Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Prall Reunion of 2000, a good researc opportunity

The Prall Reunion of 2000 was held in New Paltz, NY. Attendance was, to say the least, somewhat disappointing. However, the research opportunities were abundant. I was able to visit the Ulster County Historical Society [Marbletown] and Genealogical Society [Hurley], Elting Library in New Paltz and the Hugenot Historical Society in New Paltz. I was also able to check on a coyple of facilities in near-by Kingston.

I also had the opportunity to meet with Larry Van der Laan, who had been researching the families that had settled Staten Island. Larry had a theory that really changed the early history of the Prall family.

Up to that time, it was believed that the Pralls arrived in New York or Staten Island about 1660, with immigrant Arent Jansen van Naerden finding his way to Wildwyck/Kingston by 1663. He married Marie Billiou there in 1670 and they moved to SI a few years later.

Larry's research pointed to the Pralls arriving on SI by 1655 [at least one family history supported this, claiming a 1653 arrival] and being one of the few families to survive the Staten Island Massacre of 1655. Jan Arentse van Heerde and Baetje Jans were the parents of eight children by 1658. That the family was "van Heerde" [from Heerde in the Netherlands] contradicted Arent's Naerden origins. According to Larry, dialect played into the picture. The clerk who recorded Arent's home for his 1670 marriage misunderstood him. The clerk heard "vanaarden", but Arent said "vanheerden."

The sisters that were assigned to Arent were all from Heerde. Kenn Stryker-Rodda had speculated that Arent had at least four siblings [brother, 3 sisters] and may have arrived earlier than thought.

Larry provided me with a copy of his research report and I spent a few days checking his sources.

The "new Prall story" has not been accepted by all of the Pralls, but I'm satisfied.

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