The Story of
Jochem & Gertrude Wessels

    After reading the Journal of Charles Randolph Montgomery Sewell wherein is is stated that our Dutch ancestors were ". . . in public Authority in the Colony of New York while under the Dutch, and . . . of Dutch noblesse . . .."; I became concerned that this branch of our family was perhaps a bit "stuffy".  However, the following story shared by our cousin Sewell V. Sample will dispel any such myths.  Our esteemed ancestor Jochem Wessels was anything but "stuffy"; and is among the most interesting forbears we have.

 . . . Robert Sewell, February 2005
    The descendants of Jochem Wessels may be summarised as follows:
  1. Jochem Wessels (died 1680/81) m. 1st Trijn Gerrits. (Jochem m. 2nd Gertrude, widow of  Hoffmeyer)
  2. Catrina Jochemse Wessels (baptized in Amsterdam March 8, 1621/22) m. Abraham Staats
  3. Elizabeth Staats m. circa 1677-78 Johannes Wendell (1649 – 1691)
  4. Abraham Wendell (1678 – 1734) m. 1702 Katrina de Kay (b. 1681)
  5. Elizabeth Wendell (1704 – 1769) m. 1725 {Justice} Edmund Quincy (1704 – 1788)
  6. Esther Quincy (1738 – 1810) m. 1764 {Attorney General} Jonathan Sewall (1729 –1796)
  7. {Chief Justice} Jonathan Sewell (1766 – 1839) m. 1796 Henrietta Smith (1776 – 1849)
    The ancestors of Johannes Wendell are as follows:
  1. Philip Du Trieux (born 1585) m. Susanna De Scheene
  2. Susanna Du Trieux m. 1644 Evert Jansen Wendell (1615 - 1709)
  3. Johannes Wendell (1649 – 1691) m. circa 1677-78 Elizabeth Statts


    The ancestors of Katrina de Kay are as follows:

  1. Johannes Van Brugh (1624 – 1697) m. 1658 Katrina Roeloffse, a daughter of Anneke Janse
  2. Helena Van Brugh (1660 – 1736) m. 1680 Theunis de Kay (1659 – 1706)
  3. Katrina de Kay (b. 1681) m. 1702 Abraham Wendell ( 1678 – 1734)


If you wish, click to return to Elizabeth Wendell and {Justice} Edmund Quincy,
but I urge you to first read about the exploits of Jochem and Gertrude Wessels.

    Jochem Wessels was also known as Jochem Gijssen Wesselszen and Jochem Wesselse Backer. He was a baker; hence "Backer" is often seen as his surname. His first wife was Trijn Gerrits; their daughter Catrina (also Catryna and Trijn) Jochemse Wessels was baptized on March 8, 1621/22 in Amsterdam. After the death of his first wife Trijn, Jochem married secondly to Gertrude (Geertruy), widow of (?) Hoffmeyer. Gertude's son by her first marriage was Willem Hoffmeyer, also featured in the following story. Willem referred to Jochem as his step father, which he was. Thanks to Linda Hansen, a descendant of Willem Hoffmeyer, for helping sort this out.

    Also mentioned in this story (with regard to selling brandy to Indians) is Gerrit Van Schlichtenhorst whose sister Margaretha (1628 – 1711) married (1650) to Philip Pieterse Schuyler (1628 – 1683).  Their granddaughter Margaretta Schuyler married Robert “the Nephew” Livingston.  Margaretta and Robert’s great granddaughter was Henrietta Smith who married {Chief Justice} Jonathan Sewell.

Click on Margaretta Schuyler for more details of this line.

    The above genealogical information has been summarised from the following sources:



The Regeneration of Jochem Wessels

(Copied from Chapter 5 of The Hudson by Carl Carmer)

    It is possible that the honourable judges of the West India Company’s new court would not have accepted their appointments so complacently had they known what difficulties were in store for them. The citizens in Beverwyck (now Albany, Capital of the State of New York; click on History of Albany for more information from the City of Albany Web Site.) were slow to accustom themselves to disciplined living. One family in particular was often to be haled before them — from their second meeting on through many years. And since nearly the whole of the social history of the Beverwyck settlement is to be found in the story the court records tell of the life of Jochem Wessels and his wife, it deserves relating.

