Richard Mather Bayles.

History of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time online

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Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 9 of 72)
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September 1680 Sarah whittman Ptf William Britton Deft, in
A Action of the Case to the valew of 4. 10s. 6 d. The Caus
depending Betwixt the Ptf and Deft hath Bin heard and for
want of farther proof the Caus is Referred till the next Court.
Sarah Whittman Ptf
William Briten Deft

At A Court held on Staton Island by the Constabll and over-
sears of the seam on this present Munday Being the 3 day of
October 1680 the Court ordereth that the Deft shall seat (set) up
and geett (get?) forty panell of soefisiont (sufficient) fence for the
yous (use) of Sarah whitman at or Be foor the first of november
next in sewing (ensuing) with Cost of sewt.

The regulation of the sale of intoxicating liquors received the
early attention of the government, and the following rates were
established throughout the province, which "tapsters" were
allowed to charge : French wines, Is. 3d. per quart; Fayal wines
and St. George's. Is. 6d. ; Madeira wines and Portaport, Is.
10d.; Canaryes and Malaga, 2s. per quart ; brandy, 6d. per gill;
rum, 3d per gill ; syder, 4d. per quart ; double beere, 3d. per
quart ; meals at wine-houses, Is.; at beere-houses, 8d.; lodgings
at wine-houses, 4d. per night; at beere-houses, 3d.

In 1668, Nicolls, by his own request, was relieved of the
government of the province, and was succeeded by Colonel
Francis Lovelace. Thomas Lovelace, whose official signature is
appended to so many of the old documents connected with the
conveyance of property on Staten Island, and otherwise, and
who at one time was sheriff of the county, was a brother to the


governor, and a member of his council ; there was also another
brother, named Dudley, likewise a member of the council. The
record of the administration of this governor contains many
acts of arbitrary ruling and disregard of the rights of the com-
mon people. His theory of the proper way to hold a people in
submission appears in a letter written by himself to a friend, to
have been by imposing "such taxes on them as may not give
them liberty to entertain any other thoughts but how to dis-
charge them."

Governor Lovelace, it is said, owned a plantation on Sraten
Island, on which he built a mill for grinding cereals. One of
the prominent acts of his administration was the re-purchase
and final extinction of the Indian claim to the island. This was
consummated on the 13th of April, 1670. This act has been
termed "the most memorable" of his administration, and the
island was described as "the most commodiousest seate and
richestland " in America. The year previous, the principal sa-
chem had confirmed the former bargains made with the English,
but several other inferior sachems now presented their claims,
insisting that they were the owners. To quiet them, a new
bargain was made ; they executed another deed and possession
was given by " turf and twigg." This was the last sale made
by the Indians. They reserved two sorts of wood, however,
and within the memory of the people now living, small parties
of Indians, at long intervals have visited the island, and ex-
ercised their reserved right of cutting such wood as they re-
quired for the purpose of making baskets.

The original Indian deed is still in existence. Its preamble
cites that it was made "between Francis Lovelace, Governor-
General under James, Duke of York and Albany, etc., and the
Indians Aquepo, Warrines, Minqua, Sachemack, Permantowes,
Qurvequeen, Wewaneca, Oneck and Mataris, on behalf of
theirselves, as the true owners and lawful Indians, proprietors
of Staten Island." The conveyance was executed by the affix-
ing of the hands and seals of all the parties and the attesting
witnesses as follows: Couns. Steenwick, Maijor Tho. Lovelace,
C. V. Reinjven, Oloff Steven Y. Cortland, Allard Anthony,
Johannes Vamburgh, Gerrit Van Tright, J. Bedlow, Warn
Wessols, Constapel, William Nicolls, Humph' y Davenport,
Cornells Bedloo, Nicholas Antony.

The Indians were to have the privilege of remaining until the


following May, when they were to surrender the island to such
persons as the governor should appoint to receive it. This was
accordingly done on the first day of May, Thomas Lovelace and
Matthias Xicolls having been deputed by the governor to
receive the transfer of possession from the Indians.

