History of Columbia County, New York
By Captain Franklin Ellis
Published by Everts & Ensign
CHAPTER I I
Pages 10 to 15
THE WHITE MAN'S FIRST VISIT, AND THE INDIANS WHOM HE FOUND HERE.
In the year 1609, and in the month of September, a small and lonely-looking vessel came in from the ocean and sailed towards the west, along the south shore of Long Island. Her people scanned the shore closely, watching for inlets and harbors, until at last they came to where, behind a bare and barren point, they saw an inviting bay, which seemed to extend far away inland towards the north; and into this after careful sounding, they entered and dropped their anchor in a sheltered roadstead, "where the water was alive with fish." The barren cape which they had passed is now called Sandy Hook, and the harbor in which their little ship lay alone at anchor is that crowded marine thoroughfare known as the lower bay of New York.
The vessel was of Dutch build, high-pooped after the ancient style, of a burden of about forty lasts or eighty tons, and carrying a rig something similar to that of the modern brigantine. Her name, "The Half-Moon," in Dutch, was painted on her stern; and high above it floated the Dutch colors, orange,* white, and blue. She was, in fact, one of the vessels of the Dutch East India Company, which they had put in commission under command of Captain Henry Hudson, and Englishman, with Robert Juet, also an Englishman, as clerk or supercargo, and with a crew of twenty sailors, partly Dutch and partly English, and had dispatched her from Amsterdam, for the purpose of discovering a northeastern or northwestern passage to China and the Indies.
The previous incidents of her voyage are not pertinent to our narrative. It is sufficient to say that, with the master and crew above mentioned, she had now entered an estuary, which Captain Hudson verily believed (from its size, depth, and general direction) to be the outlet of a passage such as he was seeking.
After a nine days' stay here, during which he thoroughly explored the kills and other waters around Staten Island, and met and dealt with the strange people whom he found living upon the shores, he lifted his anchor, and on the 12th of September sailed on, up the great river. On the 14th he passed Haverstraw, and anchored that night near West Point. On the morning of the 15th he resumed his way, and before evening many bluffs and headlands, which are now within the county of Columbia, lay abreast of him, upon the starboard hand. That night the "Half-Moon" was anchored near Catskill, where, says Hudson's journal, "we found very loving people and very old men, and were well used. Our boat went to fish, and caught great stores of very good fish." The natives also brought on board "Indian corn, pumpkins, and tobacco." The next morning they delayed for a long time, taking in water (probably not have discovered the excellence of the river water, or else having found a spring which they much preferred), so that during all that day they made not more than five or six miles, and anchored for the night near the present site of the village of Athens. Beyond here they seem to have found more difficult navigation and to have made slower progress. At a point a short distance above the vessel lay for many hours, during which they were visited by natives, with whom the commander returned to the shore and became their guest. The following account of his visit is given by De Laet, as a transcript from Hudson's own journal. He says,----
"I sailed to the shore in one of their canoes with an old man who was chief of a tribe consisting of forty men and seventeen women. These I saw there in a house, well constructed of oak-bark, and circular in shape, so that it had the appearance of being built with an arched roof. It contained a great quantity of Indian corn and beans of the last year's growth; and there lay near the house, for purpose of drying, enough to load three ships, besides what was growing in the fields. On our coming into the house, two mats were spread out to sit upon, and some food was immediately served in well-made red wooden bowls. Two men were also dispatched at once with bows and arrows in quest of game, who soon brought in pair of pigeons which they had shot. They likewise killed a fat dog, and skinned it in great haste, with shells which they had got out of the water. They supposed that I would remain with them for the night; but I returned after a short time on board the ship. The land is the finest for cultivation that I ever in my life set foot upon, and it also abounds in trees of every description. These natives are a very good people, for when they saw that I would not remain with them they supposed that I was afraid of their bows; and, taking their arrows, they broke them in pieces, and threw them into the fire."
