News Articles

Small Frisian community looks to New York for sponsors

Peperga birthplace of Peter Stuyvesant

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

PEPERGA, the Netherlands - The council of the local Dutch Reformed congregation has put out an appeal to the City and citizens of New York to financially adopt the Peperga church. The historic building, in dire need of repairs for which the congregation has no funds, was taken out of service at the beginning of the year with no plans to reopen. The church is a national monument but the onus is on the congregation to keep it in good repair.

The appeal for help from New York is one of last resort and was prompted by the hope that Americans with an affinity for Peperga's native son Peter Stuyvesant may want to preserve the building as a focal point relevant to American history. Stuyvesant served as the last Governor of fledgling Nieuw Nederland colony that became New York. Born in Peperga into the family of the local Reformed pastor in 1592, Stuyvesant was named governor of the Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao in 1646 and simultaneously Governor General of Nieuw Nederland.

While running the Dutch West Indies Company town with what often has been described as an iron-fist, Stuyvesant felt he was unable to defend the colony when in 1664 a British expeditionary fleet laid siege to the outpost. On June 6, he signed the surrender with favourable terms for the local community following which Nieuw-Amsterdam became New York. Peg-legged Stuyvesant returned to the Netherlands. Four years later the former Governor settled in the colony, now as a private citizen and he lived in upper Manhattan, where he died a gentleman-farmer in 1668.

As the translation work of early Dutch records by the New Netherland Project in Albany progresses, Americans increasingly have become aware of the contributions made during the rule of the WIC. It also renewed interest in the American connection in the Weststellingwerf community of Peperga where Stuyvesant now is remembered with a statue.