Vreeland #3632

Michiel Jansen Vreeland (1610-1663)

Born in Netherlands.  Arrived in the New Netherland colony (New York) in August 1638 and

Fitje Hartmans Wessels (1611-1697)

Born in Netherlands.  Arrived in the New Netherland colony (New York) in August 1638.

Vreeland #3632

Michiel Jansen Vreeland was born in Broeckhuysen (Scrabbekercke), Netherlands in 1610.  He died in 1663 in New Jersey.  In 1631 (in the Netherlands) he married Fitje Hartmans Wessels, who was born in 1611 in and died in 1697.

A windmill in Vreeland, in the Dutch province of Utrecht

In the Province of Utrecht, a short ride by rail from Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, a very ancient, small but thriving village called Vreeland is located. The records of this village are fragmentary and it is very difficult to determine whether Michiel Jansen Vreeland was in any way connected with the place. There are no records of baptisms before the year 1619, which year is too late to include that of Michiel.   Michiel Jansen Vreeland didn’t frequently use the name “Vreeland” himself, and the family does not seem to have adopted this surname consistently until the third generation or so in America; however, it is used here for family line clarity.

One source I have discovered is History and Genealogy of the Vreeland Family by Nicholas Garretson Vreeland (1909), and the drawings below are reproduced from that book. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of either:


Most of the information on the family’s first several years in New Netherland is extracted from the book Settlers of Rensselaerswyck, 1630-1658, excerpted from the Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts with Index to Biographical Notes edited by A. J. F. Van Laer (Albany, New York, 1908).  Another name for Michiel, other than Jansen or
 Janez, was in the New Amsterdam Church records where he is referred to as
 Michiel Jansen van den Berg, referring to the hill farm at Rensselaerswyck 
where he had first settled, and which he left around 1646-47 when he went to New


Taking into account numerous spelling and variations of address, the term "Rensselaerswyck" identifies the large tract of land first granted to Killiaen Van Rensselaer in 1629 and "owned" by his descendants for more than the next two hundred years.

Michiel Jansen Vreeland sailed from the Texel (the seaport of Amsterdam) in May 1638 on the ship Het Wapen van Noorwegen (translated “Arms of Norway”) and arrived at Manhattan in the New Netherland Colony on or about 4 August 1638.   He listed his occupation as farmer.   The vessel carried a small party of colonists[1] for Rensseklaerswyck[2], including Michiel, his wife, Fitje Hartmans Wessels and two servants for labor.  They did not linger very long at Manhattan and continued their journey to Rensselaerswyck Colony without further ado.  The freight bill includes a statement of the cost of passage of the colonists by that vessel, their names, and other details of the equipment sent with them. A letter dated 14 Aug 1638 from Director Willem Kieft to Van Rensselaer mentions the freight bill and states the settlers had already gone up the Hudson.  Michiel settled at what is now Greenbush, New York (near present-day Albany) as a boereknecht, or
farm servant.   During the years of 1638-1639 Michiel was head farmer for the Patroon (the proprietor of an estate granted under Dutch rule), and from 1640-1646 he leased from van Rensselaer (Patroon leader) the farm called “den Hoogeberch”.  The rent was 400 guilders annually.  This farm was situated on the east side of the river, near the present Mill Creek.

Map (c. 1639) Manhattan situated on the North River (North arrow pointing to the right)

Apparently, his desire for a better life led him to take up fur trading with the Indians.  He immediately came into conflict with the monopoly of the Dutch West India Company and charges of selling contraband munitions to the Indians and failing to pay duty on sold beaver skins were brought against him.  Early in 1646, Michiel tried to get out of his lease to pursue the fur trade, and one of his former farm hands, coming with him by ship, took over the lease on 23 Apr 1646.  On 27 Jul 1646, Michiel was given permission to leave and move to reside at “the Manhatans” on the condition he settle his accounts.  However, the account was not settled timely, and litigation arose.  On 8 Oct 1648, the court ordered him to prepare a full statement of his accounts by Saturday next, or sooner if the voyage should thereby be delayed.  On 10 Oct 1648 a similar order was issued, and a few days later Director van Schlichenhorst asked that the court impose on Michiel Janz the penalty of death or such other sentence as it shall see fit for the sale of ammunition to Indians during the war, together with a fine of f50 for beavers sent to Fort de Hoop, 1644, without paying duty.  On 29 May 1649 the court once more ordered Michiel Janz to render a detailed account, and 27 Jul 1650 he was asked to sign the account rendered by him.

