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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 11: Voyage of Hudson, 1609, and settlement of New Netherland, 1613.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 192-202 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

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Henry Hudson sails up the Hudson River to Albany in 1609 — A boat's crew of the Half Moon passes the sprouts of the Mohawk — Dutch traders at New York, 1610-1613 — Four houses there in 1613 — Block's crew at New York, winter of 1613-1614 — 1614, Formation of the United New Netherlands Company — Building of forts and trading posts at Manhattan and Fort Nassau, at present Albany, 1614 — Holland in New World

The Mohawk Valley is a part of the greater Hudson Valley which is the key position of the United States, geographically, commercially and historically. It is made so by our Mohawk Valley, which is the "Gateway to the West" of the Hudson watershed. Our Hudson Valley also takes its place as the most important area of the earth's surface because it is the seat of the world's greatest city, on the island of Manhattan, which has risen to its present position because of this same western gateway of the Mohawk Valley which carries eastward to New York, all the great roads of the vast central regions of the North American continent.

The early annals of New Netherland intimately concern the history of the Mohawk Valley. Fort Orange was located on the site of present Albany so as to have ready access to this Gateway to the West, through which the Indians of the interior came to barter furs with the Dutch traders. The mouth of the Mohawk and the extreme eastern end of our valley lay within the territory of the great colony, Rensselaerwyck, formed in 1630. For over thirty years this important section of our watershed was a part of the provincial possessions of the Dutch Republic, while the Mohawk Valley, from its mouth to Schenectady (a distance of 22 miles) was under the rule of the States General of Holland, from 1661 to 1664, and again for a year, in 1674, during the brief conquest of New York by the Dutch. Some colonists of Rensselaerwyck were early settled at the extreme eastern end of our valley. The Dutch settlers who located at Schenectady in 1661, came from Fort Orange as the parent settlement. Therefore, the following narrative of the settlement of the Hudson Valley by the Hollanders and the early years of Fort Orange and New Netherland directly concern the Mohawk Valley and its history.

In 1609, Henry Hudson explored the river which bears his name. In 1613, Dutch traders were compelled to remain through the winter at Manhattan, and, therefore, this date marks the beginning of New York, the greatest city in the world. In 1614, the United New Netherland Company established posts on the sites of present Albany and Kingston. There is a tradition that some Dutch settlers remained continuously at Esopus (Kingston) but this is not definitely known. The location of the Hollanders at New York and Albany makes these two cities of New York State the oldest permanent settlements in the thirteen original states, inasmuch as Jamestown, Virginia, settled in 1607, was subsequently abandoned and in consideration of the fact that Plymouth, Massachusetts, was settled seven years later than New York. The location of the Hollanders at Fort Nassau (present Albany) marked the beginning of the Dutch settlement of the upper Hudson and Mohawk Valleys, which had all the characteristics of an individual colony for a number of years, because of its distance from New York and because of the establishment of the great colony of Rensselaerwyck which developed almost feudal characteristics. From the Netherlander's Fort Orange, all the adjacent country was settled including that at Schenectady in 1661. Fort Orange is the parent town from which the Mohawk Valley was settled and is intimately connected with its history.

In 1609 the Dutch East India Company engaged Henry Hudson, an experienced English sea captain, to make one of the innumerable voyages of the period in search of the northeast passage.

In April, 1609, Hudson sailed from Amsterdam in a small yacht called the Half Moon (Dutch, Haelve Moon), on his third voyage for the Indies. At the 72nd parallel, above the capes of Norway, he sailed eastward but met so many icebergs that he was compelled to turn back. Hudson then set his course across the Atlantic. In July, he reached Newfoundland and then sailed southwestward to the coast of Maine, where his crew repaired the Half Moon which had been damaged in a storm. Hudson then sailed southward, touched at Cape Cod, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay in August. He then turned northward and anchored in Delaware Bay, August 28th. From here, the Half Moon sailed northward and anchored in lower New York Bay, September 3, 1609. After friendly trading with the Indians, Hudson weighed anchor on the 10th of September, 1609, passed through the Narrows and the Upper Bay, and entered the noble river which bears his name.

For eight days the Half Moon sailed up the present Hudson River. "Such magnificent forests, such beautiful hills, such mountains rising in the distance, such fertile valleys planted here and there with ripening corn, the Netherlanders had never seen before."

The shoaling waters made Hudson anchor the Half Moon near present Albany. From that place the Captain sent a boat's crew up the river. They rowed northward, through the sprouts of the Mohawk, to a point above Waterford where shoaling waters convinced the boatswain that further exploration up the river was useless. They then turned back and reached the Half Moon, with this unwelcome news. On the 4th of October, Hudson weighed anchor and spread sail for Holland. It must have been a picturesque sight, on that far-off pleasant fall day, when the quaint little Dutch vessel, with its English captain, left its moorings, raised its sails and slowly floated down the river, past the low islands with their fields of Indian corn, along the shores whose forest crowned banks were blazing with autumnal colors and lined with a wondering and awe-stricken red people, who gazed entranced at the speeding, winged house of the strange white man, as it passed from sight behind the islands down the river.

On the lower reaches of the stream, Hudson's crew had a sharp skirmish with the Indians in which several of the warriors were killed. He had some difficulty with his crew which was composed of both Dutch and English sailors. After crossing the Atlantic, Hudson put in at Dartmouth, where the English government detained the Half Moon until the next year, claiming the crew as Englishmen. Hudson forwarded to his Dutch employers of the East India Company an account of his successful voyage and of the delightful country which he had visited under the flag of Holland. Henry Hudson met a tragic end at the hands of a mutinous crew in Hudson Bay in 1611 and in 1612 the Half Moon was wrecked on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, a remarkable coincidence because this little vessel had ascended the Mauritius River (as the Dutch called the Hudson) and thus began that commerce which has made this the World's greatest river.

In the summer of 1610, the Half Moon was liberated at Dartmouth and returned to Amsterdam. In the same year, Dutch merchants chartered several ships and sent them to the Hudson to trade for furs. The business proved so good that ships also went out during 1611, 1612 and 1613. So we see that Manhattan has been occupied by white men since 1610 although the date of permanent occupancy is set at 1613. The traders built huts and a palisaded storehouse at the end of Manhattan Island. The Dutch navigators also explored the surrounding waters and probably also ascended the Hudson or Mauritius River.

Although French traders had been at present Albany in 1540 and had penetrated the Mohawk Valley even before that time, the first actual record that we have of white men seeing any portion of the Mohawk River and its Valley, is the journal of Robert Juet, an Englishman who was an officer of the Half Moon under Captain Henry Hudson on his epoch making voyage of 1609. Juet's account is entitled "The Third Voyage of Henry Hudson."

According to Juet's journal the Half Moon ascended to the site of Albany and from there a boat's crew rowed up the river over twenty miles before the shoaling waters told them that they had come to an end of their search for a northwest passage. In this exploration, the Dutch passed the mouth of the Mohawk, and its sprouts, and saw the lower Mohawk Valley.

Juet's journal is of great historical interest as only fragments of Hudson's own log now exist. Juet describes the difficult passage of the narrow channels through the islands immediately below present Albany, the stay at that locality and the voyage of the boat's crew up the river, through and past the Sprouts of the Mohawk. The paragraphs of his diary relating to these subjects are as follows:

"The eighteenth, in the morning was faire weather, and we rode still. In the after-noone our Master's Mate went on land with an old Savage, a Governour of the Countrey; who carried him to his house and made him good cheere. The nineteenth, was faire and hot weather: at the floud, being neere eleven of the clocke, wee weighed, and ran higher up two leagues above the shoalds, and had no lesse water than five fathoms; wee anchored and rode in eight fathomes. The people of the Countrie came flocking aboord, and brought us Grapes and Pompions, which wee bought for trifles. And many brought us Bever's skinnes, and Otter's skinnes, which wee bought for Beades, Knives, and Hatchets. So we rode there all night.

The twentieth, in the morning was faire weather. Our Master's Mate with foure men more went up with our Boat to sound the River, and found two leagues above us but two fathomes, water, and the channell very narrow; and above that place, seven or eight fathomes. Toward night they returned: and we rode still all night. The one and twentieth, was faire weather, and the wind all Southerly: we determined yet once more to goe farther up into the River, to trie what depth and breadth it did beare; but much people resorted aboord, so we went not this day. Our Carpenter went on land, and made a fore-yard. And our Master and his Mate determined to trie some of the chief men of the Countrey, whether they had any treacherie in them. So they tooke them downe into the Cabin, and gave them so much Wine and Aqua vitae, that they were all merrie: and one of them had his wife with him, which sate so modestly, as any of our countrey women would doe in a strange place. In the end one of them was drunke, which had beene aboord of our ship all the time that we had beene there: and that was strange to them; for they could not tell how to take it. The Canoes and folke went all on shore: but some of them came againe, and brought stropes of Beades: some had sixe, seven, eight, nine, ten; and gave him. So he slept all night quietly.

