Arnold J. F. (Arnold Johan Ferdinand) Van Laer.

Hudson-Fulton celebration; historical explanation of the Dutch floats in the All-nations' division of the Hudson-Fulton parade online

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Historical Explanation of the
Dutch Floats


OCTOBER 8, 1909






Historical Explanation of the
Dutch Floats


OCTOBER 8. 1909





Rev. Andukw M. Van Der Wart, Chairman

James W, Van Buren

William H. Erwin

Arnold J. F. van I^aer

Daniel Wasserbach

Charles C. De Rouville

Gvshert a. De Heus

Rev. John Ossewaaroe


Jai'ou M. C. Qi'ARLEs i)K Qi'ARLES, Secretary



Historical Explanation of the Dutch Floats.

fN response to the city's invitation to take
part in the All - Nations' parade, on the
occasion of the Hudson-Fulton celebra-
tion, the Hollanders of Albany and vicinity have
prepared three floats which, it is believed, will
at once be of local historic interest and sugges-
tive of the influence of Dutch settlement on the
development of the entire Hudson valley.

The subjects of the floats are the first Court
of Fort Orange and the village of Beverwyck,
the first stone building of the Reformed Protes-
tant Dutch Church in the city of Albany, and
the first school in the colony of Rensselaers-
wyck, established respectively in 1652, 1715 and
1648. They are intended to represent in con-
crete form, and for distinct periods in the history
of the locality, the three principal elements of
civilization. Justice, Religion and Education,
which were introduced in this region by a nation
which at all times has been conspicuous for its
love of law and liberty, its belief in religious
toleration and its high degree of general culture.
The order of the floats is that of the establish-
ment of the first judicial, religious and educa-
tional institutions in this locality, of which one
existed side by side with the court represented
by the first float, another laid the foundation for
the organization represented by the second float
and the last itself has been chosen as the subject
of the third float.

To make this clear it is necessary to recall that
the city of Albany owes its origin to the estab-
lishment of a large agricultural colony, known
as the patroonship of Rensselaerswyck, which, m
accordance with certain privileges granted m 1629
by the Dutch West India Company, was founded
in 1630 by a few directors of the Company, of
whom Kiliaen van Rensselaer had the manage-
ment of the colony's affairs and was designated
as patroon. This colony extended at first mamly
along the west side of the Hudson river, from
Coeymans to the mouth of the Mohawk, but by
subsequent purchases from the Indians it was
enlarged on the east side of the river, so as to
cover ultimately a tract of 22}^ by 48 miles, con-
taining nearly 700,000 acres. Near the center ot
this tract stood the Company's trading post, called
Fort Orange, which was built in 1624 on the site
of the present steamboat square, and around
this fort clustered the principal settlement of the
colony, which in the beginning was designated
as the Fuyck, or hoop-net, from the converging
lines of its streets, and later became known as
the village of Beverwyck, the nucleus of our
])resent city.

The administration of the fort and that ol the
colony were entirely distinct. While the first was
in charge of a factor, called commis, and occupied
by a few soldiers and traders in the service of
the West India Company, the second was ruled
by the agents of the patroon and settled entirely
by the latter's tenants. As early as 1634, and
perhaps even as 1632, this colony had a court,
composed after the manner of the manorial
courts of the fatherland at that time, of a schoid
and from three to seven schcpcns, who demanded
and rendered judgment in the name of the
patroon. In 1642 the colony received a minister

of the Gospel, by the name of Johannes Mega-
polensis, and in 1648 the court of the colony
granted permission to Evert Nolden to teach

