9/8/14 – Where it All Begins, Peter Jansen Mesier

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Hello, hello!

I apologize for not sharing my findings on Ancestry with you all before today. I spent most of Friday printing and organizing the documents and this weekend has be hectic – but fear not! I have not forgotten our Mesier adventure.

First of all, my main objective was to gather a solid genealogy of the Mesiers who were most closely associated with the Homestead. While it is important and nice to have a comprehensive genealogy of all the Mesier descendants, it’s equally important to stay focused. This focus is on the Mesiers who occupied the home and those last few who were involved in selling the home to the town in 1892 (besides the Mesier/Reese descendants).This is the premise of the project for now, and down the road we can tackle the task of an all-inclusive genealogy.

I want to start with what has been found concerning our original settler, Peter Jansen Mesier. There are a few variations of this name that came up often in my searches – the first name either being Peter or Pieter, middle as Jansen or Janssen or Janse or Janzen or Janszen, and last either as Mesier or Messier. Also, we are dealing with a lot of Peters, so I’m going to refer to him as Peter J. Mesier.

Peter J. Mesier was born in France, as one document suggests, and apparently immigrated from Holland (Amsterdam) to New York (then New Netherlands/Amsterdam) in the 1660s. I won’t stand by that estimate with certainty, as there are some conflicts in the documents I’ve found. One magazine article cites the first Mesier coming to New York in 1685, which I am fairly certain is inaccurate since we have other primary source records that contradict this. The Court Minutes of New Amsterdam1 are going to be our best source regarding this fact, and the earliest (that I’ve found) indication of there being a Peter Mesier in New York is in 1673. Yet, from this document I believe we can assume that Peter arrived even earlier than that, since the record orders Peter’s, among other settlers’, “houses, gardens, and orchards” to be “burnt and demolished” as to better defend the fortification. Therefore, we might be able to assume that, since it Peter had established property, he was settled there earlier than 1673. There is also a document from Views of Early New York that references one of the first maps drawn of the fort (Allard’s map of New Amsterdam) and writes of Peter’s windmill being erected in 1662. This is not a primary source but it may be accurate in citing one (Allard’s map). I’m working on finding a copy of Allard’s map to see what exactly this book is referencing.

amsterdam minutes - peter house burning dvm_LocHist004879-00049-0

The Court Minutes of New Amsterdam also give us clues as to what Peter’s roles were and how active he was in the community – but I want to organize those a little better before I share them here. I’m also working on finding documents concerning Peter J. Mesier’s heritage in Normandy and his excursion to New York. That may take a little more time, but I’ve found some leads that may give us further details about his immigration(s).

I can’t be thankful enough – or enthused enough – that our Peter J. Mesier was among those original settlers in New Amsterdam because we have an great amount of primary sources that document the everyday life and activity in the fort. Same goes for his grandson, Peter Mesier (the first Mesier resident at the Homestead), whom we have a plethora of information on. It makes for an interesting, exciting history in regards to the Mesiers! Ah! I’m glad I get to do this every day.

In my next post I’ll continue with Peter J. Mesier’s son, also Peter. I’m going to divide my research in this way because, as you can gather, there is a lot of information to share and I would hate for my readers to feel overwhelmed by the density of each post. I want you all to love every bit of the Mesier Project as much as I do.

Adieu!

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