The First Mention of Dutchess, NY in History


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First Mention of Dutchess County In History, p. 23 & 24

Transcribed by Debbie Axtman

In 1609, the Dutch East India Company fitted out a small ship, named the Half Moon, with a crew of twenty men, Dutch and English, and gave the command to Henry Hudson. On the 3rd of September of that year Hudson anchored within Sandy Hook. From the 12th to the 20th of the same month he was employed in ascending the river which bears his name. This river is represented in the journal of that voyage, as being in general about a mile wide, and of good depth, abounding in fish, among which were a "great store of salmons."

As he advanced he found the land on both sides growing higher, until it became "very mountainous." This high land, it is observed, "had many points; the channel was narrow, and there were many eddy winds." During the passage the natives frequently came on board of the ship. he sailed onward through the pass guarded by the frowning Dunderberg, and at nightfall anchored near West Point. Leaving his anchorage the next morning, he ran sixty miles up along the varied shores which lined the deep channel. "Delighted every moment with the ever-changing scenery, and the magnificent forests which clothed the river banks with their gorgeous autumnal hues, Hudson arrived toward evening, opposite the loftier mountains which lie from the river's side, and anchored the Half Moon near Catskill Landing, where he found a loving people and very old men."

Hudson appears to have sailed up the river to a point a little above where the city of Hudson now stands. Not wishing to venture further with the ship, he sent a boat in charge of the mate, who went as far as the present site of Albany.

"Weighing anchor on the 27th, Hudson passed down the river with a fair north wind, past the wigwams of the 'loving people' at Catskill, who were 'very sorrowful' for his departure and toward evening anchored in deep water near Red Hook where part of the crew went to shore to fish. The next two days were consumed in working slowly down to the 'lower end of the long reach' below Poughkeepsie, and anchored in the evening under the northern edge of the Highlands.* (NOTE: Its the vicinity of Fishkill on the Hudson) Here he lay wind-bound for a day, in a very good roadstead, admiring the magnificent mountains which looked to him 'as if they had some metal or mineral in them.'

"The wild game sprung from their familiar retreats, startled by the unusual echoes which rolled throughout the ancient forests, as the roar of the first Dutch cannon boomed over the waters and the first Dutch trumpets blew the inspiring airs of the distant Fatherland. The simple Indians, roaming unquestioned through their native woods, and paddling their rude canoes along the base of the towering hills that lined the unexplored river's side paused in solemn amazement as they beheld their strange visitor approaching from afar, and marveled whence the apparition came."

Such is the account given of the first visit of the white man to the shore of Duchess, made nearly three centuries ago.

From: General History of Duchess County, From 1609 to 1876, Inclusive,
Philip H. Smith, Pawling, NY, Published by the Author, 1877.

Transcribed by Debbie Axtman

Copyright Debbie Axtman

September 24, 1999

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