"The two and twentieth, was faire weather: in the morning our Master's Mate and foure more of the companie went up with our Boat to sound the River higher up. The people of the Countrey came not aboord till noone: but when they came, and saw the Savages well, they were glad. So at three of the clocke in the after-noone they came aboord, and brought Tabacco, and more Beades, and gave them to our Master, and made an Oration, and shewed him all the Countrey round about. Then they sent one of their companie on land, who presently returned, and brought a great Platter full of Venison dressed by themselves; and they caused him to eate with them: then they made him reverence and departed all save the old man that ley aboord. This night at ten of the clocke, our Boat returned in a showre of raine from sounding of the River; and found it to bee at an end for shipping to goe in. For they had beene up eight or nine leagues, and found but seven foot water, and unconstant soundings.

The three and twentieth, faire weather. At twelve of the clocke wee weighed, and went downe two leagues to a shoald that had two channels, one on the one side, and another on the other, and had little wind, whereby the tide layed us upon it. So, there wee sate on ground the space on an houre till the floud came. Then we had a little gale of wind at the West. So wee got our ship into deepe water, and rode all night very well."

* * * * *

The Hudson has been known by various names since the first navigators sailed its broad channel, among them being the Shatemuck, the Mohegan, the Manhattan, Skanektade, Mauritius, Noordt Montaigne (North Mountain River), North River, Grand Riviere (by French explorers), and River of the Mountains. Hudson called this noble river by the latter name. The official name during Dutch rule, was the Mauritius, so called in honor of Prince Maurice, son of William the Silent, the liberator of Holland and one of the greatest figures of history — the Washington of the Dutch Republic. Fisk, the historian, says that Maurice was one of the greatest generals of all time. The Hollanders, who settled along the Hudson, also called the stream the North River, while they called the Delaware the South River. Their actual area of settlement lay principally on or between these two rivers, although New Netherland's claims were for a much greater territory. The name North River survives today, probably largely from the fact that it runs almost due north from New York to Albany and Glen Falls. Skanaktade was a name applied by the Mohawks to the ancient Indian trail, from the site of Schenectady on the Mohawk to the site of Albany on the Hudson. The name meant "beyond the open pines", referring to the trail and both ends of this historic warpath, including the rivers at its terminals. Thus we find the Mohawk at Schenectady referred to as the "Schenectady River" on an early map. When the English took New Netherland they called the river the Hudson, because Hudson was an Englishman and they presumed he was the discoverer. The name Hudson became, and still is, the general usage. The foregoing is pertinent to the Mohawk Valley which forms a part of the greater watershed of the Hudson, of which the Mohawk is the greatest tributary.

Among the early adventurous Dutch skippers were Hendrick Corstiaensen; Adriaen Block and Cornelis Jacobson Mey. Mey explored a considerable part of the Atlantic Coast and Cape May was named for him. Block explored Long Island Sound and the East River and named it Hellgat. (Hellegat). Block Island bears his name. Corstiaensen was, in all probability, the founder of New York City and he certainly was the founder of Albany. His early activities, as the leading captain of the Dutch trading vessels at Manhattan Island, shows his importance in its early history, but nowhere is his name perpetuated in the region in which he early played such an important part.

The first known Dutch merchants, who sent ships to present New York, were Hans Hongers, Paul Pelgrave and Lambrecht Tweenhuysen, of Amsterdam. In 1612 they sent to Manhattan the Fortune and the Tiger, two ships commanded by Captains Corstiaensen and Block, to trade for furs with the Indians along the Hudson River.

In 1613, Samuel Argall, the Virginia buccaneer, dropped anchor in New York Bay, following his attack on the French settlement at Port Royal (Annapolis, Nova Scotia) and his capture of the French Jesuit priests in their colony at Mount Desert on the Coast of Maine. Captain John Smith wrote that Argall found "on Manhattan Isle, four houses built and a pretended Dutch governor". The latter was Hendrick Corstiaensen, the Dutch sea captain. A number of Hollanders were trading there at the time. Argall roundly scolded them all and compelled Corstiaensen to haul down the Dutch and raise the English flag. This process was probably reversed as soon as Argall sailed for Virginia, which he did soon after. The Dutch traders are said to have had gardens and to have been living comfortably on their tip end of Manhattan, the name "Manhattan" meaning "the people living on the island" in the Algonquin language. The site of New York bore the name Manhattan until the arrival of Director General Petrus Stuyvesant in 1647, when "Old Wooden Leg" changed the title of the town to New Amsterdam. Today this borough of Greater New York again proudly bears its ancient name of Manhattan — "the people living on the island".

