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knowledge, when as an occupant of the fort in 1646 he was likely to speak with more precision, and officially states that he purchased of the Indians, a piece of land which he describes as on the west shore, about a mile distant from the fort to the north,* and which it is shown was the site of Philadelphia, just one Dutch, or four English miles due north of Timber creek.
Although we do not place much reliance upon distance as given by the early authorities, from the necessary difficulty of correctly ascertaining them, yet there is a piece of proof bearing upon the site of the fort, too remarkable to be disregarded. We refer to the courses and distances of the different reaches of the Delaware, given by Lindo strom, the Swedish engineer. He designates the average direction of the different courses of the river, intending probably that the navi. gation should rely upon his soundings. The two points mentioned by him, and which we are enabled accurately to fix, are Beaver Island and Fogelsand, or Vogelsand. The former was Chester Island, the latter a bar or shoal, which commenced about the lower boundary of Kensington, and stretched along the shore about the distance of six miles and a half to Bridesburg. Although, though much diminished, and not so formidable now, as when De Vries expressed his apprehen. sion of it, congratulating himself that through Providence he had escaped it, it is yet visible between Richmond and Bridesburg. The distance from Chester Island to Fort Nassau, according to Lindstrom, is two and a half Swedish miles, if such were meant, and as one Swedish is equal to six English, making fifteen miles. From Chester Island to Timber creek is twelve and a half miles, from the latter to the lower boundary of Kensington, about five miles, and to Brides. burg, eleven miles and a half, according to the United States' survey, that most admirable exhibition of the scientific skill of our country, and which for the first time accurately establishes the distances upon our river, and the character of its channel. The bearings however, as the slightest examination of the map will show, leave no doubt as to the position of the fort.
* Hazard's Annals, 89.
+ " The first to be observed on approaching the mouth of the river and bay, is to steer N.N.W. for three miles, when you arrive at the mouth; then W.S.W. nine miles. First point N.W by N. or N.W. three miles-Second, N. one and a halt-Third, in the bend, N.W. by N. or N.W. one and a half-Fourth, N.E. N.N.E., or a little more easterly, two-Fifth, fresh water, E. or E. by N., five. Then arrive at an island called Naratecomp, (probably Tompkin's Island) which keep to larboard, passing Naraticons north towards Beaver (Chester) Island, which keep to larboard, and steer E.S.E. a quarter. From Beaver's Island to Fort Nassau, E.N.E two and a half. From that fort to Fogelsand, N.E., one and a half-East, one-É.E. and by N., six-N.E one and a half. To the Northwest is a large island to pass N.E. by E. three quarters-again N.E. one and a half-E.S.E., one and a half-N.E. or E., one-straight to Sankhitans-E. by N. or N.E. to Sankitans Island, three--and from thence to Sankhitans may be half an hours' walk."-Swedish MS. in Penn, Hist. Soc'y, translated by Mr. Richard Seldeder. * Hill's Map of ten miles round.-1809.
The direction of the river from Chester Island to Timber Creek, is very nearly straight, bearing an east northeast course, and the first abrupt change is precisely opposite the mouth of Timber creek. Begin. ning in a northeast direction at Timber creek, as described by him, it abruptly turns to the east at Kensington, so that if the distances do not correspond with present measurements, and for which discrepancy allowance should be made, there can be no mistake as to the bearings, for if we were unable to fix the points, the courses denoted by Lindstrom, in connection with the distances, correspond to no other portion of the river. We are aware that time in many places has much altered the channel; to what extent previously to the coast survey, the want of reliable charts prevents us from deciding. Lindstrom, in his account, so ofter referred to by us, remarks that “ by Avarmus the river again begins to deepen.” Now it is a curious fact that the channel is deeper, except immediately oppposite some of the wharves of Philadelphia, for the space of about a mile between the city of Gloucester and the mouth of Timber creek, than at any other place north of Tinnicum Island, and for a greater distance than any point on the river. There is another map* of limited extent, apparently reliable, which shows a greater depth of water from the Timber creek, for the distance of a mile and three quarters below, than at any other place.
The journal of De Vries, that most graphic and accurate of Dutch navigators, is too interesting in its connection with the Fort to be overlooked. He visited the Delaware, for the second time, 1633, and gives a minute description of his adventures. He says on the 5th (January, 1633,) “ Weighed anchor in the morning and sailed before the little Fort, where formerly some families of the West India Com. pany bad dwelt, named Fort Nassau. Some Indians had assembled there and wished to barter skins; but I desired to trade for their Turkish beans, because we had no goods to exchange for peltries, having given them away at Swanendal in order to make peace ; so that there were only two pieces of cloth and two kettles left, for which we wanted beans. The Indians, we observed, were very scrupulous after that, and told us to haul in the Timmerkil. There was an Indian (woman) who was of the Sankitans, who told us we should not haul entirely in the Kil, as she knew that they wanted to make an attack upon us. Whereupon we told her that if she would tell us all the particulars of their designs we would give her a cloth dress; as she did. And she confessed and told us that a sloop with Englishmen, was descending Count Ernest's river, and they had murdered the English.”
“ The 6th, we weighed anchor and laid to at the entrance of the Timmerkil. Made everything ready in order to see what the Indians would do.
On the 7th came a chief whom they call Sackema, from the Armewaminge, to whom we told our adventure. He said he had heard there had been on board a number, but he requested we should go further into Timmerkill with the yacht; but as I already had a bad suspicion, I told my interpreter to ask why he would not bring his boats there.. He answered that where we laid it was too muddy and too flat to come on board, and likewise too cold to run through the mud. Then I told him that I would go again to the Fort, as it was hard and dry, for them to come on board; with which he seemed to be perfectly satisfied. He then went again on shore, and said when we were lying near or by the Fort, he would come on board again.
