Wolfert Gerritsen Van Kouvenhoven

In 1609, Henry Hudson, an English navigator, was hired by the Dutch East Indies Company to find a route eastward through the Arctic Ocean above Russia to India for trading purposes. Failing this, he turned his ship westward and entered today's New York Harbor, and sailed up the Hudson river to the site of present-day Albany.

Little was done with this new Dutch territory besides trading with the Indians for furs, until 1624 when Peter Minuit was named head of the Dutch West Indies Company. In 1625, 30 families sailed for what is now Manhattan island to operate farms to supply more trading ships. One of those farmers was Wolfert Gerrittsen Van Kouvenhouven, who was assigned Farm (Bowerie) Number 3 on the southern tip of the island, which was known as New Amsterdam. Wolfert is my 8th great-grandfather.

In 1638, Wolfert purchased a tract of land from the Indians on Long Island, in a place called the Flatlands. His home was located at the intersection of today's Kings Highway and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

Wolfert had three sons: Gerrit, Jacob, and Pieter. Gerrit helped his father on Long Island, while Jacob and Pieter operated breweries in New Amsterdam. When New Amsterdam was set up as a city in 1653, Pieter was elected one of the schepens, or magistrates. He was to have a long career in public service in the new town.

In 1664 the British overran New Amsterdam, renaming it New York.

Pieter's son Peter Cownover was one of the first to cross the bay and settle on Great Egg Harbor in today's southeastern New Jersey. His sons, Peter and John, settled in nearby Absecon Beach, today's Atlantic City.

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Copyright 1999-2005 Martin E. Cassidy