Emily Johnston De Forest.

A Walloon family in America; online

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and are nailed on the outside of the frame, with the

ends lapped over each other. They are not usually

laid so close together, as to prevent you from sticking

a finger between them in consequence either of their

not being well joined or the boards being crooked.

When it is cold and windy the best people plaster

them with clay. Such are most all of the English

houses in this country, except those they have which

were built by people of other nations.'* ^

The house for curing tobacco on Hendrick's
land was put up by an English carpenter, John
Merris (Morris?), and it could not have been very
well built, for it blew down four years later, to the
great injury of the tobacco which it contained.*
This goes to prove Donckaerts' statement about the
workmanship of the English carpenters.

Hendrick had other duties besides those connected
with his bouwery, for he was still the mate and trader
of the Renssclaerswyck. When he had been only
three months on shore, the yacht retumed from her
• cruise up the river and he was summoned to sail with
her for the English colonies in Virginia. Isaack, only
twenty-one years old, was too young to have all the
responsibility of the bouwery laid upon his shoulders

* Journal of Jasper Donckaerts and Peter Sluyter, 1679-
80. Memoirs Long Island Historical Society, vol. i, p. 173.

* Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 78; Council Minutes, vol.
IV, p. no.

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NiwNeihirUmd and SO his brother-in-law, La Montagne/ was sent
for and given command at Muscoota.

Had it not been for this unfortunate voyage, on
which Hendrick contracted a fatal disease, he, not
his younger brother Isaack, would probably have be-
come the founder of the de Forest family in America.

The Rensselaerswyck set sail on June 13th and
arrived on the twenty-ninth at Smithes Island, cast
of Cape Charles, Virginia. On that same day Hen-
drick was sent on shore "to further the work."
While the yacht was still at Cape Charles a passing
vessel spoke them and was told that "they hoped to
follow soon and had sold most of their goods and
sold them well, but that they must first call on the
English at the north and also stop in New Nether-
land.*' * Poor Hendrick little knew that his "stop**
in New Netherland was to be a final one.

The coast of Virginia was at that time exceedingly
unhealthful during the months of June, July, and
August. Captain de Vries wrote of it: "They at-
tribute the mortality in this land ... to the variable-
ness of the climate; one hour it is so hot, at this sea-
son, that a man cannot endure the heat, the next
hour the wind shifts to the northwest with such

* Jean Mousnier de la Montagne from the time of his
arrival in New Nethcriand signed himself simply La Mon^
tagne, though he was often called Johannes La Monttgne or
Montanye and the name was frequently pronounced accord-
ing to the latter spelling.

* Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., p. 349.

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freshness that he has to put on an overcoat/' ^ New Netkeriand
De Vries said that when he arrived there in 1635 he
found thirty-six large English ships at Blank Point
and fifteen of the thirty-six captains were already
dead in consequence of their coming too early to the
English Virginias- Another traveller in 1637 wrote:
"It is certain that Virginia being lowest on the sea is
most unhealthy, where they [die] by thousands some-
times, of the epidemical disease of the country . . .
all those who come into the country must undergo
this sickness without escape/*

This "epidemical disease" Hendrick undoubtedly
contracted, and although he and the rest of the ship's
company reached New Amsterdam on July i6th, it
was only ten days later, on July 26, 1637, that Cap-
tain Schellinger with pitiful brevity made the fol-
lowing entry in his log: "About two o'clock in the
morning my mate heindrick de freest died/' *

La Montague made arrangements for the funeral,
which took place the next day, undoubtedly in the
wooden church which had already been built on the
"Strand" of the East River. Good Domine Bo-
gardus ' officiated. It seems probable that the

* De Vries, Capt. David Pietersz. Voyages from Hol-
land to America 163 2-1 644, from Narratives of New
Netheriand, edited by J. Franklin Jameson, p. 193.

* Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., p. 382.

* He had matriculated at the Leyden University in 1627
and may therefore have been a fellow-student with La Mon-
tague. In 1633 he had come to New Amsterdam with
Director Wouter van TwiUer.

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NmNiihirUmd Domine was an old friend of the family; it must
therefore have been a comfort to have him with them
at such a time. According to custom, for each pall-
bearer a silver spoon was provided by La Montagne
(at his own cost) as a memento of the deceased ; un-
limited beer was drunk and pipes were smoked; and
then the scene closed over Hendrick de Forest.

