Wolfert Gerritse VanKouwenhoven
- Born: 1 May 1579, Amersfoort, Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands
- Marriage: Neeltgen Jacobsdochter on 17 Jan 1604 in Amersfoort, Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands
- Died: 22 Jun 1662, Flatbush, Long Island, New York, United States at age 83
Noted events in his life were:
• General History. Also known as Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven and Wolfert "Gerritsen" Van Couwenhoven, was an original patentee, director of bouweries, and a founder of the New Netherlands colony; founder of the first European settlement on Long Island, New Amersfoort, and a "Schepen" of New Amsterdam in 1654. He played an active role in laying the foundations of the communities of Manhattan, Albany, Rensselaer, and Brooklyn.
Gerretse ran a baking and clothes bleaching business, when in 1625 he was assigned as one of the first settlers to cultivate farms in the New Netherlands colony by the Dutch West India Company.
Following that service, in 1630 he returned to the Netherlands, where he entered into a contract with Kiliaen Van Rensselaer to return to the colony to manage his farms. Wolphert arrived back in the colony aboard the ship "Eendracht", where he proceeded in his duties as director for Renselaer's farms in Rensselaerwyck and Fort Orange. His contract was to run through 1636, but Gerretse requested it cancelled early so he could pursue his own interests. Rensselaer agreed, and in 1632 Gerretse was released from his contractual obligations.
He leased a bouwerie in New Amsterdam and managed it until 1636, when he was granted a patent of several hundred acres on Long Island. He called his plantation "Achervelt"; later it served as the founding of the town of New Amersfoort, named after Gerretse's original home. Today the area is known as Flatlands, where the former location of his plantation is found at King's Highway and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1637, he became a Freeholder in Midwout, and again in 1641. In 1653, he was sent by the colony to the States-General in the Netherlands as a Commissioner. In 1654, Wolphert served as a Schepen of New Amsterdam, and in 1657 was made a Burgher.
Gerretse died in 1662. A member of the Dutch Reformed Church, on January 17, 1605, he married Neeltje Jacobsdochter at the church in Amersfoort, Netherlands. With her he had three sons: 1) Gerrit (b. 1610-d. 1648) was a Representative at the Council of Eight in 1643;
2) Jacob (b. 1612-1670) assistant to Gov. Woulter Van Twiller, Representative at the Board of Nine in 1647, 1649\endash 1650, sat on the Court of Arbitrators between 1649\endash 1650, Delegate of New Netherlands to the Hague in Holland; and, 3) Pieter (b. 1614-d. 1699)-one of the first magistrates of New Netherlands, member of the Schepens Court 1653-1654, 1658\endash 1659, 1661 and 1663, Delegate from New Amsterdam to the Convention of 1653, Lieutenant in the Esopus War, signer of the peace treaty 1664 with the Esopus Indians.
His descendants include:
1. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
2. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
3. U.S. Senator Sidney Breese
4. Astronomer John Monroe Van Vleck
5. Nobel Prize winner John Hasbrouck Van Vleck
6. Cardiology pioneer William B. Kouwenhoven
7. Philanthropist Edward Harriman
8. Diplomat William Harriman
9. Railroad baron E.H. Harriman
10. Vice-Admiral Arthur S. Carpender
11. Actor Michael Douglas
12. 12th Great Grandson Kyle William King
13. 10th Great Grandson-Robert Hunt Bruce, Popculturist and Author
14. Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Denmark Christopher N. Smith
Brooklyn areas named for him:
1. Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn
2. Kouwenhoven Lane-Brooklyn
Wolfert married Neeltgen Jacobsdochter on 17 Jan 1604 in Amersfoort, Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands. (Neeltgen Jacobsdochter was born in 1584 in Reusel-de Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands and died in 1658 in New Amersfoort Flatbush, Kings, New York, United States.)