Ice hockey in the new world

Hendrick Avercamp (Dutch – A Winter Scene with Two Gentlemen Playing Colf – Google Art Project

Ice hockey is believed to have common roots with the sport of golf: they may both descend from an old Dutch game called “kolf” or “colf”. The summer version of kolf was played outdoors on the grass or streets, with players competing to hit a distant target (a stick or a hole) with as few strokes as possible. The winter version was played on ice, with the players sometimes wearing shoes, boots, or ice skates.

The game was so popular in medieval Holland, that it travelled with early Dutch settlers to the Fort Orange area of New York State (present day Albany). The pastime didn’t always meet with the enthusiasm and interest that ice hockey and golf receive in today’s sporting world, however. In 1659, the magistrates of Fort Orange and Beverwyck passed an ordinance stating

“The Honourable Commissary and Magistrates of Fort Orange and the village of Beverwyck, having heard divers complaints from burghers of this place against the practice of playing golf along the streets, which causes great damage to the windows of the houses, and also exposes people to the danger of being injured and is contrary to the freedom of the public streets; Therefore their honours, wishing to prevent the same, hereby forbid all persons to play golf in the streets, under the penalty of forfeiture of Fl. 25 for each person who shall be found doing so.”

Two years earlier, an ancestor on my father’s family tree named Meeuwus (short for Bartholomeus) Hoogenboom was fined with two friends for playing hockey on a day reserved for religious observance. The Fort Orange court minutes records:

 “The officer, plaintiff, against Claes Hendericksen, Meeuwus Hoogenboom, Gijsbert van Loenan, defendents

The plaintiff says that Jan Daniel, the deputy schout, reported to him that on the 7th of March, being the day of prayer ordered by the honorable director general of New Netherland and proclaimed here, the defendants played hockey on the ice, demanding therefore that the said defendants be condemned to pay the fine indicated by the ordinance.

The defendants, appearing, maintain that they did not play hockey and promise to prove it.

The parties have been heard, the court orders the defendants to produce their evidence on the next court day.”

The next court day doesn’t note a resolution to the charge, but our Hoogenboom’s name shows up a few weeks later in the court minutes, this time because he didn’t pay for beer and wine consumed at an establishment owned by a local lady. Because Bartholomeus missed his court appearance three times, he was fined 38 guilders for the alcohol and 3 guilders for the court costs.

Bartholomeus Pieterse Hoogeboom was my 8th great-grandfather. He was born in the Netherlands, arrived in the New World in 1657, and died in Albany in 1702. My tree is composed a variety of early Dutch settlers, with names like Van Valken, Hoevenburg, Van Dyke, Van Winkle, and Van Houten. Bartholomeus seems to be the more fun-loving and colorful of the bunch.


  1. The Dutch Influence on Golf, New Netherland Institute website
  2. Dutch Kolf/Kolven (Medieval Golf), Health and Fitness History, 2017
  3. Fort Orange Court Minutes, 1652-1660, New Netherland Institute website


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