William S. (William Smith) Pelletreau.

Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) online

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3 1833 01068 6449

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center


(S^eneral ^Robert anlierson

"Long after Fort Sumter shall have crumbled away,
brightly will stand forth the example of Anderson as
that of a soldier true to his standard, and of an Ameri-
can true to his country."

Historic Homes and institutions

Genealogical and Family History



Mfiiiber of Loiik Island Historical Society; Aiulior of "Old New York Ho
••Early Long Island Wills," ■' Records ot Soutlianipton, Lont; Island,'
•• History of Sniitlitown. Long Island," etc., etc.

"// /,s- a thing of no small iinpdrlain-r Id possess llic relics of our ain-rstors. Ii
practice the same sacred riles, and to he hurled hy their side." — Cicero,






2 1118109


T 1 1 K Discovery 1

X, The Settlement 7

The Dutch Governors 18



TiiK Topography of the Early City 27

The First New York Directory 37


The First Letters I'Rom New Netherland 52

Fort Amsterdam 62

The Dutch Church 75


The nriinbcr of l)i)oks, reiating to the history of New York,
which have been written in recent years, l)y no means exhaust
the suljject. To do st) would i-etfaire a series of vohunes hirger
tlian tlie encyclopaedias, and far more numerous. Some of the
most valuable works are monographs upon i)articular sub-
jects, admirably written and carefully prepared, and in some
cases lasting memorials to the names of the authors. The great
characteristic of the city has ItcMi its constant change. In con-
versation with r.ri aged man he informed us that he had seen
houses built in the days of Peter Stuyvesaut, and within his
recollection evei-y house scmtli of Wall street had been destroyed
or rebuilt. The same may be said of families. (Jf the "Knick-
erbocker" names found in the list made by Dominie Selyns,
scarcely a tithe remains, and c'ln be found in our present city
directories. Their descendants however still remain in collateral
branches and are proud of their "Knickerbocker" descent,
though no longer bearing the ani'ient immes. The most i)rom-
inent descendants of the Bayards are not Bayards, and the
wealthiest and most distinguished descendants of the famous
Governor of New Anjsterdam, are not Stuyvesants. If within
the limits of these volumes any new facts have been given, or if
anything can l)e found which would otherwise have been lost,
the olgect of the author will be fully satisfied. It has been
our desire to embrace as many families as possible who have
been connected with the advancement of the city, whether they
are of the ancient race, or newer arrivals. On the other hand,


the ancient families fill a laiger space, and genealogy has been
made a conspicuous feature. It will doubtless be noticed that
some of the most prominent families are "conspicuous by their
absence," Imt their history has so often been written, that it
wcmM be imjiossible to make any valuable addition.


Southampton, Tj. I.

Genealogical and Family History.



The discovery of America is the bouudary between the Mid-
dle Ages and modern history. A numerous train of adventurers
followed the track that the great Columbus had shown, and for
a while the governments of Spain and Portugal were the rulers
of all that was known as the Western World. The Pope, in the
p)lenitude of his tlien existing jiower, assimied tlie authority to
divide between these two nations all lands not yet discovered,
and greed for gold, which was the insiiiring spirit of their ad-
venture, soon led to the conquest of those lands which abound-
ed with precious metals and promised boundless wealth to the
conquerors in return for their exposure and toil. But the true
nature of the newly discovered lands was not known till long
years after. To the early Spani'^h voyagers, America was but
a distant portion of the Indies, and the name of Indians, which
was given to the inhabitants, took its origin from this error,
which though long since exploded, is still perpetuated in memory
by the name which is likely to endui-e when the last relic of abor-
iginal life has vanished from the continent.

When at last it dawned u]ion the minds of Europeans that
America was indeed a continent which interposed between them
and the Indies, it then became the object of search to find a ])ass-
age through or around the new found lands, which should be a


shorter route to that tai' distant hind. It was for this purpose
that every l)a\" and river ahing- the Athmtic coast was carefully
explored in tlie vain hope that some one of them might be the
anxiously souglit for passage to the far-off South Sea, across
wliich their vessels might sail to what was then the synonym of
wealtli, the Indies.