The conveyance also contained the following two paragraphs
which are of sufficient interest to warrant copying :

"The payment agreed upon for ye purchase of Staten Island,
conveyed this day by ye Indian Sachems, propriet's is (vizt.):

I, Foure hundred Fathoms of Wampum ; 2, Thirty Match
Boots; 3, Eight Coates of Durens, made up; 4, Thirty Shirts;
5, Thirty Kettles ; 6. Twenty Gunnes ; 7, A Firkin of Powder ;
8, Sixty Barres of Lead ; 9, Thirty Axes ; 10, Thirty Howes ;

II, Fifty Knives."

"It was further covenanted that two or three of the said
Sachems, their heirs or successors, or persons employed by
them, should once in every year, the first day of May, after
their surrender, repair to the fort, and acknowledge their sale
to the Governor, and continue in mutual friendship."

The latter paragraph appears as an endorsed memorandum,
with the signature of Francis Lovelace attached to it.

Several young Indians were not present at the time the above
conveyance was made, accordingly, in order to secure their firm
understanding and approval it was again delivered on the 25th
of April, and in their presence. They made their marks upon
it as witnesses. The names of those who thus subscribed were
" Pewovvahone, about 5 yeares old, a boy; Pokoques, about
8 yeares old, a girle ; Shirjuirneho, about 12 yeares old,
a girle ; Kanarekante, about 12 yeares old, a girle ; Mahquadus,
about 15 yeares old, a young man ; Ashehanewes, about 20
yeares old, a young man."

This was the final sale of the island by the Indians, and we
have no knowledge of any claim ever being made by them to its
soil from that time forward to the present. It has already been
said that the Indians were always ready to sell the island. In
1636 they sold it to Michael Pauw ; shortly after they sold a
part to David Pietersen de Vries ; in 1641 to Cornelis Melyn ;
in 1657 to Baron Van Cappelan, and in 1670 to Governor Love.
lace. To this last sale they were obliged to adhere ; there was
probably more ceremony about it. which rendered the transac-
tion more impressive. In delivering possession, they presented


a sod and a shrub or branch of every kind of tree which grew
upon the island, except the ash and elder (some say ash and

The administration of Governor Lovelace was brought to an
unexpected end by the surrender of the colony to its former
masters, the Dutch. Rumors of anticipated troubles in Europe
reached America, and Lovelace immediately began to make
preparations for the worst, so far as his means permitted ; he
strengthened the defenses of the fort, organized several military
companies in the metropolis, and other places in the province,
repaired arms and laid in a large quantity of ammunition and
other warlike stores. In April, 1672. England and France de-
clared war against Holland ; in Europe, the war was chiefly
naval, and the English and French fleets suffered severely at the
hands of De Ruyter and Tromp. On the 7th day of August,
1673, a Dutch fleet of twenty-three vessels arrived in JS"ew York
bay, and anchored under Staten Island. Soon after their arrival
they made a raid upon the plantation of Lovelace, and carried
off sufficient cattle and sheep to make a breakfast for the 1,600
men on board the ships of the fleet. This arrival produced the
greatest consternation in the city and neighboring villages.
Lovelace himself was absent from the city at the time, and
when the demand was made for the surrender of the fort, it was
yielded without the firing of a gun. Captain Manning, the
commandant of the fort, was afterward tried for treachery and
cowardice, and sentenced to have his sword broken over his head.

The conquest having been consummated Anthony Colve was
immediately appointed governor of the colony, and at once
commenced the work of obtaining the submission of the people
to his authority, and reorganizing the government according to
his own notions. But the Dutch rule was of short duration.
On the 9th of February. 1874, peace was concluded between
England and the states general, by the treaty of Westminister,
and according to its terms the colony reverted to the English.
Major Edmond Andros, of Prince Rupert's dragoon regiment,
which had been disbanded, was selected as the proper person to
proceed to America and receive the province from the Dutch.
Armed with the proper authority from the Dutch government,
which had been furnished at the request of the English king,
he arrived in the Diamond frigate in October, 1674, and an-
chored under Staten Island. A correspondence was at once


opened between him and Colve, which resulted in a surrender
of the province on the 10th day of that month.