Hendrick, like his father, had been eager to seek
his fortune in the New World, and, like him, had
there met nothing but disaster and death. Each left
a widow in the old Dutch home who for months did
not know of her bereavement.

It was fortunate that La Montagne was on hand
to take charge of Hendrick^s affairs. He was a man
of considerable executive ability, quite equal to the
responsibility of finishing Hendrick's house and car-
ing for his property. He was in charge of the
bouwery frown July 3, 1637, to June 22, 1638.^
Until the house was sufficiently finished to be habit-
able, he boarded with his nearest neighbor, Jacob
van Curler. Under La Montagne^s direction the
farm was cultivated in a satisfactory manner; the
first yearns tobacco crop (two hundred pounds) sold
for fl.i35. * After his brother-in-law's death La
Montagne disposed of Hendrick's personal belong-

* N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 57. For this item and
those which follow see La Montagne's Specification, July 23,
1638.

* The words florin and guilder were used interchange-
ably.

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ings for fl. 1 59, keepmg for himself cMily " a pair of old New NetkeHand
shoes and a pair of slippers," valued at four florins.

As winter drew near, La Montagne laid in a stock
of provisions — wheat, maize from Virginia, rye, a
firkin of butter, dried peas, 11 gallons of vinegar,
I gallon of oil, 9 gallons of train oil, pumpkins, 12
pounds of candles, half pound of pepper, i hogshead
of meal, i schepel of groats, 53 pounds of pork, and
30 pounds of beef. From "Jan the fisherman" he
bought not only fish (sometimes as many as one hun-
dred and ten at a time) and salted eels, but also
"shirts and other necessaries," ropes, lead, shot, and
powder. Tobias shot a deer for them now and then,
and, finding that for fresh meat they must depend
largely on their own exertions. La Montagne got
Kiliaen van Rensselaer to send him over a "long
gun.

A yawl was one of the treasured possessions at
Muscoota — a most necessary one, inasmuch as it
furnished the easiest way of reaching New Amster-
dam and was the only means by which the settlers
could transport their crops. One day the yawl
drifted away and great was the constemation of the
family. They had a smaller boat built to replace it,
but were more than ready to give fl.io (^4) to the
Indian who found and returned the "lost yawl."
Another boat which they owned was a " weyschuyt "
or meadow boat, which was used for bringing in the
salt hay.

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Niw NiOuriand The house was probably finished in January, and
Rachel was installed therein with her little Marie
and the three older children, her husband, her
brother Isaack, and their mdispensable aids, Tobias
and Willem. The work being too heavy for Rachel,
a servant, Ariaen, was employed for fl. 12.50 {$$) a
month. It would be pleasant could we have a
glimpse of Rachel in her new home. The child of
Jesse the Dyer may well have succeeded in makmg
her home in the wilderness pretty and attractive.

The author of " French Blood in America,'* * in a
chapter on the life of the Huguenots in the New
World says: —

The Huguenot refugees . . . were gentle, trained in
many arts, and possessed of the keen perceptions, the
courtesy, and the easy adaptability of their race. • • .

Tradition says that the first to utilize the remnants
of worn-out garments by cutting them into strips and
weaving them into carpets were the French. The rag
carpet was in its day an advance agent of comfort
and culture. . . . Among the earliest importations of the
French settlers were the spinning wheels and looms of
better quality than were previously known here. . . .

Where the English and Dutch dyed linen yam of
heavy quality and wove it into ugly stripes and checks
for bed and window curtains, the French used either
white linen or that with but one color, dainty shades
of light blue or dusky green or a subdued gold colour
made by dyes of which they had brought the secret
with them being preferred. . . .

^ Fosdick, Lucian J. French Blood in America, pp. 406 ff.

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The cultivated taste and the dainty arts brought NmNftherland
from France made the homes of the Huguenots much
more attractive in appearance than those of the other
colonists, even though the latter might have far more
wealth.

While matters were thus progressing favorably for
our settlers in the New World, wc must not forget
Gertrude Bomstra, the bride whom Hendrick had
left in Amsterdam when he sailed and who was still
in Holland when the news of his death reached her.
Wc know that she was visiting in Leyden as late as
August, 1637, and we have no record of her crossing
the sea during the time of her widowhood.

