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n9. //

P 128



no. 11

Copy 1









Compiled from an unpublished Manuscript entitled

By J. H. I N N E S

Author of "New Amsterdam and Its People," "The Old Bark Mill, or First
Place of Religious Worship in New York," etc,


Mailed on receipt of price by The City History Club,
23 W. 44th Street.

Copyright, 1908, by the City History Club of New York.


Object.— The City History Club (founded in 1896) hast or its object the study of the history
of the City of New York, in the hope of awakening an interest in its past development and tradi-
tions and in the possibilities of its future, such educational work being for the improvement, up-
lifting and civic betterment of the community.

To that end a series of historical excursions was planned which, from time to time, it has,
been found necessary to revise in order (1) to correct errors due to misinformation, of which
even standard books of New York history are not entirely free ; (2) to keep pace with the march
of improvements whereby the topography of the City is constantly changing; and (3) to add ma-
terial as new light is shed on the past and as new tablets and monuments are erected to mark
historic sites.

By its efforts, literature, lectures, and by these historical excursions, interest in city history
lias been awakened since the organization of the Club, and many students have devoted their
time to research and study of life in old New York. To those who, influenced by their example,
desire to enter upon the fascinating acquisition of knowledge of our great City's growth, the fol-
lowing books will be helpful : Todd's "Story of New York " (Putnam); Goodwin's "Historic
New York," two bound volumes composed of 24 monographs ; " Ihe Half Moon Series," which
may be purchased separately ; Hemstreet's "Literary Landmarks of New York " (Putnam);
Janvier's " In Old New York " (Harper); Hemstreet's " Nooks and Corners of Old New York "
and " When Old New York was Young"; Iniies' " New Amsterdam and Its People" (Scrib-
ner); Ulmann's " Landmark History of New York" (Appleton); R. R. Wilson's "New York
Old and New" (Lippincott).


B. F.Thompson's "History of Long Island," 2 vols., 1843, gives general information in re-
gard to the various towns; Nathaniel S. Prime's " History of Long Island " includes many inter-
esting particulars as to church matters, though containing some inaccuracies; Gabriel Furman's
" .'Vniiquities of Long Island," 1875; Henry Onderdonck's "Queens County in Olden Times,"
1865; Munsell's " History of Queens County"; James Riker, Jr.'s " Annals of Newtown," 1852,
full of valuable information, but out of print and scarce; Wm. O'Gorman (Town Clerk of New
town) wrote a number of newspaper articles on Newtown, 1880-1890, of which a complete set-
may be found in the New York Historical Society library — besides extracts from Riker, he in-
cludes much from his own observations and inquiries; J. H. Innes' "Ancient Newtown, for-
merly Middelburg "—a series of 23 newspaper articles published in 1898 — a complete set may be
tound in the libraries of the State m Albany and of the New York Historical Society, J. H.
Innes' " New Amsterdam and its People," 1902, contains many allusions to Newtown and Flush-
ing ; H. D. Waller's "History of the Town of Flushing," 1899; John Davis' "Travels in
America, ' 1803, contains references to Newtown ; John Fowler's "Journal of a Tour in New
York," 1831; pages 25-36 refer mostly to Flushing ; see also allusions in R. R. Wilson's " His-
torical Long Island," 1902, and M. B. Flint's " Early Life in Long Island," 1896.

The City History Club would greatly appreciate correctioiis and additions to the points cov-
ered in this excursion, especially ij authorities are guoted.

N. B. — The City History Club is greatly indebted to Mr. J. H. Innes, through whose
scholarship, unwearied energy and courtesy this EXCURSION has been made possible.

Thanks are also due for research and the preparation of copy and charts for the press to
'teachers and students of the Bryant, Jamaica and De Witt Clinton High Schools, and to many
, residents of Flushing, Newtown and Jamaica.


The Borough of Queens of the City of New York was formed on Janu-
ary I, 1898, from the former townships of Newtown, Flushing and Jamaica,
together with Long Island City and a small portion of the town of Hemp-
stead, embracing the Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach district of that
town. This territory, forming the western portion of the old County of
Queens, was reorganized at the time mentioned and became the County of
Queens, while the eastern portion of the former county received a new
organization and became known as the County of Nassau.

