James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 9 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 9 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the chief standing next to him. "The chief receives
it, but only smells the contents and passes it on to
the next chief, who does the same. The glass or

* Meaning a gourd.



cup thus passes through the circle, without the
liquor being tasted by any one, and is upon the
point of being returned to the red-clothed Man-
nitto, when one of the Indians, a brave man and
a great warrior, suddenly jumps up and harangues
the assembly on the impropriety of returning the
cup with its contents. It was handed to them,
says he, by the Mannitto, that they should drink
out of it as he himself had done. To follow his
example would be pleasing to him ; but to return
what he had given them might provoke his wrath,
and bring destruction on them. And since the
orator believed it for the good of the nation that
the contents offered them should be drunk, and as
no one else would do it, he would drink it himself,
let the consequence be what it might ; it was
better for one man to die, than that a whole nation
should be destroyed. He then took the glass, and
bidding the assembly a solemn farewell, at once
drank up its whole contents. Every eye was fixed
on the resolute chief, to see what effect the un-
known liquor would produce. He soon began to
stagger, and at last fell prostrate on the ground.
His companions now bemoan his fate, he falls into
a sound sleep, and they think he has expired. He
wakes again, jumps up and declares that he has
enjoyed the most delicious sensations, and that he
never before felt so happy as after he had drunk
the cup. He asks for more, his wish is granted ;
the whole assembly then imitate him, and all be-
come intoxicated."*

Alas, this was but the sad prelude to a sadder
sequel !

On the twenty-second Hudson sent five of the
crew to sound the river higher up. They proceeded
" eight or nine leagues, and found but seven foot
of water, and inconstant soundings." Hudson
was now forced to the conclusion that he had
reached the head of navigation, and he regretfully
retraced his steps on the twenty-third, making two
leagues that day and " seven or eight," the twenty-
fourth, each day grounding on shoals, and the latter
day going ashore, where they " gathered a good
store of chestnuts." On the twenty-fifth and twenty-
sixth he rode at anchor, because of adverse winds.
On the morning of the twenty-sixth " two canoes
came up the river from the place where we first
found loving people," and in one of them was the
old chief who was the subject of the strange ex-
periment with aqua vitae. He brought with him
another old man, who presented Hudson with
" more stropes of beades," " and showed him all
the country there about, as though it were at his
command." Hudson dined with them and their
wives, and " two young maidens of the age sixteen
or seventeen years," who also accompani ed them

* Historical Account of the Indian Nations in Transactions of the
Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical
Society., Philadelphia, /., $5, 57. See also Doc. Hist. II., 598, 599.

to the vessel, and " behaved themselves very mod-
estly." To one of the men Hudson gave a knife,
and received in return tobacco. On the twenty-
seventh he was grounded on a shoal " from half
ebb to half flood " tide, but made six leagues. The
old chief who had acquired such a relish for
Hudson's " good cheer " again came on board and
urged him to lie at anchor and go ashore and eat
with him ; but the wind being fair Hudson would
not yield to his request. He departed with a
sorrowful countenance, but Hudson comforted him
with presents and the assurance that they would
return the next year.

On the zgth, Hudson anchored at the lower end
of the Long Reach, which "is six leagues long."
Here natives who came on board brought " Indian
wheat." October ist, while becalmed off Stony
Point, "the people of the Mountains came aboard
of us, wondering at our ship and weapons." One
man, who persisted in " hanging under our stern,''
gained the cabin window by means of the rudder, and
stole a pillow, two shirts and " two bandeleers." He
was detected by the mate, who shot him in the
breast and killed him. The others fled, some taking
to their canoes, others to the water. A boat was
manned, and the stolen goods easily recovered.
An Indian, who swam to the boat, seized it with his
hand and tried to upset it ; but the cook cut off
his hand with a sword and he was drowned.
On the second, at the head of Manhattan
Island, the vessel was approached by a canoe
containing one of the natives who escaped from it
on the voyage up ; but fearing treachery, Hudson
would not allow him nor his companions on board.
Two other canoes, filled with armed warriors, now
came under the stern, and an attack was made
with arrows ; but they were repulsed with a loss of
two or three men. Over a hundred of the natives
then took position on a point of land, but a falcon
shot killed two of them, and the rest fled to the
woods. Another canoe, manned with nine or ten
warriors, came to meet them j but a falcon shot
was sent through it and one of its occupants killed.
Three or four others were killed and the rest dis-
persed with musketry. Hudson then dropped down
two leagues, and was free from further danger.

