This is basically a rerun of a story that I first posted back in 2009. I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy doing genealogical research, digging back through layers of history, trying to put together a sometimes very complicated puzzle to reveal certain connections. Sometimes it can be relatively boring, going through generations without finding a visible compelling story. But once in a while you stumble on an ancestor with heroic traits and an exciting story to tell. Or one who is a scoundrel who makes you wish you hadn’t found out so much about them. But one of the great pleasures I take in doing this is coming across the life stories of ancestors that are just plain good tales.
One such is from my wife’s family, the story of the lady they called the Flying Angel. Her maiden name was Magdalena Dircksen Volckertsen and she was born in New Amsterdam (now Manhattan) in the 1630’s, her father a builder of the earliest homes there for the Dutch West Indies Company.
Her first husband ( not in my wife’s family line) was a privateer for the Dutch West Indies Company. That is to say, he was a pirate hired by the company to attack foreign ships and competitors in the area. Called “Captain Caper” for his daring, he was killed in an Indian attack that was the beginning of the Indian Wars of 1655. Magadalena was left a young widow with an infant child.
Two years later she married Herman Hendricksen Rosenkrance, called “Herman the Portuguese.” The name came not from his nationality ( he was from Norway) but from his service as a mercenary for the Dutch company in Brazil where they forced their way into sugar growing areas controlled by the Portuguese. Finally forcibly repelled from Brazil, Herman and his cohorts were sent to New Amsterdam to engage the Indians there. Herman stayed on as a settler, supposedly running a tavern of low repute called the Flying Angel, the origin of Magdalena’s nickname.
Magdalena had quite the temper. On her wedding day to Herman, after downing multiple beers, she was walking with her sister just above what is now Wall Street in NYC when she passed and insulted the fire warden. What was termed a street riot broke out and several weeks later she was yellow-carded by Peter Stuyvesant, meaning she was expelled from the settlement, sent back to Holland where she and Herman bided their time for two years until they were finally allowed to come back, provided they did not open a tavern or sell spirits.
The following years were a series of adventures involving Indian Wars (one that had Herman being captured and staked out in the sun before he was able to escape), various legal troubles, some involving Magadalena throwing beer in the faces of a number of men, stabbings and accusations of selling liquor to the native Indian population. They ended up living up the Hudson, near Kingston, where Magdalena lived into her 90’s.
It’s rumored that in her later years, she would chase Indians from her property by running out at them, yelling and shaking a large goiter on her neck at them. How could she not live past 90?
It’s just an interesting footnote in our history and the early settlement of NY, one that you don’t hear much about. I’m always excited when I come across such stories, especially when there is a small personal connection. Magadalena and Herman would be my wive’s 8th generation grandparents.
I’m not sure how proud she is…