Last Updated July 2005

TITLE - Dirck Volckertszen De Noorman
The first American Fulkerson, in old New Amsterdam


  We don't know much about Dirck Volckertszen before 1630. He was said to be a ship's carpenter. His Norwegian origins are virtually a certainty, based on the fact he was often called Dirck De Noorman [Dutch: Norseman]. Several other immigrants in New Amsterdam were called "De Noorman." All of them were documented as immigrating from Norway. A few of New Amsterdam's immigrants came from Bergen. At least 57 Norwegians settled in the colony of New Netherland between 1630 and 1674 ["The Norwegian Americans" by James M. Cornelius, Chelsea House Publishers, New York, NY, 1989, p. 31-32].

  Family legend (communicated to me from two separate branches of the family, years ago) says that he came to New Amsterdam from Bergen, Norway (click to see some images of Bergen). During the 1600s Bergen was controlled by German Hanseatic League merchants, which may have been sufficient reason for a young man to leave his homeland. Norwegian merchants did not regain control of the port until after 1700. His circle of acquaintances in New Amsterdam is yet another indication of his origins. The great majority of Dirck's personal and business dealings in the 1650s and 1660s were with Scandinavian immigrants. Some early researchers jumped to the erroneous conclusion that he was one of the Volckertsen brothers from Hoorn, a Dutch seaport. They were early investors in the Virginia tobacco trade, but there is no evidence in the Dutch record that they ever sailed to America: "24 Sep 1621: At the request of Dierck Volckertsen, Doctor Verus and Dr. Carbasius, all of Hoorn, Pieter State General Nannincx of Mdemblik, and Cornelis Volckertsen together with Pieter Dircksen Schoders, bookkeeper have received permission to send a ship to the Virginies loaded with all sorts of merchandise, to trade there and return with their cargo, goods and merchandise, agent and sailors to this country. They have to return before July 1, 1622."

  The probable reason for Dirck's immigration to North America can be traced to Peter MINUIT, the New Netherlands colony's third Director in as many years, who bought the whole of Manhattan Island from the Canarsee Indians in 1626 for $24 worth of trade goods. Minuit and his Assistant Director Isaac DE RAISIERES were anxious to demonstrate that their new colony had the resources and potential for industries....and especially a ship-building industry. By 1628 they imported a group of Scandinavian ship carpenters who knew how to make pitch from pine - a locally abundant resource - which was needed for caulking a ship's hull. This would place Dirck's arrival between 1626 and 1628. Another possibility is that he came over in 1625, when the Dutch West India Company imported builders to put up houses in the colony. (In 1624, the first year of the New Netherlands settlement, most of the colonists lived "underground" in log-lined, sod-roofed dugouts.) This scenario might have seen Dirck building the Vigne's house on the East River....and meeting a Christina Vigne who was in her early teens in that year. And as you'll see further down the page, Dirck was a house builder. [Interesting side note: John Follesdal's book "Ancestors from Norway: An introduction to Norwegian genealogy research" tells us that a Norwegian sailor named Sand acted as interpreter for Peter Minuit when he bought Manhattan island.]

Dutch New Amsterdam, showing a shipyard crane (center) on the East River

  Fortunately for us, the New Amsterdam colony spent a considerable amount of effort at record keeping. They took great care to write deeds, contracts and other agreements. They also kept detailed court records: New Amsterdammers were frequently found offending the law or suing one another. Many details of Dirck's life are known to us from the legal documents of that era, translations of which appeared in the "New York Historical Manuscripts" series and similar works. Where these historical manuscripts are quoted below, the general accronym "NYHM" will precede them.


  Dirck married Christina VIGNE in 1630/31, daughter of Guillaume VIGNE and Adrienne CUVELIER The Vignes were among the first 30 French Walloon families the Dutch West India Company imported to establish the New Netherlands colony in 1624. [By the way, Peter MINUIT was not Dutch...he was a French Walloon like the Vignes.] Dirck and Christina lived on her parents' farm, at the south end of Broadway, until 1638. Christina's father died in 1632, and Dirck and his mother-in-law were named executors of the will, as recorded below:

NYHM: "We the undersigned, Willem Weyman, smith and Jan Tomasen Groen, as referees, do by this instrument attest and certify for the real truth that Dirck Volgersen Noorman and Ariaentje Cevelyn, his wife’s mother, came before us in order to enter into an agreement with her her children whom she has borne by her lawful husband [Willem Vienje], settling on Maria Vienje and Christina [Vienje], both married persons, on each the sum of two hundred guilders as their portion of their father’s estate, and on Resel Vienje and [Jan] Vienje, both minor children, also as their portion of their father’s estate,
on each the sum of three hundred guilders; with this provision that she and her future lawful husband, Jan Jansen Damen, shall out of the remainder of the property be bound to bring up the above named two children until they attain their majority, without using more than the interest, and be bound to clothe and rear the aforesaid children as children ought to be [clothed and reared], to keep them at school and to give them a good trade, as parents ought to do. Thus is done in New Netherland on the island of Manhattan and in Fort Amsterdam, the last of April 1632. In confirmation of which this was signed by Jacob Planck, the writer of this instrument; also with this sort of mark X, after which was written: This is the mark of Dirck Volckertsen Noorman; Jan Tomasen Groen, and This is the X mark of Willem Weyman. "The preceding agreement is recorded here with a view that if lost an authentic copy may again be obtained here, [the record] having been found by me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary, to agree with the original. Done this 7th of May 1638, at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland."

  Dirck and Christina initially lived in her mother's household, but they did not get along well with Jan Jansen DAMEN. Perhaps it was for that reason that Dirck obtained a loan, possibly to buy his own house, in May of 1638:
NYHM: May 1, 1638: "Promisory note of Dirck Holgersen to Director Kieft.
"Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary of New Netherland, appeared Dirck Holgersen, Noorman, to me well known, who freely and deliberately acknowledged that he was indebted to the Hon. Mr. Willem Kieft, director here in New Netherland for the General Chartered West India Company, in the sum of seven hundred and twenty guilders, payable in three installments; the first instalment of fl. 300 Dirck Holgersen shall be bound to pay on the fairday of Amsterdam 1638; the second instalment of fl. 300 in like manner on the fairday of Amsterdam 1639; and the third and last instalment of fl. 120 on the fairday of Amsterdam anno 1640. He hereby promises to pay the aforesaid money honestly and honorably into the hands of the Hon Mr. Kieft, or his successor, free of costs and charges, without any gainsay, submitting to that end his person and property, real and personal, present and future, without any exception, to the control of all courts, judges and justices under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court of Halland, and to all other courts, judges and justices, without any exception. In testimony and token of the honest truth, I have subscribed this with my own hand. Thus done in For Amsterdam in New Netherland, this first of May Ao. 1638. "This is the X mark of Dirck Holgertsen Noorman." [Footnote: "fairday of Amsterdam" – Sept. 22.]

