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BREAKING NEWS: The Baron de Bastrop IS NOT A Dirty Rotten Scoundrel!

October 5, 2013 in Blog

After years of research I have finally found the “smoking gun” that will definitively put to rest the notion that the Baron de Bastrop abandoned his wife and children in the Netherlands. “The Baron de who” you might ask?

His name was Felipe Enrique Neri, the Baron de Bastrop and without this gentleman’s ingenuous skills America’s Texas may have never existed. Alongside Moses and Stephen F. Austin, the Baron formed the first American colonies that would later become the Republic and State of Texas. He was Texas’ first Land Commissioner and first state representative, a dedicated statesman who worked tirelessly until his death to assure the colonies he helped to create, prospered.

Yet, for all his efforts in kick-starting the Lone Star State his contributions have been mostly overshawdowed by an unjust “scoundrel” reputation which persists to this day. In 1955 it was revealed for the first time that the Baron’s name wasn’t Felipe Enrique Neri and as far as anyone could tell he wasn’t a Baron. His real name was Philip Hendrick Nering Bögel, (a double last name without the usual hyphen) a former tax collector from Holland accused of embezzlement who fled the country leaving behind a wife and four daughters, ages 3 through 10, to fend for themselves while he was in America living the good life as a powerful royal Baron.

What a dirt rotten scoundrel! Few could be proud of a man who would do such a thing to his own family. The Baron soon became an embarrassment and he was reduced from a Texas hero to a Texas zero.

Well fellow Texans, be ashamed no more. I have recently uncovered several documents that totally absolves the Baron of this terrible accusation of family abandonment. Philip Hendrick Nering Bogel, aka the Baron de Bastrop, DID NOT leave his family in the Netherlands as has been reported for over half a century, he brought his family with him to the United States where they lived on a plantation in Maryland for many years.

What? This is like finding out that Davy Crockett survived the Battle of the Alamo and lived to a ripe old age as a “coon-skin” cap repairman!

Here’s a quick review for those still scratching their heads wondering, “what the heck is he talking about?

On May 3rd, 1793, Philip the tax collector didn’t show up for work at his office in Leeuwarden, a city in the province (much like a U.S. state) of Friesland, in what was once the Republic of Holland. Today it’s simply known as the Netherlands. Within days it was discovered that an amount equal to around a quarter of a million 1793 dollars was missing. It appeared obvious, Philip took the money and ran.

On June 1st an advertisement was placed in a local newspaper by a group of men calling themselves the “High Honorable Gentlemen of Deputy States of Friesland” which accused Philip of the crime and offered a reward for his return. The “Honorable Gentlemen” also asked any authorities to arrest this criminal if found promising reimbursement for expenses of the arrest and extradition in addition to the reward. No arrest was ever made. No one ever claimed the reward. Philip the tax collector had simply vanished.

History records that Philip abandoned his family and remained hidden somewhere in Europe for about two years. During this time he shed his old identity and transformed into the Baron de Bastrop before arriving in Spanish Louisiana in 1795. All the while his home had been confiscated, his broke wife and daughters forced to move in with her family. Except that’s not entirely true and here’s the proof.

In the Pennsylvania state archives resides a document titled Names Of Foreigners Who Took The Oath Of Allegiance To The Province And State Of Pennsylvania, 1727-1775, With The Foreign Arrivals 1786-1808. Once you get past the laborious title this record contains a remarkable entry, one that totally contradicts history.

The entry is a manifest of the sailing ship “Brothers” which departed Hamburg Germany and arrived in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on September 25th, 1793. The manifest lists among its passengers Philip, his wife Georgina, their daughters Augustina, Martha, Christina and Susanna. But they weren’t traveling under the last name of Nering Bögel, Phillip had given his entire family the surname “Bastrop” and they all became citizens of the United States of America.

At first one might think this is just some crazy coincidence until you examine the family’s full names. For hundreds of years a book known as the Netherlands Patricaat has kept a record of family genealogy and other going’s-on in the Netherlands. The 1948 publication lists the names of Philip, his wife and their four daughters.

Philip Hendrick Nering Bögel
Georgina Wolfeline Francoise Lycklama à Nijeholt Nering Bögel
Susanna Hendrik Nering Bögel
Christina Martha Nering Bögel
* Coenraad Lourens Nering Bögel
Martha Hendrik Nering Bögel
Augustina Nering Bögel
*(died as an infant)

The following is the exact wording of the passenger list from the ship “Brothers.”

