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The Esopus War of 1663

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The Esopus War of 1663

On 7 Jun 1663, war broke out at what is now Ulster County, New York, between the New Netherland settlers and the native Esopus. This page provides some easy access to information about this colonial upheaval. Good material under copyright is described, and material out of copyright follow.

Goodall, Natives, Settlers, and Conflict in New Netherland" (2008)

Susan Wood Goodall, "Mine Is Better Than Ours": Natives, Settlers, and Conflict over Land in New Netherland, online (partial), https://books.google.com/books?id=Y6c-TpCE8gwC, (Ann Arbor, Mich.: the author by UMI, 2008; originally thesis, University of Maryland, 2006).

This recent thesis is partially available online, though important sections are missing.

Brink, Invading Paradise (2003)

Andrew Brink, Invading Paradise: Esopus Settlers at War with Natives, 1659, 1663, (n.p.: Xlibris, 2003).

This recent, well researched, book is a must for anyone seriously interested in what actually happened. It provides a more enlightened view of the conflict than late 19th century and early 20th century accounts. It also provides a great amount of detail regarding many of the inhabitants of Nieuw Dorp and Wiltwyck on that horrible day.

It is available as an ebook for $7.99 (when last checked)

Van Buren, History of Ulster County Under the Dutch (1923)

Augustus H. VanBuren, A History of Ulster County Under the Dominion of the Dutch, http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001262600, (Kingston, N.Y.: n.p., 1923): 63–?, Chapter VII, The War of 1663:

63–?, Chapter VII, The War of 1663

IT was Thursday, the 7th of June, 1663. Away off in the distance the peaks of the Catskills pierce the blue of the sky. On the low lands the wheat is softly swaying in the breeze, a shimmering sea of green. The brook, just below the stockade, laughs and gurgles on its way to the creek and the river. The air is redolent with the perfume of spring. The corn fields are ready for the plow. The children are at play in the streets. The women about their household work. Albert Gysbertsen and Tjerck de Wit are near the mill gate. Schout Swartwout with some men at work near his house. Dominie Blom with two carpenters are at work on the parsonage. Chambers just outside the stockade. A soldier or two lounged near the guard house. Most of the men were away at work in the fields. It is between eleven and twelve o'clock in the forenoon. Several small bands of Indians sauntered through the gates almost unnoticed. Nearly four years had passed since the last trouble. The peace had not been broken. The hatchet remained buried in the earth. No one thought of danger. Through the streets strolled the Indians, offering corn and beans for sale. They chattered with the women and laughed at the children at play. Suddenly a horseman dashed through the mill gate, shouting as he rode, "The Indians have destroyed the new village." Instantly the dread war whoop of the red men was heard. Then a scream, wild and piercing, the scream of a woman rang out. An Indian had snatched the little girl of Jan Albert's and buried his hatchet in her head. Crack, crack went the guns. Fire, some one shouted. A house on the south side of the village burst into flame. The wind was blowing from that direction. The Indians had fired the village. In a moment pandemonium reigned. Another house caught fire. Then another and another. The smoke rolled in red billows through the streets. The sparks fell in showers. The flames roared upward. The shrieks of the women and the wail of the children never ceased. Above it all rang out the wild yells of the Indians as they ran through the streets, slaughtering as they went. Through the palisades rushed Chambers. "Lock the gates." "Clear the gun," he shouted. In a few moments the handful of men turned on the Indians. It was too late. They were already outside the stockade driving the women and children before them. Mothers clasped their babes in their arms, shrieking, crying as they were forced along. On, on to the woods the Indians drove them. Their piteous wails floated back ever faint and fainter until the forest shut them from the sight of the helpless men in the village. The wind changed to the west. This was all that saved the village from being entirely consumed. The men began to return from the fields. What a scene of desolation greeted them. The homes of many were burned. The dead lay in the streets. The half burned bodies of wife and child smoked in the hot ashes of their homes. Well did Dominie Blom say:—"I am he who hath seen misery in the day of the wrath of the Lord. O my Bowels—my Bowels. I am pained at my very heart, and with Jeremiah, O that my head were water, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep for the slain of my people; for the dead lay as sheaves behind the mower." Here is the record of that day, written many, many years ago. No pen can give a more graphic picture. "List of the Soldiers and Settlers, killed, wounded, or taken prisoners by the Indians at Wildwyck, on the 7th of June, 1663."

MEN

  • Barent Gerretsen, murdered in front of his house.
  • Jan Alberts, murdered in his house.
  • Lichten Dirrick, murdered on the farm.
  • Willem Jansen Seba, murdered before his door.
  • Willem Jansen Hap, murdered in Pieter van Hael's house.
  • Jan the Smith, murdered in his house.
  • Hendrick Jansen Looman, murdered on the farm.
  • Thomas Chamber's negro, murdered on the farm.
  • Hey Olferts, murdered in the gunner's house.

SOLDIERS

  • Hendrick Martensen, on the farm.
  • Dominicus, in Jan Alberts' house.
  • Christiaen Andriessen, on the street.

