Monday, August 14, 2017

How Husum got its name

How Husum got its name

Long before memories exist and writers recorded history, someone built a house a few miles inland from the Wadden Sea where the dry land meets the tidal flats and salt marshes.

By the grey shore and the grey sea where the fog lies heavy all year long, where the swamping seas come. Theodor Storm

Our legendary figure thought he and his family would be safe from the storms, but he was wrong, and it must have happened many times, the storm and the sea surging over the land and then retreating back to sea.

This house was built well. It withstood the storms.

House, hus, huis, haus at Husembro

House, hus, huis, haus at Husembro

The foundation was made of stone to prevent settling and keep out the rats, but because stone was scarce, the main part of the house was built of logs or lumber milled from the trees with a thatched roof to keep out the rain during the long, chilly, windy, and mostly cloudy winters. As is still the custom in a few such houses, the barn were the precious cattle were kept was attached to the house, so as to protect the cattle but also to keep the house warm.

Along the coastline, farmers raised crops and cattle and geese. The coastline was dotted with small fishing villages that fished the North Sea for cod and other fish. And when there was a surplus of these items, the farmers and villagers took their crops and cattle and geese and fish south to the larger cities like Amsterdam where they could be traded for money and necessaries.

Our legendary house stood for many years. Locals would have referred to it as the house by the bridge. And when they spoke in their native languages, Danish, Dutch, German and Frisian, they would have said Hus, Huis, Haus, and Hus. The pastor at the church who wrote in Latin would have changed its spelling to Husem or Husum.

Danish King Abel comes to Husembro

Let us move on now and speak of the first time that history records the name of Husum.

In 1252, it is recorded that King Abel of Denmark lead an army to the coast of the Wadden Sea to impose taxes on the stubborn and independent Frisians who farmed and fished and lived there. Near the bridge by an ancient house, an arrow struck the unlucky king and he died. His death might have been God’s revenge for it is hinted at in the historical records that Abel murdered his brother King Erik Ploughpenny to obtain the throne. History records the place as “husembro” (the house by the bridge).

Now, return again to the history books where it is written that in 1362 a disastrous storm tide, know thereafter as the "Grote Mandrenke," (Great Man Drowning) surged along the coastline, flooded Husum, and carved out an inland harbor. This event put Husum on the map. A seaport developed, businesses came, and houses grew up around the bridge and the house that once stood alone.

Norstrand and Husem

The maps that came in time named this little village and did so in the Latinized spelling, Husem or Husum, which is what it is called today.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Who's who in Husum

Who’s Who in Husum: 

Husum, formerly part of Friesland, homeland of the Frisians and a mixture of Angles and Saxons and Dutch, later the Duchy of Schleswig, sometimes Danish and this and that, and now a seaport in northern Germany.

Husum, Google earth, North Sea

Abel, Duke of Schleswig and King of Denmark

He was the son of Valdemar II and brother to Eric IV. In 1250, Eric was murdered while a guest at Duke Abel's residence at Schleswig. Abel took his Eric’s throne after swearing an oath he had nothing to do with the death.

Abel ruled for a year and a half. Hearing that the peasants in Frisia, led by Sicko Sjaerdema, refused to pay the tax levy, he led a punitive expedition and was killed by a wheelwright named Henner on Husum Bridge.

People said, "Abel af navn, Kain af gavn" Abel by name, Cain by claim.

Jan Franz Van Husum

Jan was born in 1608. We may assume that for most of his life, he simply went by the name of Jan, or if further clarification was necessary, Jan, son of Franz. Jancalled himself as a seafaring man. We do not know for certain what fish he caught, but we can guess. As early as 1610, there  were reports of whales off the coast of Spitsbergen. Russians, Basque, French, English, and Dutch ships all vied for the trade. English and Dutch ships were often made up of North Frisians, who were known for their skills at sea.

The whale they hunted for was the bowhead whale, one that yielded large quantities of oil and baleen.

But this is idle thought, what we do know is this.

