Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Three Evert Hendricksens in New Netherland

The motivation for this post comes from an e-mail received a few months back from a correspondent who mentioned that Evert Hendricksen, the first husband of Fytje Brouwer, may have been a bigamist, and had a second family living on the Delaware River. Being a skeptic, I decided to investigate this possibility myself. In short order it became very apparent to me that the Evert Hendricksen found living on the Delaware, could not be the same Evert Hendricksen who was the first husband of Fytje Brouwer. However, internet searches found that this idea was appearing online in various family trees (at least one found on RootsWeb, and several on Ancestry.com) and is mentioned in a couple of posts found in the archive of the Dutch-Colonies-L forum hosted by RootsWeb.* Since this idea of a duel life for Evert Hendricksen is online, I felt it necessary to post this "counter-research." And, since we're on the topic of two Evert Hendricksens, we might as well cover the third Evert Hendricksen, who might also be confused with Fytje Brouwer's husband.

The supporting research is organized in a document organized as a timeline, titled "Was Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen, of Brooklyn, New York, husband of Fytje Brouwer, and Ivert/Evert Hendricksen, of Crane Hook, Delaware, one and the same man?" Please refer to this document for details and sources. Do not ignore the footnotes. They contain more info than can be fit on the timeline. And please take the time to consult the sources cited yourself. Many of them can be found online. Should anyone come up with a different conclusion based on these records alone, then so be it. Should anyone find additional records that can prove that the two men are one and the same, I would ask you to share it so that it can be reviewed and considered by myself and others.

The Three Evert Hendricksens

1. - Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen, first husband of Fytje Brouwer. The post of September 26, 2012 covered Fytje Brouwer, a daughter of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, L. I., and her two husbands. The first husband was Evert Hendricksen, who appears to have also been known as Ephraim Hendricksen. This Evert Hendricksen left very few records, and very little is known about his life or his origins. In late September 1687, an Oath of Allegiance was taken by all non-English men living in Kings County in the Provence of New York. The roll for this oath includes the oath taker's name and the length of time in years (Jeares) he has lived in the American colonies. If the individual was born in America he is listed with the notation, Native. On the list we find Ephraim hendricks, 33 jeare. He is listed in the Town of Breucklijn (Brooklyn) as are Adam Brouwer, and number of Adam's sons, and Mattys Cornelisen, 24 jeare, who is listed immediately before Ephraim Hendricks. Mattys Cornelisen would become Fytje Brouwer's second husband in early 1692.

The only other records found pertaining to this Evert Hendricksen are the baptism records of five of his six known children, and a listing on the September 1683 assessment roll in Brooklyn where he is recorded as Evert Hendrickse. The first of the five baptism records is dated 14 February 1677, and the last is dated 30 November 1684. In the records the father is called Evert (Everd) Hendricksen (Hendrickszen). Two of the baptisms are found in the records of the New York Reformed Dutch Church, while the other three are in the records of the Brooklyn and Flatbush Reformed Dutch Churches. A sixth child, a daughter Magdalena, is named in her grandfather Adam Brouwer's will written in January 1691/92. No record of baptism has been found for her. Evert/Ephraim was living in 1687 (took the Oath) but was deceased by 20 February 1692 when marriage banns for Fytje Brouwer and Mattys Cornelisen were recorded at the Flatbush church. No will or other settlement of his estate has been found for Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen. No records of land transactions have yet been found, and it may be that Evert never owned land himself. He and Fytje may well have lived on her father's mill property at Gowanus which was under the jurisdiction of Brooklyn. No marriage record has been found for Evert and Fytje, but this is not all that unusual as the records for the Brooklyn and Flatbush churches are incomplete and there are many couples found in Kings County during the last half of the 17th century for whom no record of marriage survives.

We know nothing of Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen's origins except that he had been in America for 33 years as of September 1687, meaning he first came to New Netherland in 1655. This is an important fact in distinguishing Evert/Ephraim from Ivert/Evert below. A clue to Evert's origins lies with the surname, Van Gelder, that appears to have been adopted first by his sons Jacobus, by 1705 (marriage record, Hackensack) and Hendrick (a.k.a. Nicolaes) by 1707 (marriage record, New York). Jacob Van Gelder and Hendrick/Nicolaes Van Gelder, evidently either knew, or strongly believed, that their father's origins were in Gelderland, one of the provinces in the Netherlands. With this is mind it is likely that Evert/Ephraim was Dutch. This is the second factor that will distinguish Evert/Ephraim from Ivert/Evert. Whether is name at birth was either Evert or Ephraim is not certain. It is known that his son Hendrick/Nicolaes** named a son, Ephraim (b. 1716) certainly in honor of his father. We do not know when Evert/Ephraim was born. There is no surviving record that gives his age at any point in time. He came to New Netherland in 1655, but whether he was an adult, or still a child at that time is not known***. Likewise, there is no surviving record of baptism for Fytje Brouwer. Her first child for whom we have a record of baptism was her son Adolph who was baptized in 1677. Whether or not she had earlier children is not clear, however, from this record it can be ascertained that Evert and Fytje were married by 1677. Fytje's last known child was baptized in 1690. Her parents were married in 1645, and they had children baptized in 1646, 1649, 1651 and 1653. It is safe to assume that Fytje was born during the decade of the 1650s, probably around 1655. The importance of this will be seen below. It is the third factor against the idea that Evert/Ephraim and Ivert/Evert were one and the same.

