Line of Descent:
Guillaume (Guleyn) VIGNE and Adrienne CUVELIER
Dirck VOLCKERTSZEN and Christine VIGNE
Magdalena DIRCKSE

Magdalena Dircks
The Flying Angel  

  Magdalena Dircks was born about 1636 on the Vigne bouwerie (farm), a little north of Wall Street. In the summer of 1638 her family moved to a nearby house at 125 Pearl Street, just south of Wall Street along the East River. By 1645 they sold this house and moved further up Pearl Street to Smit's Vly, on the East River flats just north of Maiden Lane.

Pearl St., looking north to the east gate of The Wall
Pearl St. (about 1700), scene of
Maggie's early years

The Pirate and the Orphan

  Magdalena married Cornelius Hendrickson Van Dort in the early 1650's. He was also known as "Cornelius Caper" or "Kees de Caper" – which at that time was a reference to an occupational calling as a pirate. He was probably a privateer...commissioned by the Dutch West India Company to capture foreign ships using methods commonly employed by pirates. It is known that he was in the boat-building business as well. During a period when tensions rose with the British colonies, he constructed cannon mounts for Fort Amsterdam and refurbished one of the government's small ships in preparation for possible war.

  Van Dort was known as a doer and a darer. By his industriousness he took his young family out of relative poverty and moved them into their own home on Slyck Steght (now South William Street). He was the only sailor brave enough to venture (for a reward) into the treacherous whirlpool of Hellgate to retrieve Thomas Young's stranded ketch.

  He was not in the government militia, apparently, as he did not go along with Peter Stuyvesant's 600-man army to drive the Swedes out of their Delaware colony in the summer of 1655. At dawn on the 15th of September, while this army was gone, a fleet of 64 Indian canoes showed up at Manhattan Island. These Indians had been at peace with the colonists for nearly ten years, with a few exceptions. Many of them were known to the Dutch settlers through long-standing trade and social contacts.

  The Indians disembarked and began roaming through the settlement, saying they were looking for members of a tribe with whom they were at war. To the men remaining on the island, it appeared as though the Indians knew Stuyvesant was gone and that it was an opportune time to wipe out the Dutch settlement. A number of self-appointed home guardsmen, including Cornelius Hendricksen and led by Magdalena's uncle, Cornelius Van Tienhoven, went to the shore to order the Indians to remove themselves to nearby Governor's Island. The Indians appeared to be complying, but as their canoes pulled away a number of them turned and let loose a fusillade of arrows and musket balls. Three of the guardsmen were hit. Magdalena's husband was carried to his house on Slyck Steght, either dead or dying. This was the opening round of the war of 1655. Within the next few weeks, most of the New Netherland settlement was burned or looted, a hundred colonists were killed and another 150 were captured for ransom.

  Before Hendricksen's death, he and Magdalena had one daughter, Maria Cornelis. Magdalena was now without means and unable to support her daughter. She raised funds using her house and property (apparently spared in the war) as collateral, and pledged the money to the orphan court for raising the girl as an orphan. The court then authorized Magdalena's aunt and uncle, Maria (Vigne) and Abraham Ver Planck, to raise Maria Cornelis as their ward.

Harmans the Portuguese

NOTE: The Cousins E-Mail Page includes TEN descendants of Magdalena and Harmans.
married Harmans Hendricksen Rosenkranz two years later, in February 1657. He was born in 1612, making him 24 years older than her. Harmans had been a soldier for the Dutch West India Company in Brazil, and had the nickname "Harmans the Portuguese," although he was neither Portuguese nor Dutch. His father was Hendrick Rosenkranz of Bergen, Norway.

  The Dutch had forced their way into 100-year-old Spanish-Portuguese Brazilian colony in 1630, by capturing the sugar-growing district at Pernambuco. The Portuguese landowners rebelled against the Dutch in 1644, forcing hundreds of Dutch soldiers and civilians to escape by ship. Peter Stuyvesant, then governor on the Dutch island of Curacao in the West Indies, sent 130 of the soldiers and 90 of the civilians north to New Amsterdam. Most remained long enough to help the New Netherlands colony restore peace with the local Indian nations, before they eventually returned to Holland. Harmans was one of those who chose to stay and make a living in the New World.

The Chimney Sweep

  The day of their wedding, with Magdalena probably drinking beer or wine, was marked by a foretelling incident. She and her younger sister Sarah were passing by Fire Warden Litschoe at his tavern (the old Vigne house north of Wall Street). Together they sang out mockingly, "There is the chimney sweep in the door, his chimeny is well-swept." On the first day of March, 1657, the two young ladies were called into court for "presuming to insult the Fire-Wardens of the city on the public highway and to make a street riot." It is reported that Magdalena's new husband was ashamed of her and that she had to defend herself alone. In her defense, she claimed she and her sister Sarah had only called him a "chimney sweep" - which they always called him when he came to inspect their chimney. She was fined two Dutch pounds for insulting a city official.

