Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter 10

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Dutch and Quaker Colonies
in America

John Fiske

published by
Houghton, Mifflin and Company
Boston and New York, 1903

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter 12
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. II
Chapter XI
New York in the Year 1680

Late in the autumn of 1680 the good people of Manhattan were overcome with terror at a sight in the heavens such as has seldom greeted human eyes. An enormous comet, perhaps the most magnificent one on record, suddenly made its appearance.​a At first it was tailless and dim, like a nebulous cloud, but at the end of a week the tail began to show itself and in a second week had attained a length of 30 degrees; in the third week it extended to 70 degrees, while the whole mass was growing brighter. After five weeks it seemed to be absorbed into the intense glare of the sun, but in four days more it reappeared like a blazing sun itself in the throes of some giant convulsion and threw out a tail in the opposite direction as far as the whole distance between the sun and the earth. Sir Isaac Newton, who was then at work upon the mighty problems soon to be published to the world in his "Principia," welcomed this strange visitor as affording him a beautiful instance for testing the truth of his new theory of gravitation.​1 But most people throughout the civilized world, the learned as well as the multitude, feared that the end of all things was at hand. Every church in Europe, from the grandest cathedral to the humblest chapel, resounded with supplications, and in the province of New York a day of fasting and humiliation was appointed, in order that the wrath of God might be assuaged. Let us take a brief survey of the little city on Manhattan Island, upon which Newton's comet looked down, while Dominie Nieuwenhuysen and Dominie Frazius were busy with prayers to avert the direful omen.

 p60  To a visitor sailing up the harbour the most conspicuous objects would have been Fort James, standing on the present Battery and mounting forty-seven guns, and a little to the west of it the principal town windmill.​2 On the other side, near the present South Ferry, scarcely less conspicuous, was the stone Government House, built by Stuyvesant, the name of which was afterward changed by Governor Dongan to Whitehall. Hard by was the governor's dwelling-house. Going up Whitehall Street, one would espy the warehouse and bakery that had once belonged to the West India Company, and the brewery, convenient for governor and dominie. Near it stood the Dutch parsonage with its quaint flower-beds gorgeous in colours and bordered with closely trimmed box. Coming to the Bowling Green, the belfry of Kieft's church of St. Nicholas would be seen peering over the walls of the fort at the graveyard on the west side of Broadway. Just north of the wall stood the town pump. Stepping back to Whitehall and turning eastward, we come upon the jail and the stocks. Pearl Street, the oldest in the city, was then the river bank, and was often called Waterside or the Strand, but the old name has prevailed, which is said to have been given it from the abundant heaps of oyster-shells, highly prized for the excellence of their lime. The quaint Dutch houses, with their gables and weathercocks and small-pane dormer windows, were built of bricks baked in Holland, cemented with mortar made from this lime. They retained the high stoop (stoep, i.e. steps), which in the Fatherland raised the best rooms above the risk of inundation, and thus bequeathed to modern New York one of its most distinctive architectural features.

From Pearl Street in a gentle curve ran northward to the city wall a street most suggestive of Holland, with a stream flowing through its centre diked on both sides like a Dutch  p61 canal. This was rightly called Broad Street, for it was seventy-two feet in width. Its canal was spanned by several wooden foot-bridges and one "for cattell and waggons." At about this time which our narrative has reached, Governor Andros had the canal effaced and the road built solidly over it, and from that day to this the stream has continued to flow under Broad Street, doing duty as a sewer.​3 Two spacious docks were then built at the foot of the street, between the jail and Whitehall, which greatly increased the facilities for shipping. Walking up Pearl Street as far as the present No. 73, opposite Coenties Slip, one would come upon the old Stadt Huys, which served as a city hall until 1699, when a new one was built on Wall Street, facing the head of Broad. In that new City Hall the eccentric Charles Lee​b spent the year 1777 as a prisoner, and on its balcony in 1789, the object of his jealous hatred, George Washington, was inaugurated President of the United States.

Where Pearl Street crossed Wall, there was the Water  p62 Gate through the tall palisadoed structure. A little below, the burgher's battery of ten guns frowned upon the river; just at the gate was a demi-lune called the Fly (V'lei) blockhouse; and a short distance above stood the slaughter-houses, which Andros had banished from the city. Proceeding northward, we enter a bright green marshy valley drained by a brook, where groups of laughing women might be seen washing clothes, as one often sees them to‑day in France. The brook and the verdure have long since departed, but the brookside path still keeps the name of Maiden Lane. On the East River, at the foot of this path, is a busy blacksmith's forge, from which the valley is known as Smit's Vallei, shortened in common parlance to V'lei. A few steps above the smithery bring us to the site of Peck Slip, where a boat is moored to a tree growing on the bank. A horn hangs upon this tree, and if we take it down and blow, a farmer will emerge from his house near by and ferry us over to Brooklyn for three stivers in wampum, or about six cents in our modern reckoning. But we will leave the horn unsounded, for after a brief visit to Isaac Allerton's big tobacco warehouse, between the present Cliff Street and Fulton Ferry, we must walk through Shoemakers' Land. Until 1676 the tanneries were on Broad Street, but Andros then declared them a nuisance and ordered them out of the city; whereupon their owners bought the land now enclosed between Broadway, Ann, Gold, and John streets, and did there tan hides and make boots. After twenty years this odorous business was moved a little further north, to Beekman's Swamp, which has remained for two centuries the principal home of the city's leather trade.

From the western border of Shoemakers' Land a southward walk on Broadway outside the wall, a country road among woods and fields, brings us down to the Land Gate. Of peril from savage foes or from wild beasts in this open country, not much was to be apprehended in 1678, although  p63 the young parson Wolley tells with much unction of the part which he took in a bear hunt near Maiden Lane. But the military defences were kept up and increased until the end of the century, chiefly in view of possible danger from France. At the Land Gate (Broadway and Wall Street) a large stone salient was added, mounting several guns, and known by the name "Hollandia;" while a similar structure, called "Zelandia," stood where Wall was crossed by King (now William) Street. The site of Greenwich Street was then a long steep bluff with its base washed by the North River, and presently the wall was continued and carried southward, crowning the bluff and reinforced by three stout bastions, until it reached Fort James. There were no buildings of note west of Broadway except the Lutheran church and parsonage, near the Land Gate.