Such were the events which opened up to Eu-
ropean emigration the beautiful and fertile valley
of the Hudson, and sowed the seeds of decay
among the native tribes, whose shattered fragments
were rolled back Uke a shriveled scroll upon the
western nations, who, in their turn, are rapidly re-
ceding in constantly diminishing numbers before



the onward march of civilization. Soon after the
intelligence of Hudson's discoveries were received
in Holland, in whose name he took possession of
the country, colonization projects engaged the at-
tention of the company who employed him.

Little is known of Hudson's earlier life, except
that in youth he received a thorough maritime edu-
cation. His connection with the Dutch East India
Company ceased soon after his arrival in England
in November, 1609; for England, having become
jealous of the maritime enterprises of the Dutch,
caused his detention in that country. He re-
entered the service of the London Company, and
in 1 6 10 voyaged in search of a north-west passage
to India. He discovered and entered the bay
which bears his name ; but continuing his search
too long, was compelled to spend the winter in the
northern latitude. In the spring, a part of his
crew mutinied, and placing him, his son and seven
others in a boat, left them to their fate. He is
supposed to have perished in this situation, but his
fate is a mystery.

Three European nations at this time based
claims to a part of the territory embraced in the
State of New York ; England, by reason of the
discovery of Cabot and his son Sebastian, claiming
a territory eleven degrees in width and extending
westward indefinitely; France, by reason of the
discoveries of Verrazani, claiming a portion of the
Atlantic coast ; and Holland, by reason of the dis-
covery of Hudson, claiming the country from Cape
Cod to the southern shore of Delaware Bay. But
the Dutch became the actual possessors of the

Colonization in New York, not less than in New
England, was an emanation from the Reformation,
which emancipated the Low Countries on the one
hand, and was followed by collisions between
English dissenters and the AngUcan hierarchy on
the other. "The Netherlands," says Bancroft,
" divide with England the glory of having planted
the first colonies in the United States ; they also
divide the glory of having set the example of public
freedom. If England gave our fathers the idea of
a popular representation, the United Provinces
were their model of a federal union."*

The pilgrim fathers who colonized New England,
fleeing from religious persecution at home, found
refuge in Holland, which was then struggling to
throw off the oppressive yoke of Spanish tyranny,
and there learned their first lesson in popular gov-
ernment, from a people, who, from the time of the

* History e/ the United States, II., 18.

universal sway of imperial Rome, " had been ani-
mated by an indomitable spirit of civil Uberty." "The
Dutch Republic," says Brodhead, "which for nearly
a century after it first took its place in the rank of
independent nations continued to sway the balance
of European politics, owed its proud position to
the moral qualities and free spirit of the people of
the Netherlands ; to the constitution of their gov-
ernment ; to their geographical position ; their
maritime power ; their liberal commercial policy ;
their spirit of universal toleration ; and to the wise
statesmanship which attracted to their shores a
winnowed population from other lands."

The truce with Spain, concluded April 9, 1609,
which virtually, if not formally, acknowledged Dutch
independence, brought a temporary respite to the
people of the Netherlands, who, for more than forty
years, had been struggling with desperate energy
and dogged determination against the mighty forces
of Spain. Four days before the consummation of
this truce, which was wrung from Spain by the
great victory achieved over the Spanish fleet the
previous year, by that bold navigator, Jacob
Heemskirk, Hudson had sailed on his voyage of
exploration in the interest of Holland ; and when
his discoveries were made known, the people were
ripe for those adventures which planted colonies in
the valleys of the Hudson and Delaware from the
surplus population at the mouths of the Rhine.