    When old Captain Willem Juriaens stopped baking in his cracked oven on the bank of the Hudson in the spring of 1652 his next-door neighbours, baker Jochem Wessels and his wife Gertrude, were relieved. Two bakeries next door to each other in a town of a hundred houses like Beverwyck might easily be confused, especially by Indians.

baker    Jan Van Hoesen and his family took over the captain’s house and lot. They agreed to pay the old fellow for the use of it by letting him live there and eat as much of their food as he would need in the few years of life left him. Both Van Hoesen and his neighbour Wessels had been born in North German territory, and all might have gone well between the dwellers on the plot that is now the park in front of the Delaware and Hudson Building in Albany, if there had not been another clause in the agreement already mentioned. It read that Willem Juriaens would give Jan Van Hoesen the use of his bakeshop and tools and would teach him the baker’s trade. Van Hoesen at forty-seven was only ten years older than Jochem Wessels and Jochem knew he was not the type of man to sit and wait for Indians to become confused between two houses. He would go out and get customers. Competition was not dead, as the Wessels family had supposed. It would be heavier than ever.

    Gertrude Wessels’ reaction to her discovery of this situation was a simple one. She had had two broods of children, one by her first husband, Hoffmeyer, in a Dutch colony in Brazil and one by Jochem, and she sallied out on an April day to defend them both. When she saw Jan Van Hoesen’s wife, Volckgen, she walked up to her and said, “You’re a low woman and I can prove it.” Then she doubled up her fist and struck Volckgen with all the power in her strong right arm.

    Gertrude was probably surprised when a deputy came for her the next Tuesday and took her to the two-story frame building with the pavilion roof standing close to Fort Orange. Agreeably, however, she climbed the steep stair and entered, through the trap door at the top, the one big room of the second floor. There she saw a half dozen of the burghers of Beverwyck sitting about in dignity. One of them informed her that she had been haled into the second regular session of the Inferior Court of Justice of the town of Beverwyck on the complaint of Volckgen Van Hoesen who charged her with abusive language and assault.

    The newly made magistrates must have been embarrassed by what happened. Gertrude had not been accustomed to dealing with an unco-operative neighbour by other method than the one she had used and she resented the innovation. She repeated what she had said about Volckgen with colourful embroidery. Then she told the court what would happen to each of them personally if they tried any nonsense with her. The written record of her trial ends with these words: “The defendant is for her abusive language and assault and threats made here against the court condemned to pay a fine of six guilders, with order to leave the plaintiff henceforth in peace.”
Pigsty
pigsty
". . . Jochem Wessels built a pigsty 
in front of the Van Hoesen door."
    The last admonition seems not to have been too well obeyed. Within the next two weeks the court saw fit to assign the old captain’s lot to the Van Hoesens permanently. In a rage Jochem Wessels built a pigsty in front of the Van Hoesen door. The court commented on this bold action a few days later: “It is decided that whereas the said baker . . . had constructed an obstruction and nuisance to the house of the aforesaid Jan Van Hoesen it is ordered that he must within the time of three days tear down the said pigsty.” When Jochem heard the decision he went home and buckled on his sword, ran back to the courthouse and up the stairs. Waving his blade about in the air he appeared suddenly through the trap door and interrupted proceedings by calling Magistrate Volckert Jans bad names and demanding that he come outdoors and fight like a man.
    Two mornings later the court met in extraordinary session to hear Volckert Jans’s charges. They decided that this last crime of Jochem’s was serious enough to be referred to the authorities at Manhattan for action. And they were the more exasperated when they had to meet again in the afternoon to consider a further offence. Jochem had been telling everybody who would listen that the magistrates had rushed from the morning session to advise Jan Van Hoesen what they had just done to his archenemy. The court decided he would have to prove this accusation of undignified conduct or suffer an “arbitrary sentence.”
In the meantime Volckgen Van Hoesen had entered another charge against Gertrude Wessels claiming she had been slandered. Upon being asked whether she had anything to declare against her neighbour’s wife, Gertrude was compelled by lack of proof to say a reluctant “No,” and was fined fifty guilders. The setback proved not to have weakened her spirit in the least, however, and now for the first time she began to fight back with the new weapon that had surprised and wounded her. By August she had trapped her own especial enemy neatly. Haled into court for having started a fight, Volckgen Van Hoesen and her good friend Styntgen Laurens pleaded that they had attacked Gertrude only after she had provoked them to it by calling them dirty names. No witness had been near enough to hear Gertrude (probably she had been waiting for just the right conditions) and the two defendants were fined twelve guilders apiece. The suspicious court added to the sentence the despairing admonition: “Parties on both sides are furthermore ordered to hold their tongues and to leave each other in peace, as otherwise the court will take such measures as shall be found necessary.”

