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Receipt for the Sale of Two Horses and Two Cows to Abraham Clock (DeHooges), April 30, 1646

Receipt for the Purchase of Two Horses and Two Cows from Abraham Clock
New York State Library, NYSL_sc7079_dehooghes-memo-book_A39
Document Description
Receipt for the purchase of two horses and two cows by Abraham Clock, April 30, 1646.
On this date, the 30th of April in the year 1646, De Hooges, in the name of the honorable Lord Patroon, has sold to Abraham Clock two horses carrying foals and two cows, of which one has calved and the other is carrying a calf, included in this sale was a ƒ41 advance on a number of beaver pelts and half of a vat of beer, as appears in the Ledger of the Colony of Rensselaerswijck, volume F, on folio 20, for the sum of six hundred and ten guilders, deducted from his account, as it appears in the aforementioned book in more detail. Dated as above.
Abram Clock
The first horse is called the Fast One, the other, the Old Grey; one cow is called the Little Momma, the other is a white-headed heifer of a sort no longer at de Vlackte. Abraham Clock is liable for these cattle and horses, provided they are watched like the others of de Vlackte.
  • Abraham Clock was a carpenter by trade, not a farmer. Why do you think he wanted two horses and two cows?

Historical Context
The West India Company brought the first settlers to New Netherland to gather beaver pelts to sell back in the Netherlands but they had a hard time finding enough people to settle the colony. In an effort to attract more people, the company decided to give private entrepreneurs pieces of land in New Netherland if the entrepreneurs (patroons) promised to ship fifty colonists to it within four years. So, in 1631, a Dutch diamond merchant named Kiliaen van Rensselaer bought a large tract of land around Fort Orange from the Mahicans who had long lived there. He established a "patroonship," or private farming community, which he named Rensselaerswijck. Many patroons bought land, but Kiliaen Van Rensselaer was the only one who was able to build a successful colony. His patroonship, Rensselaerswyck, lasted into the nineteenth century, passing down through generations of the Van Rensselaer family.
Kiliaen Van Rensselaer never visited America, but he worked hard to make his patroonship a success. Rensselaerswyck grew quickly, with a steady stream of farmers and tradesmen coming from Europe. Farming was the main activity in the patroonship. The products of farming were used to support the growing patroonship, but also the settlers in colonies nearby. Van Rensselaer had thought that the nearby West India Company settlement of Fort Orange, in the area of present day Albany, and his own colony of Rensselaerswyck would be mutually supporting: the fort would provide protection, and the patroonship would supply the fort with goods. Van Rensselaer hoped to make a profit by selling goods to the settlers in the fort. But the two settlements were so close to each other that they competed for profits, leading to a tense relationship between the patroon and the West India Company that controlled the fort.
Essential Question
What role did farming play in the life of the colony at Rensselaerswyck?
Check for Understanding
Imagine you are a farmer in Rensselaerswyck in the early years of settlement. Write a letter to your family back in the Netherlands describing your daily life and work.