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Taken from the Jannetje Vroom Bible in the museum of Old St. Edward's Church

This appears to be Jannetje's signature and the date she got the Bible. It may have been a wedding gift. It's being in the Dutch language is testimony to its having enough prevalence in 16th century New York and New Jersey Provinces to still be spoken a century later. Jannetje's son Douwe Isaac Ditmars certainly spoke Dutch. His granddaughter Horatia Jane Ditmars recalled this, and she was born in 1832. Douwe died in 1845, so we have a solid 200 years of spoken Dutch in the Ditmars family in the "New World." Most, if not all, of those generations were bilingual as well. Colonial New York and Nova Scotia were primarily English-speaking.
     Jannetje's father died when she was a baby. It's likely she moved with her mother and two half-brothers to Jamaica, Province of New York, where some of her mother's family lived. Her mother married Douwe Ditmars of that town when Jannetje was about six. Jannetje became known sometimes as Jane since the Dutch language did gradually fade from prominence. She had eight children, about 78 grandchildren and about 286 great grandchildren. She lost her first husband, who was her stepbrother, to unknown causes. She then married one of her first cousins. combined with cousin marriages futher up the Ditmars and Vroom family trees, her descendants were their own cousins in bewildering, web-like connections.
     The Ditmars and Vroom families moved with other Loyalists to Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, about 1783 and settled on a lot of land in Clements Township, probably in or near present day Cornwallis or Deep Brook. They attended church in Moose River (now Clementsport) and are buried in the churchyard there. We're very fortunate that someone preserved her Bible, which is now in the collections of Old St. Edward's museum in Clementsport. It contains the only known record of births, marriages and deaths of various members of her family.

Jannetje's gravestone in Old St. Edward's churchyard. Left: existing condition (2004); right: a partial, digital restoration. The origin of the epitaph hasn't been found, but it appears in print in "Heroines of Methodism" by George Coles. It was used by a minister eulogizing his mother, who died months after Jane in 1830, but the book was published in 1857. When the eulogy was written isn't said, but this shows the poem wasn't unique to its use on Jane's stone.

children of Jannetje Vroom and Isaac Ditmars:

i. Douwe Isaac b. 27 January 1772
ii. Sarah b. 8 June 1778

children of Jannetje Vroom and Jan Vroom:

iii. Gerretie (Charity) b. 4 June 1782
iv. Joris (George) b. 12 December 1783, supposedly at sea
v. Hendrick (Henry) b. 4 August 1786
vi. Jannetie (Jane) b. 11 July 1788
vii. Jan (John) b. 25 July 1790
viii. Isaac Ditmars b. 17 August 1791
ix. Lemmetie (Lemma) b. 12 October 1793

vital records sources: Her birth and death dates come from her Bible in the Old St. Edward's Church museum, Clementsport. She also has a gravestone in the Old St. Edward's Church cemetery. Her marriage license dates are from "New York Marriages Before 1784."

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all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted