I have so many daredevils and unusual or outlandish characters in my lines I'm not sure where to start or who to pick. I've already talked about a cousin Stephen Peer, the tightrope walker who has the dubious distinction of being the only tightrope walker to die walking the rope at Niagara Falls.
I've bent my readers' ears in two blog posts about my cousin Harmon Peer, first ever bungie jumper in North America!
Who to choose? There is always my 9th great grandfather Albert Andriessen de Noorman (whose children assumed the surname Bradt and Vanderzee) who was arrested many times in New Netherland (now New York) in the 17th century for various offenses.
They included setting fire to his son's house while his son was in it; burning down a neighbour's corn field, beating his wife so badly the courts stepped in (unusual in those days when it was considered entirely okay to discipline one's wife or children with a beating)
In fact in 1638 a letter from Van Rensselaer (the Patroon of the Colony) was sent to Albert in which Van Rensselaer stated that he had heard that Albert was "very unmerciful to his children and very cruel" to his wife, and that this should cease immediately.
Threatening the neighbours and setting fires brought Albert to court repeatedly, and in exasperation the courts ruled that Albert's sons must watch him and ensure that he did not bother people anymore.
Or perhaps I should talk about my rather free spirited ancestress Anna Kuhn of Germany. Anna, my 8th great grandmother, was born about 1659, and at the age of 15, she was married to Jorg Bruning at Huttengesas, Germany. Jorg Bruning was an older man, and the marriage was a most unhappy one for Anna . While living at Huttengesas with her husband, she fell in love with Nicholaus Bellinger. Still married to Jorg, Anna ran away with Nicholaus and had a son (my direct ancestor), Marcus Bellinger, in 1682.
Nicholaus Bellinger and Anna Maria finally received church permission to marry, and were wed on 25 November 1685. The pastor at Langenselbold wrote concerning this marriage of my 8th great-grandparents:
"Nicolaus Bellinger and Anna, daughter of Hans Kuhn, were married 25 Nov. 1685 as per the order of the noble government. She had married some years ago Jorg Bruning at Huttengesab, but she was not compatable with him, so Bruning went from her and she from him.I think I've run out of room to write about any of my other interesting, intriguing or n'er-do-well ancestors for today!
She went away with this Nicolaus Bellinger and had an illegitimate child - a little son, so that the aforementioned Jorg Bruning has contracted another marriage. After all this however, the above mentioned Bellinger has remained as a stranger.
She sent a request to the honourable government to let them stay in the country, and this finally has been permitted by the aforementioned honourable government which ordered me to marry them with prior published penitence and to avoid further trouble and also to legitimize the rearing of this blameless child"