Friday, December 21, 2012

Stille Nacht

I often remind myself that though we are different in many ways, we are one family sharing a belief in a greater goodness.

Johannes Van Husum and his wife Volkie, spoke either Dutch or German. They came from the Cimbrian Peninsula, now called Jutland, an area inhabited by the ancient tribes of Cimbri and Jutes. Johannes lived in the coastal town of Husum. It is for this reason, that the name Van Huss and Van Hoesen and all the other variations owes its existance. Volkie Van Nordstrand grew up on the adjacent island of Nordstrand.

Tragedies are both devastating and uplifting. They define the human spirit, for no matter how deep and difficult the loss, it is the human spirit to rise above difficulties and persevere. So it was on the night of October 11, 1634, when a devastating flood swept over the island of Nordstrand and much of the coast, killing thousands and rendering many thousands more homeless as winter approached.

The story of  the flood and its aftermath is best told by Cor Snabel.

But what Cor Snabel doesn't tell us is that a young Volkie and her sister survived the storm, even though they lost their parents. Volkie and Jan would meet, move to Amsterdam. They fell in love, married and set sail to the New World two years later.

The German language and its Dutch variation lingered on in America for well over two centuries. And it is known that many of the descendants of Jan and Volkie spoke German in their homes. This was true at least until the lives of  Valentine Van Huss and his son Mathias, who lived in Tennessee. This became known when a modern descendent discovered hidden in a barn two religious books written in German.

It is to Valentine and Mathias, to Jan and Volkie and to all those who have suffered tragedy in life that I dedicated this beautiful rendition of Silent Night in the original German.

May you know the peace of God's mercy.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Traveling in a Covered Wagon

Traveling in a Covered Wagon.

Before the train, before the highways, I have often wondered what traveling in a covered wagon must have been like. It was an experience shared by thousands of settlers who spread out across America.

The Conestoga wagon, the most well-known of the covered wagons, is first mentioned in print in 1717 in a letter to William Penn. Its name comes from the Conestoga River of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the destination for many traders from Philadelphia and the destination for the Van Hooser clan after leaving New York. A settler's journey west across the prairie was usually made in a  Prairie Schooner, a half-sized version of the Conestoga, less broad, flatter than the Conestoga, and thus easier to make the long tortuous route. History, Conestoga wagon.

For a moment we can imagine that on several occasions, the Van Huss clan packed up their children and goods and made the slow journey by covered wagon from one home to a new one on the frontier. Perhaps, the journey was made through the Allegheny Mountains from New York to Pennsylvania.  In 1787, American patriot and physician, Dr. Benjamin Rush, described its importance as a tool on the family farm: "A large strong waggon covered with linen cloth is an essential part of the furniture of a German farm. It is pulled by four or five large horses of a particular breed, and will carry 2000 to 3000 pounds." Certainly then, the Van Huss/VanHooser clan made their journey in a Conestoga wagon from Pennsylvania to Virginia and North Carolina, and then again across the Appalachian Mountains to Eastern Tennessee. And then in either a Conestoga or in a Prairie Schooner, from there they traveled across the wide Mississippi River and across Missouri, until finally, my wife family reached the broad plains of Kansas.

Colonial Sense has an excellent article on the Conestoga wagon.

The only reference to travel in a covered wagon that I have found to date is the mention that in the 1870's Josie Brewer, my wife's great grandmother, left Allentown, Missouri to homestead in Butler County, Kansas. Her trip and her remembrances was probably not unlike the following story.

What follows is a remembrance by Judge Harvey Harrison in 1889 of his travels in 1829 from Alabama to Warrensburg, Johnson County, Missouri. Harvey Harrison was born in 1806 in Blount County, East Tennessee.

Conestoga Wagon. painting by Newbold Trotter, Pennsylvania Historical Museum

When I was six months old, my father moved to Alabama. I was married on the 12th day of March 1829. This year, father and our family, myself and my wife started for Missouri. My father had an old-fashioned Virginia wagon hauled by six horses and had it full of his goods. He also had a one-horse buggy and besides this a two wheel gig, stout and strong. ... We reached the Mississippi River at St. Louis and crossed it there. I would say that it was a town then about as large as Warrensburg is today.
 In 1831, [...we} settled two and a half or three miles west of what is now Fayetteville, Missouri [south and east of Warrensburg].  We unloaded on the 22nd of March 1831. In two days we had a shelter or camp rigged up and in two weeks each family had a cabin of poles or logs with ground floor and clap-board roof, very comfortable. When we arrived there was but one cabin south of Blackwater creek and that was a cabin ...
 The country was most delightful. It was one vast expanse of undulating prairie and in mid-summer covered in tall waving grass interspersed here and there with strips or belts of timber along course of little streams. the choicest variety of game abounded. Absolutely beautiful.
Every autumn when the prairie grasses had withered, usually in November , the prairies were burned. Probably these fires were started by the Indians for the purpose of driving game ... The prairies would then become a vast sea of flame and woe to the settler who had not taken precautions to guard against them. While these fires raged we had about four or six weeks what was known as Indian Summer and for weeks the fire was so dense we could not see the sun. In the spring the ground would be free of grass and the wild flowers would spring up in an endless variety and profusion. ... The prairies would be one vast flower garden ... .
 History of Johnson County, Missouri pages 89 and 90.

