William S. (William Smith) Pelletreau.

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

. (page 5 of 26)
Online LibraryWilliam S. (William Smith) PelletreauHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

bought from the savages for trifling toys, or could be occu])ied
without risk, because we have more than enough shores which
have never been cleared but have always been reserved for that
purpose. The business of furs is dull on account of a new war


of the Maeeliibaeys (Mohawks) against the Mohicans, at the
upper end of this river. There have occurred cruel murders on
both sides. The Mohicans have fled and tlieir lands are unoc-
cui)ied and are very fertile and pleasant. It grieves us that
there are no people, and that there is any regulation of the
Honorable Directors to occupy the same. They fell much wood
here to carry to the Fatherland, but the vessels are too few
to take much of it. They are making a wind mill to saw the wood
and we also have a grist mill. They bake brick here but it is
very poor. There is good material for burning lime, namely,
oyster shells, in large cpiantities. The burning of potash has
not succeeded, the master and his laborers are all greatly dis-
appointed. AVe are busy now in building a fort of good quarry
stone which is to be found not far from here in abundance.
May the Lord only build and watch over our walls. There is
good opportimity for making salt, for there are convenient
places, tbe water is salt enough and there is no want of heat
in summer. Besides, as to the water, both of the sea and rivers,
they yield all kinds of fish, and as to the land, it abounds, in all
kinds of game, wild and in the groves, with vegetaliles, fruits,
roots, herbs and plants, both for eating and medicinal purposes,
and with wonderful cures can be effected, which it would take
too long to tell, nor could I do justice to the tale. Your Rev-
erence has already obtained some knowledge thereof and will
be able to obtain from others further information. The country
is good and pleasant, the climate is healthy notwithstanding the
sudden changes of cold and heat. The sun is very warm, the
winter is strong and se'\'ere and continues fully as long as in
our country. The best remedy is not to spare the wood, of which
there is enough, and to cover one's self with rough skins, which
can be easily obtained.

"The harvest, God l)e praised is in the barn, and is hirger
than ever before. There had been more work ]n;t on it than be-
fore. The ground is fertile enough to reward labor, but they
must clear it well, and till it just as our lands require. Until
now there has been distress because many people were not very
industrious, and also did not obtain proper sustenance for want
of In-ead and other necessaries. But affairs are beginning to
put on a better appearance, if only the Directors will send out
good laborers and exercise all care that they be maintained as
well as possible with what this country produces. I had in-om-
ised to write to the Honorable Brethren, Rudolphus Petri,
Joh'uies Sylvius and Domine C'!appen))urg, who with your


Reverence are charged with the superintendence of these re-
gions. Will your Reverence be pleased to give my friendly and
kind regards. Will you also give my sincere respects to the
Rev. Domine Triglandius, and to all the brethren of the Con-
sistory. And esi)ecially do not forget my hearty salutation to
the beloved wife and brother in law of your Reverence. Pleartily
commending your Reverence and all of you to Almighty God.

"From the Island of Manhatan in New Netherland this 11th
day of August Anno Kii'S by me youi- Reverence's very obedient
servant in Christ.




When (ioveiiiiir Alinuit eaiiie to Xew Xetlierland there eanie
with him a iiiilitary engineer named Kryn Fredericke, and under
his direction preparations were made for erecting a fort. It
was located npon the point of land which commanded the en-
trance to l)oth rivers. Concerning the location of this fortifica-
tion, there is no doubt oi- uncertainty, for it stood until the Revo-
lution. The walls were originally of earth, and faced with sods.
In 1628 it was still unfinished, and thou the walls were fortified
by masonry woik of stone. It included an ample space for
bui'dings, among which were a warehouse for storing the Com-
pany's goods, a horse mill, a house for the Governor, a Secre-
tary's office, and still later a church. At each of the four corners
of tlie fort was a strong bastion, and the exact location of each
may be here yiven. The southwest bastion was very near the
river side, and at the present junction of Bridge and State
streets. The northeast liastion was at the corner of Whitehall
street. The southeast bastion was on the line of Bridge street,
but some ways west of Whitehall. The northwest bastion was
.'*o)ue ways from the river side, and was nearly opposite the
corner of Broadway, the exti'eme |)oint lieing a little farther
west, but not half w^ay to Greenwich street. Between these
bastions on the east and south sides were spaces of land used
as gardens. The lots which fronted on Pearl street were l)ounded
north by the Governor's garden, which was a part of the Fort
grounds, but the line was not straight. The westernmost lot on
Pearl street was described as bounded on the west "partly by



the strand and })artly l)y the (lovernor's garden." Tlie fort, as
regards size, seems to have remained nnchanged. and from a
survey made in 1788 it seems that the entire ph)t of ground,
or the fort premises, was about 395 feet on Whitehall street,
or the east side, the south line was about 425 feet. On the west
it was about 4()0 feet, and about 344 feet on the north. In l(i4i'
a new church, the second in the city, was built by (Jovernor
Kieft. It was a l)uildino' of considerable size, and shows very