The first settlements in this territory were made by individual Dutch
farmers from 1637 to 1656, under grants from the Director-General and
Council at New Amsterdam, in what may be described in a general way as
the districts forming the present Long Island City. They were under the
direct supervision of New Amsterdam authorities and were known as the
" Out Plantations." The remainder of the present borough was settled
entirely by colonists from various parts of New England under grants from
the Dutch authorities at New Amsterdam. They received township govern-
ments, but modelled after the Dutch form, and their villages received
Dutch appellations. There were, however, originally no Dutch settlers
among them except in one or two isolated cases. In course of time many
Dutch bought lands among them. These settlements were made as fol-
lows: In the spring of 1642 a patent was issued to Rev. Francis Doughty
((or himself and a party of associates) of the remainder of the land included
in the former town of Newtown. Under this patent a settlement was be-
gun, principally along the Mespat Kill, afterward known as Newtown Creek,
but it was destroyed in the Indian war of 1643. In 1644 Heemstede
(Hempstead) was settled by a company from Watertown, Wethersfieldand
Stamford in New England. In 1645-6 Vlissingen (Flushing) was settled,
and in 1652 Middelburg (Newtown), in the old Doughty patent, — in both
cases by colonists from Massachusetts and Connecticut, while in 1656 Rust-
dorp (Jamaica) was settled by a party from Hempstead and Flushing.
The above were the only settlements in the territory of the borough for a
long period, except that in 1656, after the second Indian war, the inhabi-
tants along the .Mespat Kill were for a short time gathered for security into
a village called Arnhem, on what was known as Smith's Island (E, Map p.
20) in the Mes|)at Kill; this village was abandoned in 1662.

The history of Hempstead and Jamaica was uneventful during the
Dutch rule, but in Flushing and in Middeiburg there was considerable dis-
satisfaction, the people of the latter place going so far as to attempt to put
themselves under the jurisdiction of Connecticut and to alter the name of
their town to " Hastings " in 1663. After the surrender to the English in
1664, these towns were organized for the purposes of civil administration
into what was known as the IVcs/ Riding of Yorkshire (in analogy to the
civil divisions bearing the same name in Yorkshire, England), with a Ses-
sions House for judicial and administrative business at Jamaica The
names of the towns were now changed, but " Heemstede " beingso similar
in form to the English town of Hempstead, and " Vlissingen ' being so
well known to the English under the name of Flushing, these forms were
retained, while Rustdorp reverted to its Indian name of Jamaica, and Mid-
deiburg received the name of Newtown, together with a patent in 1667 by
which the former "Out Plantations" were added to it. In 1683 these
towns, together with the eastern town of Oyster Bay, were united to form
the County of Queens with its court house and other county buildings at
Jamaica. This organization remained undisturbed until after the Revolu-
tion. In 1814 Jamaica, then with a population of 1500, became an incor-
porated village, as did Flushing in 1837, with a population of about 2000.
Soon after the introduction of steam navigation, and as early as 181 1,
Astoria began to attract attention as a place of suburban residence and in
1839 it was incorporated as a village. About 1853-4 Whitestone (formerly
a mere hamlet) began to grow from the establishment there of a factory of
tinned and japanned ware, while College Point owed its growth as a village
at about the same time to the setting up of a factory of hard rubber ware,
though it was not incorporated until 1880.

In 1836 the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad was opened, its first time-
table taking effect on April 26 of that year. On March i, 1837, under the
auspices of the Long Island Railroad, it was opened through Queens
County to Hicksville, and to its terminus in Greenporl in 1844. The New
York and Flushing Railroad was opened June 26, 1854, its East River
terminus being a dock at Hunter's Point near the mouth of Newtown Creek,
from which it connected a few times daily with one of the Harlem boats
for the lower part of New York. In 1861 the terminus of the Long Island
Railroad was changed from Brooklyn to Hunters's Point, soon after which
the latter place began to grow rapidly until, in 1871, with Astoria, Dutch
Kills and the surrounding districts, it was incorporated as Long Island



(Figures and letters refer to Map, p. 20.)

