Name: Sijmon Jansz van Aersdalen
Birth: 1627 in Nukerke, East Flanders (Belgium)
Death: ABT. 28 OCT 1710 in Flatlands, New York
"Six Hundred Years of Van Arsdale Family History" by Charles R. Vanorsdale
Of Symon Jansz's father Jan and grandfather Pauwel, nothing more is known at
this time. It may be assumed that his grandfather is buried in or near Nukerke. It would be
reasonable to believe that the family's migration to Gouda came about not long after the death of
old Pauwel. A Jan van Arsdal was confirmed as a member of the Dutch Reformed Church in
Gouda on July 20, 1642, whom we believe to be Symon's father. This would be consistent with
the marriages of Jan's sons in Gouda. If this is the same Jan van Arsdal, the family's migration to
Holland took place between October 1638 and July 1642. Jan may be buried in Gouda.
Of Symon Jansz's brothers, it is believed that Philip died before 1698 and that
Joost died between 1698 and 1727. Joost may be buried in Amsterdam, where he was living in
1698. His daughter, Geertruyt, was buried there on September 20, 1700 and his daughter Lijsbeth
was buried there on June 27, 1728. Only Joost is known to have had male children who survived
childhood. His son Johannes Joosten is known to have had one boy, Willem Jansz, and Hendrick
Joosten (II) may have had male children. Otherwise, there were no other male relatives in
Holland to further that branch of the family. Nothing more is known of the Ronse branch at
The Tumultuous Decade
Prior to and immediately after Symon Jansz's emigration, the van Aersdaelen
family endured a very tumultuous decade.
It is known that, by 1642, the family had moved to Gouda, never to return to
Nukerke or East Flanders.
On March 26, 1650, Symon (aged 22 years) showed documentation of his father's
consent to marry Marritje Baltusdr ____, aged 20. Both were living in Amsterdam. Marritje was
an orphan, and Symon was engaged in pottery making, judging from his residence on
Pottebakkerspad (Potter's Lane).
Also that year, Jan Pauwelsz bought two adjacent houses on Naaierstraat in
Gouda in which to house his large family. At one time, he had been a carpet-weaver, but now
made his living as a mustard grinder. This may not have been as profitable as he had planned or
hoped; it was later acknowledged that Jan Pauwelsz was financially overextended from the
purchase of the two houses.
In early 1651, Symon and Marritje celebrated the birth of their first child, a
daughter named Sylyntje. She was baptised in Amsterdam on February 26, 1651.
The joy Symon felt at the birth of his first child was saddened later that year when
his mother, Geertje, died. In October, she is buried at St. Jan's Kerk in Gouda. Widower Jan
Pauwelsz not long thereafter begins courting Margarieta Philipsdr _____, a widow. On August
20th, 1652 they marry in Gouda, ten months after Geertje's death. One might wonder about the
stability of his first marriage, or whether Jan had any concerns over his children's acceptance of
Margarieta. Perhaps he felt it would be better to have a maternal figure in the house, raising the
teenagers, but it is difficult to believe that the swift courtship engendered any benevolent feelings
by the children.
In Amsterdam, Symon and Maritje mark the birth of a son, Jan Symonsz, baptised
on November 19th, 1652. Symon, now about 25, finds himself with an increasing financial
burden. He must find an opportunity to bolster his fortunes and provide for his family, for it is
doubtful he can depend on his father. An opportunity soon finds him.
It appears that Symon had little to do with his family in Gouda, although he
probably was close to his older brother Philip. Philip's daughter, Geertruyd, remembered her
uncle Symon and his offspring in her will of 1727. Symon probably attended Philip's wedding in
May, 1653 but left for New Netherland shortly thereafter.
According to family tradition, Symon came to New Netherland with his father to
study the utility of the native clays for pottery making. Once this study was completed, Symon
planned to return to Holland. However, shortly before he was to leave, he was informed that a
plague had ravaged his family, and that there was no one left for him to return to in Holland.
As it turns out, much of this is true. We do know, however, that Symon's father
did not accompany him. Jan Pauwelsz died in Gouda in early 1654 (perhaps January). Symon's
older brother Philip appeared in court on March 10th of that year to certify that he would assume
guardianship of the minor children of his father. Symon had been in New Netherland only a few
months at this point.