Fort Amsterdam.

cons])ieuously in all of the many views given of Xew Amster-
dam. All of the ]»ul)li<' business of the Colony was done, or
supposed to be done, in the fort, and all decrees and patents for
land are described as ''done at Fort Amsterdam." and in later
years, under Englisli rule, as "done at Fort James."

The first accurate descri])tion of this fortification, is found
in the Journal of the T.abadists. who came here in_ l(i7!>. They
state: "Tlie church lieing in the fort, we h-id an opportunity
to look through the lattci-. It is not large, it has four points, or
batteries; it has no moat outside. Init is enclosed with a double


row of palisades. It is built fi'om tlie foundation with quarry
stone, the parapet is of earth. It is well provided with cannon,
for the most part of iron, though tliei'e were some small brass
pieces, all bearing the mark or arms of the Netherlands. The
garrison is small. There is a well of tine water, dug in the fort
by the English. Contrary to the opinion of the Dutch, who sup-
posed the fort was built upon a rock, there is indeed some in-

Governor Andross.

dication of stone there, for along the edge of the water below
the foi't there is a very large rock extending apparently under
the fort, which is built u])on the point formed l)y the two rivers.
It has only one gate, and that is on the land side, opening upon
a broad idain or street called the Broadway. Over this gate are
the arms of the Duke of York. During the time of the Dutch
there were two gates, namely, another on the water side, but
tlie English have closed it and made a battery there with a false


gate. Tu. front of the church is inscribed the name of Governor
Kieft, wlio caused tlie same to l)e built in 1642. It has a sliingled
roof, and upon the gal)le towards tlie water there is a small
wooden tower, with a bell in it, but no clock. There is a sun
dial on three sides. The front of the fort stretclies east and
west, and conse(|uently the sides run north and south."

The condition of the fort and the other fortifications of the
city in 1(588 is very ])lainly given in a report made by order of
Governor Sir Edmund Andross, who ap])ointed Francis Xicliol-
son, (V)lonel Nicholas Bayard, William Beeckman, Stephen Van
Cortlandt, Matthew Plowman and Gabriel Minveill to make a
careful survey of the same. Un November 15th they reported
that they had taken "two carpenters, a mason and a glazier,"
and report :

"The fence al)out the Fort, the Posts rotten, several ])annels
fallen dowm, and to replace the same would retjuire 150 jjosts,
300 clap boards, 25 nails. 100 rails, and the whole cost with work-
manship would be £10, 13s, 5d. There were formerly about the
Fort, stockadoes of about 9 feet high and 10 feet from the walls
but none now. To make it u)) again would require 1800 short
stockadoes, 2400 of 12 foot long, the thinnest edge 6 inches, at
12d each, making a cost of £120. Upon the Flag mount there
are (i brass guns demiculverins, with new carriages. The stone
wall aliout the Fort was in an inditferent good condition. The
Flagg staff was rotten and a new one would cost £5. Ujion the
wall curtain were two lirass seekers, and another brass cannon.
Two brass mortars, one JV^ inches, and the other 8%. The
whole Platform was rotten, and would need 1400 feet of three
inch plank, and 30 sleepers, each 20 feet long. The wall of the
old Battery, hangs over and needs buttresses. The old well
having fallen in there wants a new one which will cost £25."

