Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Mother of New York – Catalyntje Jeronimus Trico

B. about 1605 in Prisches, France
M. 21 Jan 1624 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Husband: Joris Jansen Rapalje
D. 14 Feb 1685 in Wallabout, New York
Emigrated: 1624 on the ship Eendrecht

Catalyntje Jeronimus Trico was among the very first settlers in the Dutch colony in America and credited as being the first white woman to give birth in the colony. As well as becoming the matriarch for a large family, she was there at the beginning of the city that would become New York.

Catalyntje was born in about 1605 in Prisches, Nord, France. The name "Prisches" is also written as "Pris," and this has been erroneously reported in some sources as "Paris." She was 18 years-old and alone when she hooked up with a man named Joris Jansen Rapalje, who had signed up to go to America. She married him on January 21, 1624, and just four days later they boarded a ship, the Eendrecht, which was the first one to carry settlers to the Dutch colony. Only a handful of other women were on board.

The ship took Catalyntje and the others to Fort Orange, which is present-day Albany. There her husband worked for the West India Company while they both tried to make a home there. On June 9, 1625, Catalyntje gave birth to a baby girl called Sarah; this was the first European to be born in the colony. Besides Sarah, Joris and Catalyntje would have 10 more children.

In 1626, the settlers at Fort Orange were ordered to move south to populate the island of Manhattan, which new leader Peter Minuit had just secured in his infamous deal with the Indians. The Rapaljes acquired a lot and built two houses, among the first dwellings in the settlement. Joris was an innkeeper at this residence and Catalyntje kept records for him (Joris was illiterate as shown by the fact that he always signed with a mark). In 1637, Joris bought land across the water in what is now the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

There is a story handed down telling how Catalyntje one day, after working in the fields, was returning to her house with her child to feed her, and found some men just leaving who had let themselves in and had eaten her last morsel of food, a biscuit, which she had planned to give to her child. Catalyntje reprimanded them, calling them thieves and robbers. One of the men then introduced himself as Peter Minuit. He promised her that when the next boat arrived, she would receive a cow to provide milk for her child in exchange for the stolen biscuit. When the cow arrived, she also received a tract of land on which to keep the cow. This story doesn't seem plausible, though, since it's unlikely that Catalyntje wouldn't have recognized Minuit.

Joris died in 1662, leaving Catalyntje a widow. One man who met her when she was 74 years-old said that she lived alone in her own home near her large family, and tended her small garden. She was “worldly minded…living with her whole heart, as well as body, among her progeny…” Catalyntje lived so long that she became one of the last people alive who could remember certain events. She was called upon in her old age to file a deposition, which she did on Feb 14, 1685:

"The Deposicon of Catelina Trico aged fouer score yeares or thereabouts taken before the right honoble Collo. Thomas Dongan Lent. and Governour under his Rlyll. hignss James Duke of Yorke and Albany etc. of N York and its Dependencyes in America, who saith and Declares in the prsens of God as followeth

"That she Caine to this Province either in the yeare one thousand six hundred and twenty three or twenty fouer to the best of her remembrance, and that fouer Women Came along with her in the same Shipp, in which ship the Governor Arian Jorissen Came also over, which fouer Women were married at Sea and that they and their husbands stayed about three Weekes at this place and then they with eight seamen more went in a vessell by ordr. of the Dutch Governor. to Dellaware River and there settled. This I Certifie under my hand & ye seale of this province. THO. DONGAN."

On Oct 17, 1688, she also filed the following deposition:

"Catelyn Trico aged about 83 years born in Pris doth Testify and declare that in ye year 1623 she came into this Country wth a Ship called ye Unity wherein was Commander Arien Jorise belonging to ye West India Company being ye first Ship yt came here for ye sd Company; as soon as they came to Mannatans now called N: York they sent Two families & six men to harford River & Two families & 8 men to Delaware River and 8 men they left att N: Yorke to take Possession and ye Rest of ye Passengers went wth ye Ship up as farr as Albany which they then called fort Orangie.

