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“Acquecanasua,” which, according to Lindstrom’s map, is the present Petty's Island, and is at the mouth of Cooper's Creek, so that the Fort could not be opposite this island without being at Cooper's Creek, which he calls the Timmerkill, and above the Fort; a position which the writer evidently does not intend to assign it.
It is questionable, however, whether until the visit of De Vries in 1633, they knew much about the Schuylkill or river generally, and it is not improbable that as the region about Timber Creek was, accord. , ing to modern discoveries and the writer's statements, more populously settled by the natives than any point below it on the Jersey shore, it may have been selected on that account. It is doubtful, therefore, whether the expediency of a defence against a foreign invasion ever occurred to them, for it was not until the advent of the Swedes, fil. teen years after the building of Nassau, that the necessity of defend. ing themselves against an European foe was felt ; nor was it until thirteen more years had elapsed, that they thought of building a fort as a means of defence against their rivals, and Nassau was abandon. ed, not because it did not command the river, but because it was, as we have seen, commanded by the Swedish forts lower down the river. We know, however, that the Fort did command the river; for in 1644, Van Il pendam, its commissary, was directed to sink a New England vessel, if it attempted to pass, and the vessel was obliged to return, and its commissary Hudde, in 1647, fired over a Swedish barque which in passing refused to show its colors.f The tongue of land is the only spot immediately on both streams, and facing the river, which secured an uninterrupted sweep of the Delaware. We have, besides, the testimony of Lindstrom, who in describing the country in 1654, says that "at Avarmus, where the Hollanders' fort formerly stood, the brush. wood on the shores makes the landing difficult”-a condition in which the Dutch found it, and in which it remained until the country was settled, and a circumstance which of itself would render this tongue of land upon its margin a most advantageous point for the erection of a trading post, while the country was at the same time rendered inac. cessible except by water. Both the Dutch and Swedes, particularly the former, were a water people, and the value which they set upon the streams, “as avenues of trade with the Indians,” continually appears in the annals of both people. For example, in 1643 we find the Swedish Governor Printz, to counteract the effect of Fort Beversrede
* Hazard's Appals, 80.
+ Hazard's Annals, 98.
on the Schuylkill, (built for the purposes of trade with the Kingsessing Indians,) employed the Dutch company's carpenter to erect on an “is. land,” about “gun-shot” within the borders of the Schuylkill,“ se cured from the west by a creek, and on the south-east and east sides with under-wood and valley lands,” another Fort; and the authority goes on to say “this Fort cannot control the river (Delaware), but has the command over the whole creek, while this creek (the Schuylkill) is the only remaining avenue for trade with the Minquas, and without it out it this river (the Delaware) is of little value."* The Fort at the Hoerkill was built upon the creek at Lewes, and not on the Bay. Is not this confirmatory of the supposition that as thestreams, in the erection of these posts, were regarded not only as a security against the Indians and others, but as the only means of communication with the interior, that spot would have been preferred, which, while commanding the Delaware, commanded and was secured by both streams, over that which was secured by and which commanded but one stream.*
If our designation of the location of Nassau is correct, although resembling it in miniature, it was not unlike that of Fort Amsterdam, facing as the latter did the Bay, and flanked as it was by the East and North rivers. Many a more commanding position might have been chosen in the immediate vicinity of Manhattan, if the great object of the Dutch had not been trade with the Indians.
The strip of land to which we refer as bounded by both creeks, is of an elevation with the banks of either stream, and beyond the reach of the tides. The place at which the ruins have been discovered, is immediately on the bank, and is at present entirely overflowed at high tide. With a distance of about forty yards on the upper, and one hundred on the lower, it is the point which best commands the river Delaware. The testimony is abundant, that the soil has to some ex: tent worn away, and it is said that a large portion of the bar, which formed the side of the Little Timber, and is now just above the level of low water, was once covered with wood. We do not assert that
* Hazard's Annals, 77.
