The first European settlers to what is now known as Ulster County were the Dutch. The Dutch West India Company colonized New Netherland (now New York City) around 1621 to capitalize on the fur trade, and by 1652 we see the first land deed in Ulster County. The village of Wiltwyck (now Kingston) kept their records in the Dutch language. These records have been in the care of the Ulster County Clerk since the first clerk in 1671. The records were translated into English in the late 1800s by a Dutch scholar named Dingman Versteeg and the translations of the Dutch records are now available online in a word-searchable database!

A Timeline of Ulster County’s Dutch Records

1658 – The first record on file with the Ulster County Clerk’s Office – Dated May 31, 1658, it details the need for a stockade to be built around Wiltwyck, as order by Director-General Peter Stuyvesant

1661 – Created at the house of an early resident of Wiltwyck

1664 – Created at the “Village House”

1681 – The last entry in the original Dutch Court Records

1686 – Deposited with the Ulster County Clerk’s Office (Liber AA p.50)

1700 – Inventoried by Justices of the Peace

1855 – Discovered missing from the Clerk’s Office

1895 – Returned anonymously to the Clerk’s Office from Long Island

1896 –Board of Supervisors vote to hire Netherlands native and Holland Society Archivist, Dingman Versteeg to translate the records

1896-1899 – Translated by Dingman Versteeg

1906 – Translations indexed and published by Albany County

1936 – Inventoried by the Work Projects Administration (W.P.A.) Historical Records Survey

1966 – Loaned to Queen’s College, Queen’s NY, for processing

1969 – Returned to the Clerk’s Office at the request of the Legislature

1969 – Stored at New York Underground in Rosendale

1972 – Resolution 30 authorizes an inventory at New York Underground

1974 – Inventoried by County Historian Kenneth E. Hasbrouck

1975 – Withdrawn from New York Underground by the Clerk’s Office

1976 – “Kingston Papers” published by the Holland Society of New York

1988 – Stored at Ulster County Records Center on Lucas Ave., Kingston

1991 – A portion of the records moved to Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, MA for conservation treatment and returned.

1997 – Moved to the new Ulster County Records Center on Foxhall Ave., Kingston

2001 – A portion of the records moved to NEDCC in Andover MA for conservation treatment and returned

2002 – Albany County Index used to create a word-searchable index

2002 – Index posted on the County Clerk’s Archives web site

2006-2008 – Full minutes from Versteeg’s translations transcribed by Archives staff 

2008 – Full minutes and new records added to existing on-line searchable index 

2008 – Used in the creation of curriculum guide When Cultures Collide: The Story of the Esopus Natives and their Encounter with European Colonialism in Ulster County

2009 – Featured in Hudson/Fulton/Champlain Quadricentennial events

2013 – Focus of the curriculum guide Wiltwyck: A Look at Life in a Dutch 17th Century Ulster County Town

2018 – Subject of the document-based activity booklet Dutch Dilemmas

Dutch Database

In 2008, the Ulster County Clerk’s Archives Division concluded a three-year project, culminating in a complete on-line, word-searchable database of the English Translations of Ulster County’s Dutch Court Records and Secretary's Papers.  

Once published in part as the "Kingston Papers", they are the only surviving legal proceedings of the Dutch presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley.  

Search the database: English Translations of Dutch Colonial Records a.k.a. "Kingston Papers" (Deed Books 1, 2, & 3)