1. From Holland to Delaware
(John and John)
If there were newspapers on Long Island, New York on 6 March 1657, headlines no doubt would have blared:
Dutch Ship Carrying Colonists
Crew of 16 and 113 Passengers
Prins Maurits Flounders
Come Ashore in Lifeboat
Long Island's first shipwreck,
Indians to the rescue
One of the passengers was our ancestor known as John Garretson Van der Hof. How did he get in this predicament and why was he here? As explained in the Servison chapter of our history, the New Sweden Colony was established on the Delaware, and the Dutch, worried about the settlement as a threat to their thriving shipping interests, eventually took control of it in 1655, less than a year before another of our ancestors, Marcus the Finn, arrived from Sweden . This area of Delaware now called Wilmington in New Castle County should have been attractive to Dutch immigrants, but traditional incentives for leaving the mother country such as economic hardship and religious persecution were lacking. Compared to other European countries, Dutch immigration was just a trickle.
John Garretson born abt 1660 in New Castle Co., DE, died 5 Mar 1695 in Mill Creek New Castle, DE, married about 1680 in New Castle to Ann _____ born abt 1662, died after 1695 in Mill Creek
But three young Garretson brothers in their twenties looking for adventure left Amsterdam, Holland on 21 Dec 1656 and headed for America. John and Hendrick were sailors aboard the Prins Maurits, and Paul was on one of the accompanying ships Beer (Bear) and de Geldersche Blom (Flower of Gelderland). The ships became separated at sea, and the Prins Maurits headed along the usual pathway toward Cuba, then up the American coast toward the Delaware River. However, a severe winter storm kicked up before they reached Cape May and they were swept past the bay all the way up to Fire Island off Long Island where they ran aground. They were helped ashore by Indians who then sent a messenger to Peter Stuyvesant for assistance. They were able to hire another ship and safely arrived at New Castle on 21 April 1657. One J. Alrichs gave a full report on the incident to the authorities back in Amsterdam saying, in part:
The Lord God not vouchsafing, this through the ignorance of the skipper, pilot and others of the ship's officers, about eleven o'clock on the night of the 8th of March after we had sailed that day in 26, 18 and 16 fathoms of water, although the skipper, pursuant to my customary warning, had promised not an hour before to take good care and spare the lead, and that he should quickly cast anchor and then come into the cabin to report or communicate the matter, yet the men unexpectedly called out eight and nine fathoms. Wishing thereupon, to tack, and the ship refusing, she immediately struck, and so shaved, which she afterwards continued to do harder and harder, so that we were not a moment certain whether we should leave there alive or perish. After passing through most of the darkness of that night in the greatest anxiety and fear, we found ourselves, at day-break, about a gunshot from the shore, but being between the shores and the strand in such a bad position, and ignorant whether this place was south or north of the Manhattes, it was unanimously resolved, first to save our lives and then to exert every nerve to save as much as we possibly could.
Accordingly on the 9th of March, in severe, bitter and freezing weather, with drifting ice, after great trouble, dangerous breaks in a very leaky boat, with considerable water in it, we succeeded in reaching the shore on a broken split of foreland, on which neither bush nor grass grew, nor was any tree or fire-wood to be found. On the third day we, for the first time, saw and spoke to some Indians, who informed us that it was the foreland of Long Island, and that the place was called Secoutagh. Meantime, the ship getting nearer the shore, we, from time to time unloaded and saved all the dry articles. Having met and experienced this misfortune, I sent an Indian, with advice thereof, to General Stuyvesant, who immediately sent us a small sloop and came, himself, on the second day after, to us at the above place mentioned, which lies about twenty leagues north of the Manhattes. On the other, or land, side of said place a small opening or inlet to a river has been discovered, which a small sloop can enter; but most of the goods were brought overland to the other side to be loaded on the river. Working with great labor and industry, I have discharged most of the goods, as far as it was possible, and brought them to the above name place; but before they could all be got out, the ship stove into a thousand splinters and pieces
Fortunately John, our 7th great-grandfather, survived this harrowing experience. We don't know anything more about him other than that he settled in New Castle Co., Delaware and had a son named John.
John Garretson, Jr., our 6th great-grandfather, built a house on what is now Third Street in New Castle. A Delaware preservation society purchased it in 1937, the oldest dwelling in Delaware, known as "Old Dutch House." It is of typical Dutch construction, placed close to the front of the lot, built of brick, and with a centrally located fireplace and low ceilings. He received a warrant for an additional 400 acres of land on the south side of Christina Creek on 16 November 1683. He and his wife Ann had 6 children that we know of:
Family of John Garretson
1. Garrett Garretson born abt 1681
2. Rebecca Garretson born in 1683
3. Casparius Garretson born in 1685 in Mill Creek, died 3 Dec 1726 in Mill Creek, married in 1713 in New Castle to Ann Cox born abt 1690 in New Castle, died bef 1762 in Hockessin, DE
4. Cornelius Garretson born in 1688
5. Mary Garretson born 18 Dec 1690, died in 1753 in Pennsylvania, married in abt 1713 in London Grove, Chester Co., PA to John Cox
6. Charity Garretson born abt 1692
John's will is shown below replete with its original quaint wording and spelling. Some researchers feel that he might have been Quaker because of the wording and the way the dates were written. Also, some have mistakenly thought that his wife's name was Ann Thayer, but upon closer examination one can see that the word Thayer in the will actually means "their":
"The Last will and testament of John Garretson made the 28th of November 1694; being sick and weeke but In perfect memory.
Item: I give my sperritt to God and my body to ye ground.
Item: I give all my land unto my three sons that is Garrett & Casper & Cornelius after ye Desese of Ann Thayer mother or if ye said Ann thayer mother showld marry then when my sones shalt com to age they shall have It, ye land. It is my will that It shall equally Devided between them, that is to say my oldest sone Garrett shall helpe with ye help Of my other two sones to cleare them of much land as ye home plantation have and to Build housing Convienient for them all so, ye land that Casper and Cornelius have It must be devided and then they must cast lottes for thayer settlement. also ye stock that I gave them thay do know and ye stock that is myne & my wives after both ouer Desese it shall be eaqualy be Devided betweene my sones & my dafters that is to say my Cattell & Hooges; and if my loving wife Ann showld marry then It Is my will that shee shall have her theerdes of ye moveables and no more.
Item: It Is my will that my three sones that is Garrett, Ceasparus & Cornelius when thay Com to eage thay shall give my dafters five pownds A peece & If any of my Dafters showld Dey before thay are married then my sones must & shall equely devide It betweene them as witness my hand & salle [signed] Jon Gerritsen
[signed] Robert Hutchinson
[signed] Robert Dyer
Allowed this 5th of March 1694/5 by the attestations of Robert Hutchinson & Robert Dyer before us.
[signed] Edward Blake
[signed] Richard Halliwell