Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Daniel, Son of Adam Brouwer ???

The baptism record of Daniel, son of "Adam Brouwer and Aeltje Van der Beeck," dated May 7, 1678, was recorded at the Reformed Dutch Church of New York. For sponsors the records states, geen getúÿgen, or "no witnesses." This record can be found at New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volume 8 (1877), p. 171, and in Baptisms from 1639 to 1730 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York, Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Volume 2 (1901) at page 132. Since its publication the meaning, or interpretation, of this record has not been clear. It may be that the original record was in error, or it may be that 20th century researchers have simply misunderstood the record.

The first mention of this record, outside of the context of the original, was by T. G. Bergen, in his Early Settlers of Kings County, as published in NYGBR vol. 9 (1878), p. 129. Bergen writes, "Another Adam Brouwer, who married Aeltje Van der Beeck, and had a son, Daniel, bap. in N. Y. May 7, 1678." Bergen is clearly of the belief that the persons recorded as Daniel's parents are a married couple, and that the father, Adam Brouwer, is someone other than Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, L. I. Bergen is incorrect in his belief. The Adam Brouwer recorded here as father is the same Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, L. I. (who was married to Magdalena Verdon), and the Aeltje Van der Beeck, was the daughter of Maria Badie and Paulus Van der Beeck, was a half-sister of Magdalena Verdon, and was at the time of the baptism, married to Dirck Jans Ammerman. The couple recorded as parents in the baptism record of Daniel, were in fact, not married to each other.

The problem is next taken up by John Reynolds Totten in "Brouwer (Brower-Brewer) Family Notes," at NYGBR vol. 67 (1936), pp. 225-228. Totten devotes three pages to this question. To summarize, Totten notes that Bergen is in error in his assumption that Adam Brouwer and Aeltje Van der Beeck were husband and wife. He notes that if Adam Brouwer was the father of Daniel, then that fact is "not made clear by records elsewhere." (For example, Adam does not mention any son named Daniel in his will of 1692). Totten confirms that the "original" record was checked by two genealogists and that they confirmed that the transcribed version, as published by the NYGBS, was not in error. The possibility of a transcription error has been eliminated. Totten next entertains and dismisses the possibility that Daniel could be an illegitimate son of Adam Brouwer and his sister-in-law, Aeltje Van der Beeck. Finally he accepts the conclusion of his associate, Howard S. F. Randolph, who concludes that the original record must have been in error in that while Adam Brouwer is correctly recorded as the father, Aeltje Van der Beeck is incorrectly recorded as the mother and should have been recorded as a sponsor (or witness). This seems to be the interpretation of the baptism record that has prevailed and been repeated to date.

William J. Hoffman, in "Brouwer Beginnings," TAG 24 (1948): 170, simply states that the baptism record is in error, and refers the reader to Totten's article mentioned above. Hoffman apparently accepts the conclusion of Totten and Reynolds.

The three 20th century genealogists, Totten, Reynolds and Hoffman, may well be making two errors in reaching their collective conclusion. First, they assume that the recording of Adam Brouwer as a parent (the father) of Daniel is correct, and that the recording of Aeltje Van der Beeck as the mother, is incorrect. Frankly, they have no way of knowing whether this assumption is correct or not. It may well be that Aeltje Van der Beeck was correctly recorded as a parent, and that Adam Brouwer is in error. Reynolds notes, in his explanation, that Aeltje had a daughter (Catherine) baptized on 2 April 1677, and another (Annatje) baptized on 30 October 1681. Daniel was baptized on 7 May 1678, which is thirteen months after the earlier date and over twenty-nine months before the later date. Although the thirteen months between Catherine (2 April 1677) and Daniel (7 May 1678) is short, it is not biologically impossible. It also has to be remembered that these are baptism dates, and not birth dates. Although, it is true that in 17th century New Netherland/New York, children were regularly baptized within a few days of their birth, delayed baptisms were not unheard of. If Catherine was born even just two months prior to her baptism, it increases the possibility that Aeltje may have had another child. We can also consider the biological fact that some children are born prematurely. Reynolds' conclusion that Adam Brouwer was correctly recorded as the father and that Aeltje was incorrectly recorded as the mother, should not be accepted as final. But the reason for not accepting Reynolds' conclusion may lie with the second error.

The three genealogists concluded that the original record was in error. What they did not consider was the fact that perhaps the original record was correct, and they were simply misinterpreting it. This issue, of Daniel, was recently brought up in a thread on the Dutch-Colonies List at Rootsweb. I believe that Renee L. Dauven, in her post of November 28, 2012, hit on the problem exactly. In citing another, known example, Renee raised the possibility that the original was not in error, but instead, Adam Brouwer and Aeltje Van der Beeck, were standing in as parents, for the actual parents, who for some reason were unable to be present themselves. In the example she cites involving the Romeyn family and a baptism in the Hackensack RDC in 1700. In the Romeyn example the persons standing in for the parents were family members (grandparents), but they were recorded in the official record as "parents," with no notation that they were in fact not the child's natural parents. It appears to me that in the case of Daniel, it is more likely that he was not a child of either Adam Brouwer or Aeltje Van der Beeck, but instead the two were standing in for Daniel's actual parents, who were unable to attend. So then, who might Daniel's parents be?

In earlier attempts to explain this problem I suggested that Daniel's parent's might be Adam Brouwer's eldest son Pieter Brouwer and his wife Petronella Kleyn. I noted that the given name of Daniel, is completely absent from all lines of descendants of Adam Brouwer with the exception of the lines descended from his son Pieter. The first known Daniel Brouwer to appear among the descendants of Adam Brouwer was Daniel, the son of Abraham Brouwer and Lea Demarest, baptized on 5 July 1719 at Hackensack. Abraham is a son of Pieter Brouwer, and it is possible that he named a later son (Daniel was his sixth son) for a deceased brother. The given name Daniel is not found in Lea Demarest's family, therefore there is no reason to suspect that her family is the source of the name. The first recorded baptism of a child for Pieter Brouwer and Petronella Kleyn is in 1682. However, it is known that they had at least three older children born between 1673 and 1680. It is possible for Daniel to be a fourth. But what is still needed is a reason for neither Pieter nor Petronella to be present at Daniel's baptism. For that, I can think of no explanation. Perhaps there is a better family for Daniel.

Aeltje Van der Beeck's sister, Catherine, was baptized on 10 September 1645. She would have been aged 32 on 7 May 1678. Catherine married Daniel Richaud on 26 August 1661 at the New York Reformed Church. The couple is known to have had four children (Catherine, Johannes, Anna Maria and Paulus) none of who have records of baptism, but who can be attributed to the couple through other means. Daniel Richaud was deceased by 5 October 1679 when marriage banns for Catherine, as his widow, were posted at Flatbush. Catherine was remarried to Pieter Corson on 19 November 1679 at Amersfoort (Flatbush Reformed Protestant Dutch Church Records, page 221, "Pieter Corsz, young man, with Catharina vander Beek, widow of Daniel Richauw; both born in New York and both residing under Brooklyn; with certificate from the bridegroom's father and married the 19th November at Amersfort."). There is a seventeen month gap between the baptism of Daniel on 7 May 1678 and the posting of Catharine's marriage banns on 5 Oct 1679. We do not know the exact date of Daniel Richaud's death. But, if he did die prior to 7 May 1678, then (1) Catharine would have a reason to name a son Daniel (to honor her deceased husband) and (2) there would be an explanation for the natural father being unable to attend his son's baptism. As children were traditionally baptized within a few days of their birth, a reason for Catherine's non-appearance at Daniel's baptism, may be that she had a difficult delivery and was for health reasons, physically unable to attend herself. It is noted that despite the fact that although Catherine was aged 34 when she married Pieter Corson, she is not known to have had any additional children. If it was apparent that the child (Daniel) himself was likely not to survive long, an urgency to have him baptized may have been the reason for recruiting Catherine's sister, Aeltje Van der Beeck, along with Adam Brouwer, to stand in as substitute parents at the baptism.

Granted, the scenario described above cannot be proved. In fact it suffers from the same problem that Bergen and Totten/Reynolds had with their conclusions, that is, there are no later records that might confirm the idea that Daniel is a son of Catherine Van der Beeck and her first husband, Daniel Richaud. However, I do very much doubt that Daniel is an actual son of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon. Magdalena, who was married in March 1645, was likely born in 1627, 1628 or 1629, making her age 18, 17 or 16 at her marriage. If correct she then would have been aged 51, 50 or 49 in 1678 when Daniel was baptized. I doubt this was likely. Magdalena's previous child (Nicholas) was baptized six years earlier in 1672. (I say this despite the belief of Harry Macy, Jr. in his 2011 article, "Some New Light on Aeltje Braconie and Maria Badie," NYGBR vol. 142, pp. 21-36, which argues that Magdalena may have been aged 13 or 14 when married in 1645, which I note would still make her aged 47 in 1678, relatively old for giving birth). The possibility that Daniel is actually a son of Catherine Van der Beeck, and posthumous son of Daniel Richaud, is in my opinion, more plausible.

Additional info and citations can be found at the Brouwer Genealogy Database website which, with the next update, will reflect the belief that Daniel is only a claimed son of Adam Brouwer and is a possible son of Catherine Van der Beeck.

For more on Catherine (Van der Beeck) Richaud, see George E. McCracken, "Catherine (Van der Beek) Richaud and Her Children," NYGBR vol. 94 (1963), pp. 235-241.

For the Romeyn baptism mentioned by Renee L. Dauven see, First Reformed Church (Hackensack N. J.). Records of the Reformed Dutch Churches of Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, New Jersey. New York: Collections of the Holland Society, 1891, at Hackensack Church Baptisms, page 83; child: Rachel; parents: Klaes Jansen Romeyn, Styntie Terhuyne; witnesses: Jan Berdan, Eva his wife.

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