Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ancestor Stories #6 Dutch Sailor Comes to America

This is the story of Theunis Amach who came to America in 1673 as a sailor with the Dutch fleet to fight the English.  My Mom always said her ancestors were Dutch and I have recently learned she was right.  Mom's maiden name is Aumick.

 This is a representative picture of what the Dutch sailors looked like.

Everyone has heard the story about how Dutch settlers in 1616 bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for 60 Dutch Guilders worth of trade goods.  What a great deal.  Later they also bought Staten Island for about the same.

 The Dutch established a settlement and it grew into a thriving port city which they called New Amsterdam.  But then in 1664 the English send a fleet to take New Amsterdam.  They renamed the city New York.

This is where Theunis came in.  The Dutch raised a fleet to take back New Amsterdam.  Thenius was living on the Isle of Amak in Denmark, where the Dutch had a settlement of farmers.  So he was Dutch (who are from Holland/Netherlands) by ancestory, but was actually born in Denmark on the Island of Amak which is where part of Copenhagen is now.  Theunis signed up as a sailor.  They sailed to the America and fought the English and won the battle and the Dutch reclaimed New Amsterdam.

After the war Theunis did not go home with the rest of the Dutch fleet.  He had become attached to the daughter of a Dutch farmer from Brooklyn and stayed behind to be with her.  Later he had to choose a last name and followed the popular Dutch tradition of picking a surname based on their place of origin.  For him it was the Island of Amak so he took the name Theunis Amak.

For those interested in the full story:

Theunis Janse Van AMACH / Van AMMAK, a Dutch Marine who came to America in 1673, during the war between the Netherlands and Great Britain. Theunis JANSE was a marine with the Dutch fleet that arrived in 1673 to reclaim New York. He was probably assigned to the 150-man contingency under Capt. Anthony COLVE. According to Theunis JANSE's marriage record in the NY Dutch Reform Church, he was from Denmark.

In 1521, King Christian II, who ruled Denmark from 1513-1523, appealed to the farmers in Holland / the Netherlands to come to Denmark and reclaim the marshes for farming, growing mostly vegetables. These farmers came from the province North-Holland around an island called "Marken". The Danish King offered the Dutch settlers a number of privileges, including land on the Isle of AMAGER, located just south of - and now a part of - the city of COPENHAGEN (This may help explain the connection between the Van AMAK & Van KOUWENHOVEN / COPENHAGEN / KOBENHAVN families of Flatlands, Kings Co. Long Island, New York). In return, the Dutch settlers were to "forsyne Kobenhavns slot med de fornodne rodder og log", in English: "provide the needed roots and onions for the castle in Copenhagen". Soon a Dutch trading post was located at Dragor, a village on the easternside of the island. King Christian II had also invited many Dutch ship-builders (today, the International Airport is located at AMAGER). The Isle of AMAGER and the village of Dragor became well known for its skilled seaman. These Dutch settlers maintained their language and traditions up until the beginning of the 19th century. The Isle of AMAGER was known by German seaman as AMAK.

It was then a very popular tradition among the Dutch people in New Netherlands - who had no surnames - to adopt the name of their place of origin as their surname. In English, the given name "Theunis" means "Antonius" or "Anthony"; "Janse" means "son of John"; "Van" means "of" or "from"; and "AMACH", "AMAK", or "AMMAK", was taken from the Isle of AMAGER, where Theunis JANSE was born. The name Theunis Janse Van AMAK translates as: "Anthony, son of John of AMAGER".



Teunis and Stephen Aumack were born at Flatlands, L. I.., and were the sons of Theunis Janse VanAmach, of that place. He is named among the citizens who took the oath of allegiance in 1687, and he is then put down as having been 14 years in America. The name is there spelled as VanAmach. I do not know how many children he had. The name was first spelled in Monmouth "Amak" and "Amack."

According to tradition Theunis Janse VanAmach was a marine on one of Admiral Cornelius Evertsen's or Jacob Binckes' ships, when they compelled the English to haul down their flag over New York in 1673. The red, white and blue of the Netherlands Republic waved over New York and New Jersey for about a year. VanAmach, then a young man, during this occupation, became attached to the daughter of a Dutch settler who lived in Brooklyn. Either his term of enlistment expired, or he was discharged, for when the fleet sailed away, he remained and became a resident of Flatlands, where he raised a family. He is therefore the progenitor of all the Aumacks and Aumocks in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

This family can therefore look back to one of the Dutchmen who wrested the New Netherlands from the English in 1673, and helped fight in the memorable war of that year, as their progenitor