Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. - Chapter I, LoomingsContinuing a look at some of the locations mentioned in the first chapter of Moby-Dick. (See part 1.)
Coenties Slip — a surprising family connection
|Coenties Slip, 1876 (original stereo view)|
|Coenties Slip area, 1841|
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Coenties Slip today, looking south across Water St. toward the river
The name "Coenties" has a history. You won't find it in any telephone directory, U.S. or Dutch. It is a contraction of the Dutch "Coenraedt en Antje"—Coenraedt and Antje. Coenraedt Ten Eyck (alternately Conraet, Coenraet) was born in Germany in 1617, and worked in Amsterdam as a shoemaker's helper. He married Maria Boele; their first child, Jacob C., was born in 1645. The family immigrated to New Amsterdam around 1651. Sometime later, Coenraedt married Antje (no last name found), and "worked as a tanner and shoemaker near his home [...] on his sizable property on what [became] Coenties Slip." (nycgovparks.org)
Now follow me down the generations, using information from the New York State Museum website.
- Coenraedt's son, Jacob C., followed his dad into the shoemaker's trade, moved to Albany, and married Geertje Coeymans, the daughter of Albany-area "landholder." Their children "married well, prospered, and established the Ten Eyck family in Albany and in the upper Hudson region." Their first son, Coenradt, was born in 1678.
- Coenradt trained as a silversmith, worked in Albany and New York City, married Gerritje Van Schaick, and had ten children. Their first child, Jacob C., was born in 1705.
- This 1705 Jacob married Catharina Cuyler. They had son Abraham in 1743.
- Abraham married Anna Lansing, and had son Jacob A. in 1772.
- Jacob A. Ten Eyck married a certain Magdalena Gansevoort at the Albany Dutch church in April 1795. (Yes, that Gansevoort!)
In short: Herman's first cousin once removed (Magdalena) was the wife of the great-great-great-grandson (Jacob A.) of the couple who gave Coenties Slip its name [step-GGGgrandson of Antje].
I wonder if Herman or his mother was aware of this distant connection to what was, during the time the Melvill family lived in lower Manhattan, a prominent local enterprise. (They moved to Albany when Herman was eleven years old.) The fact is too insignificant to be included in any of the Melville biographies I have at hand.
The final post in this series will look at the Whitehall in the quote above—Herman's nod to his mother's family?
(Note: The full map of 1841 Manhattan can be found at this outstanding Boston Public Library site.)