Peter Stuyvesant (c1612-1672), served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664, after which it was renamed New York.

Michiel had already relocated to New Amsterdam in 1647 and he was soon thereafter appointed by the Governor Peter Stuyvesant as one of the “Nine Men” who served as his advisors, Michiel being made the representative for the west side of the river.  He must have proved to be a good adviser, because in 1656 he was offered the Vice-Governorship at Fort Orange, later Albany, but he declined the honor.

Michel Jansen has the distinction of being the first person to get a license to sell beer in New Jersey.

In 1649, a majority of the Governor’s Council, including Michiel Jansen, disagreeing with Stuyvesants autocratic rule, while meeting at Michael Jansen‘s house in Cummunipaw (Pavonia[3]), near present-day Jersey City, New Jersey, prepared a written protest to the States General in Holland.  It was signed by six of the nine council members with Jansen’s name at the top.  Jansen was to have been one of the committee to go to Holland to present the paper, but by reason of the unsettled condition of his affairs with the colony of Rensselaerswyck a substitute went over in his place.  The deputation sailed for Holland in 1649, and upon arrival discovered that Stuyvesant, like the true soldier that he was, was acting under orders. While all asked for was not granted, orders were given to repair the forts, to export no more cattle, reorganize the Council, and establish a city government.

On 15 Sep 1655 the Indians set upon Pavonia in sixty-four canoes, burning the settlement to the ground and killing most of the inhabitants[4]Michiel and his family survived, escaping to Manhattan.  In 1656 Michiel submitted a petition for a lot in the city, complaining that the Indian raids had deprived him and his seven children of seventeen years of labor.  He was granted a lot at Beaver and Williams streets in New Amsterdam.  On 23 Oct 1656 he opened a Tap Room on Pearl street, just south of Broad street, in Manhattan.  He also reactivated his New Jersey farm as a cattle ranch.  In June 1658 he sold the cattle to the Amsterdam Colony on the Delaware River, then used some of the profits to buy land from the Indians in Bergen County, New Jersey.  At this location, he started raising cattle on a large scale. In 1660 Michiel Jansen Vreeland was living in Block J, house 15 at New Amsterdam, New York and was proprietor of the Brewhouse in Block M, property 3.  By the time of his death in 1663 (before New Netherland was taken by the English), Michiel had become quite wealthy.  After his death, his wife Fitje Hartmans Wessels continued to manage the family’s large land holdings.

The children of Michael Jansen Vreeland and Fitje Hartmans Wessels are listed as follows:

  1. Jannetje (1643-1714)
  2. Elias (1645-1707)
  3. Enoch Michielsen, later known as Vreeland (1647-1717), see below
  4. Pryntje (1649 -1697)
  5. Hartman (1651-1707)
  6. Ariaentje (1654 -1697)
  7. Johannes (1656 and died young)
  8. Cornelius (1660 -1727)

Enoch Michielsen Vreeland was born at Pavonia, New Jersey or New Amsterdam (New York City) on 20 Jan 1647 and died 17 Aug 1717 in New Jersey.  On 20 Jun 1670 at Bergen Church, Jersey City, New Jersey he married Dirckje Meyers, who was born 1650 in the Netherlands and died 5 Oct 1688 in New Jersey.  She is the daughter of Jan Dirckszen Meyer and Tryntje Andries Grevenraet, discussed under their own heading.

On 16 Oct 1691 Enoch was married to his second wife. Grietje Wessels, in Jersey City, New Jersey, and on 13 Jan 1704 Enoch was married to his third wife, Aagtje Van Hooren.

Enoch was a member of the General Assembly of the Province from 1675-88, and 1707-09.  In the last year he was not prompt
in his attendance, and the sergeant-at-arms was directed to bring him forthwith before the House.  He was commissioned ensign of the militia of Bergen, New Jersey on 4 Jul 1681.  He held the following offices:

  • Associate Judge of the Court at Bergen in 1673,’74,’81,’82 and
  • Commissioner of Highways for the County in 1682 and ’92
  • Assistant Judge of the Bergen Common Pleas, 22 May 1705

Children of Enoch Michielsen Vreeland and Dirckje Meyers are listed as follows: Elsje (1671), Catharina (1673), Michiel (1675), Johannis (1677), Abraham Vreeland (1678-1734), Fitje (1680-1682), Isaac (1683), Enoch (1687).

