Pieter Jacobse Borsboom and his wife Grietje

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2 September 1995                                          C2806.1
               Pieter J. Borsboom  =  Grietje ---

Pieter Jacobse Borsboom was, by his own testimony, the son of the late Jacob Pietersz Borsboom and was born at Katwijk op Rijn (Katwijk-Binnen, as it is also known), a village about five miles north of Leiden. [Ref. 2] He was at Fort Orange (now Albany) as early as 1639 and continued there until Schenectady was settled in the Spring of 1662, when he became one of the fifteen original proprietors of that settlement.

He acquired the nickname "de steenbakker" (in English, "the stone-baker") from his brick business. But he also was involved in the lucrative beaver pelt trading business. This was supposedly regulated and only authorized (and taxed!) traders were allowed. But on 28 June 1657 he was noted as having gone down the river with 1500 beavers.

His career was checkered, like many of the early Dutch settlers, with with accusations of improper dealings with the Indians. On 22 January 1658 he was fined 500 guilders and costs and three years banishment for selling liquor to the Indians. On 11 March 1658 he was fined 125 guilders for swindling a Mohawk Indian. He sold his brickyard for 350 guilders on 28 July 1661 in preparation for moving to Schenectady.

Borsboom's village lot in Schenectady was the whole north quarter of the block bounded by Washington Avenue and Front, Union, and Church Streets. He also had two lots of farm land (bouwlandt). In 1669 he traded his first lot of land for a house and lot next the courthouse in Albany. The hindmost lot was divided into four equal parcels after Borsboom's death and assigned to his four daughters. He also owned a pasture on the north side of Front Street. This lot contained about 2 1/2 morgens and commenced 114 English feet east of North Street and extended along Front Street for 15 rods Rynland or 185 feet English.

In his will, recorded in New York 18 October 1686 he mentions his son Cornelis and four daughters. His son probably died young. An inventory of his property was made 30 May 1689; his property then amounted to 1630 guilders.

The name of his wife is found only in the court record of a fracas in 1681 when she and her son tried to smuggle some beaver pelts into Albany. [Ref. 3]

Richard Petty, sheriff, ... states and complains that the defendants (Grietie Borsbooms and her son) committed great violence against him on the 11th of July last when, on their arrival from Schinnechtady with some beavers or peltries under their clothing, they refused to let him make a search and on the contrary resisted the plaintiff, grabbing him by the throat and collar and calling him a rascal, etc. ... The defendant says that the plaintiff needlessly attacked her and tore her skirt and apron and that she defended herself against his impudent attack.

The court, after hearing further testimony, found the pair guilty, fined them and warned them to "guard themselves hereafter against resisting an officer."

Since their daughter Anna, in an extraordinary deed of gift from the Mohawk Indians, was termed a relative of the Indians this would imply that Grietje was a Mohawk woman of some means, and that the deed of gift might very well have been in recognition of the matrilineal rights to certain lands which descended to Anna.

Marriages between Dutch men and Indian women were considered reputable and of no disgrace to either party. The most well known of such marriages is that of Cornelis Antonisen van Slyck, an early settler at Beverwyck, and Alstock, a Mohawk chieftain's daughter. This marriage took place before 1640. Van Slyck was adopted into the tribe, and received gifts of various lands from his in-laws. His sons and daughters were raised partially in the Indian castle where his wife remained, and partially in the Dutch villages of Albany and Schenectady. They became interpreters for the colony and married well with European settlers upon reaching maturity. But they were always regarded by their Indian relatives as part of that family too. The history of this remarkable union is discussed in reference 4.

The following deed is from Book 5, page 230, of the Albany County deeds.

Know all men by these Presents that Rode, ye Indian, Called by Christians Dirk who by and with ye the Consent of the Rest of Christian Indian Castle in ye mohoggs Country doth give & grant unto Jan Pieterse mebee of Schinnachtady his heirs & assign a Certain peece of grounde scituate lying and being upon Tionnondorogoes Creek on both sides Commonly known by the name of kadarodae all which land the sade Rode doth Convey with the appurtenances thereunto belonging in Consideration of ye said Jan Pieters wife by reason that she is something Related to ye family of the Christian Castle. In wittnesse whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 17th day of Sept. 1697

  Signed sealed & Delivered                Rode  Indian, by the
  in the Presence of                       Christians called Dirk,
  Dellius Pr. Schuyler                     his marke

Recorded ye 10th of Sept. 1714 by Philip Livingstone

The "marke" of Rode was a wolf, drawn upside down on the deed. Perhaps the paper was thrust toward the Indian across a table and he did not turn it around to face him right side up before he drew the symbol of his clan.

Certainly Borsboom himself was not related to the Indians, so if the clear words are to be believed, his wife Grietje must have been a Mohawk. No similar document is known concerning gifts to the other children from the Indians.

Why seven years passed between the time of the deed and the time of its being recorded is not known. Two other deeds for lands purchased by Jan Mebie were recorded about the same time -- maybe that jogged his memory to record this deed of gift. Nor is it known where exactly this property was located.

In the night of 8/9 February 1690 the French and their Indian allies burned most of Schenectady and killed many of its inhabitants. According to various accounts, 5 to 7 houses remained unburned. One of these was the Glen house -- spared because their kindness to a Jesuit as given on page C2802. Three of the others belonged to the daughters and were apparently spared because of their Indian relationships. "... of the list of 60 people killed and 27 captured reveals that only one of them also belonged to the group that we can identify as being relations of the Mohawk by blood or marriage. [Ref. 5].

Children:

Cornelis
probably died young, mentioned in will but did not share in distribution of property
Anna
married Jan Pieterse Mebie and their descent is continued.
Martie
married firstly Teunis Karstensz, secondly Hendrick Brouwer. She was an Indian trader in her own right in 1724. In the Spring of 1730 her son Jacob Brouwer was murdered by an Onondaga Mohawk.
Fytie
married Marten van Benthuysen. He was also a brickmaker.
Tryntie
married John Oliver

References:

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