De Laet gives 42o 18' as the latitude of the place where this visit was made. This seems to confirm the belief, arising from other circumstances, that the lodge, granaries, and corn-fields of the old chief were in the present town of Stockport, near the mouth of the creek, and that the commander of the "Half-Moon" was the first white man who ever set foot within the territory which is now Columbia county.
Above this place they proceeded slowly, as would naturally be the case in navigating a channel with the intricacies of which they were entirely unacquainted; and it was not until the evening of the 18th that the "Half-Moon" let go her anchor at or near where is now the city of Albany. The approach of the great canoe with its strange company had been heralded near and far, and a great number of the simple natives came to gaze upon a sight which many regarded with fear, and all with wonder. When Hudson saw such great numbers of them collected together he had some misgivings as to their intentions, and the safety of himself, his crews, and his vessel, and he determined to subject some of their principal men to a test, " to see whether they had any treachery in them," and it was a most cunning as well as efficacious one which he applied. "They took them down into the cabin and gave them so much wine and aqua vitζ that they were all merry. In the end one of them was drunk, and they could not tell how to take it." He argued most correctly that, however much they might be disposed to dissimulate, the test of the fire-water would tear away the veil and unmask their treacherous designs, if any such were entertained by them. But no indication of perfidy was discovered. All drank until their tongues were loosened, but one old chief went farther, and became helplessly intoxicated. When his Indian friends began to see his manner change and his step grow unsteady, until at last he lay prostrate upon the deck, they set up sad howlings of grief, for they believed him to be dead. But the strangers assured them by signs that he was not dead, and that after a time he would be as well as ever. Then they departed for he shore, though in great sadness, for they left the old man unconscious upon the cabin floor, and probably they doubted the truth of the white men's assurances that he would in due time recover. In the morning, however, they came back and found him alive and apparently none the worse for his excesses; and he assured them that never in all his life before had be been so happy as after he drank the strange liquid, and while he remained in the trance. He asked that he might have more of the strong water, and his request was complied with, though this time with greater caution. A small quantity was also given to each of the other Indians, whose confidence and friendly feelings were thus fully restored; and they departed in excellent spirits, and full of the belief that their recent entertainers belonged to a superior order of beings.
It was not long before they again returned, and "brought tobacco and beads," which they presented to the captain, "and made an oration, and showed him all the country round about. Then they sent one of their company on land again, who presently returned and brought a great platter full of venison, dressed by themselves;" and after the captain had, at their request, partaken of this, "then they made him reverence and departed, all save the old man," who would probably have preferred never again to quit the Indian paradise which he had discovered.
As Hudson found that the river was shoaling rapidly he proceeded no farther with his vessel,§ but sent his boats several miles higher up, to where they found the stream broken by rapids, which intelligence he received with great sorrow, as putting an end to all his hopes of finding here a practicable northwest passage to the eastern seas. Having now no alternative but to return by the way he came, he left his anchorage on the 23d of September for his voyage down the river. So difficult did he find the navigation among the islands and windings of the channel, that he did not reach the vicinity of the present city of Hudson until the afternoon of the 24th, when the little "Half-Moon" ran aground and stuck fast on the "bank of ooze in the middle of the river," now known as the "middle ground." How much difficulty he had in getting his vessel off we do not know; whether she was freed without trouble by the rising of the tide, or whether the difficulty required the aid of kedge and capstan; but it is certain that this mishap, together with an adverse wind which sprang up, detained him here for two days, which interval he employed in storing his vessel with wood, in exploring the neighboring shores, and in receiving a ceremonious visit of friendship from the people of the Indian village where he had first landed. There were two canoe-loads of these visitors, and Captain Hudson found--no doubt to his astonishment--that a chief personage among them was the old savage who had passed the night on board the "Half-Moon" after his debauch. It may be inferred that, grieving at Hudson's departure, he had set out at once by the river trail, hoping to find the vessel at anchor at some point below, where he would again meet the agreeable strangers, and once more taste the exhilarating schnapps. He had found the vessel motionless in the river as he had hoped, and had now come off to pay her a final visit with his Indian friends in the manner we have mentioned. With him had come another old man, apparently a chief, who presented the captain with belts of wampum, and "shewed him all the country thereabout, as though it were at his command." Two old women were also of the party, "and two young maidens of the age of sixteen or seventeen years with them, who behaved themselves very modestly." And the old men and the old women and the maidens were taken to dine in the ship's cabin, where doubtless they were served with wine or aqua vitζ.