In 1610, the Dutch sent out a vessel to engage
in the fur trade on the banks of the river discov-
ered by Hudson. In 1612, and again in 1614,
Hendrick Christiansen and Adrian Block fitted out
two other vessels for the same purpose, and were
soon followed by others. The fur trade proving
successful, Christiansen was appointed to superin-
tend it and Manhattan Island made the chief depot.
In 161 4, he erected a small fort and a few rude
buildings on the southern extremity of the island,
which he called New Amsterdam. March 27, 1614,
the States General of the United Netherlands
secured to each discoverer the exclusive right to
make four voyages to the lands discovered by him
for the purpose of trading with the natives ; and
October 1 1 th of the same year a charter was granted
to an association of merchants engaged in the traflic,
conferring on them the exclusive right to trade for
three years in the territory situated between New
France and Virginia, (between 40° and 45° of lati-
tude,) the whole region being then known as New

In the meantime, in 1614, explorations were
being made in the surrounding country. Adrian



Block passed up the East River, Long Island
Sound — demonstrating for the first time the insular
character of Long Island — up Connecticut River,
and into the bays and along the islands eastward to
Cape Cod. Cornelissen Jacobson Mey explored
the southern coast of Long Island and southward
to Delaware Bay; Capt. John DeWitt sailed up
the North River and gave his name to one of the
islands near Red Hook ; while Hendrick Christian-
sen ascended that ^ream to Castle Island, a Uttle
below Albany, (which has long since become a part
of the main land,) where he established a trading
post, and, in 1615, built a small fort called Fort
Nassau, which, being damaged by the flood in
1 6 18, was removed a little below to the Norman's
Kill. Here a treaty of peace was formed between
the Five Nations and the representatives of New
Netherland, which remained inviolate so long
as the Dutch retained possession of the country.
A third fort was built at the mouth of Rondout
Kill, on the site of the city of Kingston, contempo-
rary with those at New Amsterdam and Castle
Island; but it was not until 1652 and 1653 that
any settlers took up land in that quarter.

Thus the colonization of New York may be said
to have fairly begun at three detached points along
the Hudson in 16 14; though, up to this time, and
for some years later, the energies of the Dutch were
directed more to commerce than colonization.
This was six years before the estabUshment of the
Plymouth Colony; sixteen years before Governor
Winthrop founded Boston ; twenty-one years before
the settlement of the Connecticut Valley was begun
by William Pynchon and his followers at Spring-
field, and Thomas Hooker and his band at Hart-
ford ; sixty-eight years before Penn concluded that
famous treaty with the Lenni-Lenape tribes, which
remained inviolate during his life-time ; and sixty-
nine years before the founding of Philadelphia by
the same admirable man.

The Dutch establishment at New Amsterdam
increased, and the fur trade became so profitable
that at the expiration of their charter, the States
General refused to renew it, giving instead a tem-
porary license for its continuance. It had become
sufiiciently attractive to tempt the avarice of English
capitalists. In 1620, James I. granted all the ter-
ritory between the 40th and 48th degrees north
latitude, extending from ocean to ocean, to Ferdi-
nando Georges and his commercial associates, and
in their interest Capt. Dermer appeared at Man-
hattaft and laid claim to all the territory occupied
by the Dutch, This claim was strengthened by

instructions to the English ambassador at the Dutch
capital to remonstrate against Dutch intrusion.
Notwithstanding this remonstrance, however, June
3, 1621, the States General chartered the Dutch
West India Company, an armed mercantile associa-
tion "designed to co-operate in extending national
commerce, in promoting colonization, in crushing
piracy, but, above all, in humbling the pride and
might of Spain," and gave them exclusive jurisdic-
tion for a period of twenty years over the province
of New Netherland, with power to appoint govern-
ors, subject to the ajjprovalof the State, to colonize
the territory, and administer justice.

By virtue of this charter the company took pos-
session of New Amsterdam in i622-'3. The exec-
utive management was entrusted to a board of
directors, distributed through five separate cham-
bers in Holland. The charge of the province
devolved on the Amsterdam chamber, which, in
1623, sent out a vessel under the direction of Capt.
CorneUssen Jacobson and Adriaen Jorissen Tien-
pont, with thirty famihes, most of whom were in
the company's service, for colonization. A portion
of these settled on the Connecticut ; others on the
Hudson, at Albany, where, in 1624, they built Fort
Orange ; and the remainder on the Delaware, near
Gloucester, where, the same year, (1624,) Fort
Nassau was built. This was the first settlement on
the Delaware. In May, 1626, Peter Minuit arrived
in New Netherland as Director General or Gover-
nor of the Province.