The power of Spain and Portugal precluded all attemjjts on
the parts of the northern nations to make discoveries in South
Amei-ica, or to tlie south of Florida, the story of whose discov-
ery by the lieroic adventurer, in his vain quest for the fountain
of youth, seems a fragment from the realm of fable. But expe-
ditions from France and England soon found their way to the
northern coasts of the Xew World, and, in 1524, Giovanno da
^^erazzano, a Florentine navigating in the service of Francis II
of France, made a voyage along the eastern coast of what are
now the southern and middle states of the Union, and, from the
account which he gave, it was long believed that he was the first
to enter the harbor of Xew York. The researches of modern his-
torians have done much to thiow doubt upon the claims of dis-
covery attril)nted to him. It is certain that no results followed
his discoveries, no colonies were planted, and for long years his
voyage seems to have been forgotten. In the year 1497 Sel^as-
tian Cabot, a navigator in the service of England, sailed along
the American coast from the oSth to the 58th parallel. This was
the origin to the English claim which was destined in after years
to be sustained Ijy the strong arm of military and naval power,
the benefits ot which we as a nation now enjoy.

It remains to state tlie circumstances, under which the Dutch
became the founders of the first settlement of the territory now
com])rising the state of Xew York. An association of merchants
was established in Holland, having for its object the long cher-
ished scheme of finding a route to China. The Comi)any of


Foreign Countries had, in the year 1594, equipped three vessels
to make the search. After a long and tedious voyage they re-
turned without success. In 1595 seven more vessels tried the
same experiment, but with no better success. The next year the
Council of Amsterdam undertook the enterprise, and sent two
vessels on the hopeless search. One of these was shipwrecked
on the stormy coast of Nova ZenibUi, and its pilot, the famous
Barentz, found a watery grave, while the other returned, driven
back as it were by the Spirit of the Storms that seemed to guard
the entrance to the Eastern World.

A sudden change in the direction of these attempts was soon
after made by an unlooked for circumstance. One Cornelius
Houtman, "a shrewd Hollander," being in Portugal, took occa-
sion to gain all the information he could from the navigators of
that country respecting the Indies, and especially concerning
the newly discovered route around the Cape of Good Hope. Be-
ing looked upon with sus]jicion, he was arrested and fined. As
the paAnnent of the fine was beyond his means, he wrote to sev-
eral merchants in Amsterdam, narrating the circumstances, and
proposing that if they would pay the fine, he, in return, would
communicate to them the iuformation he had gained. This of-
fer was accejited. and in 1595, a fleet of four vessels sailed from
the Texei, under the connnand of Houtman and others, bound
on the southern route to the Indies. At the expiration of two
years and four months they returned with their object accom-
])lished. and richly laden with the ])]-oducts of that far-off land.
The success of this enterprise led to the formation of other com-
panies, and the rivahy between them was so great that in 1602
it was rendered necessary to unite them all. and hence the origin
of the great Dutch Kast India Corii])any, which in after years
astonished all Europi- with its extensive power and dominion.



lu the meaiiwliile a company had been formed in London
for the purpose of exjiloring the Arctic for a new route to
China. To accomplisli this they phmned three expeditions —
one to the north, one to the northeast and the third to the north-
west. To condnet these ex])editions they employed Henry Hud-
son, "a man about whom we have all of us heard so much and






[A 1









The Half Moon.

know SO little," but who has left a name as enduring as any on
the rolls of fame. In the employ of this company he made two
voyages, both of which were unsuccessful, and thej' declined to
take any further risk, and refused to equip the expedition for a
third voyage. Hudson then went to Holland, and after some ef-
fort enlisted their sympatliies in favor of his scheme. The Am-
sterdam Directors finally succeeded in getting a majority of
votes in its favor, and they fitted out a small vessel called the


"Half Moon," and gave the command to Hudson, the whole of
whose life, as known to us, is embraced in the short period from
April 19, 1607, to June 21, 1611. The terms upoii which he made
the voyage, so famous in its results, show too plainly not only
the economical shrewdness of the Directors, but his own neces-
sities as well. For his outfit and for the support of his wife and
children he was to receive a sum equivalent to $320. If he did
not live to return his wife was to have $80, while, if he was suc-
cessful, the Directors were "to reward him in their discretion."
Thus started by the Dutch East India Company he sailed from
the Texel on May 6, 1609, with a crew of twenty men who were
partly English and partly Dutch. After a long and tedious voy-
age he arrived upon our shores, and on the 12th of September
entered the Bay of Xew York, as a new discoverer.