Andros having received his commission as governor, caused
the oath of allegiance to be administered to the people ; the
English government was once more established, and so con-
tinued for a century thereafter. The Duke of York, apprehen-
sive that the validity of his title might be called in question, in
consequence of the province having been in the possession of
a foreign power, received a new patent from the king.

Andros having been recalled, Brockholst administered the
government until the arrival of Colonel Thomas Dongan, who,,
though commissioned September 30th, 1682, did not arrive
until the 25th of the following August. He was a professed
papist, but is said to have been a "wiser man than a master."
The people of Staten Island are more directly interested in him
than in any other governor of the province under either nation-
ality ; having the whole country before him, from which to
select his residence, he made choice of Staten Island, and the
evidences of his residence here are still, in some measure, per-

Let us pause in our narrative for a brief space, to take
a view of the condition of the island at this early period.
The first dwelling houses erected on the island after the
removal of the Walloons to Long Island, were in the
vicinity of the Narrows, or between that and Old Town,
which is so called, probably, from that circumstance, and
were not more than five or six in number. There was
one, probably, at the extreme south end, and one or two at
Fresh kill. Subsequently, in 1651, when the Waldenses arrived,
and, after them, the Huguenots, the settlements at Old Town
and Fresh kill received accessions. Before their arrival there
were no roads, except, perhaps, foot-paths through the forest,
between the two last-mentioned localities ; there was no need
of any, for the intercourse of the islanders was with New Am-
sterdam. After the settlements at Old Town and Fresh kill
had received accessions, intercourse between them became more
frequent, and, in due course of time, the road from the one to
the other was constructed ; particularly after the Waldenses
had built their church at Stony Brook, and the Huguenots
their at Fresh kill.

The houses were built in clusters, or hamlets, for convenience



in mutual defense and protection. Tradition says that one of
the first dwellings on the island was situated on the heights at
New Brighton, and was constructed of bricks imported from
Holland, and occupied, for a time at least, by a prominent of-
ficial of the government. If there is any truth in the tradition,
the house was, probably, the residence of de Yries, who, feel-
ing secure in the friendship of the Indians, ventured to erect
his dwelling in that beautiful, but remote, locality. That the
builder's confidence in the Indians was not misplaced, the same
tradition further says that, in 1655, when the great Indian war
broke out, and the island was nearly depopulated, this house
and its occupants were spared. In the latter part of the last
century, and in the beginning of the present, all the territory
embraced in the first, and most of the second wards of the
present village of New Brighton constituted farms owned by the
families of the VanBuskirks, Crocherons and Vreelands ; these
farms extended from the kills one mile into the country. Abra-
ham Crocherou, the owner of one of them, erected a grist mill
in the valley east of Jersey street, relying for a supply of water
on the spring now known as the Hessian spring ; but this
not proving sufficient, he converted his grist mill into a snuff
mill, for which the supply was abundant. About the same time
Captain Thomas Lawrence built a distillery on a small wharf
which now forms a part of the present large New Brighton
wharf. Long before this part of the island was patented to any
individual, and laid out into farms, and while it was yet covered
with the original forests, there was a deep ravine, extending
from the spring mentioned above to the kills, into which the
tide ebbed and flowed, and which, in the days of the Dutch and
early English governors, afforded a place of concealment for
the smugglers who infested the coast. The face of the country
has now become materially changed, by cutting down the hills
and filling up the valleys.

In process of time, as settlers arrived, they located along the
shores, and roads became a necessity ; these at first were con-
structed along the shores, until at length cross roads for con-
venience of communication between the several settlements were
constructed. Some of these old roads have been closed, and the
Clove road is 'the only original one now left.

