A shisham wood (Dalbergia sissoo) and American walnut (Juglans nigra) coffer with iron and brass mounts, previously owned by settler Anneken Jans Bogardius (1604/1605-1663)
North America, New Amsterdam (New York), circa 1633, the lock inscribed ANNEKEN JANS B A1633
The slightly trapezoid-shaped sisham wood coffer with American walnut carved escutcheon, iron hinges and handles, a Dutch mechanism lock, in which 17th-century Swedish copper was used.
Inside, at the top left side of the interior, the typical small-lidded compartment, found in practically all VOC chests. The present compartment, a late 19th/early 20th-century replacement of the original one, is made of American oak (Quercus alba) with northern pitch pine (Tsuga canadensis) lid.
The lock bears the inscription ‘Anneken Jans. B A1633.’ B probably stands for Beverwijck (present-day Albany), where Anneken Jans lived A(nno) 1633.
H. 49.2 x W. 112 x D. 46.8 cm
Mr. & Ms. Van Hanxleden Houwert Van Silfhout
Van Hanxleden Houwert was a wealthy dealer in colonial goods in the Netherlands in the late 19th century.
Authenticity and research
The chest, because of its style and the wood used, probably is from the Indian Malabar Coast or Persia/Shiraz, before 1633. Originally the chest probably had an additional central hinge (traces to be found inside the lid) ending in a hasp hanging over a metal backplate with a protruding ring (traces of which can be seen inside the chest), secured by a padlock. This was the usual way chests from the Malabar Coast were locked. The Dutch always replaced the padlock by an internal Dutch mechanism chest lock.
It has a wooden lockplate carved in American walnut (Juglans nigra) in the New Netherlands in the auricular or ‘kwab’ style, popular at the time. A xylological analysis of the wood, provided by the CIRAM institute, of the 17th-century lockplate has shown it is American walnut (Juglans nigra).
All parts of the brass lock, analysed by the Conservation Laboratories of the Rijksmuseum with stereomicroscope and XRF-analysis, proved to have originated from the Falun mine
in Sweden, which dominated the European copper market during the mid-17th century. Brass based on Swedish copper also made its way to the New World and was found among the scrap discovered during an excavation of an early 17th-century site in Jamestown (Carter C. Hudgins, 'Articles of Exchange or Ingredients of New World Metallurgy' in: Early American Studies 3, no. 1, 2005, pp. 32-64).
The engraving of the text first set up with a scriber, clearly shows signs of wear predating some repairs to the lock, and according to researchers Ellen van Bork, Tamar Davidowitz and Arie Pappot of the Conservation Laboratorium of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam seem to be old and authentic.
THE ANNEKEN JANS CHEST:
The Tangible Cradle of the United States
Anneken Jans Bogardus: A Legendary Lady
Anneken Jans, also known as Anneken Jans-Bogardus, was born 1604/1605
in Norway, Fleckerøy, Vest Agder, daughter of Jan (Roelofsz. ?) and Trijn Jonas, who later was to become the first midwife for the WIC, the Dutch West India Company, in New Amsterdam. At a young age Anneken and her family moved to Amsterdam. Anneken married Roeloff Jansz (1601/1602-1637) on April 18th, 1623, a Norwegian seaman. The couple certainly were not afraid to take risks. As one of the very first Dutch settlers Anneken and Roeloff in 1630 sailed to Nieuw Amsterdam with a contract to work for three years for the wealthy Amsterdam jewellery merchant Kiliaen Rensselaer, a governor of the West India Company in Amsterdam, who was granted by the WIC, as a patroonship, vast lands encompassing all of present-day Albany, Rensselaer counties, and part of Columbia and Greene counties. On May 24th, 1630, Anneken, Roeloff, their three daughters, together with Anneken’s mother and sister, arrived at Fort Orange and settled in the small village of Beverwijck. Roeloff was paid 72 guilders a year as a farmer of the Laets Burg Farm along the Hudson River near Normanskill Creek, and was appointed schepen, alderman, of Beverwijck. In the meantime, Anneken and her sister and mother set up a (illegal) retail business.
The couple had two more daughters and a son, and the family interacted daily with local Native Americans. Incidentally, their first daughter, Sara, later became a translator for the New Netherlands director-general, Peter Stuyvesant, in negotiations with the local tribes.
On Sara Roelofse, the daughter of Anneke, here called Kierstede, was written by Van Rensselaer: "… the Dutch women had become well acquainted with the wild people who surrounded them and were on friendly terms with them. Madame Kierstede was particularly kind to them, and as she spoke their language fluently, she was a great favourite among them, and it was owing to her encouragement that the savages ventured within the city walls to barter their wares. For their better accommodation and protection, Madame Kierstede had a large shed erected in her back-yard, and under its shelter, there was always a number of squaws who came and went as if in their own village, and plied their industries of basket and broom-making, stringing wampum and sewant, and spinning after their primitive mode; and on market-days, they were able to dispose of their products, protected by their benefactress, Madame Kierstede (Van Rensselaer 1898 :26)."