In 1634, a devastating flood, known as the second Grote Mandränke struck the Frisian coast, destroying the island of Nordstrand and much of Husum. After the flood, Jan would depart for Amsterdam. We know that he married his wife Volkjie there. She too was caught up in the devastaition of the flood, as she lived on the island of Nordstrand with her parents and sister.

Once married, Jan and Volkjie sailed for America.

Theodor Storm

Theodor Storm, a 19th century writer who called Husum, “the grey town by the sea.”

Die Stadt (1851)

Am grauen Strand, am grauen Meer Und seitab liegt die Stadt; Der Nebel drückt die Dächer schwer, Und durch die Stille braust das Meer, Eintönig um die Stadt.

On the grey sand, on the grey sea, Besides which lies the city, Press the mists heavy on the roofs, And in the stillness the sea roars, With one sound around tow.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The marriage of Valentine Von Huss (Vanhooser) and Maria Barbara Zerwe (Zerbe)

[Notes on spelling. Spellings differ by language. The Reverend Stoever was German and chose to spell the name "Von Huss" instead of Van Huss or Vanhooser. Maria Barbara went by her middle name Barbara, a practice of trying to trick the devil. The last name "Zerwe" instead of "Zerbe" suggests that the name was pronounces like the French Servier, a name that appears on the French side of the border. Valentine was also variously called Velten and Felty. My advice to those looking up genealogy is to try various spellings.]

Let us join the families of Valentine Von Huss and Barbara and Catrina Zerwe and John George Meyer as they made their way to the tiny church at Tulpehocken for a double wedding, presided over by the Reverend Casper Stoever, the first ordained Evangelical German Lutheran Minister in America.

Nearby Indian Fort on Mill Creek

Few historical dates before 1800 are supported by records. This one is.

Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever : baptismal and marriage, 1730-1779 (page 61)

On December 22nd, 1746, Valentine Von Huss married Maria Barbara Zerwe (Zerbe) in a Lutheran ceremony at Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania. The ceremony took place at Christ Little Tulpehocken Church, officiated by the Reverend Casper Stoever, who recorded the event for posterity. Reverend Stoever was, like the bride's family, from the Palatinate Region, a historical territory of the Holy Roman Empire.

Two weddings took place that day. The other being the wedding of Barbara's sister Catrina to John George Meyer.

Like Barbara’s parents, The Reverend Stoever was from the Palatinate region of Germany.

Barbara’s father Johannes Jacob Zerbe, and mother, Maria Catherine Leick (Lauk) came to America sometime prior to 1718, transported by the English. Johannes and Catherine wanted to escape recurrent French invasions, and were lured by promises of religious freedom and encouraged by the hope of free land. They landed along the Hudson River at Livingston Manor in New York.

Jacob and Catherine married and all their children were born there (1718 until 1725), save Barbara’s sister Catrina. No records at this time support this, but there is no reason to doubt it.

Jacob and Catherine endured seven year at East Camp, Livingston Manor, a period that fits nicely with the idea that they signed emigration contracts as indenture servants. These contracts provided that "seven years after they had forty acres a head given to them.” "East Camp" and "West Camp" on opposite sides of the Hudson River were established residences for the new colonists.

[The mercenary English transported Palatinate Protestants to their American colonies out of a need for pine tar. Pine pitch some called it, a necessary naval store the British desperately needed to keep their ships afloat.]

There is no record that Jacob and Catherine received their 40 acres a head of the more than 160,000 acres that then made up Livingston Manor. Instead they joined dozens of other Zerwes who settled in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvana and the area around Tulpehocken Creek. 

Coincidentally they became neighbors of the family of Daniel Boone. Indeed the Lutherans who built their church at Tulpehocken had by 1727 petitioned the officials in Philadelphia "for a road to the high road at the Quaker Meeting House near Boone's Mill at Oley."

First Tulpehocken Church

Secondary source for marriage.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Volkje Juriaens van Noorstrant

Volkje Juriaens "Volkie" van Nordstrand van Husum (1618 - 1703)

The painting is signed "IVMeer" but not dated. It is estimated to have been painted around 1665.