    Watchfully the Wesselses now bided their time. By the beginning of the year Jochem had thought up a new onslaught. He charged Jan Van Hoesen with illegally occupying the house and lot which really belonged to poor old Captain Juriaens. When the court asked him to give security or bind himself in the old man’s favour, however, he backed down and withdrew suit, not without whispering about that the chief magistrate had offered Jan Van Hoesen ownership of the old captain’s property in return for a bribe cakeof three beavers. The Van Hoesens answered the attack by throwing hot ashes and glowing embers against the clapboards of Jochem’s house and the court had to send a messenger to make them stop. Meanwhile Old Silver Peg (1) in Manhattan had been hearing things about the quality and weight of the bread Jochem and his associates were baking. Complaints sent downriver stated that the bakers were making sugar buns, cookies, and pretzels from good flour and selling them to the Indians, who so loved sweets that they would pay almost any price for them. The remnants of the ground meal were being made into bread for the citizenry and conditions were getting so bad that the heathen were eating flour while the Christians were eating bran.

    Immediately the honourable director general sent a letter prohibiting the sale to Indians of all white breads and cakes. The Beverwyck bakers made a fearful to-do over that. In desperation they presented a petition to the court asking “permission to sell some white bread to the Indians, especially cake.” The petition was taken to New Amsterdam by the president of the court and other magistrates who were making the trip to confer with Stuyvesant. Upon receiving it that dignitary sent his own especial representative, Cornelis Van Tienhoeven, up to Beverwyck with the returning magistrates to see to the enforcement of his regulations with regard to both brewing and baking.

cookies    Now the embarrassment to which Jochem Wessels had subjected the court reached a dizzy height. During the absence of the chief magistrate Jochem had baked a fine batch of sweet cookies and then, standing before his bakeshop, had blown upon his big horn to advertise to the Indians that his wares were done to a nice brown and ready for sale. To add to this brazen defiance of law and order, as Jan Van Hoesen was plaintively pointing out, Jochem had not torn down the pigpen he had been given three days to destroy eleven months before.

    Patience was at an end. The magistrates condemned Jochem to pay a fine of fifty guilders within twenty-four hours, commenting in their decision on the evil consequences which might arise . . . especially at this juncture of time — that is, with Old Silver Peg’s own representative looking on — in the matter of “disregarding the well meant ordinances of the Honourable Director General.”
But the officer from New Amsterdam was not satisfied. He presented a written complaint and the court had to go further. In a long decision in which all Jochem’s crimes were enumerated — slander, attacking a magistrate, false accusations, refusal “to move the pig pen which he had erected in front of his neighbour’s door to his annoyance and detriment,” charging the chief magistrate with soliciting a bribe — “all of which are matters of very serious consequences,” the court unanimously decided “to condemn him, on promise and in hopes of better behaviour” to pay an additional fine of a hundred guilders. Begun with sounding dignity and emphasis, the decision moves on to state with judicial sternness that the fine must be paid within twenty-four hours “or the double amount within forty-eight hours and so on in succession.” It ends hopefully: “Also that he shall immediately tear down and remove the pigpen or that it shall be immediately torn down by order of the court.”

    To complete their work of establishing order during the visit of Van Tienhoven the court continued by disciplining the old captain whom Jochem had been encouraging to revolt against the provisions of his contract. “Furthermore, to prevent all further disputes and differences,” said the judge, “it is ordered that Willem Juriaens shall have to comport himself as a decent old man should and at noon and in the evening come to meals at regular hours as is proper and shall also have to be satisfied with the ordinary food which Jan Van Hoesen daily supplies for himself and his family.” This pleased Jan and his family so much that they began triumphantly throwing their slops on Jochem’s lot until the court enjoined them against the practice. It put Jochem in a bad temper. He took it out on Mariken Ten Haer by getting into an argument with her at a rival baker’s house and giving her a good beating.

