Search billions of records on

New Netherland and Beyond
New Netherland
Delaware River
Colonial New York
New York State

Immigrants, First Settlers

An Account of the First Settlers in New Netherland

Some time after Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson in 1609, the area was then sailed by the worthy Hendrick Christiaensen van Cleef. When he went on a voyage to the West Indies, he happened near there. But his vessel being deeply laden, he did not approach the land, this he postponed, being desirous to do so another time.
It so happened that he and the worthy Adriaen Block, chartered a ship with the skipper Ryser and accomplished his voyage. This Hendrick Christiaensz, after he had dissolved partnership with Adriaen Block, made ten voyages tither, in virtue of a grant from the Lords States, who granted him that privilege for the first establishment of the place. On the expiration of that privilege, this country was granted to the West India Company.The Directors of the West India Company have, with the consent of the Noble High and Mighty Lords States General, undertaken to plant some colonies.

In 1626, the Island of Manhattans was purchased from the Indians. They have sown all kinds of grain in the middle of May, and reaped in the middle of August. Their wives have also borne them children.
They built and completed a fort named Orange on Castle Island. They also placed a fort, Wilhelmus, on Prince's Island, also called Murderer's Island.
There were 8 families there, and ten or twelve seamen in the Company's service. The fort was to remain garrisoned by sixteen men, without women, and the families were to leave there in order to strengthen with people the Colony near the Manhattans.

The counting house there is kept in a stone-building, thatched with reed; the other houses are of the bark of trees. Each has his own house. The Director and Koopman (Isaac de Rasiere) live together; there are thirty ordinary houses on the east side of the river which runs nearly north and south. Honorable Pieter Minuit is Director there; Jan Lempo Schout (Sheriff); Sebastiaen Jansz Crol and Jan Huyck, Comforters of the Sick, who, whilst awaiting a clergyman, read to the Commonality there on Sundays, from texts of Scripture with the Comment.

Francois Fezard Molemaecker is busy building a horse-mill over which shall be constructed a spacious room sufficient to accommodate a large congregation, and then a tower is to be erected where the bells brought from Porto Rico will be hung. Each farmer has his farm and the cows on the land purchased by the Company. The houses of the Hollanders now stand without the fort, but when that is completed, they will all repair within, so as to garrison it and be secure from sudden attack. When the fort, staked out by engineer Master Cryn Frederycke at the Manhatens will be completed, it is to be named Amsterdam. It will be of large dimensions.

The following men were appointed as Minuit's council. This council had supreme executive and legislative authority in the colony.
Pieter Bylvelt
Jacob Elbertsen Wissinck
Jan Janssen Brouwer
Symen Dercksen Pos
Reyner Harmensen

In 1628, those of the West India Company have removed all those who were at the South River. Only one trading vessel is kept there. There are now no families at Fort Orange, situated higher up the River among the Indians. They are all brought down. They keep five or six and twenty persons, traders, there. Bastiaen Jansz Crol appointed Vice Director there; he remained since the year 1626, when the others came down. Assisted by Dirck Cornelissen Duyster as under commissary.

In the year 1628, there already resided on the Island of the Manhatens, two hundred and seventy souls, men, women and children, under Governor Minuit, Verhulst's successor, living there in peace with the Natives.


Excerpts from the "Historiaeh Verhael" by Nicolaes Van Wassenaer 1621-1632, in
Documentary History of the State of New York, E. B. O'Callaghan,
1849, Vol. III pg 34-48. Also in Narratives of New Netherland, edited by J. F. Jameson, 1909, pg 61-90.
Other supporting sources:
History of the State of New York, John R. Broadhead, 1853, p 164-183.

Copyright ©1999-2012