2. Ivert/Evert Hendrickson, of Crane Hook on the Delaware. On 3 May 1641, Ivert Hindriksson was hired to serve as a soldier in New Sweden. He was brought to the New Sweden Colony in America aboard the Charitas which accompanied the Kalmar Nyckel on the trans Atlantic voyage. He came to New Sweden at an early time in the colony's short life and when there were but a few settlers. Salomen Ilmonen, who authored a three volume history on Finns in America (Amerikan Suomalaisten Historia, 1923) calls him "Ivar Hendricksson the Finn" and states that he was a farmer from Värmland. Peter S. Craig, F.A.S.G., whose area of expertize is the Swedish and Finnish families of the colonial Delaware River area, states that "Ivert the Finn, the Delaware's First Bigamist," volunteered as a laborer and came to New Sweden in 1641, leaving behind a wife and young son ("The Delaware Finns of Colonial America," 1999). New Sweden was taken over by the Dutch in 1655, was incorporated into New Netherland and was administered from New Amsterdam. In turn, the Dutch lost control of the colony to the English in 1664. Records for the colony from 1648 through 1699 survive and are found in a number of sources (see the PDF above). Ivert/Evert is found in these records on a number of occasions. He is often recorded with the appellation, "the Finn," or simply "Fin." Both the initial Swedish administrators, and the Dutch successors used this appellation to distinguish ethnic Finns from others.**** In 1675 there are two records, one a petition which Evert signs with his mark, in which he is called Evert Eck, or Evert Hendriksson Eck. Why the suffix, Eck, is not apparent. But it does not appear to refer to a place or occupation as it is not preceded by "van" or "ten" or "de." The English word, "oak" translates to "ek" in Swedish, and to "eik" in Dutch. This name for Evert, is only seen in 1675. In other records he is recorded with his patronymic, Hendricksen (various spellings). The fact that many of the records refer to him as "Finn," tells us that beyond a doubt, Ivert/Evert was Finnish. This brings us back to the second factor mentioned above under Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen. Ivert/Evert, being Finnish, would not have been from Gelderland in the Netherlands.

The fact that Ivert/Evert was a bigamist is not disputed. In January 1678/79, "Evert Hendriks fin" was ordered to appear in court to answer to the accusation that he had two wives living at Crane Hook. In February, Evert answered that he did have two wives, and did so with the consent of both. That answer was acceptable to the court and the charges were dismissed.***** Peter S. Craig, in "The Delaware Finns of Colonial America," writes that Ivert/Evert married his second wife prior to his first wife's arrival in America which likely took place in 1656. If Peter S. Craig is correct, it appears that Ivert/Evert married his second wife before Fytje Brouwer was born. We do not know when Ivert/Evert was born. Since he was hired as a soldier for service in New Sweden in early 1641, and since (according to Peter S. Craig) he was married at the time with a young son, it is likely that he was in his twenties when he came to America. Perhaps he was in his early twenties, but still it could be safe to say that Ivert/Evert Hendrickson was born during the decade of the 1610s. He may well have been a few years older than Fytje Brouwer's father, Adam Brouwer, and at least forty years older than Fytje. It is not reasonable to believe that Adam Brouwer would allow a daughter to marry an already married man with a living wife, forty years or so her senior. At least not in his time and place. Even if Ivert/Evert married his second wife after 1656 (but prior to 1678/79), that second wife could not have been Fytje Brouwer.

