Volckert Janse Douw (1610 - 1681)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Leeuwarden, Friesland
Death: Died in Hurley, NY, USA
Occupation: Trader at least in New Amsterdam
Managed by: Brad Bouse
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About Volckert Janse Douw

Volckert Janse Douw

Married in 1630 in New Amsterdam ----- Volckert Janse Douw

Volckert Janse was the son of Jan Douw of Friesland, Holland. Much lore surrounds the early part of his life! He is said to have been an officer in the Dutch army and then an exile in Denmark. He came to Rensselaerswyck in 1638. He was the founder of the Douw family of early Albany!

He married Dorothe Van Breestede in New Amsterdam on April 19, 1650. Over the next three decades the marriage produced eleven children who further established the family in Albany and its environs. During that time, he was a member and deacon at the Albany Dutch church.

By 1660, these Douws had settled in Beverwyck where he headed the list of principal fur traders. His Beverwyck-based business was multi-dimensional and he was an active litigant before the town court. Earlier, he had been called a skipper. He also operated an Albany brewery located near the river.

He was an Albany magistrate under both the Dutch and English, served as an Indian commissioner, and frequently represented others in court.

In 1679, his Albany home was included on the assessment roll. That property on the southwest corner of State and Court Streets remained in the family for many years. It was known as "Douw's Corner" into the nineteenth century!

Volckert Janse also owned substantial lands in various parts of the Hudson Valley.

Volckert Janse Douw made a will in 1680 and died in 1681.

http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/bios/d/douw.html

The story of the Douw family in early Albany begins with the arrival of Volckert Janse in 1638. By the end of the seventeenth century, his descendants had become well established in Albany and surrounding Rensselaerswyck where his widow and several sons had established separate residences by 1697. Although his parents remained in Holland, Volckert Janse's siblings also settled in New York and in Schenectady.

During the eighteenth century, several family members were prominent skippers including Petrus Douw who built "Wolvenhook" and served in the provincial Assembly.

Following his marriage to the daughter of Mayor Johannes De Peyster in 1742, the family achieved new political ascendancy when Volkert P. Douw was appointed mayor of Albany in 1761. He was one of four Douws who signed a trading petition in 1764. Volkert's son, John De Peyster Douw, became a prominent Albany attorney and real estate trader.

Led by Volkert P. Douw, the family was an ardent supporter of the Revolutionary movement. Consequently, they were able to protect the assets of daughters Margarita and Magdalena - who married Tories!

Five Douw-named households appeared on the census of 1790 for the city of Albany. By that time, the Douw family had spread across greater Albany County and was particularly prominent across the Hudson in what became Bath then Rensselaer.

In 1813, three Douw-named households remained in the city of Albanys and two were headed by widows!

The grand building at "Douw's Corner" (State and Broadway and shown to the left) was erected in 1841 - replacing the "low buildings" once used by the family on that location. The sign on its ediface made it a long-standing Albany landmark. It was memorialized in an often-reproduced painting by James Wilson dated 1848. The location remained in the Douw family into the 1900s.

notes

Sources: Our understanding of the Douw family relies on community-based resources. The standard printed source on the family is The Douws of Albany. Online resources begin with the Schenectady Digital History Archive.

Follow this link to more information on the Douw family on this website. Link to indexed Douw biographies

Wolvenhook: On the eastern bank of the Hudson river, about a mile below Albany, was a point of land, which was known in 1717 as Wolven Hoeck, because it was infested with packs of wolves. It was a beautiful location otherwise, covered with a heavy growth of elms and sycamores of enormous growth, and it was there that the wolves came down to the shore to drink. Captain Petrus Douw selected this spot for the location of his home, and building a house there in 1724, named it Wolvenhoeck.

