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Jan Broersen - Parents Research

Paper delivered at the Decker reunion June 19, 1999 by Sonja Malm Decker (Mrs Harold Alvin Decker)

This is edited from the original.

In this paper I shall present strong evidence concerning the previously unknown birth record of Jan Broersse Decker. If this evidence can be accepted, the identity of his parents and grandparents can also be proposed.

 I quote first from a document from the NYG&B Library entitled “Paternal Lineage of Frank Norton Decker. Bob Decker presented this information at an earlier reunion.

“Jan Broersen sailed from Bremerhaven on the Elbe River (in present day Germany) to Curacao, West Indies and later to Santa Cruz, Cuba. He sailed to New Amsterdam in 1644 on the  Blue Cock. He came to the New World as a very young boy. The fact that he was from Husum was documented on his statement in 1660 on the “Muster Rolls of the Company at Esopus” published in Callaghan’s NY Historical Records. He was living in Kingston, NY in 1658 when he signed a bond to become part of a palisade fort built for protection from the Indians. He was a lieutenant in the militias of Hurley and Marbletown, NY.”

I saw many records which mention Jan Broersse. In each instance the recording clerk spelled the last name differently: Broer, Broersse, Broersen and when he married for the second  time he had taken the name Decker.

 I looked at film records of births at the LDS Family History Library for the name Broer or Broersse or Broersen . There was no record with that name, but numerous records appear for Broder and Brodersen.  In my study of French and German I learned that both Broder and Bror can be translated as Brother. It is consistent with the language that he could have been Broders in Husum   and Broers by the time the ship lists recorded him,. I propose that the ordinary spelling problems of poorly educated clerks could be compounded when a man traveled through several countries where different languages were spoken.

 My next step was to test my theory by seeing if there was a Jan Broders born in Husum at the appropriate time. The Family History library had a n number of microfilms for Husum, Schleswig Holstein. I chose to look first at the records of the Evangelical Church because in this country Jan and his peers were members of the Dutch Reformed, likewise a Protestan Church, not Roman Catholic.

What date? The information from the Frank Decker Biography stated that Jan sailed to NY as a very young boy in 1644. That being the case, he should have been born between 1624 and 1634, when he would have been ages ten to twenty. I returned to the film of the birth records of the Evangelische Kirche in Husum:  this time to look for a boy born between those years with a name in some way similar to Jan Broersse. I was startled and delighted to find that, on May 6, 1632, a son Hans was born to Detlef Broders and his wife Anna. This boy would have been twelve when he sailed on the Blue Cock. But there was another name problem: this child was Hans, not Jans. Although I pursued the birth records for fifty five years, from 1605 to 1660 I found no Jans in all of those records. There were a few Jens, but none of them had a last name remotely resembling Broersse or Broder. At this point I used the same reasoning with this name as I had with the last name. Jan and Hans are Dutch and German nicknames for the name Johann.

Unfortunately, the marriage records for Husum are not available for the period of time when Hans Broders’ parents Detlef and Anna would have been married. However, I did find a birth record in Husum for Detleff, son of Heinrich and Ingeborg Broders on May 2, 1613. This record is on film #1945977. If this Detleff were Jan’s father, he would have been nineteen at the time of Jan’s birth. Once again, perusal of all fifty five years of the record shows only this one Detleff.

I needed to resolve one other challenge. There is another Husum near Copenhagen. I tried to find Broersses in this Husum. In the Family History Library there is a listing for Husum found under the town Bronshoj. The Bronshoj records began in 1660, sixteen years after Jan was in America. Knowing that I could not find hi birth record there, I next looked in the Register of Persons in the Copenhagen area in 1659 (catalog 948.911/k1x2m) hoping to find his parents or relatives. However there are no Broersses, Broders or Brodersons in Bronshoj Parish. Neither do tax records show anyone of these names. This does not prove that Jan’s family hadn’t lived there twenty to 40 years previously, but having no one with that name twenty years later is strongly suggestive that the Broders or Broersses were not from Husum Denmark, but instead were from Husum, Schleswig Holstein (sometimes called Friesland.)

To bolster my name theory, Bob Decker has sent information form a German genealogist who supports the language assumptions. To quote him:

Broer for Frieslanders can also be written Broder (brother) since they both mean the same  thing. The name can also mean brewer. It is widespread as Brorsen, Broersen and Broer through Germany as a surname. It has definitely been established that it is a Frieslander name.”

Bob adds, “With Jan as a mercenary for the Dutch West Indies Company, a settler in New Netherlands, and not being literate himself, all his statements were recorded by people speaking Nederlander Deutsch”

To reiterate: It has been definitely established that it was a Frieslander name, and Friesland is is the part of Schlewig Holstein where Husum is located.

 In summary, I submit, but cannot prove, that Jan Broersse or Broders was born Hans Broders in Husum , Schleswig Holstein on May 6, 1632. His parents were Detlef and Anna Broders. The records  are found in the Evangelische Kirsch of Husum birth records on microfilm #0414641 page 67 at the LDS Faily History Library.

(all information on this page provided by Sonja Malm Decker)


July 27, 2009