I cannot stand the snow. I love New York and I will probably never want to leave – but if there is something that could make me want to leave it would be the snow!
Snow prevented my presentation to the historical society last Thursday. I was going to talk about the research process and how difficult it can be to muddle through contradicting sources. I find this aspect of research sometimes infuriating, but in the end, it makes for a more interesting and compelling story. To put this in context, I was going to discuss the difficulties I had while researching the Mesier’s Mill in New Netherland, and though I have already given a presentation on that Mill, my research needed clarification.
The presentation will be rescheduled, so everyone still has a chance to come to the meeting and catch up on Mesier history. Also, we have a great surprise to be unveiled, so come!
Like I said in my last post, research via internet is becoming obsolete. Therefore, onward to the archives and solid literature! I need to start focusing on getting all this information about our Mesiers into their own context. This means reading about life in New York from 1660 – 1890. That is a huge time frame to understand, especially given the complex changes in attitudes and ways of living that have developed over two hundred years. I am certainly up for the challenge. I love New York and am already thankful for what the Mesiers have taught me so far.
Besides going to the archives and reading, Professor Roper is always encouraging me to reach out to experts already in the field. They are also incredibly useful resources. I’ve been hesitant to get in contact with anyone because I’ve felt shy about my own research, but I think I’m confident enough now with my own work to begin talking about it on a more academic level. There are a few people who can help.
First, there is Jaap Jacobs who I’ve already spoken to, but last week I emailed him again to see if he’s been back in Amsterdam for research. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been. But he did say that he’s made a note to take a look for any notarial documents concerning Pieter Jansen Mesier, our settler. We’d been lucky if he can do this for us, because apparently you can have an archivist do research for you, but with “hefty fees,” so Jacobs says. From our visit in September, it appears there are a few documents relating to Pieter from the Stadsarchief Amsterdam archives.
Professor Roper also suggested I get in contact with Dr. Christopher Minty who is a fellow at the New York Historical Society. He’s been working on research about New York Loyalist during the Revolution. He is therefore very knowledgeable on the subject and would probably turn out some great information which may help solve the Loyalist-or-Patriot mystery with the homestead’s actual namesake, Peter Mesier (1733-1805). This topic is particularly interesting. This Mesier had faced slew of difficulties after living in New York under British occupation and then in Wappingers as he dealt with the effects of being accused of being a Tory by a group of rowdy, tea-wanting, wine-stealing women. Knowing his affiliation would help clear up a few of his business associations and dealings. All in it all, it’s a bit of information that would be incredibly useful!
Further, Dr. David Voorhees (last name sound familiar? Perhaps a relation?) is the director of the Jacob Leisler Papers Project, a project of his amongst many others relating to Dutch New Netherland. He could possibly see if there is any information on our early Mesiers relating to Leisler’s Rebellion or otherwise. It would be curious to know what position our family took in the Rebellion, if any. Leisler’s Rebellion was a colonist’s revolt in now the Province of New York against their British ruler, King James II. The uprising lasted for three years, from 1689 – 1691, and left the colony split between two rival factions. Our Mesiers would surely have been aware, and likely affected by the event, and knowing how would maybe reveal some motive or indication of their political/social sentiments.
I want to be in contact with all of these wonderful scholars and see if our story can progress a little further. In every bit of excitement, you will certainly know of any new discoveries!