Friday, January 27, 2012

The General's Bouwerij

According to the record of baptisms at the Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam, Wyntie, daughter of Pieter Stoutenburg and Aefje van Tienhonven, was baptized at the General's Bouwerij (farm) in 1662. The General was Peter Stuyvesant who was the Director-General in New Amsterdam on behalf of the Dutch West India Company. Stuyvesant had a house at the very end of lower Manhattan. Because I assumed that he had a bouwerij (bowery) attached to his home, I couldn't reconcile that fact the Wyntie was baptized at the General's Bouwerij and not at the church in the fort. The church in the fort was within walking distance of Peter Stuyvesant's home.

Fortunately I came across a magazine on the Internet, Americana. As I read it, I realized that Stuyvesant's Bouwerij was outside of the city wall. I also knew that Pieter Stoutenburg had a house and lot outside the city wall. Families that lived outside the wall were subject to attacks by aborigines. New Amsterdam afforded protection to its inhabitants against these attacks but not for those who lived outside the wall.

There apparently was some pressure by Thomas Hall and Wolfert Webber to provide protection to those who lived outside the wall. On May 3, 1660, the New Amsterdam council allowed a village to be established near Augustyn Heermans’ bouwerij and that of the Director-General. The village was established to provide a place in which the sparsely spaced inhabitants could go for protection from attack.

The village was established in the triangle formed by present day 3rd Avenue, 4th Avenue and St. Mark’s Place. The village included a blacksmith shop, a tavern and a schoolhouse. Stuyvesant erected a chapel on his bouwerij in which he solicited Domine Selyns to preach to the inhabitants on Sunday afternoons.

In addition to preaching on Sunday afternoons, Domine Selyns performed marriages and baptisms at Stuyveant’s bouwerij. He returned to the Netherlands in 1664 after the British took control. Although he returned to New York City in 1682 to be minister of the Reformed Dutch congregation, when he departed in 1664 his records were transferred to the church at the fort and copied into its baptismal record book.

The magazine also indicated that Pieter was an elder at the Stuyvesant Bouwerij congregation and that he and others joined the church at the fort after Selyns returned to Europe.

The Hamlet at the Bouwerij Part I by Hopper Striker Mott. Americana Volume 10, July 1915. Pages 660-676
New York City:The National Americana Society

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