"A Great Incendiary and Dissafected person" -Governor Richard Nicholls
Aeldert Heymansen Roosa was born around 1620 in Herwijnen, a town in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands. Nothing is known for certain about his early life. It is said that he came from a prosperous family, and one recent (and highly questionable theory) theory holds that the family was of Jewish origin. Nonetheless, Aeldert was a lifelong member of the Dutch Reformed Church. He must have had some education as a child, as we know that he was able to read and write.
During his lifetime, his name was spelled a variety of ways. We see him in the records as Aldert Roosa, Albert Roosa and sometimes as just Aldert Heymansen. Roosa too appeared in different ways, Roose and Roos being two common variations.
Wyntje Ariens De Jongh was born about 1620 in Herwijnen, The Netherlands.
The date of the marriage of Aeldert Roosa and Wyntje De Jongh is not a matter of record, but it probably occured around 1640.
For a time, the family lived at Herwijnen, where Aeldert appears in the records as a yeoman, or farmer. By 1660, he had decided to move his family to New Netherlands.
On February 28, 1660, he granted a Power of Attorney to Adriaen D'Jong (De Jongh), a brother of his wife, to administer his lands and goods in Holland as he had in mind "to transport himself with his family next month to Nieuw Netherland."
"Aldert Heymans, agriculturalist, from Gelderland, and wife and eight children" arrived in New Amsterdam on April 15, 1660 as passengers on the ship Bontekoe (spotted cow). It is said that he brought much property with him from The Netherlands and quickly became an influential member of his new community.
The Roosa family proceeded up the Hudson River to Esopus or Wildwyck, now Kingston, Ulster County New York. They were there by September 12, 1660, when they were among the first communicants at the new Dutch Reformed Church at Esopus. Aeldert would later become an elder of this church, and was a member (perhaps the only and certainly a very prominent member) of its consistory.
On March 4, 1661, Aeldert and others signed a contract guaranteeing a salary to Domine Blom, who had just arrived. Aeldert signed the paper "Alaerdt Heymensen Roose."
In May he was appointed one of the three schepens or magistrates at Esopus, under Schout (sheriff) Roellof Swartwout, and thus became part of the first court in the county. He remained in that office until May 22, 1663.
In 1661 Aeldert Roosa was also appointed one of the commissioners to enclose the village of Hurley (near Kingston, also called The New Village and New Dorpf), which had just come into being. A 1662 list of those who owned land at Hurley includes "Albert Heymansen" as the owner of lot 24. It would seem that he moved to Hurley and that it was there that he maintained his farm. He was also commissioned (on Oct 11, 1662) to go to New Amsterdam and purchase two hundred pounds of lead and one hundred pounds of powder for the defense of the settlements.
On March 30, 1663 Governor Stuyvesant appointed him one of three overseers of Hurley, with the task of enclosing the village with palisades for its defense.
On April 7, 1663 Roosa and the other overseers wrote to Stuyvesant to explain that the Indians would not allow the constrution of the pallisades. "Praying that the gifts promised the savages be sent at once that your good and humble subjects may remain without fear and molestation from these barbarous people, for if rumors and warnings may be believed it would be too dangerous for your humble petitioners and faithful subjects to continue and advance their work otherwise." The Overseers further said that they had to consider "the threats of the savages, who say, that they are willing to allow the erection of buildings, but that no fortification must be made, which, if it should be done, would show that we had evil intentions."
Just a few months later, on June 7th, war broke out between the Dutch and the Esopus Indians. The causes are complex and shall not be discussed here; suffice it to say that the village of Hurley was leveled and that two daughters of Aeldert Roosa were carried off as captives along with many others.
Roosa, always in the thick of things, was a member of the Council of War. Agitated over the loss of his daughters, and hot-tempered to begin with, he had difficulty with his fellow counclimen as the court records show: "Roelof Swartwout, plaintiff vs Allert Heymans Roose, defendant. Plaintiff alleges that the defendant challenged a member of the court sitting in the Council of War at the house of Thomas Chambers, July 7, 1663 concerning two Wappinger savages, saying, "If there is anyone at this meeting who is a friend of the savages, I dare him to come outside." Marten Crieger, the military commander at Esopus recorded the incident in his journal. "This said Jan Hendricksen, with one Albert Heymans Roose, acted insolently on the 7th July. Whilst we were examining the two Wappinger Indians, in the presence of the Schout and Commissaries, in Thomas Chambers' room a messenger came in and said that two or three boors were without the door with loaded guns to shoot the Indians when they came forth. Whereupon I stood up and went to the door- found this Albert Heymans Roose and Jan Hendricksen at the door with their guns. Asked them what they were doing there with their guns? They gave me for answer, We will shoot the Indians. I said to them, You must not do that. To which they replied, We will do it though you stand by. I told them in return, to go home and keep quiet or I should send such disturbers to the Manhatans [New York]. They then retorted, I might do what I pleased, they would shoot the savages to the ground even though they should hang for it; and so I left them. This Albert coming into the Council told the Commissaries that one of them should step out. What his intention with him was I can't say..."
A number of expeditions were launched to recover the captives, and Roosa almost certainly was a part of them. His two daughters were eventually returned to him after what must have been many anxious months.