His great-great-granddaughter, Mrs. Mary Lanman Douw Ferris, has made considerable research to learn all she could about the family homestead, which descended for many generations in the family, and from these discoveries one may form an excellent impression of the quaintness of the old place. The original house was a story and a half high, and well spread out on the ground. It was built of wood, and bricks brought from Holland, it is said, as ballast in a sailing vessel, and the roof was shingled with white fir. The top of the gable wall was notched into corbel steps, and the black fore bricks of the kiln were laid, alternating with yellow ones, to make checks on the gable fronts. The roof sloped from the ridge pole and dormer windows broke its uniformity. The heavy, wooden, outside shutters swung upon massive iron hinges, with a crescent cut near the top to admit the early light. Above the front door was a free-stone slab with the initials "P. D., A. V. R.," cut into it, they being the first letters of his own and his wife's name. The front wall was pierced at places for the use of muskets in case of a sudden emergency, for at that period there were frequent attacks at the hands of savage Indians; in fact, a particularly desperate raid was once made upon the place by what were called the River Indians, coming from below. The front door of this house was divided into two parts across the middle. The upper half, which usually swung wide open in the summer months, had two bull's-eyes of glass, so as to light the hallway, and was graced with a heavy, brass knocker, brought from Leuwarden. The lower half had a heavy latch. The great hall was to some extent a living room, and through its center was the hoist door, through which wheat was hoisted by employing a crane, for storage in the loft, for every house of any pretensions had its cock-loft within the steep roof, where house slaves slept, and also used for storage purposes. A little to one side was a staircase with a flight of steps leading to the loft. Over the front door was a shelf with steps by which it might be reached, and here was placed the tobacco box. The rooms were wainscoted to a height of about three feet, excepting the diningroom, which had a chair-board running about it. The windows were of small, diamond-shaped panes of glass, set into leaden frames. Chintz calico formed the curtains, put up without cornices. The only carpet in service was in the parlor. The chairs were stiff, straight, high-backed, covered with haircloth, similarly to the claw-footed sofa, which were all ornamented with triple rows of brass nails. These articles of furniture were of San Domingo mahogany, and reckoned of value in the present age. Very interesting were the stand with a turning top, and a small table with claw feet, holding the family Bible, in which accurate records were entered by father and son. Hanging on the whitewashed walls were oil portraits of those left in the Fatherland, some painted by Frans Hals and Gerhardus Douw. The tiles in the chimney-jamb were laid in cement, made from powdered clamshells, displaying pictorial designs of scriptural nature, brought from Leuwarden. The fireplace was so large that one might easily stand therein, and it held a hickory log eight feet long; the brass shovel and tongs standing at the corners, brought from Harlem. Over the mantel was a long glass separated in three divisions by strips of moulding, and alongside hung the bellows. On each side of the chimney was a sort of alcove with low benches. Between the front windows was a sconce. The Dutch tea-table stood in one corner, upon it spread a linen cloth, once the property of Anneke Jans, Mrs. Douw's great-grandmother, The china was of delicate texture and was valued highly, for it was brought all the way from China in the sailing vessel of Captain Stewart Dean, of Albany, on the first journey ever made to that far country by a vessel docked at Albany. It was made to order, with initials worked into the pattern. The napkins in use were spun at home. These and other napery were kept in an oaken, iron-bound chest. Back of the living-room was the "meister's bedroom," containing an enormous bedstead, with its four corner posts handsomely carved and an elaborate canopy above, a fringed valance to match hanging below. The sacking bottom was pierced with holes bound with linen thread, and by this means it was stretched by a stout rope to corresponding pegs in the framework. Back of this room was a small library and office, a large mahogany desk with numerous pigeon-holes and books above, being the principal piece of furniture beyond the heavy, comfortable armchair. Off the library was the dood kamer, or death chamber, where those of the family who died were placed until the funeral ceremony was held. These ceremonies were made events of great importance, and the little silver spoons, marked with initials, given on that occasion, are still treasured as heirlooms. It is related that when Judge Douw died in 1801, a keg of wine which he had prepared for that specific occasion was brought out. He had it spiced so carefully under his directions that many of the guests, having imbibed too freely, had to be carried to their homes on ox-sleds.

The Wolvenhoeck house was surrounded by a circular stockade. It stood twelve feet high, and was made of oak posts which had been pointed and bolted to transverse timbers, having a gate, pointed on both the upper and lower sides, which was raised by weights in a gallows frame. Many Indian treaties were executed inside this little stockade, and at such times the chiefs and their squaws slept on their buffalo robes inside the limits, while their band found shelter under the trees along the river bank.

It was while he was living here that General Abercrombie's army was encamped in 1758 opposite his house, while recruiting before proceeding to Ticonderoga. They dug from the steep banks to form places wherein to hang their kettles and perform their cooking, and these holes were pointed out as curiosities until nearly 1900, when the elements and improvements of the river had eradicated most of them.

Copied from HMFGM as presented online for the sake of accessibility. -------------------- Dorite Jans is said to have come from "Breestede," (Denmark). But, perhaps, she was born in New Amsterdam about 1627!

She married New Netherland pioneer Volkert Janse Douw at the New Amsterdam Dutch church in April 1650. The marriage produced at least eleven children who established the Douw family in Albany and its environs.

These Douws were Beverwyck then Albany mainstays. He was a trader, skipper, brewer, and landholder. Volkert Janse owned acreage in the countryside around Albany and beyond. Dorite's large family knew a number of retreats throughout the region. Her family, the Van Breestedes, also had become prominent in greater New York.

Volkert Janse died in 1681. His will left Dorite use of his substantial estate. In 1684, she sold a large portion of Douw's Albany property to the Dutch church. At that time, her "house" was on Papsknee Island. A few years, later, she sold land on Schodack Island. In 1697, her house appeared on the census for the colony of Rensselaerswyck.

Dorite Jans Van Breestede Douw died in November 1701. She was buried from the Albany Dutch church.

http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/bios/vb/dovbred.html

Volckert Janse Douw

by

Stefan Bielinski

Volckert Janse was the son of Jan Douw of Friesland, Holland. Much lore surrounds the early part of his life! He is said to have been an officer in the Dutch army and then an exile in Denmark. He came to Rensselaerswyck in 1638. He was the founder of the Douw family of early Albany!

He married Dorothe Van Breestede in New Amsterdam on April 19, 1650. Over the next three decades the marriage produced eleven children who further established the family in Albany and its environs. During that time, he was a member and deacon at the Albany Dutch church.

