Old Bergen

Chapter II.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

WITH a crew of sixteen men, Englishmen and Hollanders, Hudson set sail from the Texel on April 6, 1609 directing his course toward the north. He arrived at Newfoundland, and, sailing along the coast in a southwesterly direction, reached Delaware Bay; whence returning and skirting the easterly shore of New Jersey, on Sept. 3, 1609, he discovered, as he thought, the long sought-for passage. The next morning he passed within Sandy Hook and there anchored, determining to continue his explorations on the following day. His experiences are related in the following extracts from his Report:
During the night a storm arose, and the wind blowing from the northeast, the vessel was driven on shore, but as the ground was soft sand and ooze, it was not harmed. . . . The people of the country came aboard of us, seeming very glad of our coming, and brought green tobacco and gave of it for knives and beads. . . . In the morning as soon as the day was light, the wind ceased and the flood came, so we heaved off our ship again in five fathoms of water. Some of the Indians came aboard of the vessel, but at night they were sent on shore as they were not to be trusted.
He decided, however, to continue his voyage, and on the sixth of September he made preparations to ascend the passage. He passed through the Narrows, and sent in a boat's crew to investigate. Sailing along the shore of Staten Island, they passed through the Kill von Kull and entered Newark Bay; but finding that the sought-for passage was evidently not in that direction, they retraced their route. While returning through the Kills, they were attacked by the Indians and one of the crew killed.
Henry Hudson

The remainder reached the vessel in safety, bearing the dead body of their companion. The Indians now showed such an unfriendly disposition that a strict watch was maintained to guard against treachery. Determining from the investigations of the crew that the desired passage lay before him, Hudson weighed anchor,and from the 7th to the 13th the vessel slowly and cautiously worked its way through the bay to about Weehawken Cove, where he again anchored.

We can scarcely appreciate the emotions of this bold navigator who, after many years of searching and stormy buffetings, found himself, as he supposed, on the threshold of a discovery that would revolutionize the trade of the then known world. Standing on the deck of his vessel on that autumnal morning, his eyes rested upon the fairest picture that ever sun shone upon. As he passed through the Narrows, he saw stretching out before him the glittering road that was to lead to fame and fortune. Surrounded by the wooded hills of Long and Staten Islands, with the rocky shores of New Jersey rising in the distance, the magnificent bay and river reached off to the northeast, as if beckoning him on to the long-sought-for goal.

On the arrival of the vessel at Weehawken Cove, it was surrounded by the canoes of Indians from the west bank, who desired to trade with the white strangers. They seemed peaceably inclined and friendly. Hudson says:

They go in deer-skins, loose and well dressed; they desire clothes and are civil; those from the east side were more fierce, while those from the west side, while we lay at anchor, brought for barter the largest and finest oysters, Indian corn and vegetables.
The next morning, the 14th, Hudson commenced ascending the stream, but he soon discovered, from the shallowing of the water, that he had not succeeded in finding the northwest passage. He continued his investigations, however, reaching a point above Albany on the 23rd. Jouet states: "Higher up it becomes so shallow that small skiffs can with difficulty sail there, and one sees in the distance several lofty hills from whence most of the water in the river flows."

Returning thence, Hudson explored the adjoining country and traded with the Indians for skins of wild beasts and products of the soil. He reached Weehawken Cove and again anchored there on the 2nd of October. Jouet says:

Within a while after, we got down about two leagues beyond that place (Haverstraw Bay, author's note), and anchored in a Bay clear from all danger on the other side of the River. We here saw a good piece of ground, and hard by there was a cliff (Castle Point, author's note) that looked of the color of white green, as though it was either a copper or silver mine, and I think it to be one of these by the trees that grow upon it, for they are all burned and the other places are green grass. . . . There we saw no people to trouble us and rode quietly all night, but had much wind and rain. The 3rd was very stormy, and in the morning in a gust of wind and rain we drove on the ground, but it was oozy. We had much wind and rain, with thick weather, so we rode all night. The 4th being fair weather, we weighed anchor and came out of the great mouth of the great river that runneth to the northwest (junction of Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, author's note), and by 12 o'clock we were clear of the inlet. On the 5th we continued our course toward England without seeing any land by the way.
It is thus seen that Hudson left the harbor through the Kills, and passing around Staten Island, reached the ocean. Although Hudson had failed in his endeavor to secure a short passage to the East, the knowledge that he had discovered a country of such boundless resources, doubtless reconciled him to his want of success.

The Half-Moon