  Dirck could not move out fast enough for Jan Jansen DAMEN. Barely two months later the conflict rose to the boiling point:
NYHM: July 21, 1638: "Jan Damen, plaintiff, vs. Abraham Isaacksen Planc and Dirck Holgersen, Noorman, defendants. The plaintiff requests to be master of his house and that the defendants be ordered to acknowledge him as such and to stay away from the plaintiff’s house. The defendants are ordered to keep away from the plaintiff’s house and to leave him master in his own house."

"Dirck Holgersen, Noorman, plaintiff, vs. Jan Damen, defendant, for assault. Parties are ordered to submit testimony, the case being put over to the next court day."

July 22, 1638: " Declaration of Mauritz Jansen and Pieter de Mey regarding an attempt of Jan Damen to throw Dirck Holgersen’s wife out of doors. "This day, the 22d of July 1638, before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary of New Netherland, appeared Mourits Jansen, assistant, aged 20 years, and Pieter de May, aged 24 years, and jointly declared by true Christian words in place and with promise of an oath, if necessary, that it is true and truthful that the wife of Dirck Holgersen, Noorman, being at the house of Jan Damen and said Jan Damen telling her that she must go out of the house, she refused and did not intend to leave the house, whereupon Jan Damen aforesaid pushed said Dirck Holgertsen’s wife out of the house, as she would not depart by fair words. Dirck Holgersen thereupon coming to defend his wife, Jan Damen, drawing a knife, made a cut at said Dirck Holgertsen, who took up a post and struck Jan Damen with it. This is all. They, the deponents, concluding herewith their declaration, etc. Maurits Jansen. Pieter de Mey."

July 22, 1638: "Declaration of surgeon Gerrit Schutt and Jan Pietersen respecting the above assault.. " This day, the 22nd of July Ao. 1638, before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, appeared Gerrit Schut and Jan Pietersen, alias Comrade Jan, at the request of Dirck Holgertsen, Noorman, and jointly declared by Christian words, in place and with promise of an oath if necessary, that it is true and truthful that they, the deponents, being some days ago at the house of Jan Damen, there saw and heard what follows. "First, Jan Damen dunning Dirck Volgertsen for payment of fl. 20, Dirck answered that he did not owe him anything. Jan Damen thereupon replied: ‘Begone out of the house!’ and forthwith threw Christina, Dirck Holgersen’s wife, out of doors and struck her. Furthermore, drawing a knife, he cut and thrust at said Dirck Hollegersen’s wife, as appears from the skirt which she then had on. "Further, Dirck Holgersen, seeking to defend his wife, threw a pewter can at Jan Damen, but missed him, whereupon Jan Damen made for him with a naked knife in his hand, cutting and thrusting at him and, as the said Dirck sought to defend his life, Dirck aforesaid took up a post to keep Jan Damen off. As Dirck Holgerts was going toward the fort or elsewhere, said Jan Damen again beat Dirck Volgersen’s wife with his fists and tore the cap off her head and challenged Dirck, saying: ‘If you have the courage, draw your knife’. But Dirck, being sober, would not do so and only defended himself with a post. The deponents declare all this to be true. Done at Fort Amsterdam, the day and year aforesaid. Gerrit Schutt. This is the X mark of Jan Pietersen, nicknamed Comrade Jan."


  From 1638 - the date of the above promissory note - to 1645, Dirck owned the large house at 125 Pearl Street. It was about a block south of Wall Street. He also leased a nearby farm property from the Dutch West India Company. The details of the agreement let us know how Dirck would spend much of his next six years:
Pearl St. intersecting Wall St. at the east gate of The Wall
Pearl St. intersecting Wall St. at the
east gate of The Wall, about 1700
NYHM: May 18, 1639, lease from Director Kieft to Dirck Holgersen of a farm and stock on halves: "Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary in New Netherland, appeared the honorable, prudent Mr. Willem Kieft, director general in the New Netherland on the part of the General Chartered West India Company, of the first part, and Dirck Holgersen, Noorman, of the second part, and acknowledged that they had amicably agreed and contracted in presence of the undersigned witnesses in manner as follows:

"The Hon. Director Willem Kieft delivers to Dirck Holgersz aforesaid the following animals belonging to Messrs. the directors of the West India Company, to wit, three cows, two of which are dry and one with calf, one heifer, one bull calf, one mare of [ ] years, one mare of two years, and one stallion, the receipt of all the which animals from the hands aforesaid Dirck Holgersen acknowledges, and he shall have the use of the above mentioned cattle for six consecutive years, beginning [ ] and ending [ ].

"For each cow, Dirck Holgersen shall annually pay to the honorable director aforesaid, or to the Company’s agent, thirty pounds of butter. Also, at the expiration of the six years, animals to the same number and in as good condition as those now delivered shall first be set aside for the Company and then the parties shall divide half and half the remaining cattle which by God’s blessing shall be bred from the aforesaid animals.

"Likewise, Dirck Holgersen aforesaid shall be bound during the above mentioned six years to deliver to the Company one half of the grain which he with God’s blessing shall raise on his farm, with the express promise that he shall cultivate it, or have it [162] cultivated diligently and industriously, without attending exclusively to the increase of the cattle, in order that the Company may annually receive a good quantity of grain.

"The honorable director aforesaid promises that during the term of the lease, if diligence be used in the cultivation of the land, there shall be given to the above named Dirck Holgersen for the maintenance of servants fifty Carolus guilders a year.

"For all of which the parties bind their persons and estates, movable and immovable, present and future, without any exceptions, under submission to all lords, courts, judges and justices, all in good faith. In testimony and token of the truth two copies of the same tenor are made hereof and subscribed by the parties. Done in Fort Amsterdam, this 18th of May 1639, in New Netherland."

  Dirck's house on Pearl Street was on a quarter-acre and had a garden and apple trees. He sold the house in 1645. The deed states he took six of the apple trees when he moved.

NYHM: Sept. 22, probably 1645, contract of sale of a house and lot on Manhattan island from Dirck Volckertsen to Govert Aertsen: "Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, [s]ecretary of New Netherland, appeared Dirck Volckertsen, an inhabitant here, who in the presence of the undersigned witnesses acknowledges that he has sold to Govert Aertsen, who also acknowledges that he has bought, the house and lot belonging to him, Dirck Volckertsz, standing and situated on the island of Manhatans, where the lot of Dirck Cornelisen adjoins on the west side and that of Jan Damen on the east side, and that as large or as small as the house and lot lied within the fences, with all that is fastened by earth and nail on condition that the vendor shall be at liberty to remove six apple trees of his choice and carry them where he pleases. Also, all of the produce of the garden shall remain at the disposal of the vendor, but the purchaser may have what he needs of the vegetables for himself and his partner and a good friend at the time of the Amsterdam fair [22 September] and not before. For which house and lot the above mentioned Govert Aertsen promises to pay the sum of three hundred and twenty-five guilders down at the Amsterdam fair next, when the delivery shall be made. Which being done, the vendor promises said house and lot with a proper deed, free from any claims or demands which might be made by any one in the world, all exactly as the purchaser himself [obtained the lot by] patent. In witness and token of the truth, this is signed by the respective parties to the knowledge of the undersigned witnesses, the Amsterdam in New Netherland."