Abraham Vreeland was born 22 Jun 1678 in New York, New York and died 10 Dec 1734 in Newark, New Jersey.  On 28 Oct 1699 in Bergen, New Jersey he married Margrietje Jacobse Van Winkle, who was born 22 Oct 1678 and died 1748, both events in New Jersey.

The son of Abraham Vreeland and Margrietje Jacobse Van Winkle is Enoch Vreeland, born 14 Mar 1700 in Bergen, New Jersey and died 17 May 1777.  In 1724 he married Rachel Spier.  She was born about 1692 and died 7 Apr 1748, both events in New Jersey.  Not much more is known of this couple.

The daughter of Enoch Vreeland and Rachel Spier is Rachel Vreeland, who married Robert Badgley (1740-1783).  Their lineage is continued under the heading of Anthony Badgley (1660-1715).


[1] Persons to the Colony of Rensselaerswyck: Abraham Stevensz, Adriaen Cornelisz Claes Gijsbertsz (in 1641 was in the service of Michiel Jansz), Jan Dircksz (a native of England; he appears as servant of Michiel Jansz), Jan Michielsz (he appears as a servant of Michiel Jansz), Michiel Jansz (i.e. Michiel Jansen Vreeland; came with his wife and two servants), Rijck Rutgersz, Symon Jansz Henypot, Teunis Dircksz van Vechten (came with his wife, one child and two servants), Willem Meyntenn.

[2] The Manor of Rensselaerswyck, Manor Rensselaerswyck, Van Rensselaer Manor, or just simply Rensselaerswyck (Dutch: Rensselaerswijck) is the name of a colonial estate (specifically, a Dutch patroonship and later an English manor) owned by the van Rensselaer family that was located in what is now mainly the Capital District of New York State. The estate was originally deeded by the Dutch West India Company in 1630 to Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a Dutch merchant and one of the company’s original directors. Rensselaerswyck lay on both sides of the Hudson River near present-day Albany and included parts of the present New York counties of Albany, Columbia, Greene, and Rensselaer. The patroonship lasted successfully for more than two centuries, dying with its last patroon, Stephen van Rensselaer III in 1839. At his death, van Rensselaer’s land holdings made him the tenth richest American in history to date. The manor was split between Stephen III’s sons, Stephen IV and William. Farmers began protesting the feudal system and the anti-rent movement was eventually successful, causing Stephen IV and William to sell off most of their land, ending the patroonship in the 1840s.

[3] Pavonia was the first European settlement on the west bank of the North River (Hudson River) that was part of the 17th century province of New Netherland in what would become today’s Hudson County, New Jersey.