Thiriy-fourtJi Street Ferry to Hunter s Point, Steinway trolley to Barn
Street near end of Qiieensboro Bridge.

A. Dominies Hook. — Originally an island surrounded by salt water
marshes, possessed by Dominie Everardus Bogardus and his wife Anneke
Jans Bogardus, about 1642; later confirmed by patent, and still later owned
by the Bennett family, who sold much of it to Dr. Nott of Union College,
from whom it came to the trustees of that institution. In 1842 it was con-
nected with Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Ravenswood and Astoria by a
turnpike, now known as Vernon Avenue. In 1854 the New York and
Flushing Railroad was opened, starting from a pier at the foot of Newtown
Creek, with boat connection to New York. It was now for a short time
called Nottston, and became a subject for land speculation. In 1861 it be-
came the terminal for the L. I. R. R., and began to grow under the name
of Hunter's Point.

The original farmhouse was on the shore of Newtown Creek, near the
present bridge to Greenpoint. The later farmhouse, standing until re-
cently, was a little farther back from the Creek.

a-a. Line oi ancient road from " Maspeth Kill" (Newtown Creek) along Dutch Kills to
Burger Jorissen's Mill, thence to East River, laid out 1640-54.

1. Site of yan Alst House (east side of Barn Street, north of I.. I. R. R.), Dutch Kills, re-
cently removed. The original house, just south, was on the old farm of Jan Jansen of Ditmars
("Jan Platneus,"' or t'lalnose). 1643, and on his death, in 1651, was sold to Joris btevensen,
ancestor of the Van Alst fumily. The creek near by (Indian name " Canapaukah ' ) was called
Caper's (privateersnian's) Kill, as Stevensen had been a seafaring man. The Van Alst burial
ground, now almost blotted out, was at the intersection of Barn Street on the north side of the
L. I. R. R. For an account of Indian events near by, see " New Amsterdam and its People,"
pp. 167-8.

2. Payiiter House (Skillman Avenue, corner Jackson), probal)ly on tiie
site of the house of Burger Jorissen, blacksmith of New Amsterdam (Ex-
cursion VII., 22), who had a grant here in 1643. Here he built the

3a. First mill in this part of Long Island (called Ryerson's Mill during the Revolution) ;

3. The mill pond, now overgrown with reeds. The dam (just north of
Skillman Avenue) was removed in 1861, when the L. I. R. R. was built.

b-b. Burger's Sluice, constructed through the swamp to supply the
pond, still exists in a few places as a dry ditch paralleling the railroad

Continue on Stehiway Avenue car to Grand Avenue.

4. She oi Joh?t Hullett's Fn^mhotise, southeast corner Otdind and Steinway Avenues. The
large farm, patented in 1654 to Wm. Hallelt, lay northeast of this point. In the Revolution it
belonged to Wm. Lawrence, a strong patriot. Here Mai. -Gen. Robertson took up quarters on
August 30, 1776, and encamped 10,000 British soldiers north of the house. Two weeks later he
withdrew, crossing to Westchester, and Gen. DeHeister's Hessians succeeded them. Many
balls from the American battery at Hoorn's Hook fell on the heights back ot the house.

5. Samuel Hallett Farmlionso, on a height north of the intersection
of Newtown and Grand Avenues, is supposed to have been built by Samuel
Hallett (a great-great-grandson of the patentee; see 17 p. 10) about 1752.

6. Site of the House 0/ Wm. Hallett (grandson o( the patentee), near the corner of New-
town and Jamaica Avenues, where (Jan. 2d, 1708), with his wife and five children, he was mur-
di red by two of his negro slaves (" Riker's Annals," p. 142).

c. Site of the Ridge Road to Dutch Kills, now nearly closed or obliterated.

7. Mzddletown, a hamlet, begun about 1800, near the old schoolhouse
of 1 72 1. Only one or two houses remain.

Continue north on Steinway Avenue, passing on tJie left.
B. LubberfSyOx the Great Siiiamp,([\-y now, as the trees have been cut.
d-d. 0/d Bowery Road, now partly obliterated, laid out i638-'5o by
settlers of the Poor Bowery and the Out Plantations.

