EARLY HISTORY & DOCUMENTATION
Since being sent a copy of Louis Beech Vreeland's papers, dated 1956 and the
proof therein of the errors in the 1909 Nicholas Garretson Vreeland's
published history of the Vreeland family, "Vreeland's Their Book",
amendments must be made as you will see below.
Michiel Jansen (note new spelling of first name) had NO son named Claas (Nicholas) and
no connection has ever been shown between Michiel Jansen Vreeland and the town of that
name in Utrecht Province, The Netherlands. Michiel Jansen (Vreeland) went by a few
names. It was before surnames were important in America. It was not until the 2nd or 3rd
generation that the name Vreeland became paramount with the family and afterwards all Vreelands
kept this name.
On the island of South Beveland, in the province of Zeeland, lies a small village, 's Heer
Abtskerke, colloquially called Scrabbekercke. In 1640 we first hear of our ancestor and he
is called Michiel Janez van (from) Scrabbekercke. Thus it's highly probable that Michiel
lived (or was even born) at Scrabbekercke.
The other name for Michiel, other than Jansen or Janez, was in the New Amsterdam
Church records where he is referred to as Michiel Jansen van den Berg, referring to the
hill farm at Rensselaerswyck, where he had first settled and which he left in 1646 when he
went to New Amsterdam.
There has been a story in all Vreeland families that Michiel came from a place called
Vreeland. There is no proof that OUR Michiel came from there but it does make sense, so
we can only agree that he must have at least lived there during his early life.
Early in the month of May, 1638, the ship Het Wapen van Noorwegan (Arms of Norway)
sailed from Texel. Michiel signed on as a farmer. He arrived about August 4, 1638, with his
wife Fitje (or Fitie) Hartmans (not Hartman as recorded earlier). It is noted that on many of
the birth records of the children, Fitje is listed as Fytje Wessels Vreeland. They had 9
children born in America.
Michiel brought two farm laborers with him and they joined a small group in the
Rensselaerswyck Colony. Not a great deal is known about this colony except that Michiel
was head farmer for the Patroon from 1640 to 1646. He was then known as Michiel
Jansen. In 1647 he was referred to (baptism record) as Michiel Janszen Van den Berg.
However, in the same year, Director General Stuyvesant and his Council selected nine
men to give their advice and to assist in promoting the welfare of the colony and Michiel
was one of the farmers chosen. He was listed as Michiel Jansen Vreeland.
It was recorded that he started raising horses in 1648. There was also a nasty bit, which a
true romantic would fail to report, about Michiel's sale of contraband munitions to the
Indians and a fine for selling beaver skins without paying duty. Actually he made his
fortune in the trapping trade.
He moved to NJ in 1654 and on Sept. 15, 1655, the Indians raided. Of all the settlers'
families, Vreeland was the only one to escape entirely unharmed, with his wife and six
children. He lost his house and all his possessions.
Michiel went back to Manhattan and opened an inn tap room on the north side of Pearl
street, just south of Broad street on Oct 23, 1656. He prospered and bought other land in
All the settlers who had been forced to leave their homes in Pavonia (Bayonne-Jersey
City) because of the Indian War wanted to return. Michiel soon wearied of living in
Manhattan. In late January 1658, he too returned to his farm land and started raising
cattle on a large scale. Soon he was quite wealthy.
Michiel Jansen (Vreeland) was named as one of the first magistrates of the first court of
justice erected within the limits of the present State of New Jersey, and of the earliest
organized municipal governments within that state.
Michiel died in 1663 before the month of June and so before New Netherlands was taken
by the English. Fytje Hartmans, widow, continued to manage the considerable land holdings
that Michiel left to her. She sold and traded and was said to have been an excellent
'business woman' for those times. She died in 1697 and left all her lands to her seven surviving