Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Flemish House (Vlaams Huis) & Henry Hudson's Quadricentennial

New Netherland/Novum Belgium in the 1600s

Among high society in Eastern parts of this country [the USA], to claim descent from the 'Dutch' of New Netherlands assures a certain credibility. […] 2009 marks the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's voyage to 'discover' the New York area. NY state plans a huge celebration […] To that end PBS plans a major documentary. The Dutch government also has plans for a documentary. There is a major book being published by scholars of that period ('Dutch-American Relations 1609-2009'). There will be special exhibits at NY museums. There have been special state grants to The Holland Society, The New Netherlands Project, The New Amsterdam Historical Society, etc. I think you get the idea.
Henry Hudson

Where am I going with this? Well, New Netherlands was founded, financed, governed, protected and settled by the Flemish. Plancius, who supplied the maps for the 1609 expedition, was a West Fleming. Most of the rest of the so-called "Dutch" aiding Hudson were Antwerpenaars: such as Van Meteren (who was also the 'Dutch' ambassador to England and the author of the first 'Dutch' history and the one who secured Hudson for this job. Judocus Hondius (from Wakken) was Hudson's interpreter when he came to the Netherlands before the expedition.

Henry Hudson's 3rd Voyage of Exploration - to New York in 1609

The Henry Hudson expedition had at least 3 Flemings. The follow up in 1611 for at least 10 years to the expedition (meaning the first commercial expeditions to exploit Hudson's discoveries) were financed by Arnout Vogel (from Antwerp) and captained by Adriaen Block (from Dendermonde).
Their company was De Nieuw Nederland Compagnie. It was a 'voorcompagnie' (predecessor company) of De West Indische Compagnie (WIC) which actually colonized Nieuw Nederland beginning in 1624 […]

De Haelve Maen/The Half Moon - Henry Hudson's Ship in 1609

[T]he first child born in Nieuw Amsterdam, Sarah Rapalje, was the daughter of an Antwerpenaar weaver. Govert Lockermans – the most successful trader in Nieuw Nederland – was from Turnhout. George Bush's ancestor Willem Beekman, longtime mayor of New Amsterdam was the grandson of Willem Baudartius, the translator of the first Dutch language bible, who was a native of Deinze.

Willem Baudartius, native of Deinze

Over the past several years in research, courtesy largely of the translated records of the New Netherlands, I have recorded approximately 100 Flemings – from Aalst, Aecken, Brugge, Brussel, Ghent, Hoboken, Kortrijk, Limburg, Ypres and elesewhere – who helped found and grow Nieuw Nederland (ofte Nova Belgica). Their descendants include US Presidents, famous literary and cultural people, as well as politicians and inventors. These include: Daniel Webster (the dictionary name), Thomas Edison, and even Edward Hopper (the artist). My point here is that if New Netherlands was 'Dutch', it was Dutch with a very strong Flemish accent.

View of Nieuwe Amsterdam

The Flemish need to reclaim this part of history. Vlaams Huis can do that. Once reclaimed, Vlaams Huis can capture state money (from NY, NJ, and CT), federal money, and free publicity. This will better enable the Flemish government (eg, thru the Flanders Investment Trade office, etc.) to promote Flanders in America. The 2009 Quadricenttenial of Hudson's 1609 voyage is just around the corner. And in tribal America the timing could not be any better.


  1. Excellent, constructive idea.
    More in general, the Netherlands are a country with a strong Flemish accent.
    After 1585 (the fall of Antwerp and the Spanish reconquest of the southern Netherlands), very many Flemings (including the entire elite) escaped to the northern Netherlands and founded, financed, governed, protected and settled a kind of new country. In that sense, you can call the Netherlands since 1585 a sort of “New Flanders”.
    So everything the “Dutch” did and do, including the foundation of “New Netherlands” (= “New New Flanders”), owes to the Flemings.
    Unfortunately, 423 years later the split between both countries still exists and is even so deep, that Dutchmen and Flemings have today a totally different mentality (and language accent). This gap has been increased by 178 years of anti-Dutch propaganda in Belgium.
    This makes that Flemings are not aware of their great history. Your book about the Flemish diaspora in the US could be a beginning to improve this: it should be translated into Dutch and well promoted in Flanders. It might be a bestseller.