WOMEN

  • Lichten Dirrecks' wife burnt, with her lost fruit, behind Barent Gerretsen's house.
  • Mattys Capito's wife killed and burnt in the house.
  • Jan Albertsen's wife, big with child, killed in front of her house.
  • Pieter van Hael's wife shot and burnt in her house.
  • Jan Alberts' little girl murdered with her mother.
  • Willem Hap's child burned alive in the house.

TAKEN PRISONERS

  • Master Gysbert's wife. (She was the wife of Gysbert van Imbroach, a surgeon, and the daughter of La Montagne, vice director at Fort Orange.)
  • Hester Douwe.
  • Sara, the daughter of Hester Douwe.
  • Grietje, Dominie Laer's wife. (The wife of a Lutheran dominie.)
  • Femmetje, sister of Hilletje, being recently married to Joost Ariaens.
Children Taken Prisoner
  • Tjerck Claessen de Witt's oldest daughter.
  • Dominie Laer's child.
  • Ariaen Gerritsen's daughter.
  • Two little boys of Mattys Roeloffsen.

KILLED IN THE NEW VILLAGE

  • Marten Harmensen found dead and stript naked behind the wagon.
  • Jacques Tyseen beside Barent's house.
  • Derrick Ariaensen shot in his house.

TAKEN PRISONERS

Men
  • Jan Gerritsen on Volckert's bouwery.
Women and Children
  • Of Lowis du Bois 1 3
  • Of Mattheu Blanchan 1 2
  • Of Antoni Crupel 1 1
  • Of Lambert Huybertsen 1 3
  • Of Marten Harmensen 1 4
  • Of Jan Joosten 1 2
  • Of Barent Harmensen 1 1
  • Of Grietje Westercamp 1 3
  • Of Jan Barents 1 *
  • Of Michiel Ferre 2
  • Of Hendrick Jochems . 1
  • Of Hendrick Martensen 1
  • Of Albert Heymans . 2
Total Women-Children 8 26

HOUSES BURNT IN WILDWYCK

  • Of Michiel Ferre 1
  • Of Hans Carolusen.... 1
  • Of Willem Hap 1
  • Of Pieter van Hael.... 1
  • Of Mattys Roeloffsen.. 1
  • Of Jacob Boerhans 2
  • Of Albert Gerretsen... 1
  • Of Barent Gerretsen... 2
  • Of Lichten Dirrick 1
  • Of Mattys 1
Houses 12

The new village is entirely destroyed, except a new uncovered barn, one rick and a little stack of reed.

WOUNDED IN WILDWYCK Thomas Chambers, shot in the woods. Henderick Jochemsen, shot in his house. Michiel Ferre, shot in front of his house. (Died of his wounds June 16, 1663.) Albert Gerretsen, shot in front of his house. Andries Barents, shot in front of his house. Jan du Parck, shot in the house of Aert Pietersen Tack. Henderick, the Heer Director General's servant, in the street in front of Aert Jacobsen. Paulus the Noorman, in the street." It will be observed from the above that most of the persons taken prisoners came from the new village. (Hurley.)

News of the massacre reached Stuyvesant on June 12, 1663. He sent a letter to the surrounding towns informing them of the event and cautioning them to be on their guard. On the 14th he was at Wildwyck. Christiaen Niessen, the commander of the militia; Thomas Chambers, the captain of the train band; Hendrick Jochemsen, the lieutenant; Swartwout, the Schout; and Albert Gysbertsen, Tjrick Cleassen de Witt, Gysbert van Imbrogh, the magistrates, were appointed a council to take charge of all matters. The people were commanded to obey its orders. Matheus Capito was appointed secretary. The council at New Amsterdam convened on June 17 to consider the condition of affairs at Wildwyck. To at once attack the Indians would be perilous. They would at once kill the captives. To ransom them would be very costly and the Indians would not consent unless a treaty of peace was made, only to be again broken. It was finally resolved not to make peace, but to try to get the Mohawks and Senecas to effect the release of the prisoners. In the meantime the relatives of the captives were to be urged to ransom them without the knowledge of the council, for which purpose they would be assisted with merchandise for presents to the Indians. Johan de Decker, one of the council, was sent to Fort Orange to obtain assistance. He was instructed to get the magistrates there to induce the Mohawks to procure the prisoners without ransom and without any engagement for a treaty of peace. If this could not be done to capture some of the Esopus Indians, to be used in ex- change. He was to ascertain if volunteers for an attack upon the Indians could be obtained and was authorized to engage to pay them eight or ten guilders per month at the usual rate of sixteen pieces of wampum per stiver and furnish them with weapons. He was also to negotiate a loan with the merchants of three thousand or four thousand guilders, half in goods and half in wampum, for which the governor and council would give as security not only the company's but their private property. Decker did not meet with much success. The Senecas were at war with the Minquas. The settlers were panic stricken at the news from Wildwyck and flocked to the fort for protection. All was in confusion and nothing could be done.

