One of the news items in a recent summary of “This Week’s Top New York History News” here at The New York History Blog had a link to an article from the Albany Times Union (reprinted from the New York Times), entitled “New York Won’t Celebrate 350th Birthday.” The article noted that neither the city nor the state was commemorating the takeover of New Netherland by the British in August, 1664.
The writer suggested that “a dispassion for the past” among the public was a basic explanation. Continue reading
The 400th anniversary of Albany’s first documented European settlement gives us an opportunity to clear up some inaccuracies surrounding its history. In particular, it is time to roundly debunk the stubborn myth that the French built the first European structure in Albany.
Several Wikipedia pages—”Albany“, “Castle Island,” “Fort Nassau“—claim that Albany’s first European structure was a fort on Castle Island built by French traders in 1540. The “Castle Island” page calls it a chateau and claims that the Dutch rebuilt the French fort, “which they called a castle[,] giving rise to the name of the island.” This is silly. There is no credible evidence of a French fort on Castle Island or anywhere in the region, and any account of a structure resembling a chateau is particularly absurd. So where did this myth come from? Continue reading
Fort Nassau: the first Dutch trading house built in North America, was constructed on Castle (Westerlo) Island on the Upper Hudson where Albany is. It was but a small redoubt, yet deemed the acorn from which sprouted the American Middle States. This trading post lasted only three years and was badly damaged by a spring freshet and abandoned. Eventually even its ruins were silted over and forgotten.
In 1796, Albany contemplated a plan to acquire patents for water lots and extend South End streets opposite the north end of Castle Island, out into the Hudson River. It was similar, on a smaller scale, to the way Manhattan expanded out into the Hudson and East Rivers. In the course of finally implementing this in the 1840s, dredging was found necessary to adjust the upper end of Castle Island and Island Creek to accommodate the plan. Continue reading
On Saturday, September 13th, Crailo State Historic Site and the Friends of Fort Crailo present Harvest Faire, an outdoor event free to the public (a nominal donation is asked to enter the museum exhibit), and part of the Hudson River Ramble. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held on Sunday, September 14th. The festivities run from 11 am to 4 pm.
Crailo’s grounds set the scene for 17th- and 18th-century re-enactors, music, and demonstrations. Among the re-enactors are 17th-century Dutch settlers, a rope-maker and tinsmith, and Native Americans with a recreated wigwam. This year will also include demonstrations of wheat threshing. Continue reading
The Columbia County Historical Society in Kinderhook, New York has published the latest issue of Columbia County History & Heritage magazine. The Spring/Summer 2014 issue is subtitled “Celebrating Our Legacy The Luykas Van Alen House 1964-2014″.
In honor of the Van Alen House 50th anniversary, Executive Director and Curator Diane Shewchuk solicited articles from local authors and scholars Ruth Piwonka and Roderic Blackburn, who have been involved with the National Historic Landmark 1737 Van Alen House since the 1970s. Continue reading
A local historian believes he has pinpointed the exact location of a 1614 colonial fort in Albany.
“Fort Nassau” was North America’s oldest Dutch trading house, built in 1614 near the present-day Port of Albany. But the precise location of the ruined structure has been largely forgotten over time as the natural and built environment changed during four centuries.
“Fort Nassau is very significant to American, Dutch and Indian history,” said John Wolcott, the researcher who identified the location. “But its exact location had been lost over the years. Not only has the geography changed, but the latitude readings provided by early maps have to be adjusted for problems caused by being inland using instruments of the time.” Continue reading
The New Netherland Institute and New Netherland Research Center have announced “1614,” the 37th New Netherland Seminar, which will take place on September 20th at the Carole F. Huxley Theater in the Cultural Education Center in Albany.
The seminar will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the construction of Fort Nassau—the first documented European settlement in New York state—on present-day Castle Island in the port of Albany. The seminar speakers and topics are listed below. For registration and additional details, visit the website of the New Netherland Institute. Continue reading
The history of Kinderhook is rich with the lore of headless horsemen, love-struck schoolmasters and a sleepy small town. This is primarily due to Washington Irving, his wild imagination, and the short-story “Legends of Sleepy Hallow.”
On August 2, New York Times bestselling biographer Brian Jay Jones will speak on the life of Irving and his habit of using artistic license when it came to the history of the area. At 4:00 pm at the Kinderhook Reformed Church (21 Broad St in Kinderhook), Jones will address the historical myths plucked from Irving’s satirical history The History of New York written in 1809 in his talk, “Washington Irving and the (Re)Creation of Dutch New York” as part of the Columbia County Historical Society’s Dutch New York: Fact and Fiction lecture series. Continue reading
What follows is a guest essay by Jaap Jacobs and L.H. Roper, authors of the newly published
The Worlds of the Seventeenth-Century Hudson Valley.
As the proverbial schoolchildren know, the Englishman Henry Hudson (c. 1570–1611) conducted his 1609 exploration of the river that bears his name on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. In the same year that Hudson sailed north up the river, trading, fighting, drinking, and negotiating with Native Americans on the way, a Frenchman named Samuel Champlain made his way south from the St. Lawrence River. His trip was not a voyage of exploration and Champlain was not the leader of the expedition. Yet it too involved interaction with Native Americans, culminating in an armed encounter on what later became to be called Lake Champlain between Huron and Algonquian Indians and their French friends on the one side and the Haudenosaunee of the Iroquois Confederacy on the other side. Continue reading
Russell Shorto, the 2013 New Netherland Research Center Senior Scholar and author of The Island at the Center of the World and Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, as well as other acclaimed works, will talk about Dutch cultural heritage from Amsterdam and its influence on Albany, New York.
