Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Soldiers and Others Found at Brazil and at New Amsterdam

The land mass we now know as the nation of Brazil, was untouched by Europeans until 1500 when it was claimed for the Portuguese Empire by the explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral. During the 1500s other European powers, primarily Spain and France, also made explorations of and claims to, specific areas within what we know call Brazil. The Dutch soon followed. By 1630 the Dutch Republic had established a colony comprising most of the north-east portion of Brazil. The Dutch remained in control of this area until 1654, when they suffered a significant military defeat at the hands of the Portuguese. A 1661 treaty formally ceded the territory to Portugal. During the period of Dutch control, the Dutch West India Company (WIC) governed the colony (known as New Holland) and maintained their capital at Recife, which is just about the eastern most point in Brazil.


Dutch Brazil, 1630-1654 (H. Hettema Jr., Groote Historische Schoolatlas ten gebruike bij het onderwijs in de vaderlandsche en algemene geschiedenis. 1920. Wikimedia Commons)

Saint-Louis (now São Luis) Island (in the northwest section of the above map) was first claimed by the French in 1612. It was the French who built the fort known as Saint-Louis de Marangan. In 1615 the Portuguese captured the island and took control from the French. In 1641 the Dutch rested control of the island, and the fort, from the Portuguese, and remained there until 1645 when the Portuguese regained the island. During this same time frame, what has become known as "Kieft's War" (1643-1645) was taking place in New Netherland. Kieft's War was particularly brutal. Initiated by Dir. Willem Kieft, without approval from his council and without the full support of the colony's population, it became a series of back and forth raids and massacres between the Dutch Colonists and their Native American neighbors. Many, on both sides, were killed and much property was destroyed. The end result was Kieft's downfall, his removal as Director of New Netherland and ultimately his death in the wreck of the Princess Amelia in September 1647. We know that in 1641 Adam Brouwer went to Brazil and was stationed at Fort Saint Louis. We also know that it was during the period, 1642 to 1645 (probably July 1744), that Adam Brouwer most likely came to New Amsterdam, from Fort St. Louis de Marinhan.*

São Luiz de Maranhão, Johnnes Vingboons, c.1655 (Wikimedia Commons)
We only know of Adam Brouwer's service at Fort St. Louis from his granting of a power of attorney to one Geurt Servaesz, of Amsterdam, to collect his (Adam's) wages due for his service at Fort St. Louis from the Amsterdam chamber of the WIC. This request was made before the Secretary of New Netherland on 21 February 1645 (A. J. F. van Laer, Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647, NYHM: Dutch, pp. 290-291 and 341-342). It is well known that the vast majority of the records of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) have been lost. They have not survived the 350 years since these events took place. I know of no roll of WIC employed soldiers that survives. At the risk of being vague, my questions to a few persons who would be familiar with such records, tell me that no rosters of soldiers who were sent to Brazil by the WIC survive. Any attempt to recreate such a roster would have to come from piecing together bits of information found in records from the period, located here and there in various sources. The following is a link to a list of soldiers, and others (men not specifically stated to have been soldiers) found in the three volumes of the Register of the Provincial Secretary.

Soldiers and others who were in Brazil, or at Fort St. Louis (São Luiz) de Marinhan (Maranhão, Brazil) and are found later in New Amsterdam

There should be no doubt that the above is not a complete list. As stated, it is a list of those found only in the three volumes of this one source. An expanded search of surviving New Netherland records will likely result in the addition of others. Also of interest to those searching for inhabitants of New Netherland who had previously spent time in Brazil is, "Doopregister der Hollanders in Brazilie, 1633-1654, by C. J. Wasch, published in 's-Gravenhage : Genealogisch en Heraldisch Archief, 1889, and available on microfilm from the Family History Library (FHL) film No. 375563 (see the FamilySearch catalog). This register was reproduced in New Netherland Connections, vols. 11, 12 and 13 (2006, 2007, 2008), by Elisabeth Whitman Schmidt. The Reformed Dutch church in Brazil was located at Recife.**


*For those interested in more on "Kieft's War," see Jeff Snedeker, "The Men Who Fought the Manhattan Indian War, Part I, The Background," New Netherland Connections, vol. 4 (1999), p. 77, and "Part II, the Roster," at page 97 of the same. Of particular interest to Adam Brouwer researchers is what is described on page 82, including note 31. This places the date of the fall of Fort Saint Louis to the Portuguese as 28 February 1644, when about 450 "Company servants" came to the island of Curaçao. Then on 14 July 1644, 200 people, including 130 soldiers under Capt. Jan de Vries, arrived in New Amsterdam from the island on De Blauwen Haen (the Blue Cock).

**Of interest to Brouwer researchers here is the baptisms of Lucretia, daughter of Jan Gerrets Brouwer and Anneken Lourens on 3 May 1647, at Recife, and of Anna, daughter of Jan Gerrets Brouwer and Anna Lourens on 23 January 1649, at Recife. On 2 April 1656, Lucretje, daughter of Jan Gerritszen Brouwer and Annetje Laurens, was baptized in New Amsterdam, and on 17 November 1666, the same couple had a son (not named) baptized at the Zuider Kerk (South Church) in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This Jan Gerrets Brouwer of Brazil, New Amsterdam, and Amsterdam, is not known to have been connected by family to any of the original Brouwer family progenitors (Adam, Jan, or Willem) found in New Netherland during the mid to late 1600s.

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1 comment:

  1. Our PBS station in Kentucky ran a very interesting article overt the weekend regarding all the Kentuckians who left after the Civil War and moved to Americana Brazil. The man interviewed in the show had recently written a book regarding this. I have done research for almost 40 years and had never heard or ready anything regarding Kentuckians making a new settlement in Brazil.
    Linda in KY

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