Manhattan north of the city wall was an undulating woodland, with many rocky hills and considerable areas of salt marshes partially drained by sluggish streams. In several favoured localities were flourishing boweries (Dutch bouweries, i.e. farms) with smiling orchards and gardens. The main thoroughfare started at the Land Gate as the northward extension of Broadway; at the site of Ann Street it was deflected eastward and followed the direction of Park Row and Chatham Street into the Bowery Lane, so called from Stuyvesant's country seat, which it passed. Walking northward from the point of deflection, one would have on the right hand Beekman's Swamp and on the left hand the grazing-ground long known as the Flats, then as the Common or the Fields, now as the City Hall Park. In time it came to supersede the Bowling Green as a place for great open-air assemblies; there it was, in 1774, that the youthful Alexander Hamilton, a student at King's College, began his public career, just a century after the first coming of Andros to govern New York. During those hundred years the changes of landscape in that neighbourhood were not great. The most notable feature was the large pond which covered the area now bounded by Baxter, White,  p64 Elm, Duane, and Park streets. Around the shores of this bright and sparkling sheet of water stood a village of Manhattan Indians before the white intruders came to their island. For Indians, Dutch, and English it was a bounti­ful reservoir of dainty fish, and in the winter it was the gay scene of skating parties. It was sometimes called the Fresh Water, sometimes the Collect, of which more anon. To the south of it was a much smaller pond known as the Little Collect, and on the narrow isthmus between, about at the present junction of Duane and Centre streets, the City Magazine or Powder House was built in 1728. There it has been supposed that the French fort of Norumbega may have stood in 1542, when it was visited by Jean Allefonsce.4

This deep and limpid lake, the Collect, was at the divide between the two watersheds into the East and North rivers. Its surface was at the level of a ridge of high land, from which, in the southeast and northwest directions, there ran two deep depressions, separating the lower end of Manhattan from the broader region above. These depressions were salt marshes. The easterly one, called Wolfert's Marsh, extended to the East River, and through it  p65 flowed the Old Kill on about the line of Roosevelt Street. The wayfarer on his way up from the city, just before reaching the brink of Wolfert's Marsh, might quench his thirst at a copious spring, called the Tea Water Pump, which remained famous until the middle of the nineteenth century. After passing this natural fountain, he would come to the descent into the marshy ravine, a descent so steep that the high road was constrained to make a sharp curve from the line of Park Row eastward through a bit of William and Pearl, and back again. After the descent, he would cross the Old Kill upon the Kissing Bridge, where, if he happened to be walking or driving with a lady companion, it was his privilege to kiss her. On the further  p66 side of the stream another sharp curve (the cause of the opening at Chatham Square) was made necessary by the abrupt ascent.​5 At the top of the hill stood Wolfert Webber's tavern, and a little beyond it a tall windmill built in 1662. In this neighbourhood were a few farms kept by free negroes. Some distance further out one would pass the ancient mile-stone, which still stands on the Bowery opposite Rivington Street, "on which, if it does not happen to be covered over with bills, one may still read the legend, 2 miles to City Hall."​6 Still further north, near the Ninth Street station of the Third Avenue elevated railroad, came the cluster of settlements known as the Bowery Village, founded by Stuyvesant on his own territory. There were the clanking smithery, the church where the town schoolmaster, Dominie Selyns, preached on Sundays, and the inn where good entertainment was furnished for man and beast.

About a mile above the Bowery Village, the road began to make its way over wild and rugged hills, with few traces of human occupation save at the well-kept farm of Jacob Kip, at that deep bight of the East River between Thirty-third and Thirty-seventh streets which is still known as Kip's bay. Kip's massive and stately house, which he built in 1655, being then secretary of New Netherland, was demolished in 1851, because it occupied the space where Thirty-fifth Street now crosses Second Avenue. After leaving this farm behind and proceeding for another half mile, one would come upon another indentation of the river, which the Dutch called Deutel (i.e. Wedge) Bay, a name which in English mouths soon became Turtle Bay. Into it, near the foot of Forty-seventh Street, emptied a brook which, from its sources near Ninth Avenue and Seventy-second Street, meandered across the island, leaving a modern vestige of itself in the lake near the Plaza in Central  p67 Park. Some of this brook's water was utilized in turning the wheels of Mynheer de Voor's grist-mill, whereby it was commonly known as Voor's Mill-stream. The bridge on which our high road was carried over it afforded our wayfarer a second opportunity for kissing the damsel beside him without fear of rebuke. Just above this bridge there stood for more than a century Old Cato's Inn, renowned for its suppers of fish and game. Nothing else do we encounter that calls for mention here until we arrive at the Flats, where the village of Harlem had reached a flourishing condition by 1660.

We may now return to the place where Broadway was deflected into Park Row, and thence take a fresh northward start on the other side of the Common, along the present line of Broadway. In the days of Andros this was merely a walk across the fields, but afterwards the prolongation of Broadway began as a ropewalk. By 1776 that thoroughfare, with the streets west of it, had been laid out and partially occupied with houses as far up as Reade Street. There the land descended into the great hollow through which flowed the Collect's western outlet down to the Hudson River. Its breadth was rather more than half a mile, from  p68 the line of Duane to that of Spring Street, which received its name from one of the rivulets which swelled the volume of the Groote (i.e. Great) Kill, as the main outlet was called. Up this Groote Kill the red men used to paddle their canoes laden with oysters, and from the heaps of shells on the shores of the point came the Dutch name Kolch Hoek (i.e. Shell Point), which the English corrupted into Collect. The wide region which the stream imperfectly drained was afterward long known as Lispenard's Meadows. Part of it was excellent grazing land, but it was largely swamp, with treacherous quagmires here and there in which cattle were engulfed. Its perils were illustrated by grewsome incidents, as when a puzzled pedestrian after night fall, losing his way where Greene Street now crosses Grand, stepped into a deep pool and was drowned. Through its insidious and spongy wastes, musical with bull-frogs, many a zealous angler made his way, while the fowler with his shot-gun was sure to find woodcock and snipe abounding. After 1730 the region was regarded as a lurking-place of miasma, and from time to time portions were filled in by dumping stones and earth. At length the whole space was filled up, while the Groote Kill was straightened and deepened and confined between plank walls, so as to become a canal in a street one hundred feet wide. Such was the origin of Canal Street. Early in the nineteenth century the city had come to envelop the beautiful Collect, which became a receptacle for rubbish and filth until it was voted a nuisance and obliterated. On a rising ground to the west of the water had formerly stood the gallows. In 1838, on a spot which had been in the central portion of the lake, was built the city prison, that noble but dismal specimen of Egyptian architecture commonly known as The Tombs.