The covered wagon  had a life-span of little more than a hundred years, covering the later part of the 18th century and ending before the beginning of the 19th century. Before the highways and trains, it was the means by which settlers moved their families and goods west. There are few surviving examples of the covered wagon in existence today. Certainly, they had features in common, but since the early wagons were built by individuals, they varied by geography and by builder.

Mark Gardner has written a good description of Wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, 1822 - 1880, which is a good starting place in understanding what the covered wagon was.

The Conestoga or Pennsylvania wagons are covered with three or four cotton sheets drawn close at each end so as to exclude moisture, and these are supported by high hoops, and. as those at the ends of the wagon are very much higher than the middle, it has a very singular appearance. The height to the tops of these hoops are from eighteen to twenty feet. They are drawn by ten mules or six yoke of oxen, and contain about forty hundred weight of goods.
See, Frank S. Edwards, Missouri Volunteer in the Army of the West, 1846, of Wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, pages 6 and 7.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Settling Kansas 1875

The period from 1860 - 1870 is a little cloudy. In 1860, Valentine Worley Van Huss and his wife Lucinda (nee Carter) were living in eastern Tennessee near Elizabethton.

[The middle name "Worley" comes from Catherine Worley, born 1769 in Rowan County, North Carolina, died 1796, Wythe County, Virginia. She married Valentine Felty VanHuss in Wythe Co. Va.. He was born February 14, 1768 in Rowan Co. North Carolina, and died March 1, 1858 in Johnson County, Tennessee. They had several children, including Matthias, father of Valentine Worley VanHuss.]

Valentine Worley and Lucinda had at least five sons, including, James M., Daniel S. Robert E., Isaac, and John Finley.

By 1870, Valentine and his wife  Lucinda were to be found in Johnson County, Kansas near Stillwell, Kansas. Lucinda died and is buried in the Aubry cemetery.

In 1875, James M. Van Huss took out a claim on land in Butler County. The land was part of the Osage Reserve for which he paid $1.25 an acre. He purchased 160 acres.

In 1881, brother Daniel arrived and took out a similar claim on land in Glencoe Township.

Redo the following section.

[Read more about the Osage Indians. Read the Kansas Historical Quarterly about the Osage Removal. One last article, Kansas Settlers on the Osage Reserve (and Laura Ingalls Wilder)]

The title records are kept in the Butler County Courthouse in El Dorado, Kansas. See the Registrar of Deeds on the ground floor.

[Note.  What is Range Township Section on a Plat?

Property in deeds are identified by Range, Township & Section. For instance, the 1875 title to James M. VanHuss is described as 160 acres of the southwest quarter of 33 26 6. The three numbers 33 26 and 6 signify the section, township, and range, going from smallest to largest. A full section is 640 acres. James received title to the southwest corner.
Butler County 1905 map, showing range, township, and section
Read across the top line to find the range, then down the left side to identify the township. Converge the two lines and you end up on Little Walnut Township; then go to section 33.

Read the Wikipedia definition of a section.]


The year 1874 was known as the Grasshopper Year when billions of grasshoppers descended from the skies and ate every plant in sight.

The insects arrived in swarms so large they blocked out the sun and sounded like a rainstorm. Crops were eaten out of the ground, as well as the wool from live sheep and clothing off people's backs. Paper, tree bark and even wooden tool handles were devoured.
KSHS, Grasshopper Plague of 1874

That anyone would come to Kansas after a plague of biblical proportions is a testament of the spirit of man.


The cursory title search that I have done starts with the period 1875 when James M. VanHuss first received a US Patent to land. The deed identifies 160 acres consisting of the southwest 1/4 of 33 26 6. You can see from the map above that the quarter section of 160 acres is just east of the town of Leon, Kansas.

1881 - 1882

Daniel arrived in 1881 and received a US Patent to land in 29 27 8. Robert E. and his wife Lizzie came the following year in September of 1882, and received title (husband and wife received separate titles) to land in the same section. This land is located in Hickory Township, just to the north and west of Beaumont, Kansas. As you approach Beaumont on Highway 54, the land will be just to the north off the highway. If you get out and look, you will find the ancient stone foundation to a house and a metal water pump.

1885 - 1887

In the following years, 1885 and 1887, the brothers transfer titles to other brothers, specifically E.L. VanHuss (wife?) and Isaac.


John Finley VanHuss does not appear until 1898. John Finley VanHuss is my wife's great grandfather. John Finley buys in section 30 27 8, which is south and west of Beaumont, Kansas. He also buys lots in Beaumont and Latham, Kansas. The town physician in Beaumont is Dr. William Phillips. His daughter will marry John's son Fred. Their son Robert (Bob) is my wife's father.