In 1648 Sergeant Daniel LITSCHOE purchased the site and converted the house into a tavern. The site of this tavern appears on the 1660 map of the city; however, LITSCHOE traded it in 1653 for "the Jansen house" just north of the City Wall. This may have been the old VIGNE home, since Jan Jansen DAMEN had just died, so Adrienne CUVELIER - Dirck's mother-in-law and Jan's widow - may have spent her last three years of life in Dirck's old house on Pearl Street. In 1691, Captain KIDD and his new wife, the former Mrs. Sarah OORT, moved into a large house on Pearl Street, half a block south of Dirck's old house.

  Dirck's leased
Site of Dirck's first house on Pearl Street
Site of Dirck's first house on Pearl
Street, one block south of Wall Street
Site of Smits Vly
Smits Vly in 2002, on NE edge of
New York's financial district
Imagine yourself visiting New York in 1882. You're standing on Pearl Street, south of the Fulton Street intersection, on the west side of the street. You'd possibly be standing on Dirck's old front yard.
  Just a few feet away you will see Dirck's great great great great great great nephew busily at work. He is constructing the Pearl Street Station, the world's first electric power plant, which will soon light lower Manhattan with his new invention, the incandescent light bulb. That nephew is Thomas Alva Edison.
farm was near brother-in-law Cornelis VAN TIENHOVEN's "plantation" at Smits Vly (translation: Smith's Flat), northeast of Wall Street. On August 4, 1649, VAN TIENHOVEN sold property on the 250 block of Pearl Street to Dirck and their other brother-in-law, Abraham VER PLANCK. The lots were about a half-acre each, extending along Pearl Street on the East River to some high ground at the rear, between Maiden Lane on the south and what is now Fulton Street on the north. (Maiden Lane, which still exists, was presumably named after the three maidens whose family originally owned the land: Christina, Maria and Rachel VIGNE.) [Innes]

NYHM: Aug. 7, 1649, deed from Cornelis van Tienhoven to Dirck Volckertsen of a lot in the Smith’s valley, on Manhattan Island: "This day, date underwritten, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary here, conveys to Dirck Volckerssen a lot of his land situated in the Smits valley, on the island of Manhatans, by virtue of the patent granted to him by the honorable director general and council; in width on the south side, at the strand, seven [128] rods and six feet; in width in the rear, on the north side, seven rods and nine feet; in length on the east side, sixteen rods and nine feet; in length on the west side, sixteen rods and six and one-half feet, and that in true and full ownership, provided that he, Dirck Volckerssen, or whoever obtains his right, shall be subject to whatever the lord may hereafter claim. Which said Cornelis van Tienhoven hereby relinquishes the ownership of the said lot, of the dimensions aforesaid, conveying the same to the above named Dirck Volckerssen, or whoever may obtain his right, in true ownership, without retaining any claim of ownership thereof, but relinquishing the same henceforth and forever. He, Cornelis van Tienhoven, therefore promises to hold this conveyance firm, binding and inviolable, under submission [of his person and property] as by law provided. Without fraud or deceit this is signed by the grantor and witnesses, the 7th of August Ao. 1649, New Amsterdam, New Netherland."

  Dirck subdivided his lot into smaller properties, and during the next five years sold most of the lots, with or without a house. The deeds are recorded. Hage BRUYNSEN the Swede bought a lot from him in November 1653 and built his own house. (In February 1654 Dirck sued BRUYNSEN to pay for the property.) Dirck built himself a house in 1649 at 259 Pearl Street. In 1651 he sold it to Roeloff TEUNISSEN - a Swede from Goteborg who was employed by the Dutch West India Company as captain of the ship "Emperor Charles" - after building himself another new house. Roeloff used the house until 1657 when he sold it to Jan Hendricks STEELMAN. [These are also shown on the 1660 map.]

Sept. 19, 1651, deed from Dirck Holgersen to Roelof Teunissen of a house and lot in the Smith’s valley on Manhattan Island: "On this day, the 19th of September of the year one thousand six hundred and fifty-one, before me, Jacob Kip, clerk appointed here by the honorable director general and council of New Netherland, appeared Dirck Volckertsen, burgher and resident here, who in the presence of the undersigned witnesses declared that he transferred and conveyed, as he hereby does by virtue of the deed executed to him, the grantor, under date of August 4, 1649, by Cornelis Tienhoven, by virtue of his patent, to and for the behoof of Roelof Teunissen from Gottenborgh, at present skipper of the small ship Keyser Karel, his certain house and lot, standing and lying on the island of Manhatans, in the Smits valley, on the East river, between the lot of Abraham Verplanck and the portion which the grantor reserves, being in width on the south side, on the road, three and one half rods and three feet; in the rear, against the land of Cornelis van Tienhoven, on the north side, three and one half rods and four and a half feet; in length, on the west side, sixteen rods, six and a half feet, and on the east side sixteen rods, nine feet, and this in true and free ownership. He, the grantor, declares that according to the written agreement he was fully satisfied and paid the purchase money before the execution hereof; he therefore puts the aforesaid Roelof Teunisen in his stead and real and actual possession of the aforesaid house and lot and relinquishes all further claim and ownership for the behoof aforesaid from now on forever, expect that the aforesaid Roelof Teunisen or he who may [308] acquires his title remains subject to whatever the lords and patrons may claim, as mentioned in all patents. He, Dirck Holgersen, promises to hold this his deed and conveyance firm, binding and irrevocable and to observe and fulfil the same, all under submission [of his person and property] according to law. In testimony whereof the original hereof in the record is signed by the grantor and cedent, together with Jacob Jansz Huys and Bartel Jansz, both invited hereto as witnesses. Done as above, in New Amsterdam in New Netherland. This is the X mark of Dirck Holgersen, made by himself Jacob Jansen Huys Bartel Jansen Acknowledged before me, Jacob Kip, Clerk" [Here, Dirck’s name is spelled both Volckersen and Holgersen.]

  He still owned land at Smit's Vly on 15 Sep 1659, when New Amsterdam courts recorded: "Jan Hendricksz Stelman acknowledges to owe Walewyn Van der Veen, as attorney for Adriaen Blommaert, 65 guilders Holland money, for passage money in his ship "Hoop" in 1657. Mortgages his house and lot North of the bank of the East River, to the East Abram Verplanck, to the South said road, to the West Dirck the Noorman's, to the North Tienhoven's farm." [Holland Society Year Book, 1900, p. 169] His ownership of "fourth class" land appeared on a 1674 list of properties "on Present W.S. Pearl St bet Franklin & Wall Sts": Noorman, Derrick, Estimated Worth: not recorded, Smith's Valley. Neighboring properties were owned by Abraham Verplanck ($3,000), Jan Vinje ($2,500) and Christopher Ellsworth ($1,000).   Dirck and Abraham later owned other lots on Manhattan through their wives' inheritance, which was substantial: their mother-in-law Adrienne CUVELIER (VIGNE) and her husband Jan Jansen DAMEN owned Manhattan from Pine Street north to Maiden Lane, and from the East River to the Hudson River, encompassing most of the Wall Street financial district and the World Trade Center. Fortunately, the property is still in the family and we are all filthy rich. Okay, so we're not filthy rich. At least we have some great stories to tell.
The address at 259 Pearl Street was the site of a business in the 19th Century: "A.L. Halsted and Sons, Importers and Dealers in English, German and American Hardware, Cutlery &c" which billed itself as "the only exclusively cash hardware store in the United States." Its advertising reminded customers that it was directly across the street from the United States Hotel.


