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.]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


It is from the town of Husum that the family names Van Huss, Vanhooser, Van Hoesen come.

Jan Franz Van Husum is the first known Van Huss to take the name. He was born in 1608, survived a great flood in 1634, married Volkje Jurriaens von Nordstrand in 1639, and set sail for America the same year. The couple would settle at Fort Orange, on the Hudson River, part of the Dutch colony of New Netherlands.

Husum, from Wikipedia

Today, Husum (North Frisian: Hüsem) is a port city, located in Nordfriesland in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Located along the North Frisian coast, the town, through the centuries has belonged to different nations and principalities, including Denmark, Germany, Schleswig, and Schleswig-Holstein. The peninsula on which Husum sits is called Jutland. In 1608, the city was part of the Duchy of Holstein.

Detail of Blaeu's map of the Duchy of Holstein, 1645 (Wikipedia)
Origin of the name "Husum"

The name of the town Husum is first mentioned in history in 1252, for it was at Husumbro (Husum bro, literally, the "bridge between houses") that King Abel of Denmark met his death on the bridge in Husum trying to subdue a revolt by Frisian peasants who refused to pay their taxes. While the geography of the region has changed over the centuries, the bridge would likely have been over the Husumer Au, an inlet which separates the two halves of Husum.

The name "Husum" itself is made up of "Hus" and "um". Hus means "house," (German and Danish; in Dutch "huis", but pronounced the same). The most likely explanation for the addition of "um" is that it is a Latin ending denoting a singular grammatical number. The prefix "van" means "from." Thus, we have "Jan Franz from the city of Husum".

The larger region around the city of Husum is known as Eiderstedt, and the settlement of Husum ended the trade route along the western coast of the Jutland peninsula where cattle was driven south to Dutch and German markets. The name Eiderstedt, "city of the eider duck" suggests that ducks and geese were also raised in the area for southern markets.

Husum Seaport

Detail of Carta Marina, Husum highlighted

Ortelius map of 1572, Husum highlighted
[Both maps from Wikipedia. Carta Marina, created by Olaus Magnus, 16th century, is the earliest map of Denmark and the Jutland peninsula. Abraham Ortelius, who is Flemish, spells the name of the town "Huysen," Johannes Janssonius, a Dutch cartographer uses a similar spelling. Willem Blaeu, another Dutch cartographer, spells the city "Hussum".]

The two maps above reveal that Husum was not always a seaport. That it became one is an accident of nature. In 1362, a flood of biblical proportions, called the Big Man-Drowning (Burchardi Flood or Grote Mandrenke) devastated the area and brought the sea closer to the town of Husum. It also created the island of Nordstrand where Jan's wife Volkje hailed from. Another flood in the year 1634 would again sweep over Husum and Nordstrand affecting the lives of both Jan and Volkje.

Van Hoesen

Van Hoesen, "from the city of Hoesen" is another variation in the spelling of the family name. It is but a slight change in the spelling of "Huysen" found in Ortelius' map. Once in New Netherlands, Jan Franz Van Husum changed the spelling of his name to Van Hoesen. Interestingly, his eldest son was baptized in 1640 in the Dutch Reformed Church as "Van Huysen," using Ortelius' spelling. Early Records of the City and County of Albany: Deeds. 1678-1704.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Marriage Certificate

The marriage of Jan Franz van Housum, varensgezel and Volckje Juriaens

On May the 15th, 1639, a newly-married couple set sail from Amsterdam for America.

They sailed aboard the ship, Den Harinck, arriving in July at New Amsterdam, founded perhaps 15 years earlier, and possessing a few hundred souls. They did not disembark here, rather, they made their way up the Hudson River to Ft. Orange, an outpost of the Dutch West Indies Company, where Kiliaen van Rensselaer established his patroonship.

Jan and Volkje settled down, went to work, raised a family, and prospered. They are the progenitors of the tens of thousands of individuals in the Unites States with the surnames Van Husum, Van Hoesen, Van Huss, and with other minor variations.

Dam Platz Amsterdam 1659, by Jacob van der Ulft, Musee Conde, Chantilly

The marriage of Jan and Volkje

Jan and Volkje married a month before sailing for America. The marriage took place in Amsterdam's Nieuwe Kerk on the Dam Platz.*

Some say they were Dutch, others say Frisian, an ancient tribe of people who lived along the coast and were first mentioned by the Romans. What we do know is that Jan came from Husum and Volkje from the island of Nordstrand.

Both city and island were part of ancient North Frisia.

Korte Tuinstraat

Korte Tuinstraat,** where they lived in Amsterdam, can still be located on Google Maps. It is a short walk from Tuinstraat to the Dam Platz and the New Church. It is also a short walk to the house of Rembrandt van Rijn, Holland's most famous painter of the same period.

 [Note. This is a draft article that concerns the marriage of Jan and Volkje Van Husum. The original working image of the marriage certificate comes from I have included her translation below with some minor changes.]

Marriage Certificate of Jan Van Husum and Volkje Nordstrand

The image is not original. It is a digital recreation of the marriage certificate of Jan Van Husum and Volkje Nordstrand.

                                                          The 30th of April 1639

Present for signing "Jan Franz van Housum, varensgezel", seafaring man, age 30 years, living in "Cortetuijnstraat," having no parents but assisted by his cousin Anna Jans, of the same (street) and Volckje Juriaens "dr von" (from) Noortstrant, age about 21 years,  same address, having no parents, but assisted by Isaack Pietersen, acquaintence.
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, and if fully that they are free persons, not related by blood, whereby a Christian marriage could be prevented, such grounds do not exist, their banns are allowed.

* The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) was destroyed by fire in 1645 and rebuilt in its present day Gothic style. The New Church was new, even in 1639, at the time of Jan and Volkje's marriage, because the Oude Kirk (Old Church) in Amsterdam had become too small for the growing congregation. Today, the former church is operated as a museum.

**Tuinstraat translates as "Garden Street." It is located in the Jordaan District just off of central Amsterdam. Corte is not Dutch, it may be Spanish, translating as "court."  One looking for the address where Jan and Volkje lived would be advised to look for a courtyard on Tuinstraat, assuming that a 17th century courtyard still exists.