All these persons, agents, magistrates, pastor
and schoolmaster, were appointed either directly
or indirectly by the patroon; in the administra-
tion of the aflfairs of the colony the inhabitants
had no share-
In 1652 there came a change. Owing to the
closeness with which the houses of the colony
surrounded the fort, disputes arose at an early
day regarding the limits of the Company's
jurisdiction. These led in 1648 to a prolonged
controversy between Director General Peter
Stuyvesant and the newly appointed director of
Rensselaerwyck, Brant Arentsz van Slichten-
horst, and ended in 1652 in a highhanded meas-
ure on the part of the Director General, by which
he took the principal settlement out of the juris-
diction of the colony and erected it into a sepa-
rate village by the name of Beverwyck. At the
request of the inhabitants, Director General
Stuyvesant, by decree of April 10, 1652, estab-
lished in this village a Kleine Banck van Jiistiiic,
a subordinate bench of justice, which began its
sessions on April 15, 1652. This court sat in the
dual capacity of a council for the administration
of public affairs and of a court of justice for Fort
Orange and the village of Beverwyck. It was
composed of the conimis, or trading agent and
chief military officer of the fort, and six commis-
sarissen, or magistrates, of whom three, two
ordinary and one extra -ordinary magistrates,
were appointed each year by the Director Gen-
eral and Council of New Netherland from a
double number chosen by the inhabitants of the
village. The first persons who composed the

court were Johannes Dyckman, commis, and
Abraham Staets, Volckert Jansz Douw, Cor-
nehs Theunisz van Westbroeck, Rutger Jacobsz,
Jean Labatie and Andries Herpertsz, commis-
sarissen, while Pieter Ryverdingh acted as court
messenger and clerk.

This court or council of the village of Bever-
wyck may be considered the germ of the muni-
cipal government of the city of Albany to-day,
and has therefore been chosen as the subject of
the first float.

The court of Beverwyck held its sessions in
the Company's building in the fort, almost im-
mediately adjoining the house occupied by the
court of the colony of Rensselaerswyck, which
continued to exist till the arrival of the first
English governor, Richard Nicolls, in 1665, when
the two courts were consolidated.

No drawing of the first court house of the vil-
lage of Beverwyck is in existence, but a descrip-
tion has happily been preserved in a memorandum
submitted by the Company's commis, Johannes
La Montagne, on September 4, 1660, in justifica-
tion of the expenditures incurred by him in
building the second court house of Fort Orange
and Beverwyck in 1657 and 1658. This descrip-
tion is as follows:

" The old house was 26 feet and 9 inches Rhine-
land measure in length, and two stories high,
built all around of one inch boards and having a
pavilion shaped roof, covered with old shingles,
as said before. Underneath was a cellar, 19 feet
in width and as long as the width of the house.
The first story had eight beams, resting on cor-
bels, and was divided into two parts by a pine
partition; at the north end was a room 16 or 17
feet in width and at the south end a vestibule of
10 feet in width. The second story consisted

of a single room, used by the court, without
ceiUng or chimney, and to get to this room one
had to chmb a straight flight of stairs through a
trap door."

This building had by 1657 sagged at the north
end in such a way as almost completely to crush
the house of Lambert van Valcken burgh and its
general condition was so dilapidated that repairs
seemed useless. It was therefore torn down to
make room for a larger brick building, which in
the above mentioned memorandum is described
as follows:

"A brick building was built, with two cellars,
each 21 feet square, separated by a two brick
wall. The foundation wall of the said cellar is
3 or 4 feet in thickness, built of substantial stone
(hauled a distance of 16 miles) 6 feet high, to
the level of the ground, and on top of this is a
brick wall, two feet high and three bricks thick,
upon which rest the cellar beams. The first
story is divided into three parts; at the north
end is a room 21 feet square, inside measure,
with a brick chimney; at the south end a kitchen
16 feet in width and 21 feet in length, also with a
chimney and provided with a bedstead and cup-
board of wainscot; and in the middle a hallway
5 feet in width, separated from the large room by
a one brick wall. The upper story is divided
by a half brick wall into two equal parts, each
21 feet square. At the north end is a room des-
tined for the court; at the other end an office,
in which are a wainscoted bedstead and a chimney.
Access to this floor is by a winding staircase and
a separate landing. This landing has three doors;
one on the left side, which gives access to the
court room; another towards the front, which
gives access to the office and which is faced by an
oval window in the west wall; and a third door

on the right hand, through which access is had
to the attic, by means of a winding staircase.
This attic extends all over the house and above
it is a loft, suitable for the storage of powder
and other ammunition. In short, it is a strong
and substantial house, the walls below and above
(upon which the beams rest without uprights)
being one and a half bricks in thickness, provided
at each gable end with a double chimney, braced
by 42 anchors and built of choice clinker brick.
The house is covered with well baked tiles, and
according to everyone's opinion makes a strong,
commodious and handsome structure."

As to the church, we have seen that the colony
of Rensselaerswyck had a minister of the Gospel
as early as 1642, Domine Megapolensis having
arrived with his family on August 13th of that
year. As far as can be ascertained from the
records, contrary to the usual statements found
in printed histories, this minister at once took
up his abode on the east side of the Hudson
river, in what was then termed the Greywnhosch,
literally pine wood, later corrupted to Green-
bush, in the present city of Rensselaer. For
some years he seems to have preached either in
his own house or in the patroon's warehouse on
the west side of the river, near the fort, which
warehouse was between 1646 and 1648 adapted
for religious purposes by building therein a
pulpit, a sounding board, a pew for the magis-
trates, another pew for the deacons, a rail around
the pulpit, a corner seat and nine benches for the
congregation. This building was used by Domine
Megapolensis till the end of his service in the
colony in 1649, and no doubt was also used by
Domine Wilhelmus Grasmeer, who preached in
the colony in 1650 and 1651, and by Domine
Gideon Schaets, who was engaged in Holland as


I - > I >i II II ( III I.I II ( 1 ; ) \ I

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pastor of the colony of Rensselaerswyck on May
8, 1652, less than a month after the village of
Beverwyck had become an independent settle-
ment. Domine Schaets continued to be paid by
the patroon and the co-directors of the colony
till July 24, 1657, but owing to the altered con-
ditions, and the removal of the buildings around
the fort, ordered by Stuyvesant, steps were taken
by the inhabitants as early as 1655 to erect a
building of their own. The result was the first
church building of the village of Beverwyck,
erected in 1656 at the juncture of State street
and Broadway, then called Jonker straet and
Handelaer straet. No picture of this building
exists, but from references in letters of the period,
in which the church is called a Blockhuys Kercke,
it appears to have been a wooden structure in
the shape of a blockhouse. In the course of 1657
it was adorned with a small bell sent over by
the directors of the chamber of Amsterdam of
the West India Company and shortly after it
was provided with a handsome pulpit, made in
Holland, which is still preserved in the First
Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of this city.
In 1 715, during the ministry of Domine Petrus
Henricus van Driessen, the original building was
torn down to make room for a larger stone struc-
ture, which is represented by the illustration on
the opposite page and which forms the subject
of the second float.

This building was erected around the walls of
the old building and roofed over before the
former structure was taken down, so that the
customary services were interrupted but three
Sabbaths. On the 30th of October the first
services were held in the new building and on
the 13 th of November the building was con-
secrated. It served the congregation for reli-

gious purposes for nearly a century, but in 1806
gave, like so many other venerable buildings,
way for the march of improvements and was
demolished, the materials being used in the
construction of a new church on Beaver street.
Regarding the first school in the colony of
Rensselaerswyck, which forms the subject of the
third float, very little is known. On April 30,
1648, the court of the colony granted permission
to Evert Nolden to teach school. Whether he
taught on the west side of the river, in what is
now Albany, or on the east side of the river, in
Greenbush, in a building which Arent van Curler
intended to put up in 1643, and which he thought
might later be used for school purposes, is not
known, but certain it is that he did not teach
very long. In 1650, the inhabitants of the colony
of Rensselaerswyck petitioned the court to ap-
point a competent schoolmaster and on Septem-
ber 9, 1650, the court, in answer to this petition,
appointed Arent van Curler and Goossen Gerritsz
van vSchaick trustees of a fund to be raised for
the building of a school. No record of the ap-
pointment of a schoolmaster is found, but on
November 23, 165 1, the court of the colony
granted Adriaen Jansz, schoolmaster, 50 guilders
towards the payment of his house rent. Taking
this fact in connection with the wording of the
license granted in 1665 by Governor Richard
Nicolls, to John Shutte, the first English school-
master of Albany, it is likely that Adriaen Jansz
taught school in his own home, giving free in-
struction to the children of the poor and charg-
ing such fees for the instruction of others as the
parents could afi"ord to pay.

A. J. F. VAN Laer





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Online LibraryArnold J. F. (Arnold Johan Ferdinand) Van LaerHudson-Fulton celebration; historical explanation of the Dutch floats in the All-nations' division of the Hudson-Fulton parade → online text (page 1 of 1)