CONTRIBUTED By DAVID VERNOOY BENNETT
Box 201, Wurtsboro, New York
(Continued from The Record, Vol. XC, p. 14)
Kregier had a great deal of trouble with the burghers over such matters as billeting his troops, borrowing horses and carts for expeditions, dividing the spoils of war and repairing the palisades. Either by a more co-operative disposition in these matters or by good work in the actual fighting, Harman Rosecrans must have earned Kregier’s special consideration. For, in October, when Schout Roeloff Swartwout prosecuted violators of orders against leaving the stockade without an armed guard and Harman was among the "knechten" (hired men) of brewer Sleght who were being tried, Harman made light of the risk involved. He turned to Kregier, who presided over the Council of War, and asked him to settle the matter for him; Kregier then officially requested the release of the accused men, stating that he had reached an understanding with the brewer.
Magdalena managed to get into a ramification of the case. The Schout alleged that she had interfered with him in the discharge of his duty when he was arresting Aeltje Claes for telling him that the paper he was serving on her husband would be used in the privy. Magdalena’s story was that she had simply protested: "Swartwout, why do you want to put this woman in prison? Why do you want to disgrace her? She is neither a whore nor a thief, and there is a private place here from which she cannot run away. The court decided that Magdalena must submit proof of her version or be adjudged guilty, but the charges against her were apparently dropped-along with Schout Swartwout, who had not complied diligently with Kregier’s orders to have the stockade repaired.
Magdalena bounced right back into court, however, to support a charge by Eschje Gerrits that Sergeant Niessen, who was in command during Kregier’s absence, was unlawfully possessed of a pillow of Eschje’s. The Sergeant said Magdalena’s declaration was false, based on words uttered by his wife while sick and delirious, and demanded that Magdalena be sworn. The outcome of the case is not shown in the minutes, but it is interesting to note that Niessen’s wife was later convicted of various petty thefts in New Amsterdam.
By the last day of 1663, Captain-Lieutenant Kregier, favored by a rain which broke up ice in the Hudson, was "weathering the Long Reach" on his course to his home village of Breuckelen, where he would get foretaste of things to come: a wild English royalist, John Scott, had been attempting an uprising in the five Dutch towns of Long Island and had struck Kregier’s son for valiantly refusing to take off his hat to the English flag. Back in ravaged Esopus, the settlers faced the momentous new year of 1664 with minds necessarily absorbed by economic, rather than political, problems. Theirs was a hand-to-mouth, dog-eat-dog existence.
In January, the new schout, Capito, resorted to court action to collect Dominie Blom’s salary. Harman Rosecrans was on the list, the balance due from him being between 19 and 20 guilders, as against a market value of about 75 guilders for a lot; but Harman could pay nothing on account. Again, in March, Harman was summoned to court because of an unpaid debt, this a note to a New Amsterdam merchant for 27-1/2 guilders in beavers, payable in wheat at the Manhattans, and for 14-1/2 guilders in sewan besides. Harman having conceded the correctness of the claim, a judgment was taken; but the judgment was still unsatisfied in November, when it was exhibited in court and an officer delegated to execute it. New Netherland had been surrendered to the English on September 6th, and a detachment of a dozen English soldiers under a sergeant named Berrisford was garrisoning Esopus, but the Dutch courts were still functioning. It must have been impossible to find assets of Harman’s at Esopus upon which to levy, for in December the merchant, Jan Coo, applied to the court in what was now New York City to confirm the judgment for 66 guilders in beavers and 33 in sewan — the usual doubling of the original indebtedness because of default. Magdalena’s uncle Verplanck stepped into the breach and guaranteed settlement by the following April.