This clearly indicates that there had been a well there in
Dutch times. Fpon the magazine uKumt were six demiculverins.
New platforms were needed which would re(pure 1150 feet of
plank. T'i»on the iron mount were four seekers. Fpon the


merry moiiiit (the iioi-thwest bastion) were four seekers and two
lirass c'ulverins. The breastworks u})on the wall were most part
(juite out of repair. Out of the fort, under the flag mount (the
southwest l)astion) near the water side, there were five denii-
culverins. The "Great House," and all the other l:)uildings
were greatly out of repairs. In short, according to this report,
everytiiing was out of order, and required great and extensive

The report goes on to describe the conditions of the other
fortificntions of the city. Before the Town fiall (at Coenties
Slip) was a hali' moon battery, most ruined and washed away
by the sea. r])on this were three demi-culverins, and three rot-
ten carriages, fit for nothing. A stone wall had l)een built along
the water side, fi-oui there to another half-moon l)attery by Bur-
gers Path (Old Slip), but it was washed away, and the half-
moon was ruined and beaten down by the water. "There were
four seekers and one minion," but no carriages. From this
])lace to the water gate (foot of AVall street) a stone wall had
also been built, but had been washed down l)y the water. "But
there are new lots laid out before theiu to low water mark, for
people to build upon, which will be wharf ed out by the several
o^'uers of said lots." These "half-moon batteries" were luiilt
upon a low, artificial embankment, ujjou which was a platform
of planks, and on this the guns rested. There were three of
these batteries, - -one at Coentie.^ Slip, in front of the old City
Hall, one at ( )ld Sli]), aud the third at the water gate, at the foot
of Wall street. The i-e})ort next ])roceeds to state the condition
of tlie wall, or fortification, along the north side of Wall strcH't.
and from which the street derives its name:

"The Curtain from the Water (late to the Artillery Mount
was formerly chnil)le stocknrloed, and a ditch with l)reast works
within of salt sod, and now all down. The ground is laid out in


lots, some built, some a building and layd out to build upon.
The Artillery ^Nlount has no guns, the walls indifferent good,
the sod work out of re])air, as also the Ditch and Stoekadoes
ruined. A sm;il! old house in ye middle of ye mount."

The artillery mount mentioned, a[>pears to have been aI)out
halfway between I\'arl street :nid IJroadwaN'. In the ma]) of the
city, ealled the "Duke's Plan," made in 1()()4, five of these artil-
lery mounts ;)re noted — one between Pearl and William streets,
another ])etAveen A\'illiam and Nassau streets, a third at Nassau
street, and the foui-th at the "Land Gate" at Broadway. There
was another west of Broadway. The report proceeds :

"The Curtine from ye .Vrtillery Mount to ye land gate
mount, formerly double stockadoed, with a ditch and Itreast
works, now all gone. The mount by the land gate, ye stone wall
to the north west post, ruined, ye breast (u- sod work also, ye
ground laid out to build u])on."

Grant Thorburn in one of liis works states tliat when some
excavations were l)eing made at the north coi'ner of AVall
street and Broadway, the remains of a very large red cedar })ost
was discovered. A ^■ery old man who was present said that it
was the original post of the land gate, in yenrs long gone by. The
re])ort then says :

"The land gate ready to fall down. The curtine from ye
town gate to ye Locust Trees, formerly stockadoed with a ditch
and brea'-t woi'ks. now gone. The King's Garden by ye Locust
trees, all ruined. The Pa^ty Mount formerly stockadoed, about
now falling down. There are 2 seekers, one old carriage, all

The "Locust Trees" stood near the river shore, at the foot
of Thames street. The "Pasty Mcnmt" was the half-moon bat-
tery, so frequently mentioned ;'.s the "Oyster Pasty." This
stood at the foot of Oyster Pasty lane (now Lxchange Place,
west of Broadwav). This is mentioned in some histories as


having been Imilt in the time of Jacob Leisler, bnt from the

above must have been built long before. There seems to have

been originally a line of stockades along the shore, but is not

mentioned in the report. The report adds:

"The Curtine from the Pasty Mount to ye point of ye
Merry Mount of Fort James (the north west bastion) was all
Stockadoed and breast work but none now."

Such was the condition of the fort aiul tlie fortifications
as they were in the time of (rovernor Andross. It is needless
to say that after the Knglish conquest the name of the fort was
changed to Fort James, in honor of His Royal Highness
James, Duke of York and Albany, the Proprietor of the Prov-
ince; but during the brief time after its capture by the Dutch
it was named "Fort Orange." Fp to the time of the Revolu-
tion, it received in succession the names of the rulers of Fng-
land, and was known as Fort William, Fort Ann, and Fort

