Research trip to New Paltz

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip up the Hudson River with a fellow genealogist who was researching a family living in Ulster County. I knew I had a few ancestors who lived in Kingston in the 17th Century, so I went with her to the Schoonmaker Research Library at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. The houses are not open yet for touring, but the library is, by appointment only.

The library had a copy of a little book about one of my immigrant ancestors: Matthew Blanchan in Europe and America: from the papers of Major Louis DuBois, 1891-1965 by Louis DuBois and Ruth P. Heidgard. Mattieu [or Matthew] Blanchan and wife Magdalen Joire were Huguenots (French-speaking Protestants from France) who migrated first from France, to Canterbury, England, then to Mannheim in Germany. In 1660 they settled in the New Netherlands in the town then called Wiltwyck, now Kingston, in Ulster County, NY. The ship they sailed to New Netherland on was named De Vergulde Otter or “The Gilded Otter.”

The baptism record of Matthew and Madeleine’s son Matthew at the church in Mannheim from copies of Mannheim Church records in the Research Library’s collection

I read that Matthew appeared in court at Wiltwyck a *lot.* DuBois said that ”It should be remembered that litigation was a favorite form of entertainment among the early settlers of the Hudson Valley.” If that is true, Matthew kept himself pretty entertained. Most of the cases involved owing or being owed goods and/or money. Aside from legal troubles, he was also part of the New Dorp “New Village” settlement, which was raided by the Esopus tribe who not only destroyed the village, but took two of his children captive along with others. Months later, they were rescued.

My branch of his descendants, through his daughter Magdelena, never went to New Paltz. They stayed in Kingston for a couple of generations and then his granddaughter Sarah Jans and her husband Elias Teunisse Van Bunschoten moved to Dutchess County. Most of my other New Netherland Dutch/Walloon/Huguenot ancestors moved to Dutchess County from parts further South.

After researching the Blanchans, I realized I needed a larger overview of New Netherland. The library had a copy of Jaap Jacobs’ The Colony of New Netherland for me to review, so I did, and later ordered my own copy for reference.

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