Magdalena was doing her bit to tide the family over. In October 1664, she sought an injunction to prevent Dirck Storm from converting to his own use all the effects of Martin Van der Hague the barber, to the detriment of her claim of 3 schepels of wheat for washing the barber’s clothes — an assignment in her favor having been made by the barber when her husband had caught up with him at the Manhattans. Storm exhibited a power-of-attorney from the barber to take possession of the trunk containing the effects, and he argued that he had paid 28 guilders for it, above the 30 already owed him by the barber. The Esopus magistrates shrewdly asked Storm if he wouldn’t care to pay off Magdalena and have undisputed title to the trunk and contents. "No," replied Storm; but on second thought he accepted a postponement for the purpose of working out a compromise with Magdalena.
Uncle Verplanck tried to wash his hands of his poor Rosecrans relations in July 1665, some three months after his guarantee to merchant Coo had become operative. "Harmen Hendricksen, alias the Portuguese," was summoned to the New York City court to take the judgment off Verplanck’s back by giving himself up. But Verplanck’s son-in-law Adriaen Van Laer, who lived at Esopus, assumed the bail bond and assured the court that a settlement would be forthcoming within two months. Six weeks were all that Mayor Willett and the Aldermen would allow him.
By January, 1666, Harman evidently was seeing daylight through his obligations, for he was offering to settle his church dues if he could get a concession. Would the court accept sewan instead of beavers on the first year’s assessment, and would it transfer half of the next two years’ assessments to the account of Francis La Cheer, who had apparently been occupying half of Harman’s double lot, and would it make an allowance of four days’ pay for work on the parsonage; The court granted the petition, inasmuch as the first year’s obligation was based on a pledge and the other years’ on the number of lots occupied. Harman straightway attempted to stretch his good luck by asking the court to order George Hall, a tapster, to recompense him for firewood taken from a pile cut under contract for the night watch, claiming that Hall had used wood worth a schepel of wheat on each of several past months and the commander of the English garrison, Captain Brodhead, had assured him that Hall would pay. The court would not go further than to suggest refusal of more wood to Hall: it might be playing with fire.
On New Year’s Day 1667 (New Style), newly married Walran Du Mond, formerly a Dutch soldier, gave a party at his home and among his guests was Magdalena Dircks. The English still held to the Old Style calendar, and, now that Nieuw Nederlandt was New York, the English garrison commander was insisting upon the English way of life. He, Captain Daniel Brodhead, intruded himself upon the wrong-time gathering. As he scolded the host in abusive terms, one of the women — who but Magdalena? — had the temerity to talk back. She must have been getting the better of it in the exchange of insults — he testified later that she had said his sister was a whore — for the valiant captain threw a glass of beer in her face and dragged her off to the guardhouse.
Clashes between the Dutch-French settlers and the English garrison had been occurring ever since the occupation of Esopus in the fall of 1664. The idea that the English were there to stay and so had better be put up with somehow did not jell in the settlers’ minds; Dutch sea power was rated equal to English and French land power was allied to Dutch. On the other hand, orders not to act like conquerors failed to restrain the English. Complaints from both sides came before the Wiltwyck magistrates and the garrison commandant, Sergeant Berrisford, who sat with them. Albert Roosa had threatened three English soldiers with an axe in a dispute over use of his canoe; Tjerck De Witt had called English soldiers bad names; Roeloff Swartwout had broken an English soldier’s sword in a fight. Or English soldiers had forced brewer Sleght to serve his "best bier" gratis to them and their friends; they had extorted extra provisions from Aert Van Wagenen and Juriaen Westphal — to trade off for tobacco, Magdalena Dircks declared in this case. The magistrates, with Berrisford riding herd over them, favored the English when they could not avoid a decision.
Then, in May 1665, when it was rumored that Roosa, a sergeant in the Burgher Guard, was to be arrested for a second assault on the English when he took away a soldier’s gun, the guardsmen armed and assembled. Having learned that their sergeant was merely summoned to court, they dispersed without taking any action; but their Officers’ Council felt constrained to investigate the matter. Adelborst Rosecrans played a part in befogging the issue, testifying that only members of the watch had been given the watchword which made presence on the street possible after nightfall and backing up the testimony of Corporal Van Wagenen that the corporal’s son, accused of being on the street, had been substituting for the corporal, who was ill. Captain De Laval of the Governor’s Council, who happened to be in Wiltwyck, declined an invitation to sit with the Burgher Guard officers in judgment; so the investigation was suspended to await the coming of the Governor himself.