Butler County 1905 showing land of John Finley VanHuss and his wife Josie.

The father, Valentine VanHuss did not acquire land until 1902, when he received a US Patent from President Theodore Roosevelt. The land was in section 29 27 8, like that of sons Daniel and Isaac.


In 1902, John Finley purchased several lots in Latham and Beaumont, Kansas. Thus, he might appear in this 1905 photo taken of the main street of Latham, Kansas at the "J. L. McFall Buys and Sells Everything" store. It is two days before Christmas in 1905, J. L. McFall the gentleman standing in the left half of the image, is giving away prizes for cash purchases.

Latham, Kansas 1905 looking east

As images become available, I will come back and insert them into this post. Keep in mind that it will need updating.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tuinstraat, Amsterdam

Prior to setting sail in May of 1639 for America, Jan Van Husum and Volkje  Juriaens lived on Tuinstraat in Amsterdam. This fact comes from the marriage certificate, dated April 30th, 1639, found online at

Detail of marriage Certificate of Jan Franz Van Husum and Volkje Juriaens
[Note. One immediately notices that there are variations in spellings of names and places. Jan's name is spelled "Jan Franz Van Housum". Volkje's name is spelled "Volckje Juriaens dr van Noortstrandt". Tuinstraat is spelled "Tuijnstraat." Spelling conventions have changed over time. Moreover, spelling may depend on whether the language is Dutch, German, of English.]

Tuinstraat, Amsterdam is a street that can still be found in Amsterdam. It is near the Dam Platz, where Jan and Volkje were married. Tuinstraat translates as "Garden Street," and it can be found in the Jordaan District a short walk from the central area of Amsterdam. From the Dam Platz, Jan and Volkje could see the masts of the sailing ships in the harbor.

The reference to "Corte" is a bit confusing, but it may refer to a courtyard, since "corte" is the Spanish word for court. Keep in mind that the Dutch provinces were once part of the Spanish empire, not achieving formal independence until 1649.

Dam Platz and New Church, 1659, Jacob van der Ulft, Musee Condee, Chantily

The couple married in the relatively close Nieue Kirke located in the Domplatz.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Willem Juriaensz

What is in a Name

Off the coast of Schleswig, in the North Sea, lay the island of Nordstrand. Here, in 1618, was born to Wilhelm Jurianse a daughter, Volkie. Then in 1634, Nordstrand was destroyed by a devastating flood, and Volkie and her sister Annetje Juriaens survived and were taken to the coastal town of Husum. Their parents were killed in the storm.

Yet, in the records of New Amsterdam there are several references to Willem Juriaensz?

As I will relate below, Willem number two, late in his life, lived with Jan Van Husum and Volkie Jurriens in Claverack, offering to teach them how to bake. The difference in name spelling can be attributed to language. The German language uses the letter ẞ/ß (called eszett (sz) or scharfes S, sharp s. Dutch has no such letter. As we will see below, the name was also spelled Jurrianse and Jurriaanse.

I did find one tie in that seemingly connects both Willem and Volkie. But before we get to that, let's hear the story.

The Story

Willem Jurianesz settled in the colony of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, arriving in the fall of 1638 (Jan and Volkjie arrived in the summer of 1639). Willem's occupation was given as Captain. But he also earned a living as a baker, and, at least once, for providing lumber from a saw mill in which he may have had an interest. Beginning as early as 1644, he was in trouble with his neighbors for various misdeeds.

Read online from the New York State Library the Van Rensselaer Bowier manuscripts: being the letters of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer.Page 820 concerns Willem Juriaensz, alias Backer, alias Capitaijn. On the following pages at 821 and 822 are seven passengers on Den Harinck, which arrived in New Amsterdam the following summer. Missing are the names of Jan and Volkie.

This short biographical sketch of Willem is given in O'Callaghan, History of New Netherland, 1:437-38, and online at's list of Rensselaerswyck Settlers 1630-1658.  (The listings are chronological and Willem Jurianensz is three quarters of the way down.) This is a reprint of the New York State site.

A more complete account of Willem is given in Beverwijck: a Dutch village on the American frontier, 1652-1664, by Janny Venem.

The biographical sketch notes that Willem was often at odds with other settlers and frequently hauled before the authorities. He was twice ordered to be banished from the colony, but the sentence seems not to have been carried out.

Willem was getting up in age and Jan and Volkie agreed to take him in. In exchange for his keep, Willem would agree to teach Volkie and Jan how to bake. Willem apparently refused to keep up his end of the contract as he would hide the baking utensils. A final entry contains this note:
Nov. 30, 1651, Willem Juriaensz declared that he refused to fulfil his contract with Jan van Hoesen, dated Jan. 30, 1650, and Jan. 18, 1652, the court gave Jan van Hoesen permission to occupy the erf (lot, or bakery) of Willem Juriaensz, on condition that the latter be allowed to dwell in his house as long as he lived ofte de gelegenheijt presenteert (or an opportunity for removing to another place presented itself).
Jan and Volkie would continue with their bakery after Willem died. Indeed, Volkie would continue the trade after her husband's death. And the bakery would serve for yet another legal squabble, but that is a different story.