The Flying Angel

  Things didn't get any better that year, either for her reputation or that of her extended family in New Amsterdam. Her father, Dirck, was sued in court for stabbing Jan de Perie in a knife fight that arose over a game of dice. Her uncle, Van Tienhoven, had mysteriously disappeared while pending a court of inquiry into his malfeasance in office. Her uncle Jan Vigne had been denied reappointment as a city magistrate, and her other uncle Abraham Ver Planck had nearly been banished from the colony for insulting and threatening a burgomaster. Magdalena and Harmans owned a tavern, probably named "The Flying Angel." Their tavern was, more likely than not, one of the more notorious establishments in the city, and "The Flying Angel" fittingly became her nickname.

Banished to Europe

  Magdalena was notified, within about six weeks after her "street riot" trial, that Peter Stuyvesant was issuing her the "yellow ticket" for deportation to Holland later that year. One other woman, Geetje Jacobs, faced the same fate for gossiping that the blacksmith's wife and another man had been "discovered in something disgraceful." [Deportation and banishment were common forms of punishment in those days. Another woman was sent to Holland after she offended public decency by lifting her dress and exposing her backside to another woman while arguing in the street.]

  Harmans prepared for the deportation by securing a discharge from the army on April 17th, and selling Magdalena's Slyck Stegh house to Joost Goderis on August 13th. The deportation occurred not long after October 22, 1657, the date of Peter Stuyvesant's letter to the Dutch West India Company officials explaining the reasons for the deportations. Two ships, the Waegh and the Hoop, made the voyage together and transported the women across the Atlantic. They were delayed at an English port through the winter and did not arrive in Holland until March of 1658. It is not clear whether Harmans went with Magdalene or sailed on a later ship, but he was in Amsterdam by June of 1658.

  The Dutch West India Company officials, having had a few months to get acquainted with Magdalene, wrote back to Peter Stuyvesant on May 20, 1658,
"The two women of bad reputation, Magdalena Dircks and Geertje Jacobs, whom you sent back here on account of their dissolute life, shall not again receive our permission to return to New Netherland, and if they shall come there again by deceitful practices or under a false name, you may punish them, as they deserve it."
  The Company had a change of heart in just a few weeks, perhaps due to Harman's intervention and long record as a Company soldier, because on June 13th they decided that Harman Hendricksen and Magdalena Dircks, "alias the Flying Angel," could return to New Netherland - provided that they did not keep a tavern or sell intoxicants. The passenger list of the ship Bruynvisch in late June 1658 show that "Harman Dircksen from Norway with wife and child" sailed from Holland to New Amsterdam. Magdalena must have been pregnant when she was deported. Her son, Alexander, was most likely born while she was in exile - either in England by March of 1658, or in Holland between March and June of 1658.


Hudson Valley
  Following their return they moved away from Manhattan, and up the Hudson River to the Dutch settlement at Esopus near modern Kingston, NY. Named for the local Indian tribe, Esopus was basically a collection of farms surrounding a small fort. There were not enough settlers to defend the settlement against the harassment and attacks of the Esopus tribe, so the colony had to be abandoned from 1655 to 1657. The Esopus Indians continued to wage a low-level conflict with the settlers after their return in 1657, occasionally burning farms and killing settlers and livestock. Peter Stuvesant posted a contingent of 50 soldiers at the fort on October 19, 1658, after the Indians refused to sign a peace treaty. Relations between whites and Indians continued to be rocky. The Esopus tribe agreed to peaceful relations a few months later, but incidents continued to occur. The settlers could not work in their own fields without being escorted by soldiers from the town's small garrison.

  Magdalena began setting up her new home and Harmans began to establish a business, as he took out "small burgher" papers in New Amsterdam on November 22, 1658, for the right to engage in trade. The cost of this privilege was 20 guilders, which he promised to pay in beaver pelts within eight days. They returned to Manhattan for a visit in the following spring. Alexander was baptized at the (only) Dutch church in Manhattan on April 12, 1659. The godparents were her brother-in-law Barent Gerritsen and her sister Sarah (they must still have been close sisters after the fire warden incident.)

