April 26, 1680 Excerpts from Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, 1679-1680
p. 316 As soon as we arrived in Albany we went to our skipper Meus Hooghboom, to inquire when he was going to the city. He said to-morrow, but he said he would come and notify us of the time. We saw it would run on a much longer time, as it usually does in these parts.
27th, Saturday. We went to call upon a certain Madam Rentselaer, widow of the Heer Rentselaer, son of the founder (p. 317) of the colony of Rentselaerwyck. . . . *** We went to look at several of her mills at work, which she had there on an ever-running stream, grist-mills, saw-mills, and others. One of the grist-mills can grind 120 schepels 1 of meal in twenty-four hours, that is five an hour. Returning to the house, we politely took our leave. Her residence is about a quarter of an hour from Albany up the river.
1 One hundred ,and forty-four bushels.
p. 318 29th, Monday. We should have left to-day, but our skipper said he could not obtain his passport. ***
30th, Tuesday. We were ready to leave early, but it ran well on towards noon, when with a head wind, but a strong current down, we tacked over to Kinderhoeck, lying on the east shore sixteen miles below Albany.
Before we quit Albany, we must say a word about the place. It was formerly named the Fuyck, by the Hollanders, who first settled there on account of two rows of houses standing there, opposite to each other, which being wide enough apart in the beginning, finally ran quite together like a fuyck, 1 and, therefore, they gave it this name, 1 The fuyck is a hoop-net used for the purpose of catching fish. . . . The body of it is in shape somewhat like a truncated cone.
(p. 320) which, although the place is built up, it still bears with many, especially the Dutch and Indians living about there. It is nearly square, and lies against a hill, with several good streets, on which there may be about eighty or ninety houses. Fort Orange, constructed by the Dutch, lies below on the bank of the river, and is set off with palisades, filled in with earth on the inside. It is now abandoned by the English, who have built a similar one back of the town, high up on the declivity of the hill, from whence it can command the place. *** The town is surrounded by palisades, and has several gates corresponding with the streets. It has a Dutch reformed, and a Lutheran church. *** There is no English church, or place of meeting, to my knowledge. As this is the principal trading post with the Indians, and as the privilege of trading is granted to certain merchants there, only as a special benefit, who know what every one must bring there, there are houses or lodges erected on both sides of the town, where the Indians, who come from the far interior to trade, live during the time they are there. This time of trading with the Indians is at its height in the months of June and July, and also in August, when it falls off; (p. 321) because it is then the best time for them to make their journeys there and back, as well as for the Hollanders, on account of their harvests.
We came to anchor at Kinderhook, in order to take in some grain, which the female trader before mentioned, had there to be carried down the river.
May 1st, Wednesday. We began early to load, but as it had to come from some distance in the country, and we had to wait, we stepped ashore to amuse ourselves. We came to a creek where near the river, lives the man whom they usually call The Child of Luxury, ('t Kind van Weelde), because he formerly had been such a one, but who now was not far from being the Child of Poverty ('t Kind van Armoede), for he was situated poorly enough. He had a sawmill on the creek, on a water fall, which is a singular one, for it is true that all falls have something special, and so had this one, which was not less rare and pleasant than others. The water fell quite steep, in one body, but it came down in steps, with a broad rest sometimes between them. These steps were sixty feet or more high, and were formed out of a single rock, which is unusual. I reached this spot alone through the woods, and while I was sitting on the mill, my comrade came up with the Child of Luxury, who, after he had shown us the mill and falls, took us down a little to the right of the mill, under a rock, on the margin of the creek, where we could behold how wonderful God is even in the most hidden parts of the earth; for we saw crystal lying in layers between the rocks, and when we rolled away a piece of the rock, there was, at least, on two sides of it, a crust or bark, about as thick as the breadth of a straw, of a sparkling or glassy substance, which looked like alabaster, and this crust was full of points or gems, which were truly gems of crystal, or like substance. They sparkled brightly, and were as clear as water, and so close together that you could obtain hundreds of them from one (p. 322) piece of the crust. We broke some pieces off, and brought them away with us as curiosities. ***
On returning to the boat, we saw that the woman-trader had sent a quantity of bluish wheat on board, which the skipper would no receive, or rather mix with the other wheat; but when she came she had it done, in which her dishonesty appeared, for when the skipper arrived at New York he could not deliver the wheat which was under hers. We set sail in the evening, and came to Claver rack (Clover-reach), sixteen miles further down where we also took in some grain in the evening.