Philip Hendrick Bastrop
Georgina Wolfeline Francoise Lycklama Bastrop
Susana Maria Bastrop
Christina Maria Bastrop
Martha Kinnima Bastrop
Augustina Bastrop

Aside from the obvious change in surname the two lists are nearly identical, too close to be happenstance. There’s no doubt that Philip, along with his entire family, left the Netherlands and arrived in Philadelphia Pennsylvania under the last name of “Bastrop.”

Like the infomercial says…“but wait, there’s more!”

In 1795 under the name “P.H.N.B. Tot Bastrop” Phillip and the rest of the family, immigrated to Frederick County Maryland according to a 1795 immigration record.  His use of his term “Tot” indicates a meaning of “including,” referring to himself and the family “Bastrop.” Why he would use a signature that hints at his real name is unclear.

At some point the Bastrop’s purchased a plantation in Frederick County according to the before-mentioned Netherland’s Patricaat and lived in Maryland until the year 1800, so says an 1800 Federal Census. I haven’t found any additional records of the same Bastrop family past the census.

By 1803 Georgina was back in the Netherlands living close to Amsterdam and in 1805, Philip moved to modern-day San Antonio Texas under his Spanish name of Felipe Enrique Neri, fully embracing his “baron” persona.  Their youngest daughter, Augustine, was married in the Netherlands in 1810 followed by the rest of her sisters through the year 1817. It’s apparent that the “Bastrop’s” did eventually split up, but certainly not under the circumstances that has been accepted for years.

A  review of this new evidence also offers new conclusions:

  •  History asserts that Georgina was nothing more than an innocent victim of Philip’s heinous crime, but now it appears she was a willing participant. She had to at least suspect, have knowledge of, or even participated in her husband’s crime, if he did indeed commit it. Regardless of the cultural differences it’s difficult to believe Georgina would agree to move her family across the ocean under an assumed name with no questions asked.
  • Contrary to what has been written Philip wasn’t addressing himself as the Baron de Bastrop when he first arrived in America, he had simply replaced his entire family’s surname. It wasn’t until 1795, a full two years later, that he began using the “baron” moniker when he appeared in New Orleans with a petition for a land grant.
  • There has been much conjecture that the Baron made up the name “Bastrop.” Although possible, the name is not rare in Germany and was probably taken from whomever helped the family “escape” in Hamburg. It’s possible Georgina’s family knew these “Bastrops” and had the political clout to make such arrangements.
  • Many have speculated that Philip simply wanted out his marriage and into a new life. But now it’s clear this theory is without substance and should be discarded.

What actually triggered the crime and the family’s exodus from Holland may never be discovered, but it must have been important enough for Philip to give up everything about his life.  He must have realized that once he had been accused of embezzlement and fled the country, with or without his family he could never again go home.

Regardless of the reason one fact is now absolutely certain, the Baron de Bastrop didn’t abandon his family. In fact, it appears he was a man desperately trying to keep his family together and willing to make any sacrifice to do so, even at the disgrace of the Nering Bögel name. The Baron was never seen in the company of a woman. He lived alone, in squallier and often lamented to his close friends how terribly he missed his family. Not quite the picture of the scoundrel history has painted him to be.

It’s often asked why Philip Hendrick Nering Bögel become the Baron de Bastrop. Perhaps after losing the family he obviously loved, the Baron was all Philip had left.

This story along with many others about the Baron’s fascinating life will be featured in the video documentary “Mark of the Baron,” which is ready for production. I hope you’ll join me in making this important correction to history by visiting the Baron’s website at www.barondebastrop.com and spreading the word that he was not a dirty rotten scoundrel.

  Special thanks to Jan Farber of the Leeuwarden Historical Center in Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Netherlands. Your help is invaluable!

The Cat Knows…

September 17, 2010 in Blog

Warning! This post contains a pretty “nerdy” subject. Those who got bored or fell asleep during Science class should probably wait for a less cerebral article. But for those who enjoy brain-teasers, please read on.

This is about a famous experiment carried out by a man named Schrödinger and his “cat.” He really didn’t have a cat, this was just a “thought experiment” he carried out in his mind.