On the bank of the North River, half a mile or so above the northern confines of Lispenard's Meadows, there was an interesting hamlet, at first accessible only by the river and afterward by foot-paths. It was originally an Indian  p69 village rejoicing in the name of Sappokanican, and occupied a very defensible position between the steep river bank and Minetta Brook, a stream which still flows in its old course, though no longer visible. Two rivulets, arising the one near the site of Calvary Church and the other at Sixth Avenue and Seventeenth Street, came together between Fifth and Sixth avenues a little below Twelfth Street. Their junction formed Minetta Brook, which, after curving eastward enough to touch Clinton Place, flowed across Washington Square and down into the North River, through a small swamp between Charlton and West Houston streets, known as Minetta Water. It was a clear swift brook abounding in trout, and its left bank was high and covered with dense forest. The space enclosed between its right bank and the North River (through the centre of which Christopher Street now runs) was a vast and smiling field, salubrious and fertile. Indian  p70 hamlets not unfrequently migrate with very little ado, and as to what became of Sappokanican we are not informed, but it is on record that Director Van Twiller procured it for his own behoof in 1633 and made it a tobacco plantation. It was known in his time as the Bossen Bouwerie (i.e. Forest Farm), and the quality of its tobacco was highly esteemed. By 1727 there was a flourishing village there and the English had begun to call it Greenwich. It was then connected with the city by a good road, nearly identical with Greenwich Street, crossing Lispenard's Meadows and the Minetta Water on causeways.

In the time of Andros, and long after, there was nothing on the west side of the island above Greenwich that calls for special mention in our narrative. Greenwich is mentioned, by its old Indian name, in the journal of the two Labadist emissaries, Jasper Dankers and Peter Sluyter, who visited New York in the autumn of 1679. They were representatives of a small sect of Mystics or Quietists lately founded by one Jean de Labadie. While their theology was mainly that of the Reformed Dutch Church, their aim was to restore sundry customs of primitive Christians, including community of goods. The result of this visit to New York was the grant of a large tract of land on Bohemia Manor, in Maryland, on which a company of Labadists settled in 1683.​7 The worthy brethren, Dankers and Sluyter, left an interesting journal of their visit, which was discovered a few years ago; and they made some quite artistic pencil sketches of the city withal, which are extremely precious as historical documents.​8 A few extracts from their diary will be found instructive.

The ancient custom of robbing innocent travellers for the gratification of thick-witted and sordid hucksters, which still  p71 prevails at the port of New York, was attended with more or less delay and personal inconvenience, as it is to‑day. If all the curses upon "protectionism" that have been wasted during two and a half centuries on those inhospitable docks could some day take effect and bury the foul iniquity deeper than Malebolge, what a gain for civilization it would be!

S'io avessi le rime aspre e chiocce,

Come si converrebbe al tristo buco!"​9

It would indeed take rhymes rough and hoarse to do justice to such a theme. The unvarnished tale of Messrs. Dankers and Sluyter has a familiar sound. Arriving in the harbour on Saturday evening, they were allowed to go ashore for Sunday and hear some New World preaching. On Monday morning "we went on board ship in order to obtain our travelling bag and clothes for the purpose of having them washed, but when we came on board we could not get ashore again before the afternoon, when the passengers' goods were to be delivered. All our goods which were between decks were taken ashore and carried to the public storehouse, where they had to be examined, but some time elapsed before it was done, in consequence of the examiners being elsewhere. At length, however, one Abraham Lennoy, a good fellow apparently, befriended us. He examined our chest only, without touching our bedding or anything else. I showed him a list of the tin which we had in the upper part of our chest, and he examined it and also the tin, and turned up a little more what was in the chest and with that left off, without looking at it closely. [A little shamefast wert thou then, worthy Lennoy, at the dirty work for which government hired thee? or, perchance, did a Labadist guilder or two, ever so gently slipped into thy palm, soften the asperities?] He demanded four English shillings for the tin, remarking at the same time that he had observed some other small articles, but would not examine them closely, though he had not seen either the box or the pieces  p72 of linen. This being finished, we sent our goods in a cart to our lodgings, paying for the two heavy chests and straw beds and other goods from the public storehouse to the Smit's Valey,º 16 stivers of zeawan (i.e. wampum), equal to 3½ stivers in the money of Holland. This finished the day, and we retired to rest. On Tuesday we remained at home for the purpose of writing, but in the afternoon, finding that many goods had been discharged from the ship, we went to look after our little package, which also came. I declared it, and it was examined. I had to pay 24 guilders in zeawan, or 5 guilders in the coin of Holland. I brought it to the house and looked the things all over, rejoicing that we were finally rid of that miserable set and the ship, the freight only remaining to be paid, which was fixed at 4 guilders in coin.