After the repast, they gave their host, by signs, a cordial invitation to visit them again at their village, but when given to understand that this could not be they departed very sorrowfully, though somewhat consoled by numerous presents, and the assurance that their white friends would again come across the great lake and visit them. The next morning, September 27, 1609, the "Half-Moon" spread her sails to a brisk northerly breeze and soon was lost to sight beyond the wooded headlands. At Catskill the "very loving people" called out, and made signs of invitation to the captain and crew; but the wind was fair and the tide served, and so the little brigantine kept straight on her course. On the 4th of October she passed Sandy Hook and stood out to sea, and her bold commander never again saw the beautiful river which he had discovered, and which now bears his name. During the stay of the vessel in the bay of New York she had lost one of her company by the arrows of the savages, and several Indian lives were afterwards taken in retaliation; but a every place above the highlands Captain Hudson's relations with the natives were entirely pacific, so that at his final departure they exhibited a grief which was only partially allayed by presents, and by the assurance (imperfectly understood) that the ship's people would soon return from across the great waters and revisit them. This promise was in a measure performed, for although the same vessel did not return, there came in the following year another ship, commanded by the former mate of the "Half-Moon," and having on board a part of the crew who had accompanied Captain Hudson; and we are informed that when these were met by the natives who had visited them on the previous voyage "they were much rejoiced at seeing each other."
Among the presents which Hudson had given them were some axes and other implements, to assist them in their rude agriculture. These the sailors now saw suspended as ornaments around the necks of the chiefs, as they had no idea of their proper manner of use; but when they were instructed how to handle them they were much delighted, and made great merriment over their mistake. But few incidents of the voyage of this second vessel are found recorded.
In 1612, two ships, named the "Tiger" and the Fortune," fitted out by merchants in Amsterdam, and commanded by Captains Block and Christiansen, came here for purposes of trade, and from that time the traffic with the natives along the river (the profitable nature of which had come to be fully understood) was regularly carried on by vessels sent hither for the purpose from Holland. Hudson had named his discovery the "River of the Mountains," but the Dutch traders who came after him called it the River Mauritius, in honor of Prince Maurice, of Nassau.
It was the Indian tribe or nation known as the Mohican---the same which has been celebrated in Cooper's fascinating romances---which, at the first coming of the white man, held as its rightful possession not only the present domain of Columbia, but also those of the adjoining counties of Rensselaer and Berkshire; its chief village or council-seat being at Schodack, or, in the own tongue, Esquatak, "the fire-place of the nation," with other villages perhaps as populous but less important on Beeren or Mohican island and at various points on the eastern shore of the river. In 1690, after the burning of Schenectady, the Indians were removed from Beeren island to Catskill, and were employed by the government as "outlying scouts" towards the north. They were probably but few in number at that time. They had also a village at Wyomenock, another at Potkoke, a place "about three [Dutch] miles inland from Claverack," and others at different places in the interior; as well as a rudely-fortified stronghold, erected near the present site of Greenbush, against the incursions of their enemies the Mohawks.