A Connection? 

Was there a family connection between Willem Juriaensz and Volkje Jurriens. If so, there is no mention of it in the biographical sketch.

The bio reports that Willem sailed on the ship de Liefde [the Charity] from the Texel September 25, 1638, arriving at New Amsterdam, December 27, 1638. Joyce Lindstrom reports that Jan and Volkje, after marrying in the Dutch Reformed Church in Amsterdam, set sail on the ship "Den Harlinck" [usually spelled Den Harinck]in May of 1639, arriving in New Amsterdam on July 7, 1639.

The connection is finally found in another source.  If you go to and do a search of the name Jurriaens you get a connection:
18. Volkje JURRIAANSE - Ancestral File Gender: F Birth/Christening: Abt 1618 Noorstrand Islan, , Schleswig-Holste, Germany
19. Wilhelm JURRIANSE (VAN NOORDSTRANT) - Ancestral File Gender: M Birth/Christening: Abt 1592 , , Netherlands
Volkie ties into Jan Van Husum (Van Hoesn) and the island of Nordstrand. Willem ties into the island of Nordstrand as well and is the correct age. This might suggest that Willem and Volkie were uncle and niece.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Along the Schuylkill River

By the third generation, the Van Hooser family was ready to move again. This time the family would move from upstate New York to the Township of Heidelberg in the County of Berks, Pennsylvania.

The Van Hooser family had come to America in 1639. The first Van Huss name was Jan Franz Van Husum, so called because he came from the small coastal town of Husum in North Friesland. He arrived in New York, along with his wife Volkje Juriens or Jurrianse.  She was from the neighboring island of Nordstrand which had been devastaed by the Nordstrand Flood of 1634.

Note. You will have noticed that I have already spelled the last name several ways. That is because over the years the name changed according to location and use. Jan was originally Van Husum, literally "from Husum". In New York the accepted spelling was Van Hoesen. This then became Van Hooser or Vanhooser. The "e" was sometimes left off, giving us Vanhoose. One wonders about the German influence on the name. One also wonders about the similarity to the Indiana nickname "Hoosier". Van Huss, which is the spelling of my wife's family, did not come into use until after 1795.

Eventually, Jan and Volkje would make there way to upstate New York, settling in the Rennsylaerwick colony. Jan did well, trading with the Indians for beaver, buying land and raising at least nine children. It was their seventh child Johannes Van Hoesen, who was to father a son, also named Johannes, who would emigrate from New York to Pennsylvania.

This Johannes, grandson to Jan and Vlokje, was born in 1697 in Kingston, New York. In 1720, he married Elizabeth Christina Laux (Lauck). They lived for awhile in New York, but in 1728, followed Elizabeth's brother Abraham to Pennsylvania. They settled on land in Heidelberg Township next to the Tulpehocken Creek along the Schuylkill River. The area is now an historic district.

Johannes and Elizabeth lived in Heidelberg Township until 1753 or 1754. Their neighbors included Conrad Weiser, an early settler who spoke Mohawk and help to mediate between the Indians who lived along the Schuylkill and the white settlers. See Conrad Weiser. When Johannes and Elizabeth left Pennsylvania for North Carolina, Conrad Weiser along with Abraham Laux would witness the deed selling their land in Pennsylvania.

Other neighbors included the Boone and Lincoln families. The Boone family arrived in Pennsylvania in 1717 and settled in Oley, near the settlement of the Vanhoosers in Tulpehocken, now called Robesonia. Mapquest shows it to be a scant 20 miles apart with Oley to the east of Reading and the Tulpehocken Creek to the west. Mapquest. The Lincoln family lived in Chester County for a period around the same time. The Lincolns would move to Augusta, Virginia. The Boones moved to Rowan and Anson counties in North Carolina, where Johannes and Elizabeth settled.

One can find online the deed of sale from Johannes and Elizabeth Vanhooser to John Joseph Derr and Henry Boyer. Joyce Lindstrom also reports the sale in her extensive family history. The deed reports the slae of 200 acres of land located between the properties of William Allen to the south and east and Abraham Laux to the north and west.

Note. Trying to exactly identify the location is difficult. Joyce Lindstrom reports that Johannes lived near present day Robesonia, near the larger city of Reading. Abraham Laux (Lauck) is buried in St. Daniel's Lutheran Church in Robesonia. Conrad Weiser's property is well to the west. William Allen owned property far to the south near Londongrove, but he also owned other property.

