Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island, 1656-1751

Records of the Town of Jamaica, Long Island, New York, 1656-1751. edited by Josephine C. Frost, consisting of three volumes, was published by the Long Island Historical Society in 1914. Digital copies can be found online at Internet Archives.




Although located within the political jurisdiction of Dutch New Netherlands, and called Rustdorp (prior to the English takeover in 1664), Jamaica was a predominately "English town," and the first settlers were all of English ancestry. The first record appearing in volume one is dated 18 February 1656, and here Daniel Denton is "chosen to write & enter all acts and orders of public concernment of ye Town and is to have a daie's work a man for ye said employment." The first votes taken by "ye Town," order that "whosoever shall fell any trees in ye highways shall take both top and body out of ye highway;" declare a bounty of fifteen shillings for every wolf killed; and make the statement, "Likewise it is agreed upon by ye Town that whereas they have the Little plains by purchase and patent within their limits to maintain their rights & privaleges in ye said place from any such as shall goe to deprive ym off it & soe to make use off it as they shall se cause."

In the opening pages, house lots were granted to Robert Coe and his son Benjamin Coe, Nicolas Tanner, Abraham Smith, John Eazer, Samuel Smith, Morace Smith, and William Thorne, in the west quarter. In the north quarter lots were granted to Andrew Messenger, Samuell Matthews, Thomas Wiggins, Richard Chasmore, Richard Harker, Richard Everet, Henry Townsend, Richard Townsend, John Townsend and John Roades. So as you can see, the first inhabitants of the Town of Jamaica, located within Dutch New Netherland, all had English names. However, within a few decades names belonging to families of Dutch, Scandinavian, French and German origin; names more often associated with New Netherland, can be found in the Town of Jamaica records. In time the population of "Dutch" families was large enough to warrant the establishment of a Reformed Dutch congregation, and although the exact date of its formation is not known, surviving baptism records begin with the year 1702. They were published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record beginning with volume 105, no. 1 (January 1974), and continuing in each subsequent issue into volume 107 (1976).

Only one person named Brouwer appears in the three volume set. While the indexes for volumes one and three do not include the surname Brouwer (or any variation), volume two includes three mentions of "John Brower," and "Johannes Bruer."

At page 375 of volume two is a list of those contributing to the support of a minister. It bears the date of 1 January 1693/94. The list is dominated by English names, but also found on it is John Brower, who is followed by John Hareson (a transcription error for Hanson) and Steven Courtt. The three are the only "non-English" names on the list and they are the last three listed.

At page 439, "Johanas Bruer," is found on a rate list for the town dated 3 February 1708/09. John Hanson and Tunis Hanson, are also on this list. Following, on page 440, is a rate list dated 4 February 1708/09, which again includes Johanas Bruer, along with John Hanson, Hanss Bargin (Bergen) and Tunis Hanson.

The records above can only belong to Johannes Brouwer, son of Jan Brouwer and Jannetje Jans of Flatlands, Long Island. He was baptized on 26 May 1658 in the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church. Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island had no son named Jan (John), and is oldest grandson with that name (Jan, son of Pieter Brouwer, bapt. 1685 at New York), was living at Newark, New Jersey when banns for his marriage to Antje Mandeville were posted at Hackensack, New Jersey, on 10 April 1708.

The "John Hanson," found on the rate lists, and contributing to the upkeep of the minister in 1693/94, would be Jan Hansen, son of Hans Hansen and Sara Rapalje, whose descendants took on the surname, Bergen. "Tunis Hanson," and "Hanss Bargin," were two of his sons. As laid out in the post of October 8, 2013, I believe that Annetje Jans, a.k.a. Antje Berge, was also a daughter of Jan Hansen. She was married in 1687 to Pieter Brouwer, brother of the John Brower/Johanas Bruer found in Jamaica.

"Steven Courtt," the other "non-English" contributor found on the list of 1 January 1693/94, would be Stephen Coerten Van Voorhees, a son of Coert Stephensz Van Voorhees and Marritje Gerrits.

Johannes Brouwer (John Brower/Johanas Bruer) died in the fall of 1712. In his will dated 1 September 1712, he is stated to be "of Hempstead, Long Island." He is styled as "Johannes Brewer," in the will, which was proved 13 October 1712. Johannes' wife was Sara Willems, and they were not known to have had any children. None were named in the will and Johannes left his property to his wife, and then to his own brothers and sisters after Sara's death.

While there are no deeds or land records found for Johannes Brouwer in the Jamaica records, there are a number involving Hans Bergen and Tunis Bergen. They are found in volume three and are indexed under the name "Bargin," which apparently is how the English speaking clerk recorded their surname. There are also quite a few for John Hanson/Hance/Hans/Hanse found in both volumes two and three.

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