The VANDERGRIFT family established it's presence in America, at New Netherland, as early as 1644, with the arrival of Paulus Van Der Grift and his brother Jacob. Paulus was a Captain for the Dutch West India Company, master of the ships Neptune and Great Garritt. He was a large land owner in New Amsterdam, and served the government of New Netherland in many positions. On December 24th 1654, he accompanied Director Peter Stuyvesant on a trip to the West Indies. In 1671, after the British had gained control of New Netherland, Paulus, disheartened, returned to the Netherlands.
Jacob remained in America and went on to become the progenitor of a majority of the VANDERGRIFTS in this country today. He served aboard the ship Swol, travelling between New Netherland and Curacao. Presumably, the Swol carried 75 guns and 200 men. Jacob also served in other positions while in the employ of the Dutch West India Company. Jacob's father in law, Frederick LUBBERTSEN, was one of the first 2 people to hold a patent for land in Breukelen (Brooklyn) granted under British rule by Governor Nicholls, the other being Thomas Bescher.
The ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) were discovered in 1499 by a lieutenant of Columbus, Alonso de Ojeda, who found the islands inhabited by Caiquetos, a tribe of peaceful Arawak Indians, who had fled Venezuela from a more bloodthirsty tribe, the Caribs. De Ojeda claimed the islands for the Spanish, but because there was no gold there they were declared "useless islands." The Awarak community was largely transported to work on Hispaniola, and nowadays no full blooded Indians are found on Curacao. The island remained Spanish throughout the 16th century, but fell to the Dutch in 1634.
Curacao became an important trading post and a base for excursions against the Spanish.Some of the plantation houses "landhuizen," stem from this period. They were used for agricultural purposes, some as cattle farms and some were country estates for the rich merchant families that lived in Willemstad. Most of these "landhuizen" still exist today. Some of them have decayed into ruins, but others have been restored and serve now as restaurants or museums.
Conflicts in Europe and the Americas in the 18th century led to Curacao becoming a commercial meeting place for pirates, American rebels, Dutch merchants, Spaniards and Creoles from the mainland. In 1800 the English took Curacao, but withdrew in 1803, only to occupy it again in 1807. In 1816, Dutch rule was restored and the island was declared a free port.
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