The Esopus War

  On the night of September 20, 1659, eight Esopus Indians who had been harvesting corn for farmer Thomas Chambers were rewarded with some brandy. [Oddly, in May 1658 Chambers had complained to Peter Stuyvesant at New Amsterdam that he "saw that the savages had an ancre of brandy lying under a tree" and "they got madly intoxicated and about dusk fired and killed Herman Jacobsen."] When Chambers refused to give them more than the one bottle, they obtained more brandy from a soldier who had escorted them on the work detail. Soon things got out of hand and they fired a musket. The town's garrison commander sent a patrol to investigate, but they found it was a case of harmless celebrating and decided not to interfere. However, several neighboring farmers and soldiers waited until the eight cornhuskers fell asleep, and then attacked them. They killed one Indian and captured another, but the rest got away to tell the Esopus tribe about the attack.

  The tribe took revenge early the next day. 500 to 600 Esopus Indians destroyed the farmers' fields, set fire to their barns and killed their animals. The Esopus had Dutch firearms as well as their traditional bows and arrows, and outnumbered the soldiers by 10 to 1. A group of eight soldiers and 18 settlers volunteered to go through the Indians and down to the Hudson River, to send a message by boat to New Amsterdam to request reinforcements. They accomplished their mission, but on their way back from the river, near the town's tennis courts, they were ambushed. Seven of the settlers escaped the ambush and made it back to the fort, while the rest were forced to surrender. The Indians took the prisoners to their own fort (they had better forts than the Dutch).

  One of the captives escaped on September 29th, after having been stripped and staked out in the sun. He was Magdalena's husband, Harmans, who in his report to the garrison commander stated the Indians numbered "over four hundred" and told him he "thought our prisoners are all still alive." However, the eight Dutch soldiers were burned alive at the stake and the remaining ten settlers were tortured. The Indians continued their siege of Esopus until October 4th. Two of the captive settlers were released when Peter Stuyvesant, in response to the town's request, showed up with 160 soldiers and some allied Mohawk and Mohican Indians. The last eight captives were released in April 1660, for a ransom of 616 bushels of corn, after the Esopus garrison made a series of raids in which they destroyed the tribe's food supply and killed their medicine man, Rain-Maker.

Still Flying

  Despite these troubles with the Indians, there were reports that Harmans and Magdalena were in the business of selling them liquor. That particular business was widespread along the Hudson, although both the Dutch and the Indian nations tried to stop it.

  Her reputation for trouble did not stop there. On January 1, 1667, just 2-1/2 years after the English captured New York, she got into an altercation with an English officer, Captain Brodhead. He was already much hated by the former New Netherlanders: Brodhead once drew his sword on a storekeeper's wife who had followed and insulted him after he drank her liquor and refused to pay – and told her that only the fact she was pregnant kept him from killing her.

Brodhead intruded on the local New Years Eve party, for which Magdalena insulted him and made some unpleasant comments about his sister. He did not appreciate the comments about his sister's reputation, and threw a beer in Magdalena's direction. Magdalena then "bathed his face in New Year's ale" offense which quickly landed her in the guardhouse.

  Magdalena's experience with the courts was not always in the role of defendant. In October 1667 she accused Annetje Adriaens of assault. In 1671 she accused Anna Mattys of slander, and in 1673 she sued Jan Pieterson for the same offense. She was apparently well qualified to recognize it, and no longer retaliating with pitchers of ale.

Harmans had his own share of controversy. On April 27, 1667, he was wounded by Richard Cage, an English soldier who had been forcibly quartered in their home. Harmans asked Cage to pay for six months' worth of laundry service they had provided him, and in reply Cage pulled his sword and slashed Harmans in the leg. In March 1668/69 he was sued by Cornelius Wynkoop for cutting some trees on Wynkoop's property. In 1675 he was again involved in litigation, this time concerning manure.


  Despite all their misdemeanors and adventures, Harmans and Magdalena went on to accumulate property, wealth and eight more children. Harmans made his will on June 25, 1692, and died in 1697 at Rochester, Ulster Co. NY. Their daughter Sarah's will, made on 17 January 1726, showed that Magdalena was still alive and nearly 90 years old. She died at some time after that date, also in Rochester. The best known Rosenkranz descendant was William Starke Rosecrans. He was a Civil War general, an Ambassador to Mexico, a Congressman and Registrar of the Treasury. I have met, on the Net, two of Magdalena's descendants. Perhaps there are others who can add to the lore of the Flying Angel.

Magdalena and Harmans' nine children were:

Magdalena's daughter by her husband Cornelius Hendrickson Van Dort:

NOTE: Tennis was a popular sport. It's reported that in 1658, Director Peter Stuyvesant banned tennis during church service hours. The New Amsterdam city council banned kolven, an early form of golf, in the same year.