THE BRATT FAMILY
OF NEW NETHERLAND
Albert and Arent Andriessen and their families were early
settlers in the Albany, New York area when the colony still belonged to the Netherlands. Like many of their
neighbors, they were not Dutch. These brothers came from Fredrikstad, Norway.
Over the years, a large number of spelling changes have occurred. Almost all Bradt's and a large percentage of Bratt’s
and Brott’s are descended from the two Bratt brothers. Many Vanderzee’s and a few Brodt’s,
Broat’s, Brad’s, Bradd’s, Van Brott’s, and Van Bradt’s are also direct descendents. These are not the only spellings.
Some of the others are listed in "Bradt Family Name Listing" in the menu at the top.
The Vanderzee line
is descended from Albert’s son, Storm, who was born on the sea crossing to America. "Van der zee" means "from
the sea" in Dutch.
In 1637 Albert Andriessen de Noorman arrived
in Rensselaerswyck (Albany). Arent came at the same time or shortly after. Albert and
his family operated two sawmills (under one roof?) on the Normanskill (Norman’s Creek. The Dutch referred
to Norwegians as Normans). Arent was a farmer and fur trader and his family were some of the original settlers
We can only guess how the Bratt surname
originated. Hereditary family names were not used by the Dutch or the Norwegians. When England took over
New Netherland and it became New York, that soon began to change.
To the best of our knowledge, Albert never used the spelling
"Bradt"; he signed his name Brat or Bratt. Bradt become more common because
the Dutch customarily insert a silent "d." "Brott" originated later as some branches
of the family moved West.
In those days it was common for Norwegians to use the name of their ancestral
farm as their last name. "Bratt" can mean "steep" in Norwegian and it's found in place names all
over Scandinavia. Notably, it's common in the names of farms around Fredrikstad. (Most of today's
Norwegian Bratt's probably took their names from farms at the end of the 1800s and are not related.)
Another possibility is the old Bratt family that
originated in Bergen. This family originated in the middle ages, but no one has ever discovered any documents that
tie us in. It could be more than a coincidence that Fredrikstad is located on the Glomma River which has it's headwaters
in Oppland. Oppland is the home county of one branch of these Bratts.
There is also
a well-documented Bratt family from Brattfors (Steep Falls) in Sweden. It's only 100 miles from Fredrikstad and
was formerly the site of a mill. Perhaps DNA testing will someday identify our Scandinavian cousins.
Over 95% of the Bradt cousins descend through
female lines. It's no exaggeration to say that we would not have a Bradt Family Society today without them.