Records of Abram Staes and Trijntgen Jochemse in Fort Orange

Upon arrival at Fort Orange, Abram Staes took up residence in House Number 7.36 Trijntgen made herself heard in a complaint filed in 1648 that asked the court to not allow new homes to be built within cannon shot of the fort as a matter of community safety.37This matter was considered and approved to the displeasure of some but not by the owner of the house that was accidentally hit by cannon shot. Ironically, Abram, as a magistrate, in August 1658, purchased for the community two small iron cannons, presumed to be threepounder cannons.38 The cannons would have had a point-blank range of 300 yards and a maximum range of 3,000 yards. It can be said that a cannon of this size would indeed reach the distance to the edge of the forest, from Fort Orange a distance of some 200 yards.39

  After Abram and Trijntgen settled into their house, Abram began his six-year contract as surgeon at Fort Orange and Rensselaerswijck, with its thirty or so families. His time was not totally devoted to surgery or medicine. He is mentioned as co-treasurer of Beverwijck in 1652. In November 1656, Abram is mentioned as a captain of the Burgher Guard.40 On April 15, 1653, when asked to assist with the task of surveying the land, Abram Staes helped the commissary appointed by Brant Slichtenhorst, including Cornelis Theunisz van Westbroeck, Volckert Jansz, and Johannes Dijckman, in measuring and recording lot sizes and road layouts around Fort Orange, including at Rensselaerswijck and Beverwijck.41 He became a magistrate in 1652, 1657, 1658, 1661, and 1662. He was also elected as Reformed church elder in 1658 and 1660, and served as a member of the consistory in 1659, 1663, and 1664.42 He was a trusted and respected member of the community in legal matters, having learned to speak the Mohawk language fluently enough for both Mohawk sellers and Dutch land purchasers to trust him to translate and create contracts suitable to both parties, he being known to be impartial and helpful.43 His knowledge of native languages may also explain his success in the beaver trade. In 1657, Abram is listed as having 3900 beaver pelts in the account of the commissary.44

  Staes was also an astute land buyer, owning many properties in and around Albany.45 Janny Venema writes “Considering that Staets now owned important pieces of property at both the very western and very eastern ends of Jonckerstraet, and that years later the little alley at the side would be called ‘Staets Alley’: could this have been the possible origin for the name ‘State Street’ which is presently used ‘Staets Street’?”46

  Moreover, Staes was a skilled sloop skipper on the Hudson River. An early mention of his sailing relates to his transporting Petrus Stuyvesant to Esopus in 1658.

. . . before we arrived at the said Kil, to follow one after the other, not to anchor near me before night-fall and not to show upon deck any soldiers or at least as few as possible. While we thus led in the yacht of Master Abram Staats, ill luck would have it, that in entering the Kil at low tide we run aground.47

  Staes’s sloop carried people, cargo, military personnel, and equipment from Fort Orange (later Beverwijck and Albany) to New Amsterdam and places in between. An area on Staats (Papscanee) Island, once the landing point for many craft, is still obvious from the terrain.

bronze three pounder cannon probably from fort orange 1630shudson river sloop by len tantillo

36 Record of Abram Staes selling house within Fort Orange, October 27, 1655, Early Records of the City and County of Albany and Colony of Rensselaerswyck, J. Pearson, trans. (Albany, 1869), 195; Paul Robert Huey, “Aspects of Continuity and Change in Colonial Dutch Material Culture at Fort Orange, 1624-1664“ (Ph.D. Diss., 1988), 728. J. W. Bradley drawing from in “Before Albany.” Drawing in dissertation shows house No. 5 belonging to Abram Staes. In this drawing, it is labeled No. 7, but its location is identical to the other reference.
37 Charles T. Gehring, Correspondence, 1647-1653 (New Netherland Documents) (Syracuse, NY, 1999), 70.
38 Staes “declared and attested that in the year 1657 he bought and received from the worthy Jan Dareth a small iron piece, for which he paid four beavers at eight guilders apiece,” Early Records of Albany, Vol. 4.
39 Benerson Little, The Sea Rovers Practice (Dulles, VA, 2005), 251.
40 Charles T. Gehring, trans. and ed., Fort Orange Court Minutes 1652-1660 (Syracuse, NY, 1990), 96, 300.
41 Ibid, 4.
42 Venema, Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier 1652-1664 (Albany, 2003), 442.
43 Early Records of Albany Notarial Papers 1 and 2, 1660-1696, Vol. 3, A. J. F. Van Laer, trans. and ed., (Albany, 1918), 553. Indian Deed to Volckert Jansen and Jan Thomassen for Nanoseck Islan, January 25, 1661, “in the witness of the truth of which, the contents…have been translated to Nanoseck by Abraham Staats and……” Ibid., 50.
44 Charles T. Gehring and Janny Venema, Fort Orange Records 1654-1679 (Syracuse, NY, 2009), 94.
45 Venema, Beverwijck, 257.
46 Ibid, Early Records of Albany 1: 372,449,457; and ERA 2: 137, 145.
47 B. Fernow, “Governor Stuyvesant’s Journey to Esopus, 1658,” The Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries, vol. 2 (New York and Chicago, 1878), 540.