Essentially it was this… place a live cat in a box along with a tiny bit of something  radioactive. Over the course of an hour, there’s a 50 / 50 chance that one of the atoms in the radioactive substance will decay. If it does, that will cause a vile of something really bad like hydrocyanic acid to be released thus killing the cat.

I know, I know, why a cute little kitty? Why not a snake?

Anyway, the point is that after this hour is over, to anyone outside the box, the cat is both alive AND dead. According to Schrödinger, before you open the box to peek at the fate of the feline,  it simultaneously exists in two different quantum states – alive and deceased.

Before you look, the cat is nothing more than “waves” of probability. It’s the act of you observing that “collapses” the wave function and reveals the physical world of either a live or dead cat.  It’s YOU, your consciousnesses, that creates whichever reality is presented after you open that box. In other words, what you believe has everything to do with what you’ll see.

These days many people are trying to use this to imply that you’re consciousness has a direct effect on your reality, that your reality is being created by you.  So the next time you’re eating at a restaurant and someone runs a stop sign,  smashes into your car while it’s sitting in the parking lot, remember, that was your fault. You made that reality happen according to Schrödinger.

Hmmmm? I’m not so sure.

What about the cat? The cat knows if it’s alive or dead.  The cat is also an observer and  would “collapses” the wave function long before anyone had a chance to open the box. The people outside the box may not be privy to that information but the kitty sure is.

In a way, to the folks outside the box the cat is indeed both alive and dead. But their knowledge of the cat’s fate doesn’t alter the real reality that’s taking place inside that box. That reality is happening whether the people outside the box know it or not.

It’s sort of like buying a Lottery Scratch off. Is that ticket in your hand both a winner and a looser at the same time? No, it’s either one or the other.

That ticket has a predetermined reality. Whether you’re aware of it or not doesn’t alter that reality. It’s physically there, it’s real, it’s not just a “soup” of probabilities. It may seem like it to you, but that’s because you don’t know which one it is, winner or looser.

If it takes consciousness to collapses the wave function and create the physical world we exist in, then how did humans come about? What consciousness was there to “observe” us into existence? The dinosaurs?

If so, then what consciousness  “observed” the dinosaurs into existence? For that matter, what consciousness was even around to “observe” the Earth into existence? God? Probably so, it’s the only answer I can come up with that fits the “facts” as I understand them.

If that’s the case, then God has already observed everything from the beginning of time to it’s inevitable end. That means every wave function has already been or will forever be collapsed by no one but the almighty.

In my world, God has already created this wonderful reality we know as the universe. I don’t believe our thoughts create it as we go, not in the physical sense. It’s already there for us to explore and marvel over.

To me, discovery is not creation. Uncovering new knowledge is not what caused it come into existence.

This was also Einstein’s position, who to his last breath, wouldn’t except some of these “wild” ideas being postulated about Quantum Mechanics either. On one occasion he remarked “God doesn’t play dice with the universe.”

I agree.

A number ten on my weirdo-meter!

September 13, 2010 in Blog

OK, I’m freaked. My buddy Jimmy has a “Ghost Radar” Ap on his I-phone. Being the skeptical type, I boldly made the remark that if “Mr. Ghost” would say only a single word, I would become a believer. Since I’m writing a documentary about the Baron ‘de Bastrop, I chose the word ” Bastrop.”

A few seconds later this appeared on the screen… the word BRASS, then the word TOP followed by the word COMBINATION. These words appeared  in rapid succession then the machine became quiet for a while.

I think part of my jaw is still laying on the floor at the convenience store. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Honestly, I can’t remember a more weird experience.

Write down the words  BRASS and  TOP  then follow the action of COMBINE, as you would an anagram. You spell the name Bastrops. Now that’s weird!

As some know, I’m not a believer of much outside our materialistic world but this was just plain old spooky. There’s only three explanations I can ponder as to how this could be…

1. Somehow Apple has truly created a palm-sized “ghost detector” and I was indeed in contact with a spirit who was trying to comply with my request.

2. The “Ghost Radar” Ap is  two-way device that listens to what you say and creates a “ghostly response.”

3. Or for you Conspiracy Theorist, maybe Apple has this two-way device connected to some government listening station. Perhaps our phones are always transmitting, even when they’re “off.”

