1 Blackburn, Roderic H. & Piwonka, Ruth, Remembrance of Patria (Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art, 1988), pp.35-37.
2 Blackburn, Roderic H. & Kelley, Nancy A., editors, New World Dutch Studies (Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art, 1987), pp. xi-xii.
3 McMahon, Reginald, editor, Historic Site Markers (River Edge, New Jersey: Bergen County Historical Society, 1996), marker #1.
4 De Vries, David, "From the 'Korte Historiael Ende Journaels Aenteyckeninge'" (1655) in Narratives of New Netherland, 1609–64, ed. J. Franklin Jameson (1909; facsimile reprint, Bowie, Md.: Heritage, 1990).
5 McMahon, Reginald editor, Historic Site Markers (River Edge, New Jersey: Bergen County Historical Society, 1996), marker #3.
6 Kenney, Alice P., Stubborn For Liberty (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1975), p. 55.
7 Blackburn, Roderic H. & Piwonka, Ruth, Remembrance of Patria (Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art, 1988), p. 36.
8 The New Netherland Institute, A Virtual Tour of New Netherland (Albany, New York: New York State library), http://www.nnp.org/newvtour/regions/Manhattan/new-amsterdam.html.
9 Blackburn, Roderic H. & Piwonka, Ruth, Remembrance of Patria (Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art, 1988), p. 36.
10 Leiby, Adrian C., The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1962, 1980), xii.
11 McMahon, Reginald, editor, Historic Site Markers (River Edge, New Jersey: Bergen County Historical Society, 1996), markers #124 & #123.
12 Storms, James B.H., A Jersey Dutch Vocabulary (Park Ridge, New Jersey: Pascack Historical Society, 1964), pp. 2 & 3.
13 Talman, Wilfred Blanch, How Things Began (New City, New York: The Historical Society of Rockland County, 1977), p. 8.
14 Numerous examples of this practice are found throughout the printed genealogies of the Jersey Dutch families; one pulled at random are the “Jacob” children of Jan Blauvelt. – 15 Blauvelt, Louis L., The Blauvelt Family Genealogy (published by The Association of Blauvelt Descendants, 1957), p. 122, #785, #1866 & #1867.
16 Singleton, Esther, Dutch New York (New York, New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1909), pp. 297-300.
17 Singleton, Esther, Dutch New York (New York, New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1909), pp. 301-309.
18 Rose, Peter G., The Sensible Cook (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1989), pp. 5 & 6.
19 Van Klompenburg, Carol, Delightfully Dutch (Iowa City, Iowa: Penfield Press, 1984), p. 65.
20 Hora, Helena, Dutch Recipes (New City, New York: The Historical Society of Rockland County, 1985), pp. 21; 24; 46; 85.
21 Riley, Gillian, The Dutch Table (San Francisco, California: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1994), p. 27.
22 Barnes, Donna R. & Rose, Peter G., Matters of Taste (Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art / Syracuse University Press, 2002), p. 20.
23 Rose, Peter G., The Sensible Cook (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1989), p. 106.
24 Talman, Wilfred Blanch, How Things Began (New City, New York: The Historical Society of Rockland County, 1977), pp. 263-266.
25 Storms, James B.H., A Jersey Dutch Vocabulary (Park Ridge, New Jersey: Pascack Historical Society, 1964), pp. 3 & 4.
26 Bergen County Historical Society (River Edge, New Jersey); manuscript collection items #01326 & #01327.
27 Tholl, Claire K., A Guide to the Early Dwellings of the Bergen County Area (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1991), p. 2.
28 Tholl, Claire K., A Guide to the Early Dwellings of the Bergen County Area (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1991), p. 1.
29 Conclusion drawn by Claire K. Tholl and Kevin W. Wright during discussions with Timothy D. Adriance at the Steuben House, 1990.
30 Tholl, Claire K., A Guide to the Early Dwellings of the Bergen County Area (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1991), p. 4. Claire Tholl recognized the medieval appearance of the DeWindt House in Tappan, NY, and how its first-floor look was an early Dutch model for latter Bergen County stone houses.
31 Leiby, Adrian C., The Huguenot Settlement of Schraalenburgh (Bergenfield, New Jersey: Bergenfield Free Public Library, 1964), pp. 19-21.