No systematic attempt was made to promote
colonization until 1628. March 28th of that year,
the "Assembly of XIX." referred to a committee
for examination, the draft of a "charter of privi-
leges and exemptions," which, after revision and
amendment, was agreed to June 7, 1629. This
secured certain privileges to patroons, masters and
individuals who planted colonies in ffew Nether-
land under its provisions, and "transplanted to the
free soil of America the feudal tenure and feudal
burdens of continental Europe."* " While it secured
the right of the Indian to the soil," says Moulton,
"and enjoined schools and churches, it scattered
the seeds of servitude, slavery and aristocracy.
While it gave to freemen as much land as they
could cultivate, and exempted colonists from taxa-
tion for ten years, it fettered agriculture by restrict-
ing commerce and prohibiting manufacture."

But the very provisions of this charter defeated
the object of its projectors. The patroons who
acquired titles to lands under it, were not less ea^er

*HUiory of New Netherland I., uo.



than the Dutch West India Company to drive a
profitable trade with the natives. They were, in-
deed, directors of that company, which, though it
introduced a few settlers, offered few inducements
to them to remain. Up to 1633, the company,
though its estabUshment gave it more of the charac-
ter of an independent sovereignty than a chartered
mercantile society, had scarcely secured a solitary
agricultural settler to fell the forest or reclaim the
wilderness. Had they been disposed even to make
colonization their chief object, the jealousy en-
gendered between the company and the patroons
would have neutralized their efforts in that direc-
tion ; for each accused the other of having en-
croached upon its special privileges, and the con-
sequence was fatal to the prosperity of the country.
The spirit of monopoly which breathed throughout
that charter, discouraged private enterprise and
industry, so that individuals who were inclined
to em'grate abandoned their design "and durst
venture nothing." In these elements lay the weak-
ness of the Dutch colony; and in'them it is prob-
able, we may trace its ready submission to the
supplanter in 1664. While the Enghsh colonists
sought this country for the purpose of estabUshing
homes, the Dutch were only desirous of avaiUng
themselves of the profitable trade with the natives,
and while the former were becoming thrifty and
populous through agricultural enterprises, the latter,
after fifteen years' operations by the company,
were decreasing in number, and the wide extent of
territory claimed by the Dutch government, was
"removed scarcely a degree from its primitive state
of wilderness, uninhabited, except by a few traders
and clerks in the employ of a distant corporation,
its rich and luxuriant soil almost wholly uncultivat-
ed and unreclaimed, for the number of farms as
yet amounted to not much more than half a dozen
around Fort Amsterdam, and the same number
around Fort Orange. It afforded evidence every-
where of mismanagement."*

The States General saw the error and, though
late, endeavored to apply the remedy. It was at
this critical juncture that William Kieft assumed
the duties of Director General of the Province,
arriving at Manhattan, March 28, 1638. The
monopoly of the West India Company was abolish-
ed in 1638, and the privilege of trade, as well as
the cultivation of the soil, was extended to all un-
der certain regulations and restrictions. Emigra-
tion was encouraged by liberal assistance rendered
those who chose to avail themselves of its benefits.

"History of New Neiherland /, 157, '77. 178.

These measures stimulated individual enterprise,
and increased the population. They attracted
" whole towns " from New England, who sought to
" escape from the unsupportable government " of
that province, and the religious persecutions -which
the intollerant majority inflicted on the minority.

But these advantages were not without their at-
tendant evils. They offered temptations to the
avaricious and unscrupulous fur traders, who insin-
uated themselves among the Indians in their re-
mote villages, to faciUtate the pursuit of their
vocation ; and provoked collisions between the
natives and the scattered Dutch planters, whose
unguarded cattle destroyed their unprotected corn-
fields. These encroachments, added to the harsh
and inconsiderate measures of Director Kieft, who
also, under instructions from certain of the Dutch
authorities, attempted to make the natives pay
tribute in corn, furs or wampum, for the pretend-
ed protection afforded them by the construction of
forts and maintainance of an armed force, soon
provoked the just resentment of the Indians, with
whom they had hitherto Uved on amicable terms,
and involved the colonists in a war with the
latter which continued, with some interruptions,
during the remainder of the Dutch occupancy,
and jeopardized the very existence of the colony.