2d, Thursday. We were here laden full of grain, which had to be brought in four miles from the country. The boors who brought it in wagons, asked us to ride out with them to their places, which we did. We rode along a high ridge of blue rock on the right hand, the top of which was grown over. This stone is suitable for burning lime, as the people of the Hysopus, from the same kind, burn the best. Large, clear fountains flow out of these cliffs or hills, the first real fountains, and the only ones we have met with in this country. We arrived at the places which consist of fine farms; the tillable land is like that of Schoon echten deel, low, flat and pleasant to look upon, especially at the present time, when they were all green with the wheat coming up. The woodland also, is very good for tillable land, and it was one (p. 323) of the locations which pleased me most, with its agreeable fountains. Coming back to the shore, I made a sketch, as well as I could, of the Catskill mountains, which now showed themselves nakedly, which they did not do to us when we went up the river. They lie on the west side of the river, deep in the country, and I stood on the east side of it. In the evening, we obtained a still more distinct view of them.
3d, Friday. We took on board early the rest of our lading. Our tradress [female trader] left us here in order to go back to Albany, and we received two other passengers in her stead, a young man of this place, named Dirck (Diederic), to whom we made mention of our crystal. He said they had at his place, a rock, in which there was a yellow, glittering substance like gold, as they firmly believed it was; he did not know we were there, otherwise he would have presented us with a specimen. ***
We sailed from there about nine o'clock, but after going eight or twelve miles, got aground in consequence of our heavy lading, where we were compelled to remain until four o'clock in the afternoon, waiting for high water. But what was unfortunate, we missed a fine, fair wind, which sprung up about eleven o'clock. Meanwhile, the passengers went ashore. I walked a small distance into the country and came to a fall of water, the basin of which was full of fish, two of which I caught with my hands. They (p. 324) were young shad. I went immediately after the other passengers for assistance to catch more, but when they came, they made such an agitation of the water, that the fish all shot to the bottom, and remained there under the rocks. We therefor, could obtain no more; but it we had had a small schep-net (casting net), we could have caught them in great numbers, or if I had remained there quiet alone. But as it was, we had to abandon it. ***
The water having risen, and the wind being favorable, we went on board, and as soon as we were afloat, got under sail. We proceeded rapidly ahead, and at sundown came to anchor before the Hysopus, where we landed some passengers who lived there.
4th, Saturday. We went ashore early, and further inland to the village. We found Gerrit, the glass-maker there, with his sister. He it was who desired to come up here in company with us, and he was now happy to see us. he was engaged putting the glass in their new church, but left his work to go with us through the country, where he was better acquainted than we were. We found here exceedingly large flats, which are more than three hours ride in length, very level, with a black soil which yields grain abundantly. They lie like those at Schoon ecte and Claver rack, between the hills and along the creek, which sometimes overflows all the land, and drowns and washes out much or the wheat. The place is square, set off with (p. 325) palisades, through which there are several gates; it consists of about fifty houses with in the stockade. *** In returning to the village, we observed a very large, clear fountain bubbling from under a rock. *** But our skipper having finished what he had to do, we left there. Here and in Albany, they brew the heaviest beer we have tasted in all New Netherlands, and from wheat alone, because it is so abundant. *** At the mouth of the creek on the shore of the river, there are some houses and a redoubt, together with a general storehouse, where the farmers bring in their grain, in order that it may be conveniently shipped when the boats come up here, and wherein their goods are discharged from the boats, as otherwise there would be too much delay in going back and forth. The woodland around the Hysopus is not of much value, and is nothing but sand and rock. *** (p. 326) *** We went on board the boat, and immediately got under sail, with a favorable but light wind, and by evening arrive at the entrance of the Highlands.
