Wolfert Gerritse van Couwenhoven
Wolfert Gerritses Van Couwenhoven
|Schepen of New Amsterdam|
|Commissioner for New Netherlands to the States-General|
|Born||1 May 1579|
Wolfert Gerritse Van Couwenhoven (1 May 1579 – 1662), also known as Wolphert Gerretse van Kouwenhoven and Wolphert Gerretse, was an original patentee, director of bouweries (farms), and a founder of the New Netherland colony.
He also founded the first European settlement on Long Island, called New Amersfoort, and was a Schepen of New Amsterdam in 1654. He is noted as playing an "active role in laying the foundations of the communities of Manhattan, Albany, Rensselaer, and Brooklyn."
The progenitor of the Vanderbilt family, Jan Aertszoon (1620–1705), also known as Jan Aertson, a Dutch farmer from the village of De Bilt in Utrecht, Netherlands, emigrated to the Dutch colony of New Netherland as an indentured servant to the Van Kouwenhoven family in 1650.
"...one house surrounded by long, round palisades; the house is 26 feet long, 22 feet wide, 40 feet high with the roof, covered above and all around with boards ... "
Hudde and Gerritse also had a 40 by 18-foot barn.
Dutch West India Company
Director of Bouweries for Kiliaen van Rensselaer
In 1630, he returned to the Netherlands, where he entered into a contract with Kiliaen Van Rensselaer to return to the colony to manage his farms. Wolphert arrived back in the colony aboard the ship "Eendracht", where he proceeded in his duties as director for van Rensselaer's farms in Rensselaerwyck and Fort Orange.
His contract was to run through 1636, but Gerretse requested it cancelled early so he could pursue his own interests. Rensselaer agreed. In 1632, Gerretse was released from his contractual obligations.
Shortly thereafter, he leased a bouwerie in New Amsterdam and managed it until 1636, when he was granted a patent of several hundred acres on Long Island. He called his plantation "Achervelt"; later it served as the founding of the town of New Amersfoort, named after Gerritse's original home. Today the area is known as Flatlands. His plantation was located near the current intersection of King's Highway and Flatbush Avenue.
In 2007 the deed of the granted land in Long Island was sold to a private collector for $156,000 becoming "one of the oldest Dutch documents in private hands". The deed dated 6 June 1636 is written in Dutch and outlines the purchase of the land (3,600-acre) from the Lenape Indians. 
In 1637, he became a Freeholder in Midwout, and again in 1641. In 1653, he was sent by the colony to the States-General in the Netherlands as a Commissioner. In 1654, Wolphert served as a Schepen of New Amsterdam, and in 1657 was made a Burgher. He served on the citizens council of Eight Men.
Gerretse died in 1662.
Marriage and children
With her he had three sons:
- Gerret (1610–1648), a Representative at the Council of Eight in 1643
- Jacob (1612–1670), assistant to Gov. Woulter Van Twiller, Representative at the Board of Nine in 1647, 1649–1650, sat on the Court of Arbitrators between 1649 and 1650, Delegate of New Netherlands to the Hague in Holland
- Pieter (1614–1699), one of the first magistrates of New Netherlands, member of the Schepens Court 1653–1654, 1658–1659, 1661 and 1663, delegate from New Amsterdam to the Convention of 1653, Lieutenant in the Esopus War, signer of the peace treaty 1664 with the Esopus Indians
Later variations on surname
Some descendants of Wolfert anglicized the surname "Van Kouwenhoven" to "Kouwenhoven," "Kownover," "Conover," as well as "Crownover," with Dennis Conover (born 1764) being the first descendant (4th great grandson) to use "Conover" as his surname.
- Figure Skating Coach Pam Gregory
- U.S. Senator Sidney Breese
- Astronomer John Monroe Van Vleck
- Governor William A. Newell (New Jersey) (founder United States Life-Saving Service)
- Nobel Prize winner John Hasbrouck Van Vleck
- Cardiology pioneer William B. Kouwenhoven
- Philanthropist Edward Harriman
- Diplomat William Harriman
- Railroad baron E.H. Harriman
- Vice-Admiral Arthur S. Carpender
- Actress Diana Douglas (née Diana Dill; mother of actor Michael Douglas)
- Actor Michael Douglas (by mother Diana)
- Magician Tim Conover
- Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Denmark, Christopher N. Smith
- Tennis Player Andy Roddick
- Governor Howard Dean
- Inventor Lloyd Conover
- Associate Supreme Court Justice Willis Van Devanter
- The Wright Brothers
- Cyclist Lance Armstrong
- Football Player Ryan Kalil
- Football Player Matt Kalil
- Actress Chrystie Crownover
- Burton Jenner
- Actress Casey Jenner
- Catherine Mellon Warner
- Actor Humphrey Bogart
- President Theodore Roosevelt
- First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
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Media related to Wolfert Gerritse van Couwenhoven at Wikimedia Commons