  2. i grew up in the environment of Deinze and went to school there as a kid. Reading that George Bush's ancestors come from here,... Doesn't really make me feel proud.
    I've been reading some of your posts here. It's interesting and i even learned a bit about my own country. Also i find it fun to see you searching after your Flemish identity.
    Keep on doing this and i'll keep on reading it.

    Friendly greets from Gent,

  3. Hello Timo,
    Thanks very much for your kind words of encouragement. I am delighted that you are a reader! By the way, the Deinze roots of George Bush are discussed in Het Nieuwsblad here:
    Thank you again and best regards,
    David Baeckelandt

  4. Dear David

    This is a great page and a wonderful initiative. More details about the first settlements of Flemish in New York and the influence of the Flemish on Hudson can be found in Henry G. Baye's book: "The Belgians, First Settlers in New york and the Middle States" first published in 1924 by NY University and reprinted by Heritage books Inc in 1987.

    In my own book on Flemish DNA & Ancestry I devoted an entire chapter on Flemish emigration to the USA, incl. the role of the Flemish in the discovery of America, the first Belgians in America, the emigration in the 19th and 20th century, and the vast contributions made by many Flemish to America. My book can be previewed at

    More than a million Americans have their roots in Flanders and we should not forget that lots of Americans lost their lives during WWII in Flanders. Hence, your great initiative of teaching more Americans about their roots ought to be encouraged. There are deep historical links between Flanders, the Flemish and this great country.

    Keep up the good works.

    Guido Deboeck
    admin of Flanders-Flemish DNA project

  5. Guido, Thanks very much for your kind comments. The fellow I think you were referring to is Bayer (I have his book too). There is also a quite good book but out of print book called "Belgians in America" by Sabbe and Buysse (Tielt: Lannoo, 1960). But its focus is strongly centered on Detroit and little is mentioned about the other Flemish pockets (MN, SD, LA, IL, WI, NJ, NY) that were substantial in the U.S. Finally, the tome that really only skims over the Flemings but is the bible for the Northern Netherlanders is the classic and still-in-print "Netherlanders in America" by Jacob Van Hinte (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985). My hope is to step-by-step gather and publish sufficient record on this blog to roll up into a proper book. I am looking at years of work of course but as long as I don't kick the bucket first I think it is an achievable project.

    Thanks again for your excellent comment (and great book)!

  6. hello i love your site, it helps with homework

  7. You're quite welcome. Stay tuned since I have more good posts coming including: The Flemish Influence on the Pilgrims; The Flemish Contributions to Columbus that helped him discover the New World; The Flemish Explorers that beat Columbus to America, and several others.
    Thanks again,
    de bende van

  8. I am a children's author with a new website for kids called MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual Field Trips for Kids ( This free educational series of video podcasts are for kids by kids ages 7-12. We have a new episode up about the 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson's Voyage. Would you review our site and consider telling your readers about our video podcast ?

    Thank you,

    Donna Guthrie
    Phone: 858-775-9607

  9. Hi Donna,

    I very much liked your site. The Henry Hudson video was nicely done. Great site and thanks for visiting my blog!

    De Bende Van

  10. Very interesting,

    H Decaluwe, MD

  11. Hello Georges/Dr. Decaluwe:

    Thank you very much for your very kind note.

    All the best/met vriendelijke groeten,

    David Baeckelandt

  12. Does anyone know where the original Halve Maen ship was built?

  13. Adriaen Block from Dendermonde?? Do you have any source, because this is the first time I read that he's from Dendermonde. All other sources say he was born in 1567 in Amsterdam. Are you sure you're not confusing him with someone else?