That is all wrong, if one is to suppose that Volkje was the subject of the painting, The Girl with the Pearl Earing by Johannes Vermeer. First, Volkje spent time in Amsterdam, living on Tuinstraat, close to the home and studio of the great painter Rembrandt von Rijn. Vermeer, the painter, lived out his life in the Dutch city of Delft. Lastly, we can guess that Volkje was born in the year 1615, or thereabouts, making her too old for the young girl in the painting.

The girl with the pearl earing, by Johannes Vermeer

She was little she was pert, and had soft grey eyes the color of the winter sky. In the mornings in the mudflats along the banks of the Wadden Sea, she could be found gathering eggs from the nests of the waders, geese, ducks and gulls that nest in the marshes. From time to time, she would stop to watch the grey seals swimming in the dark blue-green water or resting on the sand, but more often she could be seen gazing into the grey sky watching the falcon soaring overhead and plummeting to earth in pursuit of their prey.

It was the falcon for whom she was named, and to be more precise, the little falcon.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Valentine Worley and Lucinda Campbell Van Huss

This post is a loose end.

Valentine Worley Van Huss was the only child of Mathias Van Huss and Elizabeth Worley, who died giving birth.Mathias remarried and had several children with his new wife Lavina Dugger. This family lived in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

In the 1880's Valentine Worley Van Huss, his wife Lucinda and several children Tennessee for Kansas. Valentine and Lucinda and his wife Lucinda first lived near Stilwell in Johnson County, Kansas. Lucinda died there as she is buried in the Aubrey cemetery. (On Highway 69 south of Overland Park, take the 191st street exit, go east a short distance.)

 VanHuss, Lucinda R,
 15 Apr 1818 - 20 Oct 1870
 Wife of V W VanHuss,
  Old Sec, Row 12
 Aubrey Cemetery.

Valentine Worley Van Huss moved on to Butler County along with his sons. He died there in 1909 and is buried in Little Walnut Glencoe Cemetery next to his son Isaac.

son Isaac and father Valentine Worley Van Huss, Little Walnut Glencoe Cemetery

Monday, May 6, 2013

Van Hoesen vs. Becker

The court meetings of Fort Orange and Beverwyck reveal an ongoing feud with Jan Van Hoesem and his wife Volkje on one side, and their neighbors, Jochem Becker (a baker) and his wife Gertrude on the other. It might have rivaled the later feud of the Hatfields and McCoys, if Jan and Volkje had not wisely purchased land in 1662 at Claverack and moved on.

This feud took up much of the court's time during the years 1652 and 1653. Fists were thrown,  slanders spoken, tempers frayed as the two couples went at each other. Certainly one of the most annoying acts by the Becker's had to be the construction of a pigsty adjacent to the entrance of the Van Hoesem lot. Becker would counter that Van Hoesem and his wife  threw hot embers against clapboard of his house in an attempt to burn it down.

The court attempted to keep the peace, but to little avail as the ongoing court meetings reveal.

I am going through the court meeting now. I find them an interesting insight into early life in Beverwyck and highly recommend them.

Then I stumbled across a map of Rennsalaerwick Manor dated 1762 which surrounded the independent city of  the Beverwyck. And, though it is one hundred years later, one can find a Milburn Van Hoesen living on a lot adjacent to Andries Becker and Albartus Becker.

Could it be?

detail map of 1767 of Beverwyck (Albany)
Above is a portion of the map. The settlements on lots numbered as 131, 132, and 133 belong to Albartus Becker, Areanlie Becker, and Milburn Van Hoesen. As the Hudson River flows from the north to the south, the map should be rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise to get a true perspective. The highlighted property is south of the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, and on the west side.

Beverwyck, later Albany, was a settlement outside of Fort Orange which thrived on trade with the Indians for beaver pelt. It was established independent of the larger colony of Rennsalaerwyck. In 1652, the Dutch authorities, recognizing the need to administer Beverwyck established a court system and minutes were kept documenting the day to day lives of the citizens of Beverwyck. In 1664, Dutch rule ended when four British frigates sailed into the port of New Amsterdam unopposed.

