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A Walloon family in America



Emily Johnston De Forest, Jesse De Forest



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FORD AND FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT
Geological Survey



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A Walloon Family in America

LocKwooD DE Forest and his
Forbears



IN TWO VOLUMES
VOLUME I



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A

Walloon Family

IN AMERICA
Lockwood de Forest

and his Forbears 1500— 1848

By MRS. ROBERT W. de FOREST ' . ^ a (

Together with
A VOYAGE TO GUIANA

BEING THE ' }\':]

Journal of Jesse de Forest

And his Colonists 1 623-1 625
VOLUME I



BOSTON and NEW YORK Published by
Houghton Mifflik Company MCMXIV



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COPTBIGHT, 1914, BY BMILT JOHNtTON OB POBBST



ALL BIGHTS BBtBBVBD



J*ttbltsked December IQJ4



THIS EDITION CONSISTS OF SIX HUNDRED COPIES



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" Co

^ THE DESCENDANTS OF

; JESSE THE WALLOON

WHOSE INDOMITABLE COURAGE AND PERSEVERANCE
^ GAVE THEM A HOME IN THE NEW WORLD

THAT THEY MAY HOLD HIM AND

THE GENERATIONS THAT FOLLOWED HIM

IN DUE HONOR

r



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Preface

WHEN I first thought of writing about the
de Forests, I had in mind merely to tell
the story of the life of Lockwood de
Forest, my husband's grandfather, in a pamphlet to
be compiled from the family papers which I had at
hand. This idea has expanded by degrees. First, it
seemed wise to say something about Lockwood's
Connecticut ancestors, those sterling men and wo-
men who as pioneers were always pushing forward
into the wildemess. Then it became necessary
to speak of Isaack de Forest, the founder of the
family in America, and of his fortunes as an early
settler in New Amsterdam. Lastly, it grew quite
imperative to give an account of Jesse, the father of
Isaack, about whom it is now possible to tell more
than was ever known before. Thus has a simple
pamphlet expanded into a book — a book which has
really been written backward.

It is, to be sure, not the first volume about the de
Forest family, for Major John W. De Forest had
already written an able and interesting history of
them,^ on which he expended years of research.

* The de Forests of Avesnes (and of New Netherland), a
Huguenot Thread in American Colonial History, 1494 to the
Present Time. 1900.



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Preface

Without Major Dc Forest's book as a basis, my
own task would have been infinitely harder and
might, indeed, never have been undertaken. Much
new material, however, has been discovered since
he wrote, and many questions which he raised can
now be answered.

It is nearly three hundred years since Jesse de
Forest crossed the stormy seas with his companions,
to carry out his long-cherished purpose of planting
a colony in the New World. And yet, extraordinary
as it may seem, an account of that vojrage, of the
stay of his colonists in Guiana, and of Jesse's death
there, has, until a very recent date, remained unno-
ticed and apparently unknown in the British Mu-
seum. So interesting and historically valuable has
the contemporary account of this early colonizing
venture seemed, that besides using the material
contained therein in my treatment of the incidents
of the voyage in Chapter II of this book, I am pub-
lishing, in Volume II, on pages i88 to 279, the whole
of the original narrative in the quaint old French of
the manuscript with an English translation.

The discovery of this joumal, which has some-
times been called " Jesse de Forest's Joumal," gives
us access to indirect testimony with regard to the
disputed date of the founding of the New Nether-
land colony and also disposes of the theory that
Jesse himself was one of its earliest settlers.
Whether or not the French and Walloons who

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Preface

were prepared to follow Jesse across the seas to
Guiana eventually found their way to the Dutch
colony of New Netherland is still an open question,
which will be referred to in the course of these pages.

The "Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts,"^ re-
cently translated, have also furnished new informa-
tion. Through them we now have an account of the
voyage by which Jesse's three children, Hendrick,
Isaack, and Rachel, came to America. Also, in these
papers there are certain clues which, being followed
up in the historical works of de Laet, van Wassenaer,
or de Vries, have given us details with which to fill out
and amplify the story of the lives of these pioneers
both during their joumeyings and in New Amster-
dam. There have always been plenty of references in
the various records of New Amsterdam to Isaack
de Forest, who lived to be sufficiently "old and
suitable" to be made a "schepen" and a "great
burgher." But Hendrick and Rachel died in the
flower of their youth, and details about their lives,
meagre enough now, would have been still more
meagre save for these papers.