"His bark the only ship,
Where a thousand now are seen."

On the next day he commenced his sail up the river that
bears his name. The sailing up the river was mostly drifting
with the tide and anchoring when it ebbed. The first day it
seems as if eleven and a half miles were sailed, and the first an-
chorage was nearly opposite Spuyten Duyvil creek. From that
place was visible a high point of land "bearing north by east,"
and about five leagues distant. This is supposed to be the
Hoek mountain, above Nyack. This was called by the Dutch,
in later years, Verdrietig Hoek, or Tedious Point, perhaps from
the length of time that it took to pass it unless the wind was
very favorable. The English called it "Point Xo Point," from
the fact that when once reached its character as a point of land
at once vanished and it ai'jpeared as a long mountain. On the
14th the wind was favorable, and they sailed some thirty-six
miles. ])assing the Pallisades and reaching the Highlands. Xo
wonder the historian of the voyage (Robert Juet, the mate) re-


marks, *"Tlie land grew very high and mouutainons." Beyond
these they sa^y hiffh mountains that "hiy from the river." and
denotes their view of tlie "Blue Mountains," now called the
I'atskills. From this they drifted up to wliere the city of llud-
soii was in after years, and here the river grew narrower, with
shoals and small islands of meadow, as they are today. At this
})oi]it the great navigat(;r saw that liis voyage was a failure, so
far as its avowed object was concerned. He found himself in a
river, and not, as he had hoped, in a strait wliich oi)ened to the
Paciiic. His return down the river, his ((uarrels with the na-
tives, his noticing the productions of the country, the "great
store of goodly oaks, and walnut trees and chestnut trees, yew
trees and trees of sweet wood," their difficulty in sailing through
the Highlands, "liecause the highland hath many points and a
narrow clianuel and hath many eddy winds" (as many shippers
of sloops and schooners found to their sorrow in later years) ;
the sangiiinai'y encountei- Avith the Indians, in which some were
slain, and their reaching the harbor which they had left, about
the first of Octobei- — all this is not a twice-told but a ten-times
told tale. On October 4th they bid farewell to their discoveries
and sailed straight for England, "without seeing any land l)y
the way," and on the 7th of November the small Init ever fam-
ous "Half Moon" airived at Dartmouth.

In the next year, while upon another voyage of discovery.
Hudson was set adrift in an open boat I)y his mutinous crew,
and never heard from afterwards. Xo man can ever see his
grave, bnt Hudson's Bay, Hudson's Straits and Hudson's Ri\-er
are the monumeiits which will keep his name in everlasting re-


AVhou Heiii-y Hudson returned to Holland, he Ijruuglit with
hini no news of a newly discovered passage to India or China;
l)ut he did ijring an account of a newly discovered land wliich
promised great rewards to the trader and adventurer. Many
things lead us to lielieve that almost immediately vessels owned
by ]irivate individuals sailed for this new land of promise,
where they could l)e free from any interference on the part of
Spanish oi' Portuguese. Of these private voyages we know but
little, and who were the connnanders and who they were that
sailed with them, are as unknown as the brave men who lived
before Agamemnon's time.

A gleam of light uj on what was i)rol)ably the tirst attemi)t
at settlement has lieen discovered in recent years. Among the
many religious -ects that arose in the early \vavt of the seven-
teenth century Avas one caUed the Labadists. They jn'ofessed
a sort of mysticism, "regulating their lives by the divine light
of the inner man. and seeking to bi'ing together all the elect of
riod separate from tlie world into one visible church which as
they said, 'like a city set u])on a hill, could not be hid.' " In
doctiine they held the tenets of the Dutch Reformed Church,
but tliey also maintained other o])inions, and adopted practices
not recognized by tlie authority of that chur<'h. Its founder,
Jean de Labadie, was liorn near Bordeaux, in KilO, of a good
family, and was an enthusiast, believing himself to be inspired by
(r';d and chosen by him to luiild u)i his church on earth. Orig-
inallv a desuit. edurated in the college of that order, and or-