The Mohicans claimed (as also in fact did the other Indian tribes) that theirs was among the most ancient of all aboriginal nations. One of their traditions ran that, ages before, their ancestors had lived in a far-off country to the west, beyond the mighty rivers and mountains, at a place where the waters constantly moved to and fro, and that, in the belief that there existed away towards the rising sun a a red man's paradise,---a land of deer, and salmon, and beaver,---they had traveled on towards the east and south to find it; but that they were scourged and divided by famine, so that it was not until after long and weary journeyings, during which many, many moons had passed, that they came at length to this broad and beautiful river, which forever ebbed and flowed like the waters from whose shores they had come; and that here, amidst a profusion of game and fish, they rested, and found that Indian Elysium of which they had dreamed before they left their old homes in the land of the setting sun.
At the present day there are enthusiastic searchers through the realms of aboriginal lore who, in accepting the narrative as authentic, imagine that the red men came hither from Asia across the Behring strait, through which they saw the tide constantly ebb and flow, as mentioned in the tradition.
The fact is, that all Indian tribes told of long pilgrimages and of great deeds performed by their ancestors far in the shadowy past, and claimed to trace back their history and descent for centuries. Missionaries and travelers among them gravely tell us of Indian chronology extending back to the period before the Christian era; and some enthusiasts have claimed that the American aborigines were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. But it is not the province of the historian to enter any such field of speculation. All their traditions were so clouded and involved in improbability, and so interwoven with superstition, that, as regards their truth or falsity, it need only be said that they afford an excellent opportunity of indulgence in the luxury of dreamy conjecture.
The Mohicans named their great river the "Shatemuc," but by the Iroquois it was called "Cahohatatea," and by the Delawares and other southern tribes, "Mohicanittuck," or the river of the Mohicans. With its inexhaustible store of fish, with shores and islands of such surpassing fertility as to yield abundant returns even to their careless and indolent husbandry, and bordered by forests swarming with game, it was a stream and a country such as Indians love; and there was no nation or tribe, from the ocean to the lakes, who had more reason to love their domain than the Mohicans. They were a humiliated and partially-conquered people when the Dutch first came among them. Their fighting men then only numbered a few hundreds, and these were broken in spirit by continual defeat; but they sadly boasted that the time had been, within the memory of some of their old men, when the call of their sagamores could muster more than a thousand warriors for the foray, and when their council-house was sought by emissaries from distant and weaker tribes desiring their alliance, aid, or intercession. They even claimed that theirs was once "the head of all the Algonquin nations." The Moravian missionary, Heckewelder, relates what was told him by a very aged Mohican, as follows: "Clean across this extent of country (from Albany to the Susquehanna) our grandfather had a long house, with a door at each end, which door was always open to all the nations united with them. To this house the nations from ever so far used to resort and smoke the pipe of peace with their grandfather. The white people, coming from over the great water, landed at each end of this long house of our grandfather, and it was not long before they began to pull it down at both ends. Our grandfather still kept repairing the same, though obliged to make it from time to time shorter; until at length the white people, who by this time had grown very powerful, assisted the common enemy, the Maquas (Iroquois), in erecting a strong house upon the ruins of our grandfather's."
The Mohicans told that, in the time of their strength, when their tribe mustered a thousand warriors, they had subdued and thoroughly cowed the afterwards dreaded Mohawks, and that it was only after the latter had succeeded in banding together against them the Five Nations of the Iroquois** that they succeeded in turning the tide of victory against the Mohicans, and in forcing them across the Shatemuc. Their pride and patriotism, however, would never allow them to relate or to admit the extent of their defeat, and indeed it does not appear that they had been completely subjugated, though Smith, in his "History of New York," published in 1756, says that, "When the Dutch began the settlement of this country, all the Indians on Long Island and the northern shore of the sound, on the banks of Connecticut, Hudson's, Delaware, and Susquehanna rivers, were in subjection to the Five Nations, and, within the memory of persons now living, acknowledged it by the payment of an annual tribute." And Brodhead says, in his "History of New york," that "long before European discovery the question of savage supremacy had been settled on the waters of the Cahohatatea," by the triumph of the Iroquois and the humiliation of the Mohican.
