Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sundance, Wyoming and the Bowers Family

Mount Moriah Cemetery, Sundance, Wyoming
I finally took a real vacation this year. Traveling with my dear friend, Nancy, we traversed all of South Dakota and went into Wyoming to see Devil's Tower (aka Bear Lodge). Nearby, was the beautiful little ranching town of Sundance, Wyoming in Crook County.

Nancy is not a genealogist, but kindly indulged me for the one genealogy stop-off I wanted to make. Look back to Agnes Watson Smith Bowers' story here. I found her particularly interesting because of the path her life took.

The cemetery entrance was a challenge; it looked like an ATV path and not a drive. Signs posted said, "Private Property" and "Unmaintained Road." We took a chance and slowly moved up the hill meeting with a very tired old gravel road, full of pits, until suddenly, there was a maintained gravel road. Over the crest we found the vast expanse of the cemetery, maintained well. It was fairly easy to locate my relatives including Agnes, her son James Harvey, his wife Amalia Reinhold, and her second husband Wyman Henry Bushnell. I also located Agnes' sister Belle Watson and her husband James Benjamin Richardson's grave nearby.

On the way to the cemetery, we stopped at the very charming and well-put-together Crook County Museum and I picked up the book, "Pioneers of Crook County" which is quoted in my first piece on Agnes (see above link). Government Valley is located just outside of Sundance. There was an additional good story about James Benjamin Richards and Belle Watson I want to share from that book as well:

Agnes's sister Belle and husband
J B Richardson
"A short time after James and Isabelle Richardson had moved to the head of Government Valley, he had gone hunting leaving Isabelle and baby son John with his hunting dogs for protection. One bright moonlight night pandemonium broke out among the dogs. Isabelle looked out her bearskin door and saw a huge bear about 100 yards below the cabin. The dogs were so frightened they climbed on the hay stack in the corral leaving their mistress with only a bearskin door between her baby, herself and the big bear. Fortunately the bear went away but the next morning a cowboy rode in and told her he had never seen such big bear tracks. They measured from the tip of his fingers to his elbows when he laid his arm in the track."
"A few years after James and Isabelle Richardson had settled at the head of Government Valley, she had finally acquired a Home Comfort cooking range. One day they had a gentleman visitor from Lead, South Dakota. He offered Mrs. Richardson five (5) shares of Homestake Mining Stock for the range. She did not hesitate in telling him no, not realizing she was turning down what would become a very large amount of money. At that time the range was worth much more to her than any mining shares."
source: Pioneers of Crook County, paragraphs 2-3, pp. 423-424.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Christina Cappoens, A Woman of Wealth

The village of New Amsterdam, 1660
Imagine my surprise to find out that I descended on my working class father's side of the family to
one that was not only wealthy, but one of the most influential families in the history of what is now the United States. My dad always said we were "Heinz57" and it's true. We descend from Germans, English, Scottish, Irish, and Dutch ancestors.  Those Dutch though - they were something.

Christina Cappoens was born in about 1620. There is still discussion as to her parentage, with some saying her family was of Scandinavian blood and some Dutch. This I will not take on. Suffice it to say, she arrived in the new land and married Captain Jacob HAY, who had served in the West Indies. In 1658, Hays died, leaving Christina with her only child, Maria Hay.

Captain Hay built their home in what is now Manhattan on Stone Street. According to the Stone Street Historic District:

 "Stone Street, Stone Street Historic District, Financial District, Manhattan On the southern half of this site, landowner Wessel Evertsen built a house (c. 1660) for Asser Levy, a Jewish butcher and moneylender who successfully fought for permission from the town "to keep guard with other burghers" despite the disinclination of his fellow townsmen to serve with Jews.
 Levy retained the property for ten years, then conveyed the house and lot to Jan Herberding (a/k/a John Harpendingh), who later leased land on the west side of today's South William Street to Congregation Shearith Israel for its synagogue. At the northeast corner of the site Jacob Haey (a/k/a Jacob Heij, d. 1658), who had been a prosperous trader in Curasao and Santa Cruz, erected a comfortable house (c. 1648). Haey also owned a large plantation, in what is now Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which was cultivated by African slaves. His widow, whose second husband was shipmaster David Jochemszen (a/k/a Jochems), continued to live in the Stone Street house until at least 1686. The lane adjacent to this property was very narrow, and remained so for a century; in 1754 residents petitioned to widen it, as it was the "only passage thro Mill Street Commonly Called the Jews Ally [...] to Duke Street." The Haey/Jochems house and its garden were then sacrificed for the widening of the lane; however, documents indicate that the site of 59-61 Stone Street soon again contained two structures. The southern half of the site (No. 59 Stone Street) was associated with Gershom Mendes Seixas (1746-1816), the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, chief spokesman for American Jewry, and Revolutionary patriot. Seixas was among the city's first philanthropists and for many years was a regent and trustee of Columbia University."

Young Captain Pieter Praa, Jr.
Maria married three times, losing two of her husbands prematurely. She married Phillip Johns
LIEUW in 1668, followed by a marriage to Joost Adriaensen MOLINAER in 1681. To the Molinaer marriage was born one daughter, Sarah. Finally, Maria married Pieter PRAA, a captain in the militia and of Huguenot extraction. They had five daughters, including Catarina, referenced in the will.

Christina was a rare woman of her day. She was able to read and write and signed her various estate documents with a full signature. After she married her second husband, David JOCHEMSEN, they would leave some of the most interesting documents behind - their joint will, which left their estates to the other. Typically, husbands left their estates to their male progeny. Christina's will left her estate to David and her daughter Maria. David died before Christina and Christina died after her own daughter's third marriage, so she provided a detailed codicil to ensure that her two elder granddaughters were treated equally by the father of Catarina, Pieter PRAA. When Christina died in 1693, her will read in part:
"I give and bequeath in particular to my daughter Maria Hays, married to Peter Praa, first my small house with the land from the front to the rear, as far as my right extends, with the lane, except eight inches in said lane, which is to remain to my great house from the front to the rear, which shall be the parting line between my great house and lot and my small house and lot from one street to the other. Which said line (except the aforesaid eight inches), my said daughter shall and may build upon, as to her may seem meet. Provided that my said daughter Maria shall not dispose of the said small house by will or otherwise, but only to receive the rents during her life, and after her death to go to her children or their lawful heirs, and in default of such heirs, then to the next of my kindred in blood, but not to the children of Joost Adriansen, deceased. I also leave to my daughter Maria the use and income of my land and meadow and Bowery, lying at Maspeth Kills, and which is now in possession of herself and her husband, and after her death it is to go to her two children, Sara Molenaer, procured by Joost Adriansen Molenaer and Catrina Praa, procured by her present husband Peter Praa and such other children as she may leave. The said Peter Praa to have the use of the same during his life, but if he remains there after the death of his wife then he shall pay to the children for said Bowery, 10,000 guilders in wampum value."
 She later states:
"If my son-in-law Peter Praa opposes this will, or if he misbehave himself as to the children, he shall be debarred from all benefits." 

The land legacy of the purchases by the long-deceased Jacob Hay and additional purchases made by David Jochemsen, and Pieter Praa and later yet, the union between the MESEROLE and PRAA families, left the family owning much of Greenpoint, Bushwick, and 40,000 acres of New Jersey. I'll cover the vast land ownership of the family in the next post, along with some of the details of their slave ownership.