Monday, April 4, 2016

Mutiny, Moon Trees, and The Spotted Cow

     Henry Pawling’s wife was Neeltja Roosa (1653-1745).  Her parents left Holland to come to America on April 16, 1660 in the ship “The Spotted Cow.”  They landed in New Netherlands with their eight children, ages 17 to 2 and settled in Esopus (now Kingston), Ulster County, New York.  They participated in the first communion service held at the Old Dutch Church on December 25, 1660, and this is commemorated on a plaque on the front of the church to this day:


     In 1927, the Kingston Daily Freeman reported about an old oak chest being removed from the steeple of the Old Dutch Church.  It had been chained to the woodwork in the steeple by a hand-forged iron chain.  A former pastor remembered it being there, filled with old Dutch records and Dutch account books which were taken to the Kingston Archives, then in a vault at the Kingston Savings Bank.  When the chest was removed, it was found the front of the chest (which had not been visible while it was facing the woodwork) had the following carved inscription:  16 Feburwari 76 A.R.  Church historians believe the initials were for Aeldert Roosa, and the date February 1676.


     Neeltja’s father, Aeldert Heijmans Roosa (1618-1679), assumed leadership positions in the settlement, serving in church, governmental, and military positions.  When the town of Hurley was established, Aeldert was assigned the task of laying out a border surrounded by palisades for protection.  The Indians in the area opposed the settlers, saying that their structure would be on land that was not included in the Treaty of 1600 and had not been paid for.  Aeldert requested that the leadership send gifts to the Indians immediately, but the action did not happen quickly enough.  The Indians attacked the town on June 7, 1663 and took 45 women and children captive.  Included in the captives were two of Aeldert’s children.  His oldest daughter was held until the end of the year, and I have not found evidence of what happened to the other child. 

     In 1665, England took control of New Netherlands, and tensions between the English soldiers and Dutch settlers were always high.  There are numerous records of Aeldert getting into disagreements with the English.  Captain Daniel Brodhead was in command and was known for being a tyrant and encouraging his soldiers to mistreat the Dutch settlers.  Some of the settlers, including Aeldert, petitioned the Governor to take action on the abuse the settlers were experiencing.  A riot ensued and Aeldert, one of his sons, and two other men were charged with mutiny and banished from the colony.  When tempers cooled, the men were pardoned. 

     There are many instances of Aeldert having further flare-ups and ending up in court, many times with the English soldiers.  The settlers were forced to “quarter” the English soldiers, and the lack of understanding each other’s languages, as well as the change in who was in control of the settlement, contributed to the hostilities.  There is one story of Aeldert going to a neighbor’s house to find the village blacksmith, and got in an altercation with several drunken soldiers.  Aeldert threw the coulter (cutting part of a plowshare) which he had brought to be repaired at one of the soldiers, and then fought the other soldiers off with a stick.

     An interesting endnote to the story is that Neeltja ended up marrying an English soldier, Henry Pawling.  What irony!

     A descendant of Aeldert (I guess a cousin of ours) was Stuart Roosa, an astronaut on Apollo 9 and Apollo 14.  He had experience with the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter and took tree seeds with him on the Apollo 14 mission to complete experiments on germination of seeds in orbit.  When he returned to earth, he planted the trees and distributed them around the U.S. during the Bicentennial celebration in 1976.  He planted one in Hurley, New York, along Route 209 with a plaque in memory of Aldert Roosa.

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