Saturday, June 5, 2010

Deborah's Story

As it happened the English actually arrived before the Dutch, so many English people and Europeans were contracted by the Dutch West India Company as well as Dutch from the Homeland. Our Deborah's father was a sea captain. I rather think he captained a small sloop that plied the inland rivers. He was born in England.

When he came to America he went to the Massachuesetts Bay Colony. At one time he was probably a company man, but the ability of the Dutch to manage their foreign territory was something less than Stellar. And, so we have Kit Davids embarking on his career of trading, rum and gun running, real estate investment and general rabble rousing. Having lost his first wife, who did appear to be actually Dutch, as well as subsequently mismanaging the first few of his children's inheritance after her death, he remarried. Of that marriage, more Davids children were produced including our Deborah.

As a side note, there are recorded instances of both Indian leaders and Dutch leaders begging Kit not to provide the Indians with liquor. One unfortunate incident resulted in the Indians murdering some of Kit's inlaws. There are also court records dealing with Kit beating and being beat by his servants. Kit was also known to pay fines and the like in beavers. Beavers were beaver skins. Because of his unique relationship with the Indians and his knowledge of the waterways, he was sent down river by the Dutch to request reinforcements. Curiously, he travels safely but the party of Dutch that escorts him to the river after talking to Stuyvesant are murdered on their way back but Kit escapes unscathed.

It is said that the Munsee Indians were the first Native Americans to partake of Alchol and I have no doubt that my ancestor was involved in making that first contact. The record demonstrates that they found him an ongoing source of firewater. This was the charming environment that Ms. Deborah was born into. Stuyvesant made it his business to try to clean things up, but I'm sure that great grandpa was out stirring things up as much as possible.

Deborah was married at the age of 14 to a 27 year old. The story goes that he wrote her a letter imploring her to come back and live with him but she would not, responding back by saying she was not in love with him, had never loved him and would not live with him. At 20 she had a child, but it was not with the man she was married to, although that child bore his name.

It would seem that the father of Deborah's son was the hard drinking Derek Wooden Legg who had lost his leg a year earlier when he shot himself in the leg while celebrating New Year's Eve in a tavern. Apparently, Derek had promised to marry Deborah, but then turned around and married someone else. Wooden Legg appears to be the community's nickname for him and family geneaologists believe they have identified his proper last name.

The Dutch permitted separation and there were only three known formal divorces during the years the colony was in existence. Deborah's was not one of them. There are other recorded instances of what would be considered bigamy and adultery. Some were accidental but most were just the locals coping with what was a next to non-functional government on the matters. Add to that that a recruiting trip to get a pastor from the old country is well recorded. One of the most notable illegitimacy paternity case involves a preacher's daughter who has a child with a married man.

Women were in demand in the colony and it wasn't long before Deborah "married" another man and promptly got down to reproducing like rabbits with him. Her first husband also "married" and had many children as well. She and her new husband, Derek, and her first husband all went to the same church. Their grandchildren and great-grandchildren all intermarried. So no hard feelings it seems one way or another except the bitterness that husband #1 still harbored at being rejected by Deborah and left Derek's child bearing his name a single schilling in his will.

What's the moral of the story? The more things change the more they stay the same?

No comments:

Post a Comment