'A History of the City of Brooklyn and Kings County' is a comprehensive account of the New York City's most populous borough from the time of the discovery of America until the late 19th century. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, Brooklyn was an independent incorporated city, and previously an authorized village and town within the provisions of the New York State Constitution, until 1898, when, after a long political campaign and public relations battle during the 1890s, according to the new Municipal Charter of 'Greater New York', Brooklyn was consolidated with the other cities, boroughs, and counties to form the modern City of New York. The borough continued, however, to maintain a distinct culture. Volume 1: The Region of Brooklyn at the Time of the Discovery Discovery and First Settlements The Indians and the Early Settlers The Beginnings of Breuckelen 1643-1647 Domestic and Social Life under the Dutch 1647-1664 Kings County after the English Conquest 1665-1700 Brooklyn before the Revolution 1701-1775 Kings County during the Revolution 1775-1783 Volume 2: Brooklyn after the Revolution 1784-1810 Brooklyn Village 1811-1833 The City of Brooklyn 1834-1860 The Period of the Civil War 1861-1865 Brooklyn after the War 1866-1876 The Modern City 1877-1893
CHAPTER II Table of Contents
DISCOVERY AND FIRST SETTLEMENTS
Early Voyagers. Henry Hudson. Attitude of Holland and Spain. Motives of Holland. Hudson's Reports. West India Company. Dutch on Manhattan Island. The Walloons and the Wallabout. Derivation of the Name Wallabout. First authentically recorded Settlements on Long Island. The Van Corlaer Purchase. Bennett and Bentyn's Purchase. Joris Jansen de Rapalje. Van Twiller. West India Company's Purchases on Long Island. East River Lands.
It is possible that in the voyages of the Cabots, Long Island was sighted if not touched; and the voyage of Esteben Gomez in 1524, "to find a way to Cathay," may leave the same possibility. There is every probability that the Spaniard, Giovanni da Verrazano, who in 1524 made a voyage to this country in the interest of France-the first official French exploration in this direction-entered New York harbor. From the account of this mariner it appears likely that he skirted the coast of Long Island, saw Block Island, giving to it the name of Louisa, mother of Francis I., and anchored in the harbor of Newport. Those who care to speculate as to possible visitors early in the sixteenth century, may take account also of the voyage of Lucas Vasquez de Aillon and Matienzo, made in 1526.
That one at least of the early Spanish voyagers, all of whom were looking for a passage to India, had seen the region of the coast on which Long Island lies, is indicated by the presence in England of a map which was in existence before Henry Hudson made his first voyage. In this map the name Rio de San Antonio is given to the river afterward named after Hudson.
This being the case it is not to be considered as certain, if it is to be considered as likely, that Henry Hudson really sailed across the Atlantic with any idea of finding either a northwest passage to India, or in hope of finding somewhere under 40° north latitude any passage to the western ocean.
Why Henry Hudson should formally have pretended to seek such a passage will appear from a glance at the political situation at the time of his voyage.
When Hudson left Europe, Holland and Spain were at swords' points. Carlyle has pithily summed up the case: "Those Dutch are a stirring people. They raised their land out of a marsh, and went on for a long period of time herding cows and making cheese, and might have gone on with their cows and cheese till doomsday. But Spain comes and says, 'We want you to believe in St. Ignatius.' 'Very sorry,' replied the Dutch, 'but we can't.' 'God! but you must,' says Spain; and they went about with guns and swords to make the Dutch believe in St. Ignatius. Never made them believe in him, but did succeed in breaking their own vertebral column forever, and raising the Dutch into a great nation."
The Dutch were well acquainted with the work of the Spanish explorers, and the idea of contesting with Spain for a share in the profits and advantages of transatlantic discovery grew out of the war with Spain. At this time international law gave to a sovereign any new land discovered in his name, and not already laid hold upon by any Christian prince. If Holland was to fight Spain in America it would be useful to have at least the shadow of a tenable international claim; and so Hudson ignored the earlier Spanish voyages in assuming to discover the river to which his name was given, and the land thereabouts which the Dutch, with beautiful political audacity, first claimed to own by right of discovery, and afterward claimed to own through Spain as "first discoverer and founder of that New World."
The first proposition to make a Dutch expedition to America came from an Englishman, a sea captain named Beets. The States-General refused this offer, but jealousy of Spain's resources in the New World kept alive the ambitions of the Dutch and finally resulted in the formation of the West India Company.
