Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
This week is a continuation of the discussion of when various nationalities first immigrated to North America.
Czech: The historic Czech lands include Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Immigrants from these lands in the 19th century most frequently called themselves Bohemians.
Joachim Gans of Prague was the first known Bohemian who visited North America. He came with Sir Walter Raleigh’s expedition to explore what is now Roanoke, North Carolina, in 1585.
The first Bohemian settler to the colonies was Augustine Herman, who arrived in 1633 in New Amsterdam (now New York City), which was controlled by the Dutch. He came as a member of the West India Company and rose quickly to become one of the most influential members of the community. Fluent in several languages, he was a skilled merchant, planter, surveyor, draftsman, politician, and diplomat. In 1649 he was elected to the “Board of Nine Men,” a body which advised Gov. Peter Stuyvesant. He later led that Board. As his wealth grew, he owned lands that comprised most of present-day Yonkers, New York.
Herman was unhappy with the leadership of Gov. Stuyvesant and was one of a group of petitioners against the governor in 1649. The following years marked a time of conflict with the governor.
In 1659 Herman was sent by Gov. Stuyvesant as a diplomat to resolve a conflict with British-owned Maryland. He made a favorable impression on the Calvert family, which governed Maryland, and offered to map the Chesapeake Bay region in return for land in Maryland. He ended up with 25,000 acres, making him one of the largest landholders in North America. He settled at an estate he named “Bohemia Manor,” in what is now Cecil County, Maryland.
Herman took an oath of allegiance to Britain and became a naturalized citizen of Maryland in 1663. His descendants can be found at familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/h/o/o/John-Hoopes-/GENE6-0001.html.
A second person of Bohemian descent, also living in New Amsterdam during the same time period as Augustus Herman, was Frederick Philipse. After the Thirty Years War, Philipse’s aristocrat family had been persecuted in Bohemia for their protestant religion. They fled to Holland, where Frederick was born in 1626. It is believed that the family’s name in Bohemia was Tchynsky.
Frederick Philipse immigrated to New Amsterdam and eventually became the wealthiest person in all of the New Netherlands. A successful merchant, he was nicknamed “The Bohemian Merchant Prince.” He owned land on Long Island, land in present-day Westchester County, and nearly all of present-day Putnam County, in New York. He had a large mansion in Yonkers, called Philipse Manor. Philipse’s family were loyalists in the Revolutionary War and the family subsequently lost many of its parcels of land to the Americans.
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