Thursday, September 16, 2010

33rd New Netherland Seminar



Many people know that Pieter Stuyvesant surrendered the Dutch colony of New Netherland to the English in 1664. Fewer know that the Dutch regained control of their former possession almost as easily as it had been lost nine years earlier.

“The Company Strikes Back: the 1673 Recovery of New Netherland” is the theme of the 33rd Annual New Netherland Seminar, Saturday, Sept. 25, presented by the New Netherland Institute (NNI). Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., in the Carole Huxley Theatre in the NYS Museum in Albany.

How could the Restoration of government by New Netherland take place against the world power of England? The seminar will explain such themes as what was happening in the nations of Europe, the daring exploits of the Dutch fleet, the administration of Governor Anthony Colve and then the changes when New Netherland went back to being New York.

Eminent scholars will give presentations throughout the day. They are drawn from the roster of research fellows of the New Netherland Project, which continues under its expanded identity as the New Netherland Research Center to translate original 17th-century Dutch colonial documents.

Joyce Goodfriend, Ph.D., of the University of Denver, will give an overview of the conditions before and after the Restoration.

Dennis Maika, Ph.D., will analyze the economic climate. His focus is on Dutch merchants in English New York City.

Donald G. Shomette will describe the Dutch naval campaign of the combined fleets of the Zeeland and Amsterdam squadrons.

David Voorhees, Ph.D., will talk about the Dutch Administration of Governor Anthony Colve.

Daniel Richter, Ph.D., will draw connections between the Restoration of New Netherland and the Restoration of the Stuarts in England.

Len Tantillo, history artist, will use his own paintings and drawings to illustrate images of New York 1660-1720. A framed original pencil portrait of Admiral Cornelis Evertsen of the Zeelander Squadron by Tantillo will be sold in a silent auction at the dinner Saturday evening to benefit the New Netherland Institute.

In addition, a print of a painting commissioned by Dr. Andrew A. Hendricks will be raffled. The painting, at upper left, which shows the land owned by Hendricks’ early Dutch ancestors, is "The Mesier Mill, Manhattan, c. 1695.” The settlement clustered around a landmark windmill, is on the land now known as Ground Zero in Manhattan.

Following the box lunch, the annual Hendricks Award will be presented to Dirk Mouw for his dissertation “Moederkerk and Vaderland: Religion and Ethnic Identity in the Middle Colonies, 1690-1772.” Dr. Hendricks endows the award of $5,000 for the best book-length manuscript relating to the Dutch colonial experience in North America.

“Re-visiting Wampum, and Other 17th Century Shell Games” will be the topic of James Bradley, Ph.D., speaker at the dinner meeting at the University Club. Dr. Bradley is the 2009 winner of the Hendricks Manuscript Award.

The NNI is a membership organization with the responsibility of support for the New Netherland Research Center (NNRC), located in the New York State Library in Albany. The NNI raises funds and administers grants such as the matching gift of €200,000 presented in Albany in 2009 by Crown Prince Willem Alexander and the Crown Princess Maxima of the Netherlands.

The NNRC is based on the New Netherland Project of translating 17th-century Dutch documents as its core, with Charles Th. Gehring, Ph.D. as its director.

Registration for the daylong seminar is $50 or $25 for students with ID. Box lunches may be ordered in advance for $10. Tickets for the welcome reception and dinner at the University Club are $65.
More information is available at the website Questions may be directed to