Johannes and Elizabeth's departure to North Carolina was well-timed. In 1754, the French and Indian War broke out along the Pennsylvania frontier. English General Braddock and colonial forces were defeated by French and Indian forces in the summer of 1755 in western Pennsylvania. In the fall the Indians killed 14 settlers and took hostage another 11 at Penn's Creek, which was much nearer to the Tulpehocken settlements.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Lutheran Family in a Quaker Village - Johannes Vanhooser and Elisabetha Christina Lauck

A Lutheran Family - Johannes Vanhooser and Elisabetha Christina Laux (Lauck)

In 1728 Johannes Vanhooser and Elizabetha Christina Lauck (Laux) moved their family from Kingston, New York to Heidelberg Township near today's Robesinia, Pennsylvania. The family then consisted of three children, the youngest of which was young Valentine Felty Vanhooser, then three years old. A child would be born the same year in Tulpehocken, which suggest that Elizabeth was pregnant during the trip. In all, six children would be added to the family during the Vanhooser sojourn in Pennsylvania.

Tulpehocken in colonial times refers to the valley of the creek of the same name. Tulpehocken Creek is a tributary of the Schulyskill River, which flows through Philadelphia. Tulpehocken was the destination for immigrants from New York under the leadership of Conrad Weiser. The immigrants were originally from from the Palatinate, a region in southwest Germany. Elizabeth Christina Lauck, wife of Johannes and mother of Valentine Felty Vanhooser, was one of these immigrants. (Joyce Lindstrom has written much on this topic.)

Note. This region includes the city of Kaiserslautern and the wine regions along the Rhine River. As a young military officer, I was stationed in Kaiserslautern and enjoyed the many wine festivals.

In addition to German settlers, the region was home to many Quakers. Indeed it was William Penn, a Quaker who was granted a charter by King Charles II in 1681 to establish a colony in what would become Pennsylvania. The colony was originally established as a haven for members of the Society of Friends, but Penn opened his doors to other religions including Lutherans. Among the many Quaker families who settled in the same region as Johannes Vanhooser were the families of Daniel Boone and the Lincoln family. Squire Boone, the father of Daniel Boone, had a homestead in nearby Oley, Pennsylvania, 20 miles distant, and to the east of modern day Reading, Pennsylvania.

As tolerant as the Quakers were of other religions, they kept to themselves for the most part. Gatherings by Quakers were called Monthly Meetings, (thus one sees the notation MM in many old documents). Marrying outside the sect was frowned upon. And a parent whose child did so would confess his sin at a meeting. My own family history includes Quakers with the surname of Pearson. They lived in the area at the same time, but I have not found any cross-references.

Tulpehocken Creek

Tulpenhocken Creek and Schuylkill River

Image from Wikipedia.

Tulpehocken Creek drains the limestone hills of eastern Pennsylvania south of the Appalachian Mountains. The creek flows through 8 townships including the Heidelberg Township. The area was settled by German immigrants in 1723.  The Vanhooser family arrived five years later, following in the footsteps of other members of Elizabeth Laux's family. Read the History of Tulpehocken for an interesting story on the migration from New York to Pennsylvania. It references at least one maternal ancestor (Peter Laux) and perhaps others (depending on the spellings). Also visit the page for the Tulpehocken Historical Society.

Today, it is impossible to get a feeling for what Tulpehocken valley was like in 1728. A sense of the forest can be had by going to the Appalachian Trail which overlooks the valley from the north. As a youth, I lived for a year at Carlisle, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Our Boy Scout Troop would hike and camp along the trail. I was always excited by the tall trees, the clear streams, and the freedom of being in the wilderness. For a strange reason, I remember hiking the trail and pulling up the root of a  Sassafras sapling to taste the flavor of root beer.

In the 1720's and 1730's, the area was still home to at least six different Indian tribes including, Tuscaroras, Tutelas, Conoys, Nanticokes, Shawnees and Susquehannocks, and Delawares. Relations with the Indians were for the most part friendly. But at nearby Manatawny in 1728, a party of Shawnees encountered some settlers who refused to provide them with food. An exchange of gunfire took place and one Indian was wounded. Ancestors of Alan Dwayne Morgan. There would be thirty years of peace until the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754. But by this time Johannes Vanhooser and his family had left for the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. For more, read a short History of Berks County.

The woods in Pennsylvania were then thick and full of game. In addition to bear and deer, there were plentiful stock of beavers, mink, fox, and otter. But with the settlers came farms and livestock and all too soon the game was gone.

Three early Lutheran churches were established, including, now marked by Reed's Cemetery, the site of the first church in Berks County (1727); the Christ Little Tulpehocken Church (original log church 1730, present building 1809), and Christ Lutheran Church (original log church 1743, present building 1786). In 1746 Valentine Felty Vanhooser  married Maria Barbara Zerwe or Zerbe at Tulpehocken, Lancaster (now Berks), Pennsylvania. They were married in the Christ Lutheran Church. Cox-Stewart Family History.

To be continued ...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Two times two and fifty exquisite Biblical Stories from the Old and New Testaments, for youth prepared to the best of his ability by Johann Hübnern,

Two times two and fifty exquisite Biblical Stories from the Old and New Testaments, for youth prepared to the best of his ability by Johann Hübner. Image by William (Bill) Meyers.

