American Pioneer Chronicles:
Colonial Women, The Heartbeat and Backbone of our Nation
Surviving a three-month voyage through the rough seas of the North Atlantic on a tiny ship full of cold, sick people headed to an unknown future was not for the weak. Leiden-native Lea Cossart had youth and stamina on her side as she accompanied her husband, Jacques, and her two toddlers to the New Netherland Colony in 1663. Arriving in the dead of winter with no home or money, Jacques was seeking work to pay their passage debts and industrious Lea began the process of settling in the small village of New Amsterdam. Although the family had originally been Huguenots, they joined the Dutch Reformed church, Lea finding support and companionship among the ladies of the church as she provided for her children in this wilderness full of dangers including lack of food, substandard shelter and bad blood between the Native Americans, Dutch and Brits. Less than a year later the English took over the colony and renamed it New York, Jacques would sign an oath of allegiance to England securing a job as a local tax collector. Astutely, Lea found ways to soften the stigma of being the tax collector’s wife by helping other newcomers and women of the village. Lea also proved to be a robust mother, having four more children, all of whom survived into adulthood and married, giving Lea numerous grandchildren. Her role as Cossart family matriarch in the New World continued until her death at age 47, presumably buried on Long Island. Stalwart Lea was able to provide a secure opportunity for her progeny in the New World that would last for generations.
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