The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Loomings" locations, part 2

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward.      - Chapter I, Loomings
Continuing 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
Coenties Slip was a significant feature on the waterfront, cutting inland nearly two blocks. Sometime in the late 1800's it was filled in. Later, Front Street in this area was obliterated by office towers. Today Coenties Slip is largely covered by the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, with a heliport at what was the slip's mouth.

View Larger Map
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." (

Now follow me down the generations, using information from the New York State Museum website.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. This 1705 Jacob married Catharina Cuyler. They had son Abraham in 1743.
  4. Abraham married Anna Lansing, and had son Jacob A. in 1772.
  5. Jacob A. Ten Eyck married a certain Magdalena Gansevoort at the Albany Dutch church in April 1795. (Yes, that Gansevoort!)
Magdalena Gansevoort was the daughter of "Albany mainstay" Leonard Gansevoort. Leonard had a brother, Peter, "the hero of Fort Stanwix." Peter had a daughter, Maria Gansevoort—mother of our man, Herman Melville!

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.)

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