with this decision. Grysbert's grantee complained to the Directors of the West India Co. in Holland, who immediately wrote to Stuyvesant that they believed the place had "been taken away from him, by your sentence upon apparently frivolous claims made by the English in the village of Gravesend" and they ordered the Governor to send them all the documents used in the law suit. The Governor not complying, the Holland Chamber of Directors again wrote to him more peremptorily. This was only a few months before the capture of New Netherland by the English, who, of course, did not listen to any claim against their fellow Englishmen of Gravesend.

      England was always jealous of the Dutch colonies of New Netherland. Even republican Cromwell without warning seized Holland ships in English ports and impressed their crews. War at once commenced between the two countries. The first year of hostilities closed with a victory which forced the English admiral Blake to take refuge in the Thames; and the victorious Dutch admiral Tromp placed a broom at his mast-head, in token that he had swept the channel free of all English ships. The next year, Cromwell, Protector of England, sent four ships to subdue New Netherland with the aid of the New England colonies, but the squadron did not reach Boston until the next summer, when peace had been declared.

      The English East India Company and the English African Company continued to complain of the rivalry of the Dutch commerce, which overshadowed the English. An English expedition was sent against the Dutch in Africa, in the midst of a covenanted peace; even Clarendon described this as "without any shadow of justice." In New Netherland, Stuyvesant had grown more and more unpopular. He had persecuted Lutherans and flogged or imprisoned Quakers, until the West India Co. ordered him to desist. Two general Landtags or Diets of the colonists had condemned severely his management of affairs. Charles II determined to rob Holland of her American province, and presented to his brother, the Duke of York, a patent for all New Netherland. The Duke of York, as Lord High Admiral, sent four ships with 450 soldiers under Nicolls to take possession with the assistance of New England. The Dutch were misled by false reports that the expedition was designed only to settle affairs in New England. August 19, 1664, the English squadron anchored in New York Bay and, having been joined by Connecticut troops, summoned fort Amsterdam to surrender, declaring that all, who would submit to the English government, should be protected "in His Majesty's Laws and Justice" and peacefully enjoy their property; also that "any people from the Netherlands may freely come and plant there, or thereabouts; and such vessels of their own country may freely come thither, and any of them may as freely return home in vessels of their own country." The Dutch citizens, unprepared and surprised as they were, had organized themselves for defense; but when Stuyvesant refused to communicate Nicolls' letter to the burgomasters and in a fit of passion "tore the letter in pieces," the citizens at once ceased their work at the palisades and demanded the letter with "complaints and curses." "The letter! The letter!" was the general cry. Stuvesant was forced to yield, and a copy, made out from the collected fragments, was handed to the burgomasters. There were 1,500 souls in New Amsterdam, but only 400 men able to bear arms. The City authorities, the officers of the burgher guard, and 85 principal citizens, forced Stuyvesant to yield. The English rule could not be worse than Stuyvesant's. The government of the New England colonies seemed to the Dutch more like the freedom to which they had been accustomed in Holland than did the arbitrary rule of the West India Company Director. The articles of capitulation secured to the Dutch their property, their liberty of conscience and church, and the town was to be allowed to choose deputies, with "free voices in all public affairs." A century later, it was fortunate that the North American Colonies were all united, that they might together pull down that English flag.

      After the English capture, nothing further is found on the records concerning Gysbert. His name is not on the list of those who took the oath of allegiance to the English government, nor on any of the lists, after this date, of citizens, freeholders, taxpayers, etc., etc., of New York or of any of the towns on Long Island or elsewhere in New York State. The tradition is doubtless correct that he went with his children to Narragansett, after the death of Richard Smith, Sr. in 1666, to take possession of the lands about Wickford bequeathed to the children of Gysbert's deceased wife Catharine. Gysbert's eldest son Lodowyck appears upon the Kingstown records at Wickford, R.I., as early as 1668, and others of his children later; the place was then thinly settled, and its scant records have been almost totally destroyed by fire.

  • Sources 
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    2. [S6104] John C. Brandon and Leslie Mahler, "The English Ancestry of Joan Barton, Wife of Richard1 Smith of Narragansett, Rhode Island." The American Genealogist 84:257, 2010.

    3. [S6105] The op Dyck Genealogy, Containing the Opdyck-Opdycke-Opdyke-Updike American Descendants of the Wesel and Holland Families by Charles William Opdyke with Leonard Eckstein Opdycke. New York, 1889.

    4. [S6105] The op Dyck Genealogy, Containing the Opdyck-Opdycke-Opdyke-Updike American Descendants of the Wesel and Holland Families by Charles William Opdyke with Leonard Eckstein Opdycke. New York, 1889., year only.