Governor Nicolls, arriving in September, sought to ease the tension by replacing the garrison commandant with a commissioned officer, Captain Brodhead, who had brought his family with him to America with the intention of settling here. He instructed Brodhead to "be single and indifferent as to justice between soldiers and burghers" and "not let insinuations beget a prejudice in his mind against the Dutch." But the captain turned out to be the hottest partisan of the English lot, especially after the following February (1666), when the Governor ordered him to rush reinforcements to Albany, which might be the objective of a French-Canadian expedition Courcelles was making. Antony D’Elba of the Burgher Guard answered the call for volunteers with the challenge, "Shall we go fight our friends and leave our enemies at home?"
Even with his neighbors at the New Dorp, where he had rented a farm, Captain Brodhead embroiled himself gratuitously. One day he arrived at the store of Louys Dubois while a fight between the stormy petrel Roosa and five English soldiers was going on. Roosa had entered the store in search of a man to repair his plough-colter and, being badgered by the soldiers, who were in there drinking brandy, he had thrown the colter at one who was drawing his sword, scoring a near miss. Three of the soldiers had chased him outside. Brodhead’s presence ended the outside engagement, but Brodhead didn’t go inside to stop the beating the other two soldiers were giving the storekeeper and his wife. It was the English soldiers that preferred charges. The Wiltwyck magistrates, with Brodhead sitting as observer, held Roosa for further examination.
At a later date, when storekeeper Dubois took exception to the free sampling of his brandy by Brodhead, the captain threw the anker (ten-gallon keg) to the ground — without letting the liquor run out, however. Then, surreptitiously, he helped himself to some more. The storekeeper’s wife, Cathryn Blanchan, caught Brodhead in the act and pluckily followed him to his home, demanding payment. The captain, unable to shut her mouth by calling her vile names, finally drew his knife and told her he would be using it on her if she were not carrying a baby. (Her son David was baptized March 13th, 1667.)
When, on New Year’s Day 1667, Magdalena fell afoul of this high and mighty English captain, she was right in the middle of a struggle with one of his men, Richard Cage, who had been domiciled with the Rosecrans family but had moved out in September 1665 without paying for the washing of his clothes for a half year. Not that he lacked the means to pay! He was now renting the front part of Henry Pawling’s house for a ten-year term for 240 guilders in sewan. He was peeved because Harman Rosecrans had gotten 6 guilders which should, he thought, have gone to him. He had sued Gerrit Fooken for wages due his deceased servant, Michael Sea, and Fooken had deducted the 6 guilders paid Harman Rosecrans for rescuing Sea from the woods. So, Cage was ignoring the judgment for 8 guilders, or 5 schepels of wheat, which the court had awarded Magdalena after Cage had ignored her summons.
In spite of the worsened hatreds, Harman Rosecrans — in February 1667, sixteen months after the issuance of the judgment against Cage — demanded of the court an attachment of the English soldier’s assets. The magistrates wanted Harman to content himself with calling Captain Brodhead’s attention to the matter, but they could not deny an unopposed demand for the next usual step in a legal course of action. Accordingly, Magdalena proceeded to locate and tie up sums of money owed Cage. Jan Cornelissen the smith, summoned next month to explain why he hadn’t paid the soldier 8 guilders due him, answered that 6 had been credited to Cage’s account with Du Mond and the other 12 to his account with Magdalena Dircks, from whom it was Cage’s business to obtain release. Roeloff Swartwout, brought before the bar for failure to pay the soldier 8 guilders, declared his readiness to settle as soon as Magdalena’s claim was lifted. The magistrates shrugged their shoulders and advised Cage to summon the woman in the case.