At last an Indian, "Smiths Jan," accompanied by several Mohawks and "Jan Dirck," a Dutchman, were prevailed upon to visit the Esopus Indians. These Mohawks reached the fort of the Indians. One of them by a present of a piece of wampum got one of the Esopus chiefs, who had Mrs. van Imbroch in charge, to promise to deliver her to him in the morning. But at dawn the Esopus and his captive had gone. The other chiefs offered to return the wampum which the Mohawks indignantly refused, saying that if they had their arms with them they would take the woman by force. The party returned to Wildwyck and reported that the Indians cared not so much for the captured savages as for payment for the land taken for the New Village, if that were done they would release the prisoners. In the meantime Mrs. van Imbroch had escaped and returned to Wildwyck. Mrs. van Imbroch reported that the fort of the Esopus in which she and the other captives were kept was about eight hours' march south of Wildwyck. It was at the foot of a hill to which it leaned at one side. On the other side the land was flat. A creek, not deep, and which could be easily crossed washed one corner. There were two rows of palisades and a third was being erected. The fort had two gates, one to the north and the other to the south. About thirty men were in the fort. They manifested great anxiety concerning their women and children and lodged them with the prisoners outside the fort during the night. On June 25th Stuyvesant issued a call for volunteers for an attack on the Esopus Indians. They were offered "free plundering and all the barbarians who are captured." For the term of one year they were to be exempt from guardmounting, firewatch and chimney tax. The owners of bouweries were exempt from tithes for six years and those having no bouweries to have the same exemption when they established bouweries in addition to the ten years commonly allowed. Those wounded were to be properly treated by the surgeon.

For the loss of the right arm they would receive eight hundred florins, for the left arm five hundred florins, for the loss of a leg four hundred and fifty florins, for the loss of both legs eight hundred florins, for the loss of an eye three hundred florins, for both eyes nine hundred florins, for the loss of the right hand six hundred florins, for the left hand four hundred florins, and for both hands one thousand florins. Volunteers came in slowly. Only five or six from the English villages on Long Island and nine from Bergen. On June 30, Marten Kregier, one of the Burgomasters of New Amsterdam, was commissioned commander of the force to be sent to Wildwyck. He, with Nicolas Stillewel, Pieter Wolphertsen van Couwehoven and Sergeant Christian Niessen were constituted a council of war and to them was committed the conduct of the same. Cregier arrived at Wildwyck July 4, 1663. Things were in bad shape. The people were disheartened. Fearing another attack they had shipped most of their cattle, over one hundred head, to Fort Orange. The soldiers had received their last ration. Food was scarce. There were not over one hundred men capable of bear- ing arms. Nine of the Negroes were wounded and six were at the Redoubt on the river. According to report the Esopus Indians, together with a few Wappingers and Manissings who had joined them, numbered about two hundred. A band of these had crossed to the east side of the river and lay concealed back of Magdalen Island (near Tivoli). Cregier dispatched some soldiers against them. A skirmish took place in which five Indians were killed. Among the number was Veldoverste, an Esopus chief. They cut off his hand and brought it back with them, together with a squaw and three children they captured. But one soldier was killed and one "bitten by a rattle snake." It was learned from the squaw that the Esopus were about eighty strong and a number of Manissings had joined them. Their fort stood on the brow of a hill, was quadrangular in shape, and defended by three rows of palisades. The dwellings within were encircled by thick cleft palisades with port holes and covered with bark. At night the prisoners were kept in the woods. On July 9 additional troops under Lieutenants van Couwenhoven and Stillewel arrived. On the 16th three of the Mohawks who had come down from Fort Orange with "Smiths Jan" were sent to the Indian fort to negotiate for a return of the prisoners. They took with them one of the captured Indian children and sixty-three guilders in wampum for ransom. They obtained the release of five prisoners, two women and three children, who were freely given, on their promise to return three of the prisoners held by the whites. The fort had been abandoned, the Indians scattered among the hills, the prisoners distributed among them. They again returned to the fort, taking with them the squaw and two children. This time they succeeded in securing the release of but one captive, a woman. The Indians refused to release any more unless Corlaer and Rentslaer came to the fort with goods for ransom and a peace was concluded, which must be done in ten days.

Cregier seems to have had considerable trouble with the people of the village. They did not manifest a lively disposition to assist him. Some refused to furnish teams and wagons to bring up supplies from the river. "Some refused to work for the company; some gave for answer if another will cart I also shall cart; some said, my horses are poor, I cannot cart; others said, my horses have sore backs, and other such frivolous answers." Tjerck Classen de Wit, although a magistrate, threatened to turn some soldiers out of a small house they occupied. He said he had hired it, although he neither had possession "nor procuration for it." Cregier told him that the soldiers would be removed on condition that he, "as a magistrate, would have them billetted in other houses as the men could not lie under the blue sky, and as they had been sent here by the chief government for the defense of the settlers. But he made no answer to this and so there are other ringleaders and refractory people in this place." While Cregier and the magistrates were examining the Wappinger Indians at the house of Chambers as to the whereabouts of the Esopus Albert Heymans Roose (Roosa) and Jan Hendrickensen appeared at the door and threatened to shoot the Indians. Cregier told them they must not do it. To which they replied, "We will do it though you stand by." "I told them in return to go home and keep quiet or I should send such disturbers to the Manhattans. They then retorted I might do what I pleased, they would shoot the savages to the ground, even though they should hang for it." Roosa, nothing daunted, came into the room and told the magistrates that one of them should step out. Cregier naively adds, "What his intention with him was I can't say." To our mind it is very clear. Albert was a fighter. He thought he could lick the entire court, at least one of its members.

