While my primary genealogy research has been on my family, I have done quite a bit of research on my wife’s paternal family tree (Rosencrans/Rosenkrans/Rosenkranz). While I knew that her family was an early arriver to America from Europe, I was surprised to discover just how early in colonial history it was.
My wife’s 7th great grandfather was Harmon Hendrick Rosenkrans, who was born in Norway in 1634 and had moved to Amsterdam in New Netherlands prior to 1657. According to census figures, the non-native American population was less than 60,000. Harmon married Magdalene Dirckse on March 3, 1657 in New Netherlands. Apparently his new wife had a sense of humor as illustrated by court records dated just a few days later.
“Only a few days after the wedding of Herman and Magdalena, the court records of New Amsterdam registered the following: [March 15, 1657] “The Scout N: de Silla, plaintiff v|s Madaleen Dirck and her bridegroom, defendants. The plaintiff says that the defendants have presumed to insult the Firewardens of this City on the public highway, and to make a street riot, according to the complaint made to his Worship. Requesting for the maintenance of the aforesaid gentlemen’s quality that the petitioners [?] be publicly punished or fined as their Worship shall think proper. Defendant Madaleen Dirck appears alone in Court; admits, that she and her sister passed by the door of the Firewarden Litschoe, and as they always joked, when the Firewarden came to their house, she said: ‘There is the chimney sweep in the door, his chimney is well swept, and not another word was said about it.’
Such behavior cannot, and ought not to be tolerated on account of its bad consequences, the Burgomaster’s condemn, as they do hereby, the above named Madaleen Dirck in a fine of two pounds Flemish, to be applied, one half for the Church and one half for the Poor, and notify her at the same time to avoid all such and similar faults, or in default thereof other disposition shall be made. Done in Court at the City Hall at Amsterdam in N. Netherland.”
-The Records of New Amsterdam, 1653 – 1674, VII., p. 146.
To understand the seriousness of the fine, consider that a Flemish Pound was equal to 6 Dutch Guilders. On May 24, 1626 Peter Minuit, Director of the Dutch Colony was reported to have bought the entire Island of Manhattan from the Native Americans for goods valued at 60 Guilders. That would mean the fine leveled in Amsterdam on my wife’s 7th great grandmother was equal to one fifth the purchase price of Manhattan.
Obviously whatever was intended by her remarks was taken quite seriously.