Sarah Jansz Roelofs, interpreter

Church built in Fort

Sarah Jansz Roelofs was an interpreter with the various Native American tribes in the Dutch occupation days of Upstate New York and New Amsterdam(which eventually became New York City). She married 3 times and had over 11 children. She was born in Europe around June 1621. She was the daughter of New Netherland pioneers Roeloff Jansen and Anneke Jans. It is believed her parents emigrated to America and settled in New Amsterdam.

At her wedding reception with Hans Kierstede, her first husband and the first surgeon in New Amsterdam,  “after the fourth or fifth round of drinking”, guest de Vries  used the event to circulate  subscription paper.  Signatures, pledging the willing signers to contribute towards the fund for building a stone church.  New Amsterdam secured the means to build it’s much-needed stone church.  The church was a Dutch Reform Church.  It eventually became the Marble Collegiate Church in NYC, now the oldest continually operating congregation in the city.  The Stone Church in the fort, was built in 1642.  It was seventy-two feet long and fifty feet wide, and the cost twenty-five hundred guilders.  For purposes of security from any sudden attack of the Indians, it was built within Fort Amsterdam, near what is now the Battery.  It remained nearly a century, until 1741, when it was destroyed by fire.

In May 1664, Ms. Jansz was among those identified as interpreters in New Amsterdam who witnessed a peace treaty between Governor Stuyvesant and other officials and the “Esopus savages.” She was very proficient in the Indian language and acted as interpreter in negotiating the treaty between Gov. Pieter Stuyvesant and the Hudson River Indians.

She died 

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