5th, Sunday. The wind was ahead, but it was calm. When the tide began to fall, we tacked, or rather drifted along, but with little progress. We passed through the Highlands, however, and came to anchor by the time the ebb was spent. The weather was very rainy.
6th, Monday. The wind was still contrary, and blew hard, therefore, we tacked, but in consequence of our being very heavily laden, we advanced but little. We anchored again when we went ashore at a place on the east side of the river, where there was a meadow on fire. *** Some Indians came alongside of us in their canoes, whom we called on board, and bought from them a very large striped bass, as large as a codfish in the Fatherland, for a loaf of stale bread worth about three stuivers, Holland money, and some other fish, for a little old salt meat.
7th, Tuesday. At daylight the tide served, but the wind was still ahead, though steady. We continued tacking (p. 327) with considerable progress, and at the o'clock, arrived before the city of New York, where we struck upon a rock. The water was falling, and we, therefore, immediately carried out an anchor, and wore the yacht off. A slight breeze soon sprung up, and took us to the city. ***
p. 328 The North river is the most navigated, and frequented river in these parts, because the country about it, is the most inhabited. Its larger population as compared with other places is owing for the most part, first to the fact that the capital was originally established here, and has remained here, under whatever government has prevailed, although the South river was first discovered; secondly, because it is the most convenient place for the purposes of navigation, I mean the capital, and is the middle and centre of the whole of New Netherland; and thirdly, because this place, and indeed the river, possess the most healthy and temperate climate. We will hereafter speak of New York, and con fine ourselves now to the North river; which was so called for two reasons, and justly so; the first of which is because, as regards the South river, it lies in a more northerly latitude, the South river lying in 39° and the North river in 40° 25' and being also thus distinguishable from the East river. . . . The other reason is because it runs up generally in a northerly direction, or between north by east and north northeast. *** (p. 330) Above Sapocanikke the river is about two miles wide, and is very uniformly of the same width as far up as the Hysopus and higher, except in the Highlands, where there are here and there a narrow strait and greater depth. Above the Hysopus, which is 90 to 96 miles from the city, it still maintains a fair width, but with numerous islands, shoals and shallows, up to Fort Albany, where it is narrower. It is easily navigable to the Hysopus with large vessels, and thence to Fort Albany with smaller ones, although ketches and such craft can go up there and load.
p. 333 The North river abounds with fish of all kinds, throughout from the sea to the falls [Cohoes], and in the branch which runs up to the lake. *** It is not necessary for those who live in the city [New York], and other places near the sea, to go to the sea to fish, but they can fish in the river and waters inside; . . . and they can by means of fuycks or seines not only obtain fish enough for their daily consumption, but also the salt, dry and smoke, for commerce, and to export by shiploads if they wish, all kinds of them, as the people of Boston do; but the people here have better land than they have there, where they, therefore, resort more for a living to the water.
There is much beautiful quarry stone of all kinds on this river, well adapted for building purposes and for burning lime; and as fine cedar wood as we have seen anywhere. Nevertheless, for suitableness of navigation, and for rich land on both sides, all the way up, the South river excels the North; but what gives the North river the preference, and crowns it over the South river is, its salubrious climate; though above Christina creek, the South river is healthy, and it is every day becoming more so, along the whole of that river. On the North river, however, one had not to wait and die before this improvement may take place.
Journal of a Voyage to New York . . . in 1679-80, by Jaspar Dankers and Peter Sluyter of Wiewerd in Friesland. Henry C. Murphy, trans. & ed. Brooklyn, 1867.
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