Thursday, September 08, 2016

Thursday Novel Excerpt: New York 4

The Fall of New Amsterdam
Continued from last week
Roelof was prepared to fight the English with Stuyvesant, but everyone pleaded with Stuyvesant to sign a treaty instead. They were hardly any match for the four English warships sitting on the Hudson. Besides, these sorts of decisions would ultimately be decided by the powers back home and battles largely fought elsewhere. Their life was good. Why mess with it over someone else's ambitions?

The Dutch settlers were used to war. The "Eighty Year War" for Dutch independence from the Spanish had just finished in 1648, along with the "Thirty Year's War" in central Europe. The conflict was a string of battles stretched out over decades, with now the surrogates of the Spanish winning here, now those wanting independence winning there. The common European had come to see the senselessness of it all.

Life went on for the ordinary Dutch person. Powerful people did their thing. Occasionally they took your son to fight with one or another of them.

There were four Dutch "wars" between the English and the Dutch those next few years. The first took place just after Roelof came to New Amsterdam and didn't involve the colony at all. The second took place just after the English took the settlement, from 1665-67, but New York stayed in English hands.

Roelof was excited when for about a year (1673-74), the Third Dutch War resulted in the Dutch taking back the settlement. For a span of about 16 months, the town was renamed "New Orange." But the Titans elsewhere gave it away again, and it has been New York ever since.

Again, life went on. Whatever happened was God's will. Someone built a saw mill, then a leather mill on the island now known as Manhattan. Roelof was on town councils and was a church elder. Whether the English or the Dutch had a governor, his role pretty much stayed the same. He farmed. He prospered. He was involved in government. He had eleven children.

When the first Dutch Reformed Church was built in Flatlands around 1661, Roelof and his brother Jan were there, the first of the church's members. When the English recognized his village as a true town in 1667, he was there. In 1673, the English appointed him as a representative of that town and he was elected as a lieutenant of its militia.  In 1689 he served as the justice of Kings County.

In 1676 he had four horses, ten cows, 3 hogs. He had bought four slaves by 1698. By the year 1700, slavery was becoming a permanent state rather than servitude for a time. The Dutch were some of the worst slave-traders in that period.

In 1672, his wife Neeltje died, so he remarried to Anekke Pieterse Wyckoff in 1675. Then she died and he married the widow Katrina Cruiger in 1688.

Katrina was a widow of some means, with a child from the previous marriage. She was also thirty-seven--thirty-two years younger than him. This would require some careful legal pre-arrangement...

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