By late 1655, Symon had almost two years of study under his belt in the New
World and may have contemplated returning home. But in November of that year, a terrible
illness or perhaps plague took the lives of his wife and children. One of the children was buried
in St. Anthony's churchyard on November 18th, and only 8 days later Marritje was interred in the
same graveyard. Although nothing has been found yet to confirm it, it is believed the other child
died either in this period or before.
So many important events in a person's life took place for Symon within a ten-year period
that their impact must have forged the character of an impressionable man in his twenties, striking out on his own in a New World.
Symon Jansen van Aersdaelen
In the meantime, the Dutch had set about expanding their domain. The coasts of
South America, the Caribbean, and North America had witnessed Dutch colonization, with the
first North American settlements by the Dutch occurring around 1614 along the Hudson River. In
1624, New Netherland was established with the trading post of Fort Orange and, within two
more years, Fort Amsterdam on today's Manhattan Island. The Dutch West India Company was
formed in 1621 to oversee the American ventures and, back in the homeland, the United
Provinces of the Netherlands were evolved from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
In 1653, perhaps after his brother Philip's marriage in May, Symon Jansz left
Gouda and set sail for New Netherland in the ship Dynasty, according to family history. He
settled in Flatlands, then called Nieu Amersfoort, which had been inhabited by the Dutch
colonists since 1638. He was the only one of his family to move to the new world.
Based on the Roll of those taking the Oath of Allegiance in 1687, Symon Jansz
may have been accompanied to New Netherland by the following: Reynier Aertsen, Jan Van
Cleef, Rutger Joosten Van Brunt, Jan Theunis Van Dyckhuys, Rutger Bruynsen, Willem Davies
(possibly a Pilgrim with the English name of William Davis), Jochem Gulick, and Stoffel Jansz
Romeyn. All of these men claimed to have been in New Netherland since 1653. More will be
said about Aertsen and Romeyn later.
The date of Symon Jansz's arrival in New Netherland is not known. The
trans-Atlantic trip then took about 2.5-3 months to complete, so if he had attended his brother's
wedding in May, Symon could have arrived by September 1653. He was almost 26, and the only
known member of his immediate family to have emigrated, and was therefore all alone in a
strange new land. Perhaps he had a friend or friends who had made the journey before or with
him. The tale passed down by word of mouth within the family is that Symon came to this
country to study the utility of the native clays for making Delftware pottery. If Symon were a
Delftware potter, he had to have been a member of a guild, for which he had to have been
sponsored and had to have served in apprenticeship. There is no record of Symon's pursuit of this
craft, nor has any guild record been uncovered yet.
What pressed Symon to come to New Netherland? In "The Early Dutch and
Swedish Settlers of New Jersey ", author Adrian C. Leiby notes:
"The 1650s, however, began to see an influx of settlers who
were neither browbeaten employees of the West India
Company nor scheming Indian traders. By the time the
English seized the colony, these men, Protestant refugees
from France and the Spanish Netherlands, were coming in a
stream, pressed by new religious persecutions abroad and by
the threat of more to come. They, more than the first
settlers of New Amsterdam, were the men and women who
were to establish the character of Dutch New Jersey, though
they were destined to live under Dutch rule hardly at all."
At the time of his arrival, New Netherland stretched from Long Island (Lange
Eylant) to Albany (Fort Orange) along the Hudson River. The population was about 1500.
Not long after Symon's arrival, hostilities between New Netherland and New
Sweden flared. New Sweden, located along the Delaware River, had a population of 121 in June,
1644 but had been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with the meager Dutch settlements along the
river for several years. When he took over control as Governor of New Sweden, Johan Rising
decided to capture the Dutch Fort Casimir. The Dutch were so incensed at the capture that Pieter
Stuyvesant conscripted a large army of soldiers and a fleet of ships and swarmed the occupied
fort in September 1655. The Dutch greatly outnumbered the Swedes holding the fort. It is very
likely that young Symon participated in this bloodless conquest.
The Dutch decided that this was not enough ... their troop strength may have
exceeded the total population of New Sweden, and so they proceeded on to Fort Christina further
up the Delaware. Fort Christina was the heart of New Sweden and was located near present-day
Wilmington. There, the fleet bombarded the fort until the Swedes surrendered. With the fall of
the fort, New Sweden was absorbed by New Netherland, and New Netherland's areal extent was
now at its greatest.