32 Tappan Reformed Church, Tappan Reformed Church web page, http://home.earthlink.net/~bubbaninja/trc.htm.
33 Brown, T. Robins & Warmflash, Schuyler, The Architecture of Bergen County, New Jersey (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2001), pp. 54 & 57.
34 Fitchen, John, The New World Dutch Barn (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1968), pp. 13-15.
35 Blackburn, Roderic H. & Kelley, Nancy A., editors; Van Wijk, Piet, writer, New World Dutch Studies, Form And Function In The Netherlands’ Agricultural Architecture (Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art, 1987), p. 162.
36 Schaefer, Vincent J., Dutch Barns of New York (Fleischmanns, New York: Purple Mountain Press, 1994), p. 13.
37 Blackburn, Roderic H. & Kelley, Nancy A., editors; Zantkuyl, Henk J., writer, New World Dutch Studies, The Netherlands Town House: How And Why It Works (Albany, New York: Albany Institute of History and Art, 1987), pp. 157-159.
38 Bos, J. M. & Aanstoot, A.J., Gids Nederlands Openluchtmuseum Arnhem (Arnhem: Vereniging Vrienden van het Nederlands Openluchtmuseum, 1982), p. 156.
A Short Study On
The Jersey Dutch
Copyright 2010 Timothy D. Adriance, Tim Adriance Historic restoration
The Jersey Dutch are a sub-cultural group within the greater New Netherland “Dutch” culture. Once existing with its own dialect, and unique identifiable cultural markers, the Jersey Dutch today are known only as a genealogical sub-set of those Americans who claim Dutch descent.
Nieuw Amsterdam, once located in the area below Wall St. in Manhattan, was the political and cultural center of New Netherland. Although New Netherland is often mentioned only as a footnote to the history of America, it was in reality a major contributor to the America of today.
New Netherland was the territory claimed by the United Provinces (the
Netherlands) between 40 and 45 degrees North (latitude). In practical
geographic terms, the colony roughly stretched from New Haven, CT, to
Lewes, DE, and northward (Fig. 1). 1
A Dutch fort in Lower Manhattan gave birth to New York City (Nieuw
Amsterdam) in 1613.
Fort Nassau, established in 1614 near today’s Albany, gave birth to
the capital city of New York State.
A small “patroonship” (plantation) called Pavonia in 1630 became
the first permanent settlement in New Jersey (now a section of Jersey City).2
A patroonship called Vriessendael, founded in 1640, became the first
settlement in today’s Bergen County3 (founded by David Pietersz DeVries,
who also founded Lewes, DE).4
A fur-trading post called Achter Col in 1642 became the first point of
development along the banks of the Hackensack River.5
New Netherland was initially lost to the English in 1664 when director-
general Peter Stuyvesant gave little resistance to an English fleet that sailed
into the harbor and captured the colony. Officially, it was after the second
and third Anglo-Dutch Wars, with the New Netherland settlement changing
hands several times, that New Netherland was finally ceded to the England
under the provisions of the Treaty of Breda and Treaty of Westminster on
November 10, 1674. Although the colony was no longer technically “Dutch”
(as it pertained to the higher political system), the people continued to live
as though they were Dutch6 for generations. As such, the culture of this
region was permanently shaped by the Dutch.