When Hudson came, and for nearly twenty years afterwards, the relations which we have described were those existing between the two nations. They were nominally at peace, but it was a peace brought about by the prostration of the Mohicans, in whose breasts there rankled the most intense hatred towards their Mohawk conquerors. It was the policy of the Dutch to promote peace between the tribes, for a state of war would injure the profitable trade which they prosecuted with both, and for which alone they cared. But the recognized the superiority of the Mohawks and the subordination of the Mohicans. At the great treaty held in 1617, at Nordman's Kill, or Tawasentha creek, Brodhead says, "The belt of peace was held fast at one end by the Iroquois, and at the other by the Dutch, while in the middle it rested on the shoulders of the subjugated Mohicans, Mincees, and Lenni Lenapes."
The yoke grew more and more galling to the Mohicans, and slowly they were brought to the point of open revolt, and a renewal of the war against the Mohawks. It may have been that their possession of Dutch fire-arms gave them confidence; but if so it was unfounded, for the Mohawks were quite as well provided with these weapons as themselves. But however this may have been, the Mohicans succeeded in uniting the Wappingers, Minsis, and other river tribes, and in the year 1625 again commenced hostilities. In the following year they induced Krieckbeck, the Dutch superintendent at Fort Orange (Albany), to set out with them, with a few of his men, in an expedition against the Mohawks. This foray was unsuccessful, and resulted in the killing of Krieckbeck and several of his men, and in spreading such a panic among the Dutch settlers near the fort that Governor Minuit removed all the families down the river, and ordered the garrison to observe strict neutrality in future during the continuance of the hostilities.
The war raged with great ferocity for three years, during which the advantage was oftener with the Mohawk than with the Mohican braves. There is a tradition that the final struggle for supremacy took place within the present county of Columbia, and not far from where the city of Hudson now stands. It is to the effect that, both tribes having mustered all their strength for the conflict, the Mohicans had retreated to decoy their enemies into their own territory, and, retiring before them, had come at last to a place nearly opposite to where the village of Catskill now is, and that there, upon ground of their own selection, they stood for battle, which each party fully understood must be a decisive one.
The fight raged through all the day, and at evening the Mohicans were almost victors. Disaster stared in the faces of the Mohawk warriors, and they saw that they had no longer any hope except through stratagem. In apparent precipitation and panic they slunk away from the bloody field, and fled in the darkness to an island in the river. The Mohicans soon discovered their flight, and promptly yet cautiously pursuing, came at last to a place where, around smothered camp-fires, their enemies seemed to have stretched themselves to rest, without the precaution of posting sentinels. They felt almost as much of pity as of contempt for their unwary foes, but they let fly their arrows at the blanketed forms, and then leaped in with knife and tomahawk. They had made a fatal mistake! The Mohawks, foreseeing the pursuit, had made fagots of brushwood, wound these with their blankets, and disposed them around the fires in a manner to appear like sleeping Indians; then, lying flat upon the ground in the adjacent thickets, they awaited the moment when their enemies should discover the fires and waste their arrows upon the delusive blankets. That moment had come, and now the Mohawks yelled the war-whoop and closed with their antagonists, who, ambuscaded and panic-stricken, were soon either killed, captured, or put to flight. The scene of this bloody and decisive battle was Vastrick island, now known as Roger's island, between Hudson and Catskill.
The result of the campaign of 1628 was the complete overthrow of the Mohicans of this section, and their flight across the Taghkanic hills. "The conquered tribe," says Wassenaer (Doc. Hist., iii. 48), "retired towards the north by the Fresh river, so called, where they began to cultivate the soil, and thus the war terminated." The "Fresh river" mentioned by Wassenaer was the Connecticut, that being the name then given to it by the Dutch. His mention of it as being "towards the north" is neither strange nor material, as points of compass were very vaguely and carelessly referred to in those days. The fact was that the vanquished Mohicans took refuge in the Connecticut valley, where at first they were well received by their kinsmen, the Pequods. Their lands within the present counties of Columbia and Rensselaer were vacated, but not taken for occupation by the victorious Mohawks. After a few years the exiles came back, first as transient hunting and fishing parties, and afterwards for more permanent stay; but never afterwards were they a numerous people, though they again inhabited Potkoke and several other villages. The "fireplace of the nation," however, was no longer at Schodack, but at Westenhok, beyond the Taghkanics.