dained a priest, he developed great powers of eloquence and at-
tained high honors. He became distinguished for his zeal, and
insisted upon the necessity of reading the Holy Scrijjtnres, and
caused a large number of copies of the New Testament in the
French language to be sold. It is not strange that his views in
regard to the Jesuits should have undergone a change. He aft-
erwards became connected with the Jansenists, to whom the
Jesuits were bitter enemies ; in 1650 he totally abjured the Cath-
olic religion and was ordained a Protestant minister, and his
followers took the name of Labadists, and were very numerous.
He afterwards went to Denmark in order to enjoy full religious
toleration, and died there in 167-1-, "satisfied that his mission on
earth was accomplished and the church established." His fol-
lowers seem to have resembled the Quakers more than any other

In 1679 Jaspar Dankars and Peter Sluyter, two of the
Labadists, came to America and made an extended tour. Land-
ing in New York, they labored to make converts, and among
them was Ej^hraim Hermans, the oldest son of Augustine Her-
mans, famous in the early history of our city. The journal kept
by the two Labadists has been translated by Hon. Henry C. Mur-
phy, to whom all readers of history owe a debt of gratitude, and
has been published by the Long Island Historical Society. In
this journal occurs the following interesting statement:

"While in their company we conversed with the first male
born of Europeans in New Netherland, named Jean Vigiie. His
parents were from Valenciennes and he was now about sixty-
five years of age. He was a brewer, and a neighbor of our old
people. ' '

According to this, Jean Vigne must have been born in 1614,
which is the very earliest period conn)atible with the sojourn of
any Hollanders upon the island of Manhattan. In later years


Jean Vigno was a man of distinction, and the owner of a large
tract of land on the nortli side of AVall street. In 1655 he was
one of the schepens of New Amsterdam, and belonged to the
class of great hnrghers. He died without issue in 1691. Pi'e-
vious to the discovery of this journal, the credit of being the
first white child born in New Netherland was given to Sarah de
Kapaljie, wlio was born June 9, 1()25. If the statement is true,
and there «eems no reason to doubt it, Jean Vigne was the first
child born of European parentage in the United States, north of
Virginia. The com])any of which his ])arents were a part must
have been among the very first to avail themselves of the infor-
mation brought home by Hudson, and sailed witli the intention
of making a settlement. Vessels for trading purposes only had,
however, sailed for this region before, their principal object be-
ing to procure furs, witli which the land abounded, and which
could be obtained from the natives, in exchange for articles of
trifling value. In 1612 a ship was fitted out by Henry Chris-
tiansen and Adriaen Block, and although they sailed in the
same vessel, they made one Ryser the captain. Their voyage
was successful, and they returned with a cargo of peltries, and
bringing with them two of the natives, sons of cliiefs. They
then fitted out two shii)s, named the "Fortune" and the
"Tiger," the former under the connnand of Christiansen, while
Adriaen Block was cai)tain of the latter. They are supposed to
have sailed early in KJK). Ujion arriving on the American shore
Christiansen formed the idea of establishing a trading post to
which the Indians could bring the skins for a market. Acting
upon this, he made a landing and erected several small houses,
roofed with bark. Such were the first habitations of civilized
men ui)on the island of Manhattan. It is a inatter of interest to
know the exact location of these few houses, and it is believed
that the ])uilding No. ?y^) Broadway marks the spot. In the mean-


wliiU'. Adi-iaeii P^lock liad cit'ici- returned to Holland or had gone
witli his s]ii)i on a fnrtlier voyage of diseoA^ery.

Wliile Christiansen Avas enga.oed in making his new settle-
ment, an English armed vessel sailed into the harl)or. It was the
only one left of tlii'ee which had l)een sent to attack tlie French
settlements in the Bay of Fnndy. The cajitain of this ship
promptly asserted the claim of England, and tlie new settler
had the choice of seeing liis settlement destroyed or of paying a
sniall tribute in recognition of the English claim. Under the
cii-cumstances the latter was chosen, and the English captain
returned home, comforted hy the thought that he had main-
tained his conntrv's claim. Christiansen then went up the river,
and erected at what is now Albany, a fort, which was the first
fortification built in the territory embraced in the Empire State.
Tt was u])on an island in the river, and he named it Fort Nassau.

