The Fulkerson and Vigne descendants entered into almost every occupation available in colonial America and following the Revolution. We've been carpenters and lawmen, dirt farmers and judges, mechanics and ministers. And at least FOUR people connected to our family were involved in a common form of PIRACY as "privateers" -- they committed acts of piracy to capture foreign ships and the treasures they held.
· Cornelius HENDRICKSEN Van Dort -- son-in-law of Dirck VOLCKERTSZEN, he married Dirck's high-flying daughter Magdelena on 24 October 1652 and was killed in an Indian attack on Manhattan Island on 15 September 1655. When Magdalena remarried, she was listed in the church records as the widow of "Cornelis Caper." Caper was the Dutch term for pirate.
· Adrienne (Ariantje) VIGNE -- grandmother to us all, Dirck VOLCKERTSZEN's mother-in-law and her second husband Jan Jansen DAMEN were among the partners owning the privateer ship 'La Garce' ('The Wench') that operated against Spanish galleons in the Caribbean from 1643 to 1646.
· Joseph FULKERSON -- served on a privateer during the American Revolution, but ran into the Royal Navy and spent time as a British POW on the infamous prison ship 'Jersey' in the New York harbor.
· Jacob THOMPSON -- descendant of Adrienne VIGNE's daughter Rachel and her notorious husband Cornelius VAN TIENHOVEN. As an agent and spy for the Confederates during the Civil War, he organized a band of pirates on the Great Lakes. One group under his command captured two passenger vessels on Lake Erie in September 1864 and then began an attack on the US warship 'Michigan.' As the 'Michigan' had 14 cannons, the Confederates soon thought better of their plan and made an escape. Thompson then purchased a Canadian ship named the 'Georgian' - and the anxious mayor of Buffalo, New York quickly telegraphed military authorities that Thompson's ship would be "be armed on the Canada shore for the purpose of encountering the USS MICHIGAN and for piratical and predatory purposes." However, Thompson's plan and ship were just too big to hide. The 'Georgian' was forced to steam along the Canadian portions of lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron, never able to venture into American waters without drawing spectacular attention from the crowds on the American shores. The Canadian government finally seized the 'Georgian' in April 1865 and Thompson fled to Europe, because at war's end his name had been linked to the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. (Ironically, Thompson had been the United States Secretary of the Interior prior to the war, and at the time the war started there was a 60-foot United States revenue cutter named the 'Jacob Thompson' operating on the Great Lakes.)
The term "privateer" referred to both the men and the ships engaged in the freebooting trade. Perhaps the most famous privateer was Captain Kidd, who lived on Pearl Street near the house that our Fulkerson ancestors once occupied. Many well-known pirates of the 1600s and 1700s began as privateers or received commissions as privateers at some point in their pirate careers.