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.