Beverwijck -- A Dutch Village on the American Frontier

Church and Sunday in Old New York,
page 12 of 16

In 1667 there were 3299 guilders; also good Friesland stockings and many ells of linen to be given to the poor.

In some churches poor-boxes were placed at the door. The Garden Street Church in New York had two strong boxes bound with iron, with a small hole in the padlocked lid, and painted with the figure of a beggar leaning on a staff,— which, according to the testimony of travellers, was a sight unknown in reality in New York at that time.

The “church-poor,” as they were called, fared well in New Netherland. Of degraded poor of Dutch birth or descent there were none. Some poor folk, and old or sickly, having a little property, transferred it to the Consistory, who paid it out as long as it lasted, and cheerfully added to the amount by gifts from the church-treasury as long as was necessary for the support of those “of the poorer sort.” To show that these church-poor were neither neglected nor despised, let me give one example of a case —an ordinary one—from the deacons’ records of the Albany church in 1695. Claes Janse was assigned at that time to live with Hans Kros and his wife Antje. They were to provide him with logement, kost, drank, wassen (lodging, food, drink, and washing), and for this were paid forty guilders a month by the church. When Claes died, the church paid for his funeral, which apparently left nothing undone in the way of respectability. The bill reads thus:—

Dead shirt and cap
Winding sheet
Making coffin
1 lb. nails, cartage coffin
2 Half Vats good beer
6 bottles Rum
5 gallons Madeira Wine
Tobacco, pipes, and sugar
3 cartloads sand for grave
Deacons give three dry boards for
          coffin and use of pall.
16 guilders.
14 guilders
24 guilders
3 guilders
30 guilders
22 guilders
42 guilders
4 guilders
1 guilders
3 guilders
10 stuyvers
10 stuyvers
10 stuyvers

With a good dry coffin, a good dry grave, and a far from dry funeral, Hans Claes’ days, though he were of the church-poor, ended in honor.

The earlier Dutch ministers were some of them rather rough characters. Domine Bogardus, in New Amsterdam, and Domine Schaets, in Fort Orange, were most unclerical in demeanor, both in and out of the pulpit.


:: Previous Page :: Next Page ::

Books & articles appearing here are modified adaptations
from a private collection of vintage books & magazines.
Reproduction of these pages is prohibited without written permission. © Laurel O'Donnell, 1996-2006.