In 1613 Corstiaensen, Block, and Mey sailed to Manhattan as captains of vessels sent there by the Dutch merchants to trade for furs with the Indians. At the close of the season, Adriaen Block's ship the Tiger was burned and Block and his men were forced to build log houses and spend a rigorous winter on Manhattan instead of returning to comfortable homes in Holland. They built a small vessel, the Onrust (the first ship built in New York) and sailed for Holland with their bear skins and other furs in 1614. Block's enforced stay here (1613-1614) marked the beginning of the first permanent Dutch settlement of New York City, the Hudson Valley and New York State. "That little collection of huts on the site of the stately warehouses of Beaver Street, and that little vessel, which was launched at the foot of Broadway, composed the fertile little seed of empire planted on Manhattan — the tiny beginning of the great commercial metropolis of the Western Hemisphere" (Lossing) [i.e., Benson John Lossing, The Empire State: A Compendious History of the Commonwealth of New York].

In 1614 Hendrick Corstiaensen, who had made ten voyages to Manhattan Island, sailed up the Mauritius (Hudson) River, landed at present Albany and there built a trading fort on the site of the French post of 1540 on Castle Island. This was the beginning of the settlement of Albany, a Colonial location which vies, in historical importance, with those of Jamestown, Quebec, New York, and Plymouth. The settlement of Fort Nassau (Albany) parent of the Mohawk Valley, is described under the next chapter and its history is treated in a condensed form, from its beginnings in 1614 to the settlement of Schenectady in 1661 and the conquest of New Netherland by the English in 1664.

The profitable fur trade with the Indians of Manhattan aroused the Dutch people from their languid attitude toward the land which Hudson had visited in 1609. William Usselincx, a Flemish merchant of Amsterdam, advocated the planting of a Dutch colony in America as early as 1592. United Provinces of the Netherlands, in the spring of 1614, petitioned the States-General, the Congress of Holland, to pass an ordinance, securing the monopoly of the fur trade with the Indians on Mauritius (Hudson) for a limited time, to Dutch adventurers who might undertake the business. Merchants of Amsterdam and Horn formed a company. They were owners of the ships Fortune, Hendrick Corstiaensen, captain; Tiger, Adriaen Block, master; Nightingale (Nochegael), Thuys Volckertsen, master; Fortune, Cornelis Jacobsen Mey, master. All these ships were active in the fur trade, of which their owners now wished to secure a monopoly. In August, 1614, these merchants sent a deputation to the Dutch court at the Hague to obtain a charter of special privileges promised them by the aforementioned ordinance. "Before an oval table in the Binnehoff, the chief representative of the merchants, Captain Corstiaensen, spread before their High Mightinesses, the twelve members of the States-General, a figurative map of the discoveries made by the Dutch sea captains in America. He gave details of the adventures of the navigators and traders, their expenses and losses". The leading representative of the State before whom Corstiaensen pleaded was the famous John Olden Barneveldt, the Advocate of Holland. Barneveldt led the Republicans, while Prince Maurice was the head of the Orange party. As a result of a bitter political feud between these two parties, Barneveldt was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1619. This was one of the many political murders which disgraced Europe where actual civilization (as regards the public and politics) can hardly be said to have begun before the Nineteenth Century.

The merchants obtained their charter, under the name of the United New Netherlands Co., giving them a four year monopoly, on October 14, 1614. Their operations were to be confined to a region "between the fortieth and the forty-fifth degrees of north latitude" — between the parallels of Cape May and Nova Scotia. In this charter the name of New Netherland was given to the domain "between Virginia and New France." This region was comprised in the grant to the Plymouth Company of England, and the conflicting claims of the English and the Dutch to this territory, proved the eventual ruin of the dominion of Holland in America. However, the Dutch continued in possession of their American lands for fifty years, during which time they settled the Hudson and the Mohawk rivers, which had a Holland population of about 6,000 at the time of the English conquest — Americans of Dutch birth or ancestry, who multiplied so rapidly that they continued to form the majority element of the population of the English colony of New York up to the time of the Revolution.

The first comers to a new land, although they may be few in numbers, are apt to leave a deep impression upon that country's future. In the case of the Hollanders, who founded the great state of New York, they gave a marked character to this most important of American commonwealths, which somewhat survives to this day and doubtless will last, to some extent, until the civilization of this part of the Western World withers and fades, as all civilizations are bound to do eventually.