In the fall of 1663, Roosa was at the center of another bitter dispute. The Magistrates at Kingston grew angry with the church consistory (Aeldert included), who were accused of infringing upon the rights of the magistrates in regards to the handling of the estates of intestates. Suyvesant advised both parties to stay within the bounds of their authority.
The consistory continued to play an active role in the life of the town. On February 12, 1664, they sent the following petition to the court. "The Reverend Consistory here... request... that the public, sinful and scandalous Bacchanalian days of Fastenseen [i.e. Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday], coming down from the heathens from their idol Bacchus, the God of wine and drunkenness, being also a leaven of popery, inherited from the pagans, which the Apostle, in 1 Co. 5, admonishes true Christians to expurge, may, while near at hand, be proscribed in this place by your Honors, by proper ordinances, while we admonish against and publicly reprehend those abominations, so that through God's grace and blessing we shall mutually have done our duty, and we may thereby do some good for this place and its inhabitants, their bodies as well as their souls,- the more so as we are passing through such woeful times of God's judgement over us in this place [a strange disease was then ravaging Esopus], inflicted because of our sins- and so we may not, through such scandalous sins as Fastenseen, and sinful doing, continue to irritate the Lord and still further call down his judgements upon us, for we are still under his rod, and his sword of war still threatens us yet more to try the land and its inhabitants."
Roosa, the most prominent member of the Consistory, no doubt had a hand in this petition and may well have written it.
English rule brought new troubles to the Roosas and their neighbors. It is recorded that Aeldert threatened three English soldiers with an axe over an argument regarding the use of his canoe. Later, in May 1665, Roosa was summoned to court after another scrape with some soldiers in which he took a gun from them. It was rumored that he was to be arrested, and the burgher guard in which he was a Sergeant assembled, but the when it was learned that he had merely been summoned before the court they dispersed. The result of the case is not known.
The English next placed a certain Captain Broadhead in command at Esopus. His brutal conduct made rebellion inevitable On February 16, 1666 Aledert, his son, and others were convicted of "taking up arms in a riotous and illegal manner... to awe, terrify and suppress his Majesty's English Garrison." It was thought that they deserved to be put to death, but the Governor instead banished them and fined them 100 bushels of wheat; however there is no record that they ever left town. Indeed, just a few moths later, in April 1666, Aeldert was in a brawl with another English soldier, Francois Vreeman. On January 2, 1667, Roosa led the inhabitants of Esopus in a petition of complaint against Schout George Hall. They stated they he was appropriating for his own use some of the firewood they hauled to the guardhouse for they use of the soldiers. On February 4, 1667 another revolt broke out. This one would go down in history as the Esopus Mutiny. The immediate cause was the imprisonment of Cornelius Slecht by Broadhead. The riot ended without bloodshed when the Captain threatened to burn the town, but the litigation was yet to come.
The settlers presented a list of grievances to the governor, among which were two involving Aeldert Roosa. "...Albert Heymans Roos, going with his plouw yron towards the Smits, was assalted by five souldrs. whoe wounded him very much." He was then imprisoned, and again beaten. It seems, however, that Roosa had thrown his "plouw yron" at one of five drunken soldiers who had been harassing him and others and that the fight had begun as a result. In all fairness to Aeldert, he missed his throw and the soldier was drawing his sword!
In response to this petition, the Governor appointed a Commission to look into the troubles in April of 1667. But it was not to be a fair hearing. In his instructions, Governor Nicholls wrote "Albert Heymans and Anthony D. Elba have spoken most malicious words, and I look upon them as great incendiaries and disaffected persons; if their words be proved they shall not be suffered to live in this government; if they have been actors in the late riot, pitch upon them two for ringleaders..." While the Commission suspended Captain Broadhead they also found Aeldert and others guilty. They were hauled off to New York for sentencing, and Aeldert was banished for life from the government.
By February 1668, this sentence had been modified, and Aeldert returned to Kingston (if he had ever left; again there is no record that he did). In 1669 he petitioned for and was granted permission to set up a brewhouse and tanffatts at Hurley. He also joined with others in a petition requesting that a minister who could preach in both Dutch and English be sent to Kingston and became one of the overseers at Hurley, along with Louis DuBois, on September 16. He was also sued by Magdalena (Blanchan) Jansen/Van Keuren for 7 schepels of wheat due to her for having instructed his daughter in knitting.
The new Governor, Francis Lovelace, appointed Roosa a Sergeant in the Militia of Hurley and Marbletown. He was ordered to take charge of the "rendezvous at Marbletown", which was held in April, 1670. He also served as a mustering officer. Earlier in 1670, he had obtained a patent for ten acres of land at Hurley and given over to the government eight acres, to satisfy the people of Marbletown. On October 25, 1671, Roosa was appointed to sit on the Kingston Court of Sessions "for Hurley." On October 6, 1673, he was appointed Captain of a company of soldiers from Hurley and Marbletown by the temporary Dutch government.
Aeldert Roosa passed away on February 27, 1679. He was around fifty-five or sixty years old.
Wyntje Roosa survived him until at least 1685, when she obtained a grant of 320 acres of land at Hurley, said to have been given to her in recognition of her husband's services. Thereafter she drops off the record.