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.

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