Whether Anneke Jans had enslaved people is unknown, but her daughter certainly did.
Sara’s will, dated July 1692 and written in Dutch, has many points of interest. After the preliminary formalities, she stated:
"Now I will before anything else to my daughter Blandina, of this city, a negro boy , Hans. To my son Luycas Kierstede, my Indian, named Ande. To my daughter Catharine Kierstede, a negress, named Susannah. To my son in-law, Jacobus Kip, husband of my said daughter Catharine, my negro, Sarah, in consideration of great trouble in settling the accounts of my late husband, Cornelius Van Borsum, in Esopus and elsewhere. To my son Jochem Kierstede, a little negro, called Maria, during his life, and then to Sarah, the eldest daughter of my daughter Rachel Kierstede by her husband, Ytie Kierstede. To my son Johanes Kierstede, a negro boy, Peter. I leave to my daughter Anna Van Borsum, by my former husband, Cornelius Van Borsum, on account of her simplicity, my small house and kitchen, and lot situate in this city, between the land of Jacob Marits and my bake house, with this express condition, that she shall not be permitted to dispose of the same by will or otherwise, but to be hers for life and then to the heirs mentioned in this will."
New Amsterdam probably couldn't have become so successful without enslaved people, and Anneke, as well as Sarah, needed the help of enslaved people. However, the burials of Europeans and enslaved African people in the Amsterdam colony in Delaware showed that both had as much stress on bones and joints that probably the European worked as hard as the African while building the society. Which, of course, does not change the view on slavery and owning one another.
Slavery existed in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands, which included the area that later became New Amsterdam (later renamed New York City). The Dutch West India Company, which controlled the colony, had a policy of encouraging the importation of enslaved Africans to work on the colony's farms and plantations. By the 1650s, enslaved Africans made up a significant portion of the population in New Netherlands, and they were used as labour in agriculture, domestic service, and trades such as construction and shipbuilding.
Enslaved people in New Amsterdam lived in harsh conditions and had few legal rights. They could be bought and sold, whipped, and punished for disobeying orders. Families were often separated when enslaved people were sold to different owners.
In 1664, the English captured New Amsterdam, and the colony was renamed New York. Slavery continued under English rule, and the number of enslaved people in the colony increased. The British also expanded the use of enslaved labour to other industries, such as iron production and brewing.
It is important to note that slavery was an integral part of the colonial economy and society, and it was not abolished until the end of the civil war in the United States in 1865.
Joshua D. Rothman et al., "Slavery in Dutch New Netherland" in: The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas, Oxford University Press, 2010
However, the farm of Anneke Jans wasn’t very successful at first, and in 1634 the family moved to Manhattan and worked in the Dutch West Indian Company’s Bouwerie, or farm, in the section of Manhattan now known as ‘The Bowery.’ In 1637 the industrious Roeloff was given a grant for a 62-acre farm of his own near the site where later the World Trade Center would be standing. Here he built a small house on the farm for his mother-in-law, the colony’s midwife. That same year Roeloff suddenly died. Anneken and Roeloff had five daughters and one son, all baptized Lutheran. Anneken, now with six children, no money and apparently in debt to Rensselaer, was acquitted her debts by Rensselaer, and continued to work her own farm. A year later, 1638, Anneken married reverend Everhardus Bogardus (ca. 1607-1647), the second ‘dominee’ to be sent by the West India Company to the New Netherlands. Bogardus was a well-read Dutch Re-formed clergyman, with whom Anneke had another four sons (one of their grandsons, Everardus Bogardus (1675-ca. 1725), was to become a famous Dutch New York silversmith). The couple lived on Anneken’s 62-acre farm which came to be known as ‘Dominee’s Bouwerie’. Reverend Bogardus was orthodox, considering himself the guardian of the public morals, even though he himself had quite an alcohol problem. He had frequent quarrels with the New Netherlands magistrates often denouncing them from the pulpit. They didn’t like that, and Bogardus was charged with drunkenness, meddling with other men’s affairs, and using bad language. In September 1647, leaving behind his wife Anneken and his four sons, Bogardus sailed on the ‘Princes’ for Amsterdam to defend himself from the charges brought against him. He drowned when the ‘Princes’ was wrecked on September 29, 1647, off the coast of Wales. Anneken, widowed for the second time at the age of 42, had nine children to support and still was cash-poor but land-rich, having three farms; in Beverwijck (Albany), Manhattan and an 82-acre farm on Long Island, called ‘Dominee’s Hoek’, she inherited from her husband dominee Bogardus. She sold the Long Island farm and moved back to Beverwijck (Albany), where she had a house built on land adjacent to the property owned by her son from her first marriage. As her children married and moved out, she gave each of them a bed and a cow as a wedding present.
In 1659 the widow Anneken Bogardus had to appear in court because she had shown her ankles in public! She was saved by a friend who declared that, when Anneken had to walk through the mud, she had lifted her skirts only to keep them clean. Fortunately, she was acquitted.