After the Revolution it was fully recognized that tlie fort
was utterly useless for the purposes of defense. By an Act of
Legislature, March 29, 1784, it had been ])laced under the con-
trol of the governor. In I78S a careful survey was made of the
fort and the adjoining land. After some consultation with the
city authorities, an act was passed, March 16, 1790, reserving
to the People of the State all that part of Fort George "begin-
ning at a stake standing on the easterly side of the Broadway
continued at a })lace which is 86 feet distant on a course south
37 degrees 4-5 minutes east from the southeast corner of the
dwelling house of Captain Archibald Kennedy (No. 1 Broad-
way), and running llienee easterly to the northeast corner of
the old seci'etary's office on Whitehall street, thence southerly
along the west side of Whitehall street to the ground of Cap-
tain Thomas Randall, then westerlv along the north side of his


gTonnd. and along- the rear of the lots which fi'ont on Pearl
street, as far as they extend, then north 57 degrees and 45
niinntes west, nntil a conrse north 32 degrees 15 minntes east
will strike the place of heginning, and thence north oL' degrees
15 niinntes enst to tlu^ iih'ce of heginning." All the re-
mainder of the fort and lands adjoining helonging to the State,
wliieh inclnded the battery, were granted to the city for the ])nr-
]50se of erecting Iniildings and work- of defense, hnt witliont
|)Owcr to sell.

U|.'on the lan.d reserved to the State, a conmiittee consist-
ing of (lerard Bancker, Richard A'arick and John Watts were
to ei'ect " a pro])er honse" for the nse of the government, to he
applied to the tem])0]'ary nse and accommodation of the Presi-
dent of tlie Ignited States, dnring snch time as Congress shall
hold their sessions in the city, and the snm of eiglit thonsand
])onnd.s ($12. 000) was ai>]'ro]!riated for that |)nr])ose. The city
was to canse the fort to he demolished, and to erect a new Inilk-
head "fvom the end of the hnlkhead late'y erected hy then.i."
and continne the same to the sonthwest l)astion of the battery.
This meant to fill in the river to the line of Greenwich street.
Tlie west line of the i)art reserved is the east line of State
sti-eet, which was then o]5ened to Pearl street.

When the fort was destroyed and tlu' land leveled, many
relics were fonnd. There were three hnrial vanlts nnder the
chapel, or old Dntch Chni-ch. Tn one was the remains of the
wife of Goveinor Hnnter. who died Angnst 8, 171(>. Anotlier
contained f(nir (n- live coffins, among them that of Lord Bella-
mont. who died in 1701. The third contained only a few liones.
There was also foimd a stone with a Dntdi insci-i])tion :

"Tn the year of onr [.oi-d 1042 William b'ieft. Director
General, caused the congregation to l)nild this chnrcli."


This stone was placed in the Garden Street Dutch Church,
and remained till the cliurcli was destroyed in the great tire
of 1885.

Tlie new building was called "The Government House,"
but was never occupied by the President. Before it was com-
l>leted the seat of national government was removed to Phila-
delphia. The governor of the State occupied it for some years,
and it was afterwards used as a custom house.

In 1808 Bridge street was extended to State street, and this
left a narrow strip of land on the south side of the street, which
was sold by the Governor, Daniel i). Tomi)kins, to the owners of
tlio lots which fronted on Pearl street. The lots so sold were
short, and as the line was not straight, they were of different
lengths. The remainder of the tract was conveyed to the City
of New York hy the State; the (lovernment House was de-
stroyed; the land was divided into lots, and sold at auction on
Tuesday, June 16, 1815. Upon the north side, fronting Bowling
Green, seven elegant residences were erected, and, being oc-
cuiiied by wealtliy citizens, it was called "(^Juality Row," and
was a fashionable part of the city. About forty years ago these
elegant houses were abandoned as residences, and almost all of
them were used at steamship offices. In 1899 the entire block
was i)urehased by the United States for a new (*ustom House,
and the work of demolishing the buildings liegan in Felu'uary,
1900. When Whitehall street was widened in 1852, the greater
part of Lot 1 was taken.

Rev. Everanliis Bogardus.

THK DrTClI cnrHcii.

( )t' all the institutions ol' tlie city, tlie Dutcli Reformed
clinrcli ranks as tlie oldest, and from the time of its beginning
to the present day. its usefulness and importance lias constantly