[4] This incident occurred during what became known as the Peach Tree War. Conflict followed events of the 1640s which had culminated in what has become known as the “Pavonia Massacre”. Relations between the Netherlanders and the Lenape Indians were tenuous. Trade agreements, land ownership, familial and societal structures were misunderstood and misconstrued by both parties. Language differences mostly likely did not help matters. These conflicts led to rising tensions and eventually an incident which started a series of raids and reprisals, known as Kieft’s War. Willem Kieft arrived in New Netherland in 1639 to take up his appointment as Director of New Netherland, with a directive to increase profits from the port at Pavonia. His solution was to attempt to exact tribute with claims that the money would buy them protection from rival groups. It was not uncommon among the native population to do so, but in this case his demands were ignored. At the time, the settlers in New Amsterdam were in intermittent conflict with their Raritan and Wappinger neighbors. On Staten Island, Dutch soldiers routed an encampment in retaliation for the theft of pigs, later discovered to have been stolen by other settlers. The death of a Dutch wheelwright, Claes Swits, at the hands of a Weckquaesgeek (Wappinger on the east side of the Hudson River) particularly angered many of the Dutch when the tribe would not turn over the murderer. At Acther Kol, in revenge for a theft, a Dutchman was shot with arrow while roofing a new house. Kieft decided (against the advice of the council of Twelve Men), to punish the Indians by attacking Pavonia. The initial strike, which he ordered on 25 Feb 1643 and took place at Communipaw, was a massacre: 129 Dutch soldiers killed 120 Indians, including women and children. Many consider this to be one of the earliest acts of genocide of Native Americans by European settlers in North America and is sometimes referred to as the “Pavonia Massacre”. This attack united the Algonquian peoples in the surrounding areas, to an extent not seen before. On 1 Oct 1643, a force of united “tribes” attacked the homesteads at Pavonia, most of which were burned to the ground. Many settlers were killed and those who survived were ordered to the relative safety of New Amsterdam, and Pavonia was evacuated. For the next two years the united tribes harassed settlers all across New Netherland, killing sporadically and suddenly. The sparse forces were helpless to stop the attacks, but the natives were kept too spread out to mount more effective strikes. A truce was finally agreed upon in August 1645, in part brokered by the Hackensack sachem, Oratam. Kieft was recalled to the Netherlands to answer for his conduct in 1647, but he died in a shipwreck before his version of events could be told. The war was extremely bloody in proportion to the population at the time: more than 1,600 natives were killed at a time when the European population of New Amsterdam was only 250. Kieft’s successor was Peter Stuyvesant. In 1653 Pavonia became part of the newly formed Commonality of New Amsterdam. In late 1654 a series of grants were made for tracts at Pamrapo, Minkakwa, and Kewan. The colony grew and the situation remained relatively peaceful until 1655, when Pavonia was attacked by a united band of about 500 Lenape. One hundred settlers were killed. One hundred and fifty were taken hostage and held at Paulus Hook until their release could be negotiated. This incident is known as the Peach Tree War, and is said to have been precipitated by the killing of a young woman who had stolen a peach from settler’s orchard on Manhattan, but may have been a retaliation for the Dutch attack on the Lenapes’ trading partners in the Delaware Valley in New Sweden. In 1658, wishing to further formalize agreements with the Lenape, Stuyvesant agreed to “re-purchase” the area “by the great rock above Wiehacken,” then taking in the sweep of land on the peninsula west of the Hudson and east of the Hackensack River extending down to the Kill Van Kull in Bayonne. Its semi-independent government was granted on 5 Sep 1661, by Stuyvesant, as part of his efforts re-gain a foothold on the North River’s western shore and expand beyond New Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan, under the condition that a garrison be built. Located atop Bergen Hill, it was part of the original patroonship, close to the southern end of the Hudson Palisades, it was the first self governing European settlement in what would become the state of New Jersey.



  • I’ll insert the photos into the narrative above so that others can see what Penny Riley is referring to.

  • If you check the internet for “History and Genealogy of the Vreeland Family” by Nicholas Garretson Vreeland 1909, he has a “portrait” he credits as being Michael Jansen Vreeland; however, the pictures do look like the same person. He also has a “drawing” of the Arms of Norway. Thank you for your reply, however, I’m sure disappointed.

  • Hello! I am preparing my family history which includes Vreelands from Cornelius (my 9th great gf), down to Ann Matilda Vreeland Sanford (daughter of Hartman and Senny). Is the photo on this site of Peter Stuyvesant or Michiel Vreeland?

  • Actually, you are in fact a cousin of Barck Obama already through Vreeland. Check out — > http://hylbom.com/family/notable-kin/notable-kin-ma-to-ro/obama-barack/. I think the ignorance of people who claim Obama is not born here or “not a real American” is hilarious, if it wasn’t so discouraging. I don’t know about Donald Trump’s family, but Obama’s family roots in this country go back further than many of his “birther” critics.

  • Helen – We definitely are cousins. I just scanned your site quickly for familiar names, and we are related through Edward Riggs and Samuel Marsh, who are also early settlers of New Jersey. Also Robert Carr is an common ancestor. You are also cousins with my own Hetfield cousins. My aunt married a Hetfield whose family had lived in Plainfield, NJ since long before the revolution (many of the later family changed the spelling from Hatfield to Hetfiled, others did not). Obadiah Holmes is the father-in-law of my 9th g-grandmother, Mary Sayles. Also, if you are descended from the Jonathan Dunham who married Mary Bloomfield, you are a cousin of President Barack Obama. I can explain if this is your ancestor.

  • Hi there, I enjoyed your post, and I think it is a great blog post with excellent detail and stories! Michiel Jansen Vreeland and his wife Fitje are my 8th g-grandparents, so we must be cousins. I live in North Carolina, a long way from you and the Nettherlands! I have written about MIchiel’s son Hartman in my own blog “Heart of a Southern Woman” at http://heart2heartstories.com/2014/10/06/vreeland-hartman-my-7th-great-grandfather-and-a-founder-of-the-state-of-new-jersey-52-ancestors-in-52-weeks-40/

Your comments are welcome. Keep in mind, however, all comments are moderated, and please no off-topic links.