"As soon as we had dined we sent off our letters, and this being all accomplished we started at two o'clock for Long Island. . . . The water by which it is separated from the Manhattans is improperly called the East River, for it is nothing else than an arm of the sea, beginning in the Bay on the west and ending in the sea [i.e. the Sound] on the east. After forming in this passage several islands, this water is as broad before the city as the Y before Amsterdam,​10 but the ebb and flood tides are stronger. . . . We three crossed, my comrade and self, with Gerrit [ a fellow-passenger returning from Holland] for our guide, in a rowboat, which in good weather and tide carries a sail. When we had crossed . . . we went on up the hill along open roads slightly wooded, through the first village, called Breuckelen, which has an ugly little church standing in the middle of the road. Having passed through here, we struck off to the right in order to go to Gowanes. We went upon several plantations where Gerrit was acquainted with almost all the people, who made us very welcome, sharing  p73 with us bountifully whatever they had, whether milk, cider, fruit, or tobacco, and especially and most of all, miserable rum or brandy brought from Barbadoes and the other islands, and called by the Dutch kill-devil. All these people are very fond of it, most of them extravagantly so, although it is very dear and has a bad taste. It is impossible to tell how many peach trees we passed, all laden with fruit to breaking down, and many of them actually broken down. We came to a place surrounded with such trees from which so many had fallen off that the ground could not be discerned, and you could not put your foot down without trampling them, and notwithstanding such large quantities had fallen off, the trees were still as full as they could bear. The hogs and other animals mostly feed on them. This place belongs to the oldest European woman in the country. We went into her house where she lives with her children. She was sitting by the fire, smoking tobacco incessantly, one pipe after another. We inquired after her age, which the children told us was about a hundred years. . . . She had been about fifty years now in the country, and had above seventy children and grandchildren. We tasted here for the first time smoked twaelft [i.e. twelfth, meaning striped bass], a fish so called because it is caught in season next after the elft [i.e. eleventh, meaning shad]. It was salted a little then smoked, and although now a year old, it was still perfectly good and in flavour not inferior to smoked salmon. We drank here also the first new cider, which was very fine.

"We proceeded on to Gowanes, . . . where we arrived in the evening at one of the best friends of Gerrit, named Symon.​11 He was very glad to see us, and so was his wife. He took us into the house and entertained us exceedingly well. We found a good fire, half way  p74 up the chimney, of clear oak and hickory, of which they made not the least scruple of burning profusely. We let it penetrate us thoroughly. There had been already thrown upon it, to be roasted, a pailful of Gowanes oysters, which are the best in the country. They are quite as good as those of England, and better than those we ate at Falmouth. I had to try some of them raw. They are large and full, some of them not less than a foot long. . . . Everybody keeps the shells for the purpose of burning them into lime. They pickle the oysters in small casks, and send them to Barbadoes and the other islands. We had for supper a roasted haunch of venison, which he had bought of the Indians for 3½ guilders of zeawan [i.e. 15 cents] and which weighed 30 lbs. The meat was exceedingly tender and good, and also quite fat. It had a slight spicy flavour. We were also served with wild turkey, which was also fat and of a good flavour; and a wild goose, but that was rather dry. . . . We saw here, lying in a heap, a whole hill of watermelons as large as pumpkins, which Symon was going to take to the city to sell. . . . It was very late at night when we went to rest in a Kermis bed, as it is called,​12 in the corner of the hearth, alongside of a good fire."

Next morning, after their host and hostess had gone with their marketing to the city, our three friends made their way on foot to Najack (Fort Hamilton), where they came upon a great field of ripe maize, which their diary calls "Turkish wheat."​c The epithet is interesting as a survival from the time when America was supposed to be Asia. Just as the American bird which in French is called "Indian fowl" is called in English a "turkey," so this "Turkish wheat" is only another name for "Indian corn."  p75 The adjective occurs with the same meaning in the next sentence: "We soon heard a noise of pounding, like threshing, and went to the place whence it proceeded, and found there an old Indian woman busily employed beating Turkish beans out of the pods by means of a stick, which she did with astonishing force and dexterity. Gerrit inquired of her, in the Indian language which he spoke perfectly well, how old she was, and she answered eighty years; at which we were still more astonished that so old a woman should still have so much strength and courage to work as she did. We went thence to her habitation, where we found the whole troop together, consisting of seven or eight families, and twenty or twenty-two persons. Their house was low and long, about sixty feet long and fourteen or fifteen wide. The bottom was earth, the sides and roof were made of reed and the bark of chestnut trees; the posts or columns were limbs of trees stuck in the ground  p76 and all fastened together. The ridge of the roof was open about half a foot wide from end to end, in order to let the smoke escape, in place of a chimney. On the sides of the house the roof was so low that you could hardly stand under it. The entrances, which were at both ends, were so small that they had to stoop down and squeeze themselves to get through them. The doors were made of reed or flat bark. In the whole building there was no iron, stone, lime, or lead.

"They build their fire in the middle of the floor, according to the number of families, so that from one end to the other each boils its own pot and eats when it likes, not only the families by themselves, but each Indian alone when he is hungry, at all hours, morning, noon, and night. By each fire are the cooking utensils, consisting of a pot, a bowl or calabash, and a spoon also made of a calabash. These are all that relate to cooking. They lie upon mats, with their feet towards the fire on each side of it. They do not sit much upon anything raised up, but, for the most part, sit upon the ground, or squat on their ankles. Their other household articles consist of a calabash of water, out of which they drink, a small basket in which to carry their maize and beans, and a knife. The implements are, for tillage, merely a small sharp stone; for hunting, a gun and pouch for powder and lead; for fishing, a canoe without mast or sail, and not a nail in any part of it, though it is sometimes full forty feet in length, fish-hooks and lines, and scoop to paddle with in place of oars. . . .

"All who live in one house are generally of one stock, as father and mother, with their offspring. Their bread is maize pounded in a block by a stone, but not fine; this is mixed with water and made into a cake, which they bake under the hot ashes. They gave us a small piece when we entered, and although the grains were not ripe, and it was half-baked and coarse grains, we nevertheless had to eat it, or at least not throw it away before them, which they would have regarded as a great sin, or a great affront. We chewed  p77 a little of it and managed to hide it. We had also to drink out of their calabashes the water, which was very good.