    Then, when all must have seemed darkest to Jochem Wessels, victory suddenly sat upon his banners. From the most unexpected source of all, the camp of his relentless enemy, came news of almost incredible joy. The captain had proved too hot for his apprentice to handle and Jan Van Hoesen was refusing to feed him. Jan said the old man had broken his word in failing “to teach him to bake and by hiding the baking utensils and making it impossible for him to do so.”

    The captain complained, but the court decided that Jan was right and the agreement was void. The old man should be allowed to live in his bakehouse, however, until he died. They added that, in view of his extreme poverty, Jan should pay him 12 guilders for improvements he had made in the garden. Apparently they, too, had found the old man difficult, for the record ends with an admonition in which, incidentally, the magistrates list themselves in distinguished company: “And in case it should hereafter be found that the plaintiff Willem Juriaens, according to his custom, should continue to blaspheme and abuse the name of God or His Service, or any of the magistrates of the court, whether in general or particular, he shall without exception be corrected by the court, either by the infliction of banishment or corporal punishment, as the case may require.”

    Now Jochem rejoiced. There was but one bakery in the neighbourhood and that was his own. Moreover, since the whole happy situation had been achieved by the court, he began to alter his attitude toward authority. It would be unfair to intimate that he who had been the plague of the law became its champion over night, but he was trying to make amends. The law had done away with a threat of competition that had caused him embarrassment. He would support the law.

    Accordingly, on February 3, 1654, the contented baker presented himself as a voluntary witness before the court and answered questions about the crimes of a drunken Dutchman named Jacob Still, generally known as Hap. From his testimony the court learned that Hap had come to the guardhouse of Fort Orange one day of the previous summer just after guardmount, when Jochem was corporal of the guard. Incensed by some thing or other Hap had gone home to get his sword, and came back brandishing it with the avowed intent of clearing out the guardhouse. Finding the village schoolmaster, Mr. Adrian, standing inside by the fire, Hap had called him a burgher’s dog and given him a handkerchief with which to defend himself while he attacked him with a sword. Then he had turned on Corporal Jochem and, holding his naked blade close to that officer’s nose, had said, “I dare you to draw your colonel’s rapier,” and had tried to fight with him “life for life.” Finally he had gone outside and called out to all bystanders that if they wanted a fight he was their man, emphasizing this remark by firing his gun.

    After having given such valuable aid to the court, Jochem backslid a month later by getting into a fight over old man Juriaens’s chickens. Jacob Willemsz testified that he had seen Jochem chase some setting hens off their nests and had remonstrated saying, “What do you mean? They are the old captain’s hens.” At this Jochem had immediately invited him to come outside and fight and, not accepting a refusal, had grabbed him by the throat and given him a sound beating, calling him an old dog. To which Jochem answered only that Jacob had returned the blows, pulled his hair, and called him a dog. Jochem had to pay thirty guilders for that exhibition of temper and behaved himself for another month.

smoking gun    Then Hendrick Andriessen hauled him into court for shooting his dog in the public street. Jochem got out of that by agreeably offering “to have a young dog trained with others and when trained to deliver it to the plaintiff.” The court decided that this was a fair agreement but added that, “as the deed was done in the public street and the plaintiff’s dog was killed,” Jochem must pay a fine of one beaver. That made Gertrude Wessels so angry that she shouted “abusive and slanderous words” against the court and was summoned to answer for it at a future session.

