Tuesday, September 25, 2012

O is for Orrseltie Dircks

This lady from  Holland was my 8th great grandmother.  Her story may have been lost in time, but I have tried to tell it now from the research facts that I have located about her.

Orrseltie  was a passenger to New Netherlands (New York today) on board the ship "De Moesman", (The Market Gardener).  Twice widowed, she traveled here alone with her two children: one age  2 years and another child age 10 months, and arrived May 1, 1658.  A transcript of the ship's record states, "DIRCKS, Ursel aus Holstein, eingew, mit 2 Kindern 1658".   While enroute to join her third husband, Orrseltie (also known as Ursel) Dircks ordered some new clothes from Anthony de Lorme, at the corner of Goldweighers and Broad Streets, New York, on April 23, 1658 and received an advance of money in silver and gold.

Orrseltie Dircks was the daughter of Dirck Volkertsen and his wife Christine Vigne.  Dirck was born in Bergen, Norway in 1595.    Orrseltie's exact  birth date is unknown, but may have been around 1630.  She is said to have come from Holstein in Prussia, an area which would be modern day Northern Germany.  Some researchers describe her as "a young daughter from Hamburg.”
I wonder how differently Orrseltie  found her life to be when she left the Netherlands to come to America to marry for the third time in her young life. Some have said she was a well to do Dutch woman.   This painting Woman with a Pearl Necklace by Johannes Vermeer  around 1662–1664 shows us how Orrseltie may have dressed and appeared   while living in Holland. 

She was married twice before coming to America.  Both men died  within a few years of their marriages to her.  Her first marriage was to Jan Hendricksen of Hillegersberg, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands.  They were married on October 25, 1653 in the Netherlands.  Together they had a daughter, Annetje, who was born about 1654.  Jan died, leaving young Orrseltie a widow.

Orrseltie, who was also called Ursula, next married Teunis Jacobs.  Their intention to marry was published on August 29, 1655,  "Teunis Jacobs, a young man from Beeckum, living at the Pannekoestratt and Orsel Dircks, widow of  Jan  Hendricksen, living at Nieuwe Vogelsang”  in the Netherlands.   Orrseltie's luck with marriage wasn't much better with Teunis!  They were married long enough for her to have one child with him before he departed this life when he was about the age of 25.

After Teunis died Ursula  made plans to come to America to marry Anthony Jansen van Westbrook who was living in  Albany, New York and also in Flatbush.  Westbrook was a well established land owner and business owner at that time. 

Ursula  and  Anthony Jansen van Westbrook married about 1658.  They operated a tavern and resided at Flatbush on Long Island and at Albany, New York. The wilderness of Albany and living behind the confines of the stockade for protection from Mohawk Indian attacks  must have been a culture shock for Ursula.  Accounts are found reporting their travel up and down the Hudson to maintain their establishments.  Their names appear in over 125 colonial records between 1658 and 1678.

  "Nieuw (New) Amsterdam, recently called New York (Nieuw Jorck), and now retaken by the Netherlanders 24 Aug 1673".

On Nov. 30, 1662, Antonis Jansen paid for the use of a small pall (casket) , and on June 11,1664, he again paid for the use of the pall, (Burial records of the First Dutch Reformed Church at Albany, 1654-1862, published in The Dutch Settlers Society of Albany Yearbook, 1932-1934) The names of the two children are not given.   Ursula  had two children at the time she sailed to America, but it is known that Annetje, thought to be the daughter of Jan Hendricksen,  Ursula’s first husband,  survived and later married to raise her own family.   At least two children of Ursula Dircks and Anthony Jansen van Westbrook survived.  They were  Dirck  and Johannes Westbrook. 
By this account Orrseltie Dircks Hendricksen Jacobs Westbrook  was the mother of at least  five children.   
They were:
1.  Annetje, born about 1654 and thought to be the daughter of Jan Hendricksen.
2.  The 10 month old child (born circa 1657) who made the voyage from Holland to New Amsterdam, thought to be the child of Teunis Jacobs. No further information is known of this child and may be one  for whom the casket was bought.
3.  Another child (born after 1658) for whom a casket was bought.
4.  Dirck  Westbrook, born circa 1660.
5.  Johannes Westbrook, born October 9, 1665 in Albany, New York.

Anthony Jansen,  the son of Jan Teunissen, the first sheriff of Brooklyn, (now New York), was from the village of Westbroek in Holland.  He was the only person who adopted the surname "Westbrook" when he was required to distinguish himself from other contemporary Anthony Jansens when the British gained control of the colonies.  Anthony Jansen van Westbrook signed his full name shortly before his death and it is recorded in the Flatbush Town Record, May 11, 1672.

Orrseltie Ursula Dircks Hendricksen Jacobs Westbrook died around 1702 in Kingston, New York.  She  was the  mother of Johannes Westbrook  who married Maddelen Decker.   They were the parents of Sarah Westbrook who married Cornelis Van Aken, who had a son Abraham, who married Catrina Rosenkrans.    Their daughter Sarah Van Aken  married Elias Middaugh  and had a daughter named Elizabeth who married Henry Van Wey.  Henry's daughter, Harriet Van Wey, my  great, great grandmother, married Frederick Hughes.  

Orrseltie was my 8th great grandmother.  I am glad that she made it to these shores or the history of this family would not be! 

                                               This page and all contents © 2012 Cynthia H. Smith
                                                          Email  to chsmith47@yahoo.com
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. It is with pleasure that I am able to present this information here for you to enjoy. If you discover a relationship here, I would very much enjoy hearing from you.


  1. Terrific article! Orseltie Dircks was my 10th great-grandmother, directly descended. :)

    1. Thank you for the feedback. Orseltie was fun to research. But with some additional searching on the internet, I am not sure she was the daughter of Dirck Volkertsen and his wife Christine Vigne.

      I hope others who research her will find a definitive answer.

  2. What a beautiful way to remember your 8xGGrandother. And wow, 3 husbands within 3 or so years, and moving country, Orseltie didn't have an easy life.

  3. I like finding period illustrations to help add interest to these stories.

  4. I have found no definitive evidence of Orseltie`s parentage. She is not listed on any documentation regarding Dircks` and Christine`s family. I suppose it is still a mystery. She is my 9x grandmother. I am very impressed with the courage it took to leave her homeland with 2 small children to start a life in a foreign land. Makes a three hour car ride with 3 young children seem like a walk in the park!

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is nice to touch base with one of Orrseltie's descendents. This article about her is one of the most popular I have written. She must have legions of descendents out there. :) I too am very impressed with her fortitude!