Autumn, 1975 FRT
Frisians in Early New York:
Tens of thousands of motorists enter Manhattan daily over the Third Avenue Bridge or leave it over the Wills Avenue Bridge. Very few of them are aware of the fact that they are crossing the site of the first European settlement north of the Harlem River. It is also the site of Jonas Broncks farm, which he named Emmaus, after the village where, according to the Bible, the risen Christ first appeared to His disciples. The farm-house, east of the Third Avenue Bridge at the foot of Lincoln Avenue, bore the Bronck family motto, "Yield not to evil."
Jonas Bronck was a remarkable man. The son of a Danish Lutheran pastor, he was born in Copenhagen but spent most of his youth in the Faroe Islands, to which his father had been transferred. Later Jonas became influential in shipping circles in Holland, and was able to acquire ownership of a shipping vessel.
The name chosen for his farm, his family motto, and the selection of a name for his ship are indicative of the nature of this man. He named his ship De Brand van Trogen reminiscent of the Fire of Troy. It may be recalled that after the fall of ancient Troy survivors sailed westward and founded the city of Rome.
Mindful of his mission, the establishment of a new settlement in the New World, Bronck, too, sailed westward, not with survivors of a fire but with survivors of a devastating tide.
It was the tide, so well known in Frisian history, that destroyed Old Nordstrand in 1634 with a loss of lives estimated at 7000-8000.
Dr. Frederick Paulsen, Alkersum/Föhr, has traced the passengers of De Brand van Trogen to the Frisian mainland in the area of Husum where most of the survivors of that tide had found refuge.
Late Autumn 1975 FRT
Frisians in Early New York (cont.):
The Brand van Trogen arrived in Manhattan in 1639 with a very interesting cargo. It was indeed unusual for the owner to be on board. He was, of course, Jonas Bronck, whose original name probably was Jens Mortensen Bronck.
Being a member of an intellectual family, or, perhaps, having extensive training himself, he was aware of the importance of educational guidance for his mission, the establishment of a settlement in a foreign land. Therefore, he arranged to bring a library (consisting of fifty books) the selection of which is noteworthy: A Bible and several other theological books, books on agriculture, navigation, on construction of windmills, a book for children in Danish, a book on Danish law, one on Danish history, and a Danish calendar. Other books were in Dutch, in German, and in Latin.
The ship carried building material and, equally important, skilled men for construction.
Bronck had not overlooked the importance of chimney sweeping. Therefore, he accepted a chimney-sweep for his journey. He was Peter Andressen.
Peter, like many other immigrants, saw opportunities here which the old country could not offer. While continuing to practice his trade as a chimney-sweep he also became the owner of a tavern as well as the proprietor of a farm. His farm was located to the east of the Jonas Bronck farm in the area now known as Mott Haven.
South-west of the Bronck farm, on the Manhattan side of the Harlem River, we find the goat farm of Jochen Pietersen-Kuyter, the captain of the Brand van Trogen.
The fate of the remaining members of that group is not recorded but we do find numerous very familiar names as property owners during that time: Jens Jensen, Volkert Jensen, Jan Petersen Slot, Nicolas de Meyer (who became mayor of New York in 1676), Hans Hansen, Arfst Jensen, Johan Carstensen, Christian Christiansen, Jan Brodersen. All of them came from the Frisian mainland in the area of. Husum.
Our story does not have a happy ending. William Kieft, governor of New Amsterdam, was unfriendly toward the Indians. He was responsible for the massacre of. February 25, 1643. The Indians retaliated. In spite of Bronck's outstanding character and his friendly attitude toward the Indians he was assassinated during a raid on his farm in 1643. Jochen Pietersen-Kuyter fared no better on his farm in 1654. Only Peter Andressen survived. He was held hostage by the Indians, who demanded and received a high ransom for his release.
Jonas Bronck paid with his life for his good deeds and is being honored by having the county north of the Harlem River named after him Bronx County or the Bronx.
In the Museum of the City of New York, among the names of early Dutch" settlers, we find the name of our Frisian friend Peter Andressen, the chimney sweeper.
The Bronck adventure did not initiate a continuous massive immigration on the part of the Frisian people. North America was not yet the land of. unlimited opportunity. Another opportunity was found in a field familiar to our people: seafaring. The third Golden Age of the Frisians, the period of whaling, had made its appearance.