These hostilities, which ravaged with merciless
hand the settlements about New Amsterdam and
in Ulster county, have only an indirect reference to
this county, which had not a single white settler
during the whole period of Dutch occupancy.
They involved, however, to some extent the native
tribes. In August, 1643, the Wappingers, with
whom the Dutch had had no dispute, were the
first to break the peace concluded April 22 of that
year, a peace suggested by the necessities of the
Indians, and gladly assented to by Director Kieft,
who was smarting under the humiliating reproaches
of his countrymen, whom his indiscretion and
cruelty had outraged. They attacked an open
boat, laden with four hundred beaver skins, en route
from Fort Orange to the Manhattans, and murdered
one of the crew. The booty thus acquired tempt-
ed others to make similar attacks on two other
boats, which were also overpowered; but in the
attempt to surprise a fourth the savages were re-
pulsed with a loss of six men. Nine white people
lost their lives in these encounters, and a woman
and two children were made captives. Numbers
of others were murdered about this time by Indians,
who came under the guise of friendship ostensibly
to warn the settlers of approaching danger.



Neither the Mahicans nor Wappingers took any
general part in the Esopus wars though nine of
the latter aided the Esopus Indians in the second
Esopus war. Both tribes were, however, repre-
sented by their chiefs in the intercessions with the
Dutch, in behalf of the Esopus Indians, and
participated in the negotiations by which those
wars were terminated. It was also a Wappinger
Indian who guided Capt. Krygier's forces in the
expedition which "virtually annihilated" the Esopus
Indians in 1663, and it was through the friendly offi-
ces of a Wappinger chief that some of the captives
taken by the Indians in the attack on Wiltwyck,
June 7, 1663, were restored. At a treaty of peace
concluded with certain tribes of the River Indians
March 6, 1660, by Peter Stuyvesant, the last of
the Dutch governors of New Amsterdam, who suc-
ceeded Director Kieft in that office, March 1 1, 1647,
Goethals, a Wappinger chief, " requested that the
Esopus savages should be included in the treaty."
But a treaty of peace with the latter was not
concluded till July 15, 1660. Eskryas alias Apie
and Ampumst represented the Mahicans, and
Isseschahya and Wisachganio, the Wappingers.

June 7, 1663, the Esopus Indians^ who, by an
unusual manifestation of friendship, had gained
the confidence of the inhabitants of the village of
Wiltwyck, (now Kingston,) made a sudden attack
on that village while the male portion of its inhab-
itants were at work in the fields. Twelve houses
were burned, and, with the exception of a new
uncovered barn, not a building was left standing
in the " new village." The loss in both villages
(Kingston and Hurley) was twenty-four killed,
eight severely wounded, and seventy missing, forty-
five of the latter of whom, principally women and
children, were taken into captivity, though most
of them were recaptured or ransomed.

A month after the occurrence of this tragedy,
(July 7, 1663,) two Wappinger Indians arrived at
the beleaguered fort at Wiltwyck with a deer and
some fish. Being distrusted, they were detained.
The next day five others came to inquire after
their brethren. Being assured that no harm should
befall them if they were friendly, they retired.
The elder of the two told the commandant the
same day that a party of twenty-eight Esopus
Indians (eight men, nine women and eleven child-
ren,) were living "back of Magdalen Island on
the main land in the rear of a cripple bush on the
east^side of Fort Orange riv er."* On the evening

* Magdalen Island is opposite the town of Red Hook, between the
upper and lower landing— Tivoli and Barrytown ; hence this incident
transpired In Red Hook.

of the ninth Sergeant Christian Niessen and Peter
Wolfertsen (Van Couwenhoven) with twenty sol-
diers and twelve Indians, were sent under the
guidance of the elder Wappinger Indian to sur-
prise them. The guide "led them astray and
missed the houses," thus preventing a surprise;
but they returned on the twelfth, having killed five
men and a woman, including the Esopus captain,
( Weldoverste,) whose hand they cut off and
brought with them. They routed the rest, and
plundered their huts, and brought back with them
a squaw and three children whom they captured,
and " nineteen blankets, nine kettles, a lot of
sewan and four muskets " as booty.

Efforts ensued to effect the release of the cap-

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 9 of 125)