A\'hile his ])artner was engaged in building this fort, Adriaen
Rlock. with the "Tiger," was hing at anchor in Xew York bay.
The shi]) took fire and was entirely destroyed. He immediately
undei'took the difficult task of building a new vessel, and in the
S])ring of l(n4 he comi)leted a ship of sixteen tons burden, thir-
ty-eight feet keel, forty-four and a half feet "over all," and
eleven and a half feet beam. To that little vessel, in which very
few would now he willing to risk an Atlantic voyage, he gave
the name of "Oiirust" or "Restless." With this he began
new explorations. Sailing u]) the East river, he was fortunate
enoush to esca]ie the dangers of Hell Gate, and entered Long-
Island Sound as the first discoverer. He coasted the northern
shoi-e. entei-ed the harbor of Xew Haven, which the Dutch
called in after years " Hodenlierg," or "Red Hill." sailed up the
Connectii nt, which, in contradistinction to the salt waters of
the Hudson, he named the "Fi-esh Water river." Returning to
the Sound and advancing to the east, he discovered the island


that still bears his nnnic. and was the tirst to estal)lish the fact
that Long Island was an island in reality, and not a ]iart of the
main land. Continuing to advance, lie coasted the New England
shore as far as Salem. Upon his return, when near Cape (^d,
he fell in with the ship of Christiansen, who, by a strange fate
had been killed by one of the Indians whom he had taken to
Holland, and his shiii was returning home under the command
of one Cornelius Hendricksen, whom some have supposed to
he the son of the unfortunate settler. Here they exchanged
vessels. Cornelius Hendi'icksen Avas directed to proceed with
the "Kestless" to make further discoveries, while Block, with
the other vessel, sailed for Amsterdam to report the result of
his adventures, hie never returned to the scene of his discover-
ies, or visited the regions he had ex]ilored. He entered the
service of the "Northern Company" which was chartered in
1()14, and in 1624 he was made commander of a fieet of whaling
shi]is, and this is the last we know of Adriaen Block. One of the
results of his voyage was the making of what is known as the
"Figurative ^Fa])," ujion which Long Island ^a])]:)ears for the
first time as se]iarated form the main land, and its insular posi-
tion became fully known.

Another result was the granting of a charter to a company
of men, consisting of Gerrit Jacobz "Witssen, ex-burgomaster of
Amsterdam, and the owners of the ship "Little Fox," "whereof
Jan de Witts was skipper," and the owners of the two ships
"Tiger" and "Fortune," and the owners of the ship "called
the Nightingale," and giving them as a company the exclusive
right to trade lietween the foi'tieth and forty-tifth jiarallels for
four voyages to be made within three years, and to begin Jan-
uary 1, ](il5, and all other jiersons were strictly forbidden,
under ])enalty of confiscation of their vessel and a heavy fine.
In this charter, dated October IL l(il4, a]>|)ears for the first


time the name "New Netherland," and in the same month
and year the name "Xew England" was given by the Elnglish
to the adjoining regions.

When the tliree years expii-ed, otiier merchants claimed
the privilege of trading with the new lands, each company de-
siring the exclnsive right. The original Xew Xetherland Com-
pany, liowever, continned to exist, and was actively engaged in
trading. In Febrnary, 1620, they addressed a petition to
Maurice, Prince of Orange, the Stadtholder of the Eepnblic of
the X'etherlands. Their object was to establish a permanent
colony. It was rejiresented that "a certain English preacher,
well versed in the Dutch language," was ready to found the
new colony, and four hundred families were ready to go with
him. This preacher was the famous John Robinson, and the
families were English KSe|)aratists. This was very naturally
considered the "golden ()])i)ortunity" for founding a colony.
The directors of the Company were willing to furnish free trans-
portation and sup]jly them with cattle. Had this proposal been
embraced, New Xetherland would have received the finest class
of settlers that ever landed on American soil. This project

Online LibraryWilliam S. (William Smith) PelletreauHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 26)