In 1652 a family settled at Beverwyck
to begin a new life...
The head of the family was a sailor from Jonkoping, Sweden named Pieter Bronck, and he was accompanied by his wife Hilletje Jans of Quakebrugge, Holland. Pieter and Hilletje had been married on Ridderstraat in Amsterdam in 1645 when they were both 28, possibly unaware that within the decade they would find themselves carving out a new life near the edge of the known world at Beverwyck in the Dutch Colony of New Netherland.
At Beverwyck Pieter and Hilletje opened a tavern and brewery which catered to the influx of traders, fur trappers, and adventurers passing through along the frontier. This was an excellent choice of occupation at a time when beer and liquor were nutritional and economic staples rather than a mere frivolity. However, the vicissitudes of frontier economy and what appears to be Pieter’s own "contentious personality" resulted in an unstable income stream which made supporting a family difficult. By the early 1660’s Pieter and Hilletje were considering another move. Pieter purchased a tract of land approximately 20 miles south of Beverwyck, near the present village of Coxsackie from the native Mohicans. Pieter Bronck and his family moved to settle their land at Coxsackie in 1663, although both Pieter and his descendants would retain ties with Beverwyck's society and economy.
On a small hillock in the midst of the flood plain of Coxsackie Creek Pieter found a small clearing and commenced construction of a typical rural European style dwelling. Built of local rubble stone the one room 20’ x 20’ structure had both garret and cellar for storage. Pieter, Hilletje, and their young son Jan carried on all daily activities in the single first floor room. It is likely that Pieter dabbled in the fur trade at the Coxsackie site but certainly by the time of his death in 1669 the family had transition to selling timber and subsistence farming.
In 1738 Pieter’s grandson Leendert and his wife Anna de Wandelear built a handsome Dutch brick dwelling adjacent to Pieter’s old stone house. Pieter and Hilletje’s descendents were by that time established grain farmers and considered themselves to be culturally Dutch despite Pieter Bronck's Swedish roots. By the time the American War for Independence commenced the Bronck family had already been farming their land at Coxsackie for 113 years. In the 1770s the Farmstead was in the hands of Pieter’s great grandson, Jan Leendert, and Jan's son Leendert (Leonard) Bronck. Both men were active in the effort to secure American independence, pledging the family’s wealth, farm produce, and considerable prestige to the Patriot cause.
For 276 years seven generations of Pieter’s descendents would pass the family dwellings and the accompanying farm directly from father to child. The last family owner, Leonard Bronk Lampman, willed the Bronck farm to the Greene County Historical Society in 1939, and the site has been open to the public as a museum ever since. Thanks to the stewardship of the Bronck family and the Greene County Historical Society, descendents are still able to enter Pieter’s door and walk Pieter‘s floor over 350 years after he built them.
The Bronck Museum complex consists of the 1663 and 1738 dwellings, a kitchen dependency, a Northern European side-aisle barn, a thirteen-sided hay barn and several Victorian agricultural buildings.