Before long, however, a new actor appeared upon
the scene — a young man named Andries Hudde,
whohad been in New Amsterdam since 1629 and who
had occupied a prominent position as a member of
Director van Twiller's council.^ He owned several
valuable pieces of real estate and was a man of con-
siderable importance. Andries wooed young Ger-
trude even before her year of widowhood was over,
though where the wooing took place we do not
know. Hudde may have gone to Amsterdam for the
purpose, as Gertrude was still living there. At all
events, in June, 1638, Hudde was evidently already
betrothed to Gertrude; for as her representative he
was back again in New Amsterdam claiming the
estate of her former husband, Hendrick. Hudde

* O'Callaghan, E. B. Register of New Netherland, p. 12.

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New NetJuriMd applied to Dircctor-Gcneral Kicft for a ground brief
or patent for the bouwery, the land grant having
heretofore, as we know, been merely a verbal one.
This must have been promised, for La Montagne on
June 22nd paid df the men who had been employed
at the bouwery, also Ariaen, the servant, and then
left himself. Hudde, anxious to return to his Ger-
trude, did not even wait for his official ground brief
before he made a contract on July loth with one
Hans Hansen to cultivate tobacco on the bouwery
on shares. He pressed Hansen to send him six or
eight farm laborers with suitable tools "by the first
opportunity of any vessel leaving a port of Hol-
land." ^

On July 20, 1638, Director Kieft signed the ground
brief ^ which gave to Andries Hudde the two hun-
dred acres which had belonged to Hendrick de
Forest. This was, so far as is now known, the first
legal conveyance of any land on Manhattan — in
fact, it was only about July ist of that year that
the authorities had decided to give such titles.
The document makes no mention of Gertrude, the
widow, but Dutch betrothals were almost as binding
as marriages, and Hudde must have received the
patent as her future husband, for it says that he
could dispose of the property "in like manner as he
might do with his own lands." The only stipula-
tion in this patent is that Hudde and his successors
^ N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. xiv, p. ii.

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"shall acknowledge their High Mistinesses, the NmNetknUmd
managers ^ aforesaid, as their Sovereign Lords and
Patroons, and shall render at the end of each ten
years after the actual settlement and cultivation of
the land, the just tenth part of the products with
which God may bless the soil, and from this time
forth annually for the house and lot, deliver a pair of
capons to the Director for the HoUdays." ^

Before Hudde sailed, Domine Bogardus was given
a power of attorney for Gertrude.* It was after
that, on July 23 rd, that La Montagne presented an
account or "Specification" for all his receipts and
expenditures at the bouwery. Hudde did not settle
this account before he left; perhaps he had already
sailed before it was presented, though it was only
three days since he had received his ground brief.
It was Domine Bogardus who by virtue of his power
of attorney "examined and accepted" La Mon-
tagne's account, and then the original was "sent to
the Fatherland," presumably to Gertrude. La Mon-
tagne's claim was for 680 guilders. It is a pity that
Hudde did not settle the account before leaving, as
we shall see presently, but he was evidently in need
of money himself at that time, for just before sailing
he put a mortgage on a Long Island farm which
belonged to him.

* Directors of the West India Company.

* N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. xiv, p. 12.
» N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. iv, p. 19.

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NewNftkiriMd La Moiitagne with the money due him for his
expenditure on the bouwery still unpaid, did nothing
until September i6th. Then he took proceedings
against the Domine, saying: "Whereas the Deft, has
a power of attorney from Geertruyt Bomstra,
widow of the late Hendrick de Foreest, the Pltff 's
brother-in-law, to realize the property and collect
the debts of the said Foreest, the Pltff . demands
that the Deft, shall take possession of the house to-
gether with the cattle and property of the planta-
tion, on condition that the Pltff. be paid by the
Deft, whatever balance is due him by de Foreest,
according to the account thereof in existence." ^

Two weeks later the Court ordered that "the
effects belonging to Hendrick de Foreest, deceased,
or his heirs" should be "sold pubhcly in Fort Am-
sterdam to the highest bidder for the benefit of
the widow" * and that from the proceeds La Mon-
tagne should be repaid his 680 guilders. The auc-
tion was held on October 7th and La Montagne
bought in the property for 1,800 guilders. This left
him 1,120 guilders in debt to the estate.

The purchase included the land and the dwelling-
house with its surrounding palisades, also "two
milch cows; i heifer 2 years old; i bull of i year;
half a bull calf of this year ; 2 old goats ; half of a little
male kid of this year; }4 a kid of this year; 6 hens

1 N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. iv, p. 19.
* Ibid., vol. IV, p. 20.

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iiiin iiiH I iijjii n i l II I I 11 1 II ip I I i i || I II i|| i I ii|r TTT|t

^ 5 ^ ^ ^ ^ ^- i ^ $



"W



MAP OF NEW HARLEM SHOWING " MONTANYE's FLAT," CALLED BY HIM .

"vredendal"

The long, narrow strip extending from Montanye's Flat to the Harlem River, here marked No. i,
represents Isaack's bouwery. The measures at top and bottom indicate present numbered streets.



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and 2 cocks, with about 20 chickens; 4 guns, good New NethiHand
and bad; i kettle; i chum; 4 axes, good and bad; 6
pickaxes ; 2 siths ; 2 scythes ; 2 iron forks ; one fourth
of 600 tobacco plants and i tobacco house; one half
of the grain of one morgen of land; one wey-
schuyt/* ^ A good idea of the farm equipment of
the early settlers may be gained from this list.

The new owner promptly took possession and
named the place "Vredendal** (quiet or peaceful
dale), a name by which it was long called although
its history for many subsequent years was anything
but peaceful. The wonderful spring was then given
a name, "Montanye's fonteyn," * by which it was
known for a long time.

Tobias and Willem saw in this change of mas-
ters a possible opportunity for release from their
"bounden service,*' and so they brought the matter
before the court, claiming that their contract had
been made with Gerard de Forest and not with his
nephew. La Montagne thereupon showed that he
had "power and authority*' * from Gerard to act
as his agent, and Tobias and Willem had to agree
to serve out their "3 successive years."

» N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 59.

A "sith" was a sickle, usually called a Hainauf or Flem-
ish scythe. A "weyschuyt" was a meadow boat, such as
was used for bringing in the salt hay.

^ Riker, James. History of Hariem, Revised Edition, pp.
I34> 182.

» N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. iv, p. 22.

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Neto Nethifiand Now that Dr. La Montagnc (for we must not for-
get that he was a physician) has settled down con-
tentedly in his Quiet Dale, we must leam a little
more about his personal affairs. Soon after his ar-
rival he had become a prominent figure in New Am-
sterdam. As early as 1637 we find his name on a list
of physicians and sufgeons there. Before this date
the doctors available in the community had been
mainly the "ships' surgeons who practiced on shore
while their vessels lay in port.'' ^

As yet La Montague had taken no active part in
public affairs, but the time was not far df when he
was to occupy a prominent position. Director van
Twiller's methods of government were not satis-
factory to the West India Company and he was
recalled to Holland. The new Director-General,
Willem Kieft, arrived at New Amsterdam in March,
1638. Being allowed to select his own councillors,

* The following extract from the Dutch records is amus-
ing. **0n the petition of the Chirurgeons of New Amster-
dam, that none but they alone be allowed to shave; the
Director and Council understand that Shaving doth not
appertain exclusively to Chirui^ery, but is an appendix
thereunto; that no man can be prevented operating on him-
self, nor to do another this friendly act, provided it be
through courtesy and not for gain, which is hereby forbid-
den." •

It was then further "Ordered, that Ship-Barbers shall not
be allowed to dress any wounds, nor administer any potions
on shore, without the previous knowledge and special con-
sent of the Petitioners, or at least of Doctor La Montagne."
(N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. xiv, pp. 155-56.)

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Kieft decided to choose only one, and desiring a New Nakiriand
"proper experienced person," selected Johannes La
Montagne. La Montagne had of course one vote at
council meetings and Kieft had one also; but, as
Director-General, Kieft had the casting vote as well,
which always left La Montagne in the minority if
there was a difference of opinion between them.
Councillor La Montagne's salary was thirty-five
florins a month, but in addition to this he had many
privileges. For mstance, he had placed at his dis-
posal the cattle on Bouwery No. i, which belonged
to Wouter van Twiller, the former Director. So he
probably had no difficulty in living comfortably on
his new bouwery.

Meanwhile what were the former owners, Hudde Amsterdam
and Gertrude, doing? We hear nothing of them
until January, 1639, when preparations were evi-
dently being made for their marriage; at least, their
banns were being published in Amsterdam — and
what could more clearly indicate a marriage than
the publication of banns!