"When as ye Ship came as far as Sopus which is ½ way to Albanie; they lightned ye Ship wth some boats yt were left there by ye Dutch that had been there ye year before a tradeing wth ye Indians upont there oune accompts & gone back again to Holland & so brought ye vessel up; there were about 18 families aboard who settled themselves att Albany & made a small fort; and as soon as they had built themselves some hutts of Bark:

"ye Mahikanders or River Indians, ye Maquase: Oneydes: Onnondages Cayougas. & Sinnekes, wth ye Mahawawa or Ottawawaes Indians came & made Covenants of friendship wth ye sd Arien Jorise there Commander Bringing him great Presents of Bever or oyr Peltry & desyred that they might come & have a Constant free Trade with them wch was concluded upon & ye sd nations came dayly with great multidus of Bever & traded them wth ye Christians, there sd Commanr Arien Jorise staid with them all winter and sent his sonne home with ye ship; ye sd Deponent lived in Albany three years all which time ye sd Indians were all as quiet as Lambs & came & Traded with all ye freedom Imaginable, in ye year 1626 ye Deponent came from Albany & settled at N: Yorke where she lived afterwards for many years and then came to Long Island where she now lives.

"The sd Catelyn Trico made oath of ye sd Deposition before me at her house on Long Island in ye Wale Bought this 17th day of October 1688. WILLIAM MORRIS Justice of ye pece'11

Catalyntje died Sep 11, 1689 in Wallabout, New York about the age of 84. She was buried in the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church cemetery. She had a large family, and there were as many as 150 descendants living at the time of her death; it is said that today there are over one million descendants.

Famous descendants of Catalyntje Trico include Humphrey Bogart and Howard Dean.

1. Sarah Jorise Rapalje – B. 9 Jun 1625, Fort Orange, New Netherland; D. 1685, Brooklyn, New York; M. (1) Hans Hansen Bergen, 1639, New Netherland; (2) Teunis Gysbertse Bogaert (1625-1699), 19 Aug 1654, New Amsterdam, New Netherland

2. Marratie Jorise Rapelje – B. 16 Mar 1627, New Netherland; M. Michiel Pauluszen Van der Voort

3. Jannetie Jorise Rapelje – B. 18 Aug 1629, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Rem Jansen Van der Beeck

4. Judith Jorise Rapelje – B. 5 Jul 1635, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; D. 21 May 1726, Somerset County, New Jersey; M. Pieter Pieterszen Van Nest

5. Jan Jorise Rapelje – B. 28 Aug 1637, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Marie Fredericks Maer

6. Jacob Jorise Rapelje – B. 28 May 1639, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; D. about 1643

7. Catalyntje Jorise Rapelje – B. 28 Mar 1641, New Amsterdam, New Netherland

8. Annetje Jorise Rapelje – B. 8 Feb 1646, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Marten Reyersen

9. Jeronimus Jorise Rapelje – M. Annetje Teunise (~1646-?)

10. Elizabeth Jorise Rapelje – B. 27 Mar 1648, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Dirck Cornelissen Hooglandt

11. Daniel Jorise Rapelje – B. 29 Dec 1650, New Amsterdam, New Netherland; M. Sarah Abrams Clocq

Joris Jansen Rapelje [Wikipedia article]
The Island at the Center of the World, Russel Shorto, 2005
"14 Generations: New Yorkers since 1624, the Rapeljes are on a mission to keep their history alive," New York Newsday, 23 Nov 1997
Documentary History of the State of New York, E. B. O'Callaghan, 1849
Genealogies of the New Jersey Families: Families A-Z, pre-American notes on old New Netherland families, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1996
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]


  1. Catalyntje was my ancestor. You have done a great service to record her story here and I commend you for the effort. Many thanks.

    Kerry Ross Boren

  2. According to my research, Catalyntje was my 11th great grandmother. Thank you for this additional info.

  3. My family tree says she is my 11th Great Grandma!! That’s awesome!!

  4. Catalyntje is my 9th great grandmother. Thank you for telling her story!

  5. Catalyntje is my 10th great grandmother and her 2nd husband, Teunis Bogaert begins our Bogaert/Bogert/Bogart line. Thank you for this invaluable information.