+ De Vries, in his journal, under date of the 13th and 19th October, 1643, thus te fers to the Swedish fort Elsinburgh, near Salem : "13th-Raised our anchor
, sailed past Reedy Island, and came nearly up to Hoy Creek, and there a fort was being erect: ed by the Swedes, with three points. They fired on'us that we should strike our flag,
* On the 19th, came again to the fort, where we again dropped anchor, and towed ashore to the fort, which was not yet finished, being made triangular, with three points, close on the border of the river, and there lay six or eight metal candon, of 12 pounds.
the ruins are those of the fort,* but we should not forget the fact that the site has much altered in the course of two hundred and thirty years, and that building, if such it was, may once have been beyond the reach of the tide. We must also recollect that the Dutch were a people of fixed notions, with little disposition to change, and accus. customed to build very near the water.
Since the above was written, through the kindness of Dr. I. S. Mulford, we visited the spot in question, where we were met by Mr. William Hugg, Mr. Joshua Browning and Mr. John Redfield. Mr. Hugg stated that at or dear the place we designated (the tide being too high, the logs could not be seen,) were the remains of what he supposed to be an old wharf, and they were also known as such, although he had never heard they had been used as a wharf. At first he indicated a spot nearer the present building, at the point where was once an old staging, and have long been facilities for landing. The distance, however, between the points is very small. He further stated he was sixty-eight years of age, and recollected as far back as 1798. His impression was, the structure was square, not angular as is the case with the remains, and was filled with stones; did not know nor had he ever heard that there had been a wall within it, an inner tier of logs—a store house attached--a flood gate at or near, or a road leading to the spot. He remarked that within his memory the water had encroached some twenty or thirty feet, and that the remains could be rowed around in a boat. As would be just possible to do this now, the discrepancy cannot be reconciled , except upon the supposition that the logs to which Mr. Hugg refers were much farther in the creek.
Mr. Browning, the owner of the premises, said he recollected the spot since 1810, that his father, who died in 1825, purchased the propnrty in 1805, and had never mentioned the existence of any wharf, store house, or tlood gate at, or road leading to the spot, and that his attention had been called to the remains in question, by Mr. Red. field, who had discovered them. Mr. Redtield expressed himself convinced they were those of Fort Nassau. That he had lived all his life in the neighborhood, and had never heard of a wharf, store house, or flood gate at the spot, and that there was an ancient flood gate further up the creek.
Mr. James Leman, whom the writer has seen since, stated he was eighty-two years old, commenced to sail out the creek in 1789, and has long been familiar with it. He positively indicates the site of the logs as the position of a flood gate, which had its corresponding support on the sand point on the opposite side of Little Timber creek. He said that the cand point” was covered with trees, and that a house was built upon it close to the flood gate; that the object of the gate was, in connection with a stone wall, which ran towards the “burnt cabin,” to enclose a portion of the sand point as a meadow. At the time referred to, the gates were in good order, and that he had often laid with his vessel within them. He thought the frame work of the logs was square, did not recollect a wall within it, nor a wharf or store house near it, or any where in the vicinity.
Mr. Leman is not sustained as to a flood gate, which is said to have been further up the creek, nor is it possible to reconcile his statement with Mr. Hugg's for a flood gate in good repair, with a house attached, could bardly have so far perished in six years as to leave but a few logs. Such has been the difficulty of ascertaining the truth of facts of comparatively recent existence. It may be mentioned that the title papers of the property afford no evidence of a wharf, store house, flood gate, or road; nor do the surveys or records at Trenton or Burlington, nor those of the Court at Woodbury. It appears by the latter, that a ferry at a very early day was established between Gloucester and Wiccaco. Frequent reference is also made to the ferry at the mouth of Tim. ber creek, but this we are informed by Judge Fisher of Woodbury, was applied to designate the ferry across the creek on the road from Salem to Gloucester, before the erection of a bridge, in contradistinction to a ferry higher up the creek, to Philadel. phia or elsewhere. In Scull and Heap's map of 1750, of Philadelphia and environs, which somewhat minutely designates buildings in New Jersey, one is marked on the site of the present structure, on the point of land
between the two creeks, and which is the second or third house at different times built on or near the spot, but no other building is noted in the immediate vicinity.