The New Netherland “Dutch” became a cultural group in its own right, and it became a model for the melting pot that came to symbolize the greater American culture.7 During most of its life, New Amsterdam had fewer than 1,000 residents,8 but its influence would far outweigh its size. This was the first and most significant multicultural base in colonial America. While the New England and Virginia colonies developed along distinctly English lines, New Amsterdam was pluralistic from the start. In 1643, when barely 500 people called New Amsterdam home, then-director Willem Kieft told a visiting Jesuit priest that 18 languages were spoken. In fact, according to some estimates, this “Dutch” city was never more than 50 percent Dutch in its population. Other major groups included Germans, English, Africans, Scandinavians, French, and Jewish. From this tiny mix of people grew the New Netherland “Dutch.”9
Evidence of the New Netherland “Dutch” culture are found in religion, family naming, holidays, food ways, language, and building practices. The Jersey Dutch shared much of the cultural markers of the greater New Netherland “Dutch,” but as a sub-culture they developed their own identifiable uniqueness. The Jersey Dutch settlement region was located in the northern New Jersey and southern New York (Rockland County area. More specifically it is an area west of the Hudson River roughly within a twenty five mile radius centered on Hackensack (and north of a line struck from Jersey City to Morristown). Even though there are similarities to the New Netherland “Dutch,” the term “Jersey Dutch” will be used exclusively.10
The Dutch Reformed Church as the primary, longstanding, active church in the area was probably the greatest cultural cement for the Jersey Dutch. Although early settlers – for example, David Demarest (a French Huguenot) and Laurence Andriessen Van Buskirk (a Danish Lutheran) – settled in the Hackensack Valley and attempted to start churches based on their own original language and Protestant traditions,11 ultimately the families assimilated into the Dutch Reformed Church and, hence, into the culture that is now known as Jersey Dutch. Up until the 19th century, some of the churches continued to hold services in the local Dutch dialect.12
The Jersey Dutch are well known for their family naming practices. Before the English government had a far-reaching effect on Bergen County, the Dutch practice of using patronymics – using your father’s first name as your last with the addition of an ending such as “ce”or “sen” to indicate “son of” [i.e., Adriance, son of Adrian] –
was often the norm.13 In addition, women would retain their maiden name throughout their lives regardless of marital status, as represented on the headstones in many of the old cemeteries. When naming children, the first male child tended to be named after the paternal grandfather, and the first female child after the paternal grandmother, and then following suit with the maternal grandparents. If a child died in infancy, the name would usually be reused so as not to lose it.14
The Jersey Dutch celebrated a number of holidays, and a few of their traditions exist today. Christmas was one of the most popular holidays; it was actually celebrated twice in December. First came Sinte Klaas Day on December 6, which
Jersey Dutch foods consisted mostly of stews, breads, and dairy.17 The most traditional food
dish is “Hutspot,” a stew which, in the Netherlands, is a dish in remembrance of the victory
over Spain.18 With close proximity to the Hudson River, a dish called “Gebakken Elft” was
popular; we would know it as baked Shad. Another popular food served as an
accompaniment to almost everything was “Kool Slaa”, our cole slaw. “Pannenkoeken” are
pancakes, and “Wafelen” are waffles.19 The “Krakeling,” our pretzel20 (as represented in the
painting by Job Berckheyde, c.1681, Worchester Art Museum, Worchester, Massachusetts
[Fig. 3]), is still sold on street corners in Manhattan today. It is in the area of sweets that the
Jersey Dutch tradition is best known, and our cookies are their “Koekjes,” Dunkin Munchkins
are “Olibollen,”21 gingerbread men are “Taai Taai Poppen,” crullers are “Krullers,” the ice
cream cone is a rolled “Ijzer Koekjes,” and “Speculaas” is, well, speculas.22
The language spoken was known as Jersey Dutch. This dialect was spoken by the descendants of 17th century Dutch settlers in Bergen, Passaic, and Rockland counties.23 In New York City, the Dutch language completely disappeared by the very early 19th century, but in these counties Jersey Dutch still survived into the early 20th century, though only used by the very old in their homes (and mostly as an interjection or a curiosity).24 An excellent short study of Jersey Dutch was published by Dr. J. Dyneley Prince in 1910;25 except for the small lexicon compiled by James Storms of Park Ridge called A Jersey Dutch Vocabulary (published by the Pascack Historical Society in 1964), the work by Prince remains the only true study in print. The dialect, says Dr. Prince:
An example of Jersey Dutch:
En kääd'l had twî jongers; de êne blêv täus; de andere xong vôrt f'n häus f'r en stat. Hai waz nît tevrêde täus en dârkîs tû râkni arm. Hai dogti ôm dat täus en z'n vâders pläk. Tû zaide: äk zal na häus xâne. Main vâder hät plänti. In standard modern Dutch: Een man had twee jongens; de ene bleef thuis; de andere ging voort van huis voor een vermogen. Hij was niet tevreden thuis en hij werd daardoor arm. Hij dacht aan thuis en zijn vaders plaats. Toen zei hij: ik zal naar huis gaan. Mijn vader heeft overvloed. A man had two sons. The one stayed at home; the other went abroad from home to make his fortune. He was not content at home and therefore then he became poor. He thought about it at home and his father's place. Then said: I shall go home. My father has plenty.