Ivert/Evert was complained against in court on a number of occasions. If he were around today we might describe him as having "anger management issues." He was physically violent with his neighbors, and one Andies Andriessen, the Finn, complained about Evert's involvement with his wife. Whether or not Evert was having an affair with Andries' wife, or if he was in some other way harassing her is not certain. These events occurred in 1663, and apparently Evert was banned from the Colony on the Delaware. He may have gone to New York, possibly to answer to Stuyvesant directly, but apparently Willem Beeckman intervened on Ivert's behalf, and he was allowed to return to (or remain at) the Delaware and resettle in a different location. This is when he settled at Crane Hook. In February 1679/80 he did make a trip to New York. The purpose of the trip not known, but being true to form, he stirred up some trouble while there. In October 1680 he had land surveyed in Delaware and here he is referred to as "Capt. Evert Hendrikss fin." There is nothing to indicate anything other than the fact that Ivert/Evert Hendrickson remained at Crane Hook for the remainder of his life. There is nothing to indicate that he had a second family in New York. This map from 1680-85 shows the location of Capt. Evert Hendrick's property in Crane Hook (bottom left corner).

Crane Hook, 1680-85, from Jeanette Eckman, Crane Hook on the Delaware, (Delaware Swedish Colonial Society, 1958)

Ivert/Evert Hendrickson, "Finn," on one occasion called "Ek," had one known son. He was named Hendrick and is found frequently in the records beginning early in the 1680s as Hendrick Evertson. The first mention of Hendrick Evertson dates from 1679 when a complaint was filed against him by the executors of the estate of Dirck Albertson, in a case of debt. There is only one other mention of a man with the surname/patronymic "Evertson" in the Delaware records during the last few decades of the 17th century******, so it is assumed that Hendrick is Ivert/Evert's only surviving child. The names of Ivert/Evert's two wives is still not known. Ivert/Evert Hendrickson is last mentioned in October 1684, when Edmund Cantwell acknowledge the sale of a house and ground for Evert Hendricks. In 1686, Hendrick Evertson was assessed on 260 acres in New Castle County, but there is no mention of Evert Hendrickson. On the 1693 census of the Delaware, Hendrick Evertson is recorded, but again, no Evert Hendrickson. There is no record of death, or probate of Ivert/Evert's estate, but it appears likely that Ivert/Evert Hendrickson died around 1685. The above mentioned record involving Edmund Cantwell is not all that clear, but perhaps he was acknowledging executing the deed on behalf of Evert Hendricks who may have recently died. In 1685, Ivert/Evert would have been in his late 60s or early 70s.

3. Evert Hendricksen (Bras). Evert, child of Hendrick Van Dusenberg, was baptized on 16 May 1644 at the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church. Since this date would correspond with a reasonable time in which Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen was born, confusing the two might be understandable. However, the 1687 Oath of Allegiance tells us that Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen was not born in America. With this we know that the two men cannot be one and the same. Evert's father was more often recorded with his patronymic, Pieterszen. Hendrick Pieterszen and his first wife, Geertje Everts, had five children baptized in the New Amsterdam Reformed Church between 1640 and 1653. This included four sons, Pieter, Evert, Adam, and Harmen. In 1664 Hendrick Pieterszen received land in Flatlands in Kings County, Long Island. He settled there and appears to have remained there for the remainder of his life. Hendrick Pieterszen also had a son Gerret, for whom a record of baptism has not been found, and, by his second wife, Geertje Rutgers, a son Bruyn/Bruno (Geertje Rutgers first husband was Brun Willemsen) also no record of baptism found. The sons adopted the surname Bras, which is spelled in a wide variety of ways including Bresser, Brasser, Bresse, Bress, Bres, Brisse, Brissa, as well as others. In addition, there is a distinct family named Bries, descendants of Hendrick Volkertsen of Brooklyn, and a family named Brasser (also seen as Brasher) descended from Henry Brasser, an Englishman who lived at Gravesend, Long Island. The families are sorted out by William J. Hoffman in a multi-part article titled, "The Founders of the Bras(s), Brasser, Bresser, Bries and Brazer Familes," published in The American Genealogist beginning with volume 20 (1944) and running into volume 21. It is recommended that you start with Hoffman's work if you're looking to sort out these families.

Evert and his brothers were grantors in a very difficult to decipher deed dated 7 April 1692, and found in Kings County, Conveyances, Vol. 2, page 136. The deed is abstracted in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, vol. 54 (1923), page 250. The deed lists Evert and his brothers as follows, "Peter Hendrickse of Flatbush and his brothers William Brimasson Brinase, Hendrickson Brist, Evert Hendrickson, Rutt Brimasson, Harman Hendrickse Brisse, Walter Brimsey and Garret Hendrickse Brissa, on April 7, 1692, deed Garret Coerte..." Again, the grantors are all brothers (Walter Brimsey is a son of Geertje Rutgers by her first husband Brun Willemsen), yet no two are written in this one deed with their surname or patronymic spelled the same way. There is no better example of the difficulties in conducting genealogical research imposed by the absence of standardized spelling of names during the colonial period.