Johan Hubner, Two times two and fifty Biblical Stories

The Page reads in German:

Zweimal zwei und fünfzig auserlesene Biblische Historien aus dem Alten und Neuen Testamente,
der Jugend zum Besten abgefass von Johann Hübnern,
Rector des Johannei zu Hamburg. Nebst einer B[V]orrede E. Hoch=ehrwürdigen Ministerei der Stadt Hamburg. Aufs neue revidirt, von M. Joh. Gottfr. Fletch., Past. in Stürmthal
Mit Kaiserlichen, wie auch konigl. Sachsischen allergnadigsten
Leipzig, Johann Friedrich Gleditsch, 1814

The English translation reads:

Two times two and fifty (104) exquisite Biblical Stories from the Old and New Testaments for youth prepared to the best of his ability by Johann Hübner,
Rector (Master) of St. John's, Hamburg. In addition, Preface by the most-reverend Minister of  the city of Hamburg. Revised, by John M. Gottfr. Fletch., Pastor at Stürmthal (Störmthal)


With Imperial, as well royal permission of Saxony graciously given

Privileges (Copyright)


Leipzig, Johann Friedrich Gleditsch, 1814

Notes.  These Biblical stories were a popular source of instruction of youth within the German Lutheran communities both in Europe and the United States. In the early 1700's, there was a wave of German immigrants to America from the Palatinate Region, southwest Germany. This immigration was a result of the Thirty Years War and the religious intoleration that still existed in Germany.
Jan Franz Van Husum's grandson, Johannes Vanhooser married one of these immigrants, Elizabeth Christina Laux (Lauck). Their son Valentine Felty Vanhooser would marry Maria Barbara Zerbe. Her family had likewise emigrated from the Palatinate and arrived in America in 1710. German was spoken in many of the early communities.

A later edition of Hubner's stories was published in St. Louis in 1869. The notes from this source point out that "Johannei" (Johanneum in Latin, in English, we would think of it as St. John's Preparatory School) is the oldest academic secondary (pre-university) school in Hamburg, founded in 1529 by Johannes Burgenhagen. Burgenhagen was a spiritual emissary of Martin Luther. See also, Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums.

Johann Hübner, 1668 - 1731, (the modern day spelling drops the last "n" from the name Hubnern), was a German teacher, poet, historical author, as well as author of school books, and Protestant religious theorist during the Reformation. Johann Hübner, German Wikipedia. He originally published his Two times fifty-two Biblical stories in 1714.

The Biblical stories were actively published from 1714 until either 1870 or 1902. The book that Bill Meyers has was published in Leipzig, Germany in 1814. During its active life, the book underwent 40 publications and 19 revisions, which included translations into six European languages, and also appeared in the USA. Johan Hubner.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Time

Bill Meyers, William F. Meyers, sent me three images of religious text written in German.

The first is the cover page of Johann Hübner's, Two times two and fifty select biblical stories from the old and new testament, composed for the benefit of youth, (published 1814). The second image shows the beginning two pages of the 44th biblical story, Von Peter Berlangnung, which translates as "the making of Peter". The last image is from the Gospel of Mark, On Easter Day, the first sermon, Mark, chapter  16, verses 1 - 8. The images are Bill's and permission to use them was graciously given.

Johann Hubner, Two times Fifty-Two Excellent Bible Stories
from the Old and new Testament, especially prepared for Youth.

Story 44, the Making of Peter

The Gospel of Mark, On Easter Day, chapter 16, verses 1- 8.

I have to admit that I was a little taken back to get them for several reasons. First, I had taken German in high school and college, so it would be fun to take a stab at translating the pages. Second, I love old books, and the history behind them. Finally, as Bill said in his email with the images, there is a bit of a mystery as to whether the books belonged to Mathias Van Huss or Valentine Felty Van Huss.

 Who spoke German?

Mathias was born in 1795, the year his father Valentine crossed into eastern Tennessee and settled near Fort Watauga, present day Elizabethton. Johan Hubner's book is the 1814 edition. That makes Mathias at least 19 years old at the date of publication of the one book. Of course, dad was considerably older. For that reason, Mathias seems to be favored as owner of the books. Unless, Valentine used the books in instructing other youth.

What is the case for Mathias? ... Mathias was the fifth child of Valentine Felty Vanhooser Jr. and Elizabeth Worley. Elizabeth, being descended from English stock, would not seem a likely candidate to teach her son German. That is unless we go back into Elizabeth's family history. She was the daughter of Valentine Worley and Anna Barbara Spraker. And, Anna Barbara Spraker was the daughter of Johann Christopher Sprecher and Elizabeth Reigher, both of whom were German to the core. Rutledge Family History.

