Old Bergen

Chapter X.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

THE people were anxious to maintain peace with the savages, and were indignant with Kieft for his harshness. He thereupon called them together for consultation, and chose twelve select men to consult and advise with the Director and Council. They counselled moderation, and were to be notified by the Governor before any action should be taken. Notwithstanding this, Kieft became more decided and exacting in his demands, and determined to enforce them at any cost. As a preparation, he ordered the residents of Manhatta and the vicinity to arm themselves, and at the firing of three guns to repair to the place appointed for service.

Shortly after this, some of the Company's men landed on Staten Island, which had been settled by De Vries, and stole some hogs belonging to him. For this theft, the Raritan Indians were blamed, and Governor Kieft sent a party of fifty soldiers and twenty sailors to attack them and destroy their corn, unless they should make reparation. This was refused, several of the Indians were killed, and their crops were destroyed. In retaliation, the Indians attacked De Vries' plantation on Staten Island; where-upon Kieft issued a proclamation offering ten fathoms of wampum for every head of that tribe, and twenty fathoms for heads of actual murderers. This offer excited the cupidity of the other tribes, and intensified the strife among them. To obtain this reward, much innocent blood was shed and ill feeling engendered. The Indians were divided into different tribes and languages, each tribe living separate and apart by itself, and having a chief to whom it was subject. These tribes differed greatly in characteristics, some of them being naturally of a friendly disposition, while others were quite the reverse. These differences often led to feuds and strife among them, and there was a natural enmity between the Indians inhabiting the upper Hudson (the Iroquois and Mohawks), who were by nature fierce and warlike, and those who were located about the mouth of the Hudson, (the Delawares), who were more pacific is their nature.

In 1643, one of these periodical outbreaks occurred, and the fierce Mohawks made an attack upon the lower tribes, on the west side of the river. Many of these were slain and made prisoners, and many fled to Manhatta, and afterwards to Pavonia, where they encamped on the 22nd of February, 1643, at Jan de Lacher Hoeck, behind the settlement of Egbert Wouterson, and near Jan Evertsen Bout's bouerie (near the intersection of Pine Street with New Jersey Central R.R.) Kieft thought this afforded him a favorable opportunity to punish the Indians for their rebellion, and at the same time enforce his demands to their fullest extent.

He thereupon issued the following order: "Sergeant Rudolf is commanded and authorized to take under his command a troop of soldiers, and lead them to Pavonia, and drive away and destroy the savages lying behind Jan Evertsen Bout, to spare as is possible their wives and children. The exploit should be executed at night, with the greatest caution and prudence."

In pursuance of this order, the sergeant and eighty soldiers embarked in boats, crossed to the shores of Pavonia, and, rounding the southerly point of Paulus Hook, pulled for the high bank at the mouth of the Mill Creek (near Jersey Avenue and Phillip Street). Cautiously climbing over this bank, they came suddenly on the unsuspecting Indians, and slaughtered many of them, sparing neither the old, the women nor the children. So thoroughly were the survivors deceived as to the origin of this attack, that they fled for protection to the Dutch at Fort Amsterdam, believing that they had been surprised and attacked by the Mohawks. They were, however, soon undeceived, and then commenced a relentless war. All the tribes between the Raritan and the Connecticut now buried their individual resentments, and combined in a war for the extermination of the whites ; and all those not in the immediate vicinity of Fort Amsterdam, were in constant danger from the tomahawk and scalping-knife. So general was the uprising, and so energetic and relentless was the attack of the Indians, that in a short time the whole country was wrested from the whites, and the savages again roamed unmolested over the soil. Peace was finally concluded, but being on unsatisfactory terms to the Indians, it was not of long duration. They could not so readily forget the wrongs they had suffered, and felt that they were unavenged. They therefore broke out into open hostility again, determined to obtain full and complete satisfaction. Kieft, now thoroughly alarmed, sought the assistance of the people, whom he had hitherto slighted. Eight men were selected, instead of twelve, for conference with the Council. Self-preservation compelled them to active measures, and war was determined upon; the people were armed, and so stationed as to protect the outlying settlements. But the savages, by means of their peculiar, stealthy manner of warfare, were enabled to greatly harass the settlers, and we find the four boueries in Pavonia laid waste-Bout's, Wouterson's, Stofflesen's and Teunisen's. Every bouerie and plantation was destroyed, and the cattle killed or driven away.

These troubles produced much discontent among the colonists, and, recognizing that their great misfortunes had been brought upon them by the inordinate ambition and misgovernment of Kieft, the people were aroused, and sent protests to the home government, again demanding his removal.

Mill Creek