For more than thirty years after their subjugation they lived in continual terror of the Mohawks, and paid to their conquerors such tribute as their weakness and poverty permitted. But in 1663-64 another combination against their tyrants seems to have been effected, though how composed, or how brought about, does not seem wholly clear. In Kregier's "Journal of the Second Esopus War" it is related that in the fall of 1663 the inhabitants of Bethlehem, in Albany county, were warned by a friendly Indian to remove to a place of security, as "five Indian nations had assembled together, namely the Mahikanders [Mohicans], Katskills, the Wappingers, those of Esopus, besides another tribe that dwell half-way between Fort Orange and Hartford;" that their "place of meeting was on the east side of Fort Orange river, about three [Dutch] miles inland from Claverack;" and that they were "about five hundred strong." Also that "Hans, the Norman, arrived at the redoubt with his yacht from Fort Orange, reports that full seven thousand Indians had assembled at Claverack, on the east side, about three [Dutch] miles inland, but he knows not with what intent." These last-mentioned figures are manifestly absurd, and even the estimate of five hundred was undoubtedly much too high. It is not probable that the Mohicans then living west of the Taghkanic range could muster one-sixth that number of warriors.
In July, 1664, Brodhead says, "War now broke out again. The Mohicans attacked the Mohawks, destroyed cattle at Greenbush, burned the house of Abraham Staats, at Claverack, and ravaged the whole country on the east side of the North river; " but these ravages could not have been committed or incited by this tribe of the Mohicans, who do no appear to have been unfriendly to the Dutch settlers.
The English took possession of the province in September, 1664, and immediately used all exertions to prevent hostilities between these tribes, and with so much of success that but little more Indian blood was shed in the feuds between Mohican and Iroquois.
King Philip's war in Massachusetts, which was closed in 1676 by the death of the chief, was the means of adding to the Indian population of this region. After the decisive conflict of the 12th of August in that year, the Pennacooks, who formed a part of Philip's forces, retreated before the victors until they came to the Hudson river, where a part of them crossed to the old Indian village of Potick, near Catskill, but the remainder took up their residence "near Claverack;" probably at the Mohican village of Potkoke. Notwithstanding these accessions, the total number of river Indians in the county of Albany in the year 1689 was only two hundred and fifty, and eight years later (1697) was but ninety, as returned by the high sheriff and justices of the peace, who made an official enumeration by order of the Earl of Bellamont. And when it is remembered that this number included all, children and adults, on both sides of the river, it will easily be seen to what a miserable handful the once powerful tribe of New York Mohicans had become reduced.
The most potent cause of their decadence was drunkenness, to which, as has been said, they were more addicted than any other tribe. Their intercourse was constant with the trading-post at Fort Orange, and with the Dutch traders upon the river; and with these they would barter everything that they had, their maize, peltry, their very souls, if they had been merchantable, in exchange for liquor,--most properly named by them fire-water,--that baleful poison which has proved to their race (even in a more marked degree to our own) the quintessence of all evil and woe.