By 1660, these Douws had settled in Beverwyck where he headed the list of principal fur traders. His Beverwyck-based business was multi-dimensional and he was an active litigant before the town court. Earlier, he had been called a skipper. He also operated an Albany brewery located near the river.

He was an Albany magistrate under both the Dutch and English, served as an Indian commissioner, and frequently represented others in court.

In 1679, his Albany home was included on the assessment roll. That property on the southwest corner of State and Court Streets remained in the family for many years. It was known as "Douw's Corner" into the nineteenth century!

Volckert Janse also owned substantial lands in various parts of the Hudson Valley.

Volckert Janse Douw made a will in 1680 and died in 1681.


II) Volckert Jansen Douw, son of Jan Douw, of Holland, was a captain in the Dutch army when driven from his home in Leuwarden by the persecutions waged against the Mennonites. He fled to Friedrichstadt, Denmark, taking his family along, and intent upon finding a place to live where religious liberty was accorded every one. When the same feeling began to make headway there as had been experienced by him in his former home, he set sail for America. He settled first at Catskill, but remained only a short time, when he decided to join those who were planting the colony of Rensselaerwyck. The exact date of his reaching there is not known, but he is mentioned in 1638 as a prominent member of the little settlement, and it was not long before he became an extensive landholder. He owned more than one brewery, and had a house-lot on the southwest corner of Broadway and State street. It has been said that he procured this site, still in the family in 1911, in a peculiar manner. The story is that, living on Papsknae Island, on the east bank of the Hudson, below Albany, he came to town regularly to attend service at the Dutch church, located in the middle of the street where Broadway now intersects State street, and he required a place of shelter between the morning and afternoon services and a shed for his horse. He therefore acquired the place adjoining the smithy, standing on the corner, and although it was but a trivial sum to pay for the object in those days, it is now the center of the business section of the Capital City, and a most prominent corner. This seems hardly true, without knowing other particulars, in the light of the record that he bought the corner, known to-day as the Douw building, directly from the Indians in 1640, which conveyance he confirmed to his widow in 1693, for the corner-stone of the first of two churches erected on that site was laid on June 2, 1656. However, he was deacon of that church, and much concerned in its affairs, especially in the work of erecting the new edifice, after the one established in 1642 near Fort Orange (Steamboat Square) became too congested as the population grew. His brewery was diagonally opposite the site of the present post-office, and the lot extended for several hundred feet to the Hudson river. This property was sold in 1675 to his nephew, Harman Rutgers. His other, or summer home, was on Papsknae Island. This was a decidedly disadvantageous location for a house, for in 1666 there was an extraordinary flood, causing the island where he dwelt to be completely inundated, and sweeping away houses, breweries (of which he had two immense ones), cattle, and all his personal property. In this way many of the valued family records were lost, but the inmates managed to escape. The only property rescued was a small round table and his colt, which were carried by the swift current through the hoist-door of his home into the second story. It was in this year that he bought a tract on the mainland, situated on the east bank of the Hudson, and to this day known to boatmen as Douw's Point. It is a locality where there has been considerable trouble yearly in the spring when on the breaking up of the ice, crowded by that forcing its way from the Mohawk, ice gorges have been wont to form at the bar thus created, known as the Overslaugh. Douw's Point, in changing the course of the current, was responsible for these conditions, and necessitated dredging the channel nearly every year.

Volckert J. Douw owned much land at Esopus, and was one of the original patentees of that settlement. On some occasions he bought in conjunction with his partner, Jan Thomase, other times individually. They had bought Apjen's (Papsknae, or Little Monkey) Island together. Douw bought Constapel's Island, lying opposite the township of Bethlehem, just south of Albany, half of which he sold in 1677 to Pieter Winne, another prominent early settler. In 1672 he owned Schutter's Island, below Beeren Island, fourteen miles south of Albany, which he sold to Barent Pieterse Coeymans, from whom the town of Coeymans derives its name.

He was made deacon of the Dutch Reformed church in 1654, about twelve years after its projection by Patroon Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, who sent over to his colony Dominie Megapolensis, the pioneer in church work in the province of New York outside of New Amsterdam. This was some sixty years before any other church was established in Albany, the English church coming next, in 1712, and its first edifice, St. Peter's church, was opened for worship November 25, 1717. From 1654 to 1660 he was a magistrate, and in those days they were the most learned men of the community. At various times he was attorney and guardian for several large estates. He occupied the position of commissary, and continuously that of Indian commissioner. He made his will in 1680, and died in 1681, at Albany.

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Volckert Janse Douw's Timeline

1610
1610
Leeuwarden, Friesland
1625
1625
Age 15
Leiden,,Utrecht,Netherlands
1630
1630
Age 20
New Amsterdam,,,Holland
1638
1638
Age 28
1641
1641
Age 31
1653
1653
Age 43
Albany
1654
1654
Age 44
New Amsterdam, New Netherland, America
1658
1658
Age 48
Albany, NY, USA
1673
1673
Age 63
1681
1681
Age 71
Hurley, NY, USA