  Another significant development occurred in 1638 - the Indians agreed to allow Dutch settlement in Brooklyn. Dirck was one of the first to take advantage of the newly-available lands, receiving a grant to buy 400-500 acres of land at Greenpoint from the Indians. It had a mile-long frontage on the East River and had nearly the
Part of Dirck's 1638 farm at Greenpoint is
outlined here, as seen from Empire State Bldg
Greenpoint and Bushwick
same frontage on the two tidal streams that bounded his land on the south and north sides, Norman Kill and Mespath Kill. (The Dutch called streams or creeks "kills"). Mespath Kill became Newtown Creek after the British moved into the area and founded the Newtown settlement. Noorman's Kill later became Bushwick Creek. The inlet where the creek emptied into the East River, immediately south of Dirck's house, still exists today. [See the 1639 map.] The northwest point on his East River frontage was known by several names, including Noorman's Point and Woud Hoek (Woodland Point). Years later it was planted with green wheat fields and gained its current name of Greenpoint. Several other Scandinavians are linked to Dirck in connection with a property he owned, first in vouching for his ownership of the land, and second in buying it from him:

NYHM: declaration of Lourens Pietersen and Johannes Forbes about the purchase by Dirck Holgersen of a plantation on the west sideof Mespath kill, L.I.: "Before me, Jacob Hendricksen Kip, [clerk] appointed in the absence of the secretary by the honorable director general and council of New Netherland, appeared Lourens Pietersen form Thonsberch in Norway, aged about 30 years,* an inhabitant here, who in the presence of the undersigned witnesses declares that it is true and truthful that now and about eight or nine years ago, the precise day or time being unknown to him, Dirck Holgersen purchased from Cornelis Willemsen, planter of the said Dirck Holgersen, a certain piece of land, being a plantation situated on the west side of Mespachtes, opposite Ritchert Bridnel’s, which was cultivated by the said Cor. Willemsen, for the sum of [221] one hundred and twenty guilders, of which sum he, Corn. Willemsen, when the purchase was made, owed one-half to Dirck Holgersen and in addition then received a barrel of good beer on account; he continued to reside with said Dirck Holgersen and without doubt was paid the balance of the money before he went from here to the north, which was fully three or four years after the purchase was made. All of which he, Lourens Pietersen, declares to be true and that this [declaration] is made b him solely to bear witness to the truth. In testimony whereof this is signed by the deponent and the witnesses, this 22d of March Ao. 1651, in New Amsterdam. This is the X mark of Lourens Pietersen, made by himself Jacob Jansen Huys, witness Gerret Jansen, witness Acknowledged before me, Jacob Kip, Clerk
"Jan Forbus from Sweden, aged 50 years, being heard, declares before the undersigned witnesses that he confirms the foregoing declaration of Lourens Pietersen, except that he does not know for how much the land was sold and how the payment was made; offering to confirm the same on oath if necessary. Done, Manhatans in New Netherland, date as above. Johannes Forbes Jacob Jansen Huys, Gerret Jansen, witnesses. Acknowledged before me, Jacob Kip, Clerk"

March 28, 1651,deed from Dirck Holgersen to Pieter Hudde and Abraham Jansen of land on Mespath kill: "Before me, Jacob Kip, in the absence of the secretary appointed by the honorable director and council of New Netherland, appeared Dirck Holgersen, an inhabitant here, who declared that he had sold and conveyed, as he does hereby [see and convey], to Pieter Hudde and Abraham Jansen, in company, a certain parcel of land situated on Mespachtes kil, opposite Ritchert Bridnel’s, formerly belonging to Cornelis Willemsen, containing according to the patent twenty-two morgens, one hundred and forty-six rods; which land he, the grantor, conveys to the said Pieter Hudde and Abraham Jansen, in company, in true, free and rightful ownership, therefore renouncing all title and interest which he had therein and giving authority to enter on, cultivate and use the said land free and unmolested, on condition that the reservation mentioned in the patent as to the acknowledgment of the lords and patrons of this country be complied with; placing the above mentioned Piter Hudde and Abraham Jansen in his estate, real and actual possession of the land aforesaid and renouncing all claim thereto, henceforth and forever. He promises, therefore, to hold this his deed and conveyance firm, binding and inviolable, under binding obligation according to law. In testimony whereof I have signed this with the witnesses, this 22d of March, 1651, New Amsterdam in New Netherland. This is the X mark of Dirck Holgersen, made by himself Jacob Jansen Huys, witness Gerret Jansen, witness. Acknowledged before me, Jacob Kip, Clerk.
"This day, the 28th of March Ao. 1651, the honorable Petrus Stuyvesant and the council of New Netherland has accepted the foregoing testimony as to the purchase of the land referred to and accordingly have ratified the above conveyance executed by Dirck Holgersen in favor of Pieter Hudde and Abrham Jansen. In witness whereof this is signed by the honorable director general on the date above written at Manhatans in New Netherland. P. Stuyvesant"


  Dirck was one of the few Brooklyn property owners who actually improved their properties in the early years. It is said that the Indians came back to him each year, asking for more money, because the land had increased in value. His improvements suffered some setbacks in the Indian uprisings of 1643 and 1655, when fields were destroyed and homes and barns were burned. Indians killed two of his sons-in-law, Jan H. SCHUTT in 1652 and Cornelis HENDRICKSEN Van Dort in 1655, and tortured a third, Herman Hendricksen ROSENKRANZ, for eight days in 1659.


  Dirck was a commuting farmer. He traveled up the East River in his boat from Smits Vly on Manhattan to his bouwerie on the Long Island shore. He began building a stone farm house on Long Island about 1645. According to a Greenpoint historian, the house was at Franklin and Calyer streets in Greenpoint's historic district. He had the assistance of at least two carpenters:
NYHM: Dec. 6, 1646, declaration of Jan Willemsen Bos and Abraham Martensen that they built a house for Dirck Holgersen on Long Island: "Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary of New Netherland, appeared Jan Willemsz Bos, aged 25 years, and Abraham Martensen, aged about 25 years, carpenters, who at the request of Dirck Holgersen declare before the fiscal that they, the deponents, built for Dirck Holgersen a house on Long Island, to which house they made four projecting eaves.* This the deponents offer to confirm. Done the 6th of December 1646, in New Amsterdam. Jan Wylmsen Bos This is the X mark of Abraham Martensen, made by himself Acknowledged before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, Secretary"