Thus fobbed off by legalities, the English soldier resorted to extra-legal measures to revenge himself on the washerwoman who wouldn’t be cheated of her pay. He served up the Rosecrans’ goats at a dinner for his friends and he used his sword on Harman when Harman protested. How else would one explain the item in the burghers’ bill of grievances of April 27th, 1667? — "Harman Hendricx was wounded in his Legge by Richard Cuge in so much that the said Harmen is lame unto this present day, and that only because his Goates were eaten by the souldiers."
Harman was lucky, at that. His friend, Hendrick Cornelissen the rope maker, was murdered by a vicious English soldier, William Fisher, in a soldier-burgher brawl; and his sometime employer, Cornelis Sleght the brewer, was assaulted in his own brewhouse by Captain Brodhead himself and clapped into the guardhouse. This abuse of Sleght, like Roosa, a sergeant in the old Burgher Guard, now the militia, brought about another unlawful assembly of armed burghers. Though Brodhead called out his English garrison, the burghers refused to disperse. Anthony D’Elba leveled a musket at the commander and threatened to shoot him if he advanced one step. The village magistrates intervened with a proposal to try Sleght in their court. Brodhead defied them to take away his prisoner. Only by pledging themselves to make representations to the Governor did they finally induce the burghers to go home.
Governor Nicolls appointed a commission to investigate the "Esopus mutiny." As he saw it, he could not afford to admit justice was on the burghers’ side; so, as was to be disclosed more than a century later when secret colonial files were opened by Revolutionists, he dictated exactly what the commission’s findings should be. "Appear favorable to the boors," he wrote, "but severe with the principal Incendiaries. Find that the Dutch rope maker ran upon the soldier Fisher’s sword in attempting to assault the soldier; find that the captain Brodhead merely threatened to fling a dish at the Dutch brewer — merely threatened to draw a sword, but neither did nor could have done it — and that the brewer presently ran in upon the captain and made the assault, giving the first blow."
The Governor directed the commission to employ no jury and to admit only screened burghers to its sessions. It must make the people realize that unlawful assembly of armed men is treason and inexcusable under any circumstances. Some of the ringleaders must be convicted of malicious and treasonable riot and transported to New York for sentence. Pressure for a more thorough investigation could then be met with the statement that the case had passed into the Governor’s hands. Examination of complaints not covered in the directive could be avoided by suspending Captain Brodhead for disobedience to orders.
The "boors" stood their ground in such lines of testimony as were permitted, maintaining that they could not have done otherwise than back up their abused sergeant and defend their homes, which the garrison was threatening to burn. Even their English captain, Thomas Chambers, confirmed Du Mond’s account of the garrison commander’s conduct at the New Year’s party. But there was no gainsaying the fact that an armed assembly had taken place. The commission sat for only three days, and it failed to reach the charges against any of the garrison soldiers except Fisher, which it had the cut-and-dried answer for.
The commission’s report showed not the slightest deviation from the Governor’s directive. Soldier Fisher was acquitted of homicide on the grounds of self-defense. Captain Brodhead was relieved of his command. Cornelis Sleght, Antony D’Elba, Albert Roosa and Albert’s son Ariaen were convicted of rebellious and mutinous riot and shipped to New York City for sentence. Lieutenant Hendrick Schoonmaker, who had also been arrested, was found to have acted under duress and was released.
Governor Nicolls sentenced the four convicted "Incendiaries" to banishment, with confiscation of property in the elder Roosa’s case. But in the fall of the year, when he learned of the Treaty of Breda, which confirmed English possession of New Netherland, he declared a general amnesty.
In the aftermath of the Esopus mutiny, as the magistrates trimmed their sails to the English wind, Schepen Thomas Chambers accused Henry Pawling, a soldier who had come over with Nicolls, of slandering him by referring to him as a "knave." Pawling admitted use of the word in characterizing Chambers but contended that Chambers had started the name calling by referring to the Duke of York’s soldiers as "rogues." Put Schepen Hendrick Schoonmaker, Chambers’ own lieutenant, under oath, Pawling requested, and ask him if he hadn’t heard Chambers do this at the house of Harman Rosecrans. Ask if Chambers didn’t say, "The English who are at present here were banished from England and sent to an island" but "took their course to the Manhattans without authority of the King of England" and "Stuyvesant had surrendered the country to them."
