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The journal of Jasper Danckaerts may have gone undiscovered if not for the discovery by Henry C. Murphy, founder of the Long Island Historical Society, in 1864. Murphy was an excellent Dutch scholar who translated and published the original manuscript and presented his edition in 1867. Murphy found the original manuscript in an old book store in Amsterdam.
New Amsterdam now New York on the Island of Manhattan 1650-53
Jasper Danckaerts and his companion, Peter Sluyter were members of an obscure Protestant sect called Labadism which is similar to the Quaker religion. The two were sent from Amsterdam to New York by their fellow Labadists to scout the area for a suitable place to locate the sect in America. On June 8, Sluyter and Danckaerts contracted with Margaret Hardenbroeck-Philipse, owner of the King Charles, for passage to New York. The two traveled under pseudonyms to keep their mission secret, Peter Sluyter was known as Vorstman and Jasper Danckaerts was known as Schilders, the maiden name of his mother. New York was their intended destination for the sect, however it was under the rule of Governor Andros, a Catholic.
Labadist General View 1679-1680, artist most likely Jasper Danckaerts 1679-1680, in possession of Long Island Historical Society
Maryland was noted for its religious tolerance and was a more suitable place to form a colony. Danckaerts and Sluyter also met Ephraim Herrman, a young trader from Maryland and Delaware and son of the first founder and seater of Bohemia Manor, Augustine Herrman, who became the first naturalized citizen of Maryland in 1663. With Ephraim's guidance, the two made their way to Delaware and Maryland. Augustine was so impressed with the two travelers that he gave them 3750 acres of land for their purpose. They set sail for Europe July 23, 1680 and returned in 1680 with the people who would make up the colony.
The Labadists were German Separatists, who took their name from Jean de Labadie, a former Catholic priest who was born in France February 13, 1610. Labadie deserted the Jesuits, and moving into Holland, Denmark and other places, established a communistic sect, which numbered several distinguished persons. He died in 1674, and his successor, Pierre Yvon, attempted to establish a colony in Surinam, South America on the surrender of New York by the Dutch to the English. When Cornelius van Sommelsdyk went out to Surinam as governor in 1683, a body of Labadists sought an asylum there; however, the climate of Surinam being unsuitable, Sluyter and Danckaerts were sent to find a place for another colony.
Jean de Labadie- 1610-1674
The Labadists eventually had several colonies established in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Conrad Beissel who started the Ephrata Cloisters in Pennsylvania certainly modeled his sect after the Labadists upon his visit to Bohemia Manor in 1721. One group known as "The Society of the Woman of the Wilderness" lived in caves near Philadelphia. "Bohemia Manor" was the community established in 1683 in Maryland. It had a maximum membership of one hundred. The Labadists were religious mystics who hoped to emulate the early Christian Church communism, although in Maryland they held slaves. Peter Sluyter was the principal administrator was for the Labadists. Soon after his death in 1722, the community disbanded.
York Van Ter Syden Dat Is Van De Oost Kant (York from the Side that is from the east side), artist Jasper Danckaerts 1679-1680, in possession of Long Island Historical Society
Jasper Danckaerts was born at Flushing in Zeeland, Netherlands May 7, 1639, the son of Pieter Danckaerts and Janneke Schilders. Flushing was one of the chief ports for English traffic with the Continent in the 16th century. He became a cooper in the service. A little later Danckaerts, after his second voyage to New York, went out with reinforcements to their settlement of La Providence in Dutch Guiana, which soon proved a failure. In 1684 he became a naturalized citizen by a Maryland act, although he may not have spent much time there. He usually lived at Wieuwerd,Netherlands and passed away in Middelburg, Netherlands between 1702 and 1704.
N York Van Achteren Of Van De Noort Kant (N York from behind or from the north side) artist Jasper Danckaerts 1679-1680, in possession of Long Island Historical Society
There is no trace left behind by the Labadist sect, no buildings like the Quakers or Cloisters erected, no furniture like the Quakers built, no memorials of their leaders. All that we have to glimpse into their past is the eloquent and extremely detailed journal of Jasper Danckaerts.
Source: Overview and Edited by Bryan Wright
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