    The next period of model behaviour on the part of Jochem was much longer. Old Silver Peg sent up to Beverwyck an urgent appeal for a loan of money to help in the fortifying of Manhattan and the court called upon the “most prosperous and loyal citizens” to subscribe. Possibly flattered to be included in such a category, Jochem offered five beavers and forty forms — just one beaver and eight forms more than Jan Van Hoesen. A week later he strengthened his support of good government by appearing as a witness to aid the prosecution of Elmerhuysen Kleyn and Gerrit Van Schlichtenhorst for selling brandy to Indians. Jochem said that he had seen the defendants fill a glass with brandy, which the Indian took in his hand and drank down. The Indian had then come out of the defendants’ house drunk, picked up a maul lying near the Van Hoesen house, and used it to beat down the door of the Wessels homestead. Thereupon he had “greatly molested” Gertrude, the children, and himself.
Arms of Wessels
    Continuing to exert a restraining and dignifying influence upon the community, Jochem began the new year of 1655 by appearing as a witness against scandal monger Cornelis Vos, who had apparently applied nicknames so appropriate to the houses of various respected burghers that the whole town was bandying them about and getting many a mean laugh out of it. He had called one house The Cuckoo’s Nest and another The House of Bad Manners. One he had named Birdsong after a famous disorderly street in the town of Gouda in Holland, and another The Savingsbank because of its miserly inhabitants. Mr. Van Rensselaer’s house he called Early Spoiled and Mother Bogardus’s The Vulture’s World, and he had entitled the town eating house The Seldom Satisfied. These names, said Jochem, he had learned at the harvest feast of farmer Oom Dirrick and he was informed they had been invented by Cornelis Vos. Though his testimony did not convict Cornelis, it showed Jochem Wessels on the side of decency and order and prepared the magistrates somewhat for the almost incredible next step.

    As soon as he had finished his testimony about the nicknames Jochem said that he and a neighbour of his had a request to make of the court. The neighbour turned out to be Jan Van Hoesen, no longer planning to be a baker, and the two men in friendly agreement requested that the court order the old captain’s house be put in repair because it might, in its present condition, cause a serious fire in Beverwyck. A month later they brought the matter up again and got the court to order the old man not to bake in the house until it had been repaired. Then for more than a year the two former enemies kept after the magistrates to take some action, a year that must have witnessed many a friendly conference. Finally they persuaded the court to appoint a committee to solicit loans toward repairing the house and authorize repayment from a mortgage on it. Jochem furnished thirteen boards and the roof timbers, and Jan twenty five boards.

    Meanwhile the now pleasantly co-operative and charitably minded baker was finding that the rewards of virtue are not always immediate. Some of his neighbours who apparently did not believe in his change of heart intimated that the good beer, which the night watch on his rounds had found a group of Indians guzzling, was in a pail they had seen in the Wessels house.

   And Gerrit Van Schlichtenhorst, against whose illegal sale of brandy Jochem had testified so glibly, picked a fight with him one July day when they were piling firewood. Gerrit went after Jochem with an axe and Jochem ran home and got his sword and chased Gerrit up the street and into the house of Thomas Paul. Peaceloving Mr. Paul had no sooner succeeded in getting Jochem to surrender his sword than Gerrit returned to the fray and jumped on his disarmed enemy. The struggling men fell to the floor and Jochem, having twisted himself to a position above Gerrit, was “trying to mutilate and ruin him” when onlookers intervened. Possibly realizing at that moment that the whole affair was somewhat undignified for him in his new role, Jochem got up and hurried home. Then Gerrit rushed to his own house and emerged waving a cutlass with which he chased Jochem about the town and struck a mighty blow which was intercepted by the transom bar over the door of Thomas Paul’s house, “committing private injury and violence against the person and the house of the aforesaid Thomas Paul.”

    Both Gerrit and Jochem were fined for this indulgence of their tempers but Jochem had to pay more than Gerrit, a hundred guilders and costs. Moreover, at the session during which he was fined he was obliged to undergo the humiliation of hearing Jacob Willemsz, with whom he had fought about the old captain’s hens, and Thomas Paul, whose privacy he had invaded, testify that on the previous Saturday they had seen an Indian stroll out of the Wessels bakeshop munching an oblong sugar bun. So strong in good deeds had Jochem become by this time, however, that his offer to swear that he had not committed the crime of selling the tidbit to the savage was sufficient and the case was dismissed.