It was now determined to attack the Indian fort. The expedition, led by Cregier, started from Wildwyck on the morning of July 26, 1663. It consisted of ninety-one men of Cregier's company and thirty from Lieutenant Stillewel's. Lieutenant van Couwenhoven commanded forty-one Indians from Long Island. There were six volunteers from Manhattan. Thirty-five men from Wildwyck, of whom eleven were horsemen. There were seven of the company's Negroes. Each had one pound of powder, one pound of ball, two pounds of hard bread, one-half a soft loaf, two pounds pork and one-half a Dutch cheese. This left at Wildwyck thirty-six soldiers and twenty-five freemen. By evening they were "two great miles" from Wildwyck. Here they bivouacked, not being able to get through the woods at night. The next morning the march was resumed. The trail they followed ran through an unbroken wilderness. Trees had to be felled to make bridges over swamps and streams. The hills were so steep that the wagon and cannon had to be hauled up by ropes. On reaching the fort in the evening they found it abandoned. The Indians had fled. A squaw, cutting corn, was captured. On the 28th, a detachment of one hundred and forty men were sent to the mountain where Mrs. Imbroch, who had been taken along as a guide, had been held prisoner. No Indians were to be seen. The captured squaw pointed out another mountain about two miles away to which she said the Indians had fled with seven prisoners. Again the troops pushed on through the forest, only to be again disappointed. Their foes had gone. The squaw, being again asked if she did not know where the Indians were, pointed out another mountain, but there was no path and the troops were compelled to return. On the 28th and 29th all hands were engaged in cutting down the fields of growing corn surrounding the fort. Over two hundred and fifteen acres were destroyed and over one hundred pits full of corn and beans were burned. On the 31st the fort and all the wigwams were set afire. Were the red men watching? What would be their answer to the destruction of their homes? For a little, the troops stood looking at the blaze roaring upward; then at the word of command, they began the march back to Wildwyck, which they reached about nine o'clock in the evening. The course from Wildwyck to the fort was mostly southwest about ten miles. Various locations have been assigned for the fort. From all the data it is probable that it stood on what is known as Indian Hill, in the village of Warwarsing, about twenty-two miles southwest from Kingston on the homstead property of the late John C. Hoorbeek, deceased. The Indians still lurked in the woodis about the village. To venture forth without protection was dangerous. On August 4th, the Council of War adopted an ordinance forbidding either large or small parties to leave the village without the consent of the Captain Lieutenant and only under proper convoy of soldiers. To stop the waste of powder and ball, every one unnecessarily discharging any firearm was to be fined three guilders for each shot. The court was kept quite busy imposing fines upon persons who violated these ordinances. The soldiers would get drunk even on Sunday. Every member of the militia was, by ordinance, forbidden from selling or pawning the goods advanced to him for liquor. All those engaged in selling strong drink were prohibited from receiving such property for liquor and from furnishing drinks on Sunday. During the month of August the farmers were busily engaged in getting in the grain. A great rain interfered with the harvest and carried away several of the palisades of the fort.

Some of the Esopus were hiding with the Wappinger Indians just north of Newburgh. Lieutenant van Couwenhoven sailed down the river and secured the release of four of the captives, a woman and three children. He brought two of the Wappingers. They reported that they had been with the Esopus where they were building a new fort about four hours from the fort that had been destroyed. Cregier determined to attack it with a force of one hundred and twenty men. The magistrates of the village were requested to fur- nish twenty horsemen from the hired men of the village to accompany the soldiers, and some horses to be used in bringing back the wounded. "After great trouble they obtained six horses from a few, but spiteful and insulting words from many. One said, let those furnish horses who commenced the war, another said, I'll give 'em the Devil—if they want anything they will have to take it by force. The third said, I must first have my horse valued and have securit} for it; and so forth, with much other foul and unbecoming language, not to be repeated." Thomas Chambers, without solicitation, gave two horses.

With one of the Wappinger Indians as a guide, and Christoffel Davids as interpreter, Cregier and his force left Wildwyck September 3, 1663, at one o'clock in the afternoon, and marched three miles to the creek, "which runs past the Redoubt." Here they passed the night. It rained very hard. The creek was high, the current very swift. They got across by holding on to a rope they had thrown across the stream. After a march of about four miles they camped for the night. They set out at daybreak on the morning of the 5th, and about noon came to the first corn field of the Indians, where they saw two squaws and a Dutchwoman who had come from the fort to gather corn. About two o'clock in the afternoon they came within sight of the fort. It was situated on a lofty plain. It was not as large as the one previously destroyed. It was a per- fect square with one row of palisades set all around, being about fifteen feet above and three feet under ground. Two angles of stout palisades, as thick as a man's body, having two rows of portholes, one above the other, had been completed and the Indians were busy at the third angle. When near the fort, the attack- ing party was seen by a squaw who at once let forth a terrible scream. "The Indians rushed forthwith through the fort towards their houses, which stood about a stone's throw from the fort, in order to secure their arms, and thus hastily picked up a few guns and bows and arrows, but we were so hot at their heels that they were forced to leave many of them behind. We kept up a sharp fire on them and pursued them so closely that they leaped into the creek which ran in front of the lower part of their maize land. On reach- ing the opposite side of the hill, they courageously returned our fire, which we sent back, so that we were obliged to send a party across to dislodge them. In this attack the Indians lost their chief, named Pape- quanaehen, fourteen other warriors, four women and three children, whom we saw lying on this and on the other side of the creek, but probably many more were