Anneken died in 1663 after living another sixteen years in Beverwijck. Her will stipulated that the estate be divided equally among her seven surviving children. The children sold her Albany house to Dirk Wessels ten Broeck for the substantial sum of 1.000 guilders.
After Colonel Richard Nicolls had taken possession of New Amsterdam in 1664 for the Brits, all property-holders were required to obtain new titles for their lands. Anneken’s heirs secured a new patent for the farm of 62 acres on Manhattan from Governor Nicolls on March 27, 1667. On March 1671, the farm was sold to Governor Lovelace for a ‘valuable consideration’. All of Anneken’s heirs signed the deed of transfer, except the widow and child
of Cornelius Bogardus, one of Anneken’s sons who had died in 1666. That omission was to cause a lot of subsequent legal problems. In 1674 the Duke of York (the later King James I) confiscated ‘Dominee’s Bowery’ and it was turned over to the British crown. In 1705 Queen Anne granted the farm to the Trinity Church. Descendants of Cornelius Bogardus (whose wife and son had not signed the deed) later claimed parts of the Trinity Church’s farm, because their ancestors hadn’t agreed to the sale. This resulted in the most famous and protracted lawsuit over Manhattan landownership that dragged on well into the 20th century. In the end all ended in the Church’s favour.
The Albany Institute of History and Art has exhibited another chest, brought to New Amsterdam in 1633 by dominee Bogardus as it was impossible to travel without a chest in those days. However, the whereabouts and the authenticity of this chest are unknown.
West Indian Company vessels arriving in New Amsterdam were laden with goods from Holland, such as building materials (bricks and tiles), and all kinds of household goods such as furniture, textiles from East India, carpets from Turkey, oriental ceramics, Dutch Delftware, silver, tin, and copper objects. Possibly the present coffer arrived with a Dutch ship in 1633 and was bought then by Anneken Jans, amongst other goods for her private retail business. She had her name inscribed on the lock, presumably because she intended to keep the chest to store her own belongings.
Anneken Jans-Bogardus is now famous as the almost mythical ancestress of the Dutch community in the United States. Six of her children had numerous offspring, forming a ‘Nederlandse’, anti-British, anti-royalist, Dutch Reformed community. Anneken became the object of an unbridled creation of legends, making her even a daughter of William of Orange, the Vader des Vaderlands, and leader of the Dutch in their revolt against Spain. These legends still form a strong bond for the multitude of descendants of Anneken Jans. Bogardus in the United States.
Sources and further reading:
Baart, J., Krook, W., Lagerweij, A., Ockers, N., van Regteren Altena, H., Stam, T., & Stoepker, H. (1977). Opgravingen in Amsterdam: 20 Jaar Stadskernonderzoek . Amsterdam: Historisch Museum.
M.F. Janowitz Beaudry, M. C. (2007). Findings: The material culture of needlework and sewing . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Bennett, M. (1984).
The Stone Quarry Site (MSV 4–2): A mid-seventeenth century Oneida Iroquois Station in Central New York. Chenango Chapter, New York State Archaeological Association Bulletin 21(2).
Blankaart, S. (1967). De Borgerlyke Tafel om Lang Gesond Sonder Ziekten te leven . Amsterdam: Hollandia (Original work published 1683). Buccini, A. F. (2000).
Swannekens Ende Wilden : Linguistic attitudes and communication strategies among the Dutch and Indians in New Netherland. In J. C. Prins, B. Brandt, T. Stevens, & T. F. Shannon (Eds.), The low countries and the new world(s): Travel, discovery, early relations . Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Christoph, P. R. (1984). The freedmen of New Amsterdam. Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, 5 , 108–118.
Davis, T. J. (1984). Those enemies of their own household: A note on the troublesome slave population in eighteenth-century New York City. Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, 5 , 133–152.
Davis, T. J. (1991). These enemies of their own household: Slaves in 18th-century New York. In N. A. McClure Zeller (Ed.), A beautiful and fruitful place . Albany, NY: New Netherland Press.
De Voe, T. F. (1970). The market book: A history of the public markets of the city of New York . New York; Augustus M. Kelley. (Original work published 1862).
Evans, T. G. (Ed.) (1968). Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (Vol. II: Baptisms from 1639 to 1730 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York). Upper Saddle River, NJ: The Gregg Press (Original work published 1901).
Evjen, J. O. (1916). Scandinavian immigrants in New York 1630–1674 . Minneapolis, MN: K.C. Holten.
Fayden, M. P. (1993). Indian corn and Dutch pots: Seventeenth-century foodways in New Amsterdam/ New York City. Unpublished dissertation, City University of New York, Queens, NY.
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Goodfriend, J. (1978). Burghers and Blacks: The evolution of a slave society at New Amsterdam. New York History, 59 , 125–144.
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The Roelofs and Bogardus families, Part I. De Halve Maen, xlvii (3), 7–11. Zabriskie, G. O. (1973a). The founding families of New Netherland: Nos.5 and 6
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