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     Douwe likely farmed in Jamaica on Long Island. He was a staunch Loyalist, found among the signers pledging allegiance to the King in 1775-76, and promised assistance in raising Loyalist troops in 1777.(1) At the close of the Revolution, Douwe, his children and their families immigrated to Nova Scotia, a Loyalist haven.

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(The New York Gazette, 25 August 1783)

"The fleet for Nova Scotia, of thirty sail, put to sea yesterday morning with a fair wind."
(Gaine's (New York) Mercury, 29 September 1783)

     Douwe was granted his property by the Canadian government in 1786, which included what is now the village of Clementsport. He and other Douwes in this family are occasionally called "Dowie," presumably a diminutive.(2)


photo by Becky Kraussmann, all rights reserved

Douwe's grant now hangs in the Old Church of St. Edward

Several land transactions involving Douwe and Douwe, Jr., in this area occurred in 1784, and how this relates to the government grant hasn't yet been determined. Douwe, Sr., undoubtedly had a home on the property right away, but the house as it now stands appears to be two houses joined or one expanded on the other. Construction evidence leads to some complicated theories as to the history of the house.      One of the most distinctive parts of the Ditmars house is the roof that apparently was built to unify the two portions. On the front half of the house is a so-called "Dutch kick" - a flare that extends out to create a large overhang very much in the style of Anglo-Dutch houses in lower New York State, where the Ditmars lived before coming to Nova Soctia.




The front of Douwe Ditmars' house in Clementsport



The Wyckoff house in Canarsie, Brooklyn, NY, with a typical "Dutch kick" of the mid 1700s (the house has been restored as a museum). There is a very good chance that the Ditmars lived in a house of this style in nearby Jamaica (NY) before moving to Nova Scotia.


     Various members of this family returned to Long Island on occasion. There is an entry in the diary of John Baxter of Flatbush? dated 10 July 1790 mentioning that he "shaved old D. Dittmas from N. Scotia."(3) His son Douwe and daughter-in-law/step-daughter Jannetje (wife of Isaac) are supposedly also mentioned by Baxter, but this hasn't been confirmed. Douwe and his son Douwe married women named Catryntje/Catherine Snedeker. The elder Catherine was the daughter of Isaac and Catryntje Jans (Dorlandt?) and the younger was her niece. Douwe, Sr.'s, second wife Sara Remsen was first married to Abraham Voorhees and secondly to Joris/George Vroom, with both of whom she had children. The conglomerated Ditmars/Vroom household was large and apparently close-knit. Two of Douwe's children married their step-siblings: one a Voorhees, one a Vroom. Given the use of the Dutch naming pattern for children that was prevalent in this family and gaps in the birth chronology of Douwe and Catryntje's children, they undoubtedly had a daughter named Catryntje as their second child, named for her grandmother Catryntje Jans (Dorlandt?). Gerrit Ditmars appears on the lists of Loyalists in Queens County during the Revolution (21 October 1776) among the other sons of Douwe and Catryntje and was surely one of their sons, born in the gap between Douwe and Jan. He was likely named for his great grandfather Gerrit Snedeker. He is also on a pay list of soldiers in Capt. William Ludlam's 10th Company of Minute Men, originating in Jamaica but stationed in Suffolk County on 22 August 1776. He served to 23 November 1776.
     Douwe died of "nasal palsy" (4) and is buried in the Old St. Edward's churchyard in Clementsport. Douwe was a founding member of St. Edward's in 1794. A photo essay on this very unusual church and the Ditmars history associated with it is here. There is a local tradition that Douwe donated land for the church and accepted a peppercorn in exchange. Peppercorns were a traditional means of legalizing an exchange of goods or property when it was intended as a gift. He eventually was convinced to accept 5 shillings instead. He lived to see the church finished, or nearly so, and his funeral was likely held there.



Old Church of St. Edward, Clementsport. The ceremonial entry for weddings and funerals reportedly was on this side.









The head and footstones at Douwe's grave in the St. Edward churchyard


children of Douwe, Sr., and Catryntje (Snedeker) Ditmars:

i. Marritje, b. 13 Feb. 1746
ii. ?Catryntje, b. abt 1748, died young
iii. Douwe, b. 18 Nov. 1750
iv. Isaac, b. 1 Aug. 1751
v. ?Gerrit, b. abt 1752, d. prob. during the Revolutionary War
vi. Jan, bap. 31 Mar. 1754
vii. Catryntje, bap. 3 June 1759, sp. Eldert Elderts and his wife Jannetje Nostrand





His baptism and first marriage dates come from the Jamaica Dutch Reformed Church records. His second marriage date is inferred from an abstract of marriage bonds in "New York Marriages Before 1784."

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4. History of Digby County, citing the records of Trinity Anglican Church, Digby, the pastor of which served the St. Edward's parish.


all text and photographs © 1998-2005 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted