Jacob Stoffelsen was born in Zeeland, Holland around 1601. It is uncertain when he arrived in New Netherland, but records indicate that in 1635 he was appointed Commissary of Stores and Overseer of the Company’s laborers. Testifying before Director Willem Kieft on March 22, 1639, Stoffelsen stated that the Company’s slaves had built the fort in New Amsterdam (completed in 1635) and that they routinely cut timber for construction and firewood, cleared land, burned lime and undertook agricultural work.
In 1641, Jacob Stoffelsen was selected as one of the Twelve Men– the first representative assembly in New Netherland. Although lacking formal education, he was greatly respected by the colonists and Native Americans alike. Stoffelsen was a member of the Eight Men in 1645, and was a member, pro hoc vice, of the Director’s Council to consult on Indian affairs. During Director-General Pieter Stuyvesant’s administration, Stoffelsen was confirmed as a Small Burgher of New Amsterdam.
Upon his marriage to Vrouwtje Idese, whose late husband had been the lessee of the Company’s Bouwerie at Ahasymus, Pavonia (now Hudson, New Jersey), Stoffelsen moved to Ahasymus where he resided until his death in 1677.