When we come to the Connecticut period, the time
when Isaack's son David settled in Stratford, I
depend largely upon Major De Forest's book and

* Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, being the letters of
Kiliaen van Rensselaer, 1630-1643, and other documents,
edited and most of them translated by A. J, F. van Laer,
State Archivist, Albany, N.Y., 1908.

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Preface

Orcutt's History of Stratford/ also upon the
papers left by the Rev. Benjamin L. Swan, who
for several years was the pastor of the Congregational
Church in the little hill town of Monroe (formerly
New Stratford), where David's son and grandson
lived. Mr. Swan was a friend of my father-in-law,
Henry G. de Forest, and in his behalf made re-
searches in that hill country for a number of years.*

For many early records of the little town I am
under obligation to Albert Wheeler, a nephew of
Mrs. Lockwood de Forest and the present clerk of
sessions of the Congregational Church at Monroe,
who gave me free access to all the old church docu-
ments which are still in existence. Town and church
records were also consulted in Shelton, Stratford,
Bridgeport, and Fairfield. The many Connecticut
town histories which I have seen should also be
mentioned, although they are not always very
accurate in genealogical details.

For the Revolutionary material I am indebted
to that invaluable although necessarily incomplete
work, " Record of Service of Connecticut Men in
the War of the Revolution,*' • and also to the files

* Orcutt, Rev. Samuel. A History of the Old Town of
Stratford and the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

* Mr. Swan was the more interested in the de Forests
because he had married the widow of Charles, half-brother
of Lockwood de Forest.

' Compiled under the direction of the Adjutants-General,
with an introduction by Henry P. Johnston, Hartford, 1889.



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of the Pension and War Offices at Washington, from
the officials of which I received much courtesy.

Thus we come to the time of Lockwood and
Mehetabel his wife. For this part of the story I had
plenty of material — documents, letters, and papers
of all kinds. Many traditions, too, preserved by
people still living or who have but recently passed to
their rest have been related to me.

With regard to the church trial of Lockwood
de Forest, I have felt that the whole episode was
most interesting historically, and it has seemed to me
altogether fortunate that Lockwood's forty docu-
ments were not destroyed, as so many others have
been. The reason why I have so carefully and scrup-
ulously given all the material concerning the prosecu-
tion is because that course was the only one that lay
open to me if I were to touch the subject at all.

So the story grew! Why have I written it? Pri-
marily to preserve the intimate family records of the
de Forest family in their historical setting for the
now large number of descendants of Lockwood and
Mehetabel de Forest. In the second place, I have
tried to draw a faithful picture of the upbuilding and
vicissitudes of family life in New York City and
Connecticut in the early days of our country. The
history of many another New England family is
similar to this one, and into such surroundings,
geographical and political, material and spiritual, as
are here presented the descendants of these other

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Preface

families can no doubt fit their own particular records
or memories. But it must be remembered — if this
book falls into the hands of readers outside the de
Forest family who find it filled with little intimate
details of family life — that one of my aims has been
to preserve just such details as would help to build
up for the knowledge of future generations the per-
sonal characteristics which made the early settlers
of our country the industrious, strong-hearted, and
God-fearing, though often blundering, men and
women that they were. This account is therefore
the story of the plain, simple life of one of these .
families. Happily there were hundreds and hun-
dreds of such families, but unfortunately not many
have left such records as have the de Forests.