The theory of this company was both commercial and political. The scheme was first broached by an exiled Antwerp merchant, William Usselinx, in 1592. Before it came to completion a Greenland Company came into existence, and, while feigning to hunt up a northwest passage, its ships are said to have sailed into the North River, and to have landed on these shores in 1598. It was not until 1606 that Usselinx's ideas were formulated in a working plan. The company might then have been fully formed had not talk of a peace with Spain made it politically unwise to risk the adventure.
When in 1609 Henry Hudson, the English sailor, who already had made several voyages across the Atlantic, offered his services to the West India Company, it was ostensibly to seek a passage to India. The Amsterdam chamber of the company fitted out Hudson in the "Half Moon," which sailed out of the Texel on April 4, 1609.
Whatever may have been Hudson's intentions as to any search for a northwest passage, he abandoned such a search in favor of one for a more southerly passage, having, it is said, been told by Captain John Smith "that there was a sea leading into the Western Ocean by the north of Virginia."
After landing at Newfoundland, at Penobscot Bay, and at Cape Cod, Hudson found Delaware Bay; but a week later, realizing that he was too far south, he steered the Half Moon into the "Great North River of New Netherland." It is the tradition that during the exploration of the great bay and river a boat's crew from the Half Moon made its first landing on Long Island, at the sandy shore of Coney Island; but there might seem to be a likelihood that a landing would be made further to the north.
The Long Island Indians whom Hudson met were representatives of the Canarsie tribe. These Indians visited the Half Moon without fear, and gladly welcomed the strangers, doubtless looking upon them with much awe. Hudson says "they brought with them green tobacco to exchange for knives and other implements. They were clad in deerskins and expressed a wish to obtain a supply of European clothing." Some of them were decked in gay feathers and others in furs. Hudson refers to the stock of maize or Indian corn, "whereof they make good bread." It thus would appear that the Island had a good reputation two hundred and seventy years ago for corn, which it still maintains. They also had a good supply of hemp which they offered in trade, and must have understood its manufacture in a rude way.8
Hudson remarks, "that upon landing he saw a great store of men, women, and children, who gave them tobacco." In his account he describes the country "as being full of great tall oaks." He says "the lands were as pleasant with grass and flowers and goodly trees as ever they had seen, and very sweet smells came from them."
The pleasant relations between Hudson and the Indians did not continue very long. Hudson does not state how the difficulty arose, but one of his men was killed with an arrow and two others wounded. The unfortunate man was buried on the point of Coney Island, which Hudson named Colman's Point, in honor of the dead seaman.
Hudson remained for a month, pursuing his explorations of the river which has since carried his name, and then set sail for Holland. The news which the explorer brought home was of a sort to arouse the interest of the Dutch people.
Hudson told of a rich region alive with fur-bearing animals-an important circumstance to speculators in a cold country like that of Holland, where the question of warm clothing was always to the fore. The immediate result of Hudson's reports was the launching of many private ventures and an urgent movement to complete the organization of the West India Company. It was not until 1621 that the States-General at last signed the charter, and meanwhile traders had established themselves on Manhattan Island.
Although the English in Virginia were beginning to express their theories of claim to the Hudson region, the West India Company went into possession in 1623, sending as director, Adrien Jorissen Tienpont, who made stronger the fortification at Manhattan Island, and built a new fortification near that placed by the advance guard of Dutch traders (in 1618) near Albany. This post was called Fort Orange.
Tienpont was succeeded in 1626 by Peter Minuit, who was not long in making a bargain with the Indians for the whole of Manhattan Island. The price paid was about twenty-four dollars.
In making this significant purchase Minuit and those whom he represented had in mind to make the Manhattan Island settlement the principal centre of trade and colonization, if anything like colonization may be said to have occupied the attention of the Dutch at the time. There was, indeed, a passage in the charter of 1621, by which the company was required "to advance the peopling of these fruitful and unsettled parts," but actual colonization was not a matter of much thought until the later exigencies of trade made the subject important. Followed as it was by the organization under a charter of a council with supreme executive, legislative, and judicial authority, the movement under Minuit is to be regarded as the foundation of the present state of New York.
It was shortly before the appointment of Minuit as Director of New Netherland that a number of Walloons applied to Sir Dudley Carleton, principal Secretary of State to King Charles I., for permission to settle in Virginia.
"These Walloons," says Brodhead, "whose name was derived from their original 'Waalsche' or French extraction, had passed through the fire of persecution. They inhabited the southern Belgic provinces of Hainault, Namur, Luxemburg, Limburg, and part of the ancient bishopric of Liège, and spoke the old French language. When the northern...