Drawing upon a variety of resources from research facilities in Ulster County and New Brunswick, NJ, Wendy E. Harris and Helene van Rossum will discuss aspects of African enslavement among the Dutch Reformed congregations of Marbletown, Rochester, Wawarsing, and Shawangunk, churches with historic ties to congregations in New Paltz and Kingston. In her memoirs, Sojourner Truth referred to the Dutch communities in Ulster county—to whom her first owner, Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh belonged—as “that class of people called Low Dutch.” The speakers will highlight enslavement among the powerful Hardenbergh family, as well as connections between Dutch Reformed congregations in Ulster County and those in Central New Jersey’s Raritan Valley, traceable through the ministries of Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen (1691–1747), Johannes Frelinghuysen (1727–1754), and Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1736–1790), the first president of Queen’s College (presently Rutgers University).
Wendy E. Harris is an Ulster-born archaeologist and historic preservation consultant. In 2002 she and fellow archaeologist Arnold Pickman formed Cragsmoor Consultants. Unexpected findings from recent projects conducted for the Cragsmoor Conservancy, the Cragsmoor Historical Society and the Village of Ellenville/Town of Wawarsing Joint Historic Preservation Commission led to Harris’s current interest in the history of African enslavement in what were once the Ulster County hinterlands. In June 2016 she and Pickman presented a joint talk at the Cragsmoor Historical Society entitled “Where Slavery Died Hard, The Forgotten History of Ulster County and the Shawangunk Mountains Region.”
Helene van Rossum, a Dutch-born archivist and writer, is Public Services and Outreach archivist at Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives. Among the repository’s Dutch holdings she found the farm ledgers of major slave holder Johannes G. Hardenbergh (1731-1811), cousin of Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh and Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh, which led to her interest in Dutch communities in Ulster County. In June 2017 she presented a joint talk with Thomas Frusciano (Rutgers University Archivist) and John Coakley (Feakes Professor of Church History, Emeritus, at New Brunswick Theological Seminary) in the “Dutch Parsonage,” Somerset, NJ, entitled “Land, Faith, and Slaves. The shared heritage of the Hardenbergh family, Rutgers University, and the Dutch Reformed Church.”