The earliest known record of Symon in Nieu Amersfoort is dated October 12,
1655. On that Tuesday morning in City Hall, Director-General Pieter Stuyvesant and his
Burgomasters and Schepens began collection of a "voluntary contribution and taxation" of the
citizens, "each according to his condition, state and circumstances" to erect a wall to safeguard
the town from Indians. One of the lower contributions was from "Symon Jansen", who gave 10
florins, and was listed as "dwelling at Clyn Aerts". Symon did not yet have a house, and
apparently rented or earned his keep from this Clyn Aerts. Considering that most of those
citizens taxed paid anywhere from three to ten times that amount, Symon was not yet on his feet
in the New World. (Incidentally, where that wall once stood is now known as Wall Street.)
Who was Clyn Aerts, the man who took in our ancestor? The name "Clyn" is
nowhere else to be found in Dutch records except in the same source as the tax record. A scholar
of New Netherland history believes this Clyn to be the same as Ryn Aertsen, or Reynier Aertsen.
As mentioned earlier, Reynier Aertsen may have emigrated with Symon in 1653, and therefore
may have been a friend or master to apprentice Symon.
A problem with early records of New Netherland is the lack of adopted surnames.
Typical documentation would list "Symon Jansen" or "Jan Jansen" with little other distinction.
Of considerable trouble is the predominance in court records of Symon Jansen Romeyn who
appears to have been engaged in law, but who frequently was recorded as "Symon Jansen".
Romeyn must have been related to Stoffel Jansz Romeyn, who may have emigrated with Symon.
The Romeyn and van Aersdalen families are often confused as a result.
Around 1658, Symon Jansz married Pieterje Claese van Schouw, sometimes
referred to as Pieterje Claese Wyckoff, daughter of Claes Cornelisz van Schouw, a tobacco shop
owner. Symon would be very close to his father-in-law and to the Wyckoff branch of the family.
On May 3, 1660, Symon Jansz van Aersdalen was appointed a schepen of Nieu
Amersfoort. Symon apparently had begun to make a name for himself within the community and
was re-elected to this position in 1661 and 1662. In his magisterial post, Symon was chosen to
represent Amersfoort in the "convention holden at New Amsterdam, on July 3, 1663, to engage
the several Dutch Towns to keep up an armed force for public protection." Public protection took
on new meaning for Symon; he now had a daughter Geertje Symonse (aged 3-4 years).
But not everything is easy for Symon. On Tuesday, August 28, 1663, "Symon
Janzen" appears in court against carpenter Jan Teunizen and Willem Steenhalder and wife,
claiming that Teunizen wouldn't release a house to Symon for which he had been paid. The court
requested further proof from Symon, and so on September 4th, "Symon Janzen Asdalen"
produces testimonials from two witnesses. Finding this satisfactory, the court rules in favor of
Symon and he takes possession of the house.
In February 1664, Symon and his father-in-law became very involved in the
building tensions with the British. On the 19th, they and three other witnesses appear before
notary Pelgrom Clocq at Midwout (Flatbush) to testify about a public disturbance caused by an
English captain. Symon signs his name to the document and attests to being 35. (However, if he
was baptised in February 1628, he would have been 36.) Then, on the 27th, Symon and Claes
participate in a convention in Midwout which they instigated, bringing together the
Director-General and Council of New Netherland "to lay before the States General and West
India Company the distressed state of the country." The tormenting by the British had
accelerated, and the Dutch found themselves being surrounded.
On September 8th, 1664, the Director-General of New Netherland, Pieter
Stuyvesant, relinquished the Dutch colony to the British after four British warships with over
1000 men threatened them from New York Bay. At first, the defiant Stuyvesant cursed the
English when confronted with a document agreeing to surrender the colony, tearing the paper to
shreds and stomping upon it with his wooden leg. However, in his attempt to muster the Dutch
forces against the British, he soon found himself all alone. New Netherland had grown to a
population close to 10,000 people by that date, but some 20-40 % of those were non-Dutch
Beginning in 1665, Symon's attentions turned to acquiring land as evidenced by
numerous entries in the Flatlands Town Records. Many lots and parcels of "land and meddow
ground" were purchased by Symon between 1665 and 1686, thereby establishing a large farm to
suit his likewise burgeoning family. Cornelis Symonsz is born about 1665, and his second
daughter, Jannetje, is born about the same time. His only other son, Jan Symonsz, is born in
1676. Metje Symonse is born about 1670, and his last child, Maritje Symonse, is born in 1678,
but is believed to have died young.
