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 the other settlers, 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 Brott’s are descended from the two Bratt brothers. Many
Bratt's, Vanderzee’s, Brodt’s, Broat’s, Van Brott’s, and Van Bradt’s and some Brad's and Bradd's
are also direct descendents. These
are not the only spellings. Some of the others are listed in "Name Listings" in the menu at the
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 apparently came on the same ship. 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 in Schenectady.
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.
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.