52 Ancestors #2: Eric I Svendsson and Bothild Thorgatsdattar, King and Queen of Denmark

Eric I Svendsson, King of Denmark, was elected king following the death of Olaf I Hunger in 1095. Unlike Olaf and Canute IV before him, Eric was a popular king often called Eric the Good. For unknown reasons, Eric decided not to join the 1st Crusade. Instead, he visited the pope in Rome and convinced him to canonize his brother. At home he threw lavish parties that in at least one case resulted in a brawl. This left four men dead. Eric was guilt stricken.

The 1st Crusade was over and Jerusalem was back in the hands of the Christians. So, to assuage his guilt, Eric and his wife Bothild Thorgatsdatter began a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was to be a fateful decision. The journey took them first through Russia to Constantinople where he met with the emperor. Eric became ill but boarded a ship to Cyprus as he was intent on completing his pilgrimage. It was not meant to be. Eric died in Paphos, Cyprus, in July 1103. The likely cause of his death was dysentery.

Queen Bothild had him buried in Cyprus. Unfortunately, she too became ill. She managed to continue the pilgrimage to Jerusalem where she died. She was buried at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Valley of Josaphat.

52 Ancestors: Cornelius Hendrickse Van Ness and Maijgen Hendricks van der Burchgraeff

This is the second year of a blog challenge called 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks. Bloggers are asked to write about one ancestor a week for a year. This is the first time I have heard of it, and I am a week behind. I want to take part in this challenge not only to share my family history with others, but also to get clarity for myself on who my ancestors were. Many of my ancestors were brave adventurous people who took great risks. Others were common people just living their lives. Some were kings and queens. Most have a story worth telling.

This is the story of Cornelius Hendrickse Van Ness born in 1600 in Holland and his wife Maijgen Hendrickse van den Burchgraeff born in 1602 also in Holland. They are my ninth great grandparents, and they had no real need for a fresh start, yet they chose to leave their comfortable lives in Holland and travel to the wilds of the New World.

Cornelius was a wealthy, well-educated land owner in the area of Vianen, Holland. His wife Maijgen Hendrickse van den Burchgraeff was from a wealthy family, and she became wealthy in her own right after the death of both her parents. They had income producing land that continued to supply them with an income even after they left Holland. I can only speculate as to the reason these two people emigrated to what would become the area around Albany, New York.

The Dutch East Indies Company was unhappy with the slow population growth in the New Netherlands. The Dutch people were cautious by nature and traveling to the unknowns of the new continent was generally not appealing to them. They were not excited by the prospect of dealing with the native tribes, building housing from scratch, or risking everything on what they saw as a very dangerous proposition with no real personal benefits.

Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a diamond merchant from Holland and a director of the Dutch East Indies Company, came up with the solution. He devised patroonships, a way for immigrants to become property owners. Now, the Dutch people saw a reason to take the risk: personal gain.

Even in the 1600s, land was not easy to get in Holland. All of it belonged to someone, and inheritance was the most likely way for someone who owned no land to acquire some. However, in New Netherland under the patroonship system, anyone no matter how poor could eventually become a landowner. Cornelius and Maijgen must have decided that immigrating to New Netherland was a way to secure land, and thus a future, for their seven children.

In May of 1641, Cornelius, Maijgen, and their seven children boarded the den Eyckenboom with about 30 other people and sailed from Holland. It is likely that his ship was a fluyt. Originally designed to carry cargo only, it had no armaments, but could go very fast and sail in shallow waters. The den Eyckenboom  was scheduled to pick up cargo after dropping off its passengers, and it was not forced to remain in port in New Amsterdam, but sailed up the river to Rennselaerwick.

They arrived at their destination in August. I have seen no record of where they lived that first year. August in Albany is the end of summer. It is harvest season. There would have been little time to build a house before winter. Perhaps, they lived in a hastily built pithouse with a thatched roof. Certainly, it was not the type of home they were used to in Holland, but they came with money and began life as patroons. They would receive workers, both freemen and indentured, to work their land and after time, these men would be able to own their own property. They were also eligible to receive African slaves at no cost, but again I have seen no documents that show who or when their workers arrived.

In 1646, their oldest daughter Grietje was 19. She married Pieter Clausen van Norden a former indentured servant of a neighboring patroon. He had arrived in 1636 at the age of 11 and in 1643 had completed his indenture. He was paid 375 guilders for the seven years of labor. The two of them would go on to found the Wyckoff family. Another story for another blog.

Our house is a very, very, very fine house . . .

It has been a long time coming, but today, we finally received a tentative closing date: January 21st. The girls have already picked out colors for their rooms. I have a small handyman project I want to get done before setting up house. We can barely wait, all of us wishing the calendar the ability to leap forward instead of maintaining its steady crawl.

The house itself is small, only 1242 square feet, a huge change from the 3100 square foot house we left behind in sunny Florida. This house is described in the appraisal as a story and a half, probably because the second floor only has two bedrooms and is only over part of the downstairs. There is another bedroom on the first floor, as well as a kitchen, living room, dining room, bath, and laundry room/mudroom combination.

The house is old. It was built in 1880, so storage space in the house proper will be a problem, but there is a partial basement, and the garage is twice as big as the house. At about 2400 square feet, it can hold about 10 cars and as much of my stuff as I need it to hold.

There is also on the property a machine shed, a pole bar, and a horse barn with 8 stalls and a tack room. There are two fenced pastures.

The 10 acres abuts a 60 acre wooded parcel with riding trails, and we have been given permission to use it, post it for no hunting, and generally act as if it were our own. At the bottom of the hill, the 60 acres abuts the East Canada Creek. We were told to watch out for bears in late Spring when the berry bushes near the creek appeal to the bears’ craving for sweets. I guess I will be buying bear spray just in case.

Tracks in the snow tell us we will have many visitors from the small to large. The day we were there for the home inspection, squirrel tracks patterned the porch and deer track cross-stitched the yard.

Soon, all of this will be home.