"Here we saw the Indians who had come on board the ship when we arrived. They were all joyful at the visit of our Gerrit, who had long dwelt thereabouts and was an old acquaintance of theirs. We gave them two jews-harps, whereat they were much pleased and at once began to play them, and fairly well. Some of their chiefs — who are their priests and medicine-men and could speak good Dutch — were busy making shoes of deer-leather, which they make soft by long working it between the hands. They had dogs, besides fowls and hogs, which they are gradually learning from Europeans how to manage. Toward the last we asked them for some peaches, and their reply was 'Go and pick some,' which shows their politeness! However, not wishing to offend them, we went out and pulled some. Although they are such a poor miserable people, they are licentious and proud, and much given to knavery and scoffing. As we noticed an extremely old woman (not less than a hundred, one would think), some saucy young fellows jeeringly answered, 'Twenty years.' We observed the manner in which they travel with their children, a woman having one which she carried on her back. The little thing clung tight around her neck like a cat, and was held secure by a piece of duffels, their usual garment."

A most admirable and lifelike description of an aboriginal dwelling! Our Labadist friends were keen observers, and deft with pen as well as pencil. We cannot recount all their experiences, but may follow them on their trip to the extreme north of Manhattan. After leaving the Bowery Tavern they proceeded "through the woods to New Harlem, a rather large village directly opposite the place where the northeast creek [Harlem River] and the East River come together, situated about three hours' journey from New Amsterdam, like as the old Harlem in Europe is situated about three hours' distance from the old Amsterdam. As our guide, Gerrit, had some business here,  p78 and found many acquaintances, we remained over night at the house of a man named Geresolveert,​13 the schout of the village, who had formerly lived in Brazil, and whose heart was still full of it. His house was all the time filled with people, mostly drinking that execrable rum. He had also the best cider we have tasted. Among the crowd we found a person of quality, an Englishman, namely, Captain Carteret,​14 whose father is in great favour with the king, and he himself had assisted in sundry exploits in the king's service. He commanded the English forces which went in 1660 to retake St. Kitts. . . . The king has given to his father, Sir George Carteret, the entire government of the lands west of the North River, in New Netherland, with power to appoint as governor whom he pleases; and at this present time there is a governor over it by his appointment, another Carteret, his nephew, I believe,​15 who resides at Elizabethtown, in New Jersey. . . . This son is a very profligate person. He married a merchant's daughter here, and has so treated his wife that her father has been compelled to take her home again. He runs about among the farmers, and stays where he can find most to drink, and sleeps in barns on the straw. If he would conduct himself properly he might hold the highest positions, for he has studied the moralities, and seems to have been of a good understanding; but that is all now drowned. His father, who will no longer acknowledge him as his son,​16 allows him yearly as much only as is necessary to live."

 p79  The morning after this hilarious night at the schout's, our friends set out from Harlem village to go up to the end of the island, and perhaps it may have been the thirst which sometimes ensues upon such nights that made them exclaim over the deliciousness of the juicy morning peaches. "When we were not far from the point of Spyten Duyvil we could see on our left hand the rocky cliffs of the mainland on the other side of the North River, these cliffs standing straight up and down, with the grain, just as if they were antimony. We crossed over the Spyten Duyvil in a canoe, and paid nine stivers fare [or about eighteen cents] for us three, which was very dear. We followed the opposite side of the land, till we came to the house of one Valentyn, a great acquaintance of our Gerrit's. He had gone to the city, but his wife, though she did not know Gerrit or us, was so much rejoiced to see Hollanders that she hardly knew what to do for us. She set before us what she had. We left after breakfasting. Her son showed us the way, and we came to a road entirely covered with peaches. We asked the boy why they left them to lie there, and why the hogs did not eat them. He answered, we do not know what to do with them, there are so many; the hogs are satiated with them and will not eat any more. . . . We pursued our way now a small distance through the woods and over the hills, and then back again along the shore to a point where lived an Englishman named Webblingh, who was standing ready to cross over. He carried us over with him, and refused to take any pay for our passage, offering us at the same time some of his run, a liquor which is everywhere.

"We were now again at New Harlem, and dined with Geresolveert, at whose house we had slept the night before, and who made us welcome. It was now two o'clock; and leaving there we crossed the island, which takes about three quarters of an hour to do, and came to the North River, which we followed a little within the woods, as far as Sappokanican, where Gerrit had a sister and some friends.  p80 There we rested ourselves and drank some good beer, which was very refreshing. We then kept on our way along the shore to the city, where we arrived in the evening very tired, having walked this day about forty miles. I must add, in passing through this island we sometimes encountered such a sweet smell in the air that we stood still, because we did not know what it was we were meeting."

In the course of their adventures our worthy friends inform us that they talked with "the first male born of Europeans in New Netherland," a brewer named Jean Vigné. His parents were from Valenciennes, and he was now about sixty-five years of age."º Their pictures of the clergy are not flattering. They heard a venerable minister "from the upriver country at Fort Orange," who was called Dominie Schaats, whose demeanour was so rough and outlandish that they suspected him of indulgence in the ubiquitous rum. They tell us that Dominie Nieuwenhuysen was "a thick, corpulent person, with a red and bloated face, and of very slabbering speech. On one Sunday they went at noon "to hear the English minister, whose service took place after the Dutch church was out. There were not above twenty-five or thirty people in the church. The first thing that occurred was the reading of their prayers and ceremonies out of the prayer-book, as is done in all Episcopal churches. A young man then went into the pulpit and preached, who thought he was performing wonders; but he had a little book in his hand out of which he read his sermon, which was from a quarter to half an hour long. With this the services were concluded, whereat we could not be sufficiently astonished."

