Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Volkje Juriens and Jan Fransse Van Husum came to America.

There is often little to explain the whys and wherefores of any family history. We knew that in May of 1639, Jan and Volkje were married in Amsterdam. And that the set sail the same month aboard the sailing ship den Harinck, the Herring, arriving in New Amsterdam two months later in July of 1639.


The question that one always asks is "Why?" But to get to the question of why they emigrated to America one needs to understand a little history.

Frisian or Dutch?

Now, depending on who you ask, Jan and Volkje were either Frisians or Dutch.

Husum and Nordstrand

Before coming to Amsterdam, Jan and Volkje lived, respectively, in the town of Husum and on the North Frisian island of Strand (Nordstrand). Husum and the adjacent island of Nordstrand, originally Strand, is located off the Jutland peninsula.

The confusion as to their ethnicity stems from the fact that the ancient Frisians inhabited the northern coast of Europe east of Holland and along the western coast of Jutland, a peninsula that now is the shared between Denmark and Germany.

The Frisians lived along the coast from time immemorial. They were an ancient tribe first mentioned by the Romans. They formed their towns and villages out of hillocks reclaimed from the marshes and made their living by farming and fishing. Alongside the Frisians were the Dutch, Germans, the Danes. The Dutch because they excelled at building dikes, the Danes because they were the remnants of ancient Vikings. All spoke a related German dialect.

Cor Snabel

The people who lived in the area waged a constant battle against the sea.

Imagine my surprise when I came across Cor Snabel's site detailing the Great Flood of 1634. Here, finally, was something tangible that I could put my finger on and say, this is why they left.

Let me pause again to reflect that in 1634, Jan and Volkje w3ere unmarried and living in Husum and Nordstrand. But by 1639, they were living on Tuinstraat in Amsterdam. In May they married at the nearby Nieuw Kirk. Perhaps in anticipation of the marriage, Jan signed on with the West Indies Company for 4 years to help in the development of the Dutch colony of New Netherlands. Two ships arrived in the New Netherlands in 1639. They are the Herring and the Fire of Troy. Jan and Volkje arrived aboard the Herring in September of 1639.

The Great Flood of 1634

The Great Flood of 1634 was one of those cataclysmic events that alter history.  Cor Snabel explains that a similar flood occurred in 1362. And at that time, contemporary chronicles claim that whole parishes were wiped off the map. Over a 100,000 souls perished. Then in 1625, a storm struck Nordstrand, dividing the island of Strand in two. See Historic Storms of the North Seas.

Read also the German Wiki account of the Buchardiflut.

1634

To be continued...



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