One rather puzzling question I have been obliged
to decide — the spelling of the de Forest names. It
has seemed best to me to write the sumame through-
out as my family now write it — de Forest. Thename
is, indeed, spelled in many different ways in different
parts of the country. Many of the Albany de For-
ests, for instance, have become De Freests. As to the
Christian names, I give each name in the first place
as I find it in the baptismal record and later spell it
as the man himself wrote it. For example, Hendrick
was apparently baptized Henry in Sedan, but was
always called Hendrick in Leyden and in New
Amsterdam, and he used the latter name for his
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In one matter I have been particularly fortunate;
that is, with regard to the historical documents in
the State Library at Albany. A number of them
referred in one way or another to the de Forest,
family, and most of these I had had translated
shortly before the fire in the State House which de-
stroyed so many invaluable and irreplaceable docu-
ments. Some of these translations will be found in
the Appendix.

In addition to the family records in Major De
Forest's book there is a great deal of early de For-
est material to be found in Riker's " History of
Harlem/' ^ although Riker was liable at times to
adopt conclusions too hastily, and to state them as
facts. He cannot therefore be believed implicitly.
The same can be said with reference to Orcutt's
History of Stratford.

My thanks are due to many friends who have
helped me in many ways : to Monsieur Albert Gravet
of Avesnes, who knows all the old records of that
little city so well; to Miss Jane de Forest Shelton of
berby, Connecticut, who was herself descended from
a de Forest and who in " The Salt Box House " had
written so charmingly and so sympathetically of the
old Connecticut days and ways; and to Messrs.

^ Riker, James. Revised History of Harlem (City of New
York). Its Origin and Early Annals. Also the Recovered
History of the Land-Htles. Illustrations and maps. New
York, 1904.

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Preface

A. J. F. van Laer, Victor H. Paltsits, I. N. Phelps
Stokes, Robert H. Kelby, R. T. Haines Halsey, Wil-
liam L. Andrews, J. H. Innes, Harris D. Colt, Louis
E. de Forest, Sterling Potter, Rev. Frank S. Child,
Sir William van Home, and others, all of whom
have aided me with advice or have allowed me the
use of their valuable prints as illustrations.

E. J. DE F,



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Contents

A WALLOON FAMILY IN AMERICA

I. The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest

( 1 500-1 606) 3

II. Jesse de Forest (1576?-! 624) 13

THE PETITIONER FOR FREEDOM I3

THE VOYAGE TO THE NEW WORLD 28

THE TRAGEDY IN GUIANA 40

THE COLONISTS* RETURN TO HOLLAND 51

III. Jesse de Forest's Children (1604-

1672) 57

PREPARING TO EMIGRATE 57

WESTWARD AGAIN 69

THE MUSCOOTA BOUWERIES 8 1

IV. IsAACK DE Forest, the Founder of

THE Family in America (i 6 16-1674) 109

V. David de Forest, the Connecticut

Pioneer (i 669-1 721) 149

VI. Samuel de Forest (1704-1777) 174

VII. The de Forests in V^Tar Time (1775-

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Contents



VIII. Nehbmiah de Forest (1743-1801) 259

THE INNKEEPER 259
NEHEMIAh's neighbor NATHAN

WHEELER 286

NEHEMIAH's LATER YEARS 3OO



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Illustrations



Map of the Region near Stratford and Fair-
field, Connecticut Front lining pages
From the United Sutet Geological Survey

Portrait of Lockwood de Forest, about 1838

{Photogravure) Frontispiece

Owned by hit gnmdson, Lockwood de Forest

Disused " Porte de Mons," Avesnes 4

Site of Melchior de Forest's Vineyard, Avesnes 6

As it appeared in 19 1 1

Seal of Gilles de Forest 12

In the Archaeological Museuniy Avesnes

De Staelmeesters, usually called ^« The Syndics
OF THE Cloth Hall," 1675 14

Painted by Johan de Blaue. In the Lakenhal, Leyden

Rinsing, Dyeing, and Testing of Cloth 16

Painted for the Saaihal (Serge HallV Leyden, in 1574 by
Isaac Claesz. In the Takenhal (Cloth Hall), Leyden, now a
municipal museum

Last Page of Jesse de Forest^s Petition- to the
Virginia Company, 1621 18

British State Papers, dated Holknd, 1611 [should read 1611]

