By Peter J. Ostrander
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, there was one painting in a recent special exhibit, The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which would resonate with OFA members. The exhibit celebrated Rembrandt's 400th birthday. On view was a rich array of 228 Dutch paintings dating between 1600 and 1700.
The painting that caught my eye is a small watercolor painting by Dutch artist Adriaen van Ostade titled Reading the News at the Weavers Cottage, painted in 1673.
Reading the News at the Weavers Cottage (1673), Adriaen van Ostade
Dutch, Haarlem 1610 - 1685
Property of Metropolitan Museum of Art
The artist, van Ostade, was a contemporary of Pieter2 Pietersen and painted about the time our family was settling in Hurley NY. Looking at this work of art today, I can easily envision Pieter2 Pietersen, the patriarch of all Ostrander family lines.
From historical records in the Ulster County Archives, Pieter2 Pietersen’s occupation was listed as a weaver as well as that of his son Pieter3 Pietersen Ostrander. This watercolor was painted when Pieter2 was about 20 years old.
It takes little imagination to envision Pieter2 and his wife Rebecca Traphagen sitting in their house in Hurley: Pieter2’s loom in the far corner of their one room house with his young son Pieter3 being fed at his mother’s knee and perhaps grandfather Pieter1 Pieterse sitting in their doorway with the newspaper. It is believed that Pieter1 Pieterse died about 1668 and Pieter3 born in 1680. Therefore, this 1673 painting was painted at a time for us to easily imagine this scene as a representation of Pieter1, Pieter2 and Pieter3 as they may have looked 330 years ago in Hurley, NY in their small cottage as one of the town weavers.
In Hurley today there are two 18th century weaving looms of interest to the OFA. The 18th century loom (see picture above) from the 1708 Pieter3 Ostrander house, (aka Houghtaling Inn) was recently given to the Hurley Heritage Society and is on view at the museum barn annex. The house was built by Pieter2 Pietersen for his son Pieter3 Ostrander. The loom stands over 6 ft high and 8 ft wide and is made primarily of oak.
A second 18th century loom still resides in the Ostrander-Elmendorf House in Hurley, NY. This house too was originally house built by Pieter2 for his son Arent3. One of the shuttles for the loom has the name Roosa inscribed on it. Roosas were also early Hurley residents and married many early Ostranders. It is not certain that either of these looms were actually owned by our ancestors, but it is interesting that both of these 18th century Dutch stone Ostrander homes still contained 18th century full size looms into the 21st century.
An interesting note on names: The painter Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685) who painted Reading the News at the Weavers Cottage was the eldest son of Jan Hendricx Ostade, a weaver from the town of Ostade near Eindhoven. Although Adriaen and his brother Isaack were born in Haarlem, they adopted the name "van Ostade" as painters.
Ostranders today, descended from Pieter2 Pietersen, subsequently were known as Oostrander, van Ostrande and finally as Ostrander. It is still not known why Oostrander (Oost –East and strand – bank or shore) was selected as our family name but research continues on its derivation.
Those who have read the OFA Big Book know that Pieter2 and Pieter3 were linen weavers and also many of their children were listed in Kingston and Hurley county historical documents and transactions as weavers.
Linen weaving was a profession practiced only by men and became the most important and lucrative occupation in Haarlem (the Netherlands) in the 17th century. It can be assumed the same was true in the Dutch villages of Kingston and Hurley in the 17th and 18th centuries. Linen is a strong, absorbent, cool fabric which becomes more beautiful with age. Sheets, towels, napkins, curtains, upholstery and of course, clothing were all woven of linen. It was not unusual for hand spun linen fabric to last for several generations of use in a family before wearing out. Linen textiles were frequently mentioned in people's wills. Linen is still made from the flax plant and remains popular today.