  The house faced south on Norman's Kill, where he sheltered his boats. He may not have moved into the house permanently until after 1655, when the small nearby settlement of Boswyck was established. Until then, there weren't enough neighbors around to assist in protecting the property from Indian attacks. The house subsequently remained occupied for 200 years. The land grant was officially recorded on April 3, 1645 and continued to be recognized after the English took over the colony in 1664. Click here to see a historical marker at Greenpoint which calls Dirck a "Scandinavian ship's carpenter" and names Dirck as its first resident. He leased part of his land to fellow Norwegian Jochem CALDER in 1649. It appears that Dirck was trying to gain more neighbors in Brooklyn, to help defend against the Indians, as a number of outright sales followed in the early 1650's.
Corner of Franklin and Calyer Streets, Today
NYHM: June 2, 1649, lease from Dirck Holgersen to Jackem Calder of the piece of land on Long Island: "Before me, Cornelis van Tienhoven, secretary of New Netherland, appeared Jochem Calder, of the first part, and Dirck Holgersz, of the second part, who in the presence of the undersigned witnesses acknowledged and declared that in all love and friendship they had mutually entered into and concluded a certain contract in regard to the lease of a certain piece of land, on the conditions hereinafter written: Dirck Holgersz leases to Jochem Calder a certain piece of land, situated on Long Island, together with the land heretofore leased by him, Dirck, to Jochem Calder, for the term of twenty consecutive years, commencing anno 1651 and ending anno 1671. The lessee shall have the land rent free for the first six years and during the other fourteen following [106] years shall pay annually for the use of said land (of which the lessee shall cultivate and use as large or as small as part as he shall see fit) the sum of one hundred and fifty guilders in such pay as shall then be current. All of the expenses which the lessee shall incur in building, fencing and whatever else is necessary shall be at the charge of the lessee, who shall make such improvements as he shall think fit; and if it happen that he, the lessee, should die, it is stipulated that the lessor shall not be at liberty to eject the wife or descendants from the land against their will. The fences or any other improvements made by the lessee, of whatever nature they may be, shall at the expiration of the twenty years belong in full ownership to the lessor, his heirs and successors, without their paying anything for them. For further security and the performance of this contract the parties bind their respective persons and properties, submitting to that end to all courts and judges. In testimony whereof this is signed by the parties and by Jan Nagel and Pieter Jansz Noorman, witnesses hereto, this 2d of June Ao. 1649, in New Amsterdam. This is the X mark of Dirck Holgersz, made by himself. This is the X mark of Jochem Calder, made by himself. This is the PI mark of Pieter Jansz, witness, made by himself, Jacob Kip, Jan Nagel, witnesses"
  At right is a current map of the area. The blue (water) indentation into the yellow (land) portion is all that remains of Noorman's Kill. Nearby Norman Avenue was named for Dirck (click here to see photo), as was Norman Creek. In 1862, the USS Monitor was built 2 blocks northwest of Dirck's old farmstead, at Calyer and West Streets. A three blocks further north you'll find the old Eberhard Faber factories that produced pencils at Greenpoint from 1872 to 1955. Actress and Greenpoint native Mae WEST spent part of her childhood at Franklin and India streets, and may have been born there in 1893.

...or the Devil should take him

The disputes and conflicts Dirck often found himself in may tell us something of Dirck's character, or perhaps only reveal the character of the society in which he lived:

NYHM: Feb. 26, 1652: "Claes Hendrix, plaintiff, against Dirrick Volckartsen; demands from him 2 beams, each 22 feet long, 2 pieces [ ] and 22 pieces 16 feet long. "The defendant is willing to deliver them.
"Claes Hendrix, plaintiff, against Dirrick Volckartsz, for the sum of 104 guilders for goods received, to be paid in beavers. The director and council order the defendant to pay by next May in [ ] servant."

Probably January 1655: "[Order for Scout of Breuckelen to return boar to Dirck Volckertsen]
"The honorable lords high councilors of New Netherland having seen and examined the material submitted concerning a certain boar in dispute between Dirck Volckertsz and Pieter Cornelisz living on Long Island in the jurisdiction of Breuckelen, find, according ot the decision of arbitrators dated 19 Dec. and additional documents presented to us, that the aforesaid boar belongs to Dirck Volckertsz, and therefore order Davit Provoost, as schout of the place, to notify the aforesaid Pieter Cornelisz to restore and return the boar to Dirck Volckertsz as owner, with expenses."
"Done at New Amsterdam in New Netherland, ady ut supra (was signed: ) Nicasius de Silla, Cor. Van Tienhoven.

Jan. 26, 1654 – "Uldrick Jansen, pltf. v/s Dirck Volckersen, deft. Both in default." Vol. 1, page 154.

+ Feb. 16, 1654 – "Uldrick Jansen, pltf. v/s Dirck Volckersen, deft. Both in default." Vol. 1, page 160.

Feb. 16, 1654 – "Dirck Volkersen, pltf. v/s Age Bruysen, deft. For payment of a certain lot. Parties being heard, it is ordered that pltf. shall deliver the deed, and deft. shall then pay."

Oct. 15, 1655 – Dirck Holgersen, Noorman, taxed 10 guilders on list of "persons being summoned remain absent."

Oct. 25, 1655 – "Reyer Stoffelsen, pltf. v/s Dirck Volckertsen, deft. Deft, in default. Default was granted only for the payment of fl. 9. Now due since 3 years."

Nov. 8, 1655 – "Sybout Claessen, as att’y for Ryer Stoffelsen, pltf. v/s Dirck Holgersen, deft. Defts. 2d default. Being for payment of fl. 8. Belonging to Ryer Stoffelsen. Requests sequestration and satisfaction. The Court ordered as Dirck Holgersen is in the 2d default, that he deposit the said fl. 8. within 8 days in the Secretary’s office."

Jan. 24, 1656 – "Symon Joosten, pltf. v/s Dirck Holgersen, deft. Pltf. demands payment of fl. 49. 14. For disbursements in the year 1654. Deft. acknowledges the debt; says he cannot pay at present, requests time. C. van Tienhoven, being present in Court, remains bail for the payment by deft. in six weeks. Therefore deft., or in his default, the bail was condemned to pay within six weeks."

Feb. 21, 1656 – "Dirck Claessen Pottebacker, plft. v/s Dirck Holgersen, deft. Pltf’s wife appeared in Court says, that she has missed a canoe, which she purchased from Pieter Vander Linde and after seeking for it every where finally found it before deft’s house and land, who refused the same to her, notwithstanding reasonable salvage was offered. Requests the Court to condemn him to deliver it. Deft. says a certain canoo was brought by some Englishmen on his land, and as the same lay a long time there without a person coming after it, he found, that it was very much out of repair. He repaired and rebuilt it. Offers to give it up to the pltf. on condition, that she will pay him for the repairs, wages and salvage. Parties being heard, the Court referred the parties to Lambert Huybertsen Mol, and Cornelis Jansen Clopper to value the labor and repair expended on the canoe, and if possible to reconcile the parties, or to report to the Board."

April 3, 1656 – "Symon Joosten, pltf. v/s Dirck Holgersen, deft. Pltf. requests payment as heretofore. Deft. acknowledges the debt. Whereas by the last order hereupon the Fiscal remained bail for the payment, Dirck Holgersen is ordered to make an assignment, when the Fiscal undertakes to pay."
  The most extreme conflict arose in 1656, when Dirck was sued by Jan DE PERIE, a barrel-maker, who claimed Dirck stabbed him and "chased him from the Strand to the Clapboards." The quarrel began during a dice game on December 18, 1655. DE PERIE was trying to cheat and Dirck caught him at it.
The argument turned into a fist fight and ended with both drawing their knives. Dirck was stabbed in the shoulder, DE PERIE in the belly. The case was immortalized in New Amsterdam records:
NYHM: Oct. 30, 1656 – "Schout d’Silla, pltf. v/s Dirck Holgersen Noorman, deft. Deft. in default. Pltf. demands, that the Court appoint Commissaries to take information in his presence as to how Dirck Volckertsen wounded Jan Perie. The request being deemed just Schepens Jacob Stryker and Hendrick Kip are appointed Commissioners."
Nov. 6, 1656 – "N. de Silla, pltf. v/s Dirck Holgersen, deft. Deft. requests by petition copy of the Officers demand, as he has not time to appear, to answer to the same by the next Court day. Pltf. rendering briefly his demand, thereupon was endorsed – The Court grants deft., according to his peition, copy of the demand to answer thereunto in writing by the next court day." Dec. 11, 1656 – "Jan de Pree requests by petition, that Dirck Volkertsen be ordered to settle with him for the pain, surgeon’s bill, and loss of time which he incurred from a stab in the side received from said Dirck. Whereupon is endorsed – The petitioner may summon his party at the next Court day, and then, if he thinks fit, institute his action." Dec.18, 1656 – "Sara Pietersen, pltf. v/s Dirck Volckertsen, deft. Deft. in default." (unknown whether this had a direct connection to the Jan Perie matter) Dec. 18, 1656 – "Grietie Provoost, pltf. v/s Dirck Volckertsen, deft. Deft. in default." (ditto) Dec.18, 1656 – "Jan de Pree, pltf. v/s Dirck Volckertsen, deft. Deft. in default. Pltf. rendering his demand in writing requests, as before, that deft. be condemned to pay for loss of time, pain, and surgeons fees for the wound received from deft. The Honble Schout d’Silla maintains that pltf. Jan Perie has no cause of action, as he began the quarrel, and wounded the deft. by sticking a knife in his body. And whereas the deft. is in default, the pltf. was ordered to summon him again, and then to prove his statement."
Jan. 8, 1657 – "Jan de Perie, pltf. v/s Dirck de Noorman, deft. Pltf. exhibits, pursuant to the order of 18th Decembr last, two separate declarations, one of Jan Fredericksen and one of Paulus Heymans, by which it appears, that Dirck de Noorman attacked him the pltf. and chased him from the Strand to the Clapboards, as is more fully detailed in the certificates rendered before Notary de Vos. Requesting, as before, that deft. be, therefore, condemned in the time lost by him and Surgeon’s fees. Deft. says, that he was not the first to draw his knife, that the pltf. had forced him to it, he having first struck him on his shoulder with a knife, which he also broke having struck his truss, and he afterwards tried to kill him with a naked dagger. The Court ordered the deft. to prove his statement by the next Court day, when further disposition shall be made."
Jan. 25, 1657 – "Dirck Volckertsen, pltf. v/s Jan Peeck and his wife, Mary, defts. Pltf. requests that defts., whom he has summoned as witnesses in the case between him and Jan Perie, cooper, would please testify to the truth. Jan Peeck therefore declared, that in the morning as he lay abed, he saw Jan Perie and Dirck Volckertsen playing at dice together on the floor for a ---- and heard Jan Perie, while playing, give Dirck Volckertsen frequently the lie, whereupon Dirck Volckertsen contradicted, and a first fight followed; and as he, deponent, said to them that he could easily sell his wine without trouble, they went away, without his knowing anything more. Mary d’Peeck, also heard, confirms the declaration of her husband above given, and declares she afterwards heard Jan Perie say, ‘There’s Dirck the Noorman who has a box of zeewan in his sack; and he should play or the D---l should take him"; also that Jan Perie’s man told her, he saw his master thrust his knife into Dirck the Noorman’s truss. Dirck Volckertsen answers in writing Jan Perie’s demand, concluding, that the plft. Jan Perie’s entered demand be dismissed and he be condemned in the costs. Whereupon asked, if he have further evidence; he says, Yes; Jan Perie’s man, but that the others have been to him, and he is gone away. Wherefore the case is postponed."
Jan. 29, 1657 – "Dirck Vockertsen, pltf. v/s Jan Fredericksen, Jan Perie’s servant, deft. Pltf. requests, that deft. shall testify to the truth before the Court as to what he saw relative to the drawing of the knife between him pltf. and Jan Perie. Therefore aforesaid deft. appeared in Court and declares that he saw, on coming out of the house, Jan Perie and Dirck Volckertsen standing opposite each other, each with a knife in his hand, and that Dirck Volckertsen thrust first, and stabbed Jan Perie in his belly, and that Jan Perie then thrust with the point of the knife on Dirck Volckertsen’s truss, and saw Jan Perie afterwards chase Dirck Volckertsen with a dagger. And further he cannot declare."

The case dragged on until 29 Jan 1658, when Dirck agreed to pay a fine for wounding DE PERIE. Street fights had become such a common sport in New Amsterdam that, in 1657, Peter STUYVESANT established a fine of 100 guilders for drawing a knife... and quadruple if blood was shed. By the time the trial ended, Dirck held the post of city carpenter and his brother-in law Jan VIGNE was on the City his fine may not have been quite that high. [DE PERIE was also called Jan DE PREE in the court proceedings. A Jan DE PREE sued Dirck for the right to the property at Greenpoint in 1644. DE PREE lost and Dirck received his official grant to the land in 1645. Coincidentally, a Jean DE PRY was killed in a shipwreck in July 1658 while trying to take a cargo of sugar and tobacco, presumably in barrels, to Quebec.]


  Dirck was listed third on the charter of incorporation for the town of Boswyck (Bushwick) which was founded with 22 families (mostly French Walloons) in 1655. The town was on the southern border of his property. In 1662 he and some other landowners petitioned the authorities to have a road made to their properties. Dirck gave some land to the town, probably for the right of way and in payment for the road. In 1663 he served some role with the town's militia, and in 1664 he was Superintendent of Fencing (the wooden palisades surrounding the village for protection against Indian attacks). Following the British invasion and occupation of 1664, when New Amsterdam became New York, a royal patent was issued in 1667 to confirm the establishment of "Boswick" and to name the principal founders:

NYHM: "Book of Patents," VII:370, [issued under the authority of] "Anne by the Grace of God of Great Brittain France & Ireland Queen."
"Richard Nicolls Esqr Govor Genall and undr his Late Royall Highnesse James Duke of Yorke and Albany of all his Territories in America HATH by Patent undr his hand and Seale Bearing date the Twenty fifth day of Octor one Thousand Six hundred Sixty Seaven given granted ratified & confirmed unto Peter Jansen, Derick Norman, Paulus Richards, David Yoakims & Long Gysbert as Pattentees for and on Behalfe of themselves & their associates the freeholders and Inhabitants of a certain Town Scituate Lyeing & Being in the west Rideing of York Shire now Kings County on Long Island commonly called or knowne by the name of Boswick ALL that the Township of Boswjck aforesd & all the Lands thereunto adjoining & Belonging within the Bounds and Limites herein after particularly exprest …"

  In that same year, Sarah RAPALJE - who on 9 Jun 1625 was the first child born in New Netherland - became one of his neighbors. Her husband Teunis Guysbert BOGART, under the new British administration, patented some adjoining land that had been owned by Sarah's first husband Hans Hansen BERGEN. The name Willcocks may refer to William COCK, who along with Dirck's wife testified in a case of slander, a little further down this page.
NYHM: "Richard Nicolls, Esq. Whereas there was a patent or groundbrief heretofore granted by the Dutch Governor William Kieft unto Hans Hansen, bearing date the 30th day of March, 1647, for a certain parcel of land lying and being in the West Riding of Yorkshire upon Long Island, within the Kill then commonly called Jorse Rapalye's Kill, whose bounds did stretch along by the said Jorse Rapalye's House northeast and by east unto the Plantation then appertaining to Lambert Huberts (Mol), so on to John the Swede's Kill to the markt bounds, and then to the Kill belonging to Mespath by the swamp, from whence to run by the fence of Derick Volckersen's land which he bought of Willcocks, and so along by that belonging to the land of Henry Saetly, containing by estimation about 400 acres of ground, now the right and title to the said parcell of land being devolved upon Teunis Gisberts [BOGART], who married the widow and Relict of Hans Hansen [BERGEN] aforesaid, for a confirmation unto the said Teunis Gisberts."
Dated April 5, 1667.

  Dirck and most of his heirs settled down at Bushwick. Most of his grandchildren were born there. One historian states that "Dirck naturally contributed in the layout of the village, and in the construction of the buildings, the docks at the waterways, the roads and highly important palisade." He also notes "his lore in Indian warfare" and "the stimulation of his belligerent personality in creating courage and initiative in those fellow settlers who had but recently arrived from European countries...He must be considered to have been one of the three outstanding personalities in the history of the town of Boswyck. He became its patriarch. He was its oldest constituent." Dirck paid taxes to the town of Boswyck in 1675, and to New York in 1677. He died about 1678 or 1680, and was probably buried on his
farm. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. IX, cites a "Book of Numbers" referring to wills, and lists a date of 1684 for "Dirck de Noorman" with the notation, "Gestorven" (deceased). Perhaps this was when his will was fully administered and closed. In the 1850's the stone house was demolished, and a knoll believed to contain the family plots was leveled, to provide sand for construction in Manhattan.


  Dirck had sold some of his Greenpoint land even before he moved there: 45 acres to Peter HUDDE and Abraham JANSEN in 1651. This sale was witnessed by Peter STUYVESANT. He sold 62 acres to Jacob HAIE/HAY in 1653. (Indians burned down Hay's house at Greenpoint just two years later, on November 8, 1655, during the second great uprising.) The sale to Hay is also recited in a confirmatory patent granted by British Governor Lovelace, on 1 May 1670, to David Joehems (who had married Christina Cappoens, the widow of the said Hay), in the following words:

"Whereas, Dirck Volkertse [the Norman], did, by virtue of a ground-brief granted to him, bearing date ye 3d of April, 1645, transport and make over upon ye 9th day of September, 1653, unto Jacob Hay, a certain piece of land upon Long Island, lying and being at Mespath kil, beginning from ye hook or point of ye said kil, and so going along by ye river South-west and by west, 75 rods, then stretching alongst Mespath kil, south-east and by south, 200 rods from Mespath kil into ye woods, striking south-west and by west 75 rods, then going back to ye river side almost upon a north-west and by north line, 200 rods: it contains about 50 acres or 25 morgens. And, also, a parcel of valley or meadow ground in ye tenure or occupation of ye said Dirck Volkerse, at ye end of ye said land in breadth, and in length 90 rods, making about 12 acres, or 6 morgens."

  One of the later "official" records of Dirck's wife Christina appeared in 1647:
NYHM: Declarations of William Cock and others that George Holmes’ wife accused the wife of Robert Butler of having an illegitimate child: "William Cock, 27 year of age, attests at the request of Robbert Bottelaer that last Saturday afternoon the wife of Gorge Home said that Robbert Bottelaer’s wife was a whore and that she had a whore’s child. Willem Cock offers to confirm this on oath. This is the X mark of Willem Cock. Christina Vienje and Maria Vienje attest the same. This is the X mark of Maria Vienje. Adam Mat attests that Gorge Homs and his wife reviled Robbert Bottelaer’s wife, calling her a whore, which he offers to confirm [on oath]. Done at Manhatans, the 30th of September Ao. 1647."
Christina last appeared in the records of the Dutch Reformed Church on 5 Jun 1650, at the baptism of Jochem KIER's twins "Michiel and Dorothe." The witnesses were listed as "Dirck de Noorman and his wife Chrystyn, Pieter ANDRIESZEN, Daniel SERGIANT, Elisabeth CREGIERS, Claertie EBELS." Her name appears one more time, according to the Holland Society Year Book, 1901, in which it lists conveyances of land, 1654-1658: "155. Vinge, Christina, to Augustyn Heermans."

  On January 1, 1666, Dirck made a contract with his son Volkert, in which the son was to have the land, stock, and equipment for a period of five years for half of the grown products: maize, tobacco, rapeseed, etc. In 1677 he transferred more of his land to his sons and daughters, apparently anticipating that his end was near:
NYHM: "I – CONVEYANCE, April 24, 1677, DIRCK VOLCKERSE TO JAN LESQUIER, for the reason that Lesquier has married Rachel Dircks, Dirck’s daughter, of eleven morgens of land at Boswyck to whom, Rachel, he had before this given the land, and in addition another ten morgens which he, Jan Lesquier, had bought from another of Dirck’s daughters, i.e. Magdalena, for from her husband Harmen Hendrickse, making in all twenty-one morgens of land and meadow, at Green Hook near Mespatt Kill, south-west of David Jochemse and northeast of Dirck Volkerse. Witnessed by Jost Kockuit, Jasques Cossert, Pieter Janse Wit and P. Clocq. "1685, Sept. 17 – Jan Lequer declares he cedes and transfers to Volkert Dircksen the above lands conveyed to him by Dirck Volckerse.
"II – CONVEYANCE, April 24, 1677, DIRCK VOLCKERSE TO HIS SON VOLCKERT DIRCKS, resident of Boswyck, ten Morgens of land next to land of Charles Houseman, and also ten morgens which he had heretofore given to his daughter Ariantie Dircks, married to Charles Housman, with one morgen of meadow over the Wood Point which land and meadow he, Dirck Volckerts had purchased of Charles Housman. Subscribed to by Dirck Volckertse and Charles Housman. "III – CONVEYANCE, April 24, 1677, DIRCK VOLCKERSE TO HIS SON JACOB DIERCKS, resident of Boswyck, ten morgens land between land of Jan Lesquier and other land of Dirck Volckerse, and also one morgen of meadow. Witnessed by Pieter Janse Wit, Jacques Cossart and P. Clocq. [90] "IV – CONVEYANCE, April 24, 1677, DIRCK VOLKERSE to PIETER SCHAMP, his son-in-law of Boswyck, husband of Dirck’s daughter Jannetie Dierckse, ten morgens of land on north side of Volckert Dirckse, the said land and a piece of meadow having already been given to his daughter Jannetie Dierckse. Witnessed by Jost Kockuit, P. Clocq and Pieter Jan Wit. "1688, April 17 – ‘The above land conveyed by Pieter Schamp to David Jochemse.’ …

A tax assessment in 1683, after Dirck's death, showed that his son Volkert owned 200 acres. Volkert sold some of it to Jan MESEROLE and to Peter PRAA. On January 19, 1701, part of the land was surveyed and recorded as belonging to the "Widow of Folkert DIRKSEN." On March 16 of 1718 or 1719, the land was divided among her three sons, Dirck, Philip and Klaas, each receiving a third of the 164 acres. On the same date they made a joint sale to Peter PRAA, and the land passed out of the family.



