Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another skeleton in the closet...Ahh, dear reader, I digress with another sad tale.  Since it is the dark time of year, I will let another skeleton out of my closet and rattle his bones.  Researching one's ancestry is sometimes like suddenly breaking a log jam and the result is a deluge of too much information, more than you wanted to know.

Let me take you to the earliest days of the Dutch settlement, New Amsterdam in the 1600's.  An appointed governor was ill suited to the task of arranging a whole new world and sequestered himself in his office.  He was easily manipulated by a certain Cornelious Van Tienhoven who managed to have himself appointed to important positions in the colony from Secretary to Receiver of Revenues to Sheriff, then Attorney General.  He schmoozed up to the next director as well, Peter Stuyvesant, working hand and glove with him, and was even called back to the Hague in the Netherlands to represent the man in his propositions for the colonies.  However, Cornelious found  he was to answer charges against himself.  What charges?  Sad to say he was guilty, among other things, of precipitating Indian troubles, incredibly horrendous attacks against villages, massacring, hacking to death, and even torturing babies exhibiting the worst imaginable depravity. Back home he was known for his lecherous, treacherous and cruel disposition.  Though hundreds of Indians died, so were many settlers killed and taken prisoner in retribution. (Actually, another of my great grandfathers and son were killed in these attacks and a son taken hostage.)  Meanwhile, because he was to be on the hot seat in front of the powers that be, he compounded it by behaving in an unseemly matter having "carnal conversation" (an affair) and was soon to be additionally charged with immorality with witnesses to be brought forward.  

One of these men is my villainous scoundrel of an ancestor.

Mr. Van Tienhoven found it convenient to absent himself with his young woman Lysbeth.  They traveled across the country while he promised her marriage in the New World but forgot to mention that he was already married with children waiting there for his return.  The lecher fancied himself quite the womanizer, even though he was overweight, with an unpleasant "red bloated" face, not to mention his "sporting a prominently juicy cyst."  It was said of him that he was "given to lying...the whole country cries out against him bitterly as a villain, murderer, and traitor."

Once he arrived back home, nothing more is said of the poor young woman.  It didn't take long before word traveled over the waters that stripped him of his position, and he conveniently disappeared.  Only his hat and cane were found floating in the river.  Suicide?  Many thought not, that he might have gone to warmer not that place, yet.  His brother fled to Barbados, so perhaps did my  10th great grandfather as he was also thought to be the first embezzler of Manhattan.  He was bad to the bone.  Skeletons in the closet sometimes are that way.

 An archaeological dig in the back yard of Cornelious' home near where Wall Street is now. 
Unfortunately, he left a lot more dirt than anything of value.

"A good name is to be more desired than great riches,
Favor is better than silver and gold...
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse..."
Proverbs  22:1, 5

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