Court Meetings of Beverwyck and Fort Orange 1652 -1656.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Nordstrand, an island in the North Sea of the Frisian coast

Image from Wikipedia


Nordstrand, the home of Volkje Jurriaens, was once a much larger island encompassing many villages and thousands of people. In 1634 a great flood (Burchardi) swept the island destroying many of the villages and killing thousands.

Nordstrand sits off the western coast of the Jutland peninsula, near the port of Husum. Historically, it and the other islands and marshes in the area were called Uthlande (Utlande). They were identified as such because the islands and marches were inhabited by Frisians, a distinct ethnic group.

The island and city are located in the province of Schleswig, which can be imagined as that slice of the southern Jutland peninsula that separates Denmark from Germany. Schleswig has always been a melting pot of Danes, Germans, and Frisians. Today, Schleswig is divided between Germany and Denmark, Germany possessing both Nordstrand and Husum.

So, the question arises, "Who do the inhabitants of Nordstrand come from - Vikings, Danes, Saxons, Jutes, Frisian or Dutch?"

Roman History

The Eider River is the longest river in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Roman history places the Jute tribe to the north of the Eider River, Angles to the south, with Saxons in territory adjoining the Angles.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, the population was a mixture of Danes, Saxons, and Northern Frisians. The Frisians inhabited the coastal areas. From the 8th to 13th centuries, Vikings in their longboats ranged throughout Europe. King Canute of Denmark even launched a successful invasion of England in 1016.


Schleswig is both a city and province in Germany. The Duchy of Schleswig appears as a political entity sometime around the 12th century.

detail Danorum Marca, 1588 by Mark Jorden
The detail of the map of Jutland highlights the island of Nordstrand, identified as De Strant and neighboring Husum (Husem). For reference, the Eider River flows to the south of Nordstrand and Husum. The river is the dividing line between Schleswig and Holstein, a province often associated with Schleswig.

The map of 1588 identifies at least 18 small villages on the island. Johannes Blaeu's later map of 1688 reveals the damage to the island, the flood destroying all but four of the villages, leaving only the villages of Pilworm (Pellwurm), Gpell, Gaickebull and Odenbull.

The question remains as to whether Jan Franz Van Husum and Volkje Jurriaens were Dutch or Frisian. That question probably can't be answered. But what is known is that the Frisian dialect was spoken throughout Nordstrand before the flood. Afterwards, the dialect was kept intact only on the small remaining island of Pellwurm where industrious farmers quickly rebuilt the dikes after the flood.

Detail, Johannes Blaeu's 1662 map of the Duchy of Schleswig

Detail from Johannes Blaeu's,  Ducatus Sleswicum sive Iutia Australis, 1662. Original image, Wikipedia.

Now look at a modern view of Nordstrand from Google maps.

Nordstrand, Google Maps 2013

Volkje and Annetje Jurriaens are both identified in later documents as coming from Nordstrand. What they or their parents did is lost to history, but reference is made to the fact that their parents died in the flood of 1634. In 1639, Volkje married Jan Franz Van Husum. Je is identified as coming from the neighboring town of Husum, but again there is little detail, other than a reference to his occupation as seafaring man in his marriage certificate to Volkje. A month after thier marriage, they sailed across the Atlantic in the ship Den Harinck, arriving in the port of New Amsterdam. Annetje also married and emigrated to the New Netherlands.

While the article is being written, you can visit the island in photos.

[Note about Spellings. The spelling of names vary for many reasons. Language differences account for many of the differences. Maps may contain Latin words, a marriage license might be in Dutch, and German, and Flemish might also enter into the equation. Then there is the lack of a uniform code of spelling that existed at the time. The first English dictionary was drafted in 1604, and Samuel Johnson's more famous Dictionary was not published until 1755. The first known Dutch dictionary was published by Cornelius Kiliaan in 1599.]