This young parson was Mr. Charles Wolley, who came in 1678 with Andros. We may now let him speak for himself, and first as to the climate: "It is of a sweet and wholesome breath, free from those annoyances which are commonly ascribed by naturalists for the insalubriety of any Country, viz. . . . stagnant Waters, lowness of Shoars, inconstancy  p81 of Weather [!], and the excessive heat of the Summer [!!]; it is gently refreshed, fanned, and allayed by constant breezes from the Sea. . . . Nature kindly drains and purgeth [the land] by Fontanels and Issues of running waters in its irriguous Valleys, and shelters it with the umbrellas of all sorts of Trees . . . ; which Trees and Plants do undoubtedly, tho' insensibly, suck in and digest into their own growth and composition those subterraneous Particles and Exhalations, which otherwise wou'd be attracted by the heat of the Sun, and so become matter for infectious Clouds and malign Atmospheres. . . . I myself, a person of a weakly Stamen and a valetudinary Constitution, was not in the least indisposed in that Climate during my residence there, the space of three years."

Allowing for a somewhat too roseate tint in the references to the freedom from fickle weather and torrid heat, this is an excellent description of the breezy and salubrious air of Manhattan. As for the people, they impressed Mr. Wolley as extremely "high-flown religionists," but he had never visited Boston or New Haven. Even in this comparatively tolerant New Netherland, the ministers of different churches sometimes would not take tea together, and our young Cambridge friend did not relish such narrowness.

"There were two Ministers, or Dominies as they were called there, the one a Lutheran or High-Dutch,​17 the other a Calvinist or Low Dutchman,​18 who behaved themselves one towards another so shily and uncharitably as if Luther and Calvin had bequeathed and entailed their virulent and bigoted Spirits upon them and their heirs forever. They had not visited or spoken to each other with any respect for six years together before my being there, with whom I being much acquainted, I invited them both with their Vrows to a Supper one night unknown to each other, with an obligation that they should not speak one word of Dutch, under the penalty of a bottle of Madeira,  p82 alledging I was so imperfect in that Language that we could not manage a sociable discourse. So accordingly they came, and at the first interview they stood so appalled as if the Ghost of Luther and Calvin had suffered a transmigration, but the amaze soon went off with a salve tu quoque and a Bottle of Wine, of which the Calvinist Dominie was a true Carouzer, and so we continued our Mensalia the whole evening in Latine, which they both spoke so fluently and promptly that I blushed at myself with a passionate regret that I could not keep pace with them. . . . As to the Dutch language, in which I was but a smatterer, I think it lofty, majestic, and emphatical."19

The intemperate zeal of red-faced Dominie Nieuwenhuysen sometimes hurried him into a pace which he could not keep up. Dominie Nicholas van Rensselaer, having been ordained in England by a bishop, had come to be minister at Albany as colleague to the aged Dr. Schaats, whose oratory seemed to our Labadist visitors so uncouth. Nieuwenhuysen denied that ordination by an English bishop could confer the right to administer sacraments in the Dutch Reformed Church, and he therefore insisted that Van Rensselaer should be forbidden to baptize children; but when the point was argued before Andros and his council, the zealous Calvinist was obliged to recede from his position. An attempt was soon afterward made to convict Van Rensselaer of doctrinal heresy. Charges of "false preaching" were brought against him by Jacob Leisler, a wealthy German, one of Nieuwenhuysen's deacons, and a young English protégé of his, named Jacob Milborne. The result of the trial was the acquittal of Van Rensselaer, while Leisler and Milborne were obliged to pay the costs. We shall by and by meet the deacon and his friend under very different circumstances. Already this incident shows the existence of two mutually repugnant trends of feeling in the Dutch church at New York; the one aristocratic, liberal, mellow, and inclined to fraternize with Episcopacy; the  p84 other democratic, fanatical, bitter, and Puritanical. Such antagonisms were to bear fruit in deadly feuds.

According to Andros's own report, the province of New York consisted of twenty-four towns, villages, or parishes, divided into six precincts for courts of quarter sessions. The total value of the estates was about £150,000, equivalent to at least $3,000,000 of the present day. A merchant worth £1000 ($20,000) was deemed rich, and a planter with half that amount in chattels was accounted very well off. The population of the city since 1664 had increased from about 1600 to about 3500. Three ships, eight sloops, and seven boats were owned in the city, and of these craft four had been built there. The revenue of the province was £2000, not enough "by a greate deale," which was a source of worry to the Duke of York. The lack of servants was also quite generally felt; there were a few black slaves, chiefly from Barbadoes, worth about £30 a head. The principal exports were furs, lumber, tar, and bolted flour; which paid for £50,000 of manufactured goods imported from England. There were no beggars in the province, but of all poor and disabled persons due care was taken. There were twenty churches — Reformed Dutch, Lutheran, Independent, Presbyterian, Baptist, Quaker, and Jew — all self-supporting; but there was a scarcity of ministers, which was an inconvenience in respect of funerals, weddings, and christenings.20

The scarcity of clergymen led the way to an interesting development. We have already seen that the Reformed Dutch Church in New York accepted ordination at the hands of an English bishop as sufficient qualification for the ministry; but this was not enough. The methods of the Dutch Church must be expanded to fit the occasion. In 1678 Laurentius van Gaasbeeck was sent out to be minister at Esopus, under the authority of the Classis, or supreme ecclesiastical body, of Amsterdam. Before his arrival the spiritual interests of Esopus  p85 were cared for temporarily by Petrus Tesschenmaeker, a young graduate of Utrecht, who had lately come over. Tesschenmaeker was a bachelor of divinity, but had not yet been ordained. Upon the arrival of the new dominie at Esopus, this young man received a call to the church at Newcastle on the Delaware, which furthermore requested that he might be ordained without the cumbrous formality of crossing the ocean to Holland. Hereupon Andros directed Nieuwenhuysen with any three or more clergymen to form themselves into a Classis, and after duly examining Tesschenmaeker to ordain him if they saw fit. This was done, the action of the New York dominies was approved by the Classis of Amsterdam, and thus in a most pleasant and sensible fashion was the Dutch Church in America made practically independent of the fatherland.21

The insufficiency of revenue was to a great extent remedied by the ordinances concerning the bolting of flour. First it was ordered that all flour for exportation should be bolted and duly inspected and the barrels properly marked before they could be shipped. Then it was further ordered that all inspection of flour must take place in the city of New York. These arrangements conferred upon the city for some years a lucrative monopoly.