A September 1676 tax assessment in the Town of Brooklyn includes a ___ Hendrickse, taxed on one poll. The man's given name is missing, however, Hoffman, in the above mentioned article, assigns this record, as well as the 1683 tax assessment, to Evert Hendricksen Bras (TAG 20:218). As Evert's father lived at Flatlands (a town separate from Brooklyn in 1676) and Evert himself lived his adult life in New York City (Manhattan), it is more likely that this record belongs to Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen who is assessed in Brooklyn in 1683, and who took the oath there in 1687. Of course, without a given name the 1676 record could belong to some other man with the patronymic, Hendricksen, however no other man with that patronymic (other than Evert) is found on either the 1683 tax roll or the 1687 oath, so we will assume it belongs to Evert/Ephraim. [Note that on the 1683 tax roll, Evert Hendrickse is recorded immediately following Jesies Dregz (Josias Janszen Drats) another son-in-law of Adam Brouwer.]

Evert Hendricksen Bras was married on 8 April 1685, with banns posted on 14 April 1685 at the New York Reformed Dutch Church, to Metje Hardenbroeck, a daughter of Johannes Hardenbroeck and his wife, Urseltje. The couple had nine children baptized in New York between 1686 and 1703, including a second son named Johannes (the first had been named Hendrick), and a first daughter named Urseltje (second daughter was named Geertje). A better example of a couple following the Dutch custom of first son for paternal grandfather, second son for maternal grandfather, first daughter for maternal grandmother, second daughter for paternal grandmother, cannot be found.

Evert is recorded in various records with his patronymic either as Hendrickszen, Hendricxen, Hendrickse, and with the adopted surname as Bres, Bress and Bresse. Although his father was recorded as Hendrick Van Dusenberg on Evert's own baptism record, there is no evidence that Evert (or any of his brothers) used, or was recorded with that name as an adult. The surname, spelled as Bras, seems to have been a standardized spelling adopted by modern researchers as a way to mitigate the confusion brought on by such varied spellings in the original records. Once all of the records have been collected, and some scholarly work published by well respected genealogists consulted, there should be no confusion in differentiating between Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen and Evert Hendricksen Bras.

And just so we are clear: Evert/Ephraim Hendricksen and Ivert/Evert Hendrickson are two very different men. Fytje Brouwer was at no time married to Ivert/Evert Hendricksen.

*Since none had adequate source documentation or support I will not provide links. If you are truly interested you can search for them yourself. The Ancestry.com trees, however, are behind a pay wall and you will need an active subscription to access. I cannot advise spending the money for the sole purpose of viewing these "family trees."

**In his marriage record Hendrick Van Gelder is called "Nicolaas." His will begins, "Nicholas Van Gelder of Richmond County," but is signed, "Hendrick Van Gelder." The baptism records of his children (three at New York and two at Freehold/Middletown, New Jersey) call him Hendrikus or Hendrick. His own record of baptism (1682, New York) calls him Hendrick, and Nicholas may have simply been an alias he used, or for some reason, a name Hendrick preferred to be called by.

***Evert/Ephraim came to America in 1655, yet the first record identified with him does not appear until 1677 (possibly 1676). The absence of any record between 1655 and 1677 could be explained if Evert came to America as a child, and possibly alone and placed in the household of a family in either New York or Brooklyn. If he was about the same age as his wife, Fytje Brouwer, this scenario would be plausible. The lack of any record may also be simply explained by the fact that not all records from this period survive. 

****The nation we know of today as Finland did not come into existence until 1917. During the 17th century the territory that today comprises the Republic of Finland was within the bounds of what is commonly called the Realm of Sweden. However, at the time there were Finnish people. Finn was an ethnicity rather than a nationality. They spoke their own language although most also spoke Swedish. The are a number of individuals found in the 17th century records of New Sweden who are distinguished by the appellation, "Finn." The first administrators of the New Sweden Colony seemed intent on differentiating between those who were "Swedish" and those who were "Finns."

*****The records of the case are brief and do not name either wife by name. There is nothing to indicate that the second wife was in New York, and there is no mention of children. There is no suggestion that Evert had a second family in New York. The record states that Evert had two wives "at Crane Hook."

******An Arent Everssen, schoolmaster, is named in a 1663 letter from Willem Beeckman to Stuyvesant.

Sources for this post can be found in the online PDF document mentioned above, and at the Brouwer Genealogy Database website, were you will have to use one of the indexes to locate specific individuals. Ivert/Evert Hendrickson is not found on the BGD. In addition there is a good amount of credible literature available on the early New Sweden Colony. Much of it is available online. You just have to search for it.

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