Sunday, March 11, 2007

Second River’s First Born

In a town as old as this one, it can be a real challenge to determine who was the first person born here. Records are sparse when they exist at all. In fact, for the first twenty-three years of the settlement’s existence, there were no records kept here at all. Yes, this is work for a hard-nosed historian-detective . . . ahem . . . ok., I have a candidate to offer.

The historical evidence that has been uncovered at present, favors a first settlement date of 1674 for our village. A detailed explanation of the settlement date is a topic for another essay, but it has to do with the terms and conditions of the treaty ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. However, the Dutch Reformed Church, keeper of vital records in the 17th century, was founded in Second River in 1697. For those years in between, records of vital statistics were kept in Bergen (Jersey City). This is where the good folks of The Village of Second River, Dutch as they were, had to go to receive Divine Rites in those days. It is from scouring these ancient records that we find our candidate. Future historian-detectives may one day demonstrate otherwise, but for now I offer you this one:

It’s a Girl !

Elisabeth Merselis was born in The Village of Second River on March 3, 1682. Her parents were Merselis Pierterse and Pieterje van der voorst. She was baptized in the church at Bergen on April 18, 1682. The witnesses were Pieter Merselis and Hillitje Jans.

We hear of her again when, at the age of nineteen, she marries Adriaen A. Post at Bergen Dutch Reformed Church. The ceremony was held on April 21, 1701. At this time she moved to Bergen where her husband lived. We further learn that she had five children; Garret, Claertje, Adriaen, Marcelus and Elisabeth.

It seems that we just missed her 325th birthday. Perhaps next year we can celebrate Elisabeth Merselis Day on March 3rd !


Have you visited Cherry Blossom Village yet ? -

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