His eldest daughter, Geertje, married Cornelis Pietersz Wyckoff at the Dutch
Reformed Church in Flatbush on October 13, 1678. On December 11, 1681, Symon and Pieterje
were present when their first grandchild, Marije, is baptised at the Dutch Reformed Church in
Breuckelen. Symon is 54 years old at that time. Geertje and Cornelis' first son, Symon, named
for Symon Jansz, is baptised in Amersfoort on November 23, 1683.
On March 23, 1686, Symon purchases from Cornelis Willemsz (van Westervelt)
"Nos. 30, 31, and 32 of the 15 acre allotments of Gravesend, with the right of commonage on the
beach and on Coney Island". This appears to be Symon's last purchase of land. A year later, on
March 15th, Symon's oldest son Cornelis Symonsz married Aeltje Willemse van Kouwenhoven
at the Dutch Reformed Church of Flatbush. It would be nine years before his other son, Jan
Symonsz, would marry Lammetje Probasco.
One of the more important documents related to Symon was the Oath of
Allegiance taken September 30th, 1687. This record indicates that Symon, listed as "Simon Janse
Van Aerts Daalen", had been in this country for 34 years, thus establishing his time of arrival,
while his son "Cornelis Simonsen Van Aerts Daalen" was recorded as a native, i. e. born here.
This oath also tabulated other Dutchmen who had been in this country for 34 years, hence
potential shipmates of our ancestor. By this time, Symon had become prosperous and an
outstanding member of the religious and civic communities.
Symon spent more of his latter years in church pursuits and keeping up with his
family in North America -- although not with the family back in Holland. In 1698, Symon
received a letter from his brother Joost, and in a letter dated September 9th, Symon wrote back to
Holland and his brother for the first time in many years, if ever before.
" ... I let you know that I, your brother, and my wife and children are in
good health yet, thank God for His grace and we hope to learn the same from you in due time; I
wonder you didn't write about our niece; farther I let you know all my children are married and
each of them is living in a farmhouse that earns their livelihood; I sold my farm to my eldest son
Cornelis, 33 years of age, has got five children, three sons, two daughters; my son Jan, 22 years
of age, has got two sons; my daughter Geertje has got eight children; Janneken has got five
children; Mettgen has got three children; they are comfortably off but they have to work which
God commanded Adam; as for me, your brother, I stopped working since I am 71 years old now,
my wife is 58 years of age and you, my brother, are, if I remember rightly, 60 years of age; God
be pleased to give us a blessed end ..."
The same year, a census was taken for Kings County, New York and in the town
of "Fflatlands" or New Amersfoort was a listing for "Simon Jantz Van Aersdaelen" and "Cornelis
Simontz Van Aersdaelen". Symon's house contained 2 men, 3 women, and 1 slave, while
Cornelis's house contained 1 man, 1 woman, 6 children, and 1 slave.
On May 10, 1700, Symon sold the three 15-acre lots he'd bought from Cornelis
Willemsz van Westervelt in 1686 to his eldest son Cornelis Symonsz. Cornelis now had a
sizeable farm on which to raise his large family.
The last record of Symon's good deeds occurred around February 23, 1710. In the
Deacon's Book of the Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church is a note tabulating the donations given
by twenty contributors. The largest sum, 40 guldens, was donated by Symon.
Symon passed away in late October of that year. His death was recorded in the
Deacon's Book as "1710, October 29. Received from Cornelus Van Arsdale for a grave and
shroud for Symon Van Arsdale, 24 guldens." And so our ancestor passed into history at the age
Father: Jan Pauwelsz van Aedsdaele b: ABT. 1590 in Nukerke, East Flanders (?)
Mother: Geertje Philipsdr Haelters
Marritje Baltusdr b: 1630
26 MAR 1650
- Sylyntje van Aersdalen b: FEB 1651 in Amsterdam
- Jan Symonsz van Aersdalen b: NOV 1652 in Amsterdam
Pieterje Claes van Schouw b: 1640 in Brooklyn, New York
in Flatlands, New York
- Geertje Simonse van Aersdalen b: ABT. 1659 in Flatlands, NY
- Cornelis Simonsz van Aersdalen b: 1665 in Flatlands, New York
- Jannetje Simonse van Aersdalen b: ABT. 1667
- Metje Simonse van Aersdalen b: ABT. 1670 in Flatlands, NY
- Jan Simonsz van Aersdalen b: 1676 in Flatlands, Long Island, NY
- Maritje Simonse van Aersdalen b: 1678 in Flatbush,NY