For that matter, Mathias' grandmother on his father's side was Maria Barbara Zerwe ‎(Zerbe). She was thoroughly German on her side of the family. She and Mathias' grandfather, Valentine Felty Van Hooser, Sr. were married in the German Lutheran Church in a German community in Tulpenhocken, Pennsylvania. Valentine, Sr. had migrated with his parents to Tulpehocken, Lancaster (now Berks County, Pennsylvania near Reading). There he grew up in Heidelburg Township in the vicinity of what is now called Robesonia. He lived in a German community most likely speaking German, since his mother, aunts and uncles were also of that nationality. See Cox-Stewart Family History.

One last clue is Mathias name which is the German form of Matthew.

All this leads to the conclusion that the Vanhooser/Van Huss line went from Dutch to truly Deutsch, at least in language. Either Mathias or father Valentine would have spoken German.

Then, there is one other possibility. In 1814, Mathias Van Huss  went off with General Andrew Jackson to fight in the War of 1812. When he came back he settled down, got married to Elizabeth Worley in 1817, and next year had a child by the name of Valentine Worley Van Huss. Other children followed, Elizabeth died, and Mathias remarried in 1822 to Lovinia Dugger. The books could have been read by the children of Mathias.

As I live in Kansas with my wife who is descended from a Van Huss, it is not all that surprising. For Kansas gave rise to many communities in the late 1800's and early 1900's which were German, Swedish, and even Czech in origin. Language and culture have a way of hanging on. Sometimes time moves slowly.

Thank goodness.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Marriage of Jan Franz Van Housum and Volckje Jurriaens van Nordstrandt

Jan Franz Van Husum (Housum) and Volkje Juriaens (Jurriaens) married in Amsterdam on April 30, 1639. At the time, they were living on Tuinstraat, near the Dam Platz, with its Royal Palace and the Nieue Kirk where the ceremony took place. The church they were married in was devastated by fire in 1645 and rebuilt in its present day Gothic style.

The couple was married in the Dutch Reformed Church.

The marriage ceremony was performed under the rites of the Dutch Reformed Church, which reflects the fact that Holland was in the midst of its own Protestant Reformation. The Dutch Reformed Church was a more tolerant version of Lutheranism which held sway in large sections of northern Europe. And Lutheranism was a more tolerant version of Christ's teaching than Roman Catholicism. The Roman Catholic faith was the official religion of Holland ruled by the Spanish, who were then fighting the Dutch people for political control.

The Translation

The marriage certificate is written in Old Dutch using Gothic script, also called Blackletter. As with any old document, spellings may vary. The first few words, "Compareerdey als woren, literally translates as "Appearing as before," but is used in the sense "Present for signing.".

The certificate translates as follows:
                                              On 30 April 1639

Present for signing Jan Franz Van Housum, sailor, age 30, living in Corte Tuijnstraat, having no parents but assisted by his cousin, Anna Jans, and Volckje Juriaens, from Noortstrant, age about 21, of the same address and having no parents, but assisted by her acquaintance Isaack Pietersen.

Requesting their three Sundays' proclamation, in order to have the before mentioned marriage solemnized and consummated, in so far as there are no lawful objections made, and if fully that they are free persons, and not related by blood, whereby a Christian marriage could be prevented, such grounds do not exist, their banns are allowed.
The translation with a few minor variations comes from the site Vanhoose History and Joyce Lindstrom's Book on the Van Huss Family in America. I would not include the word daughter after Volckje Jurianes name, preferring to think that "dr" or "dv"  is short hand for "de van" meaning, from the, or the French "de" which also means from. The word "bekende" or acquaintence probably better translates as witness. The word sailor probably comes from the Dutch word "varensgezel", but the spelling seems to have changed. It might also translate simply as sea man or boats man.

In research Jan is often referred to as a sailor, but I have not come across any references to his sails except on the Den Harinck, the ship the two of them sailed on in going to America. Once in America the couple settled in Beverwyck (today's Albany, New York) up the Hudson River, and Jan became a businessman and property owner.

Jan's home in Amsterdam, Corte Tuijnstraat, is a location that still exists. "Corte" is a Spanish word for court, a holdover from the fact that Holland was then part of the Spanish Netherlands.Google Map.

The Anne Frank House is just a minute away from Tuinstraat, and it is a ten minute walk to Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square where the couple married. The church burned down six years after the marriage, and a new church was built at the same location in Gothic style. (See images of the New Church in Amsterdam).

Nortstrandt, Noortstrand, Nordstrand

Volckje's former address "von Noortstrand" refers to the island of Nordstrand. (Again, the spelling depends on the language. Variations also entered over time, just as with Van Husum to Van Huss.) The island is part of the chain of islands that made up North Friesland. Don't confuse these islands with Friesland which is a part of Holland.

On a modern map of the North Sea, these islands are located to the east of Amsterdam, north of Germany, and off the western coast of Denmark. I have included Von Blaeu's map of the area made after the flood. The smaller detail below shows the flooded areas of the island with small horizontal dashes.

