Mercenary, pirate, double-crosser, jailbird, bigamist, wife-abandoner. “Well, at least he didn’t kill anybody,” says one descendant.
Meet Thomas Baxter, born between 1626 and 1628, either in Shropshire or Norfolk. We don’t know how he got here but he may have come with his father George as part of the Winthrop fleet to Massachusetts in 1630. We don’t know his mother’s name for sure, but it might have been Mary Adams. The Baxters moved to New Amsterdam with a few other English families in 1635, and in 1641 were given a grant of farmland on the site of present-day Bellevue Hospital, on the East River. Thomas probably grew up on that farm. George worked for the Dutch West India Company, was secretary and translator for both governors Kieft and Stuyvesant, and also did business with the bloodthirsty Captain John Underhill (a Vail ancestor), but those stories are for another day.[...]