wounded when rushing from the fort to the houses, when we did give them a brave charge. On our side, three were killed and six wounded and we have recovered three and twenty Christian prisoners out of their hands. We have also taken thirteen of them prisoners, both men and women, besides an old man who accompanied us about half an hour, but would go no further. We took him aside and gave him his last meal. A captive Indian child died on the way, so that there remained eleven of them still our prisoners." It was necessary to get the wounded home as soon as possible, for which reason the growing corn was allowed to stand for the present. The wigwams contained a considerable quantity of bear and deer skins, blankets, elk hides, guns, powder and belts and strings of wampum. Placing the wounded upon horses, one upon a litter, loaded with booty, accompanied by their prisoners and the rescued captives, the little army took up the march back to Wildwyck, which they safely reached September 7th at about noon. An additional force of forty Marsepingh Indians arrived under van Couwenhoven. On October 1st, Cregier and his troops started for the scene of their late victory. The fort was deserted. Not an Indian was seen. The dead braves had been thrown into large pits. These the wolves had rooted up and devoured some of the bodies. The corn was pulled up and thrown into the creek. The fort and wigwams tore down, piled in a heap and burned to ashes. The fort was about twelve miles from Wildwyck on a course of South, Southwest. The way was very bad and hilly. Several large creeks had to be crossed. In some places there was very fine land.

The fort destroyed was situated in the town of Shawangunk, about four miles west of Wallkill village, just above the Shawangunk Creek. The property is now (1917) owned by Antonia Blaustein. A detachment of troops was sent to Sagers Killetie (Saw Creek) in the present town of Saugerties, about twelve miles north of Kingston to destroy some corn fields of the Indians. They reported that it was beautiful maize land, suitable for a number of bouweries and for the immediate reception of the plow. September 25, an awful tragedy happened. "A soldier, Jurien Jansen, fell out of a canoe at the Redoubt and was drowned; he was reaching for a squirrel and the canoe thus upset and he was drowned." Demon rum still held.sway. Some of the villagers got so drunk "that they cannot distinguish even the door of the house." Fights and brawls disturbed the peace. Something must be done. So, on September 26th, the "valiant Council of War" directed Schout Swartwout "to notify and forbid the tappers and retailers of strong drink who follow the profession of selling liquor in this village, that they do not under present circumstances sell strong drink to any one, be he Christian or Indian, under forfeiture of the liquor that may be found in his house."

October 7th, a girl who had been held captive by an Indian at his hut in the mountain on the other side of the creek, escaped and returned to the village. On the 9th, forty of the militia and the Marseping Indians (from Long Island), who had fought with the whites, went back to Manhattan. They took with them the captured Esopus. On the 17th, another detachment of the soldiers returned, leaving about sixty at Wildwyck under the command of Ensign Niessen. The stockade was in need of repair. The Court ordered that each farmer should set up new palisades in front of his lot. The others, being inhabitants or burghers, occupying thirty-nine lots in the village, should repair and place new palisades "from the water gate along the curtains unto the lot of Arent Pietersen Tack." They must be at least two feet in circumference and thirteen feet in length. Every person must appear on Monday, October 22, at 7 o'clock "at the gate near Hendrick Jochemsen's, to proceed with the work." November 7th, Lieutenant van Couwenhoven returned from Manhattan, bringing with him two children captives whom he had exchanged with the Esopus for a squaw and a big girl. Eight of the Indians captured at the new fort were sent back with him. He was accompanied by a Wappinger chief, who offered to return home and bring back one of the captive women who was among the Wappingers. He kept his promise and was given in exchange an Esopus squaw and child and two pieces of cloth. He said he would do his best to get all the prisoners held by the Esopus within ten days.

