Old Bergen

Chapter XII.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

IN a short time, however, a few of the colonists returned to their ruined homes and endeavored to restore them to their former condition. The difficulty of protecting isolated or scattered settlements being recognized, the Director General and Council passed an ordinance January 18, 1656, setting forth as follows:

In consequence of the separate dwellings of the country people, many murders of people, killing and destruction of cattle, and burning of houses, have been committed and perpetrated by the Indians, the most of which might have been, with God's help, prevented and avoided, if the good inhabitants of this province had settled themselves together in the form of towns, villages and hamlets, like our neighbors of New England, who, because of their combination and compact residences, have never been subject to suchat least not to so many and such general disasters, which have been caused, next to God's righteous chastisement,'on account of our sins by tempting the savage barbarians thereto by the separate residences of the country people.

The Director General and Council, aforesaid, do hereby not only warn their good subjects, but likewise chare and command them, to concentrate themselves by next spring in the form of towns, villages and hamlets, so that they may be the more effectually protected, maintained and defended, against all assaults and attacks of the barbarians, by each other, and by the military entrusted to the Director General and Council. Furthermore, in order to prevent a too sudden conflagration, they do ordain, that from now henceforth, no houses shall be covered with straw or reed, nor any more chimneys be constructed of clapboards or wood.

The next year the ordinance was reaffirmed, and the people commanded to respect its provisions. The horrors of Indian warfare were so great, and the feeling of insecurity so general, that the settlers with few exceptions delayed returning to Pavonia, and the country remained almost desolate. In order to remove any cause for friction with the Indians on account of adverse claims to their territory, and to reassure the timid settlers, Governor Stuyvesant and the Council of New Netherlands purchased of the Indians, January 30, 1658, a tract of land by the following description:
Lying on the west bank of the Hudson, beginning at the Great Clip (meaning Rock, author's note), above Weehawken, and from thence right through the lands till above the island of Siskakes (Secaucus, author's note), and thereupon thence to the Kill von Kull, and so along to the Constable Hook, and from the Constable Hook again to the aforesaid Clip at Weehawken, with all the lands, islands, channels, and valleys therein comprehended for eighty fathom of wampum, twenty fathom of cloth, twelve brass kettles, and one-half barrel strong beer.
This was done at Fort Amsterdam and signed with the marks of the Indians, after the cargoes were delivered to their hands, the 30th day of January, Anno Domini, 1658.

The following are their names:

By this deed the Indians relinquished all their right and title in and to the territory lying between the Hudson River, and the Hackensack and Newark Bay (comprising the old Township of Bergen). This same territory was assessed in 1901 on a valuation of about $$150,000,000. This purchase by the Council tended to allay to a great extent the hostility of the Indians, and the settlers who had been driven away were anxious to return to their former fields. They were enabled to develop their holdings without much interference, but so great was the expense they were subjected to, on account of the general destruction of their buildings, that they petitioned the Council to exempt them from the payment of tithes or taxes for a few years. This petition was signed by Michael Jansen Vreeland, Claas Jansen Bacher, Claas Petersen Garrabrant Cos, Jans Captain, Dirck Sekier, Dirck Claersen and Lysbet Tysen. Whereupon the Council made an order as follows, dated January 22nd, 1658
The suppliants are permitted, in consideration of the reasons explained in their petition, the privilege of exemption from the payment of tithes, and the burthens attached to these, during six years, provided that they, in conformity to the order and placards of the Director General and Council, concentrate themselves in the form of a village, at least of ten or twelve families together; to become in future more secure, and easier to receive aid for defence, in similar disastrous occurrences.
On this encouragement, the settlers began to reoccupy their plantations and boueries, but seem to have been averse to collecting together in villages, as conditioned.

The following order was thereupon issued

In order to prevent, and in future put a stop, as much as possible, to such massacres, murders and burning by cruel barbarians at the separate dwellings, the Director General and Council of New Netherlands do therefore notify and order all isolated farmers in general, and each in particular, wherever they may reside, without any distinction of person, to remove their houses, goods and cattle, before the last of March, or at latest the middle of April, and convey them to the village nearest and most convenient to them; or with the previous knowledge and approval of the Director General and Council, to a favorably situated and defensible spot, in a new Palisade village, to be hereafter formed, when all those who apply shall be shown and granted suitable lots by the Director General and Council, or their agents; so that the Director General and Council, in case of any difficulty with the cruel barbarians, would be better able to assist, maintain and protect their good subjects, with the force entrusted to them by God, and the Supreme Authority -- on pain of confiscation of all such goods as shall be found after the aforesaid time, in separate dwellings and farm-houses.