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  The Dutch and Norwegian cultures used a "patronymic" naming system in which the father's first name became the children's last name, so there was no such thing as a "family name" that passed from one generation to the next. Under this system, the surname of Dirck's children was Dircks (sometimes spelled Dirckse or Dirckx). In the following generation, the children of his son Volkert Dircks had surnames based on his first name, Volkert.

  The English seized New Amsterdam by military force in 1664 and renamed it New York, marking the end of both Dutch rule and the patronymic system. The patronyms then in use by the former Dutch colonists became permanent family names, and over time were 'translated' into English surnames. In our case, a permanent last name was established, based on the root name of Volkert. Over the next 75 to 100 years, the family name was spelled Volkerts, Volkertse, Folkerts, Folkertse, Volkertson and Folkertson. By the time of the American Revolution it was almost universally spelled FULKERSON. Many other variations of the Fulkerson surname can be found in American records of the 18th and 19th centuries: Falkerson, Faulkerson, Folkerson, Fulkersin, etc. These variations were generally either (1) a matter of preference, or (2) frontier spellings concocted by guessing at the sound of the name.

  FULKERSON was an English/Irish/Scotch surname, not very common, which apparently originated in Scotland as a phonetic variant of 'Farqharson." A very small number of Fulkersons immigrated to America from the British Isles, probably about 1840 and afterwards. They did not establish any significant family lines in the United States. In almost all cases (99.9%), Americans and Canadians born with the surname FULKERSON - or a similar variant - descend from Volkert, the son of Dirck De Noorman of the New Amsterdam settlement.

  There is a long-standing belief in some regions of America that the Fulkerson family's ancestors immigrated from Germany. There are similar German names such as Falk, Falck, Falke and Faulk. However, the Fulkerson surname is not German and has no connection to any people of German origin.

The Mystery That Remains:

The Thrill of History, the Agony of Patronymics

  Dirck was identified in a 1635 document as "Dirck VOLGERSEN the Noorman." A 1639 map listed his bouwerie (farm) as the "Bou. van DITRYCK DE NORMAN. Several historians and three independent family records call him VOLCKERTSEN, VOLCKERTSZEN, and VOLKERTSEN. These variations all have a Dutch "-sen" or "-szen" ending. The "ck" letter combination is also Dutch. Some legal and civil documents called him HOLGERSON or HOLGERSEN, but the records of the Dutch Reformed Church (he was a witness at several baptisms) called him VOLCKERTSZEN. His surname possibly started out as HOLGERSON or HOLGERSSØN, which the New Amsterdammers transformed into the Dutch name VOLCKERTSZEN. This would not have happened simply through differences in pronunciation. The Dutch had words and names that began with an "H" and which were not pronounced with a "V." (Perhaps adding insult to injury, one current genealogist insists on calling him Dirck DORKSON!)

  Dirck seemingly settled this matter for us when he named his first son Volkert. Even that fact, however, leaves open for consideration whether "Holgerson" or "Holgerss" was an additional part of his name. The history of another immigrant illustrates this possibility, and strongly reinforces Dirck's Norwegian origin:

"Albert Andriessen, or Albert Andriessen Bradt [Bratt] was one of the earliest Norwegian settlers in New Netherland. He came from Fredrikstad, a town at the mouth of the Glommen, the largest river in Norway. In the early records he is often called Albert de Noorman (the Norwegian). After 1670 he became known as Albert Andriesz Bradt."
Source: Lorine McGinnis Schulze

  Historians have settled the matter by giving Dirck's last name as "Volckertsen," except when referring to one of those documents in which his name appeared as HOLGERSON or HOLGERSEN. Rather than add to the confusion, this site will call him Dirck VOLCKERTSZEN or Dirck DE NOORMAN - the name and nickname by which he was "commonly" known in his own day.

Chinese and Bumerkes

  Dirck didn't help us out by signing his the early days he signed with an X. He did sign his name later on, but one family researcher said his signature "looks like Chinese." Decide for yourself. Here are his "signatures" from 1651, 1658 and 1661:

  It appears possible from the first two signatures that he signed his name using a bumerke, which was a written symbol that served as a family mark in Norway, similar to a cattle brand. That 1661 signature is more or less open to interpretation, but it still has some of the line elements seen in the first two.   Copy of signatures courtesy of cousin Marcie.

  Dirck and Christina's children are listed in The First American-born Generation of Fulkersons.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Historical manuscripts and other references:

"New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch; Vol. IV, Council Minutes 1638-1649," translated by Arnold J.F. Van Laer, edited by Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda, Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., Baltimore, Md., 1974.

"New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch; Register of the Provincial Secretary, Volume I, 1638-1642," translated and annotated by Arnold J.F. Van Laer, edited by Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda, 1974.

"New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch; Volume II, Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1642-1647," translated and annotated by Arnold J.F. Van Laer, edited by Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda, 1974.

"New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch; Volume III, Register of the Provincial Secretary, 1648-1660," translated and annotated by Arnold J.F. Van Laer, edited by Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda, 1974.

"Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Vol. II, Baptisms from 1639 to 1730 in the Reformed Dutch Church, New York," by Thomas G. Evans, 1901, reprinted by The Gregg Press in 1968.

"New York Historical Manuscripts, Dutch, Volume V, Council Minutes, 1652-1654," translated and edited by Charles T. Gehring, The Holland Society of New York, Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., Baltimore, 1983, page 16.

"Council Minutes, 1655-1656," translated and edited by Charles T. Gehring, The Holland Society of New York, Syracuse University Press, 1995, page 3.

"The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 anno Domini," edited by Berthold Fernow, published under authority of the City of New York.

"Colonial Charters, Patents and Grants of the Communities Comprising the City of New York," by Jerrold Seymann, the Board of Statutory Consolidation of the City of New York, 1939.

"Early Settlers of Bushwick, Long Island, New York," Vol. 1, by Andrew J. Provost Jr., 1949, pages 85-94.

"Scandinavian Immigrants in New York, 1630-1674," by John O. Evjen, 1916, pages 68-79.

"New Amsterdam and Its People," by J.H. Innes, New York, 1902.

"Historic Green Point," by William L. Felter, 1919, pages 17-19.

"A History of the City of Brooklyn and Kings County," by Stephen M. Ostrander, 1894, page 100.