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bad Luck and Good Luck

Maybe you’ve heard this Rodney Dangerfield gem: If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all!
With a bit of a stretch, I’m going to apply it to genealogy research, too.
I was investigating a family project for which the basis of the search was a family ledger. They called it the family Bible, but I soon recognized it as the ledger for the family business. It was in German, and a couple of hundred years old, so I didn’t expect it to be the same German I studied at Skidmore. And it wasn’t!
After a few hours of translation efforts, I took it to the world expert, Charles T. Gehring, Ph.D., director of the New Netherland Project, now the heart of the New Netherland Research Center in Albany, for his opinion. The spelling was different but consistent in the use of a final “d” instead of a final “t” or “et.” If you’re not keen on languages, disregard this except to appreciate his immediate recognition of the language as a dialect, perhaps Franconian, perhaps Palatine, two dialects that have softer sounds.
As luck would have it – good luck, that is – I was working on a different client’s family, poring over the surname files at the Schenectady County Historical Society, and discovered both names on pages copied from the St. Johnsville Enterprise and News, whose editor, Lou D. McWethy, gave space to genealogy discussions. In fact, in 1933 McWethy published quite a bit about the Palatine population in the area, who arrived starting in 1708.
The information cited the Hunter Ration Lists, created by Governor Hunter to communicate the desperate plight of the Palatine people brought to the Hudson River Livingston properties to extract tar from the native pine trees. Oops! Wrong kind of trees, so no need for these hundreds of workers. What to do with them?
They were dispersed to a variety of locations, and all was not well for them. Some stayed in West Camp, in Ulster County on the Hudson River. (I wonder whether today’s residents of that community have any idea of the source of the name.) You can find resources about more Palatine communities in New York State and in Pennsylvania.
Around here, the capital district of New York State, reminders are not hard to find, as in the place name Palatine Bridge, on the north side of the Mohawk River, opposite Canajoharie. My well-thumbed copy of French’s Gazetteer mentions the Palatine district, once called Stone Arabia, as well as the hamlet of Palatine Church.
The website ProGenealogists: The Palatine Project provides reconstructed ship passenger lists, on which I found my target individual on the Sixth List, 1710, of those on the James & Elizabeth, naming his first wife and telling when she probably died, as well as his sons, all with the first name Johann. Good news!
So the bad luck was that of the Palatine immigrants. Without their bad luck, Governor Hunter would have had no need to compile the list of names of the families in need. That’s where the bad luck turned to good luck for genealogists in the 21st century.

Germans in Schenectady

I enjoyed reading Bill Buell’s feature story in today's Daily Gazette, “German-American Club celebrates rich heritage.” (Sept. 2, 2010)

I’ve heard it said that German ethnicity is one of the most common in the United States, but that it is also one of the most hidden, for various reasons.

Buell mentioned the ethnic German societies in Albany and Schenectady. Newspapers were published by a number of ethnic communities, including the German-American societies. News items told a good deal about the community’s people and included information linking the local German community with families and friends left behind in Germany.

For a genealogy client research project not long ago, Robert Sullivan, reference librarian at the Schenectady County Public Library, led me to a rich source of information, an Index to the Local Obituaries and Deaths Reported in Schenectady in Das Deutsche Journal 1900-1909, R90 Rei, by Thomas Reimer, Albany, N.Y., 1993.

The index is in the holdings of the Schenectady County Public Library, and the newspapers themselves are in the holdings of the State University of New York at Albany. The time frame I targeted could be studied in the weekly newspapers, Das Deutsche Journal 1900-1909 and the Schenectady Herold 1911-1917. In 1917 the two weeklies merged to become the Schenectady Herold-Journal, 1917-1974.

In Schenectady, in 2004 the Schenectady German Turnverein opened its time capsule in a ceremony at the Efner Center/City Archives, located on the top floor of the Schenectady City Hall. One document was the membership roster from August 1, 1903, listing a well known name, Steinmetz, and many names still found in the local telephone directory,

Those who are curious about German ancestry in the capital district just might learn more about their families in sources like these.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Conference chatter

Genealogists continue to learn, as new sources are uncovered (sometimes literally dug out of the ground) and new ways of managing information are developed.

Attending conferences is good way to learn the latest and to network with people who have just the special knowledge you are glad to learn.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock this year offers a variety of presentations for individuals and for organizations. Let's see what catches my interest!

Genealogy, the Great Obsession

Hello, friends,

Perhaps, like me, you find family history fascinating. I see a photograph of Grandpa Elias, the Civil War veteran, and his family and wonder about the family before and after.

We all run smack into brick walls from time to time. Maybe you and I will find good clues on this blog to get beyond the barriers.