From: A Text in Jersey Dutch, Dr. J. Dyneley Prince, 1910
One of the most enduring and unique cultural aspects of the Jersey Dutch are the buildings they built. Remaining today are hundreds of houses, a number of churches, and a handful of barns, all with a unique, Jersey Dutch style.
The Jersey Dutch colonial house, mostly known as the popular sandstone, gambrel-roofed type of house seen throughout Bergen County and its environs, is not really Holland Dutch, nor colonial26 (a typical example is the Campbell-Christie House, Historic New Bridge Landing, River Edge, Fig. 4). The house type is a physical representation of the melding of the various cultural mixes that make up the Jersey Dutch.27 This type of house is
Road, Ridgewood (Fig. 5). The influence for those houses seems to be somewhat French at first glance (a percentage of the Jersey Dutch have Huguenot ancestry).30 Because the non-gambrel-roofed house shares so many design elements
with the gambrel-roofed house (and vice versa), they both technically fall within the
type called Jersey Dutch. The Jersey Dutch house type (gambrel and non-gambrel)
can also be made of frame construction, but this is not the most common form.
Aymar Embury, the innovator and promoter of the modern “Dutch Colonial” house in
his book Building the Dutch Colonial House (McBride, Nast & Co., 1913), used the
Jersey Dutch houses of Bergen and Rockland counties as his primary models. As such,
the modern “Dutch Colonial” home built throughout the United States is patterned
after the Jersey Dutch houses found in Bergen County and the immediate area.
Existing churches built by the Jersey Dutch all date to the 28-year time period between
1791 and 1819 (although one could argue that the 1835 Tappan Reformed Church,
Tappan, NY, is of the Jersey Dutch type; however, it is brick and mostly Federal in style, and based on a model in New York City).31 The Jersey Dutch churches are modeled after the Wren-Gibbs style32 but with local vernacular influences (i.e., mostly masonry construction). The Old South Church, Bergenfield (Fig. 6), is a classic example. The material used in church construction reflects the style of the local houses. There is fine-dressed sandstone used in the locales where it is most prevalent, and fieldstone used where it is mostly found (the western section of the county does not have a good supply of sandstone; hence, fieldstone is primarily used).
A major aspect of the Jersey Dutch building tradition is that of “putting your best foot forward,” meaning that the front of a structure is usually of better-quality material than the back. This was recalled through oral tradition by Percy F. Adriance (9th-generation Jersey Dutch, born in 1886), who recalled that it was said by the British soldiers as they
The bottom of the rafters rests upon the eave walls, which are to the outside of each flanking aisle. In the Netherlands, this barn type is believed to have existed as early as 350 B.C. (through archeological means).34 Given that early date, one could say that the Dutch Barn is the oldest European structural type still being used and constructed in America today. The Dutch Barn type was not restricted to the geopolitical borders of the Netherlands, but was a common type found throughout the Rhine River Valley (and surrounding areas);35 as such, it was probably familiar to many cultures represented within the Jersey Dutch.
In the Netherlands, the Dutch Barn is called the hallehuis or los hoes, and it is
actually a dual-purpose structure serving as a farmhouse/barn. It is believed
that the tradition of the house/barn building was practiced here in the New
The contractual description of the building built for Johannes Winckelman at
“Achter Col” (today’s Bogota) by Pieter Cornelissen and Abraham Clock in 1641
was most likely a house/barn.36 The small los hoes preserved at the Netherlands
Open-Air Museum in Arnhem, built about 1700,37 most closely resembles our
Bergen County Dutch Barns in size and proportion.
A Bergen County barn depicted in a county road-return map, found at the County
map room, shows what appears to be similar gable-end wall thatching that mirrors
the house/barn at the Netherlands Open-Air Museum in Arnhem.38 The Aycrigg barn, formerly standing on Paramus Road in Paramus, follows the Old World lines and even retained the thatched roof into the early 20th century. The barn that once stood on the Nicholas Zabriskie farm in Washington Township was built in the late 18th century, and although it looks rather “modern” (compared to others), one can still see the Old World style.