Schoonmaker denied that any such ideas had been expressed by Chambers. All that Chambers had said at Harman’s house a year before, counting from the last Shrovetide, was something to the effect that "some English behave in such a manner — cursing, swearing and blustering — as if they were bandits." Rosecrans testified that he had forgotten just when Chambers made the remarks but what Chambers had said was that "these English who are now here are a party of bandits and had been sent to some island, and that they thus came here and Stuyvesant has given the land to them." Chambers, who had not contradicted Schoonmaker’s version of his statements, vehemently repudiated the Rosecrans version. It was Harman himself, said he, who had uttered such sentiments.
Pawling wanted Harman’s wife questioned on this point, but Magdalena "whereas she cannot now be present on account of being confined in child-bed" (her seventh child, Anna, was baptized on October 9th, 1667), was not available. Probably she would only have made matters worse, for the Honorable Court, with Sergeant Berrisford watching proceedings again, ruled that Harman’s testimony was inadmissible because he was "passionately prejudiced against Thomas Chambers, which he showed before the court here," and Magdalena would have shown passionate prejudice too. As it was, Pawling was notified to present more reliable evidence or resign his defense; and Governor Nicolls, reviewing the minutes of the case, approved the court’s action and ordered the expunction of Rosecrans’ testimony and the punishment of Pawling.
Harman’s reason for animosity toward Chambers is obvious: Chambers was letting him down in a bitter legal battle with the schout, William Beeckman, which was coming up in session after session. About a half year before, Adelborst Rosecrans had led the watch to the Beeckman home and slapped a fine on Beeckman’s son Hendrick for failing to report for duty and, according to Beeckman, had used insulting language in the process; but subsequent inquiries of "superior officers" by Beeckman had revealed that none of them had ordered young Beeckman to stand watch on the occasion in question. Moreover, the said Rosecrans, happening upon the scene while the schout was discussing the matter with Captain Chambers, had been overheard muttering, "If he, Schout Beeckman, had come before the door, I would have saluted him with the hammer."
Harman maintained that his superiors had authorized the assignment of the schout’s son to duty on the watch. As for the alleged insults, said he, the schout had invited them by roaring at the watch, when it came to levy the fine "You buffaloes, get out of my house." The peaceable retirement of the watch after such an outburst should be considered sufficiently mollifying for a few harsh words.
Schout Beeckman brushed aside the niceties of balancing insults. The point, said he, was whether or not the captain had ordered the adelborst to have Hendrick Beeckman mount guard. "No," Captain Chambers testified. At that, Harman, in what seems to have been a sly attempt to trap his captain into an admission by inference, asked Chambers "if he (Harman) would be permitted to keep the schout’s son in his watch." But the captain avoided committing himself. "Not until he (Chambers) should have given orders to Harman," he answered.
So, Harman was found guilty and directed to appear at the next session prepared to make public supplication for the schout’s forgiveness and to pay 50 guilders for distribution to the poor. When the time came, however, and he was told that everybody was waiting for him to begin, Harman declared that he would never submit to the sentence. In that event, the schout warned him, he would be conducted before the Governor "for the purpose of upholding the authority of the Honorable Court." Reyndert Pietersen’s yacht was lying in the river ready to sail for New York. Just let Harman hear what he, Beeckman, would say to the Governor and what the Governor would say to Harman.
As Harman stubbornly stuck to his defiant position, Schepen Schoonmaker went to work on him, accusing him of having vilified both Chambers and him (Schoonmaker). To back up the accusation, he presented declarations by Reynier Van der Coele and Jacob Burhans, another Schepen, that they had heard Harman speak of Chambers and Schoonmaker as "rascals and liars." Harman retorted that so had the two referred to him in uncomplimentary terms. But the court took cognizance of the new charges and instructed the schout to press them along with the others in his interview with the Governor. Then, with the expressed hope that Harman would have the sense to change his mind over night, the court called an "extraordinary session" for the next day.