At an early period of the Reformation, the Protestants were
divided into two l^odies — the Lutheran, and the Reformed. The
latter Ijecame dominant in the Netherlands, and maintained their
religious liberties only after a long and bloody sti'uggle against
the mighty ])Ower of S])aiii. So cahnnitous was their condition
before the eighty years war, that they gave themselves the name
of "The Church under the Cross." In 156(5 the deputies of the
clnirches met in Antwer]i and adopted the Belgic confession,
which continues to this day to be one of the doctrinal standards
of the Reformed <'lnn\'h in Holland. Abou.t the same time the
Heidelberg catechism, which hnd l)ccn issued in the Clerman
language in ^'^ih]. Avas translated into Dutch and widely cii'cu-
lated in the Xetherland^. Various doctrinal differences had
arisen among the Reformed, and in KilS was convened the
famous Synod of Dort, to which all the Reformed churches of
p]uro])e were invited to send delegates (except Anliolt), and they
all did so; but the delegates chosen by the French churches were
forbidden by the King to attend. The Belgic confession and the
Heidelberg catechism were i-evised, as well as the Rules of
Church Government. The chui-ch in Holland, thus fully orga-
nized, became distinguished foi- learning, soundness in the faith,
and i)ractical godliness. Holland became the connuon refuge of


all the persecuted believers in Europe. The Huguenots from
France, the Waldenses from Italy, the C'ovenauters and Puritans
from England — all found a safe refuge on her hospitable shore.

The early settlers in New Xetherland brought with them
the Bible and the C'ateehism, and two church officers who were
called the K rniil.-Jx'Z'iel'ci s or V/ichcnf idosfi'rs (consolers of the
sick). It was also their duty in the al)sence of a minister, to
gather the people together and read to them select passages
of the Scripture, suitably arranged for instruction and comfort.
The iirst men to hold this position, a'ike necessary and lionor-
al)le, were Jansen Krai and dan Huyck.

When the Hev. donas Michaelius arrived in 1628, he for-
mally organized a church, which is pi-obably the oldest Prot-
estant church (HI this continent. The first thing was to appoint
two elders for the assistance of the minister, and these were the
directors, Peter Minuit and his brotlicr-in-law, dan Huygiien,
who was the store-keeper of the West India Company. At the
tir^t administration of the Lord's Supjier there were iifty com-
municants — AValloons and Dutch, who foruied the great majority
of the small po])ulation. .\t an early (hite branch churches were
established in various parts of the colony — at All)any (then
called Fort ()i'an,2e), in 1(Ui2; at Flatbusli, on Long Island, in
165-I-; and in Urooklxn. in liifin. ( )thci-s were established in the
settlements on the tlutlson and Mohawk rivers, and in New
Jersey and l^ennsylvania. In 1771 th.e number had reached

At the time of the English conquest in 1()()4. one of the
Articles of Capitulation was:

"The Dutch here shall enjoy the liberty of their consciences
and divine worship and Church disci})line. " The first religious
services, which took |)lace after the arrival of Dominie Michael-
ins, were lield in a large up])er rooift of the mill, which had been


erected in the fort, lu the 8i)ring' of Kioo, the iirst church was
erected, which was a plain wooden 1:)uilding. The site of this
church is now Number 33 Pearl street, and the Oude Kirk or
old church is frequently mentioned. When a new eliurch was
erected in the foi-t, the ohl church and lot were sold to Jacob
Wolfertsen Van Cowenhuven, who sold it to Isaac De Forrest,
September 1, 1656. In 1667, a Patent of Confirmation was
granted hy Governor Nicolls to Isaac De Forrest. His widow
sold it to Allard Anthony. "A certain lot of ground with a
house thereupon, theji coimnonly called the Oude Kirk, or Old
Church, being on the Strand towards the East Kiver. Bounded
north by the street called the Bridge street, west l)y tlie house
and ground of the heirs of Cornelius Van Tienhoven, south by
the Strand or Water side, and east by the house and ground of
Jan Hendriekse De Bruyn."

This document is dated -June ."JO, KiSi*. The price paid was
10,200 guilders.

This primitive church building was described by a historian
of the time as more like a barn than a liouse of worship, and
an invidious comparison was made between it and the more ele-
gant edifices erected in the towns of Puritan New England.
Other reasons made it vei'y desiia.ble to have a new church, and
the story of its origin is told in amusing style. On one occasion
a wedding festival was given by Dominie Bogardus in honor of
the marriage of his daughter to the surgeon, Hans Kierstede.
"The Director (William Kieft) thought this a good time for his
pur})ose, and set to woi-k after the fourth or fifth drink, and he
himself, setting a liberal examjjle, let the wedding gi^ests sign
whatever they were disposeel to give toward the church. Each
then with a light head subscribed away at a handsome rate, one
competing with the other, and although some lieai'tily repi'tited
it when their senses came back, they were oMiged to ]>ay; noth-
ing could avail against it."

This new chui'ch was erected in the fort, and it is very

Online LibraryWilliam S. (William Smith) PelletreauHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and family history of New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 26)