When the wedding was really near at hand, Jan
de Forest, Hendrick's elder brother, thought it time
to bestir himself if he and his brother Isaack were
to secure any inheritance from Hendrick's estate.
Isaack, being as yet under twenty-five years of age,
was still under Dutch law a minor, and so Jan asked
that a certain Jacob Bonasse, a City Packer of Am-
sterdam, should, with the acquiescence of Gertrude

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Amsurdam Bomstra, be appointed to represent the brothers
and be allowed to sell Hendrick's property, wherever
situated, so that Jan and Isaack might each receive
their proper portion.^ Jan asked that Isaack's share
be invested in the "Orphan's Room** in Amsterdam.
We do not know what the sequel to this action was,
but it will be shown later that both brothers re-
ceived their portions, though by another hand.
New Nfthriand It was probably on July 7, 1639, that Hudde and
his wife landed m New Amsterdam. They brought
with them goods and supplies for use in the cultiva-
tion of their bouwery, for they took it for granted
that it was still theirs. Stormy scenes probably
ensued when the travellers found themselves with-
out a home. Hudde, who had needed money to pay
for his purchases in Amsterdam, had borrowed two
hundred guilders from a fellow-passenger, promis-
ing payment on arrival. He was therefore in great
stress, and finding that his bouwery was really no
longer his, he was obliged to accept two hundred
guilders from La Montagne as part payment of the
balance which the latter still owed to Hendrick*s
estate. To add insult to injury, Hudde is made to
say in the receipt that he "thanks La Montagne for
the payment.** *

It was not, however, until a year later that
"Monsieur Johannes la Montaengne, and S^'

^ Jan de Forest's Petition. Appendix, p. 355.
* N.Y. G)lonial MSS., vol. i, p. 139.

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Andries Hudde . . . conjomtly acknowledged that New NetketUmd
they amicably agreed and contracted on the 12th
of July A^ 1640 respecting the purchase of the farm
and goods and chattels lying on the Island of Man-
hates, named Vredendaely left by the late Hendric
de Foreest." ^ The value of one-sixth part of the
"goods and chattels," according to the inventory ^

made out by Gertrude, was 164 guilders ($65.60);
this sum was given to La Montague that he might
satisfy the claims of Hendrick's brothers, and the
matter was then closed. * Needless to say, imme-
diately after this, on August 28, 1640, La Mon-
tagne secured a hard and fast deed to the property.
With regard to Hudde and Gertrude, little need
be added. Their first son was bom in 1642 and,
according to a curious custom of those times, was
named Hendrick after Gertrude's first husband.
The child did not live long, and so when two years
later another son arrived, he also was named Hen-
drick, while Isaack de Forest's wife, Sarah du Tri-
eux, appeared as one of the witnesses at his bap-
tism.' In 1644 Hudde was given the position of
chief commissary at Fort Nassau on the South
River. It was probably there that his wife Gertrude
died some years later. Hudde himself died in 1663.

1 N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 216.

* Ibid., vol. I, p. 217.

* Baptisms Dutch Church in New York, 1639-1730, pp.
14, 16.

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New Nethiriand Although Hudde had in 1640 renounced all claims
to Vredendal, La Montagne was not much longer
to enjoy it. Misfortunes were now hard upon him.
A minor trouble, but one that g?ive him annoyance,
was that Dirck Corssen Stam, the supercargo of the
Rensselaerswyck, who was probably jealous of La
Montagne's prominence, spread evil reports in Hol-
land regardmg him, saymg that "Johannes La Mon-
tagne daily filled his pockets with ducatoons and
jacobuses," and legal steps were necessary to oblige
Stam to retract these statements.^

But something much more serious was now caus-
ing great anxiety to all. The Indians became dan-
gerously aggressive in the neighborhood, committing
many depredations and several murders. Director-
General Kieft finally determined to destroy all who
were within his reach. La Montagne urged pacific
measures. "We ought," said he, "first to consider
well whether we shall be able to give protection to
those who are living at a distance." Unfortunately
his counsel was unheeded, and on the night of Feb-
ruary 25, 1643,* a large number of the Indians in
the vicinity were slaughtered. As a natural result
those who were left retaliated with fires and mas-
sacres. La Montagne did not suffer frpm this early
attack, but the threatening attitude of the Indians


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Online LibraryEmily Johnston De ForestA Walloon family in America; → online text (page 7 of 21)