It turned out that Harman had used the borrowed time to collect ammunition for rebuttal. His first shot was a declaration by Tjerck De Witt that he had been present in Court-Secretary Mattheus Capito’s house when Harman reported to Captain Chambers the fining of the schout’s son for a delinquency and the captain had commented, "Just remember, for he (the schout’s son) is no better than any other farmer’s son." Asked to confirm or deny, Chambers admitted that he was correctly quoted. Harman’s second shot was a declaration by Joost Ariaens that he had been at the home of Hendrick Martensen, one of Chamber’s lieutenants, when Harman, as he was leaving, asked the captain about drawing the schout’s son for the watch and the captain told him to do so, adding, "If Willem Beeckman is schout, his son shall not be any more exempt than has been my son." Chambers, invited to give his version, stated that his orders to Harman had been to draw all of the sixteen-year-old class.
The third shot was testimony by Jan Hendricks that he had heard Harman, standing in front of his own house, report to Chambers that he had twice warned the schout’s son about standing guard and the captain had responded, "Just remember," and gone his way. Chambers conceded the truth of this. The fourth shot was testimony by Henry Pawling that, right in Lieutenant Schoonmaker’s house, he had heard Captain Chambers order the lieutenant to draw the schout’s son for the watch. To this, Chambers replied that his orders had been to draw all of young Beeckman’s class. Pawling went on to say that, according to talk in the Rosecrans’ house, Captain Chambers had specifically mentioned the schout’s son and had assumed responsibility for possible trouble over the fine even "if he (Harman) took security therefor from the (Beeckman) house." Chambers said he had not thus committed himself. The fifth, and last, shot was a statement by Jannetje Hillebrandts, wife of Francis La Cheer, that Lieutenant Schoonmaker, at the house of Lieutenant Martensen, had remarked, "Why should not Beeckman’s son watch as well as my son?" though she couldn’t say to whom Schoonmaker was addressing the remark. Schoonmaker allowed that he might have made some such observation, but he couldn’t imagine to whom he might have made it.
Having delivered his five rounds, Harman requested an official transcript of the minutes. The court granted the request but advised him that the judgment of yesterday stood unaltered and was now formally before him for compliance. Still grasping at straws, he made a "further request," that Chambers and Schoonmaker should be sent down the river with him and Beeckman for the Governor’s hearing. The court turned a deaf ear and took the opportunity to repeat its prediction of dire consequences for Harman if the case should reach the Governor.
That was it. Harman had fought to the last ditch; at least he had shown that he was the man in the middle. The schout and all three schepens were biased by self-interest, but the Governor would undoubtedly find it politic to uphold them. Why should a man with a large and needy family let his pride lead him to destruction; Harman took the travesty on justice in stride and, as the minutes tell it, he "comt int gevley met schuldbekentnisse voor haer" — he pleaded guilty in a vainglorious manner. Lightly acknowledging that it had been a mistake to lock horns with Schout Beeckman, he offered to let bygones be bygones if the schout would. "And thus," concludes the Court-Secretary, "they both, after shaking hands, buried their differences." As for the fine of 50 guilders, the court decided that "Harman Hendricks himself needs them."
Magdalena, who had been confined at a time when she might have testified for Pawling and her husband, was hardly back on her feet before she went to court as the complainant. On the Saturday after the Sunday on which her baby Anna was baptized, she was there accusing Annetje Adriaens of assault. Annetje had come to her house on the preceding day "with the intention of making trouble," said Magdalena, and, when she took hold of Annetje’s sleeve to usher her outside, Annetje had flown at her and beaten her so that her "flesh became discolored." Annetje’s story was that she had called to pay Jannetje, Evert Pels’ wife, for a schepel of apples and a few words passing to and fro had led to a slight application of force. Jannetje Pels and Henry Pawling bore witness that Magdalena had given no cause for the "bad treatment" by the caller. The court admonished both parties and turned its attention to a complaint by sachem Pamirewackingh of damage to his maize crop by a settler’s pigs.