The enduring legacy of the Jersey Dutch consists mostly of the large amount of structures that are identified architecturally as “Jersey Dutch,” although a significant number of historic artifacts and antiques are identified as those belonging to the cultural identity. Collectively there are thousands upon thousands of individuals today who are of Jersey Dutch descent, and many of the families have strong family organizations where the culture of the Jersey Dutch is remembered.
was the “secular” celebration of Christmas with visits from the saint to each house, treats, gifts, and much merriment.15 It is from the Dutch traditions that we derive our Santa Claus with chimneys, rewards for being good, treats left in our footware, etc., as represented in Jan Steen’s “Feast of Sinte Niklaas,” c. 1663, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Fig. 2). December 25 (actual Christmas Day) was celebrated at church, worshipping the one who was born on that day.
New Year’s was celebrated with visits to friends’ homes, and even with such rowdiness as shooting guns in the street. Twelfth Night was also popular; it remembered the arrival of the Three Kings on January 6. On this day, some would go around town, singing door to door, akin to our Christmas caroling. On Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday, a day considered “too Catholic” for the Dutch Reformed Church), children would dress up and go door-to-door, begging for treats or a penny (similar to our Halloween).
Pinkster was a spring wheat-harvest festival, and the Jersey Dutch celebrated this great agricultural holiday with the coloring of eggs, Maypole dancing, market fair, carnivals, and general merriment. St. Martin’s Day, celebrated on November 11, was a feast day, and the Jersey Dutch independently paralleled the New England colony’s day of thanksgiving (except the Jersey Dutch were the first to have featured turkey as the main dish).16
a unique architectural style found nowhere else (it is one of the three architectural styles indigenous to the United States; the other two are the skyscraper and the ranch house). The majority of the existing Jersey Dutch houses were built after the Revolution during the post-war building boom; this was the dawn of the new American culture (of which the Jersey Dutch was a subset and was then oming into its golden age).28
The common and most familiar Jersey Dutch stone house is a unique hybrid. On the first floor it is primarily modeled as a post-medieval Dutch house,29 with a New World Dutch Barn center-core frame on the second floor supporting the dual- pitched roof. Another form of house built by the Jersey Dutch was stone but without the gambrel roof; it has a simple, moderately pitched gable roof with a distinctive spring eave. An example is the Ackerman-Naugle House, Paramus
marched through Bergen County: “The Jersey Dutch build their churches so that the front looks like St. Peter’s Abby; but as if to fool the Lord, they make the rear rather shabby.” Whether or not theBritish actually said that, it is true that the best-dressed stone used in the construction of churches (and houses) is on the front wall. As one walks toward the rear, the walls get progressively worse in stone quality (the rear walls are often rubble).
The barns constructed by the Jersey Dutch are more closely related to the buildings of the Old World. This barn type is what we call today the New World Dutch Barn (identified as a barn type by John Fitchen in 1968).33 The barn is a structure consisting of a central nave flanked by matching side aisles. The side eave walls are usually low, and the roof is steeply pitched. Large wagon doors are found on the gable ends, and in each gable-wall corner are normally found a smaller aisle door.
The framing of the barn (Fig. 7) is distinct, with a center core consisting of a queen post truss system (usually four bents, three bays) supporting full-length purlins (the area between the queen post columns is the nave). The rafters are usually full length, and the center of each rafter run is balanced at the purlin.
“. . . was originally the South Holland or Flemish language, which, in the course of centuries (ca. 1630-1880), became mixed with and partially influenced by English, having borrowed also from the Mindi (Lenâpe-Delaware) Indian language a few animal and plant names. This Dutch has suffered little or nothing from modern Holland or Flemish immigration, although Paterson (the county seat of Passaic County) has at present a large Netherlands population. The old county people hold themselves strictly aloof from these foreigners, and say, when they are questioned as to the difference between the idioms: ‘Onze tal äz lex däuts en hoelliz äs Holläns; kwait dääfrent’ (our language is low Dutch and theirs is Holland Dutch; quite different). An intelligent Fleming or South Hollander with a knowledge of English can make shift at following a conversation in this Americanized Dutch, but the converse is not true.”