Which one do I believe? I did say I would become a believer if the ghost would say the word Bastrop. Although it wasn’t verbatim, BRASS TOP was close enough for the hairs on my neck to stand up. I must study it further.

Maybe they’re not ghost at all, just other people in another dimension using their I-Phone’s “Ghost Radar” to communicate with us.

Hmmmm? Sounds like another Sci-Fi script.

Celebrating Saint Nicolas Day

December 6, 2009 in Blog

Today, on December 6th, 343 A.D., a great man passed away and a wonderful tradition was born. Known only as Nicolas, this man grew up to be the most generous man history would ever know. Born in 280 A.D., Nicolas lived in affluence and had a strong Christian background. At the age of 16, both parents died and a very young Nicolas inherited a fortune. However, instead of spending it like most teenagers would, Nicolas traveled the country of what is now Italy, secretly giving away his fortune to those in need, especially children.

Although generous, Nicolas had this strange quirk about the way he gave his gifts, he didn’t want anyone to know who their benefactor was. Kind of like Mr. Tipton in the old show “The Millionaire,” Nicolas went to great lengths to keep his generosity a secret. But alas, one night he got busted.

Nicolas had heard of a farmer who had been robbed. Now, the farmer’s 3 daughter’s no longer had dowries. You see, back then, ladies of marrying age needed dowries if they were going to attract “desirable” men. Without them, some would resort to prostitution rather than marry a slug. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Upon hearing about the farmer and his daughter’s problem, Nicolas decided to help. For 2 nights in a row he’d walk past the open window of the farmer’s house and toss in a bag of gold. The farmer was ecstatic, but curious as to who was doing this. So, on the 3rd night, he hid outside to find out. As Nicolas strode past the window with the bag of gold in his hand and his armed cocked, the farmer jumped out in front of him with a big “AH -HA!” Nicolas froze, smiled and tossed the bag through the window. Strangely enough, it landed inside one of the daughter’s stocking that was hung on the fire place mantel to dry. Boy did that ever start a tradition! Nicolas asked the farmer to promise he’d never tell anyone who gave him the gold, but I suppose the farmer must have been a blabbermouth, because it wasn’t long before stories of Nicolas’ generosity spread across the land like wild fire.

Soon, the good folks of Myra decided to elected him as their new Bishop and Nicolas spent the rest of his natural life helping and giving. By the year 450 A.D., churches in Asia Minor were being named after him and by the 800′s, he had been officially recognized as a Saint by the Eastern Catholic Church. In the 1200′s, December 6th began to be celebrated as Bishop Nicolas Day in France. By the 1400′s, Saint Nicolas was considered the most beloved religious figure after Jesus and Mary, with more than 2000 Chapels and Monasteries named in his honor.

As time moseyed on, stories from other countries became “blended” with the historical facts about the real Nicolas. Like a game of “Pass It On,” each country would add their own tale about the generous Saint. Even his name became “skewed.” In the Dutch language, the name “Saint Nicolas” translates into “Sinter Klass,” which soon became “Santa Klass” and finally “Santa Claus.” Add a poem in 1823, by Clement Clark More, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” now better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” a portrait published in 1863 by Harper’s Weekly, drawn by a political cartoonist named Thomas Nast, and whammo, you have a new holiday tradition.

Ah yes, I’m talking about our wonderful and beloved Santa Claus. To me, Santa is like a Super-Hero. I know, I know, we’re supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ who is also a Super-Hero. I DO get that. But Santa has been as much a part of that wonderful story of our Savior as Jesus. In my mind, Santa is a “gateway” to the story of Jesus.

With Santa, children are introduced to the concept of generosity. They become familiar with how it feels to receive, but as they get older, they’ll naturally become curious about the other side of the transaction, how it feels to give. This is where Santa steps off and Jesus comes in. Giving is what Jesus is all about as He gave us the most precious gift of all – salvation. So, I’ve never had a problem with mixing-up Santa and Jesus on the same holiday. I believe each holds a firm place behind the meaning of the tradition, so much so, I wrote a script about it.

It’s called “The Book of Santa.” The story of two best friends, Jesus and Nicolas, and how that friendship led Nicolas to become Santa Claus.

Click on Scripts to read the story.