Two months later, in December i667, Harman was facing the bench as defendant again, but this time several other burghers were bracketed with him. The charge against the group was failure to close sections of stockade for which they were responsible. The magistrates postponed the case to give themselves time to inspect. In January 1668, Harman brought an action to compel his friend and neighbor, Francis La Cheer, to return two schepels of wheat that he had abstracted from a shipment of three consigned to Harman by Michael Ver Brugge. Decision was deferred pending word from the consignor. In February, Harman was sued for 14 guilders by Thomas Hall.
Then, in March, Magdalena gave the court something less run-of-the-mill to handle. She had been trying to trick Catryn Mattys, wife of Jan Jansen of Amersfoort, into admission of her husband’s connection with the disappearance of some Rosecrans’ linen. In the course of a discussion of a recent comet, which in those days was supposed to be an expression of God’s dissatisfaction with the conduct of mortals, Magdalena had belittled some astrologer’s opinion on the subject and had slyly brought in a reference to the missing linen.
"If he could say who stole your linen, then he must be able to say something else," Catryn had snapped, according to Magdalena’s telling. "What else?" Magdalena had bridled. "Who should have stolen chickens and boards," Catryn had shot back. And Magdalena, taking this to be as it undoubtedly was — an insinuation that she too was a thief, had flatly told Catryn, "Your husband has stolen a board from our cool-house and your sister a pocket handkerchief of my husband."
Catryn’s account of the give and take differed somewhat from Magdalena’s. She had, said she, merely remarked, "If he (the astrologer) was able to say Wychert (Catryn’s sister) had stolen linen, then he was able to say other things." Magdalena had been mistaken if she thought this an accusation. It was Magdalena herself who had first mentioned the board and the handkerchief; and, even after the provocation, she, Catryn, hadn’t accused Magdalena of anything. Only "in a general way" had she inquired, "Those stealing chickens and boards, are they not thieves? — and those carrying handkerchiefs stolen of Mrs. Blom (the dominie’s wife)?"
Henry Pawling, called as a witness by Magdalena and asked by her to state whence he had recovered linen stolen from her garden last winter, answered that he had picked it up in his own garden but he didn’t know who had dropped it there; he knew only that it had been carried from Magdalena’s garden by "somebody wearing Jan Jansen’s shoes."
Jan Jansen, Catryn’s husband, was a problem for the Wiltwyck authorities, mainly because of his abuse of his family, and they had tried to solve it by ordering him to reside beyond village limits. Nevertheless, he was right in court for the hearing, and he rose at the mention of his name to demand proof that he had purloined a board from the Rosecrans’ coolhouse to use in making his wheelbarrow. The court went off on a tangent to settle this point, and, finding nothing offered as evidence, directed Magdalena to appear at the next session with something to connect the Rosecrans board with the Jansen barrow.
When the time came and Jan Jansen stood waiting for Magdalena’a presentment, she begged Pawling to give the testimony she knew he could. Pawling replied that he was not yet prepared to do so, but he would be at a later date and before the higher court, the General Sessions. The local magistrates, as usual, insisted upon maintaining jurisdiction till the issue could be decided; and Jan Jansen, assuming the offensive, summoned Magdalena and her witness to a later session.
The best that the two, now the defendants, could produce as proof of Jan Jansen’s malefaction was Pawling’s testimony that he had seen, on the day when Magdalena’s linen vanished, traces of Jan Jansen’s shoes in her garden going in the direction of his own, Pawling’s; and that, on the next day, he had followed the traces to the house of Louys Dubois and found Jan Jansen there. The evidence against Jan Jansen was not conclusive in the court’s opinion; Magdalena and Pawling were advised to come back with a stronger case or "be considered unjust accusers and be punished."
(To be continued)
This page was last updated on
February 26, 2007
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