In the Hudson and Mohawk valleys, the days of the Dutch are perpetuated in certain worthy features and qualities of the lives of thousands of their descendants along these two rivers — the most important in America viewed from a historical and commercial viewpoint. The Hollanders were among the first to advocate the American ideas of liberty, freedom and thoroughly representative government. They had this as a heritage from their Fatherland, then the most civilized, liberal and progressive country of Europe. The history of England may be more dramatic and picturesque than that of Holland but the Netherlands were the birthplace of the civilization of today and its better sides of tolerance, equality, justice and the suppression of cruelty.

Holland's history is one of which the Dutch may well be proud. Modern civilization would have been practically impossible with the sinister figure of mediaeval Spain as the great world power. In a war of horror, blood, fire and torture, little Holland brought giant Spain to its knees and delivered blows which rendered that truly barbarous country helpless to impede the onward march of human progress. We must remember that it was these same Hollanders who founded the world's greatest city, the world's greatest state and who were the first white settlers along the Mohawk.

The history of New Netherland cannot be judged by reference merely to its Dutch governors. Its record might have been far different had it not had Van Twiller and Kieft as its Directors General for a considerable period. With all toleration, Walter Van Twiller was considerable of a fool and a clown, while Kieft almost destroyed New Netherland with his hideous butchery of the Indians at Pavonia and the consequent destructive Indian wars. Stuyvesant's rule was strong and effective, although it flouted the Americah principles of self government which the Hollanders and other settlers of New Netherland were already advocating; for New Netherland was a center of liberty, fully as important as Massachusetts and Virginia. In fact the New Netherland of the Seventeenth Century resembled the United States of today much more than did Virginia or Massachusetts.

The Puritans of New England probably did not thoroughly understand the Americans who came from Holland to the Hudson. Here was a people who did not love and worship the disagreeable, either in religion or life — neither did they make a religion or a virtue of the disagreeable, as did the Puritans. How could those long-faced people of bleak New England understand the dwellers along the pleasant shores of the Hudson — folk who enjoyed life, who made money and took things easy — people who were proud of their loves and affections instead of ashamed of them, as the Puritans always seemed to be, thus making unholy the finest things of life.

And so these Hollanders, on the Hudson and the Mohawk, played a great part in American history. They were a misgoverned democratic people, located between the hard-shell, bluenosed Puritan and the Quakers of New England and the cavalier, slave-owning, aristocracy of Virginia. To journey, from point to point, these differing Colonists had to pass through the land of the Hollanders, on the great highway and the great waterway of the Western World, and in so passing they unconsciously acquired some of the truly American qualities of the New Netherlander, while they patronizingly laughed at him.

The contact of the Hollander of Fort Orange with the ferocious Mohawk is one of the psychologically interesting features of American history. Their compatibility is truly astonishing and reveals their mutual mental attitude as to "taking things easy around the house," no matter how strenuous or combative the outside life must be. This mutual sympathy of the Hollander and Mohawk is one of the great factors which has affected world history.

Comparatively few Americans of today appreciate the part played by Holland and its province of New Netherland in the history of the United States of America. In order to arrive at a fair appraisal of our first Mohawk Valley white pioneers we quote from John Romeyn Brodhead, one of New York's greatest historians, who wrote (in 1871) [in History of the State of New York] as follows concerning the Dutch settlers of whom he was a descendant:

"The pioneers of New York left their impress deeply upon the State. Far reaching commerce, which made old Amsterdam the Tyre of the Seventeenth century, early provoked the envy of the Colonial neighbors of New Amsterdam, and in the end made her the emporium of the Western World * * * Cherished birthdays yet recall the memories of the genial anniversaries of the Fatherland, and year by year, the people are invited to render thanks to their God, as their fathers were invited, long before Manhattan was known, and while New England was yet a desert. These forefathers humbly worshiped the King of Kings, while they fearlessly rejected the kings of men.

"The emigrants who first explored the coast and reclaimed the soil of New Netherland and bore the flag of Holland to the wigwam of the Iroquois, were generally bluff, plain-spoken, earnest, yet unpresumptuous men, who spontaneously left their native land to better their condition and bind another province to the United Netherlands. They brought over with them the liberal ideas and honest maxims and homely virtues of their country. They introduced their church and their schools, their dominies and their schoolmasters. They carried along with them their huge clasped Bibles and they left them heirlooms in their families.

"The Dutch province always had both popular freedom and public spirit enough to attract within its borders voluntary immigrants from the neighboring British colonies. If the Fatherland gave asylum to self-exiled Puritans of England, New Netherland as liberally sheltered refugees from intolerant governments on her eastern frontier.

"Without underrating others it may confidently be claimed that to no other nation in the World is the Republic of the West more indebted."

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