Diederick Leertouwer

Diederik Leertouwer

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The Legend of Diederik Leertouwer and Asparagus in New England


Diederik Leertouwer came to this country in 1784 to promote trade between the Netherlands and New England. He later settled with his wife and daughter
in West Brookfield where he carried out his duties as Consul and lived here between the years 1794 and 1798. At that time West Brookfield had a population greater than Worcester and was being considered for the county seat.

Local legend has it that Diederik Leertouwer imported asparagus from his homeland and was the first to plant it in this area. This fact was forgotten until it was discovered in an old cookbook. Wild asparagus still grows in this area today.

Leertouwer died here and is buried in the Old Indian Cemetery on Cottage Street, West Brookfield.

His Gravestone Inscription reads:

“In memory of the honorable Diederik Leertouwer Esq.,
late consul of their high mightinesses,
the states general of the United Netherlands
for the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire
who departed this life
August 24, 1798 AE 38 years.
Death! great proprietor of all, thy powerful sway, destroys alike
the old, the young, the grave and gay.”