Wilhelmus Beekman Page 1

History of the
Beekman Family


    Wilhelmus Beekman was the founder of the Beekman family in America. He came to New Amsterdam, now New York, from Holland on the ship Princess, on May 27, 1647, with Director-General, and later the first Governor of New York, Peter Stuyvesant. Accompanying them were a number of poor persons of good families who came from the Rhine and settled on the Hudson River. They became firm supporters of their leader and benefactor, Wilhelmus Beekman.
    Wilhelmus was interested in religious matters from his youth and at the age of twenty-one, he was an officer in the Reformed Church in the Netherlands, which had then become the most advanced nation in the world in learning and thought.
    He had a good education and splendid home training which enabled him at once to take a position in the best society of New Amsterdam. It is said that he brought some wealth with him and that his personal charm of manner and friendship with Stuyvesant secured him many advantages as well as a prominent position as treasurer of the Dutch West India Company. At any rate he soon cut out the suitors for the hand of Catalina de Boogh, a belle in the society of New Amsterdam and the daughter of the wealthy Hendricks de Boogh of Albany, New York.
    The Beekman family were prominent in the history of New York and New Jersey and his name is perpetuated in the names of William Street and Beekman Street, New York City, which later became legally a street in 1734. While visiting New York in 1974, I saw Beekman Street which crosses Wall Street. There is also a Beekman Place and a Beekman Swamp which were named after our ancestor.
    From the beginning, he was identified with affairs of state and the government of the new city. In 1652, he purchased a farm from Jacob Corlaer known as Corlaer's Hook, where he lived with his bride. They were fully launched into the delightful society of the Dutch city, which then resided those men and women of culture and earnest endeavor who built up a nation and to whom so many of us are proud to trace back our ancestry.
    A general meeting of the Director-General and council of New Netherlands was held with the Burgomasters and Schepens (magistrates) on the 13th of March 1653, at which time it was decreed that breastworks or a wall should be built to protect the city and that the cost should be levied against the estates. Peter Wolfersen Van Couwenhoven and Wilhelmus Beekman were choses Commissioners and authroized to offer proposals, invite bids, and make the contract for the present Wall Street, skirting De Heere Gracht, an inlet of the bay, where Broad Street now is located.