Among the numerous Dutchmen who came to America previous to 1664, few have left descendants who have adhered to the virtues of their race as have the descendants of Rutger Joesten VAN BRUNT. I do not say this because I am one of his descendants, but when you look through "The VAN BRUNT Family," a book by Tunis G. BERGEN, you can distinguish the traits of the ancestors descending to the children, and when you know some of the living descendants you can not fail to appreciate them as a family. Although I believe my own branch are worthy representatives of the VAN BRUNT family, yet I do not keep them in mind when I write of the other branches, so that I may speak without prejudice. But I am writing the story of an old house which for many years has interested me, and the branch of the VAN BRUNT family who owned it are very remotely connected with mine, so perhaps I can trust my pen to an unbiased task. The common ancestor, Rutger Joesten VAN BRUNT, emigrated from Netherlands in 1658. In 1657 he was among the first settlers of New Utrecht. Unlike many of the other Dutch names in America, VAN BRUNT was a surname, and to-day there is a family in Holland by this name. He was a large landholder and at various times held offices of public trust. It is recorded that the life of his wife was threatened by one of the freebooters who was engaged to fight the battles of the English Towns on Long Island. He threatened to thrust poor Tryntie Claes through with a sword. VAN BRUNT had married Tryntje Claes, the widow of Stoffel HERMENSON, who had been killed by the Indians in 1655, and by whom all his children were born. The line we are to follow descends through Joost VAN BRUNT, a son of the common ancestor. He probably owned and occupied this farm. April 16th, 1687, he married Aeltie, daughter of Coert Stevensz Van VOORHEES, of Flatlands. He died about 1746, and his wife on November 12th, 1746. For many years he was a deacon or elder of the New Utrecht Church, and was Supervisor for upwards of thirty years. He advanced in the militia to the rank of Colonel. There is a court record of an attack made upon him by upwards of thirty persons, who stole 80 acres of his corn and wounded him. "The cause of this riot has not been ascertained," says BERGEN. In the next generation we find his only son, Rutgert, who was known as Ryke Bood or rich brother, the reason for which is apparent. His death occurred July 5th, 1758. He married Jannetje VAN DYCK, of New Utrecht. He was Supervisor of New Utrecht from 1744 to 1758, and at one time Captain of the militia; was also a member of the Consistory of the Church. Upon his death he divided his land among his four daughters, his son having previously been accidentally drowned. We suppose he lived on this farm, and if he did he probably lived in this house, as we would judge it to be of ample age. Compared with the Colonel Jeromus LOTT House erected previous to the Revolution, and to other landmarks of the pre-Revolution period, it was erected in the first part of the 18th century, as after 1750 the houses were given a higher foundation. I remember when the chimneyplace was exposed at the side, and the bricks were of the kind brought from Holland. On the division of Rutgert VAN BRUNT's estate on September 23rd, 1762, this farm was allotted to his daughter Maria, who died a short time previous to the Revolution. About April, 1737, Maria VAN BRUNT mamed Joris LOTT, who was born October 3rd, 1717; died August 26th, 1762. They had issue two children; namely, -John LOTT, who died before his father and whose descendants occupied part of the New Utrecht land; -Jannetje LOTT, born January 14th, 1745; died in 1817; married September 24th, 1768, Nicholas COWENHOVEN, of New Utrecht, a neighbor, Who was known as Judge COWENHOVEN. They had children as follows: (1). John N. COWENHOVEN, married Susan MARTENSE, and had children; Maria, born April 6th, 1808; died June 23rd, 1867; married May 2oth, 1820, Egbert Benson; and Jane, born February 1st, 1805, who married June 27th, 1827, Daniel Roberts, of New Utrecht; (2). George CoweDhoven, married Elizabeth, daughter of Rutgert VAN BRUNT, of Gravesend, and died without issue. Maria COWENHOVEN Benson and Jane COWENHOVEN, who later became Mrs. ROBARTS, divided the land of their late father, John N. COWENHOVEN, on August 81st, 1826. The farm we are describing descended thus to Mrs. ROBARTS. Those who have owned this place, when making alterations, have wisely kept near to its original design. I claim no beauty but simple quaintness for this old friend. It has seen many interesting events. Past this dooryard swept the British Army on August 23rd, 1776, driving before them the handful of raw Americans, farmers and tradesmen, who were gathered to defend what they believed, and what they proved, were their inalienable rights. Here, within sound of this house, was fought the most bitterly contested battle of history, which would have resulted in the most destructive battle the world has ever known, save for the masterly stratagem of that master of armies, Washington. Here, within gun-shot of our modern rifle, the liberties of America were almost snuffed out. Should we not honor this house which silently watched and waited while history was being made, doing its duty silently and faithfully, housing its occupants unto the present day? And now it stands a reminder that the men we read about really lived and had their being, and they, like us, were men subject to all the human ambitions of men, and that we, as they, may develop ourselves into men of activities not only for the present, but for the future generations, to look back with pride and say, "My grandfather did thus and so"; adding, if possible, further glory to the family name.
Back To Historic Homesteads Main Back To Town Main Return to BROOKLYN Info Main Page