“ The 8th-weighed anchor and went again before the Fort, when we saw that it was full of Indians, and still more and more coming. A canoe from the Fort came towards us, in which were nine chiess. On 3d (February), the vavigation being open, we hauled out of the Creek,* and sailed before Fort Nassau, where we had left the Indians, and saw no Indians. It commenced to freeze again, and we bauled in one creek right over the Fort, as we were afraid if we got froze in there we might get into danger. When we had laid eight days in the creek, on account of the ice, there came a canoe with an old Indian and a squaw, and brought with him some maize and beans, for some of which we traded, but could not find what was the reason we did not see any more Indians. It appeared that he would not tell us. He seemed to be afraid, and went frequently on land and looked around about him, so that we perceived there was something to draw his attention there. We hauled out of the creek the next day, and went between the ice and the shore. The 11th, there came over the river from the Fort about 50 Indians, over the ice, with pieces of canoe, and came immediately towards the yacht, on board of which
** De Vries says, a creek within a mile of Jacques Island, probably Schuylkill.
they could step from the boat. They spoke with us. They were Minquas, who lived above English Virginia, and came for war purposes.
We resolved as the Spring tides commenced, to haul before the mouth of the creek, so that they could not get aboard of us and become our masters. Hauled out about 25 paces, but there was 'not water enough there. I spoke to the commander of the yacht to throw out some ballast, so as the yacht could lay afloat, but he could not prevail on the crew to do so. Then I asked them whether they would rather be at the mercy of these barbarous men, than to throw some ballast overboard. They answered me that as we were in the river, our lives were at the mercy of the ice. I answered that God would help us, as he had long done so already. At last I told them that I had three bottles of brandy in my case, and would give them one when they had thrown the ballast overboard, and we would help one another. The yacht now being afioat, we drifted with the ice, and with the latter part of the ebb about 1,000 paces below the creek, lying between two high flelds of ice, with the bow-sprit over the land.* The Indians came towards the yacht. We stood eight of us on our arms."
The 12th. “We kept them off, and they wanted to come on board by the bowsprit.”
De Vries was then driven by tide and ice up the river, and he remarks, “We, through the assistance of the Lord, got past Vogelsandt, as our greatest fear was at that place, and got with the flood to Schoone (handsome) Island.”De Vries afterwards sailed past without stopping at the Fort, ana did not at that time return to it.
This narrative may make a different impression on different minds, and with us justifies the supposition that the Fort was upon or near the tongue of land, and at all events is conclusive that it was on Timber Creek. Some of the expressions are significant, and become more so, if we bear in mind the geography of the creek. If they entered the little bay formed by both creeks, and the Fort was on the tongue of land, they were, strictly speaking, in neither creek, and no words
* From this it would appear that the vessel was drawn into a cove. (Translator.)
+ We are indebted for those portions of the journal under the dates of 5th and 6th of January, to Mr. Murphy, of Brooklyn, who has re-translated De Vries for publica. tion, not from the Du Simitiere extracts, but from the original work. At the period of the first translation, published in 1841, by the New York Historical Society, but one copy of De Vries was known to be in existence—that in the Royal Library at Dresden. For the rest of the extracts, which we believe have never before been published, we are indebted to Mr. D. L. Kurtz, who rendered them at our request from the Du Simitiere MSS.
could be used with more propriety than that they “sailed before the Fort.” In this position they were invited to haul in the Kill, but were cautioned by an Indian woman not to haul entirely in the Kill, from which we infer they were in the little bay, but not in either creek. Again, on the 3d of February, they hauled in “one creek right over the Fort.” The phraseology is peculiar, and shows that if the Fort had been more than two miles distant, or midway between Big and Little Timber Creek, as the maps place it, De Vries, who is so careful in the choice of language, would not have used the expressions he has employed.
We would proceed to notice the discrepancies with which we have met, affecting the general question of position, but we think it will be found they do not disturb the weight of authority. The first we would refer to, may be found in a valuable pamphlet by a gentleman who has collected many interesting particulars as to the Delaware, but who has been led into error with regard to the position of Nassau. Although at one place he observes that the Fort was “erected on the eastern bank of the Delaware, a few miles below Coaquenaku, now Philadelphia," and that “the place was called Techàâcho, and is in the vicinity of the town of Gloucester,"* in which statement he is correct; yet he afterwards remarks, that De Vries (on his visit in 1633) “ passed up the river, now a cheerless solitude, Fort Nassau opposite Coaquenaku and the Island Acquecanasua, having been for some time abandoned. Above Nassau, at the mouth of the Timmerkill, now Cooper's Creek, was seated a tribe of Indians, who invited him to enter the stream.”+ It will be perceived he has inadvertently been misled in two respects; having incorrectly rendered the word “to the Timmerkill,” for “ into the Timmerkill ;” and as the Fort was below Gloucester, leading to the inference, as the only method of rconciling the difficulty, that the Timmerkill was above it, and must have been Cooper's Creek ; in which he has been followed by all those who have written since. We are, however, not aware of a sin. gle authority which states that Cooper's Creek, and which is so calleri in the very earliest surveys, was ever known as Timmerkill, while the whole weight of evidence is against it; or that the present Timber Creek was ever known among the Dutch by any other name than Timmerkill. The other misapprehension is with respect to the island
* Sketches of the Primitive Settlements on the Delaware; by James N. Barker, Phila., 1829, p. 14.
1 Ibid, p. 18.