A remarkable instance of this, and one bearing upon our inquiry, is that in 1633, ten years after the erection of Nassau, they built “ upon a flat on the Connecticut river, called by them "Versche,” or “ Fresh" river, and at the site of the present city of Hartford, near the mouth of Hartford Little river, the trading house or Fort “Van Goede Hoop,” or “ Huys de Hoop,” the fort of “Good Hope,” or “ House of Hope,” which they protected by two cannon.* Fort Nassau, the first Dutch fort built upon the North river was on account of its position swept away in 1617 by a flood.t
Such are all the facts that we have been able to collect as to the history and position of Nassau. And it should not be matter of sur. prise that we have been unable to ascertain precisely where it was, but rather that we have been enabled to approach the truth. It is not unlikely, that in the obscure recess of some European library, or among the dusty archives of some State paper office, there reposes all the information the curious would seek. The papers procured in Holland by Mr. Brodhead, and which are now in the course of publication through the enlightened liberality of the State of New York, may develop something, but if they do not, the spirit of research will ever lament the loss of what it seeks in those masses of manuscript which that gentleman so properly deplores, but which he arrived too late to rescue.
Note. Since this sketch was written we have met Mrs. Tamer Cook, aged 87, who in 1803 resided on the Delaware shore, at the mouth of Big Timber Creek. She says she has heard the Fort was on the south side of Big Timber Creek, (in this respect confirming the map,) and that the remains are still to be seen in a bank of earth, of horse-shọe form, which have been pointed out as those of Fort Nas
And further, that a number of Indian relics, and Dutch brick
* Benson's Mem. : Collect. N. Y. Hist. Soc.: 2d S. vol. ii, part 1st, 100. Vertoogh, Ib., vol. ii, part 2, pp. 276, 277. New Eng. Genealog. R., vol. vi, p. 368. De Vries, Collect. N. Y. H. Soc. N. Y., vol. i, 1st ser. p. 260.
+ We were mistaken in supposing that the dimenslons given on the map in O'Callaghan's New New Netherlands, the MS. of which was obtained by Mr. Brodhead at the Hague, did not refer to Fort Nassau on the North river. Although we observed it bore date in 1616, we were led to believe from the manner in which the measurements were noted, and as the position of the fort does not appear to be given, that the memorandum was made subsequently to the preparation of the map, and referred to Fort Nassau on the Delaware.
with letters upon them, were found at different times on the spot. That an Indian battle took place there, and that she has seen remains dug up in the vicinity. On one occasion they were discovered in a sitting posture ; and on another with the head downwards, and resting upon a stone jar, handsomely sculptured with a bead in the edge. In the latter case the skeleton was discovered under a swing near her house, the bones becoming exposed by the wearing away of the soil. The tradition she had from a Mr. Cattel, who lived in the neighborhood, and died a great age. Some twenty five years ago, I learn, some gentlemen visited the place and pronounced it to be the site of the Fort, but whether from representations made to them at the time by the neighbors, or from exploration, or mere conjecture, cannot be ascertained. It is possible their expression of opinion may have been the only reason for supposing it to have been the location of the Fort, and have given rise to subsequent reports. This will need investigation. The elevation is immediately in the edge of the fast land, and on the margin of what is now meadow, but which was once overflowed, and is about 150 yards from the Delaware, and about 400 from Big Timber Creek.
The spot commands the river, and may have been accessible to vessels. The word "redoubt,” used to describe the Fort, may have more significance than we at first supposed. If applicable at all to the remains discovered at the junction of the creek, it is certainly much more correctly so to those to which we now refer. The spot deserves and we hope will receive a thorough examination.