And this it was which depopulated their villages and made vagabonds of the few of their tribe who survived its blight. But even among them there were instances of reformation wrought by saving grace. There was a Mohican, named Tschoop, mentioned as chief, who lived either on the Livingston manor or near the county line in Dutchess, and who was one of the very worst and most ungodly of his tribe and race, "the greatest drunkard among his followers," bloody-minded, false, and treacherous, so that there was hardly a form of Indian vice, outrage, and sin in which he was not a leading spirit. Yet, through the efforts of Christian Henry Rauch, a Moravian missionary, who labored in these parts, this godless Indian, this devotee of sin and of the Evil One, not only entirely abandoned his drunkenness, but, being baptized by the Moravians, became a meek lamb, a servant of God, and a pious and fervent preacher not only to those of his own tribe but also among the Delawares, and so he remained true and faithful to the end.
In the cemetery at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in a space allotted to the graves of the Indian converts, may yet be seen the mound under which lie the remains of this converted Mohican, with a rose-bush growing at the head, and upon the stone which marks his peaceful resting-place is this inscription:
In Memory of
Tschoop, a Mohican Indian,
Who, in holy baptism, April 17, 1742,
received the name of
one of the first fruits of the
Mission at Shekomeko, and a
remarkable instance of the power
of Divine grace, whereby he
became a distinguished teacher
among his nation.
He departed this life in full
assurance of faith, at Bethlehem,
August 27, 1747.
"There shall be one fold
and one shepherd." John x. 16.
The Indian mission at Stockbridge, Mass., was founded by the aid of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and commenced in October, 1734; the Rev. John Sergeant being the first missionary. Into this, the little fragment of the Mohican tribe of the Hudson river was drawn, and merged with the Stockbridge Indians; and thenceforth they were known by that name. A handful of these fought on the American side in the Revolution, at Bunker Hill, White Plains, and in several other engagements. Their ancient enemies, the Mohawks, fought in the opposing armies.
The Stockbridge Indians were removed from Massachusetts to Madison Co., N. Y., in 1785, and few, if any, of the Mohican race lingered behind them upon the shores of the Shatemuc. "The pale-faces are masters of the earth," said the aged Tamenund at the death of young Uncas, "and the time of the red man has not yet come again. My day has been too long. In the morning, I saw the sons of Unami happy and strong; and yet before the night has come, have I lived to see the last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans."
*At that time the flag of Holland was formed by three horizontal bars,--orange, white, and blue; but in or about the year 1650 the orange bar gave place to one of red.
"When some of them first saw the ship approaching afar off they did not know what to think about her, but stood in deep and solemn amazement, wondering whether it was a spook or apparition, and whether it came from heaven or hell. Others of them supposed those on board to be rather devils than human beings. Thus they differed among each other in opinion. A strange report soon spread through their country about the visit, and created great talk and comment among all the Indians. This we have heard several Indians testify."--Van Der Donck's Description of New Netherland.
A century and a half later, Heckewelder and other Moravian missionaries found, not only among the Delawares and the Mohicans, but also among the nations of the Iroquois, a tradition having reference to a scene of drunkenness which occurred at the time when the red men first received the fatal gift of fire-water from the hands of Europeans.
§While lying here the carpenter made a new fore-yard for the "Half-Moon," this being the first timber ever exported from the Hudson river.
Indian skeletons have been exhumed, in making excavations for building, on the lower end of Warren street, in the city of Hudson, which leads to the belief that an Indian village was once located in that vicinity. Arrow-heads, corn-pestles, and other Indian relics, are found in every part of the county.
This assertion of the Mohicans was confirmed by the Delawares, and also by the Iroquois, who boasted of having vanquished so strong a people.
**The date of the formation of the league between the Five Nations is not known. the Rev. Mr. Pyrlaeus, a missionary among the Mohawks, gives as the result of his investigations that it occurred "one age, or the length of a man's life, before the white people came into the country." Gallatin says, "The time when the confederacy was formed is not known, but it was presumed to be of recent date."
Historians mention a great Indian battle which was fought during that war, not far from where Rhinebeck now is, and that the unburied bones in great numbers still lay upon the field when the first Dutch settlers arrived in its vicinity.
In those days of their decay, every adult male Indian was a chief, and all claimed to be owners of lands.