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Letters from Jeremias van Rensselaer to Oloff Stevensen Van Cortlandt, 1665/1666

Letters of Jeremias van Rensselaer to Oloff Stevensen van Cortlandt
New York State Library, NYSL_sc7079-b04-f14_p1_ncn
Document Description
Letters from Jeremias van Rensselaer to Oloff Stevensen Van Cortlandt, November 23/ Dec 3, 1665; January 1/11, 1666.
[Correspondence of Jeremias van Rensselaer]
Nov. 23/Dec. 3, 1665
DEAR FATHER: Your favors of the 26th and 30th of October duly reached me, so that this will serve for answer. The hops which I sent you are followed by the picker, so that you can now pay him according to the note which I have signed. I had a hot argument with him about there being so many leaves among them, but he declared that he had delivered them that way every year and never cleaner, so that I appeal to you whether they were merchantable or not. However, this may serve for your guidance that in all the hops which I received there were not as many leaves as in those, so that I consider the bush hops (bos Hop) better than the said pole hops. I would have sent you a sample with the remainder of your hops that is still here, but the manifold occupations would not allow it.
I thank you for the oysters sent to us. The rice, together with the mackerel and the venison I have also received and I thank you for your good care, as also for the use of the beer barrels. According to my promise I would have sent you 100 schepels of wheat, but the sudden frost has caused us to ship much less than I expected, so that you may demand of Claes Lock 50 schepels ditto.
The change in the condition of my wife's leg you will see from her enclosed letter. On the 12th/22d of November a hole was cut into the thick of the leg, a handbreadth below the hip, on the side, out of which much matter came. My opinion and that of the surgeon, Master Jacob[1]is that through this operation she may with God's help be restored to her former health, which the good Lord may grant. Amen.
[92] On this date, the 23 Nov./3 Dec., we are, thank God, all still well. My wife's abcess still discharges much matter. Many pieces and chunks of festered stuff have come out of it, once a piece as thick as one's thumb and four inches long. Since then the pain has become much less. A few more small plugs have come out, but at present nothing but matter is discharged, which looks better and does not smell so badly as heretofore. The wound looks clean and the matter all comes from the top. She still has pain in it and her leg is quite weakened, so that at present she has no strength in it, but I hope that with God's help, when the discharge of matter ceases, the pain will diminish, her leg will acquire new strength and that she will regain her full health, which may it please the good Lord to grant us. Amen.
January 1/11, 1666, I informed my father-in-law by the Indian of the state of our health and wished him and mother and their entire family a happy New Year and with our greetings commended them all to the protection of the Lord.
What three topics does the author describe in this letter?
The final topic discussed required the services of a particular occupation. What was that occupation?
What is the date of this letter?
How was the issue discussed on November 23/December 3 resolved?

Historical Context
In 17th century New Netherlands, barber-surgeons practiced rudimentary forms of medicine that had developed throughout medieval times. The duties of a surgeon included simple tasks like cutting hair, shaving beards and removing lice. The more complex services included extracting teeth, setting bones, and repairing injuries. Surgeons spent a great deal of time leeching and lancing in an effort to prevent or fight infection.
Essential Question
How did surgeons contribute to life in a Dutch colony?
Check for Understanding
How did Jermemias van Rensselaer feel about the surgeon mentioned in the letter?