    Now that he had passed the age of forty the joys and woes of family life began to settle upon Jochem Wessels. His good-for-nothing stepson, Willem Hoffmeyer, got into trouble by selling beer to the Indians. beerHe had twice sailed his canoe up the Hudson and peddled a cargo of half-barrels of beer. In fact, he had even employed one Indian as his agent to sell the beverage to Indian customers. Willem was banished for three years and fined 500 guilders, which Jochem gave bond for and eventually had to pay. He must have been somewhat consoled, however, when his own daughter Catryna married one of the richest and most distinguished men in Beverwyck, Abraham Staats, surgeon, trader, and magistrate, who as a member of the court had had ample opportunity of knowing his parents-in-law.

    The tone of the judges in their dealings with Jochem now underwent a change. This was probably not so much because there was a new chief magistrate, the first one having gone crazy, as because of Jochem’s continued good behaviour. When, as a citizen deserving of consideration, he asked for a grant of land for a garden he was informed that “The court will take the request under advisement and after inspection of the place requested accommodate the said Jochem in all fairness.”

    By 1657 the Wesselses and the Van Hoesens were such close friends that one of the Van Hoesen girls was working as a maid at the house next door. But the old unhappy status was temporarily revived when Jan sued Gertrude Wessels for having kicked his daughter in the chest. Gertrude said that the girl had been impudent and that she had kicked her, but in a place considerably removed from the chest. Jan replied that wherever it had landed the kick had been administered from behind while his daughter was bending over and that it had caused her much pain. The court fined Gertrude thirty guilders and costs “for the pain.”

    From then on Jochem and Gertrude Wessels led a prosperous and comparatively uneventful life. At the age of fifty-five Jochem flared up and became the old hothead for a while when Captain Baker intimated that Gertrude (whose son was now over thirty-five) was a loose woman. Demanding reparation of his honour, the baker brought the English captain into court, which was then presided over by Abraham Staats — the insulted old lady’s son-in-law. When the captain produced an affidavit from a doddering alcoholic named Claes Wip in support of his accusation Jochem produced one from the same old drunk declaring that to the best of his knowledge Gertrude was a good woman. “Therefore,” declared the honourable court, “the honour of both parties remains intact and they are to live together in peace.”
So full of the love of humankind did Jochem become that he once paid a fine for having harboured overnight two elderly Indians whom his kind heart would not allow him to turn out into the autumn darkness. He must have done well in the baking business, for one burgher “being located in a Street where there is no business” asked the court for the privilege of living next to him in the busy section on the steep bank of the Hudson. Later two others aspired to live in lots bordering Jochem’s.

    Gradually he became a devout and influential leader in the Lutheran church. Then in 1672, at the behest of Mr. Philip Schuyler, the members of the court personally investigated the work of the Lutherans in extending the gate to their churchyard and warned the builders not to go beyond the limits allotted them. Hearing this, Jochem returned to his old pastime by telling the magistrates they had weak minds and that the one who had been a tailor had better go back to his job. Sergeant Parker gave evidence of this indecorum to the magistrates assembled in court and Jochem promptly called him a liar. For this he was fined twenty-five florins, the Lutherans were again reminded of the limitations placed on their gate, and the court ended its decision with an injunction: “Above all, a perpetual silence and obligation to keep still is hereupon imposed upon Jochem, the baker.”

    Three years later, in December, 1675, Willem Hoffmeyer, now a man of family nearing forty, sued the Lutheran congregation for the sum of 174 guilders which he said was due him for reading service in the church. Jochem Wessels, respected senior elder and the plaintiff’s stepfather, replied in court that Willem had earned no such amount, having failed to read the service on many occasions when he was supposed to. The court was regarding this as a dignified and acceptable answer from a responsible elderly citizen until Willem explained he had not always been able to read services when he was supposed to because stepfather Jochem had several times stolen the key of the church from him.

    In February 1680, death imposed on Jochem Wessels “a perpetual silence and obligation to keep still.” So far as is known, this is the only admonition of the sort he ever obeyed.



(1) "Old Silver Peg" was Peter Stuyvesant (circa 1600 - August 1672) who served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded to the English in 1664. He had been wounded in 1644 during an attack on the Portuguese island of Saint Martin. On his return to Holland, his right leg had been amputated and replaced with a wooden peg. Peter Stuyvesant was given the nickname "Old Silver Peg" because he drove silver nails into his wooden peg leg, apparently for decoration.

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