IValk east on tJie Old Bowery Road or Winthrop Avenue.

8. Moore House (near Titus Street), one of the oldest buildings in New
York, standing on what was once a parcel of 50 acres of woodland
reserved by the West India Co., possibly for ship timber. After 1664 it
was patented to Wm. Hallett, who had already bought up the Indian title.
In 1684 he sold it to Captain Samuel Moore, son of the Rev. John Moore
(sre p. 22), who built this house for himself and his son Joseph in 1690- '95.
In 1769 it was sold to Jeromus Remsen. Here in 1757 several French
prisoners of war were lodged on parole, and it is said that they spent much
time hunting near by. About 1776 it was occupied by the militia officer.
Colonel Jeromus Remsen, who had to take refuge in New Jersey during
the British occupation.

9. 10. 17th Century Houses, near the bend of the Bowery Bay Road.
The Bowery Bay schoolhouse, built in 1829, stood near the bend.

II. llapalye House (dating before 1750), probably on the site of the
original homestead, and standing in front of the old family burying
ground. Here Harck Siboutsen of New Amsterdam settled about 1650,
receiving his ground brief in 1654. In 1729 his son Jacobus willed it to
Abraham Lent, his nephew. Dr. Riker, a family connection, took refuge
here from the British after the Battle of Long Island. About 1800 the
house came into the possession of Isaac Rapalye, who held it nearly half a

12. Riker Homestead, a rare example of property remaining in the
same direct family line and name since the first settlement. Abraham
Ryken married the daughter of Hendrick Harmensen, the first settler of
this part of Long- Island, and secured the patent for this land in 1654.
The present house is i8th Century in style and possibly contains part of
the original house.

C. The Poor Boiucry (North Beach), historically one of the most inter-
esting portions of Long Island, was settled by Hendrick Harmensen in
1638, when he brought cattle here from New Amsterdam. He was for
several years the only farmer of the north side of Long Island, and was
called " Henricus Agncola," " Hendrick, the Boor" (farmer) in the Dou^^hty
patent of 1642. He was killed by Indians in 1643 and his widow suc-
ceeded to the Bowery and married Jeuriaen Fradell of New Amsterdam in
1645, who the same year obtained a ground brief for the farm from Kieft.
It contained 154 acres, besides the " Houwelicken" (Dowry Island, later
Luysters) of Bowery Bay, separated by a salt water creek.

The deacons of the Dutch Church bought the farm before 1654, to
establish maintenance for their poor, hence it was called " Armen" or " Poor
Bowery." About 1688, they sold it to Pieter Cornelissen Timmermann
(also called Luyster), the first of that family here. It remained until lately
in the possession of the Couwenhovens (descendants of the last named

e-e. " The rivulet" surrounding the lands of " Hendrick the farmer"
(as it is described in the Doughty patent of 1642), still flows south of the
Bowery, draining

D. Trains Meadow, used as a common fresh meadow by English set-
tlers of Middelburg (Newtown) as early as 1662, some of the earlier drains
being still visible. It was first recorded as " Long Traynes Meadow"
(Long Drains Meadow?). It was divided among the settlers in 1678, and
part is still a wild and secluded jungle. The "rivulet" was later called
" Wessells" or " Lodowick's Brook," the Indian name being " Sackhich-

13. Koinveiilioveii Farm house, now forming the rear of a hotel, prob-
ably occupies the site of the original house of C. The whole tract is now
the property of the North Beach Improvement Co.

Continue through North Beach alotig the trolley line, crossing the


14. Jackson's Mill Pond, now nearly dry. the mill (near the bridge)
being operated first by Warner Wessells, and destroyed by the Indians in
1655. It was re-established by Pieter Cornelissen Luyster, before 1670.
It was later known as Kip's and Fish's Mill.

f-f. 0/c/ ^

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Online LibraryFrank Bergen KelleyExcursion planned for the City history club of New York → online text (page 1 of 4)