On November 29th he was back again, bringing six of the captives with him. For these he was given a captive squaw and two children, thirty strings of wampum, one piece of cloth, two cans of brandy, one- half an anker of brandy, fifteen strings of wampum, three yards of duffel, and ten pounds of powder. He said that he had given wampum to another Indian to look up the child of Albert Heymans (Roosa) and would bring all the other prisoners within three days. He returned on December 2nd, having two children with him, for which he was given an Indian child and three pieces of cloth. He could not return the remaining captives, five in number, because they were at the hunting grounds of the Esopus and he could not find them, but he had an Indian looking for them. Two were in his vicinity. The squaw who kept them would not let them go because she was sick, had no children and expected to die when he would get them and Roosa's daughter, who was also at the hunting grounds. On the last day of the year, December 31, 1663, Cregier, his work well done, sailed away for Manhattan. During December, 1663, the chiefs of the Hacking- kesaky and Staten Island Indians appeared before the council at Manhattan. They stated that Seweckenamo, one of the chiefs of the Esopus, was anxious for peace. He was ashamed to come himself because he could not bring with him the five remaining captives. He could not get them because they were with the Esopus at their hunting grounds. He promised to get them as soon as possible. The Council concluded a truce with the Esopus for two months, during which the captives must be returned.

On March 6, 1664, the child of Jan Lootman was re- turned, and on the 25th, the chief of the Wappingers brought back another child. He said there were only three more captives among the Esopus. On April 26, 1664, Stuyvesant wrote the directors of the company that they had got back all the captives but three and his proclamation of May 31st, designating June 4 as a day of thanksgiving for the return of the captives, states that all of them had been returned. Legend has it that one of them, the daughter of Berent Slecht, married a young brave called "Jan." They settled on the bank of the Esopus Creek in the present town of Marbletown, where they lived for many years. Her name is not among the list of captives. Some of these prisoners were in the hands of the Indians for nearly a year. They were held by "savages," by "barbarians" panting for revenge upon the white man. All but one were women and children. Not one of them was sent away into slavery. Not one was killed. Not one was injured. The honor of no woman was assailed. All were returned. A most remarkable fact to reflect upon when forming our estimate of the nature of the red man. On May 15, 1664, a notable gathering assembled in the council room at New Amsterdam. His "Noble Worship the Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant presided. About him were the Hon. Nicasius de Sille, the Hon. C. V. Ruyven, the Hon. Cornelis Steenwyck, the Hon. Paulus Leenderstsen van der Grist, Burgomasters of the city, Captain Lieutenant Marten Cregier, Lieutenant van Couwenhoven, Govert Loockermans, of Staten Island; Thomas Chambers, Commissary of the village of Wildwyck; Jacob Backer, President of the Schepens, and Abraham Wilmerdonk. Sara Kierstede acted as interpreter. There, gazing proudly at the white men, stood the chiefs of many of the tribes of the red men. Seweckenamo, Onagotin and Powsawwagh of the Esopus. t'Sees-Sagh-gauw of the Wappingers. Meeght Sewakes of the Kightewangh. See-Segh-Hout of the Reweuhnongh of Haverstraw. Sauwenarocque of the Wiechquaskeck. Oratamy of the Hackingkesacky and Tappaen. Matteno of the Staten Island and Nayack. Siejpekenouw, brother of Tapusagh of the Marsepingh, with twenty warriors of his tribe.

Old Seweckenamo, holding a stick in his hand, his arms folded, said: I have asked my God Dachtamo that I may do some good here. Let a treaty be made here as solid as this stick. The chiefs here are well pleased that peace be made between my people and the Dutch. It shall include the Marsepingh. I come to ask for peace for my people. A peace as firm and as binding as my folded arms. The other chiefs of the Esopus cannot be here. One is a very old man and blind. The others are friends of mine. I speak for them. After much talk the terms of the peace was agreed upon. The treaty provided that all that had happened should be forgiven and forgotten. All the land that had previously been given to the Dutch and that which they had taken in the late war as far as the two captured forts should remain the property of the Dutch. The Indians should not plant this land again nor come into the villages at Esopus. In order that they might not be entirely deprived of their land they might during this year plant around the old and new fort. No Indian should come upon land which the Dutch were cultivating or using for pasture. They might come to the Redoubt to sell their corn. They must not come with more than two or three canoes at once and must send a flag of truce ahead to tell that they were coming. For their accommodation a house should be built over the hill. If a Dutchman should kill an Indian or an Indian a Dutchman war should not be immediately begun. A meeting should be first held over it and the murderer punished by death in the presence of the Indians and the Dutch. If the Indians should happen to kill any of the live stock of the Dutch the chiefs should pay for it. If they refused one of them should be kept in prison until the animal killed was paid for. No Dutch- man should do any damage to the Indians.

This treaty marks the passing of the Indian. He was no longer a menace or a terror. The Esopus were scattered among the other tribes. Their forts and villages had been burned. Their corn fields destroyed. Once again, in July, 1664, Seweckenamo appeared at Manhattan. He told the council that his people were sick and "very lean" for want of food. He asked that provisions be sent to them to their country "on the other side of Haverstraw." He was told that it would be better for them to come to Manhattan for supplies, but they could purchase provisions of the whites in their country. They gave him some wampum and a piece of duffels. In return he presented several strings of wampum and an elk skin and then, sadly, proudly, strode from the council chamber. On May 6, 1664, Dominie Blom and his consistory sent a petition to Stuyvesant asking that June 7th of every year be designated as an anniversary or thanksgiving day, on which no work should be done, to commemorate the rescue of the captives and to "thank his Divine Majesty for it." The pious governor promptly complied with the request. On May 31st, he issued a proclamation to all the magistrates of the colony designating June 4th a general day of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the peace with the Indians and the return of the captives. The magistrates were directed to deliver the same "to the reverend ministers of God's word, that it may be by them communicated from the altar to the community."

