by Kevin Walsh

THE Walloons were Protestants from what is now Belgium who had fled to Holland to escape religious oppression from the Catholic majority, but also faced the same trouble in the Netherlands from the Reformed populations. The solution, in the 17th Century, was to make a go of it in the New World and so, Jesse DeForest and a band of 32 Belgian Walloon, or Huguenot, families appealed first to the British to allow them transit to North America. Denied, they shipped out with the Dutch, arriving in May 1624 aboard the ship the ship Nieu Nederland. Even today, the Walloon and Dutch influence is noticeable in Staten Island street names along the north and west shore, where we find Walloon and Brabant Streets, as well as Huguenot Avenue.

The monument in Battery Park to the Walloon Settlers is a 10-foot tall granite stele dedicated in 1924. Its architect, Henry Bacon, also designed Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Memorial (1911-22) and Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Pool (1922)—as well as NYC’s ubiquitous Type A, B and E park lampposts.

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therealguyfaux November 30, 2022 - 11:56 pm

The Huguenots from France itself, who were from the port city of La Rochelle, also came to the NYC area and settled along Long Island Sound, and named their settlement La Nouvelle Rochelle. Over the years it was anglicized to Nurra Shell… 😉

Kenneth Buettner December 2, 2022 - 9:37 am

In 1894, descendants of the Huguenot settlers founded a district in New Paltz to preserve their heritage. Today it is a 10-acre National Historic Landmark District which includes a museum among its buildings.

Edward December 2, 2022 - 10:11 am

I was well into my teens before I realized what the heck “Waloon” meant as I walked the streets of Mariners Harbor, Staten Island. The name provided some snickers of laughter as a kid, and I was always puzzled by the R107 bus having a “Brabant Street” destination sign. To this day, I say Brabant in a French accent and pronounce it “Bray-bahnt” (probably incorrectly).

Linda Rinehart December 3, 2022 - 4:25 am

I am a descendant of Joris Jansen Rapalje, a Walloon, who settled in New Amsterdam. He and his wife, Catalygne, arrived in
1624,but spending 3 years in Albany. Their daughter, Sarah, was first white girl born in New Amsterdam. He bought two
properties backing up to the fort on Pearl Street.


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