The talk will be followed by a signing of his most recent book Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, named one of Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2013 and described as “an expertly told history of a city of new, shocking freedoms and the tough-minded people that developed them.” Copies of the book will be available for sale. Continue reading
Immigration has always been an important part of New York history. If one considers the story of the state from the Ice Age to Global Warming, then we and/or our ancestors all arrived here from somewhere else. Even if we were born an American and reside here now we may not have been born in New York. And if we were born in New York, we may not now live in the community where we were born or grew up. People move around a lot. How often do you hear the story of someone who has only been a resident of the community for 10, 20, 30 years and is still considered a newcomer?
Telling the story of immigration in New York provides an opportunity for us to connect with the world. What country doesn’t have residents in this state? So here is an opportunity for New York to tell the story about what it means to be a New Yorker by examining the lives of people who became New Yorkers. Continue reading
This Saturday, June 7th, Historic Cherry Hill will present the Hudson River Family Day, from12:30 – 3:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Cherry Hill is a house museum in Albany which was once the five-generation home of the Van Rensselaer family.
Participants are invited to step into the 1700s and experience Hudson River sloop trade and daily life. The unique Hudson River Trading Game, with its 34-foot game board, will challenge all ages to experience the adventure of 18th century trade and travel on the river. Other activities will include colonial games, crafts and clothing, open house tours highlighting the 18th century architecture and history of Cherry Hill, and more. Continue reading
A new book with essays by prominent scholars takes a fresh look at the history of the Hudson Valley during the seventeenth century. Edited by Jaap Jacobs and L. H. Roper, The Worlds of the Seventeenth-Century Hudson Valley (SUNY Press, 2014) provides an in-depth introduction to the issues involved in the expansion of European interests to the Hudson River Valley, the cultural interaction that took place there, and the colonization of the region.
Written in accessible language by leading scholars, these essays incorporate the latest historical insights as they explore the new world in which American Indians and Europeans interacted, the settlement of the Dutch colony that ensued from the exploration of the Hudson River, and the development of imperial and other networks which came to incorporate the Hudson Valley. Continue reading
On Saturday, May 31, 2014 Crailo State Historic Site will host a lecture by Frans Klein entitled “Rise and Fall of Dutch Tiles, 1600-1900″.
Klein is a graduate of the University of Delft and the University of Leiden with a degree in Art History. He currently owns his own business in the Netherlands and is in the United States only briefly. He is the author of Tegel ABC: Tile Tales, which will be available after his talk. The public is invited to bring Dutch tiles to the lecture, and he will date and provide information about them. Continue reading
The New Netherland Institute (NNI), which is currently commemorating the 1614 establishment of Fort Nassau in Albany, has announced their Annual General Meeting (featuring a tour of the Van Schaick Mansion and a short talk by Russell Shorto); the line-up for the 37th New Netherland Seminar; and an opportunity to win a commemorative quilt. Continue reading
May 14th is the opening day of Crailo State Historic Site’s 2014 season. Crailo’s exhibit “‘A Sweet and Alien Land': Colony of the Dutch in the Hudson River Valley,” uses archaeological finds from Crailo, Fort Orange, Schuyler Flatts, and other Dutch sites to tell the story of the colonists of New Netherland more than 350 years ago.
In addition, tours this year will include the enslaved people brought to the colony by the Dutch as part of Crailo’s ongoing effort to highlight the diverse people of New Netherland. This new research and interpretation is in conjunction with the Gilder Lehrman Center and Yale Public History Institute. Continue reading
Over the years much has been written about Pieter and Jonas Bronck. Pieter is responsible for the erection of the Bronck House in Coxsackie, Greene County, NY, 351 years ago. Jonas is considered the founder of the Bronx.
Over the years there has been much confusion about the relationship of these two individuals – father and son, brothers or cousins. Both were Swedish and there is strong evidence that they were related. I prefer to accept research done by Shelby Mattice, Curator of the Bronck Museum. Ms. Mattice has concluded that the two men were first cousins and shared the same grandfather. Today I would like to focus a bit on Jonas Bronck because this year the Bronx is commemorating the 375th anniversary of the year Jonas first settled there. Continue reading
The Guide to Dutch Manuscripts is now available as a searchable database on the New Netherland Institute‘s website.
The Guide is an online catalog of primary source material located in repositories throughout the United States. The purposes of the Guide are to 1) describe relevant documents and collections and 2) provide researchers with their location. Continue reading
On Saturday, February 22nd from 11:00am-4:00pm Crailo in Rensselaer, NY will explore the lesser-known world of those who were enslaved by the Van Rensselaers and the history of slavery in New Netherland and New York.
Crailo will be open for special open-house style tours, featuring new interpretation of the cellar kitchen focusing on the role that enslaved people played at Crailo. Continue reading
The Irvington HIstorical Society will present a lecture by 2012 New Netherland Institute Senior Scholar Dr. Dennis Maika on understanding slavery in colonial New York on Sunday, February 9 at 3:00 pm at the Irvington Public Library.
When most Americans imagine their country’s experience with slavery, their perceptions are typically influenced by an understanding of the 19th century American South in the decades before the Civil War. Less well known is the long history of slavery in Colonial New York which began in the early days of seventeenth century New Netherland and ended officially in the decades after the Revolution. Continue reading