In regard to the character of the early settlers, a writer of
that century said : ; 'As to their wealth and disposition thereto,


so high, no one will live there, the creeks and rivers being so
serviceable to them in enabling them to go to the city, and
for fishing and catching oysters, and for being near the salt
meadow. The woods are nsed for pasturing horses and cattle,
for, being an island, none of them can get off. Each person
has marks upon his own by which he can find them when he
wants them. When the population shall increase, these
places will be taken up. Game of all kinds is plenty, and
twenty-five or thirty deer are sometimes seen in a herd. A
boy who came in a house where we were, told us he had shot
ten the last winter himself, and more than forty in his life,
and in the same manner other game. We tasted here the
best grapes. There are now about 100 families on the Island,
of which the English constitute the least portion, and the
Dutch and French divide between them about equally the
greater portion. They have neither church nor minister, and
live rather far from each other, and inconveniently to meet
together. The English are less disposed to religion, and inquire
little after it; but in case there was a minister, would contribute
to his support. The French and Dutch are very desirous and
eager for one, for they spoke of it wherever we went. The
French are good Reformed church-men, and some of them are
Walloons. The Dutch are also from different quarters. We
reached the Island, as I have said, about 9 o'clock, directly
opposite Gouanes, not far from the watering-place. We pro-
ceeded southwardly along the shore of the highland on
the east end, where it was sometimes stony and rocky, and
sometimes sandy, supplied with fine constantly flowing springs,
with which at times we quenched our thirst.

" We had now come nearly to the furthest point on the south-
east, behind which I had observed several houses when we came
in with the ship. We had also made inquiry as to the villages
through which we would have to pass, and they told us the
' Oude Dorp ' would be the first one we would come to; but my
comrade finding the point very rocky and difficult, and believ-
ing the village was inland, and as we discovered no path to
follow, we determined to clamber to the top of this steep bluff,
through the bushes and thickets, which we accomplished with
great difficulty and in a perspiration. We found as little of a
road above as below, and nothing but woods, through which no
one could see. There appeared to be a little foot-path along


the edge, which I followed a short distance to the side of the
point, but my companion calling me, and saying that he thought
we had certainly passed by the road to the Oude Dorp, and
observing myself that the little path led down to the point, I
returned again, and we followed it the other way, which led us
back to the place where we started. We supposed we ought
to go from the shore to find the road to Oude Dorp, and seeing
here these slight tracks into the woods, \ve followed them as far
as we could, till at last they ran to nothing else than dry

" Having wandered an hour or more in the woods, now in a
hollow and then over a hill, at one time through a swamp, at
another across a brook, without finding any road or path, we
entirely lost the way. We could see nothing but the sky
through the thick branches of the trees over our heads, and we
thought it best to break out of the woods entirely and regain
the shore. I had taken an observation of the shore and point,
having been able to look at the sun, which shone extraordi-
narily hot in the thick woods, without the least breath of air
stirring. We made our way at last, as well as we could, out
of the woods, and struck the shore a quarter of an hour's
distance from where we began to climb up. We were rejoiced,
as there was a house not far from the place where we came
out. We went to it to see if we could find any one who
would show us the way a little. There was no master in it,
but an English woman with negroes and servants. We first
asked her as to the road, and then for something to drink,
and also for some one to show us the road, but she refused
the last, although we were willing to pay for it; she was
a cross woman. She said she had never been at the village, and
her folks must work, and we would certainly have to go away
as wise as we came. She said, however, we must follow the
shore, as we did. We went now over the rocky point, which
we were no sooner over than we saw a pretty little sand bay,
and a small creek, and not far from there, cattle and houses.
We also saw the point from which the little path led from the
hill above, where I was when my comrade called me. We
would not have had more than three hundred steps to go to
have been where we now were. It was very hot, and we per-
spired a great deal. We went on to the little creek to sit
down and rest ourselves there, and to cool our feet, and


then proceeded to the houses which constituted the Onde
Dorp. It was now about two o'clock. There were seven
houses, but only three in which anybody lived. The others
were abandoned, and their owners gone to live on better places
on the Island, because the ground around this village was
worn out and barren, and also too limited for their use. We
went into the first house, which was inhabited by English,
and there rested ourselves and eat, and inquired further after
the road; the woman was cross, and her husband not much
better. We had to pay here for what we eat, which we have
not done before. We paid three guilders in seewan, although
we only drank water. We proceeded by a tolerable good road
to Nienwe Dorp, but as the road ran continually in the woods
we got astray again in them. It was dark, and we were com-
pelled to break our way out through the woods and thickets,
and we went a great distance before we succeeded, when it was
almost entirely dark. We saw a house at a distance to which
we directed ourselves across the bushes; it was the first house
of the Nieuwe Dorp. We found there an Englishman who
could speak Dutch, and who received us very cordially into his
house, where we had as good as he and his wife had. She was a
Dutch woman from the Manhatans, who was glad to have us in
her house,