Clearwater, History of Ulster County (1907)

Alphonso T[rumpbour] Clearwater, The History of Ulster County, New York, (Kingston, N.Y.: W. J. Van Deusen, 1907): 38–39, 44–47:

38–39, The Aboriginal People

The storm broke on the settlements on the morning of the 7th of June, 1663. The "barbarians" as they were called, attacked the New Village when the male settlers were at work in the fields, "burned twelve dwelling houses, murdered eighteen persons (men, women and children), and carried away as prisoners ten persons more." "The New Village has been burned to the ground," continues the narrative, "and its occupants are mostly taken prisoners or killed, only a few of them have come safely to this place," i. e., to Wildwijk. The disaster did not stop here. The attacking "barbarians" had planned the destruction of both villages, had penetrated the Old Village ostensibly for trading and at a given signal struck down inhabitants and set dwellings on fire. Eighteen settlers were killed, eight wounded, and twenty-six made prisoners. Total destruction by fire was averted by a change in the wind, and by the rallying of men who were in the fields by whom the invaders were driven out. Within its palisades and around its ruined homes the settlers gathered when night came on and kept mournful watch.
Now began the Esopus War of 1663. Martin Kregier was placed in command of the Dutch forces, and with the aid of sixty-five Marsapequa Indians from Long Island, carried sword and cannon into the heart of the Esopus country, burned the Indian villages in the more immediate vicinity of Wildwijk, crossed the hills and destroyed the Indian palisaded towns of Kerhanksen and Shawangunk, killed a large number, and destroyed wigwams and plantations. Peace came May 15, 1664. In the Council Chamber at Fort Amsterdam Esopus sachems and sachems of friendly tribes assented to the terms which Stuyvesant proposed. All the land which had been previously given to the Dutch in compensation of damages, as well as that over which the Dutch forces had passed and possessed themselves of "as far as the two captured forts," was surrendered to the Dutch as having "been conquered by the sword." Of the beautiful Esopus valley was left to them permission to plant around their former forts for one year. Amid the many fertile fields of the Blue Hills many of them found new homes, while others remained on adjacent lands that had not been surrendered.

