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MEMBERSHIP FORM AND FAMILY BACKGROUND
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Where? Albany, New York
Why? To celebrate our 350th Anniversary
That's right: 350 years
It was on August 26, 1636 (Gregorian Calendar), that Albert Andriesse (Bratt), originally of Fredrikstad, Norway, signed an agreement in Amsterdam, Holland, with the Dutch patroon, Kiliaen van Rensselaer, to come to the New World. On October 8, he and his wife, Annetje Barents, two children, and probably also his brother Arent, set sail from Holland on the "Rensselaerswyck". On November 2, the ship's log records the birth of a third child, in the midst of heavy weather and very high seas. Baptized "Storm" and later known as Storm van der Zee ("Storm from the sea"), his offspring took on "Vanderzee" as their last name.
After some time in port in England to repair the damage caused by the storm, they set out again across the Atlantic, arriving in New Amsterdam (New York) on March 4, 1637. They proceeded up the Hudson River to Rensselaerswyck (Albany), where Albert set about the operation of "two large sawmills", run by a "powerful waterfall". This was on a creek which the Dutch, who referred to the Norwegian as "De Noorman", called the "Normanskill" (Northman's creek).
Albert, an energetic and sometimes irascible character, soon split with his partners and started growing tobacco (something he apparently learned in Holland). Several years later he assumed sole responsibility for the sawmills, acquired property on Manhattan Island, and developed a close business relationship with one of his former partners. Van Rensselaer frequently had bones to pick with many of his tenants, including Albert. But at the death of Jeremias van Rensselaer, director of Rensselaerswyck and grandson of the first patroon, Albert was invited to the funeral.
In his personal life, Albert prospered, raised a large family, and married two other women after Annetje died (the first being the widow of his other partner in the sawmill). He survived to be cited in his obituary in 1686 as one of the oldest inhabitants of the colony. Still, according to contemporary historian Stefan Bielinski, it took the customary three generations before the Bradt "foreigners" were fully accepted into Dutch Albany society.
Brother Arent, meanwhile, had become one of the founders of Schenectady. (Most of) His offspring survived the Indian massacre of 1690, and have played a prominent role in the life of that city ever since. One of them, Jannetje Bradt, gave birth to a future governor of New York, Joseph C. Yates, 1823-25.
...I didn't (know any of this) until a few years ago when I started poking into the family history and corresponding with other Bradts. One of the surprising things I learned is that with only a few exceptions (e.g., the descendants of Morris Bradt who came from Germany in the 1850s), all persons in North America today of the spelling "Bradt", as well as many Bratts, Brotts, Brodts, and Vanderzees, descended from Albert or Arent.
Over the years, the Bradts have occupied every station in life, from the poor house to Who's Who, from pillar of the community to the average Joe. The entrepreneurs among them have headed every type of organization, from the Maytag Corporation, to a biscuit manufacturer, to the corner tavern (e.g., Isaac Bradt's 1880s establishment on Green Street in Albany.)
Some of us who have been swapping these tales for years have often said how much fun it would be to have a grand national get-together, where we could share these stories and learn more about how the Bratts have contributed to the great national drama(s), Canadian and U.S. With the 350th anniversary as incentive, we are about to make it happen...
--Ken Bradt, from the invitation letter mailed to phone book-listed Bratts (of several spellings) in 1986. My thanks to Ken for permission to use this.
|Estimated percentages of North Americans who are "Bradt Family," descendents of Albert and Arent|
|Bratt||25% in the U.S., fewer in Canada. Most others are English.|
|Vanderzee||25-45% Also spelled Van Derzee.|
|See||1% ? Shortened from VanderZee.|
|Van Bradt||100%? Also spelled VanBradt.|
|Van Brott||100% ?|
|A LITTLE BACKGROUND||A LITTLE MORE BACKGROUND|
THE BRADT FAMILY SOCIETY was formed when sixteen Bradt family members (and spouses) met at the Desmond Hotel in Colonie, New York, and formalized a Constitution proposed by Kenneth Bradt. Ken has been one of the primary leaders of the Bradt Family association for many years, and was the co-editor, with his wife, Thelma, of the BRADT FAMILY NEWS. The NEWS contains articles and genealogical data and pictures concerning the history and activities of the Bradt family. Major family reunions have been held at the Desmond every five years, and trips to Holland and Norway took Bradt family members to the hometown of the brothers, Albert and Arent Bratt.
If you want to learn more about the Bradt genealogy, Descendants of Albert and Arent Andriessen Bradt and the Supplements can be found in several of the major libraries around the country. Some of them are listed on the
BOOKS & BFNpage of this website.Pen and Ink Drawing
Courtesy of Leonard Tantillo
|From Cythia Biasca's preface to Descendants of Albert and Arent Andriessen Bradt:
This is the proverbial book that its author never expected to write. Until fifteen years ago I knew nothing of my family background, not even that the Brott spelling of my maiden name had once been Bradt. In the fall of 1976 my sisters and I decided to research our father's background. We knew the name of our paternal great-grandfather, but not the name of his father. (A sad example of waiting too late to start our research, for there was no one still alive who could supply the information.) We tried — and have tried over the past 13 years — every avenue we knew to learn that great-great-grandfathers's identity. We do not to this day know who X Bradt, as we refer to him, was.
In our leave-no-stones-unturned search for X Bradt, we scanned untold numbers of Bradt records. I was able to devote a great deal of time to this work throughout the entire year. For a week almost every summer, my sisters and I met in different counties of New York State, and together we attacked courthouse and cemetery and historical society and local library records, and the information we amassed on Bradt/Bratt/Brott/Brodt families became extensive.
Finally, two things became clear: we might never find X Bradt in our lifetimes (three of us had become grandmothers during this period), and all that voluminous data we had been accumulating must be shared, not kept stashed away in my file cabinets and computer. Following the fabulous Bradt Reunion in Albany in the summer of 1987, more and more data came to me from more and more correspondents. It now seemed all the more urgent that I put into comprehensive book form all the material we had collected and which I had initially set up in the form of family charts. And so work on The Bradt Book (Descendants of Albert and Arent Andriessen Bradt) began.
Webmaster's note: The Bradt cousins owe Cynthia and Ken a huge debt of gratitude. Without their efforts, most of us would not know about our origins.
After all of these years of research, the help and support of her sisters, and countless letters and emails containing family history, Cynthia has still not identified X Bradt.