Barn Preservation Society
to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns
FALL 1996 Vol. 9, Issue 2
Marte Gerritsen Van Bergen by Shirley Dunn
The barn built at Leeds, New York about 1680 by Marte Gerritsen
Van Bergen was featured in the Dutch Barn Preservation Society
Newsletter (Spring, 1995). More information about the builder,
Marte Gerritsen Van Bergen, may be of interest to readers.
The article assumed, as have several other published works, that
Marte Gerritsen was the man who came to New Netherland in the 1630s.
Further research suggests, however, that it is more likely that
Marte Gerritsen Van Bergen came about 1660. The earlier Marte Gerritsen
was a different man. The two similar names have led to confusion,
therefore, about the life of the later Marte Gerritsen Van Bergen.
Briefly, the Marte Gerritsen Van Bergen who built the Dutch barn
at Leeds came as a young man to be an aide and house servant to
Jeremias Van Rensselaer, Director of the Colony of Rensselaerswyck,
about 1660. Marte Gerritsen was from Bergen, in Norway. His duties
for Jeremias Van Rensselaer were "to look after things, to
dun the farmers, pay the laborers, hand out supplies, etc." (1)
After two and a half years with Van Rensselaer, Marte Gerritsen
Van Bergen married Jannetje Van Vechten, young widow of Seger Cornelissen,
and took over her farm.
The location on Castle Island, one mile south of Albany, was
one of the best in the Colony of Rensselaerswyck. This farm Van
Bergen rented from the Van Rensselaers for almost thirty years.
Van Bergen gradually became a landlord himself, by acquiring land
outside of Rensselaerswyck at Coxsackie and Leeds (near Catskill);
he also became a public figure, serving as a magistrate on the
Albany court and in other Capacities.
After his first wife's death, he married Neeltje Mynderts in January,
1686. He was probably in his forties when he and Neeltje began
the family described previously in the Newsletter. Had he been
the man who came in the 1630s, he would have been very old at the
time. Marte Gerritsen died in 1696, leaving his widow to manage
his large estate. After the death of Neeltje, two of their sons,
Gerrit and Martin, divided the Leeds farm and settled near the
old Dutch barn about 1729. Pegging Marte Gerritsen's arrival in
Rensselaerswyck at 1660 makes it more plausible that his sons were
of a reasonable age to come to Leeds around 1729.
1. Van Laer, A.J.F., "Settlers of Rensselaerswyck,"
The Dutch Settlers Society Yearbook (1929-1930) 5:22-24.
Trustees Visit Getman Barn Near Fort Plain
On September 15 the Dutch Barn Preservation Society Trustee held
their monthly trustees' meeting in the Dutch barn of Eleanor and
Florence Getman, on Stone Arabia Road, near Fort Plain, Montgomery
County. The barn has been preserved through efforts of the Getman
family for four generations and is a notable landmark on their
The Getman barn was chosen for the 1996 Dutch Barn Preservation
Society barn repair grant of $500, given by the Society in April.
In addition to the business meeting, members and guests measured
and studied the barn and inspected repairs made in the structure.
The Dutch Barn Preservation Society barn repair grant will be
offered again next year. Applications will be available January
1, 1997; the deadline for submission will be March 1 .
Photo of the Getman barn by Ev
Rau, June 1996.
A LETTER FROM THE NETHERLANDS:
A Dutch Hay Barrack in the Year 1633
With much admiration I have read the story of the erection of
a six pole hay barrack near the Wemp barn, in the Newsletter, fall
1995, on which so many members of our society have assisted from
July 1991 till November 1995.
Seeing the photograph of the completed hay barrack I remember
a painting, that belongs to the museum Mauritshuis at the Hague,
and was painted by Pieter Post in the year 1633. The painting shows
a hay barrack behind a farmhouse in the dunes between Leiden and
Haarlem. Because it is difficult to reproduce such a dark painting
in the Newsletter, I have made a pen-drawing of it.
The poles of the American hay barrack are of oak, straight and
chamfered, but the poles of the Dutch one are of pine, only barked
and very crooked. Probably these poles are made of trees, grown
in the dunes and crooked by the heavy winds in this coastal area.
There were no large forests in the Low Countries and therefore
the long masts of the 17th century sailing vessels always were
imported from Scandinavia, but mostly from Germany. They came,
bundled on a raft, floating down the river Rhine to our country.
These masts were very long, to 60 feet, and very straight because
in Germany the wind is half as heavy as at our coast.
It is a pity that only a small part of the back front of the
farmhouse is visible. I have tried to reconstruct the plan of the
farmhouse. As usual the farmer lived with his family in the front
of the building. The small door you see on the drawing gives access
to the cow house; and the large door to the threshing floor, where
during the winter the wagons are placed. During the summer these
are put under the hay barrack. Naturally there was a horse stable
for one or two horses and during the night the sheep were locked
inside the farmhouse or in a special sheepfold.
In Holland the farmhouses and hay barracks are always covered
with reed and not with straw, except the top of the hay barracks.
Reed that grows in the many ditches in our country, have stiff
stalks, which could not bend. Therefore one would use the more
flexible straw to make the top watertight.
The painter Pieter Post (1608-1669) became about 1635 assistant
to the architect Jacob van Campen, who introduced him in the field
of architecture. Later on he became appointed to chief-architect
of the Stadholders Frederik Hendrik and Willem II. In the town
of the Hague, where his painting in the former palace of Mauritshuis
is exhibited, he has designed the palace Noordeinde, the palais
Ten Bosch, and the meeting room for the First Chambre of the Senate.
Don't forget to see them, when you are in Holland.
JAAP SCHIPPER, Architect BNA
Schipper is a Dutch architect known for restoration
of historic frame buildings. He has been a Dutch Barn Preservation
Society member for several years.
Dutch Barn Preservation Society
The Mabee Farm Historic Site
1080 Main St. (Rt. 5S)
Junction, NY 12150
Phone: (518) 887-5073
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