"12^, Thursday. Although we had not slept well, we had
to resume our journey with the day. The man where we slept
set us on the road. We had no more villages to go to, but went
from one plantation to another, for the most part belonging to
French, who showed us every kindness because we conversed
with them in French.

" About one-third of the distance from the south side to the
west end is still all woods, and is very little visited. We had
to go along the shore, finding sometimes fine creeks well pro-
vided with wild turkeys, geese, ^snipes and wood-hens. Lying-
rotting on the shore were thousands of fish called marsbaucken,
which are about the size of a common carp. These fish swim
close together in large schools, and are pursued by other fish
so that they are forced upon the shore in order to avoid the
mouths of their enemies, and when the water falls they are left
to die, food for the eagles and other birds of prey. Proceeding
thus along, we came to the west point, where an Englishman
lived alone, some distance from the road. We ate something


here, and he gave us the consolation that we would have a very
bad road for two or three hours ahead, which indeed we experi-
enced, for there was neither path nor road. He showed us as
well as he could. There was a large creek to cross which ran
very far into the land, and when we got on the other side of it
we must, he said, go outward along the shore. After we had
gone a piece of the way through the woods, we came to a valley
with a brook running through it, which we took to be the creek
or the end of it. We turned around it as short as we could, in
order to go back again to the shore, which we reached after
wandering a long time over hill and dale, when we saw the
creek, which we supposed we had crossed, now just before us.
We followed the side of it deep into the woods, and when we
arrived at the end of it saw no path along the other side to get
outwards again, but the road ran into, the woods in order to cut
off a point of the hills and land. We pursued this road for
some time, but saw no mode of getting out, and that it led fur-
ther and further from the creek. We therefore left the road,
and went across through the bushes, so as to reach the shore by
the nearest route according to our calculation. After continu-
ing this course about an hour, we saw at a distance a miserably
constructed tabernacle of pieces of wood covered with brush,
all open in front, and where we thought there were Indians,
but on coming up to it we found in it an Englishman sick, and
his wife and child lying upon some bushes by a little tire. We
asked him if he was sick ? ' I have been sick over two months,'
he replied. It made my heart sore, indeed, for I never, in all
my life, saw such poverty, and that, too, in the middle of the
woods and wilderness. After we had obtained some informa-
tion as to the way, we went on, and had not gone far before we
came to another house, and thus from one farm to another,
French, Dutch, and a few English, so that we had not wandered
very far out of the way. We inquired, at each house, the way
to the next one. Shortly before evening we arrived at the
plantation of a Frenchman, whom they called La Chaudrounier,
who was formerly a soldier under the Prince of Orange, and had
served in Brazil. He was so delighted, and held on to us so
hard, that we remained and spent the night with him.

" 13th, Friday. We pursued our journey this morning from
plantation to plantation, the same as yesterday, until we came
to that of Pierre Gardinier, who had been in the service of the


Prince of Orange, and had known him well. He had a large
family of children and grand-children. He was about seventy
years of age, and was still as fresh and active as a young per-
son. He was so glad to see strangers who conversed with him
in the French language that he leaped with joy. After we had
breakfasted here, they told us that we had another large creek
to pass called the Fresh Kill, and then we could perhaps be set
across the Kill Van Koll to the point of Mill Creek, where we
might wait for a boat to convey us to the Manhatans. The road
was long and difficult, and we asked for a guide, but he had no
one, in consequence of several of his children being sick. At
last he determined to go himself, and accordingly carried us
in his canoe over to the point of Mill Creek in New Jersey, be-

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 9 of 72)