VAN NUYSE - DITMAS HOUSE 150 Amersfort Place

On 12 FEBRUARY 1781, in Rivington's Gazette, New York, was printed: Pro Bona Public-By permission, four days sport, on Easter Monday, on Ascot Heath. Purses of �, �, �0. A racing club had been organized by the British officers stationed in Kings County in 1780 with Bryant CONNOR of New York as its chief jockey. Its course, named Ascot Heath, was laid out on Flatlands Plain, a beautiful open stretch of ground west of the Flatbush Road and north of Kings Highway. On one occasion at least, booths were erected at the course, presumably for the sale of liquor although no booth could be erected nor liquor sold without a subscription of two guineas being paid for the privilege. Sometimes the races were open to women entrants for whom the prizes were a "Holland smock and chintz gown, fully trimmed" or just chintz gowns of different values. The men's prizes, aside from money, were "elegant" saddles, bridles and whips. As the American farmers in the county owned fine horses, there was always a goodly supply procurable for the races. Horse thieves often stole the horses and sold them to innocent buyers or put them in the hands of the jockeys. At an October 1783 race, a farmer from New Jersey recognized a horse that had been stolen from him and learned that the wealthy John CORNELL of Brooklyn had bought it from a refugee. He spoke to CORNELL about it and after the race was won, was given his horse. British officers, loyalists and refugees held sway over the course. American officers, who were prisoners and billeted in the county, sometimes attended the races but they were often insulted by their enemy jailers and many a fracas occurred between them at Ascot Heath. The eastern part of the course lay on the farm of Joost VAN NUYSE of Flatlands. Joost's grandson George (b. 10 September 1802), who was a son of Johannes and Nelly VAN NUYSE, inherited a portion of the course and built a house on it in 1827, the year in which he married Margaret DITMARS. He faced his dwelling to the south and put substantial material into it. It still retains its nine-inch wide floor planks, its carefully carved moldings and the fine Italian marble mantel in its dining璻oom. But its porch and front door are modern, and a lean-to has been added to its west wing. George VAN NUYSE died 11 September 1831, leaving a baby daughter Cornelia DITMARS-VAN NUYSE, who eventually fell heir to the house. Cornelia married John HOLMES VAN BRUNT of New Utrecht and had two children: Albert N. VAN BRUNT (b. 11 March 1851) and Margaret DITMARS-VAN BRUNT (b. 15 April 1853 - d. 3 July 1915) who married Andrew H. DITMAS of Flatbush. Albert lived in his mother's house and. worked her farm. When the property was sold in 1901, Mrs. DITMAS kept the house with a small piece of ground surrounding it. She willed it to her daughter Jennie, wife of Joseph Duke HARRISON, who sold it to the City of New York, in 1923. It is now part of the Brooklyn College grounds. John HOLMES VAN BRUNT, husband of Cornelia DITMARS-VAN NUYSE, was born 15 October 1823, the son of Albert N. VAN BRUNT (b. 31 January 1784 - d. 16 June 1857) and Mary HOLMES who were married on 24 November 1813. Albert's parents were Nicholas VAN BRUNT (b. 27 August 1749 � d. 5 September 1802) and Mary WYCKHOFF who were married 8 March 1783. Both of them died of malignant fever. During the Revolution, Nicholas VAN BRUNT was imprisoned in the provost jail in New York for favoring the American cause, but was released when the inhabitants of New Utrecht petitioned Mayor MATTHEWS of the city for his freedom. He was the son of Albert VAN BRUNT (b. 14 November 1720 � d. 16 October 1781) who married Jannetje VAN BRUNT on 26 October 1746, and grandson of Rutgert VAN BRUNT (d. 7 April 1760) and Elizabeth, daughter of Albert Coerten VAN VOORHEES of Flatlands. Rutgert's father, Cornelis RUTGERTSZ (d. about 1748) was a farmer of New Utrecht. He married Tryntje BENNET on 18 December 1685. He was a member of the New York Colonial Assembly from 1698 until 1716, receiving ten shillings a day for his services. He was the son of Rutger Joesten VAN BRUNT, sometimes called Ruth. Rutger JOESTEN settled in New Utrecht in 1653 as one of the town's founders. In 1657, he married Tryntje CLAES, widow of Stoffel HARMENSEN, a cloth shearer. They had three children: Nicholas, Cornelis and Joost. After Tryntje's death, which occurred before 1688, he married twice. In February 1660, he entertained Director-General STUYVESANT and Schout-Fiscal de Sille of New Netherland at a dinner on his farm. He was made a schepen of New Utrecht on 22 December 1661 and was its overseer from 1678 to 1680 and again in 1685. He died prior to 1713. Next Chapter..HENDRICK I. LOTT HOUSE DUTCH Houses..Index Main Return to TOWN Index Main Return to BROOKLYN Index Main