One order, to which the duke attached great importance, required that all vessels with cargoes bound for any port within the original territory of New Netherland should enter at the New York custom-house. The duke insisted that Sir Edmund should rigorously enforce this order, and the immediate result was trouble with New Jersey.

It will be remembered that in 1664 the Duke of York had granted New Jersey jointly to Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley as lords proprietary, and under this grant had exercised powers of sovereignty in the eastern and northern parts of that province. Practically there had come about an ill-defined separation between Carteret's actual domain  p86 and the southwestern region, which Berkeley soon sold to a couple of Quakers. The Dutch conquest of 1673 was held to have extinguished all these rights, and apparently vested them in the States General, which by the treaty of Westminster next year handed them over to Charles II, who forthwith by a bran-new patent granted New Netherland over again to his brother James. Then James granted East Jersey to Carteret in severalty, but without conferring upon him any power of sovereignty. The Quaker purchasers of West Jersey were ignored, but a boundary line between the two Jerseys was summarily indicated. Now the affairs of West Jersey need not concern us at present; we shall by and by come to them in connection with the career of William Penn. But with regard to East Jersey an interesting question is suggested. Did the new grant to Sir George Carteret make him a lord proprietor, responsible only to the crown? or was he simply a lord of the manor, answerable to his immediate over­lord, the Duke of York? In other words, was East Jersey a part of the province of New York, or was it quite distinct and independent, as Maryland was independent of Virginia, and Connecticut of Massachusetts? The style of the grant, which conferred upon Sir George no power of sovereignty, would plainly imply the former alternative. But governor Philip Carteret, from the moment of his return in 1674, acted upon the latter. He called an assembly, which enacted laws as formerly, and he declared Elizabethtown to be a free port.

The duke's order, that all ships bound to any port within the original New Netherland must enter and clear at New York, brought this question to a trial. In the spring of 1680, acting upon express instructions from the duke, Sir Edmund Andros began seizing ships which went on their way to Elizabethtown without entering and paying custom-house fees at New York. He accompanied this action with a polite note to Governor Carteret, announcing his design to build a fortress at Sandy Hook. But in thus taking New Jersey soil for a  p88 public purpose, he would gladly satisfy all claims of individual proprietors who might be dispossessed or damaged. Thus did Sir Edmund blandly assert the right of eminent domain over the territory that had been granted to Carteret. The reply of Philip Carteret denied Sir Edmund's right either to make Jersey-bound ships pay fees and duties at the port of New York, or to put up any public building on Jersey soil. This attitude of the governor of East Jersey was warmly supported by the assembly, which voted to indemnify the owners of any ship that might be seized by the governor of New York.

In reading what follows it should be borne in mind that Andros and Carteret had for many years been warm friends; their wives also were devotedly attached to each other; and often did their boats ply to and fro past Bergen Point for suppers and other social merriment at each other's houses. Now when Carteret declared that any attempt of New York to build a fort at Sandy Hook would be resisted, Sir Edmund answered his defiance of his old friend by sending his secretary to Elizabethtown, to read aloud before the people a proclamation forbidding "Captain Philip Carteret, with all other pretended magistrates civil or military authorized by him," from exercising any kind of jurisdiction over his Majesty's subjects anywhere within the bounds of the king's patent to the Duke of York. Not content with thus implicitly deposing Carteret from his governor­ship, the proclamation called upon the people to surrender him as a prisoner to Andros.​22 This fulmination met with no cordial reception. Carteret sent an appeal to the king and began gathering troops.

It was not an army, however, but only his ordinary retinue,  p89 that Sir Edmund took with him a week later, when he crossed the Achter Koll. He was politely received, and took dinner at Carteret's house, and over their nuts and Madeira the twain argued the question of jurisdiction and quoted parchments and letters at each other, but all to no purpose. So Andros went back to his sloop, escorted by his affectionate friend, with compliments to Lady Andros and the usual military salute. But after three weeks had passed without Carteret's giving any sign of submission, on the last day of April, Andros sent a party of soldiers to arrest him. The order was carried out with shocking brutality. These ruffians broke open Carteret's doors at midnight, dragged him from his bed, and carried him in his night-dress to New York, where some clothes were given him, and he was flung into jail to await his trial on a charge of riotously presuming to exercise unlawful jurisdiction over his Majesty's subjects.

Of this shameful affair Carteret wrote to a friend in England, "I was so disabled by the bruises and the hurts I then received, that I fear I shall never be the same man again."​23 He was an athletic and high-spirited gentleman, and evidently was not taken without a desperate struggle. A few black eyes and a broken jaw or two, fairly distributed among his captors, would have been no more than their desert. After four weeks of jail, a special court of assizes was assembled, and Sir Edmund took his seat as presiding justice amid the rattle of drums and fanfare of trumpets. Arraigned before this tribunal, Carteret first demurred to its jurisdiction, but was overruled. Then he argued that his conduct as governor of East Jersey had been entirely legal; "and by virtue of power derived from the king." His arguments and proofs convinced the jury, and they acquitted him. Andros could not conceal his chagrin; he tried to browbeat the jurors, and sent them out twice to reconsider their verdict, but they were immovable, and Carteret scored a triumph. Even now,  p90 however, Andros would not allow him to return to New Jersey until he had extorted from him a promise that he would not "assume any authority or jurisdiction there, civil or military."24

At length, early in June, the deposed governor was escorted back to Elizabethtown, with much politeness and ceremony, by his loving friends, Sir Edmund and Lady Andros. One would like to know how with the dinner passed off at Mrs. Carteret's, and what Sir Edmund had to say about the conduct of his ruffians. Attempts have been made to excuse him for his part in the transaction, on the ground that he was only carrying out the duke's orders. Nevertheless, while it would be hardly just to charge upon Andros all the brutality of his myrmidons, the whole affair helps us to understand the intense hatred which he inspired in people at a later period. In his eagerness to serve his master, we see him carrying out orders with needless violence and even behaving most reprehensibly, as in his attempt to overawe the jurymen. Our old comparison recurs to us as we feel that such was not the way in which Nicolls would have given effect to the duke's orders.