The town of Husum, not on the map, is located by the sea to the east of the island of Nortstrandt. The island and the city both suffered greatly in the flood of 1634. this same flood killed Volckje's parents and probably was the calamity that brought the couple together, as Volckje was taken to Husum after the flood.

Map by Von Blaeu and detail, showing the island of Nortstandt (Nordstrand), shortly after the flood of 1634.

The fact that Jan was called Van Housum at all was principally to distinguish him from other Jans and the inclusion of the name Fransse or Franz designated his father. When looking at Dutch records in America, one will again come across the tendency to use a place name to distinguish individuals. Thus, I came across one "Jan Pieterson Van Husum" in looking at the records of New Netherlands, but it was clearly a different individual.

Volckje or Volkje's father was called Juriens, and she hailed from the island of Noortstaat (Nordstrand). There were other Juriens in the same colony where Jan and Volckje lived. One Captain Juriens later came under their care.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Volkje and Annetje Juriens (Jurriaens)

In 1639 Volkje Juriens (Jurriaens) married Jan Franz Van Husum, the first Van Huss in America.

But before that Volkje lived on the North Friesland island of Nordstrand with her parents and sister Annetje. The area along the western coastline of the Jutland peninsula was marchy and periodic floods laid down sediment. Eventually homes were built on mounds and dikes built to contain the flood waters. Because of the grass, cattle were raised, but geese and duck were also prevalent. Volkje was 16 years old in 1634. That was the year that a disasterous flood swept the island killing thousands including Volkje and Annetje's parents.

There are no images of either Volkje or Annetje, but one can imagine that they might have looked much like the Girl with the Pearl Earring, a painting by Dutch painter Jan Vanmeer, who lived from 1632 until 1675.

In 1639 Volkje would marry Jan Franz Van Husum. The same year, the two crossed the Atlantic and came to New Netherlands, settling in Rensselaerwyck in the small village of Beverwyck. Annetje would marry Andries Herbertz Constapel. All I know now is that he was at Renssalaerwyck from 1640 - 1662. See WMGS.

The Painting

Vermeer's painting of The Girl with the Pearl Earring can be seen in the Mauritshuis museum in the Hague. There is no date on the painting and the identity of the girl is unknown.

If you would like to read a little more about the painting and learn about the possible identities of the girl, go to the following article by Anna Holdsworth - Girl with the Pearl Earring. One can also read Tracy Chevalier's book of the same name for a good story of Dutch life in the 17th century.

Jan Van Husum - sailing man

It is not entirely clear what Jan Franz Van Husum did in the city of Husum before leaving for Amsterdam. One would suspect that he was a sailor for Husum was a seaport. And those who lived along the North Sea often earned their living catching herring along the Dogger Bank near the English coast and whaling in the frigid waters off Spitzbergen.

We do know that Jan arrived in Amsterdam sometime after 1634 when a great flood devastated the city of Husum and the nearby island of Nordstrand where his wife to be, Volkje Juriaens lived. Both Jan and Volkje were living on Tuinstraat in Amsterdam in 1639, when they applied for a marriage license. On the marriage certificate, available online from, Jan lists his occupation as "varensgezel," or seafaring man.

Detail Marriage Certificate Jan and Volkje Van Husum

In the 17th century, most sailing on Dutch ships was done on a Dutch flyboat or fluyt. This was a sturdy, round-sided ship with great carrying capacity that operated with fewer crew than other boats. While sizes varied, a ship of 150 to 200 tons, might use a crew of seven or eight, whereas the English and French used a crew of ten or twelve. And again, while sizes might vary greatly, the ship might measure no more than 60 feet from stem to stern, and 13 feet in width.

The Fluyt, by Charlotte Wilcoxen, from Selected Papers of Rennselaerswijck Seminar.

Dutch Flyboat from KingsAcademy


The Baker Willem Juriens

The last name of Willem Juriens is intriging, for it suggests a connection with Volkje Juriens, wife of Jan Van Husum. But if there is a connection, it is not yet established.

He must have been a crusty fellow for he was often in trouble with the law.

Willem Juriens was once a ship's captain, but by 1638, at the age of 58, he signed on with the colony at Renssalaerwyck to become a baker. From 1641 to 1647 he is credited with baking at several farms and for various individuals. But by 1644 and again in 1647 he was in trouble with the authorities for misdeeds that included attacking one, Antonio de Hooges, the Patroon's Commissioner (tax collector?) with a knife. The authorities banished him for his misdeeds, but granted him respite on condition that he refrain from his attacks. Old Man Juriens was not up to the task, and again in 1650, at the age of 70, was back before the court.

This time the court paroled Willem to the care of Jan Van Hoesen. Jan received Willem's bakery on the condition that Willem could live there so long as he should live. This was not quite the bargain it would seem, for later the neighbors would raise a stink.

Get story and put it here.

Renssalaer Bowier Manuscripts online, page 20.

History of the New Netherlands, by E.B. O'Callaghan, M.D..Google Book, page 437.