44–47, Pioneer Settlements and Patents

Quite a village had Wildwijk become in 1663. It had a minister, physician, a skilled midwife, a precentor or schoolmaster, a smith, a weaver, a wheelwright and thrifty farmers.
Pending the development of the village other immigrants had pushed on further west and founded a Nieuw Dorp, (New Village) principally under the lead of Louis du Bois, a Huguenot, and his brother-in-law Matthew Blanshan. Presumably there were residents roundabout the two centres of settlement — unmarried farmers, laborers, and servants, soldiers at the Rondhout, etc. In the distribution of house lots in Wildwijk only heads of families were provided for. The New Village was not palisaded.
Looking in upon the old Village of Wildwijk on Thursday June 7th, 1663, "between the hours of eleven and twelve in the morning," we see Indians entering through all the gates of the palisades, dividing and scattering themselves among the houses and dwellings in a friendly way with a little corn to sell, just as they had done on many previous occasions. The men of the village, or most of them, were abroad or at work in the fields, the women busy in their household duties, the children playing around their homes. A "short quarter of an hour" passed when a horseman rushed in through the Mill Gate crying out, "The Indians have destroyed the New Village !" An Indian fires a gun; it is a signal to his confederates. Forthwith men are struck down with axes and tomahawks, and shot with guns and pistols, women and children in some number killed and others carried away captive, and houses plundered and set on fire, the peaceful homes of the morning converted to scenes of carnage and death and terror. At this point the narrative tells us the wind changed to the west and the firing of guns alarmed some of those who were working in the fields. "Near the Millgate were Albert Gysbertson with two servants, and Tejerck Classen de Witt; at the Sheriff's, himself, and two carpenters, two clerks and one thresher; at Cornelius Barentsen Sleight's, himself and his son; at the Dominie's, himself, and two carpenters and one laboring man; at the guard-house a few soldiers; at the gate towards the river, Hendrick Jochemsen, and Jacob the Brewer, but Jochemsen was very severely wounded in his house by two shots at an early hour. By these men, most of whom had neither guns nor side arms, were the Indians chased and put to flight.**[1] After these few men had been collected, by degrees others arrived from the fields, and we found ourselves, when mustered in the evening, including those who had escaped from the Nieuw Dorp and taken refuge among us, in number sixty-nine effective men." Add to this number fifteen men who had been killed, two who had been mortally wounded and could not be classed as effective, two who had been taken prisoners, and the total number of male settlers in the Esopus villages was less than one hundred men. Further than the narrative shows their names cannot be given — perhaps there were some at the Redout at the landing — perhaps some were from home. The narrative is signed by Roelof Swartwout, Sheriff, Albert Gysbertsen, Tjerck Classen de Witt, Thomas Chambers, Gysbert van Imbroch, Christian Nyssen and Hendrick Jochemsen, who composed the Court at Wildwijk, the names of some of whom have already been given.
Passing from the description of the attack to its results the official report shows that at Wildwijk nine men, three soldiers, four women, and two children, had been killed; four women and five children taken prisoners, and twelve houses and barns burned, viz: Garent Gerretsen, killed in front of his house; Jan Alberts, killed in his house; Lechen Dirreck, killed on the farm; William Jansen Seba, killed opposite his door; Willem Jansen Hap, killed in Peter van Hall's house; Jan the smith, killed in his house; Hendrick Jansen Looman, killed on his farm; Thomas Chambers' negro, killed on the farm; Hey Olferts, killed in the gunner's house; Hendrick Martensen (soldier) killed on the farm; Dominicus (soldier), killed in Jan Alberts' house; Christian Andriesen (soldier), killed on the street; Lichten Dirrack's wife, burnt, behind Barent Garritsen's house; Mattys Capito's wife, killed and burned in the house; Jan Albertsen's wife, big with child, killed in front of her house; Pieter van Hall's wife, shot and burned in her house; Jan Alberts' little girl, murdered with her mother; Willem Hap's child burned alive in the house. Prisoners taken: Master Gysbert's wife; Hester Douwe (blind Hester); Sara, daughter of Hester Douwe; Grietje, Dominie Laer's wife; Femmetje, sister of Hilletje, recently married to Joost Ariaens; Tjerck Classen de Witt's oldest daughter; Dominie Laer's[2] child; Ariaen Gerretsen's daughter; two little boys of Mattys Roeloffsen. Houses burned of Michael Frer, Willem Hap, Mattys Roeloffsen, Albert Gerretson, Lichten Derrick, Hans Carolusen, Pieter van Hael, Jacob Boerhans (two), Barent Gerretsen (two), Mattys Roloffsen. Wounded in Wildwijk: Thomas Chambers, shot in the woods; Hendrick Frere, shot in front of his house (died of his wound); Albert Gerretsen, shot in front of his house; Andries Barents, shot in front of his house; Jan du Parck, shot in the house of Aert Pietersen Tack; Hendrick, the Herr Director-general's servant; Paulus Noorman, shot in the street. Killed in the Nieuw Dorp: Marten Harmensen, found dead and stript behind his wagon; JacquesTyssen, found dead beside Barent's house; Derrick Ariaeson, shot on his horse. Taken prisoners: Jan Gerritsen on Volckert's bouwery; wife and three children of Louis du Bois; two children of Matthew Blanchan; wife and child of Antoni Crispel; wife and four children of Marten Harmensen; wife and three children of Lambert Huybertsen; wife and two children of Jan Joosten; wife and child of Barent Harmensen; wife and three children of Grietje Westercamp; wife and child of Jan Barents; two children of Michael Frere; child of Hendrick Jochems; child of Hendrick Martensen; two children of Albert Heymans. The Nieuw Dorp was entirely destroyed except, says the report, "a new uncovered barn, one rick and a little stack of reed."[3]
A dark day in Esopus was that Thursday, June 7th, 1663 — that day of terror, of murder, of fire, which has few equals in pioneer history — that day on which names were written in imperishable record. Among the actors in the scenes which have been referred to was the interesting Dutch Minister Hermanus Bloom who wrote to his Classis, "We have escaped, with most of the inhabitants," and in his description of the scene:
"There lay the burnt and slaughtered bodies, together with those who were wounded by bullets and axes. The last agonies and the moans and lamentations of many were dreadful to hear. The houses were converted into heaps of stones, so that I may say with Micah, We are made desolate."
Dominie Bloom wrote that twenty-four persons had been killed, and forty-five taken prisoners. (Letter of Sept. 13, 1663.)

Kregier, "Journal of the Second Esopus War" (1663)

Martin Kregier, "Journal of the Second Esopus War; by Capt. Martin Kregier; with an Account of the Massacre at Wildwyck, (now Kingston,) the Names of Those Killed, Wounded, and Taken Prisoners, by the Indians on that Occasion; 1663", translated from the original Dutch manuscript.

This translation of the report sent to the Council of New Netherland is primary source material for all subsequent accounts of these events.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia has a page on the Esopus Wars.

Footnotes

  1. It appears there should be a footnote associated with these two asterisks, but there isn't
  2. Adriaen van Laer and servant emigrated from Amsterdam in the ship Gilded Otter, May, 1658. He married later. He was a Lutheran minister who happened to be at Wildwijk.
  3. Schoonmaker in his "History of Kingston" wrote: "All the captives were returned except Barent Slecht's daughter. She had married a young warrior and remained with him." Her name is not in the list of prisoners of June 7th; she may have been captured in 1658–9. The story of her marriage is given as traditional. It is of record that a son of Evart Pels was taken prisoner in 1658–9, and was condemned to death, but saved from execution by an Indian maiden, that he married her and refused to return to his Dutch friends. The record may be found in Colonial History, N. Y., Vol. XIII, p. 143. The story of Slecht's daughter may be true.




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