The people of East Jersey submitted to the appointment of sundry officers by Andros, but their assembly refused to adopt the Duke's Laws. News of all these proceedings was sent by the deposed governor to Lady Carteret, widow of Sir George, who had lately died. These were people of great influence at court, and accordingly the duke deemed it best not to take to himself too much responsibility for the acts of his agent. He told Lady Carteret that he "doth wholly disown and declare that Sir Edmund Andros had never any such order or authority from him for the doing thereof," — a characteristic specimen of Stuart veracity. Presently James executed a paper relinquishing his claim upon East Jersey, and confirming  p91 it in the proprietor­ship of young Sir George Carteret, grandson and heir of the original grantee; and so the quarrel ended in the discomfiture of Andros.

Questions of owner­ship and jurisdiction had been coming up in West Jersey likewise, which ended in this same year 1680 in the duke's relinquishing all his claim in favour of Friend Byllinge and other Quakers. But I must reserve this story for a while until it can fall into its proper place in the line of causation which led to the founding of Pennsylvania. We must bid adieu for a season to the pleasant country between the North and South rivers of New Netherland. We have to view the career of a man of extraordinary and varied powers, uniting a fashion all his own the wisdom of the serpent with the purity of the dove,​25 who was able at once to be a leader of one of the most iconoclastic and unpopular of Christian sects, and to retain the admiring friendship of one of the most bigoted kings that ever sat upon a throne. We must make the acquaintance of William Penn, who, take him for all in all, was by far the greatest among the founders of American commonwealths.

The Author's Notes:

1 Newton's Principia, book III prop. 41.

[decorative delimiter]

2 This description partly follows the map of "The Towne of Mannados, or New Amsterdam, in 1661," of which the original is in the British Museum.

[decorative delimiter]

3 Hill and Waring, Old Wells and Water-Courses of the Island of Manhattan, p310.

[decorative delimiter]

4 See above, vol. I p67.

[decorative delimiter]

5 In this account I have been much assisted by Hill and Waring, Old Wells and Water-Courses, an admirable monograph.

[decorative delimiter]

6 Hewitt's The Bowery, p372.

[decorative delimiter]

7 See Old Virginia and Her Neighbours, Illustrated Edition, II.128.

[decorative delimiter]

8 An English translation of their Journal, edited by H. C. Murphy, forms the first volume of the Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society, Brooklyn, 1867. It contains excellent engravings of the pictures.

[decorative delimiter]

9 Dante, Inferno, XXXII.1.

[decorative delimiter]

10 A slight exaggeration. The Y or Ij, an arm of the Zuyder Zee, is considerably more than a mile in breadth before Amsterdam, while the East River, at Peck Slip, in the seventeenth century, was about three fifths of a mile.

[decorative delimiter]

11 This was Simon de Hart. Our Labadists follow the ancient usage in which the forename was of more importance than the surname. The house where they were so well regaled "is still standing, having been in the possession of descendants of Simon de Hart ever since." Mrs. Lamb's History of the City of New York, I.287.

[decorative delimiter]

12 Kermis was a great fair or festival, in the Low Countries, with much dancing and frolic. A Kermis bed would be an extra bed for such occasions when the house was full of company.

[decorative delimiter]

13 O delicious! a Dutch translation of Resolved, a Puritan forename by no means uncommon in those days. The person meant was Resolved Waldron, constable of Harlem.

[decorative delimiter]

14 See above, p18. James Carteret was a legitimate younger son of Sir George, not an illegitimate son, as has sometimes been said. See Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerages, p108.

[decorative delimiter]

15 W. L. Stone (Hist. New York City, p63) makes him a brother of Sir George; Brodhead (Hist. New York, II.84) makes him a cousin; and Burke does not elucidate the matter. The names Philip and George had for at least four centuries been so thickly iterated among the Carterets that their use as distinctive appellations was lost.

[decorative delimiter]

16 Hence probably the rumour of illegitimacy.

[decorative delimiter]

17 Dominie Bernhardus Frazius.

[decorative delimiter]

18 Dominie Nieuwenhuysen.

[decorative delimiter]

19 Wolley's Journal, pp55, 56.

[decorative delimiter]

20 New York Colonial Documents, III.245, 260‑262.

[decorative delimiter]

21 Dankers and Sluyter's Journal, III.222; Book of General Entries, XXXII.61; Demarest, History of the Reformed Dutch Church, p183.

[decorative delimiter]

22 Leaming and Spicer, Grants, Concessions, and Original Constitutions of New Jersey, London, 1758, pp112‑137, 674‑677; Whitehead's East Jersey under the Proprietary Governments, p71; Newark Town Records, p78; Dankers and Sluyter, Journal, pp277‑347.

[decorative delimiter]

23 New Jersey Colonial Documents, 1st series, I.316, 317.

[decorative delimiter]

24 Leaming and Spicer, Grants, Concessionsº, etc., pp678‑684; Dankers and Sluyter, Journal, pp347‑351; Whitehead's East Jersey, pp73, 74.

[decorative delimiter]

25 I leave this sentence as I first wrote it in 1882. I was not then aware that Benjamin Franklin had alluded to Penn as uniting "the subtlety of the serpent with the innocence of the dove." (See his Works, ed. Sparks, III.123). Franklin's phrase, however, is intended for a sneer, as his context shows, while mine is meant to convey accurate but unstinted praise.

Thayer's Notes:

a For the Great Comet of 1680 ("Kirch's Comet"), including a contemporary painting by a Dutch artist and a brief account of its appearance by Dutch settlers at Esopus, see James Werner's page.

[decorative delimiter]

b Not Washington's Attorney General (and the uncle of Robert E. Lee) sometimes given the courtesy title of General: rather, the general known for his insubordinacy to Washington, after whom nevertheless Fort Lee, NJ is named.

[decorative delimiter]

c This is still the word for corn (maize) in Italian: granoturco.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 1 Feb 16