02/27/2013 05:47 pm ET

Of Ministers And Merchants, Sinners & Saints

A new Brooklynite dives deep into his local roots, unveiling a vaunted family history nine generations old.

Though getting settled in New York City has never been easy, it was a good deal harder in 1747, when my first Brooklyn relative, Ulpianus Van Sinderen, arrived. My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was an unmarried forty-year-old Dutch minister ordained in his native Friesland, a province near the German border. His father, a minister and tutor to a noble family, had discouraged Ulpianus from entering the church, so scarce were full-time jobs in the ministry. But Ulpianus, showing signs of the stubborn, foolhardy will that would make him a perfect American, went to seminary anyway and found himself in exactly the pickle his father had predicted. After fifteen years roaming around rural Holland as an assistant minister, unable to find a permanent post or meet the right girl, he leapt when the Dutch Reformed Church announced an opening on Long Island and gave him the job. 

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