Round Robin sent with Jesse's Petition to the
Virginia Company, 1621, with Signatures of
Walloon and French Petitioners 20

In the Public Record Office, London



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A Dutch Kitchen of about thb Time of Jesse de
Forest



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26

56

70



At shown in the Lakcnhal, Leyden
The Burgher Guard, 1626

Painted by « Mr. David Bailey/* In the T^kmhalj Leyden

Jesse oe Forest's Signature, 1621

The Patroon, Kiuaen van Rensselaer

Owned by Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer of Albany, a direct
descendant

Model of a Trading Ship or Yacht, probably of

THE SAME TYPE AS THE ReNSSELAERSWYCK, ABOUT

1636 74

Owned by Sir William Van Home, Montreal

Cannon from the Rensselaerswyck, with its Ship-
Made Gun Carriage 78
Owned by Eugene Van Rensselaer

Hartger's View of New Amsterdam, reversed and
enlarged by J. H. Innes 82

NEW AMSTERDAM ABOUT THE TIME OF ISAACK^t ARRIVAL

New York Public Library, New York City

Drawings of Hendrick's Farmhouse as it must

ORIGINALLY HAVE BEEN BUILT 85

Map of New Harlem, showing "Montanye's Flat,"

CALLED BY HIM " VrEDENDAL" 96

**M0NTANYE's FoNTEYN," as STILL TO BE SEEN FLOW-
ING INTO Harlem Mere, Central Park 104

Hendrick de Forest's Signature 108

From Riker's "History of Harlem," p. 165

Map OF NiEUw Haerlem Village Plots, 1670 114

Fh)m Riker's " History of Harlem," p. a6o

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Map showing Isaack*s Lot on Brouwer Straet i i8

AdajneJ from maps in <<New Amsterdam and Its People,**
by J. H. Innes

Silver Communion Beaker used in the Church in
THE Fort 120

Made in Haerlem (Holland) in 1638

Small Dutch Yacht or Sloop, about 1630, prob-
ably SUCH A Sea-Going Yacht as was owned by
Isaack 126

From "History of Yachting/' by Arthur H. Chrk

Dutch Cottage in Beaver Street, New York,
1679 132

From Valentine's Manual, 1853

Map of New Amsterdam, "The Duke's Plan,*'
September, 1661 134

From the original in the British Museum

Donckaerts and Sluyter's Drawing of New York
from Brooklyn Heights, 1679 142

MEW AMSTERDAM SHORTLY AFTER ISAACK'S DEATH

Owned by the Long Ishmd Historical Society

Isaack de Forest's Signature 148

From a Dutch deed of 1661, in the New York City Hall

The Creek, where David, according to Tradition,
landed i^Q

Stratford Meeting-House, from a Drawing of

ABOUT 1778, presumably MADE BY AbIJAH BrOOKS I54
Owned by Mrs. Alice Dorman, Stratford

Communion Chalice and Caudle Cups, probably
made before 1700 1^5

Owned by the First Church of Christ, Stratford



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Moses Wheeler's Court Cupboard, made during

THE latter half OF THE SEVENTEENTH CeNTURY 1 58
Owned by Mrs. Timothy Dwight, New Haven

Map of a Part of Stratford, Connecticut, adap-
ted FROM the Earliest Known Map, 1824 160

Doorway of the Wooster House 164

House on the Housatonic River Road, where Gen-
eral David Wooster was born in 17 10 164

SAID to be an exact REPRODUCTION OP DAVID DE FOREST'S
HOUSE

Chair formerly belonging to David de Forest 166

Owned by Misi Mary Alice Curtis, Stratford

Stratford Elms as they are Today 170

David de Forest's Signature 173

From a Stuyvesant deed. New York, 169 a

Portraits of Mary de Forest Mills and Squire
Elisha Mills 204

Owned by Miss Catherine L. Mills, Coming, New York

House of Hepzibah de Forest Hawley, built

ABOUT 1757 208

Still to be seen on Bam Hill

Samuel de Forest's Signature as "Clerk of the
Train Band" 217

Connecticut State Library, Hartford

David Wooster, Esqr., Commander-in-chief of the
Provincial Army against Quebec 230

Mezzotint published in London, March, 1776.

Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776. Retreat
OF Americans under Lord Stirling across Gow-
ANUs Creek 244

Engraving by James Smillie after the painting by Alonzo
Chappel



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** College Yard/' Princeton, 1764, as it was when
THE Battle of Princeton took place, January
3» 1777 252

Engraving by H. Dawkins after the painting by W. Ten-
nant. Owned by William Loring Andrews, New York

Signature of Samuel de Forest the Fiferin 1832,

WHEN HE WAS SeVENTY-FOUR YeARS OlD 258

From the Pension Office Records, Washington, D.C.

South View of the Central Part of Monroe 266

From Barber^s << Historical Collections of Connecticut,**
1836

Engraving of the Due de Lauzun 278

From Lossing*s <« Pictorial Field Book,** vol. u, p. 308

French Hussar, 1772 280

CoRNWALLis Surrenders his Arms to Washington
after the Defeat at Yorktown, Virginia,
October, 1781. De Lauzun in the Centre 282
Part of a large drawing by John Francis Renault

Academy at Easton, as it looked in 1799 and still
LOOKS Today 310

Nehemiah de Forest's Signature 314

Connecticut State Library, Hartford

Map of Huntington (Ripton) and Monroe (New
Stratford), Connecticut End lining pages

From the United States Geological Survey



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A Walloon Family in America

LOCKWOOD DE FOREST AND
HIS FORBEARS



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Walloon Family in America

LOCKWOOD DE FOREST AND
HIS FORBEARS



I

THE ANCESTRY OF JESSE DE FOREST

JESSE DE FOREST belonged to the ancient ^^^nes
race of Walloons — the " Belgs '* of Caesar's
day — a race whose history doubtless reaches
back to even earlier times. The Walloons were a
warlike people, vigorous, if rude, who spoke, when
our knowledge of them begins, an old French dialect,
and whose robust powers soon led them to become
skilled in industry and trade as well as effective in
war. Conceming them Major John W. De Forest,
who has made an exhaustive study of the early dc
Forest material, writes as follows: " Beaten upon by
the Gauls, the Cimbri, the Romans and the Franks,
the Walloons stubbornly retain their identity and
a certain definiteness of boundary, and number to-
wards four millions of well-looking, strongly-built,
brunet-skinned and generally dark-haired people,

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The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest

dvesfus industrious, fervid in temper and always excellent
soldiers/* ^

The Walloon territory was originally that now
comprised by the northeastern part of France and
the southwestern part of Belgium. It is said that
there are still nearly a million of this race living in
France itself and nearly three milHcwis across the
border in Belgium.

Early in the sixteenth century, when our story
begins, the interest centres in a particular Walloon
province — that of Hainaut, in the extreme north-
eastem comer of France. This particular province
formed in the past an ever-changing boundary
between France and the Spanish Netherlands and
was for centuries the battlefield of warring nobles.
Nor was that all. The province became one of the
strongholds of the Reformation, and to the conflict
of warring nobles was added the religious persecu-
tion of the Spanish princes — a persecution which
left the Huguenots in the Walloon country no choice
but destmction or flight. During the latter half of
the sixteenth century thousands of them fled to
escape ruin and perchance massacre.

In the French part of Hainaut there was in early

* De Forest, John W. The de Forests of Avesnes (and of
New Netherland), a Huguenot Thread in American Colonial
History, 1494 to the Present Time, p. 16. New Haven, 1900.
* Copies of this book may still be had through the publishers,
The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, New Haven,
Connecticut.

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DISUSED " PORTE DE MONS/' AVESNES



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The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest

days a flourishing little fortress-city, Avesnes by Jvisms
name, which was not spared in the troublous times
when Hainaut was devastated; it suffered with the
rest of the province, was owned by many succes-
sive masters, and was, at least once, completely
destroyed.

In this city Jesse de Forest was bom and here his


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Online LibraryEmily Johnston De ForestA Walloon family in America; → online text (page 1 of 21)